Description: Extremely normal Pacific High student Nena Washington and very stable Seijyun High student Beatrice B. Hood meet in Round 1 of the Rising Star tournament! (Winner: Nena)
Pushed as a competition for fresh talent by the Kanzuki estate, the Rising Star tournament has attracted a good number of student fighters from Southtown's high schools. It's the first tournament specifically geared at the new generation in months, if not years - the passage of time being something of a nebulous thing - and it's also the first big draw for students in Southtown since the end of the Black Dragon crisis.
As such, matches where students from different schools compete in town are sure to see a huge turnout amongst the under-twenty crowd - and today's match between Seijyun High student B.B. Hood and Rafferty Lawrence Stewart, one of the heartthrobs of Pacific High, is no exception. Bleachers have been set up on opposite sides of the Chinatown fighting arena for the supporters of the representatives of each school. One side, of course, filled with teenage girls, while the other is full of Seijyun students.
As the afternoon sun shines down through the clear sky, a technician on the sideline is making his way around the arena, doing his rounds with a clipboard and pencil to make sure that everything is ready for the match. Satisfied, he lets his gaze wander up to the electronic billboard displaying the names of the competitors above the street corner.
"Oh, we'll have to fix that," he says with a frown.
When the name 'Rafferty L. Stewart' disappears, along with the picture of the blond teen model flashing a pearly white grin, there's a collective gasp from the Pacific High side of the ring - and when it's instead replaced with a picture of a perfectly-serene-looking brunette in a short ponytail with the name 'Nena Washington' substituted, the sound becomes a collective groan.
"Ugh, seriously? His girlfriend?!" one girl in particular, wearing a t-shirt with Rafferty's face on it, bemoans.
"Man, I was looking forward to that pretty boy getting his ass handed to him," a ruddy-haired member of the football team says with a scowl.
"Oh, shit. Nena's going to fight?" a green-haired girl with headphones higher up on the bleachers says, looking surprised.
"Are you really that surprised? She's such a psycho. Total serial killer material," the blonde cheerleader sitting next to her remarks, before suddenly smiling and waving. "Oh, hey, Nena!"
"Becky. Hello," the brown-haired girl says as she pauses on her way past the bleachers, her expression perfectly matching the one on the billboard. An African-American man in a brown blazer, sunglasses and scarf walking beside her also pauses, looking distinctly uncomfortable.
"Who's that?" the blonde girl asks.
"This is my uncle, Simon," Nena says.
The man flashes a tight smile up at the girls. "How do you do?"
The pair both smile back wanly before sharing a bemused look. Meanwhile, Simon makes his way up the bleachers to find a spot as far as possible from the other attendees to sit. Realising that the pale brunette's green eyes are staring at him, he gives a nod of encouragement - and when she turns to trot into the ring, his smile immediately turns into a vaguely nauseated expression.
The skirt of Nena's sailor-style schoolgirl uniform flutters lightly in the breeze as she scans the area for her opponent.
Beatrice B. Hood spent months building a modest name for herself as a surprise-laden fighter with a dozen sob stories through SNF and Neo League matches. Unfortunately, one of those League matches resulted in a violent meltdown when her opponent - a fellow Seijyun student - fired a salvo of psychological low-blows, branding the quiet girl who'd previously been little more than a shadow on Seijyun's walls with a reputation for hysterics. While she managed to win her way into the finals of that League cycle, this merely earned her a match against the Metro City Monolith, Abigail and a prolonged hospital stay.
While she made a few brief apperances in the King of Fighters afterwards, she largely disappeared from the fighting scene at that point; not long afterwards, she vanished from Seijyun as well.
Vanishing is not non-existence, however, and-- wherever it is the blonde went all those months ago, when she one day simply resumed attending classes, she brought a brand new shoulder chip along for the ride. Gone was the girl who seemed content to float through high school like an exceedingly polite ghost; in her place was a brooding spirit full of simmering wrath and naked disdain for the very /idea/ of sharing space with snickering, whispering schoolgirls. Rather than simply avoid the myriad social and emotional tangles of high school, Beatrice found that a middle finger and a sneer could help her cut through the bullshit-- as long as she was comfortable with outlandish rumours implying she's crazy, with being avoided in the hallways, with having zero friends because who'd want to bother?
(Which she was, of course.)
Today, Nena finds herself alone in the ring for thirty seconds--
-- a minute--
-- ninety seconds--
-- until a series of, "Hey!"s, "What the hell?!"s, and other assorted sounds of dismay begin bubbling from the standing crowd.
Until blue eyes burning with disgust for everyone and -thing lock onto Nena while not-quite-five-feet of fury shoves her way to the front of the crowd. Rather than a uniform, she's in a loose red hoodie, blue jeans, red sneakers, and a red and gold cloth mask over the lower half of her face. A brown hide satchel's hanging from her left shoulder, swaying minimally with her movements and falling utterly still within moments of her pausing at the edge of the ring to give Nena a deliberate, narrow-eyed down-and-up.
And then, a sneering snort as she flicks her hands forward as if hoping to sweep her opponent out of the way while she enters.
"So, what," she huffs, stalking right up to Nena, "you mean to tell me that after I spend all week getting ready for some other jerk-off, I gotta fight YOU? /God/." Another snort as she rolls her eyes, parking herself within inches of the other girl. "I take /one/ little break, and suddenly there's fly-by-night fuckers who can't even handle a schedule?? /Hhhhnnh/-- this' BULLSHIT, but you know what? Even though I'm not even READY for you,"
(A bald lie; the moment her manager got back to her with the brackets, she promptly set about researching, and found-- -- nothing, nothing at all relevant to a fight. /This/, however, is an eventuality that one can, and indeed, SHOULD prepare for when one is a veteran Huntress--)
"even though you're just my ACTUAL opponent's dead-eyed girlfriend... I'll throw you a bone instead of walking outta here. Like I /should/."
Another step closer, and the tension in her frame, her face, her smug, /smug/ grin -- the taut uncertainty hiding just beneath a roaring surface -- starts to become apparent.
COMBATSYS: Bulleta has started a fight here.
Nena's head swivels to face the other girl as she arrives. She's tipped lightly by the motion as Beatrice brushes by - or rather, through - her on her way into the ring. She takes the invasion of her personal space stoically, her expression not changing from the blank, placid stare, which persists even as the Huntress becomes belligerent and gets in her face. By contrast, the teen seems to have an immaculate poker expression - or else she's a complete deer in headlights. It's unnaturally difficult to read.
"I do not mean to tell you any of those things," Nena finally clarifies when the break in the diatribe arrives, her tone matter-of-fact, the cadence of her speech unusually flat. "However, you are correct in the following elements of your assessment: firstly, that I am to be your opponent in this combat exhibition, and secondly, that I am the girlfriend of your previously-scheduled opponent Rafferty, who has been forced to withdraw due to cowardice. However, I would amend one point:"
Her eyes blink twice.
"My eyes are fully functional. I say this because it is not my intent to mislead you regarding my capabilities. Now..."
Nena rotates her body slightly so that one side faces Beatrice, raising her arms into a stiff fighting stance, hands not quite tightened into fists.
"...I am prepared to receive your bone, and to retaliate appropriately. You may commence combat maneuvers when ready."
Strangely - and Beatrice is likely the only one to be able to hear it over the crowd, if she can - there's a faint sound of whirring and beeping from somewhere on the teenage girl's person as she assumes battle pose.
Meanwhile, the expression on Simon's lips becomes increasingly dour as he sits broodingly quiet in the background.
COMBATSYS: Nena brings her battle systems online.
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////////////////////]
Bulleta 0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0 Nena
COMBATSYS: Nena calculates her next move.
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////////////////////]
Bulleta 0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0 Nena
Her self-satisfied grin doesn't waver,
nor does her fiery glare abate,
but for just a second, her opponent's stoicism gives the diminutive Huntress pause.
It isn't just the stark, literal nature of it, the calm-- it's the utter /lack/ of feeling, the void that emotion ought to fill.
The emptiness where her favorite weapon should smolder in waiting.
And then, there are those /noises/ as Nena assumes The Position-- those subtle, well-oiled tells that she's not the only Seijyun student here today with something seismic to hide. Cold, blue eyes rove along every inch of her opponent, newly cautious now as expectations adjust on the fly. Beatrice's feet slide a bit too apart, her knees slightly bend, tiny fists ball...
It's-- /clearly/ her fighting stance, despite just as clearly sporting half a dozen flaws.
"Don't worry, bitch-- I'll give you all the bone you can HANDLE!" she exclaims, bursting into motion as those last few words leave her lips. Seizing the satchel at her side in both hands, she waits until she's just a few steps away from Nena before /hurling/ herself forward like a small, angry top that happens to have a large, unnaturally heavy THING attached to it. The satchel's aimed broadly at the other young woman's upper body, meant to test her structural integrity with a functional, leather-crafted sledgehammer that includes lots of useful pockets.
COMBATSYS: Bulleta successfully hits Nena with Tricky Basket.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ///////////////////////// ]
Bulleta 1/------=/=======|==-----\-------\0 Nena
The brunette schoolgirl's expression remains unchanging as Beatrice swings the satchel-hammer toward her upper body.
The unusually stoic schoolgirl turns her body slightly, angling her body to take the blow - but something goes wrong, almost certainly, though it's hard to imagine what going 'right' would have meant in the context of the petite teen's attempt to defend herself from the whirling weapon like some kind of sumo wrestler taking a charge.
There's an extraordinarily solid (and dare one say strangely metallic?) report from the blow as the schoolgirl teeters backward, then lurches back forward with a lean to compensate, her lead foot landing solidly on the ground.
"Structural damage: nominal. Retaliating."
What comes next will likely change the perceptions of the student body observing the match forever.
Thrusting her right arm forward while pivoting with unnatural sharpness at the waist, Nena fires her hand - literally - from her wrist, the extremity detaching save for a thin metallic cable anchoring it to its root appendage as it rapidly unwinds. Small, blue jets of flame and steam emit from miniature rocket thrusters in the vicinity where severed bones should be at the base, propelling the hand with open palm to try and crash into Beatrice's chest - and if it does so, the fingers would try to tighten around a handful of hoodie, discharging electricity into the other schoolgirl before the attached cable would go taut, then rapidly retract in an attempt to reel Beatrice back toward the bizarre brunette.
COMBATSYS: Nena successfully hits Bulleta with Ex Machina.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////////////// ]
Bulleta 1/------=/=======|===----\-------\0 Nena
Okay, so she's /that/ kind of robot.
Smoking and reeling, Beatrice hangs onto this thought as she stumbles forwards in Nena's implacable grip-- that it's more than just an inhuman outlook and physical traits; that there are hidden weapons and power sources to contend with.
And that nobody'll think twice about a robot girl losing a part or two, if it comes to that. If it wasn't for the presistent twitches down her left side and the fire arcing through her nerves, the thought of not having to hold herself back quite so tightly might've sparked a masked smile; as it is, it's all she can do to fumble around the satchel as she's drawn in-- all she can do to grab a packet of bubblegum from its depths-- all she can do to rip the foil, then attempt to mash trembling, pink handfuls of gum around the rapidly dwindling cable.
All she can do to jam a blinking, red decoder ring into the mass if she manages to mound it together.
And to haul the satchel itself up between herself and Nena, should powder-coated plastic explosives get caught in the mechanical schoolgirl's wrist and detonate.
COMBATSYS: Nena interrupts Crushing Strike from Bulleta with Weird Science.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ////////////////////// ]
Bulleta 1/-----==/=======|====---\-------\0 Nena
As the Advanced Schoolgirl Substitute makes a blatant revelation of her nature in front of dozens to hundreds of witnesses, the green-haired and blonde cheer squad members both turn their heads toward the African-American fellow sitting on the corner of the bleachers with bewilderment in their eyes.
Simon seems to sink a little into the collar of his blazer, a grim, fretful expression on his lips.
As Beatrice mashes the plastique-flavoured gum onto the electronic brunette's wrist cable, Nena is busy jamming her left hand between her thighs - just above the knees, mind - compressing her legs around the digits. The purpose of doing so is revealed, to the horror and nausea of many in the audience, when, with a *click*, that hand too comes free of its socket. Unlike the right, the left is not tethered by a cable to the forearm, but seems instead to detach with a simple screw mechanism.
And as she levels the resulting stump at the other schoolgirl whom she's reeling in like a fish, the purpose of that limb becomes evident; a bright blue glow starts to emit from a series of conduits around what must be a central energy emitter, moments before a short-range, almost shotgun-like blast of raw blue energy is unleashed into Beatrice as Nena's right hand clicks back into place.
And a moment later, a rumble comes out of Nena's right hand as bits of flesh and... blood?... splatter all over her school uniform from the trapped explosion, revealing unharmed metal 'bone' underneath.
The red-headed football player staggers away to the nearest garbage bin to vomit.
"Structural damage - minimal," Nena remarks coolly as the flesh around her flayed wrist quietly burns.
With nowhere to go, Beatrice's entire body rocks and writhes in place upon impact, then collapses. Shallow breathing and the occasional twitch are as close as she comes to moving for the next few seconds.
There's refactoring that needs doing, clearly.
Not only is her opponent explicitly, casually inhuman, she - apparently? - /doesn't care/ whether this fact remains hidden or not; Beatrice--
Bonnie, meanwhile, is not so fortunate. A harsher, more callous bearing goes a long way towards opening up her options, but brings its own limitations on what she ('she'?) can and cannot do-- a marked disadvantage when she's a walking arsenal facing down a living weapon.
"-- hhhgh-- nnnh--..." wavers through her lips betwixt quick, shallow breaths as she flops over onto her belly like a small, twitching fish. "... aaaugh-- nnnnghhh--"
And so, she decides to improvise.
"-- gggrrrrRRAAAAGH!" erupts from her lungs as she tumbles along the ground and up to her feet, hunched and panting and clutching a pair of jet black Uzis fetched from-- somewhere.
"... a /robot/," she growls just beneath her breath.
As, "Came here... to fight some fucking... some GUY... and now-- NOW-- I'm fighting his taLKING GODDAMN REALDOLL??!" /booms/ from her lungs, she whips her head up to show bared teeth and wide eyes blazing with wounded rage.
Those last two words - lower, colder, and no less wrathful - hang heavy in the air for just a moment before the air erupts with the rattling violence of two submachine guns fired /wildly/ in every possible direction. Dozens of rounds fly through narrow gaps in the audience and just over their heads; they shatter cameras and lights, and scatter their operators; they clip past Nena, only ever coming close enough to rifle locks of hair in their wake. A screaming chorus builds once the fifth or so near-miss in the crowd confirms that this /isn't/ part of the show-- that the girl who implausibly built a fighting career on sob stories, luck, and stolen guns has lost her shit and isn't much for aiming, to boot. Amidst the chaos, she even draws her right leg back, then kicks the air in Nena's, her tantrum too great to be expressed through mere gunfire.
-- though, if Nena's senses are sharp enough, she might register the metal *klnk!* moments after that wild gesture of frustration, or the rapidly blinking red light atop the anti-personnel mine skating along the ground towards her.
COMBATSYS: Nena blocks Bulleta's Malice & Mine.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////////// ]
Bulleta 1/-----==/=======|=====--\-------\0 Nena
There is something absolutely all-too-casual about the way that the robotic schoolgirl-like thing that is Nena Washington copes with the fact that her right wrist has practically been blown to smithereens. Typically, one would expect that something with what appears to be real flesh and blood to have a stronger opinion on having it splattered all over their person than 'structural damage minimal.'
Yet, even as the flames clinging to the metallic infrastructure of her wrist start to burn themselves out, the mechanical teenager's attention turns without distraction back to Bulleta. She lowers her hand down to fetch her other forearm from between her legs and click it casually back into place.
She still has that same calm and collected demeanour as the submachine guns come out and start to spray wildly.
"Uncontrolled discharge of automatic weaponry is a threat to public safety. Please maintain proper firearm safety standards, or I will be forced to relax restrictions and engage containment protocols."
Even as she's saying this, Nena turns her body. She's not taking particularly evasive action, but the movement appears to be a repositioning in response to the mine being deployed near her feet - it seems that even without following it with her eyes, the girl is aware of the device's presence, and as she pivots, her knee stiffens in anticipation.
The anti-personnel mine slides into place against her foot.
Any civilians not already fleeing the scene after the open gunfire begin at least to seek cover as the explosion shakes the bleachers. Even Simon, for all his stoicism, leaps off of the stands and finds a place beneath them to hide.
"Nena!" he yells in a booming baritone.
"Nena, you need to get out of here!"
"Negative, Simon," Nena says as the smoke around her lower body starts to clear, revealing that both her right boot and the calf beneath it have been rent to shreds. Metal hydraulics can be seen where bone should be, and there's a leak of fluid - some kind of fluid - trickling onto the arena floor.
Her inhuman nature is revealed most, though, in the fact that she's still standing.
"I am obligated by contract and public duty to pursue the conclusion of this match."
As she makes the declaration, Nena springs forward on her damaged leg, swinging the other up and around - her lower half pivoting at the waist a full three hundred and sixty degrees, as if making a mockery of the human anatomy she's meant to imitate as she delivers a spinning kick while maintaining her facing toward Beatrice with her upper half!
At this point, it's probably not worth mentioning the various shades of horror experienced by the audience at the schoolgirls' display...
COMBATSYS: Nena successfully hits Bulleta with Medium Kick.
- Power hit! -
[ \\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////////// ]
Bulleta 1/-----==/=======|======-\-------\0 Nena
'Uncontrolled' earns a hidden smirk; the kick wipes it right off, however.
Despite a wide range of experience in fighting things with abnormal anatomies, B.B. Hood is caught unawares by the lack of clear tells brought on by a stoic face and unnatural rotations. The kick catches her right in the stomach, doubling her over and causing her to falter towards her knees without fully buckling.
"Hhh--- I--" she strains, quivering on her feet before finally stilling herself in a crouch.
"... I just thought you and me deserved a little privacy," follows, nearly an octave lower and far more controlled than any of her previous outbursts.
"'s not every day I get to fight a real-ass robot, y'know?"
The mask might cover it, but the smile accompanying her admission radiates from her eyes. In spite of the deliberate pace at which she's forcing herself upright -- in spite of the hole blown through her hoodie to reveal part of a Twilight Star Circus shirt -- in spite of the smoke still curling from her body--
-- she's smiling so bright that it practically burns through the mask. Two quick gestures drop the clips from her Uzis, then the guns themselves clatter to the ground after she tosses them aside.
"Maybe after I finish fucking you up, me'n that guy who keeps trying to play turtle with his blazer can talk about what your deal is," sounds like less of a threat than a simple statement of fact, for all the difference it makes to an Advanced Schoolgirl Substitute.
"Like why the /fuck/ you're hanging around Pacific High, for starters."
This, however, isn't an interrogation; it's a fight, as evidenced by her ending that thought by /hurling/ the satchel - which she's been swinging through increasingly broad arcs ever since unfurling herself - forward, which in turn launches her whole body into a crushing overhead blow aimed at Nena's upper body. For just a second as it swings above the two girls, the satchel appears to have swollen to twice its already substantial size.
COMBATSYS: Nena endures Bulleta's Shyness & Strike.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\ < > /////////////// ]
Bulleta 1/----===/=======|=======\=------\1 Nena
As the kick connects, the leg follows through, returning to a standard position and clunking down on the ground - though, this means that the girl's lower half is now resting three hundred and sixty degrees rotated from its original position. The robot shows no signs of remorse for the pain inflicted by her blow.
"This was a public spectacle. Privacy would best be arranged for a later date by request, without necessitating gunplay."
The artificial girl's green eyes remain locked on Beatrice as she recovers. "The buttocks of robots would, by definition, be synthetic. Perhaps you intend to imply that I am a cyborg; an assertion which I can neither confirm nor deny."
Nena's head tilts slightly to one side at the implied intent to interrogate Simon - and the question of why she's hanging around Pacific.
"I attend classes at Pacific High School because I am an ordinary -"
"- t-t-teenage girl," the schoolgirl declares, stuttering to finish her sentence as Beatrice's blow doubles her over. Even in spite of her artificial resilience, it seems that the electric cheerleader can be bowed - though, with a whirring and hissing sound, the brunette's back reasserts her previous posture, metal bones grinding audibly as she twists her head back into place. A buzzing sound can be heard from inside Nena's chest as she turns her eyes to Bulleta from close proximity.
"Threat threshold exceeded. Activating..."
With that, rocket boosters in the girl's feet activate, lifting her off the ground to hover. Her arms stretch wide as her core erupts with electricity, and a split second later waves of electrical power erupt from within her, pummeling the area around her with a pulsating barrage - and threatening to do so to Beatrice, if she can't avooid it!
COMBATSYS: Nena successfully hits Bulleta with Judgment Day.
[ \\\ < > /////////////// ]
Bulleta 1/----===/=======|====---\-------\0 Nena
"Yeah, and I'm a fuckin' nun--"
Blue eyes flick upwards at Nena's sudden rise. A quick backflip buys Beatrice a little space from whatever's coming next, but not enough-- nowhere /near/ enough. As her feet come down, electricity courses along the ground and arcs through the air, with all of its disparate branches collecting within the foul-mouthed Huntress' body to spark violent convulsions. Inch by inch, the girl whose teeth are currently gritted /tight/ sinks to her knees-- to her hands /and/ knees-- to the ground--
-- and then she's twitching through shallow, machine gun breaths. Her left hand lifts for a trembling beat, only to clench tight, then fall.
Two figures - tall, brawny, steel-eyed - among those who went with hiding over running sweep out from beneath the bleachers just a few seconds later. One's clean-shaven, the other's sporting a bushy mustache; both of them are toting guitar cases, which are already unlatched and falling open as they emerge, revealing assault rifles. The pair shares a lingering look that shifts in sync towards the downed B.B. Hood for a beat before settling on Nena--
-- and without warning, they open fire.
With only a scant bit more, B.B. Hood rolls to her back and forces herself upright so she can draw a .45 from behind her back and add several rounds of her own to the surprise salvo. After dumping exactly one clip, however, a violent spasm rips through her nervous system, straightening her spine for a split-second before she collapses once again, barely breathing.
COMBATSYS: Bulleta can no longer fight.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ <
COMBATSYS: Nena blocks Bulleta's Cruel Hunting.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\ <
As the crackling aura of energy around her dissipates, Nena drops back to the earth with a soft thud, her skirt and sailor tie fluttering lightly as she lands. She tilts her head down to observe the twitching Huntress coolly.
"Noted. While I respect your religious vie-"
Before she can finish her thought, the shots ring out.
Dozens of bullets riddle the 'ordinary teenage girl,' the report of bullets against flesh and metal filling the air. Holes rip through the shirt and skirt and skin of one side of Nena - and when Beatrice whips out the .45 and pumps the trigger, more bullets slam into the schoolgirl's chest and stomach. She's still standing there stolidly, mouth hanging open, as the last bullet in the clip is fired and Beatrice collapses.
Her lips press slowly back together as she stares at the fallen huntress for several long moments, before a thin geyser of red starts to leak out of a bullet hole in the side of her shirt. She looks down at herself, then back at Beatrice.
"Oh. I see. That was an ironic declaration."
Nena turns to her side to face where the two men with assault rifles were firing at her from, the arcing red fluid leaving a trail on the pavement.
"I have reason to believe that your firearms are, one, not being operated in a responsible and lawful manner, and, two, not possessed under license by local law. Please desist, or I will return fire."
As she's speaking, a second leak springs from her other side, but the schoolgirl remains mechanically cool and composed.
"Please remain calm, and await evacuation by medical personnel," she instructs Beatrice as the two remain essentially alone - most everyone has fled the scene of the carnage at this point, after all...
COMBATSYS: Nena takes her battle systems offline.
Log created on 22:15:01 03/30/2021 by Bulleta, and last modified on 19:58:21 04/09/2021.