Description: On her way to collect information about students that have gone missing, Corporal Renka Kankeo stumbles into a break in at Pacific High with unexpectedly similar objectives. Of course, things can't just be talked out reasonably...
It's been a busy few months for supermodel and schoolboy, Rafferty Lawrence Stewart. Caught up in a frenzy of fashion shoots and working his beautifully sculpted butt off to get others to do his homework, before he knew it, it was time for the holidays and a flight back home to spend the festive season with family. Back in San Gabriel, Southern California he took trips to the beach, caught up with old school friends and reacquainted himself with the joys of home cooking. After attending a wonderful New Years Eve party (besides the few awkward minutes in the kitchen with his mom's best friend, Pamela) he returned to Southtown, excited to see girlfriend, Nena and best buddies, Eden and Ryan. Things weren't quite how he expected however...
Which is how he finds himself in the corridors of Pacific High at two in the morning. As most of the students sleep, the blond boy is engaged in espionage. Lifting the walkie talkie that more closely resembles a kids toy from the eighties than a high tech survelliance device to his lips, he speaks into it in a hushed honeyed tone.
"Raiza, how's it going in there? I'm feeling kinda edgy out here and I don't mean in the way getting a haircut by Daniel Moon or wearing a vintage Alexander McQueen suit would make me feel."
His long legs pace the expensively tiled floor and his piercing blue eyes flit from side to side as he seeks out potential predators or even scarier, professors! He's dressed for the occasion in the manner that he's seen people do in movies when they're involved in shady antics. A retro looking Adidas tracksuit fits snugly to his frame and there's soft leather sneakers on his feet. He's made an attempt to disguise his platinum locks with a baseball cap pulled down over them but there's a stray strand that keeps poking out of the front.
"Remind me how you talked me into this again" he whispers into the cheap looking gadget, addressing his partner in crime.
==*== SOME TIME EARLIER ==*==
"You're totes trolling me, Hisashi-san. Again."
Raiza was sitting in the upper branches of one of the trees decorating the exterior perimeter of the Taiyo High schoolgrounds, plucking a sushi roll from a bentou box with a pair of chopsticks while letting her legs dangle above the ground some dozen and a half feet below. The weather was warming up, and she was wearing her blue and white Taiyo summer uniform. Fortunately, the limbs of the tree were strong enough to easily support both the teenager and her older male cousin, Hisashi.
"Don't tell me you're still sore about that Lucky Chloe thing, Liza-chan. Besides, you told me it all went smooth. Like you're best friends forever now," Hisashi scoffed.
Raiza shrank a little as she swallowed down her latest bite. "Well, yeah. I mean, nothing went wrong," she confirmed with a nervous laugh.
==*== FLASHBACK WITHIN FLASHBACK ==*==
*SMASH CUT: Raiza falling into Lucky Chloe's dressing room with a crash*
*SMASH CUT: Raiza wrapping Lucky Chloe in her kusarigama before a thunderbolt strikes them both, causing the lights throughout the arena to flicker*
*SMASH CUT: Raiza kicked into the dressing room wall, leaving a giant spiderweb crack in it before falling unconscious*
*SMASH CUT: Raiza and Lucky Chloe hanging out at a sushi restaurant, both in giant identity-hiding sunglasses*
==*== BACK TO 'SOME TIME EARLIER' ==*==
"Well, you don't have to gloat about it," Hisashi-san muttered bitterly.
"Oh! Sorry. I didn't realise I was remembering out loud," Raiza said apologetically.
"Anyway, I'm not the one dishing this assignment, for real," Hisashi continues, leaning his head back against the trunk of the tree. "Masayoshi-sama thinks that you're the best fit for this job, and for once, I actually agree."
Raiza's face lit up. "You mean you finally have faith in my potential as a ninja?" she asked.
"Actually, it's mostly that you're American, so you'll fit in with those assholes at Pacific. Besides, one of them owes you a favour, seeing as you 'saved his life.'" Hisashi makes air-quotes to emphasize the faux-gravitas of the statement. After all, he'd explained at the time that the shuriken he'd thrown at Rafferty's face was laced with sleeping poison, not intended to kill.
"You're right. I know just the way to convince him, too," Raiza said with a devious expression on her face.
==*== PRESENT ==*==
"There's no time for that right now," Raiza chides Rafferty over the walkie-talkie as she tap-tap-taps furiously away at the keyboard of one of the computers in the main office of Pacific High. She's dressed in a black sleeveless turtleneck cropped top, the neck of which is rolled up over the lower half of her face as a mask, and wears a pair of black baseball gloves over her hands as she types. Files are rapidly transferred to the USB drive she's using to collect the information that the Edo clan are interested in, including files on the students that have been disappearing from their school and whatever other related information can be gathered. Setting another transfer of multiple files she's highlighted to run, she raises her walkie talkie to her mask again, speaking in hushed tones.
"And don't call me by my name over the radio when we're technically doing crime! The important thing is that /you/ update me on the situation /out there./ Any signs of anyone coming? Over."
"I would never forget the paperwork, sir," chirps the voice of Corporal Renka Kaneko of the Novus Orbis Librarium as she strides quickly along the walkway toward the main administration building of the famous Pacific High. Her right hand hand is free while her left hand cradles a thick bundle of forms filled out in triplicate. At a glance she seems to be talking to herself - it would be easy to miss the custom designed small black ear piece mostly buried in the right twin of a pair of peaked vulpine ears atop her head.
"Otherwise I would be guilty of infraction thirty seven C, second addendum - trespassing in an area designated for the education of youth under the age of twenty after midnight without proof of authorization from a superior officer or justifiable plausible cause for suspicion of unlawful behavior..." Her voice fades out as she glances around the seemingly empty school buildings, eyes having no trouble spotting details in the dark. Then she winces, pausing for a step. "S-sorry sir, I didn't mean to quote regulations to you, it's just you know how much I would never do anything to sully the Librarium's name."
It would be hard to miss the crisp blue uniform jacket with its insignias, shoulder patches, and small ribbon rack over her right chest as being anything other than part of some military dress uniform. The clean white shirt, red tie, and pleated blue skirt all part of the colors of the uniform associated with the Novus Orbis Librarium - the paramilitary force embraced by Japan and many other nations around the globe to assist in dealing with supernatural threats.
"But I don't see Vice Principal Walton anywhere. I was assured he would be here to let me into the office..."
Renka blinks, eyes coming to rest on the building in front of her, head canting to the right slightly, a thoughtful expression on her face as she seems to listen to something. "Cancel that, I hear someone pacing around inside. Corporal Kaneko out." Perking up at the belief that her completely mundane, not-dangerous, basic mission to fetch some files at the behest of the Librarium and cooperation of the Pacific High administration will be over in a flash, the soldier picks up her pace. "You'd think they'd turn on more lights though," she mutters to herself, a pair of white-tipped honey blond furred fox tails swishing back and forth behind her with each step. "But then again, it IS late. Hopefully they're not as grumpy about being woken up as Lieutenant Shimotsuki tends to be..."
The main door is tried with a tug, only to not budge as its secure locks does its job in keeping people out who aren't supposed to be there. Renka taps her foot a couple of times before sighing, "Really shouldn't have to use this..." Her right hand reaches across into an inner pocket on the left side of her jacket, pulling out a plastic security card that she presses up against the card scanner to the side of the door. A friendly chirp and sound of locks disengaging heralds the successful detection of the government issued security override card. Returning it to her pocket, the soldier pulls the door open and heads into the school building.
Making no effort to conceal her own presence, fate most definitely has placed the kitsune operative on a path that will bring her right around the corner toward Raiza's reluctant lookout. And of course... it will take only a split second to realize he is in fact not one of the Vice Principals she was expecting to encounter!
The beautiful blond boy blushes pink as the other American teen tells him off.
"Sorry" he says somewhat sulkily as his lips form into a petulant pout.
"It's not like I make a habit of helping people steal school files."
He takes another lingering look around the hallway and seems satisfied the coast is clear.
"Nothing to see here, Pikachu...Over"
Apparently Raiza now has a code name.
He takes out his phone, browsing through his various social media feeds and checking on his current count of likes. Apparently he's happy with the numbers if the smug smile on his face is anything to go by. A photo of him in the ocean surrounded by his California crew is proving particularly popular with his followers.
He remains delightedly distracted by his task until...is that footsteps coming towards him?
A look of tortured terror appears on his fine facial features as he realises he may have company. Should he run? Should he hide? He realises with a deep despondent sigh that this wouldn't be cool. After all, the nimble ninja he's working with did save his life.
He turns to face any potential foe, shaking in his stylish sportswear. Speaking rapidly into his communications device, he forgets all attempts at subterfuge, as his tone becomes shrill.
%"Rai! I mean Pikachu! I think we've got company!"
Perhaps it's Nena? She has been known to keep track of his movements at times. Maybe she's wondering why he's exploring the empty corridors at night and has come to order him back to bed.
Alas, it is not his robotic romantic interest that comes around the corner. Sure, she's cute and female and wearing the same colours as those sported by the Pacific High students, but the uniform is not the same. She looks to have authority of some sort. Maybe she's even a member of the military and that's not a comforting thought. If he has to fight this woman then he's gonna end up the worse for wear. There's only one thing for it, it's time for charm and disarm mode!
Summoning his most dazzling smile, Rafferty steps towards Renka, fighting to keep his posture relaxed. He actually manages to put on a decent display of doing so. He is an aspiring actor after all!
"Hey, babe. You lost or something? You need someone to help you out?"
He takes off his hat and runs a hand through his tousled tresses.
"It would also be nice if you could avoid mentioning exactly what we're /doing/ over the radio, Magikarp," Raiza remarks with a tone that sounds more stressed-but-trying-to-be-friendly than condescending - even given the callsign that she seems to have designated for the boy blond. Even so, as the final batch of files is tagged for copying, the sigh of relief that escapes the ninja turns into a guilty cloud over her face as she slumps into her chair. "Sorry! I'm kind of new at planning these kinds of parties. Eee-tee-ayy twenty seconds, over."
She takes a moment to check on her own socials - specifically, checking out a new announcement from Lucky Chloe's official Hitter account.
'Glad I'm not Christmas #1 this year. It just inspires me to work even harder for 2022!'
*SMASH CUT to Raiza ducking as Lucky Chloe throws a tray of Christmas cookies across the dressing room in a rage*
Raiza raises an eyebrow behind her mask, then shrugs and dutifully re-beats the message with a 'WTG Chloe! :D #NewYearPowerUp'
Just then, Rafferty's voice crackles over the walkie-talkie.
'Rai! I mean Pikachu! I think we've got company!'
Raiza raises her walkie-talkie to her mouth and speaks with a frantic whisper into it: "What kind of company? Do you need an extraction, or should I get myself out?"
At that moment, the computer pings to indicate that the transfer is complete. Raiza quickly ejects the memory stick, slipping it into a small carrying bag slung across her body, and initiates a shutdown process on the computer bank.
When there's no immediate response from her partner-in-partying, Raiza frowns behind her mask. Her eyes turn up to the ventilation duct with its grate hanging open intended as both her method of ingress and egress, thinks for a moment... then, with ninja-like swiftness, leaps and disappears up inside it, before pulling the grate shut with a click.
Rafferty might be on his own...?
The third arrival's approach is at a steady cadence, belonging to one who don't seem concerned about being caught wandering around the school building so many hours after the doors were locked for the night. The pace of her steps doesn't shift as she rounds a corner and steps into view. After all, the forms tucked away in the folder under her left arm will verify the comparative legitimacy of her visit for the purposes of a top priority investigation...
As she gets closer, however, her gait slows, Corporal Kaneko slowing to a stop, head tilted up to look into the eyes of the much taller foreign youth. Her mouth opens as if about to say something, then closes, as her mind clearly takes a moment to process what she's been presented with.
At first glance, he looks too young to be the man she's supposed to meet. She's been around humans enough to recognize the approximate ages of those going thorough adolescence. On... the other hand, she's no stranger to the idea that many in the year have a growth curve far different from that of the abundant human population. The chance that he's far older than the very impressive but still growing teenager he looks to be is an idea that intrudes on the fox-eared girl's thoughts for a moment. Maybe he IS the Vice Principal? Is the largely foreign student body so progressive as to have a non-human in administration?
The idea has potential anyway. Right up until he speaks, that is. Her expression becomes somewhat quizzical at that point, lips pursing, head canting to the right a slight angle, ears forward. "You're... not Vice Principal Walton... are you..." The words come out a statement rather than a question, though there's still enough reservation that she's not /100%/ confident in her conclusion. Maybe foreign teachers are just THAT casual?
She glances back and forth then, behind her and forward along the hall. "Maybe I'm a little early." It's 2 am, who's to say the man isn't a little slow at getting on his feet after being called by the NOL dispatch operator in the middle of the night?
"Well, I'll just..."
She looks about to wave him off. There is some wondering at what a student would be doing here at a time like this, but it's not really her business what kind of antics High School kids get up to as long as they aren't engaging in anything nefarious or supernatural.
But then she pauses, eyes flicking back to him, coming to rest squarely on the overly large walkie talkie, then shifting upward to his face.
"What's that for?"
Her tone has already shifted, wary now, her posture subtly adjusting from relaxed to alert. He's tall, a healthy, athletic build, he could be one of any number of combat capable High Schoolers populating the schools of Southtown after all.
"Where's your friend?"
Twenty seconds? He can hold on that long, right? He makes no attempt to reply to his fellow thief, since he's now in the company of Renka.
His thoughts briefly drift to a whole different kind of party planning. It won't be too long till his seventeenth birthday, which just so happens to be on Valentine's Day. Maybe he can make it a double celebration, although he should make the effort to make Nena feel special too. Not that she usually goes in for that kind of thing, but he could get her a smoothie maker maybe. That way she could have her fill of weird ass culinary combos on demand! He realises that it was also mark the anniversary of the first time they hooked up. Damn that year has flown by. He needed to get a move on in his career before he got old!
Returning his attention to the cute Corporal, he takes a step closer to her, trying to find the right balance between friendly and assertive. His Hollywood worthy grin remains in place as he offers her a smooth skinned hand to shake. If she's one for details, she'll also see that his nails are immaculately manicured.
"I can't say I am Walton, no. Thank goodness! I mean, has that man even heard of moisturiser? He's like maybe fifty or something, but he looks ten years older. At least!" He shakes his head as if dissapointed with the man's efforts at self care.
"You however obviously have a superb skin care regime. I mean look at you! You're positively radiant."
He pauses to push a stray strand of hair from his flawless forehead and then quirks an eyebrow as he asks "Too early for what? Breakfast yes. They usually start serving from seven. But if you mean to stop and chat and enjoy good company, then right now is always a perfect time for that."
He's stalling for time, hoping Raiza will join him soon and careful observation will show the faintest bead of sweat above his full lips. He feels like it may be working till he realises the blonde woman has clocked the gadget in his hand.
His mind snaps into action, in the way that one who's had experience in the arts of charming and cheating is used to. Not that he's betrayed any of his beaus...all two of them to date, but he can't say he's strictly stuck to single ladies!
"It's for chatting with my roomie. He's kinda having a mental health crisis right now and has got it into his head that someone is going to break into the school and brutally murder us all in our sleep. I said I'd search the premises to put his mind at ease. I've got this on me so I can report back to him in real time."
The lie is delivered smootly and steadily, without betraying the fact his heart is pounding in his chest.
Meanwhile, in the ventilation system in the ceiling overhead, the Edo clan ninjette belly-shimmies her way forward, relying on the faint light coming in through the grates to guide her rather than risk alerting whoever this 'company' is to her presence by using a light source of her own to navigate. Though such systems are known for their ability to carry sound, Raiza has the fundamental ninja skill of being quiet - and she's done this kind of thing before. In fact, she's pretty sure that she can get home free at this point. Rafferty isn't reporting any further trouble to her. She just has to keep moving and she'll soon be out.
Unfortunately, perhaps due to her 'zoomer' status, something about the lack of feedback from the boy whom she recently sent her electronic communique to produces a steadily intensifying disquiet in the genin's gut. What if Rafferty is in real trouble? It could be whoever's been 'disappearing' students that's found him. Would the protagonist of a shounen story leave one of their friends to the mercy of some unseen interloper? What would her senpai do?
==*== A CONVERSATION, SOMETIME EARLIER ==*==
"Hisashi-nii-san, what would you do if we were a mission and I got caught?" Raiza asked her cousin over a bowl of beef ramen.
"Make sure that you weren't taken alive," Hisashi replied coolly before stuffing some hot noodles into his mouth.
"Oh, that's nice," Raiza said, her expression brightening.
==*== PRESENTLY ==*==
"I can't let him get taken," Raiza decides as she reaches into her shoulder bag and pulls out a small object.
A moment later, a ceiling vent near Renka and Rafferty makes a creaking noise before falling to the ground with a clatter, and a moment later, a ninja girl drops out, landing in a three point stance.
"Run, Magikarp! I'll deal with - hey, is that a kitsune?!"
Raiza's dark eyes widen with Japanophiliac wonder for a moment before she remembers where she is and what she's doing.
"I mean, I'll deal with her! Go!"
With a single flick of Raiza's wrist, two projectiles are released - one, a small data stick loaded with stolen files and aimed at Rafferty, and the other what appears to be a small purple rubber toy that bounces toward Renka with a series of squeaks before rolling to a stop near the NOL officer's feet.
"Koffing!" a small electronic voice emits from the toy, perhaps now recognizable as a certain Pokemon to the astute and familiar. Raiza waits for a moment expectantly as nothing further seems to happen.
"...Crap. I think I forgot the choking gas," she reveals, seriously undermining her credibility as a kunoichi.
Rafferty must strike the right balance in his approach, as the jacket-clad Corporal doesn't seem to react defensively, holding her ground in a relaxed stance, right hand going to rest at her hip as she looks up at the much taller young man. She answers his charming smile with one of her own. No sense in being unfriendly, after all. When he extends his hand, she does glance down, moving her hand from her hip to clasp hold of his.
She hardly seems surprised when he denies being the Vice Principal - she'd likely have been more suspicious if he had insisted otherwise - but when he transitions directly into a discussion about skin care, the charismatic youth appears to catch her off guard. Renka holds up her hand in front of her, turning it back and forth and then lifting her left hand to run fingers lightly on the back of her right, "W-well," she stammers, "As it turns out, it's always like this!" she answers without thinking about it. She'll spare him elaboration on her unique physiology. Besides he's talking about breakfast now, completely derailing her previous thoughts. Breakfast and friendly chats. Neither of which have anything to do with her order of business this late hour!
"But that's not why I'm here." the NOL soldier insists, lowering her hand after a moment, trying to steer things back to business, such as the communication device in his hand.
The story rolls off his tongue smoothly enough that his audience of one seems to accept it readily. It does seem like a stretch, she considers, but if you can't trust such a pleasant young man, who can you trust?
"Oh..." Renka's brow furrows as she considers the plight of this unknown roommate. "I-I'm sorry to hear that." She looks a little uncertain, eyes lowering as if in thought. The subtle hints of nervousness weren't missed by her keen eye, heightened sense of smell, and sharp hearing, the rapid beat of his heart picked up by her peaked ears in the near silence of the hall. But it's reasonable for him to be nervous... it could be that she's a darkstalker... or the uniform she's wearing, teenagers are always uneasy around authority figures they don't know, right?
"Well..." she looks up, mind settled, "Good thing we can see there's no one to worry about. What's your friend's name? If it would help, I could tell them that this campus is perfectly secure!" she offers, unaware of the stealthy approach of another trained to conceal her movements from even the fox-eared creature interrogating her lookout.
"If it would help-"
The vent smashes against the hard floor, the loud echo thundering up and down the previously tranquil hall. Renka reels, hands snapping up to press thumbs into her ears as she staggers back a step, deafened by the loud noise without having had the chance to brace for it.
Renka looks up to lock her eyes onto the intruder where she falls into her skilled landing.
Unable to hear a thing the ninja says, her ears still ringing, the NOL officer surges forward in a blur of motion, putting herself between Rafferty and Raiza, left hand pushing back on his strong chest lightly, right hand snapping up to intercept the small thing thrown at him, thinking it a weapon of some kind.
"Get behind me! I think your friend might have been on to something!"
Only then does she notice the purple toy that has come to rest at her feet and she recoils, pulling her arms up over her face, bracing for the worst.
When nothing happens, she lowers them cautiously, the ringing in her ears clearing up just enough to hear something about choking gas.
Lips drawn back, tails swishing behind her back, Renka leans forward, trying to stay between the young man and this /clearly hostile/ ninja.
"I won't let you hurt anyone here, assassin!"
"Ryan" Rafferty responds without hesistation, to the question of his roommate's given name. His reply is followed by yet another smile, but soon all signs of the cool and collected charmer vanish when the vent hits the floor. He makes an almost cartoonishly exaggerated jump backwards, whilst ensuring to cover his Vogue worthy visage with his hands. It's also possible that a scream escapes his mouth. Just a little one though!
Raiza's advice to run is seriously considered. I mean, she's experienced in this stuff, so perhaps her advice is solid, but what's this? The pretty and petite woman with the perfect pores is defending his honour! This could work in his favour! He doesn't stop to think that it still puts Raiza at risk.
He plants his sneakers firmly into the ground as his long legs faintly tremble.
Is the trespasser a kitsune? Despite owning a shirt with such a creature on it, he's unsure of the logistics of such things. He knows she is pretty foxy though!
Reaching out a hand to attempt to catch the data stick as it becomes airbound, he is thwarted by Renka's rapider reach. Not too surprising since the schoolboy is not famed for his sporting prowess, silky swimming skills aside.
He shifts his lean frame behind his protector, grateful for her role as a human shield. He lets out a horribly hammy "My heroine!"
The line is delivered with a quality that's closer to a Hallmark movie than one directed by the likes of Hollywood greats such as Tarantino or Scorsese, that the male model ambitiously aspires to work with. Perhaps a few more acting classes may be in order before the blonde gets his big break.
Should Raiza happen to look his way, he will have the audacity to reward her with a wink.
Rapidly recovering her situational awareness seconds after the apparent intended airborne toxic event fails to materialize, Raiza rises up on the toes of her tabi, a chain with twin kama at the end unfurling from its hiding place in her hakama and extending between her hands with a clink-clink-clink of metal. One might notice that the blades of the kama appear to be relatively dull - suggesting that the would-be assassin armed with the kusarigama is either neglectful of her tools or is equipped with the ninja equivalent of childproof safety mechanics.
"I won't hurt anyone here," the half-masked kunoichi reassures the kitsune while reassuring herself with a test of the heft and balance of the sickles of her weapon that looks suspiciously like a threatening twirl, particularly when coupled with the intimidatingly breathy and detached tone of her voice that's actually the aftermath of intense physical activity followed by crawling through a confined space with her breathing partially obstructed in a near-blind panic - "if you give me that."
She gives a nod toward the USB stick now held by Renka. Unfortunately, the nod could just as easily be taken as a nod toward Rafferty, who is hiding behind Renka. Targeting along the Z-axis is difficult even for the most skilled of nodders, after all, let alone oxygen-starved ninjitsu neonates.
"...or else," Raiza finishes. Or rather, doesn't finish. She's intending to say 'or else let him have it,' but she is, as stated, rather breathless, and instead spends a few seconds drawing in oxygen slowly through her nostrils while sparks of electricity start to crackle along the blunt blades of her kusarigama.
Surely her attempts at peaceful resolution of the current crisis and establishing her non-violent intentions will go over well. After all, the 'choking gas' she was referring to would have caused at most 30 seconds of debilitating but non-lethal coughing in 95 percent of adults with minimal side effects. She'd probably explain that, too, if she could get her words out, or think about anything other than how much easier this kind of thing looks in her 'A+! My Time At Shinobi High School' anime.
Standing between the two humans, the darkstalker seems resolved in her decision to protect the 'innocent' student at her back from this unknown late night assailant. Feet planted, right shoulder turned forward slightly as if taking a combat ready stance, left hand lowered at her side, right hand clasped tightly around the data drive, arm folded slightly across her stomach, her focus is squarely locked on the young woman who just dropped right out of the overhead vent.
At a glance, the fox-tailed NOL soldier appears unarmed. Though her obviously visible darkstalker features would likely warn anyone off from taking her lightly for that reason alone, given the tendency of such creatures to posses either supernatural powers or innate physical strength advantages. She watches as the chain of the ninja's bladed weapon slides into view, perceiving the lack of keen edge on the sickles even from a distance - a detail filed for consideration as she tries to figure out what's really going on here.
The increasingly questionable assassin makes clear her demands for the device the kitsune snatched out of the air on reflex and finally Renka blinks, lifting her right hand up in front of her face so that she can look at it without taking her eyes completely off Raiza. Discovering that it wasn't actually a weapon as she had thought... but rather a data drive, the vulpine-eared 'shield' for Rafferty looks visibly confused.
"Wait a minute..."
It'd be easy by the expression on her face that the gears are turning in her mind. If this drive is what the kunoichi demands in exchange for her offer no one getting hurt, then why did she toss it to... And the whole thing with the walkie talkie...
Renka stands up straight then, hand closing tightly over the drive as she takes a step to the left, pivoting such that she has Raiza and Raffery roughly equal distance apart in front of her, she closes her hand tightly over the drive itself.
"What's really going on here?"
Lifting her left hand, palm raised, a small flicker of azure foxfire dances between her finger. "What's so special about this data that I shouldn't start testing this drive's heat tolerance, hm?"
"No, don't let her have me!" Rafferty gasps, taking his attempts at method acting more than a step too far. Has he forgotten that he's supposed to be an ally for the Taiyo teen?
As his big blue eyes widen, he looks between the two females, fluttering his dark lashes in the manner of a femme fatale film star.
"Quick, let me take the stick for you and I'll hide it in a secret place at the school!" he suggests to Renka. "That way this vile villainess can't get her mucky mitts on it!"
He looks all set to continue his pleading performance when he realises Renka may be on to them. He swallows hard, the motion visible in his neck as his brain cells work to catch up with the change in circumstances.
Until relatively recently the California kid was naive to the existence of darkstalkers. Prior to his relocation to the city of Southtown, he'd pushed away suggestions of their reality, ignoring the nagging niggle that would tug at his young mind as others spoke about them, sometimes in whispered tones, or on other occasions in shouting and shocking headlines. He'd relegated the whole matter to the same place reserved for vampires or werewolves, though apparently they may be real too...
Now, though not exactly comfortable around them, he is at least familiar, having spent time in their company socially and in the case of a certain demon queen, accepted her money for the use of his image and influence. Though far from an expert, he knows enough to believe that darkstalkers deserve rights too and also that they can be deadly dangerous.
He starts to weigh up his options. He could come clean and try and get Renka on side. After all, they are working for the good of darkstalkers! Her official looking clothing deters him from this course of action though. He could try and get a message to Nena, to provide them with additional backup, but he's not convinced he'd be able to do this without being detected by the quick witted woman. One things for certain there is absolutely no way he is risking taking a beating, important files or not, he has his career to think about! It's gonna have to be distraction.
"Oh Ryan! There you are, buddy!" he calls out down the corridor, hoping that the curious kitsune will look that way and provide Raiza with a chance to catch her off guard.
It turns out that Raiza was method acting, too, of a sort - attempting to maintain the notion that she wasn't in league with her Pacific high ally by using the threat to secure the very item she was intending to give him while he made an escape. She'd done a decent job of making /herself/ ignore the fact that she'd been the one to try and give Rafferty the data drive in the first place.
(Actually, it was probably the lack of oxygen.)
Now that she's stalled for enough time to regain her breath and focus, the Jenga tower of duplicity that she and Rafferty Lawrence Stewart have been playing up is already clearly on the verge of collapsing.
It's time for one last block to shift.
"That would be a mistake," Raiza says in a deep, calm voice behind her mask as her gaze steels.
"You see, I knew you'd need collateral to convince me to spare him from his fate. That's why I threw the data stick to you. The honour of the Pokeninja Guild demands that he pay for his transgressions. However, the Pokeninja Code allows someone who's received the Black Pokeninja Mark to be spared in exchange for an object of sufficient value. As his trainer level is rated 'Magikarp,' I had the foresight to fill that data stick with Lucky Chloe music videos."
She pauses for effect, one hand reaching behind her - before reappearing with a full-face Pikachu mask, which she smoothly pulls on over her face, concealing her features.
"They are also freely available on FightTube."
The Pikaninja's head tilts.
"So, the question is, are you willing to trade that minor convenience for my ability to overlook this minor inconvenience?"
Around the same time that she's finishing her speech, Rafferty pipes up: 'Oh Ryan! There you are, buddy!'
Apparently Rafferty's gears were turning so hard that he'd missed her entire gambit. Then again, it wouldn't be the first time that someone zoned out while Raiza was talking about Pokemon.
Nevertheless, wrapped up as she was in her ruse, Raiza is caught off-guard by Rafferty's more straightforward one.
As she turns her head over her shoulder and shifts her weight from one hip to the other, a walkie talkie, recently displaced by Raiza rifling for her Pikachu mask, falls out of her ninja bag, and Raiza, now holding her kusarigama in both hands again, is unable to stop it before it *thumps* to the floor.
Her eyes drop to the device as it literally manifests the fate of the metaphorical Jenga game.
Then, with sudden recklessness, Raiza lunges toward Renka in a whirling spin, her kusarigama twirling as it's loosed to strike in passing at the hand that the kitsune's using to hold the data stick, hoping to dislodge the device from her grip with the blunted blade.
COMBATSYS: Raiza has started a fight here.
COMBATSYS: Renka has joined the fight here.
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Renka 0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0 Raiza
COMBATSYS: Renka just-defends Raiza's Evasive Strike!
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Renka 0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0 Raiza
Up until the last few seconds, Rafferty's attempt to keep the act going might have worked in spite the increasingly questionable acting. At least for a little longer. But once the NOL operative finds herself wondering why the high school ninja would have thrown the thing she wants toward him instead of absconding with it entirely, Renka's skepticism about everything she's being told is kicked into high gear.
As he speaks, she flicks her eyes toward him for a moment, trying to figure out the degree to which she hasn't accurately assessed the youth, but her primary focus remains on Raiza and it is to her that she returns her attention a split second later.
She's the one with the weapon, after all. And the earlier display of some skill... to sneak up on the vulpine eared darkstalker without being heard at all is quite the feat. And that's when Raiza starts to offer her explanation. In the face of the spiel of words, Corporal Kaneko's eyes narrow, brow furrowing after another moment, increasing confusion starting to be reflected in her eyes as she tries to unravel the convoluted flow of logic. Success in such an endeavor amounts to roughly zero.
"So..." Renka tries to reason through what she's being told, "You were attacking him with Lucky Chloe music?" Not exactly what was being explained, of course, but one can hardly fault her for not being able to follow the stream of nonsense.
Raffery's distraction does work, in that Renka pivots slightly, ears and eyes flicking to observe down the hall toward this mysterious 'Ryan', only look back at Raiza as her incriminating walkie talkie thunks against the ground.
The blue and white-clad operative glances down, glances up at Raiza, then glances down again at the dropped device, then stares at Raiza, confusion replaced with visible displeasure.
"I /knew/ it-!" the kitsune exclaims, as if she hadn't been completely fooled from the start. But her claim of comprehension is cut short by the sudden movement of the ninja, reflexes tested against reflexes as Raiza boldly closes in, the sound of chains whipping through the air as she moves.
Of course, the medals and ribbons decorating Renka's jacket probably weren't earned by an impressive career of desk jockeying. She's no slouch in a fight, as proven by her lightning fast response, right hand snapping down out of the path of the kusarigama, left hand moving upward equally fast to smack the back of her hand against the side of the blunted weapon.
"Harassing a Librarium soldier is a serious offense!" she warns as she finishes turning to follow Raiza's vector of movement, pushing off with her feet to surge after her in a bid to grab hold of her arm and twist it into a simple but effective hold behind her back. Is she looking to arrest the pokemon masked ninja?!
"Play to your strengths."
Wise advice from Matthew Stewart, that both his children have followed. Which is why his son chose to travel across the world to further his dreams of magazines and silver screens and his daughter spends most of her free time perfecting pirouettes and popping.
But what of their weaknesses? Rafferty finds two of his currently exposed as he's faced with having to use brawn or brains to save the day. Neither of these come naturally to him, which is how he happens to find himself focusing that pretty blond head so hard that he totally zones out of Raiza's monologue and thus distracts not only the darkstalker but his American accomplice!
The plucky Pikachu fan whirls and twirls towards their ravishing rival as the schoolboy scurries sideways to avoid the potential path of destruction.
He squeezes his eyes shut tightly as the sounds of the violence fill his ears and his fingers fumble in his pocket for his flashy blue phone. He manages to get a grasp on it but alas in his haste it too falls to the floor, as seems to be the fate of electronic devices this unfortunate night. His eyes open just in time to see the screen shatter, which causes him to release a woeful wail. This isn't what he signed up for and what the hell is a Librarium soldier?
COMBATSYS: Raiza blocks Renka's Power Throw.
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Renka 0/-------/-----==|==-----\-------\0 Raiza
Raiza doesn't stop moving as she's hurtling past Renka until she arrives at a wall several feet later. Lacking the confidence in her ninjitsu to scale the sheer surface in such a high-pressure scenario (she's sitting on a D in her Introduction to Wall Running class), she uses her tabi to skid to a stop and consider her options. "If only real-life let you load a checkpoint," Raiza says ruefully as her Pikachu mask points up toward the vent above just long enough to give Renka time to close the gap.
The genin lets out a cry of protest as she's pulled into a hammerlock, just like the guys with the blurry faces on those old television shows her dad kept sending her clips of once the police caught up with them.
Come on, Raiza, there are more important things to think about, she thinks.
"Let me go! I can't go to prison! My family is counting on me!"
They aren't, really, but they'd definitely be disappointed if they found out about this.
She turns her head over her shoulder abruptly, her expression curious.
"Hey, I have to ask - are you a real foxgirl, or is that just cosplay? 'Cause I'm trying to write this doujinshi, and actually I bet I can do this now that you're here."
There's a shift in tone that suggests that the end of the sentence isn't the same sentence that it started as, and sure enough, within a matter of a split second the kunoichi's tabi are kicking their way up the wall, rapidly flipping Raiza upside down and making the elusive young ninja awkward enough to keep a grip on that she manages to slip free of the Librarium officer's clutches, landing on her feet behind the kitsune.
"So I was saying, it's about this ninja, and I already have this rockstar catgirl, but -"
TEven as she's spilling the contents of her mind out in a stream of consciousness, Raiza is whirling around, her kusarigama wrapping around her own middle as a fulcrum for a shorter-range follow-up, the hooked kama slicing (bluntly) toward Renka's heels in an attempt to smash through them and topple the kitsune officer in hopes, once again, of liberating the pilfered files - preferably without destroying them!
COMBATSYS: Raiza successfully hits Renka with Crushing Strike.
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Renka 0/-------/--=====|==-----\-------\0 Raiza
As her fingers close over the young kunoichi's forearm, Renka pulls and twists, looking to lock the masked menace down long enough to get control of this rapidly escalating situation. Trying to secure her without yanking so hard as to cause real lasting damage to arm or shoulder, Renka plants her feet, rolling her eyes at the protest. Prison? Not likely. Not yet, at least. She isn't sure what the kid is guilty of exactly, but from what she's seen so far, none of it merits something that drastic... /yet/.
She's about to explain that this would go a lot smoother with a lot less chance of 'prison' if she'd just calm down when Raiza looks behind her to ask the darkstalker just how authentic those ears and twin fox tails happen to be. Once again, Renka seems bewildered at something Raiza says, eyes widening slightly. "C-cosplay?" she chirps in protest. "This is a serious situation! I'm here on official duty of the Novus Orbis Librarium!"
She shakes her head, clearly disgruntled at the question, muttering under her breath, "The nerve of-"
Her slippery prey breaks the hold, using the wall and no doubt training to launch herself up and over, reversing the pressure and making it free to break loose without wrenching her own shoulder out of its socket or anything. A soft growl rattles in the kitsune's throat as she gets ready to whirl on Raiza, not about to be caught from behind, but at the same time there's the crack of something hitting the floor and shattering and for a split second, Renka's focus is split by the demise of Raffery's cell phone.
Heels hooked by the precision swing of the kama, the smooth hallway offers little in the way of friction to help prevent the inevitable as Renka's feet are pulled out from under her. Hands fly up as her center of balance is upended and the small drive is launched into a graceful arc up and over the kunoichi toward her partner in crime, 'Magikarp'.
The NOL soldier hits the tile in a seated position, tails coming to rest against the floor behind her as she gasps, breath knocked out of her for a moment. Seated for a moment, Corporal Kaneko grits her teeth. She's not about to be made a fool of by a prattling troublesome teenager! Pulling her feet underneath her and pressing up with her hands, she rises, back to the wall, hands grit, leaning forward slightly.
Her right hand reaches across her stomach to the left side of her waist in a motion Raiza would easily recognize as a sword draw. Except there is no sword sheathed there and the darkstalker's fingers close over empty air, reminding her in that moment that she had not felt it necessary to be armed on a menial fetch mission for some documents from a /high school/. And admittedly, the keen edge of her preferred weapon might be a little inappropriate against a pair of teenagers, she has to admit to herself in spite her rising temper.
Instead, she resorts to more direct, straight forward means of trying to knock sense into Raiza, reaching out for her with now empty hands and trying to grip her her upper arms, right leg sweeping at the same time in a strong scything kick for Raiza's ankles, trying to drop /her/ to the floor before she can chase down the elusive drive.
"This is your last chance, before I have to get serious!"
Negatives - There's the inconvenience of having to import all his files to a new phone. Time spent doing this is time not spent on taking selfies and writing status updates. Since there's class tomorrow it's probably gonna be lunch time at the earliest before he can hit the mall and there's that smoked salmon dish on the menu in the cafeteria tomorrow and he really doesn't want to miss that, so realistically after class. How will his followers and fans (not always the same thing if the baby punching and robot fucking comments are anything to go by) cope without any fresh news from him in so many hours? Maybe Ryan will let him use his phone to at least pose for a sad pouty face pic with some words under to explain the disaster that's occured.
Positives - He gets to go shopping and choose a new phone! He's had his eye on the new iPhone 13 Pro in sierra blue. A snip at only 194,800 yen.
Cheered by this thought, Rafferty's handsome face breaks into a megawatt smile. It lasts all of ten seconds before he realises he's kinda in a tricky situation. From a safe distance he watches the two foxy femmes (one of them literally) go at it. It would kinda be hot if there wasn't the risk that Raiza and Renka could rush towards him at any minute, putting his precious young life in peril. He contemplates getting between them to try and retrieve the USB stick but the idea is so ridiculous that it causes him to laugh out loud, the sound echoing around the empty school corridor. He's starting to recognise that the reality is that he's pretty useless. Without the ability to turn on his charm or flex his flirtation skills he slips from being a star to a spectator or side character at best. But then...
If he'd been expecting it, chances are he would have psyched himself out of making the catch or possibly even ducked to dodge the soaring stick. Since he's not, instinct kicks in before his brain gets busy and he executes an exemplary and effortless maneuver, plucking it from the air and into his palm. He stares dumbfounded at his plastic prize for the briefest of beats and then he's on the move, long and lithe limbs leading him away from the school set scuffle as he seeks out a hiding place.
COMBATSYS: Raiza dodges Renka's Combo Grapple.
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Renka 0/-------/---====|==-----\-------\0 Raiza
That was definitely supposed to be a sword, Raiza thinks as her keen kunoichi eyes catch the reflexive motion that Renka's muscle memory had accessed. A kitsune iaijutsu mistress? She'd definitely be dead right now, but at least it would have been really cool.
She doesn't let that thought distract her from completing her attack. That's the good thing about muscle memory. Sometimes, it actually works!
And this time, it does. Raiza's eyes have just a moment to blink in surprise as the data stick lands safely in the hands of Wonder Boy Rafferty, prompting him to do the brave thing and risk running away. Her master would be so proud of her.
"Holy crap. That actually worked!" she exclaims, the dial of her inner monologue once again inadvertently set to 'outer.' "My master would be so proud of me."
She almost says 'Oops' as she realizes what's happened, but she's managed to switch the dial back and avoid embarrassing herself in front of the kitsune samurai. This also means that she only /thinks/ 'Run away Magikarp! Run run run run run run run run!' instead of yelling it, but fortunately that particular Pokemon's natural instinct doesn't need reinforcement.
Raiza is already moving as Renka lunges for her. Anticipating the grab as the kitsune reaches for her arms, she immediately lifts her feet off the floor, using Corporal Kaneko's clutch on her biceps for leverage to plant her tabi lightly against the fox-fighter's torso and push, harmlessly backflipping away and landing in a reverse sliding ninja crouch along the smooth floor of the corridor.
Now, all she has to do is completely suppress her own natural instincts by escalating the situation further and everything will be fine.
"It's too late," the ponytailed pupil says as she straightens her Pikachu mask with one hand before sliding to a stop. "I'm already serious."
Blue sparks of visible electrical energy start to course through the air around the mysterious Pikachu ninja as she gets serious, casting the hall in a cool glow as a couple of the dim overhead lights flicker briefly.
Apparently she's from one of those shinobi schools where they learn to prepare for battle by shouting really loudly. That, or she watches too much anime.
(They don't, and she does.)
COMBATSYS: Raiza crackles with electricity!
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Renka 0/-------/---====|====---\-------\0 Raiza
In spite having training in it, basic unarmed close quarters combat is hardly Renka's forte. Still, she had mistakenly thought it enough to handle the likes of the masked kunoichi, attempting to get a hold of her for a basic if potentially efficient take down. For her trouble, she is briefly used as a launch pad as Raiza pulls off another one of her admittedly stylish landings, sliding along the floor having escaped the NOL operative's grasp.
"Tch," Renka grunts, eyes flicking to the retreating Rafferty then back to the ninja blocking the path to pursuing him. Truth be told, even now she has no idea what is on the data drive. It could be school records, stolen test answers, copied homework, or maybe it really is an archive of the complete musical works of Lucky Chloe. And unless there is a supernatural or otherworldly aspect to any of the above, the Librarium has no jurisdiction over such matters in the first place.
But from the moment Raiza dropped from the ceiling vent, Renka has responded on reflex, trained to respond to threats or unknown situations by trying to understand and take control of them. Unfortunately, both the understanding and controlling steps are proving far more difficult than she would have expected and the ninja's refusal to make a bit of sense isn't helping matters in the slightest.
What she does understand, however, is when she has estimated just how capable someone actually is. She already knew the girl could sneak up on her without a sound - a difficult feat given the sensitivity of the darkstalker's vulpine ears - but she's also clearly been trained to be able to pull off her acrobatic escapes, aerial flips, and to be able to manipulate the chains and sickles of her kusarigama all without just getting herself tangled up in the process. And now she's channeling crackling energy as well?
"Fine," Renka states, standing up straight, her arms at her sides, fists closed. "I gave you a chance." She hopes that the paperwork she is going to have to file on this incident properly shows that she /tried/ not to escalate the situation... but that thought falls a distant second to deciding that she needs to respond to the teenage ninja's challenge more directly. Her pride as an enlisted Librarium enforcer has been threatened here!
There is a subtle shift in the air before a swirl of sapphire blue flame rushes up around the fox-tailed Corporal. Flames dance about her for only a brief moment before settling into nine distinct motes of azure foxfire that follow their own slow patterns above and behind Renka's shoulders. Eight of the motes are around the size of a softball while the ninth is roughly three times larger, each seeming to move independently from each other and the kitsune herself other than to generally trail after her movements when she changes position.
Lips drawn back, baring small fanged teeth, the kitsune tightens her stance for a moment, knees bending, muscles tensing... before beelining on an angle toward Raiza, a blur of honey blonde fur, blue and white uniform, and glowing foxfire trailing behind.
At first, it seems like she intends to bodily collide with the girl, maybe thinking to tackle her to the ground again, but in truth her trajectory will take her slightly to the right side of the other girl, her right hand sweeping out, fingers stretched out as if clawing the air even though she's just outside arm's reach.
Focusing too much on her hands could result in missing the real attack however, as a plume of foxfire follows the arc of her swing, threatening to wash over Raiza where she stands while Renka herself would spin into a slide on the tile with the intent to end up facing the ninja from behind.
The foxfire itself would inflict a searing, burning pain, but Raiza might also notice that it actually emits no heat nor burns cloth or skin it comes in contact with. It would seem the fox's initial threat of burning the optical drive to a crisp was merely a bluff after all!
COMBATSYS: Renka successfully hits Raiza with Mistaken Mercies.
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Renka 0/-------/--=====|=======\=------\1 Raiza
The electrical charge is still building steadily as Renka's patience with Raiza's shenanigans (shinobigans?) is stretched to the tipping point. The effort appears to be tremendous, at least if the shouting is anything to go by.
There's a brief pause in the yelling behind the yellow mask. Has she changed her mind?
Nevermind. Apparently she'd just run out of breath again. She doesn't appear to be especially good at budgeting her oxygen intake, based on her track record so far in this encounter.
She's still at it as Renka comes streaking toward her, posture shifting to hold her kama in a defensive stance to try and guard against the kitsune's attack. Unfortunately, she's primarily concerned with being clawed in the face, which is something she hasn't trained for, and her guard is positioned too high to intercept the foxfire sweeping toward her.
It doesn't help that her eyes are shut tight with dread of the assault, but thanks to the eternally unblinking Pikachu mask she's wearing, that's a secret to be kept between Miss Edo and yourself, dear reader. The only thing giving away her nerves is the shifting of her extended kiai to her upper register.
Which goes even higher when the foxfire strikes her across the chest, causing her to stagger backward while expressing her pain with even more shouting and electricity. She's still crackling with lightning in spite of the violent interruption, and she even manages to maintain enough concentration to override the alarm bells of pain shooting through her senses and remind herself what she's gonna do with all that shock, all that shock inside that ki.
She's gonna get, get, get expelled, get expelled and sent to -
Deciding that the Black Eyed Peas have outstayed their usefulness with the shift from mnemonic to freestyle doubt, Raiza spins about-face toward Renka to lunge forward and wheel her arms, electricity surging through her weapon as she aims to knock the foxgirl up into the air with the rightmost of her kama even while propelling herself up into a leap on one foot. If she manages at least to get Renka off-balance, she'll pursue with lightning speed into a power hug, locking on and spiralling toward the ground with an inverted spinning piledriver, sometimes referred to in ninja circles as the 'Izuna Drop.'
Raiza wouldn't call it that, because she's not comfortable with the legal implications despite the fact that the technique and name are widely accepted in the ninja community as public domain, because fair use enforcement amongst secret ninja techniques used to be enforced under pain of death, and she's worried that some of them might work for Disney. You'd never know, would you?
She would call it, though. She'd call it: "SAIKURONDORAIBA!"
COMBATSYS: Renka blocks Raiza's Empowered Cyclone Driver EX.
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Renka 0/-------/-======|=======\-------\1 Raiza
Demonstrating her own alacrity, Renka spins into a reverse slide after passing by the target of her attack, tails swishing to provide the precise amount of counter spin needed to bring her to a stop exactly where she intended. If she were armed, she might immediately brace with her weapon, ready to counter swing into whatever her opponent thought to ambush with as they recovered from their brush with foxfire to turn on her again. But such measures don't seem necessary to her. In fact, at the moment, she's half expecting that her demonstration of real kitsune power would be enough to intimidate the kunoichi into calming down before she gets /really/ hurt.
Instead, the NOL Corporal discovers that only seems to have riled up the lightning bug further as she finds herself being counter attacked by the pokemon-masked rebel with even more ferocity than she'd demonstrated thus far. The blunt kama is regarded as something of a threat, but it pales compared to the crackling electricity coursing along its length. Sucking in her breath as she braces for the lightning infused contact, one of her nine foxfire spheres whips down from behind her back to infuse along her left arm, causing the length of it to burn with a wreath of protective energy.
Side stepping at the moment of impact, the kama bounces off her forearm at a glancing angle instead of landing with enough impact to smash her guard, and much of the electricity meant for her is absorbed into the flash of foxfire before it wisps away. Still on the move, she circles around with another two steps, leaving her largely out of position to be scooped up into the potentially devastating - and of course totally unique to Raiza - ninja leaping throw.
The smell of burnt fabric lingers in the aftermath, small holes scorched in the sleeve of her jacket exposing small patches of white sleeved shirt beneath.
"Awh, come on," she mutters. This was her third favorite uniform jacket!
No time for regrets, however. Eyes flick down the hall after after 'Maikarp' ruefully before she turns her focus back to the kunoichi. As much as she keeps expecting the ninja girl to fold, she has to admit she's providing more than ample coverage for the young man to beat a hasty retreat.
"Looks like I'm left with just you to deal with now!" Renka states, though her tone only conceals a hint of amusement at the entire spectacle. It's been a while since she's had a good fight, and this teenager is giving her a rougher time than she would have predicted. Seems like the Southtown High School reputations for being a spawning ground of up and coming fighting greats is based on some amount of truth.
The kitsune lunges at Raiza then, her attack similar to her previous in the way she seems to go straight after the girl. Only this time it isn't with the intent to veer off to the side at the last moment. Instead, she claws out with her right hand, a wake of foxfire coursing along its path. Mid-dash, she'd follow the same strike with her left.
She'd stop short of bodily colliding with the girl, slashing out with both hands from high to low in front of her, the third burst of foxfire forming an azure X in the air! Without literal clawed nails on the end of her fingers, the hand strikes would definitely take a distant second to the large swaths of foxfire threatening to wash over Raiza if she isn't able to escape the firestorm coming for her!
COMBATSYS: Renka successfully hits Raiza with Ashen Hearth.
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Renka 1/-------/=======|=======\=======\1 Raiza
Sometimes, allowing your life to be dictated by the whims of a clandestine group of individuals whose motives you don't understand can lead to unexpected turmoil, avoidable conflict, and a perpetual sense of being taken advantage of. As an American, this is a sensation Raiza is familiar with.
On the other hand, she's pretty sure that being a member of a ninja clan is the best thing that ever happened to her, although getting free* backstage access to Lucky Chloe concerts for life.
Still, situations like this keep happening. Situations where she has to keep telling herself 'Don't worry, the worst they can do is deport you,' but she's never quite sure whether to believe herself.
As the Japanese-American spins free of the misdirected Cyclone Driver (tm), she's thrown further along the corridor by the outburst of electricity accompanying the attack, and by the time that she lands on her tabi, the energy she'd gathered has dispersed. The chain of her weapon clink-clink-clinks as it stretches once more between her hands and she faces the authority figure she's definitely assaulted (though thankfully the cameras won't have seen anything, having already been tampered with earlier for the purpose of doing crime).
*SMASH CUT to Raiza going to turn off the camera system, only to find out that they'd already been left off by someone else*
*SMASH CUT again to the Principal checking that the cameras are off before letting a lady of the night into the building, three months earlier*
"I think you'll find that you're left with just /me/ to deal with now," Raiza counters, before wondering if she'd said that quite right.
This time, she doesn't trust her instincts to guard herself against the attack, still feeling sensitive about what happened last time. Instead, she tries to get out of the way entirely, thrusting her tabi against the floor to try and leap up to the ceiling where she'll hook her kama and hang in a really cool ninja pose.
Unfortunately, she's misjudged her jumping abilities vis-a-vis the height of the corridor, and she only manages to get about half the air she needs, which is probably why she lists her best sport as 'E-Sports' and not 'American Basketball' (which is actually just 'basketball' and doesn't need further clarification, but she prefers soccer).
A second attempt at doing the same thing again after landing on her tippy-toes, this time putting her arms into it like a baby bird trying to fly, really just makes her look silly before she finds herself once again getting spiritually (and, to a lesser degree, physically) mauled by one of her favourite mythical Japanese creatures.
Given the attack's largely spiritual nature, the way that Raiza jerks and tumbles backward across the floor like she's been hit by a flaming sedan at forty miles an hour is probably because she's been taught that overselling is a good way to get your opponent to show mercy on you and thereby give yourself a mental edge, as long as it's an appropriate opponent in an appropriate situation. Irresponsible use of this technique is a leading cause of avoidable deaths amongst ninjas.
*SMASH CUT to a ninja reacting to getting lightly clipped by a startled hawk by throwing himself bodily off of a sturdy bridge above a waterfall*
"That's... a pretty good move..." Raiza strains through her mask as she pulls herself up into a low ninjitsu stance. "But I haven't even shown you my full power!"
Electricity starts to arc along the chain of Raiza's kusarigama as she starts to spin both ends of the weapon, energy gathering as the lights start to flicker dramatically. The display then suddenly stops as Raiza reaches up to push her Pikachu mask to the side just far enough so that one eye is showing. She looks questioningly to either side before turning around to face Renka.
"Oh, there you are."
Pushing the Pikachu mask the rest of the way off of her face so it's covering her profile like she's seen in some cool ninja pictures online, her identity still concealed by her neck covering, Raiza starts to whirl her weapons and spark off again. There's even a sound of distant thunder, but that was in the weather forecast, anyway.
"Like I said, I haven't even shown you my full power! And you won't like it when I do!"
* in exchange for non-contractual voluntary services rendered free of charge to Lucky Chloe and, by extension, G-Corporation, who have sufficient plausible deniability in the matter to avoid any claims of 'breach of student visa' or 'slave labour' falling back on the G-Corporation or its subsidiaries
COMBATSYS: Raiza crackles with electricity!
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Renka 1/-------/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 Raiza
That Raiza has withstood two unfortunate encounters with her azure kitsunebi, Renka holds back from any further aggression. Maybe it really was Raiza's masterfully execution of overselling that gives the soldier pause. In spite her temper being riled, she isn't out for /that/ much blood from the teenager. That she isn't the deadly assassin that she originally mistook her for seems clear to her now - either that, or Raiza's acting chops are really that good. But she is still guilty of laying a hand on an enlisted soldier of the Librarium, and there are agreements between the NOL and Japanese authorities about that sort of thing...
Twin tails swishing behind her back, Renka cants her head to the side a little as Raiza speaks, blinking as she tries to get a sense of just how resilient the girl is. She hasn't drawn any blood but she hasn't held back on the potency of her attacks.
"Oh?" she replies about not having seen her full power yet. And then she waits, slowly relaxing her guard and standing up straight, lips tugged into a faint grin at the corners of her mouth. A grin that falters slightly as Raiza seems to lose track of her for a moment. If she was out for the kunoichi's life, she would have struck with a blade during any number of the ample opportunities she's observed in their little exchange. It may not be fair to attack someone while they fumble with their odd choice in masks, but in many of the Corporal's fights, her opponents won't hesitate to kill her either given the chance.
But this isn't one of those kinds of fights. She isn't sure WHAT this is even.
"Here I am!" she chirps back as Raiza finds her again.
"All right," the darkstalker replies as the air crackles more and the kitsune can't help but feel some of her hair starting to collect an unfortunate amount of static from the ambient discharge.
She turns then, pivoting so that her left shoulder is forward, arms raised, simple but not ineffective combat ready stance as she bounces lightly on her toes like she learned from teachers that influenced her decades before the NOL even existed.
"You're not bad. What is it that you even fight for?" She glances toward the fallen vent cover then back to the lightning ninja, "They don't teach stunts like yours in normal school courses, I'm pretty sure..."
Which means she didn't pick up those tricks through a normal youthful interest in martial arts...
"I think I've given you enough time!"
%tRenka makes her move then, rushing forward in another direct, frontal attack. Drawing her right arm back, she only swings once she gets closer, a sheath of foxfire rippling over her fist and forearm as she aims to deliver a solid, well executed strong hook right toward Raiza's face. Lacking her weapons, it wouldn't pack anywhere near the lethal force of one of her true attacks, but the foreign girl has already had enough brushes with that vibrant sapphire flame to know that it's going to hurt if she can't ward off the attack just the same!
COMBATSYS: Raiza blocks Renka's Weakened Medium Strike.
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Renka 1/-------/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 Raiza
When Renka chooses to take time out of her busy battering to ask Raiza what she's even fighting for, the young kunoichi can't help but feel like a contestant on popular Japanese television show, 'The Nin Factor.' Unfortunately, she's completely forgotten to prepare her answer for the question, let alone the accompanying video package. If she had, it would look something like this.
==*== EPISODE 1: SQUID INK DEFENSE JUTSU! ==*==
There's a visible flinch from Raiza as Pompadour's fist smacks into Redhead's face, then... a shift.
Raiza's high ponytail bobs as she raises her chin with a defiant scowl.
"I'm not just going to run along while you beat up my classmate, you pretending army!"
Apparently there's something a bit off about the girl's Japanese - despite her appearance, her accent definitely denotes her as not being local.
"So if you're going to be handling any business, you'll have to handle mine first!"
==*== EPISODE 2: THE ART OF SEDUCTION ==*==
"Hiroko-sama! I'm not going to go skinny-dipping in a hot spring with a boy we just met, no matter how cute he is!" Raiza asserts, stomping one foot on the alley floor.
"Hmmhmm. You young ones these days have no sense of adventure!" Hiroko-sama declares, turning her nose up with a miffed snort. She turns to Rafferty with a serious expression. "Very well, Rafferty Lawrence Stewart. I'll allow you to treat us to a fruit juice! I'll have prune!"
"I-I... well, you don't have to get me a drink! I can pay for my own!" Raiza says as she fishes in her pocket to produce some cash, counting it out.
Hiroko-sama rolls her eyes, then subtly smacks Raiza in the shin with her racket.
"/Never/ pay for a drink that you can get for free, Raiza-chan!"
==*== EPISODE 3: RAFFERTY'S RIVERBED RESCUE RANGERS ==*==
In a flash, there's a gleaming silver shuriken between Hisashi's fingers. Without hesitation, he looses it toward Rafferty - only for the female ninja to suddenly interpose herself with a burst of lightning speed, one hand outstretched.
The bladed star pierces into Raiza's flesh as it strikes her palm; it's embedded in an instant. She stands, trembling, in front of Rafferty, beads of sweat forming on her brow as she holds her lips tightly shut behind her mask.
Hisashi's eyes widen.
==*== EPISODE 4: UP ALL NIGHT TO GET LUCKY ==*==
By the way, my favourite sushi..." she says, her mask pushed to one side so that one big brown eye can gleam at Chloe, "...is Spicy Crab Temaki cones~"
==*== EPISODE 5: WE NEED TO TALK ==*==
The red-haired boy's eyes close for just a few seconds -- and when they open again, those nearly-unnaturally-bright green orbs turn to meet Raiza straight on.
"So I do what I do because it *does* feel right."
Raiza returns the green-eyed youth's gaze for a long moment, almost like a deer in headlights. After that spell of silence, though, she smiles brightly back at him.
"That's such a cool line! Do you mind if I use it for something?"
==*== BACK TO THE PRESENT ==*==
"I do what I do because it *does* feel right," Raiza states coolly as she starts to glow blue in the light cast by her electrical ki. Then, second-guessing the timeliness of that dialogue option, she backpedals and improvises. "I mean... mostly cute boys and sushi, I guess?..."
She'll need to workshop this one later, she decides, as she usually does when confronted with crippling self-doubt.
For now, Renka thinks that she's given Raiza enough time, which she has.
When the kitsune Corporal rushes in again, fist aflame with foxfire, the electricity doesn't stop coursing through Raiza. Instead, the lightning seems to imbue her with a hint of its own speed, her kama reacting with speed, purpose, and focus (and both eyes open this time) to strike back against the attacking fist. It still manages to graze Raiza's exposed cheek, but chances are, a direct shot to the face would have knocked the ninja right out. Instead, Raiza is fully conscious and capable of retaliation, escalation, and experiencing the sensation of having foxfire applied to her ear canal.
She thinks she got lucky there, despite feeling no elation. She's probably wrong.
Given the speed with which she darts past Renka, it might be hard to notice at first that she's tried to slip one of her kama into the fox-girl's third-favourite uniform, but if she manages to do that, it should be a lot easier to notice when she uses her momentum to pull on the other end of the kusarigama before planting both feet to try and reel Renka in through inertia. If everything goes according to plan, she'd end up side-hugging as if getting ready for a selfie with a bestie of the week.
She would then turn her big brown eyes sidelong toward Renka, who's pretty much her height twin, in this theoretical scenario.
"So, what's your favourite sushi?" she would ask in a slightly more suggestive tone than anyone involved was totally comfortable with.
Then, she would pull out a black umbrella from her ninja satchel, extend it, and open it in a single swift motion, and, perhaps due to the catastrophic bad luck so hastily unleashed, lightning would strike the school, coursing through the electrical system and disabling all of the lights momentarily before channeling directly from the light overhead into umbrella, ninja, and kitsune.
Raiza, expecting this result, would then yell 'R-R-ROMANSU NO HIBANA!' while doing her best Team Rocket impression.
COMBATSYS: Raiza successfully hits Renka with Empowered Spark of Romance.
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Renka 1/---====/=======|>>>>---\-------\0 Raiza
The fox-eared soldier rose her eyebrows slightly at Raiza's first answer, standing there quietly, as if giving her time to come up with something better. But the second pass it doesn't really sound a whole lot better. Renka inhales, sighing, closing her eyes and shakes her head, hands resting at her hips for a moment. "Well. I've heard worse Sparky." And then it was punching time.
This time, the novice kunoichi is quicker on her feet at dealing with the NOL soldier's strike and the incoming fist glances instead of landing solidly. Even though she put a good amount of oomph into the punch, she didn't over commit and when her punch grazes the girl's cheek, Renka starts to recover instantly, shifting her balance, tails whipping counter to the motion of her strike to provide additional correction to her inertia.
In the end, it leaves her ready to defend against anything she's seen the ninja pull off. The problem is, this time, she's definitely underestimated what the foreigner can pull off.
"Wha-" Renka starts as Raiza blurs past her. She didn't feel anything resembling an attack, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. She starts to put her mind to trying to figure out what just happened, already starting to turn on the electrified menace. But she never gets a chance, suddenly hauled backward by her jacket!
The smooth tile floor offers no help here as Corporal Kaneko is leashed backward until she ends up sidled up with the ninja, her head already turned, eyes blinking in open surprise as she finds herself face to face with the object of some vexation this night. Surprise shifts to amusement. After all, Raiza's best chance of not getting absolutely walloped by her was to be elusive. And here she's gone and pulled them close together.
"You really scre-" Renka begins, ready to unleash an attack that will really have the kunoichi reconsidering her career path. But she stops herself short as the umbrella comes out, eyes reflecting immediate bewilderment.
"-ewed u-up... What are you do-"
A deafening crack of lightning rattles the building as it pours into the electrical system from the sky above but by the time the sound reaches Renka's ears, she's already being subjected to the conducted power, albeit diminished somewhat from the real thing by the building itself.
A cry of surprise and a brief convulsion leaves no doubt that Raiza's 'full power' has definitely struck home. The only thing that kept it from being a completely clean hit is the movement of one of those remaining eight foxfire spheres, moving seemingly of its own volition, descending just before the storm's discharge connects with the kitsune, dampening the total potential of the technique even if just slightly.
Pushing off and staggering away, Renka turns to look at Raiza with open confusion, "How did you do that?!" High School kids aren't supposed to control storms! It seems that once again, there is more she didn't know about just how far ninja techniques can go.
Small bolts of lingering forking energy course over her for a moment before finally fading, though both of her tails have absolutely poofed in size, every hair standing on end. Something she'll find quite annoying once she notices it. And her poor jacket is definitely a lost cause, showing signs of singing at the ends of the sleeves and around the collar.
"Nice trick," she growls begrudgingly, still not entirely convinced she understands what just happened. But then her expression shifts a little, becoming more mischievious than annoyed. "But I don't think you can keep up with me in that department."
Once more, Renka rushes Raiza. Or rather, two Renka's rush Raiza? Two perfectly identical looking NOL-uniformed kitsunes rush Raiza, telegraphing no hint of how they will attack. Will they punch? Will it be a kick this time? Will they simply try to tackle the ninja to the ground to restrain her?
As it turns out, they'll simply run into her, each exploding into a plume of foxfire on contact, revealing that the real darkstalker was neither of them. In fact, for a handful of seconds, she might even seem to be present at all... until the sound of her feet hitting the tile can be heard on the opposite side of wherever the kunoichi looks first.
COMBATSYS: Renka successfully hits Raiza with The Hour of the Fox.
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Renka 0/-------/----===|>>>>>>>\-------\1 Raiza
The thunderous heavenly strike sends Raiza flying away hard enough that she nearly suffers a ring out, but by the time that she's kicked off the ceiling and landed on the tiles, she appears to be virtually unharmed. Well, internally, she's definitely reeling toward the limits of her threshold for pain, but that's strictly the result of Renka's attacks; the lightning blast, if anything, only appears to have sharpened her senses even further, if the increased rate of her idle animation and the blue sparks now constantly dancing in her vicinity are anything to go by.
When Renka asks how she did that, Raiza actually allows herself a little self-assured smirk behind her mask(s), idly spinning her kama in opposite directions to show off some coordination.
"If I told you that, I'd have to kill you," she says with the inevitable smugness that anyone quoting that phrase is forced to adopt, before shrugging apologetically and adding, "Ninja trademark law."
Actually, Raiza isn't entirely sure itself how it works, only about the steps taken to do it. As it was explained to her by her teachers, Master Masayoshi and Hiroko-sama, the key to the technique is to first pray to Raijin before every mission of significant danger, invoking the great Kami of Thunder to provide a storm during the intended timeframe 'just in case.' With the Thunder God's blessing hopefully secured, the next step was to maintain close enough proximity to the opponent to ensure that they were standing in the blast radius. The third step was to make oneself attractive to lightning with the help of a special Edo clan umbrella. Unfortunately, Raiza's unsteady relationship with the Japanese language had resulted in her understanding the third step as 'making oneself attractive with the help of a special Edo clan umbrella.' She wasn't sure how the umbrella was supposed to help, but she tried her best to make herself attractive anyway, and assumed flirting was helpful. It was helpful, because it made the second step easier, as opponents who didn't find her flirtations intriguing usually at least found them confusing.
Finally, the Edo clan's legend goes, the Kami of Thunder would strike down upon the user of the technique with a bolt from the heavens. The Edo believed this was because they had earned the Thunder God's favour. It might have just been that he found the whole thing annoying. Or, maybe he thought it was funny.
The truth is, no one in the Edo clan is really sure, because no one had been stupid or desperate enough to try it since the Meiji restoration, and it's actually just a hazing joke that Masayoshi-sama and Hiroko-sama liked to play on new recruits. So far, there have been no confirmed casualties, and although a badly burnt umbrella was once found trapped in a rocky outcropping at the top of a waterfall near the Edo clan village shortly after the disappearance of Masayoshi's cousin Akihiro, consensus in the clan says that in all likelihood that Akihiro probably would have been fine if he hadn't oversold the lightning bolt so close to the waterfall's edge.
Don't worry, ninja trademark law doesn't apply to narrators or their readers.
"You're probably right about that," Raiza admits openly when Renka claims that she probably can't keep up with her in the trick department, although she spins her kama twice as fast just to show that she can. It's a good thing she does, because suddenly there are two Renkas charging at her. Raiza puts her kama into a defensive spin, tensing swiftly as four foxtails fly at her. She backflips as they attack, scything both kama through the two foxgirls, expecting that one of them will be her opponent because she thinks that kitsune are tricksters and thinks she's very clever for attacking both at once.
Unfortunately, she's only right about one of those things, because the only part of what she's done that saves her even a little bit from getting double-exploded is the half-assed backflip she used to create some distance and look cool. That's how she ends up getting half-exploded twice, but half-exploded twice is still exploded.
Defeated once again by elementary school math, Raiza falls to the ground in despair.
And pain. A whole lot of pain.
"O-okay. You win," she tells Renka, feeling fairly confident that Rafferty has found his way to safety by now, which means technically she wins, as long as Renka thinks that Renka has won. She's about to let herself collapse peacefully into oblivion and inevitable deportation when she remembers that she promised Lucky Chloe she'd be at the choreography session for her upcoming music video this Saturday, and she hates breaking promises.
So, instead, she throws one of her kama right at Renka, trying to catch her off-guard and pin the weapon in her clothing. Kept conscious almost exclusively by the electricity still running through her veins, at least metaphorically speaking, she would flash forward, attempting to clip the kitsune with an elbow strike in passing to daze her as the electric spider would begin to weave her web. Another dash would bring with it a smashing blow with the blunt of her remaining kama and another length of entrapping chain. Thus it would continue in a lightning-fast (pun intended) series of flying kicks, elbows, knees, and kama blows until the kitsune was virtually cocooned, before the last of Raiza's energy would be spent on channelling electricity through the chain while rapidly unreeling it to potentially dizzying and disorienting effect.
Unfortunately, Raiza's plan doesn't include what happens when the attack ends and she inevitably collapses, which is a shame, because that's probably the important part of all of it, as far as not getting deported goes.
COMBATSYS: Raiza can no longer fight.
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COMBATSYS: Renka blocks Raiza's Billion Volt Battery.
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There is no shame in being fooled by the twin clone trick. Almost everyone Renka has faced has fallen for that one at least once. Except for a legendary swordsman who happened to see right through it... and also happened to be a cat. But aside from him, the kunoichi comes the closest to slipping by the twin-clone ambush out of anyone Renka had used it on, a detail that doesn't go unnoticed by the kitsune. Relocating while briefly invisible to most eyesight, she had plenty time to observe the outcome of the attack before she shimmers back into view to mortal eyes standing with one hand on her hip a number of feet behind the lightning ninja.
Raiza admits that she won and Renka nods her head, "That's right. So now maybe you should start answering my questions while I'm still trying to decide how many degrees of trouble you're actually in for all this..."
The foreign kunoichi has other thoughts in mind though as she makes a move to attack the NOL soldier again even after all that. Given what she's seen so far, Corporal Kaneko isn't about to completely dismiss her efforts, eyes widening slightly, "You really don't know when to just stay put, do you."
As early on in when Raiza first tried her luck against her, Renka's defense is active rather than simply bunkering down to hope for the best. Each time she tries to hook the tip of the kama in her uniform, her hand moves to chop aside the weapon by striking it on the flat side. And with the bulk of Raiza's passing strikes, she manages to move her arm into the way, or take it on her shoulder, or back, without suffering too much harm for her trouble. But the lightning coursing over the chains starting to entangle around her in spite her deft defenses is the real threat, and a glance at Renka's face would make it clear that she's being pressured in spite her warding defenses as the web of chain piles around her.
Growling, the fox-tailed soldier clenches her right hand at her side, a plume of azure foxfire bursting forth in a long, narrow shaft. And right when Raiza sends another surge of her electric power along the wrapping chains, the plume vanishes, leaving a solid, long spear in the fox's hand which she immediately jams down beneath the chain web and hauls up with both hands gripping the weapon.
The end result has her avoiding being electrified /again/, the chain net launched up in the air over her head as it crackles with energy, leaving Raiza with no counter weight when she pulls hard on 'unraveling' it.
With an audible 'hmph', Renka plants the blunt end of her spear against the tile floor with a metal 'thunk'.
"I am authorized to defend myself with more decisive force if an assailant doesn't relent in spite verbal warnings to stand down." Not that she really has any intentions of stabbing a high schooler with a spear, she can at least hope the presence of the six foot tall weapon at her side sends a message that she's serious!
It only occurs to her a moment later that the ninja is probably not in any condition to keep pressing the attack anyway and Renka's posture shifts, spear tilted to the side, eyes blinking, "Hey Sparky, you okay?"
She doesn't think they give out medals for hospitalizing school students... but she knows there's undoubtedly about fifty different extensive forms about it...
==*== TWO MONTHS EARLIER ==*==
"Wow, Nena! I didn't realise you were into being watched, but I'm game if you are!"
As the teen terminator or 'babe' to Rafferty chooses to stop in full view of the school CCTV for their makeout session, the frisky fashionista adjusts his posture to be sure the camera captures his best angle and then winks down the lens before locking lips with the robot girl.
"Hiroko-sama! I'm not going to go skinny-dipping in a hot spring with a boy we just met, no matter how cute he is!" Raiza asserts, stomping one foot on the alley floor.
The Pacific pupil peeks out from his position behind the rich red velvet curtain of the school stage. From back here he has a clear view of the school auditorium. His thoughts turn to himself in the role of Romeo or perhaps Stanley Kowalski. He bets he could give Marlon Brando a run for his money. He sees before him a sea of smiling students, rising to their feet to give him the applause and adoration he deserves. His dreams are helping him drown out the distant din of destruction and violence.
He looks down at the USB stick clutched tightly in his perspiring palm. Hopefully it was worth all the hassle and Raiza will be okay. He does briefly entertain the idea of going back to check on her, but she'd want him to stay safe and keep the prized possession protected. Sitting here and staying silently still was being brave in a way. He liked the idea of being cast as the hero.
His pulse quickens as he detects the sound of silence and he strains to see if he can hear any sign of approaching footsteps, sinking back further into the shadows and slipping his slim frame between some stage props and a stack of boxes for extra safety.
==*== ALSO RIGHT ABOUT NOW ==*==
As the electricity sustaining Raiza's consciousness like too much coffee on a study night rapidly fades away, the effect is similar. Raiza collapses, only to wake up an indeterminate time later wondering where she is and imagining a trio of foxgirls threatening her with spears. Deja vu leads her to give the only response she can think of.
"Erikson, not Columbo," she says after dutifully raising her hand to give her response.
It might be a long night, but at least she's not fighting for reasons she can't explain anymore. At least, until her next mission.
COMBATSYS: Renka has ended the fight here.
Log created on 18:44:26 01/09/2022 by Renka, and last modified on 23:53:36 01/24/2022.