Dead or Alive - DOA R3 - Renka/Shina vs Heidern: "Ikari Rising"

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Description: With the lockdowns occurring at JANUS sites all over the world, information is becoming harder to find surrounding the enigmatic and controversial process clearly at the heart of Darkstalker disappearances all over the globe. In this case, the only way to find out is directly from servers from the JANUS facilities. Infiltrating a facility in the middle of a massive protest is no easy task, but an NOL agent should have no problem with it. However, Renka will discover that the security's already been breached, and that Shina has been sent by Ultratech to address what was assumed to be a rioter breakin. Shina, working with Ultratech to pursue an agenda of her own in secret, will find out that the entire facility has been secretly taken over by a powerful covert military force. The Ikari Warriors have mobilized in response to the drama, and they will not abide by any interference. How far are Renka and Shina really willing to go to find out the truth?

A protest around a JANUS site. A cacophonic crowd incensed at the news and rumors of ULTRATECH's involvement with the disappearances of Darkstalkers around the world. Further exacerbated by the announcements of "cures" being available for those with such arcane and eldritch "conditions". No doubt some who were impacted by the shift in the globe since the Majigen were looking for some respite. But to some, there was a business and a life in the sort of thing that comes with being 'different'.

Boot scrape on the ground. A blonde woman observes the crowds outside the perimeter of the facility. The people calling and clamoring over Darkstalkers, cures, disappearances and corporate crime. But the Frenchwoman watches them with the dispassionate professionalism of her mercenary lifestyle. She is being paid by Ultratech to be here. She has been informed that the protest is a smoke screen. That some organization has infiltrated the compound and needs to be neutralized. She is here for business, and her purpose is clear as the easy look of confidence on the young woman's face.

Internally, she is struggling with a knot of concerns and deceits. Her very work for Ultratech is a cover for her investigation into their activities. She wants to know how they're tied into the Zoanthrope Liberation Front. Moreover, she wants to know of her father's potential involvement. All signs point to the Front being a honeytrap for people like her. And she wants to know if her father had really given his pride for such an underhanded tactic.

But the easiest way to get that information is to get it from the facility itself. And there is no easier way to infiltrate than by having your target invite you inside. Though the tactics are also ways to entrap. This realization weighs in on Shina's mind. But she has never been one to afford herself a deal of caution. She is here now, walking through the side, entering through a zone still believed under Ultratech observation.

A simple walk. A simple target. Get information while inside, walk out with Ultratech none the wiser. Easy. Absolutely nothing could go wrong.

When it came to dabbling in supernatural affairs throughout the globe, there was name that could never be entirely out of mind: Novus Orbis Librarium. The paramilitary organization that professed expertise in quelling supernatural 'problems' wherever they may surface. Cause too much trouble, get too much notoriety, or make too big of a mess using magic, monsters, or other 'nonhuman' means, and the Librarium would not be far behind.

It's no surprise then that the NOL has been digging aggressively into the widespread rumors about ULTRATECH and the Janus project.

What started as just hints of darkstalker disappearances have now been completely verified. Students who seemed to exist outside accepted norms, suspected of having some curse or darkstalker blood making them taller, stronger, faster, or smarter, were vanishing from the schools. Civilians that managed to fit in with their neighbors in spite their distinctive features disappearing, their homes left abandoned. Even darkstalkers that had accepted the rigorous registration and monitoring oversight of the Librarium to 'ensure' that they weren't a threat to humanity were turning up missing.

While pursuing this mission was following orders for Corporal Renka Kaneko, the objective was also personal. While she had nothing against humans who found their lives turned upside down when some event or other left them 'afflicted' with supernatural elements, for her, being what society had termed 'a darkstalker' was simply a matter of life. She had no memory of a time where she wasn't different from humans and the idea of removing the 'darkstalker' aspects from her was no different than threatening to remove 'humanity' from any human being. Everything she had picked up in her investigation reeked of coercion, capture, and the executing of life changing or threatening experiments on unwilling captives.

She had to know. She had to stop it.

While many of the NOL agents operated openly in the field to deal with most of the Librarium's targets, and while Renka was proud to be seen publicly in her uniform as a darkstalker fighting to protect other darkstalkers and people alike, this mission required leaning more heavily into the more subtle arts of the fox-tailed operative. The chaos outside the facility put it on the Librarium's radar and the kitsune insisted on being dispatched to infiltrate.

Moving unheard was simple for the spirited creature who had once roamed the ancient, dark forests of Japan as a predator. And the art of illusion, of the bending of light to conceal herself from mundane sight for brief periods of time, was just another of the tools available to the darkstalker.

Thus she finds herself inside the facility, slipping around unseen, unheard, sensitive vulpine ears always warning her well in advance of the presence of others, making it easy to avoid the few personnel encountered during her incursion. She was close, she knew it, to finding proof that the public messaging around the JANUS project was telling a very skewed version of the full story. They had to have been kidnapping people for their experiences. Information gleaned here would be the avenue to explode this story wide open and reinforce the Librarium's claims to authority to get more strongly involved. ULTRATECH was powerful but it would be facing pressure from world governments to disclose its secrets with what Renka expected to find here.

A shimmer in a partially lit corridor solidifies into the twin fox-tailed soldier dressed in a dark blue blazer, white shirt, and dark blue skirt of the Librarium uniform. Embedded in her furred right ear is a hidden earpiece that connects her back to a handler safe on the outside and in her coat pocket is a device for invasive wresting control of most electronics and computer systems, perfect if she can reach the core servers where valuable information surely resides.

A door hisses open and Renka peeks in. A control room, potentially direct core access, her lips draw to the right in a faint smirk of satisfaction. She had to be close now. Listening for several seconds, she finally steps in, soft leather soled shoes making nary a sound.

The chants and howls of peaceful protest rise from the moderate-sized crowd gathered around the front gate, making entry from that direction a dicey proposition. Everywhere one looks are men with antlers or horns, girls with wolf or cat ears, people with deformities and those loved ones and concerned citizens who have come out to support them. A mingled mass of human and Other brought together in a way that has rarely been scene since Darkstalkers emerged from the night. And yet, as Shina bypasses the crowd to approach a smaller side entrance set into the wall, there is a distant tingle that plucks at the edges of her predatory instincts. The faintest notion that, for a mob of seemingly random protesters, they certainly don't represent the most grotesque examples of what it means to be a Darkstalker. Could that be that those less fortunate than the people out front might actually support the project, or is the crowd just a bit too... photogenic.
The side door slides aside with a mechanical hum, revealing two security grunts in full battle rig standing to either side of the portal. Faces obscured by opaque visors and heavy battle rifles held across their chests, nothing about them seems out of place for an UltraTECH compound in high alert. Standing between them is an athletic woman of medium height, blonde hair pulled back in a tight braid and tanned features just a touch too stern to be "pretty". The insignia on her chest marks her out as a chief of security, and the uniform seems tailor made to fit her. No creases, no dragging cuffs.
And yet, she doesn't really look like a Geff Smith, the American transplant who should be running security for this Southtown location. In fact, the name on her jacket reads last name 'Kelly.'
"Ms. Gado," the woman greets, the smile that curves her lips the furthest thing from friendly, tone smooth and glass-edge sharp. "If you wouldn't mind following me?"
Without waiting for an answer, Security Chief Kelly sets off across the compound, the armored grunts staying behind to guard the entrance. If Shina chooses to follow she will be lead across the paved courtyard toward one of the low black buildings, passing through into the windowless , ultra-modern interior.
An interior not unlike that Renka has been navigating for the last few minutes. Being particularly well suited to this work, the Kitsune has easily negotiated any resistance she might have met, avoiding men and women in tailored security uniforms that all seem to have some place to be. Only rarely does she have to creep past stationary guards, the complex seeming oddly quiet for a place that should be bustling with an influx of new subjects for "healing". Similar to Shina her instincts are tingled by the observation. Lots of movement but understaffed, no signs of Darkstalkers being transferred about. Is the whole place just a front for something else, or...?
Having to descend two separate stairwells, each with actual guards posted, the sneaky fox eventually comes upon the object of her mission. The server room. Located at the very heart of the complex, it is shut behind a sleek sliding door of glossy black metal that hisses aside at a touch, allowing her to creep into the dim, air-conditioned interior of a room lit only by security strips and the glow of monitors. Banks of stations have been set up around the walls to her left and right, small desks with built-in monitors and bolted down chairs, each station wired into its own series of server banks, data split up so that even accessing it can only be done if you know which terminal to start from. In the center of the room is a larger terminal designed for someone to stand and observe while they overlook the room, split in such a way as to show which access points are active, what is on their screens, and any concerning data flag violations that might require immediate disciplinary action. And beyond that, at the far end of the room, an extremely thick layer of what is probably missile-proof glass looks into a dark room full of stacks upon stacks of data racks, the air within visibly misted with fog that drifts lazily toward dehumidifiers built into the corners. Beside the window are a pair of large steel doors, closed and devoid of any obvious sort of mechanism to open them.
The entire setup is not altogether different from something NOL might do, really. Just with less magic and even more advanced technology. An eerie sort of parallel to her own organization.
The comfortable scent of freshly brewed coffee washes over Corporal Kaneko as she takes it all in, door hissing shut behind her on some sort of 5 second timer. As it does, the sound of her earpiece changes subtly, signal crackling to static as the breach in the room's Faraday cage is sealed. It leaves her in near silence, broken only by the gentle hum of electronics. No breathing, no heartbeats. And yet...
Something is, off. That tingling sensation up and down her spine that alerts her to danger. The predator's instinct of being watched. Though she can neither see nor hear anything out of place, it nags at her. The room is still, the only hint of motion being a small cloud of steam wafting from a mug left beside the second terminal on her left.
It is at this exact moment that the threads of fate converge, braiding together into a single whole. With very little warning, the door behind Renka hisses open to reveal Security Chief Kelly, likely with Shina in tow. Standing to one side of the entrance, the older woman seems just about to usher the mercenary in when she notices Renka standing within, provoking an immediate defensive reaction. Taking a step back and to the side, she drops her gloved hand to rest upon the heavy pistol at her hip, fingers curling around the grip as she comes just shy of drawing. Sharp eyes skitter from the Redheaded intruder, to the guest mercenary and back again, calculating...Before shifting fractionally to stare at something just past Renka's right shoulder.
The sound does not come from Chief Kelly, but from a spot mere feet behind the foxgirl, tone calm and considering. An expression of a much deeper voice.
Following the Security Chief's gaze would reveal a tall, lean man that looms behind the comparatively short Darkstalker, right eye covered by a black patch while the other watches things unfold with unsmiling intensity. His is not a face built for mirth, long and severe, but it is a face that should be familiar to both women through their work. The man known only as Heidern. Leader of the Ikari Warriors, and one of the foremost military minds on the planet. Practically a legend in the area of field work. And they're here, in the middle of his operation.
Slowly, the Commander lifts a familiar coffee mug to his lips, taking an impassive sip from the steaming black liquid. Though it is warn from years of travel across multiple fronts, the words emblazoned across its surface can still be read.
'World's Best Dad!'
The room hangs on a balanced thread of tension, threatening to snap at any moment. Though this does explain how a stranger knew Shina's name, and where to expect her, it does not explain why she was brought here, or what the hell the Kitsune is doing in the middle of it all.

A crowd of protestors. Pretty isn't a surprise. The photogenic Darkstalkers are the ones that people trust and people understand. Throw in a few of the more "dangerous" types, and that could give cassus belli to the ULTRATECH goons. Of which, Shina knows, she is technically one. But Jeanne Gado can't bring herself to really feel any issue with those angry at the activities thought to be going on in these labs. What strikes her, is the suspicious purpose for her being there. A suspicion that does not abate when she's confronted with the Security Chief Kelly. Shina gets a sharp memory of the last time Ultratech "Changed the plans" on her. And this displeasure is shown in a sullen way as the young mercenary crosses her arms. She follows, but with little more than a professional nod and a grunt.

The clean facade might appear at odds with the feel of the place, and Shina is one to trust her instinct. Too clean is a bad thing, too. It means someone has something to hide. It just feels off to the young woman. Especially with the information held in a protected drive in the pocket of her fatigues. She keeps the same defensive posture as when she arrived, though she still follows the woman, keeping a step behind, keeping the well tailored Kelly in her eyeline.

And then comes the intruder? Shina had been told that was her purpose here. But is this what she was sent after? A single fox girl? No. The fox girl isn't the thing that's gotten Shina's hackles raised. It's the man she can see standing just behind. A well known man.

"Heidern. . ."

Immediately, Shina's huffy, almost teenage sullenness is gone for a straightened, ready, professional poise. So it wasn't her father, it was the Ikari head that was involved in all this. They were out there hunting Darkstalkers, then? No. Then Shina wouldn't be called in for this.

Shina's eyes dart about the room, trying to figure things out on her own. It seems to fail. She can't figure out Kelly, the fox girl, or Heidern drinking coffee. It's all very confusing. And Shina isn't one to really speculate when there's a more direct line ahead of her. "So what the hell is going on here?"

A touch of electric static followed by silence and Renka's connection to a handler supporting her from some short distance away from the facility is severed. That in and of itself isn't alarming, they had anticipated something like that could happen. The Corporal is armed with the knowledge, skill, and tools to handle most of this operation on her own anyway, and now that she finds herself near the technological 'brains' of the operation, she believes herself close to getting what she needs - the proof - and focusing quickly on exfiltration. Everything has gone smooth so far and that strikes the fox-eared Corporal just fine. Her hand reaches for her jacket - time to put some of those tools to use in extracting data -

The door hisses open behind her and Renka whirls to face it, eyes wide with open surprise. There had been no indication of activity moments before. She thought she had time.

She doesn't relish the thought of having to fight her way through this and is loath to consider harming anyone stationed here without a full knowledge of what the facility is really about, but if that's what it takes. Her hand shifts from reaching for her jacket to dropping down to the grip of the sword at her hip, the NOL soldier already pivoting to a posture that will afford her an easy quick-draw if anyone makes an aggressive move.

Baring her teeth, she looks about to speak, to warn the new arrivals off from making any hasty moves, when the attention of those at the door shift to somewhere above and behind her.

The sound of another is heard and Renka Kaneko suddenly moves, stepping away from the sound and whirling around all in one smooth, fluid motion to place herself at a third point of a triangle with those at the door and the looming figure that managed to defy her keen senses. Eyes sweep up and down the old warrior, taking him in. Awareness hits right around the same time Shina speaks up, giving voice to the name of the coffee sipping soldier.

Notes from the file on the his organization flash through her mind - ruthless mercenaries, dangerous, threats to the Librarium's interests and the safety of others, violent terrorist... Wanted dead or alive.

Finding the likes of him at the center of this facility makes far more sense to the the fox-tailed operative than it should, operating on the falsified information from her own files for her impression. Fingers tighten on the grip of her sheathed sword, muscles tensing as she reasserts her stance, twin tails twitching behind her back as she braces for attack. "I should have-"

Shina demands an explanation as to what is going on here and Renka suddenly realizes that the woman who looks the part of Ultratech security is just as surprised to see him here as she is.

Then... they aren't working together? Maybe she can use this.

"Stay back!" Renka barks, shifting her stance a bit more toward Heidern. "Under the authority of the Novus Orbis Librarium, I'm taking this terrorst in. Don't interfere!"

Were the rest of the room able to witness the world through Commander Heidern's eye, they would witness as the scene seems to slow, mind leaping forward to re-arrange perspectives, plans, and contingencies almost on instinct alone. The Kitsune, Renka(?), shifting into the third point of their triangle. Kelly's quick glance toward him to gauge his reaction. Shina's face slipping from sulking teen to soldier, and finally confusion.
A flash of insight as the puzzle re-arranges itself again, Renka - Isn't she a Corporal now? - seeming to recognize him, grasping for control of the situation while moving closer, gauging distance. Determined.
A plan is made.
Left hand whipping out in a quick, back-handed strike, Heidern flips his knuckles and sends his surprisingly heavy coffee cup swinging out at the extension of the blow. Not only does this add a touch of critical, unexpected reach, but the painted metal container gathers that little extra force from its rotation as he attempts to smash the rim precisely into the sensitive nerve cluster between Renka's nose and upper lip. And if that weren't bad enough, the contents of the cup are poised to come rushing out directly into the NOL operative's face, still steaming hot and richly bitter.
At the same moment, Heidern locks his single eye upon Kelly, still standing just to the side and behind of Shina, and states simply, "Sergeant Kelly. Orange alert. Seal off corridors C7, D7, and E6. Nobody leaves without the password. Not even me."
The 'Security Chief' snaps into action, darting backward to try and escape Shina's reach. One hand pulling her pistol, the other slaps at a small device tucked into her left ear, mouth opening to relay her Commander's orders. She, probably isn't the real security chief of this facility. In fact, it appears that both Darkstalkers have wandered into a full on Black Operation, the entire base, or at least this section of it, under the control of the Ikari Warriors. A dangerous terrorist organization to some, rival mercenary company to others.
"I was hoping to talk." Heidern informs Shina, eye flicking in her direction in the two or three seconds it takes for all of this to happen. "But first, you'll sleep." The words are delivered without a hint of a smirk, scarily, efficiently calm despite having just started what may become a lethal brawl.

COMBATSYS: Heidern has started a fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Heidern          0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Renka has joined the fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Heidern          0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0            Renka

So it would see the answer Shina is looking for is that everything has gone to hell. Fair enough. The young mercenary gives a side eye toward "Security Chief Kelly", while maintaining her professionally stand-offish poise. She isn't worried about that one, or the gun she has. Not when there's a Heidern in the room. It's he who gets the majority of Shina's focus.

That the fox girl announces herself as NOL does warrant attention, however. The name drop gets a low snarl from Shina. "This isn't your operation, Librarian," she says. "You broke in as much as he did!" But there's little point in arguing semantics. Not when the real threat is there. And the real threat is talking to her.

Shina knows that the Kitsune might be the one to cause the most trouble here. At least, in the grand scheme of a lot of schemers. However, Shina does have one very important opportunity staring her in the face. One she can't give up. A chance that sends a thrill down her spine.

A chance to throw hands with the leader of the Ikari himself.

"Looking forward to it," she tells Heidern, a little laugh bubbling up in her throat. It escapes as a low chuckle. She means every word of what she says.

COMBATSYS: Shina has joined the fight here on the right meter side.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Renka            0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0            Shina
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Heidern          0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Shina takes no action.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Renka            0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0            Shina
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Heidern          0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Renka blocks Heidern's Light Random Weapon.

[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Renka            0/-------/----===|-------\-------\0            Shina
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Heidern          0/-------/-------|

"Feel free to file any complaints with my-" the NOL soldier snaps in response to Shina's comment about her breaking in. Truth be told, she has no idea how that would even shake out but she's just a foot soldier in the scheme of things and hasn't the big picture view. All she can hope is that something would get sorted out if things actually reached that point. But she doesn't have time to finish her dismissive remark when Heidern makes his move, putting the vulpine-eared soldier to the test with the mug.

A blur of motion and flash of vibrant blue marks the Corporal's reaction as she sweeps her arm up into the trajectory of the probing strike. The impact strikes her forearm instead of her face, and much of the hot liquid is knocked upward with the motion as well, though enough of it lands on her jacket sleeve to clearly soak deep into the dark blue fabric.

It's a good thing she has a closet of uniforms considering the wear and tear they always seem to suffer.

Still, the force behind the swing was enough to push her off balance through her hasty defense, feet slipping back along the floor a couple of steps before the kitsune comes to a stop. Teeth bared, she glares back at Heidern, feet planted for a moment. From behind the soldier, nine spheres of dancing motes of sapphire flame flicker into existence, hovering in lazy orbits of their own above and behind her back.

She lifts her sleeve for a moment, eyeing the drops of dark, aromatic fluid with a quick scowl, before her eyes flick back to the veteran warrior.

Eyes flick back toward Shina then, noticing her willing to take on the dreaded mercenary as well. Eyes narrow with suspicion before they snap back to the bigger threat for the moment.

"Trying to steal JANUS technology for yourself? I won't have it!"

When she lunges for Heidern, her hand drops to the grip of her sword, fingers just about to grasp hold of it. But the motion is a feint as she twists the other way suddenly, twin tails whipping back and forth with the sudden change in motion. Instead of drawing with her right hand, she claws out with her left open hand, a swath of foxfire trailing the motion of her hand as she tries to catch the terrorist off guard with unarmed close quarters combat, albeit augmented by energy that will feel like fire on contact while not actually destroying things the way true fire would.

She twists the other way with her next step, right hand following the motion from top to bottom in the opposite angle across his chest. One more step would have her right in close to him as she twists both hands at the wrist and slashes them back in the opposite directions, attempting to rake them against Heidern in the shape of an X - one left lingering by the crossing swaths of blue flame trailing behind her curled fingers!

COMBATSYS: Heidern blocks Renka's Ashen Hearth.

[   \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Renka            0/-------/----===|-------\-------\0            Shina
[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Heidern          0/-------/-------|

Mug meets forearm with a surprisingly chunky thud, the vessel rebounding back around his fingers to smack firmly into Heidern's gloved palm while Renka's lighter form is forced that short distance away. Boots planted and right hand hanging loose at his side, he pauses for a single beat to gauge the momentary opportunity he has made, single eye continuing to watch Shina as if expecting her to take a step in the dance that never comes...
"Code Orange." Sergeant Kelly relays into her earpiece, accompanied by the wet splat of coffee splashing down upon the glossy ultra-modern tile of the server room. Gun drawn, but pointed more or less toward the ground, the woman finishes backing off and turns away from the unfolding madness, heading back down the hallway at a brisk jog. Apparently helping defend her Commanding Officer isn't one of the core procedures of a Code Orange.
The moment passes.
Retreating a single step deeper into the room, Heidern shifts himself out of sight of the doorway and Shina just beyond it, serious gaze turning to study Renka at her supposition as to why he is here. If her guess is correct there is no flicker of a tell visible upon his lean face, only the faint, thoughtful frown of a man deciding how best to solve a problem.
It is her.
She is that problem.
The frown doesn't fade as she charges forward to engage him, his long frame remaining loose-limbed and relaxed. In fact, as she faints a hand toward her sword he reveals himself to either be a man who is utterly unconcerned about the sword, is able to read into the faint, or has enough of a poker face to pretend. He doesn't even twitch until she has committed herself to the first of the foxfire swipes, at which point his free hand reaches up, quick as a cat, and clamps a firm but not painful grip upon her hooked fingers. Strength against strength he brings her charge to a brief, stuttering halt, the pair of them both being quite a bit stronger than they look. The interruption is brief, however, lasting just long enough for the false fire to wash across his glove before he pulls back, palm twisting toward the sky and fingers spreading as he drops his attention to study the affect. It burns, of course. At least for a short time. Time enough for him to neatly side step the follow up strike from her other hand, mug deposited upon the corner of a desk in passing.
"Hazama." he mutters, eyeing the psychic wisps as they burn away to nothing, leaving behind a memory of phantom pain but no damage to the glove beneath. Mental then, or deeply spiritual. The difference is academic. Fits what he had suspected about Kitsune, but acting upon assumption alone gets men killed.
Gaze lifting from his undamaged hand, Heidern returns the whole of his focus to Renka herself. Both of the redhead's hands are raised to deliver the final X-shaped strike, body flowing toward him in constant motion. Aggression, determination. A passionate fighter.
Stepping forward, the Commander begins a sway to his left, right hand reaching out for the second time in as many seconds to gather a fist full of her blue coat. Bunching the material tight against her right shoulder, he heaves, dragging her forward while accelerating his own swaying step to weave cleanly around the double swipes. But rather than release her to continue further into the dim server room, he maintains the hold on her jacket, using her smaller form as an anchor to pivot on the spot and plant both booted feet solidly behind her, empty left hand attempting to latch on below her left arm and gather a second fist full of material against her ribs while tugging her to a stop.
Nothing fancy. No great tumbling shows of acrobatics or explosions of power that put his fist through a wall. Perhaps the aging legend is capable of such things, but thus far all he has demonstrated is a preternatural grasp of the space around him, body mechanics, and information gathering. Working minimally to accomplish maximum affect.

ight boot swinging up, he braces it squarely upon Renka's bum below the twin tails that, if popular culture is to be believed, mark her as well over twice the Commander's age. From there it is a simple thing to drop backward, dragging her off of her feet and rolling them both into a throw that, unless it is avoided, will catapult the Kitsune up and over, soaring across the width of the room to impact the far corner. Briefly visible to anyone beyond the threshold as a blue and red streak that flashes past the still open door.
Completing the roll, Heidern ends in a low, almost predatory crouch, pushing back to his upright stance as he stalks after the NOL agent. This brings him once more into the area framed by the door, a grim-faced hunter who, unless given a reason not to, seems perfectly content to divide and conquer. Alone, it's unlikely that either of the women are going to get anything out of the old soldier. But together? It might just be their only hope.

A low chuckling laugh burbles up in Shina's chest. A crackling energy pricks at the young mercenary's fingers. She has a fight brewing in front of her. On one side, the Librarium agent's clearly supernatural assault is a kind of weapon she is only passingly familiar with. Though she has sparred with a Librarium member, there was a different kind of kinship between her and Meifeng. Though the Library was good on their money. And Heidern was likely worth a good deal of said money.

Shina would like that money. And the chance to test herself against a mercenary king like Heidern isn't the kind of challenge that comes all too often. She cannot just give it up, even if there's something that she knows she needs from the Ikari commander.

"Red, how much is this man worth?" she asks, shouting above the din of the energy being released. All the while she lowers herself and readies her own pouncing.

She doesn't wait for answers, she bursts forward. Her boots are rough, but light on the ground in her approach. She closes in toward Heidern. Her legs tuck up. Left leg landing, she lashes out with her right instep with a sweeping swipe. Left leg bounces, she hooks back with the right heel. And when she tucks in, compacts, a spark of electricity crackles and pops with a final heavy side-kick square for the center of Heidern's mass.

There is little elegance in Shina's assault, more speed and a natural predatory grace, but there is a practice. She is a child of the battlefield, and a Darkstalker. But she is also, in this moment, a very eager young woman excited by a thrill.

COMBATSYS: Heidern successfully hits Renka with Critical Drive.

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Renka            0/-------/=======|-------\-------\0            Shina
[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Heidern          0/-------/-----==|

Renka clashes with Heidern, the man opting to discover for himself what threat exists in the vibrant blue flames that she wields with such seemingly great ease. Her hand clashes against his and with that he knows, in spite the significant difference in stature, her strength is not to be easily dismissed. No doubt her frame is enhanced by physiology that is quite different than a human's in spite the obvious similarities on the surface. She lets him maintain the hold, even using the tight grip to add greater force to the strike from her right hand, a soft growl escaping her lips, but he slips around it, using their forced moment of contact to maintain his position just out of reach of the second wave of fire passing narrowly by.

But while some fighting combinations lose steam toward the end, this final crossing slash of her arms packs over twice the punch of her two previous swings, foxfire flaring to a brilliant blue as she lunges in for the final strike.

Rather than retreat or simply try to weather the firestorm, the Ikari Warrior goes on the offense, getting a tight hold of her blue jacket and using that as an anchor point in return to slip carefully by.

Leaning forward, one knee bent, one leg extended backward for balance, the Librarium loyalist is in no position to defend herself from behind and so she attempts to keep going forward, likely attempting to use his hold on her jacket to twist herself back around to face him in the process, but he gets his second hold too fast and cuts Renka's motion short. There's a single jerk of motion as she tries to wrest herself free before Heidern plants his foot and smoothly hauls the soldier up and over and sends her careening across the room. A table occupies the point of impact and just before she's about to land hard against its edge, one of her nine foxfire spheres suddenly zips out in advance of her, smashing through the table and splintering it, leaving it to fully shatter as the kitsune's body impacts it for less harm than she might have suffered otherwise as pieces of cheap wood scatter.

Scrambling to her feet, the Corporal holds her ground, facing back toward Heidern, her right hand closing over the grip of her sheathed sword.

"I don't report to Colonel Hazama." Acting Colonel, that is, but this is hardly a time to dwell on nuances.

Leaning forward, body tensed, she seems fearless before the advance of the Soldier of Fortune in spite his credentials. It's then that her ears pick up Shina's question. Of course, the bounty. Her own fascination with lucre had faded long ago, but she knew it could be a powerful motivator.

"Half a million," she answers without skipping a beat. She wasn't sure of the exact amount, but knew she had to be in the ballpark for a Class A threat. Maybe that would secure her an ally against the Ikari Warrior.

This time she follows Shina's lead, surging forward with remarkable speed. The sword draw happens mid-way to Heidern, a new source of foxfire rippling down the length of the katana in a plume of burning blue. And the slash happens as she dashes in a moment that would be at home in any samurai movie, the blazing blue katana threatening to deliver a fierce cut on Heidern's side.

But there is another comment made just as she closes in on her target. One born of a prior encounter with two of Heidern's famed Ikari Warriors. An encounter where she briefly savored the soul of one and saw the selfless bravery of another coming to his defense... A moment that gave her enough hesitation to add two words to her answer to Shina:

"Wanted alive."

Unless prevented, she would slide to a stop out of her slashing attack, sword blade lowered out of the follow through of the mighty strike.

COMBATSYS: Heidern full-parries Shina's Trident Shout!!

[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Renka            0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0            Shina
[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Heidern          0/-------/--=====|

COMBATSYS: Heidern dodges Renka's The Lonesome Road.

[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Renka            0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0            Shina
[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Heidern          0/-------/-======|

It is perhaps fortunate that mind reading isn't one of Heidern's many hidden talents, as he'd likely have plenty to say at being thought of as a King. There are certain trappings and other expectations required of a monarch that the old soldier is far too practical to care about. On the other hand, the way he leads his Company, the mixture of personal care and aloof distance that mark the relationship with his men. These are things that mark him as more than a simple Commander. To be an Ikari Warrior is to shoulder the burden of nearly unreasonably high expectations from the man. But also to understand that the Commander asks nothing of his men that he isn't willing to do himself.
Case and point, this whole situation.
Stalking into Shina's sight line with his blind side turned toward her, he seems wide open to the pouncing charge of the excited Wereleopard. An opinion that is reinforced when he doesn't lunge away when she comes blitzing with a low sweep, instep swiping toward his ankles. And so it must be luck that guides his forward foot over the kick, the legendary soldier passing over the sweep without even breaking stride.
"Four hundred and fifty thousand." the Commander corrects, taking another step toward Renka and pivoting just in time to avoid Shina's reverse heel, her boot swishing by less than an inch from his hip.
Head turning, he breaks focus from the Kitsune in order to spike Shina with a sharp glance of his remaining eye, stern in the face of her aggressive excitement.
However, a glance is all he has time for, the lean man dropping with startling speed to avoid the dual strikes coming at him. Hitting the tile in a tight, curled roll, he passes beneath the sparking side kick, Renka's blazing sword passing not 6 inches above the mercenary girl's outstretched foot. If he had been any less quick it's likely he would have gotten caught between the two, kicked sideways into the cleaving blade. As it is he tumbles beneath and beyond Shina in a single, fluid move, a flare of brilliant bluish white energy tracing the edge of his right hand as it lashes sideways toward the inside of her left thigh. A sheathe of visible force that attempts to blast the leg out from under her even as his gloved fingers threaten to cleave through cloth, flesh, and muscle alike, his straightened hand as sharp as any blade.
Transitioning smoothly from roll, to crouch, to rising step, Heidern moves to pass through the now unoccupied door and out into the hall beyond, planting a heel and turning to glance back at the women through the open portal. With the lot of them passing in and out at regular intervals, the auto shut seems to be constantly resetting, motion near the sensor warning it not to close. An idle flex of his right hand banishes the last of the lingering energy from his strike, stance loose and ready as he turns the doorway into a choke point, limiting the angles from which the pair can attack him.

COMBATSYS: Shina parries Heidern's Assault Saber EX!

[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Renka            0/-------/-======|=------\-------\0            Shina
[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Heidern          0/-------/-======|

Half a million? That's good money. Could keep Shina in the black for a while while she tends to her investigation. She wouldn't really be worried for Heidern, the man's reputation and the reputation of the Ikari tells Shina that any attempts to hold him would be of limited success. So, to Shina, the idea she could chalk an assistant win against a fighter like Heidern, and get a payday, and not feel bad for the inevitable escape is a significant win/win situation.

Young Jeanne Gado knows that she has a need to put her all into this fight. Heidern is fast and beyond the pale in awareness. His swiftness in a fight has him easily handling the eager mercenary and the refined fox girl. Shina threw herself at Heidern, and she sees her mistake pay out. The sheer swiftness of the man brings Shina dangerously close to being exposed to his razor sharp employment of chi.

But Shina is not without moves of her own. The young merc has some calling her a marvel in early teens. And with certain help, she knows she's only gotten better and faster and stronger. Her knee buckles as Heidern's hand lashes. A planned crumple, one that leads into a roll that Shina bursts out from even as Heidern slips through into the hall.

With a burst of excitement and a crackle of lightning, Shina's back to her feet. She's close in pursuit and picking up speed. She herself is quick, and she has her target in sight. Though she isn't paying much attention to the shift in venue. She is lead through the choke point. Her erstwhile partner in the moment, and most of the world, slipping into a steady tunnel vision with nothing but Heidern in her sights.

Arm cocking back, Shina's teeth grin and lightning sheathes her fist. A shout that slicks to inhuman. Pupils slitting, Shina dashes forward with a heavy, crackling haymaker aimed to clock Heidern hard enough to put him into check.

Slipping to push past even him, to clear past and turn about. To pincer off the Ikari King. As her eyes lock and she feels the predator within lashing for release.

COMBATSYS: Shina blitzes into action and acts again!

[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Renka            0/-------/-======|=------\-------\0            Shina
[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Heidern          0/-------/-======|

COMBATSYS: Shina focuses on her next action.

[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Renka            0/-------/-======|=------\-------\0            Shina
[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Heidern          0/-------/-======|

Sensitive ears detected the movement of the soldier as she passed him by - the close evasion, the duck into a roll that took him narrowly out of harm's way, the strike toward her unanticipated ally in this battle. More than enough info to know that she isn't under immediate attack as she slides to a stop, the soft woosh of fire coursing over her blade adding to the ambient sound of ventilation systems and whirring electronics. Recovering out of her forward lean, the NOL soldier's head turns, affording her a view of the aftermath of their tandem attack, eyes narrowed.

By the time she has pivoted around to face him, the Ikari Warrior commander has positioned himself in the doorway. A sound strategy for the moment, the Librarian operative considers, but if he ends up surrounded there, if one of them gets past him at all, he'll be completely trapped between them. Of course, she knows he'll have accounted for that every bit as much as she's considered it. She's seen enough to confirm he's no stranger to battles and his formidable reputation has not been tarnished here.

Still, even in the doorway, there's an opportunity for each to attack. She hasn't seen a weapon in Shina's hands, which means of the two of them, the other darkstalker likely has the least reach.

Not a problem.

She returns her katana to its sheath at her hip, the rippling blue flames along it extinguishing as the steel slides into place. Thrusting her right hand out, a plume of vibrant foxfire bursts along a linear path that extends both forward and backward from near her open palm. And as she closes her fingers into the flame, the fire fades, leaving the long shaft of a sharp spear in her grip.

She suspects she can count on the other darkstalker's aggression to lead the way and begins to charge with that assumption in mind, left hand joining her right to redouble her grip on the shaft of her azure flame-tipped weapon.

Shina doesn't disappoint, surging in with fearless aggression - the kind of bold, almost reckless maneuvers that will be necessary to contend with the dangerous man. Renka's charge is hardly more reserved, but she isn't aiming to barrel her way past Heidern like Shina is, rather shifting her angle of attack the moment she analyses her ally of convenience's own vector for approach.

And thus it is - if Heidern slips by even an iota, he will find himself contending not just with the lightning infused fist of the were-leopard, but the foxfire infused spear tip lancing toward his chest as Renka thrusts it forward from behind Shina's flank!

COMBATSYS: Heidern blocks Shina's Assault Blow EX.

[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Renka            0/-------/---====|==-----\-------\0            Shina
[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Heidern          0/-------/-======|

COMBATSYS: Heidern blocks Renka's This Matter of Honor EX.

[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Renka            0/-------/--=====|==-----\-------\0            Shina
[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Heidern          0/-------/=======|

It takes a significant feat to catch Commander Heidern off balance, but Shina nearly manages it when she aborts to escape the cleaving path of his strike. Stepping through the doorway, he has just enough time to turn, to find her nearly upon him and alight with crackling energy. To act, moving with sudden, vicious speed that is two steps above anything they've seen from him thus far.
Right hand flashing up, he hooks deadly fingers around the charging woman's swinging wrist, entire body twisting into a swirl of wind and coat that guides the haymaker past his face, the pair of them nearly touching chest to chest. Half way through the spin he releases her to continue forward without him, her charged fist smashing into the corridor wall with a cracking release of lightning.
Residual sparks dancing along his glove, he continues the spin a full 360 degrees, empty left hand knifing up to clash with the blade of Renka's darting spear. The edge of his palm meets the edge of her weapon with a resounding CLING that forces the blow off course, point darting past while the metal shaft bangs hard against the doorframe. It is into that empty space that Heidern flows, left hand twisting to apply steady pressure to the spear, keeping the shaft lodged against the door where any attempt to yank it back will snag the head on the frame.
So many variables. An endless series of calculations to gauge angles, probabilities, and formulate how best to exploit them. As the women are coming to find, that is the genius of the Ikari Commander. If they were any less experienced, they might lose hope. Feel the dread of facing an opponent who is always at least two steps ahead. And yet, both warriors know that even the best laid plans can be uprooted. After all, he is just a man. Apply enough pressure, and surely he will break.
Coat billowing out behind him, Heidern steps into the doorway and brings his right fist snapping forward in a quick, brutal jab for the tip of Renka's chin, attempting to rock her back onto her heels and distract her just long enough that he can lift his other hand from her spear, grab her roughly by her fluffy right ear, and twist his entire body into jerking her off of her feet and bashing the side of her face hard into the corner of the doorframe. A brutish, violent maneuver that, if successful, will allow him to push forward, forcing his way back into the room and turning to sweep the Kitsune's feet out from under her and hip toss her back through the door into the hallway beyond, resetting the board with them on one side and him once more on the other.

Cracked walls, crackling lightning, a crack in the facade of humanity. Predator's eyes locked, muscles tense and loaded, nerves ready to burst like a shot from a gun. With the world slowing down in her mind, Shina studies her target. He is talented, experienced far beyond herself, but he is being harangued by the fox girl. He cannot keep things up forever. And each moment, each push, she can tell that the time will come when he slips. She just needs to be there. She just needs to force it.

Shina can see she needs him open. Moreover, she needs to make sure that the Librarian needs him open. That spear looks like it could do some damage. But Shina knows she has to get a few words in with the cunning Ikari leader.

Ideas form. Shina thinks she's found the best way forward. She drops to a three-point stance. Her backside rises. She surges forth after Heidern exposes himself to her for all his effort to go after the Librarian.

"Allez-oop!" she calls out, running in low, body holding her humanity for the time being. Still, she moves much like a cat, dropping low to come at the equally low stance Heidern favors. She sets upon him with a pounce. An attempt to mantle the mercenary and take both him and his arm to the ground with a scissoring lock of her legs. A plan to turn this from a running battle to a grounded clinching grapple.

COMBATSYS: Renka has joined the fight here on the right meter side.

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Heidern          0/-------/=======|=====--\-------\0            Renka
                                  >  ////////////////////////////  ]
                                  |==-----\-------\0            Shina

COMBATSYS: Renka just-defends Heidern's Combo Grapple!

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Heidern          0/-------/=======|=====--\-------\0            Renka
                                  >  ////////////////////////////  ]
                                  |==-----\-------\0            Shina

As the shaft of her spear rattles against the doorframe, Renka is forced to acknowledge that nothing about the old warrior's performance thus far has done anything to detract from the rumors concerning his skill. It's requiring everything she has to try and keep up and the gulf between the fox-tailed creature of myth and the hardened mercenary of legend is becoming increasingly clear to her. When it comes to the passing of seasons, the darkstalker straight from the pages of Japanese lore might have witnessed almost four times as many as the Ikari commander. But in terms of a life devoted to the unrelenting refinement of turning one's body into a living weapon, it was clear who had devoted time between the two of them.

Gritting her teeth, her hands test the tension on her weapon, determining if there is any chance of prying it loose in time to wrest back control of the scuffle in the doorway. Only when it doesn't budge an inch does she do the only thing she can in such a situation - she relaxes her fingers, releasing the lengthy weapon from her grip. In an instant, the shaft is consumed in a coating of foxfire that bursts into existence for half a second and vanishes just as suddenly, leaving only empty space where the spear had been.

This critical decision is the only thing that leaves her free to move as quickly as she has to as Heidern turns his deadly attention her way. Left arm raises as she leans back, intercepting just barely the strike toward her lower face. But when he makes a move for one of her upright ears, reflexes operating on an instinctual level kick in and the kitsune's head leans to the side, feet shifting, targeted ear flicking just out of reach, leaving the backs of his fingers to brush against the fur lining it with no chance of securing a grip.

Already, she's whirling with the man, anticipating his motion based on an understanding that he doesn't want to be trapped between them, and with Shina already through the doorway, the only way to go is back. As he sweeps his leg to try and rob her of any balance, Renka slams both hands out, shoving against the larger foe's side. At the same time, another of her foxfire motes surges down, infusing itself into her right arm, giving the limb a surge of strength beyond what Heidern had experienced from the Corporal thus far.

In the end, it's enough to dislodge him beyond the point of being able to get a hold of her, but it also ends up fulfilling his mobile objective of making it back into the room, leaving her the closer of the two now women trying to find a crack in his formidable defenses. A soft growl rattles in her throat as she pursues. Not just to keep pressure on him but also to make sure that she isn't blocking Shina's angle of attack by lingering in the entryway.

Her right hand secures the grip of her sword in an instant, drawing the curved, azure flame coated steel in a flash, sweeping the blade up from the low angle of its sheath up and to the left in a swift backhand sword draw strike. While the attack may lack the full bodied power she poured into her earlier sword slash, the movement is swift enough to challenge most fighters, and with the way she pivots with the movement into a side step to the left, it doesn't leave her terribly vulnerable either.

He can see it easily enough in her features - her resolve remains unshaken. The Librarium's attack dog will not be easily dissuaded.

COMBATSYS: Shina successfully hits Heidern with Trap Leg Through.

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Heidern          1/-------/=======|====---\-------\0            Renka
                                  >  ////////////////////////////  ]
                                  |===----\-------\0            Shina

COMBATSYS: Heidern fails to counter Quick Strike from Renka with Killing Bringer.

[            \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Heidern          1/-------/=======|======-\-------\0            Renka
                                  >  ////////////////////////////  ]
                                  |===----\-------\0            Shina

For the second time in as many moments, Heidern finds himself underestimating the women he's fighting. Not by much, not insultingly so, but enough. And this time they make him pay for it.
Fist impacting Renka's guard with a solid thump, the Commander is faced with a split second decision. Pull back, throw himself hard in the other direction, or push in hopes that he can still break through. Riding on instinct, he pushes, leaning into a quick, stepping snatch for the Kitsune's ear, and the entire sequence begins to unravel. Catching only air, he can just feel the brush of fluff against the back of his glove before the pair of them begin to twist, leg sweeping in for the trip even though he has no way to force it, no leverage with which to ground the contact. A flash of blue is his only warning before her soul-enhanced palms drive in beneath his ribs, forcing him to leap aside and abandon the door or else be driven clean off his boots.
Strong, and fast.
Landing lightly at the half way point between Renka and the center console, the commander squares off with the much smaller redhead, freezing in place while he takes in her approach. The entire of his focus tunneling in upon her center mass, he gauges distance, speed, the added reach provided by the sword at her hip. He knows she will draw even before her hand begins the motion, a single step forward cutting the distance down, right hand lashing forward to intercept her forearm as hand meets hilt...
A blur of color impacts the commander full on, small but strong hands latching onto his forearm as Shina lunges up from below, ruthlessly exploiting the Commander's momentary lapse in attention. Legs swinging up to clamp around his arm, her forward momentum swings her around his side, jerking the limb back and tugging him into a stumbling fall that almost, ALMOST jerks him clear of the rising slash of the Kitsune's sword.
Catching him mid way along the left pectoral, the tip of Renka's burning blade cleaves through the lapel of his dark green trench coat, parting leather, cloth, and flesh alike. A light mist of crimson droplets mark the arc of the slash as it exits his left shoulder, a breathy huff of a grunt gusting from his nose as he tumbles away to slam hard to the tile, arm twisting within Shina's grasp as he rolls toward her, attempting to gain control of the grapple.
He can bleed. He can stumble. And caught in a struggle upon the ground, he may even be truly vulnerable.


It's almost exuberant, Shina's whoop at success. A showing that, mercenary past, experimental enhancements, and mission at hand that she is still little more than a teen filled with excitement. And now she's opened up one of the most high profile mercenaries in the world to the pointy spear of her erstwhile partner. Another Darkstalker in the service of the Libarium. A curious thing she's seen a few times already. But she's already suspecting for similar reasons.

"Red!" Shina calls out to the agent, "Ready up!"

A snap word and Shina herself is moving just as snappy. Her grip shifts, legs unlocking and hips twisting to find purchase. She oozes out from her own grapple and scuttles to the ground, slipping herself about Heidern and trying to get into position behind him. Her aim, the slender man's waist.

She goes for a grab, to lock in and press herself against him, low enough to get leverage. Keeping him in close and wrestling, she tries to hurl the Ikari Commander up and over with a snapping German Suplex to the cold floor of the Ultratech facility.

The relentless harrying of both Renka and Shina would wear down even the most hardened of veteran fighters and that it had taken them this long to finally find a crack in his defense. A combination of instinctual-speed defense by the fox and dogged pursuit by the wereleopard gives the Ikari Commander all but no time to respond. He knows Renka's move - it was locked in the moment she rushed toward him, the weapon sheathed at her side.

The draw strike that follows is flawless in execution in spite the stressful conditions. While the vulpine eared creature is far from a master swordsman, it's clear that she has practiced the core elements of her swordsmanship relentlessly and here and now, that dedication pays off with a grazing strike - one that cuts deeper spiritually than it does physically given the limit of her reach, but every little bit helps.

Without Shina's interference, he would have seen enough to know the exact angle her blade would swing and defeat the attempt handily, but as the azure flame blade sweeps this time, it connects, leaving traces of foxfire flickering along the cut for seconds before finally fading.

Having not over extended herself, the NOL Corporal is able to recover quickly, shifting her balance already back to the defensive. She hesitates a moment, taking into consideration Shina's proximity to the old warrior, a strike at this point could risk harming her unexpected partner instead of her intended target and given what she's seen so far, she needs all of the other darkstalker's focus on the mercenary leader if things are going to turn out the way she hopes.

Shina seems to realize the challenge, however, taking advantage of her position to try and secure a tight enough hold to literally dead lift the larger man into a back dropping suplex. A bold choice, in Renka's mind, but if successful, it does promise to put her target in position for an all but guaranteed strike.

Some might question the honor in ganging up on a single human to take him down, but the soldier is no stranger to fighting with the strength of numbers against a more dangerous foe and all shadow of doubts around working with the unknown girl were dismissed the instant she jumped in to help.

After shifting along the floor slightly, she plants her feet, now in place for where Heidern just might end up if things go Shina's way. Planting her feet, Renka grips her sword with both hands instead of one, and lifts her blade, ready to bring it crashing down with a heavy strike!

COMBATSYS: Shina successfully hits Heidern with Toughness Driver.
- Power hit! -

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Heidern          1/-----==/=======|=====--\-------\0            Renka
                                  >  ///////////////////////////   ]
                                  |====---\-------\0            Shina

COMBATSYS: Heidern dodges Renka's Power Strike.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Heidern          1/-----==/=======|======-\-------\0            Renka
                                  >  ///////////////////////////   ]
                                  |====---\-------\0            Shina

In Heidern's experience, it is inevitable that true combat will eventually buck any soldier's ability to predict and devolve into a mess of gouging, biting and stabbing in the mud and blood that battlefields are so like to create. And while there is no mud to be found deep beneath the Janus facility, there is blood, and chaos.
Strong arms begin to tighten around Shina's hips and thighs as she squirms her way free of the grapple, threatening to catch on her pockets and pants her as she wiggles her way to freedom. Fortunately a twist and a yank keeps things from being awkward and gives her the opportunity she needs to roll behind the Commander, her shout ringing through the room as the grip is secured.
Though lean, the body beneath the uniform is nothing but dense muscle and bone, his long form surprisingly heavy as she jerks him upward off the tile. The fingers of his right hand leave deep gouges in the material where he attempts to anchor himself to the earth in the chaotic scramble, only managing to half twist himself free before she catapults him up and over her head to smash shoulder-first into the floor with a quiet crunch.
A quiet grunt of pain hisses through clinched teeth as Heidern tears himself free of Shina's grasp and throws himself to one side, Renka's blade striking the spot he just vacated with a ringing peel of steel and a splash of blue and orange sparks. Leaving a trail of bloody droplets in his wake, the mercenary plants his left fist and uses it to lever himself quickly to his feet, retreating deeper into the server room while his right arm flexes, testing the range of motion. Both women have acute enough senses to hear the grind of bone where his collar has fractured, an injury that is likely to slow the motions of his right arm, distract him with jolts of pain. But still that one eye of his flicks from Shina on the ground to Renka with her sword, focused, intent. Lean face lined and serious.
Drifting sideways a step to put the center console to his left and the undamaged bank of monitors to his right, Heidern flashes both hands up and across, forming an X with his forearms that nearly mirrors Renka's own gesture from earlier in the fight. However, rather than twisting his hands into claws, the Commander slashes them down and apart in a single, sharp motion that cleaves glowing rents into space, sending an X of energy slicing across the distance to try and draw blood from the wily were-leopard.

COMBATSYS: Shina parries Heidern's Cross Cutter!

[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Heidern          1/----===/=======|======-\-------\0            Renka
                                  >  ///////////////////////////   ]
                                  |=====--\-------\0            Shina

The crack of bone. The scent of blood. The feel of a desperate grip clinging at her. Then the freedom of movement when her grapple is no longer such. The mad scramble and scrum opens up when Heidern gets himself away from the leopard's grip and once more moving quickly enough to keep ahead of her. But there's blood on the floor now. Blood Shina can smell. She has the mercenary king on the run. And she's feeling the moment.

She coils back, rocking her feet up and getting to her shoulders. A quick kick and she flips to her boots. The world around he has slipped toward one of senses and instinct. A rippling pulse echoes through her crouched frame. A pelt of gold and dark rosettes blooms over her. Fingertips touching the floor tighten before heavy claws burst from their human confines. Padded fingertips press down, thin claws extending to scratch the ground. A deep breath and Shina's clothes strain at the shapeshifter's sudden burst of growth. While her eyes darken to an amber that shines and reflects the light of the oncoming X of energy. A woman's face in one moment, a beasts in the next.

Tail lashing, enhanced claws gouging the ground, Shina lashes forward. She hurls herself toward the oncoming slashing air. The leopard moves on fours, low at first, then with a graceful aileron roll, curves herself around the vertex of the top half of Heidern's blast. She slips through with feline focus, landing with silence and liquid metal predatory intent.

Part of her knows what she's doing, but Shina cannot hold back against someone like Heidern. Even if she has the advantage, even if she could walk out of this without spilling her truth, she has to let out the beast. Part of her wants Heidern to know, if he doesn't. He wants her to know her own hand in this strange set of circumstance. Part of her wants the NOL ally she has to know as well. It would not be the first of the Library that she's let know of her status.

She has information to give. She has so much more to ask of both Heidern and why that Librarian is about. Maybe after than can be a professional sharing of intel so that Shina can find the truth behind the facade of the Zoanthrope Liberation Army.

But as Shina's claws unsheathe, and her jaws open for Heidern's throat, she is not thinking of what's coming five minutes or five days from now. She has in this moment the leader of the Ikari dead to rights and she intends to pin him down with claw and fang.

So focused on the man who so narrowly avoided her fierce sword strike, the Librarium Corporal is shifting her feet, adjusting her grip, and preparing to charge the old warrior once again. Their combined efforts are taking their toll and she can sense a potential end to this conflict fast approaching. Unlike her unexpected ally, there is no thrill of the fight in the kitsune's soul, no excitement about the battle, the challenge, the test of strength against one of the world's greats. Simply a steel-hardened commitment to get this job done, to keep the dangerous knowledge of the JANUS project spreading further, and of securing a man highly sought after by the ranks of the organization in which she serves.

That it is inevitably a bloody affair, with broken bones and wounded bodies is simply an unfortunate byproduct of the work that must be done. And as she senses an approaching conclusion, the only thought in her mind is trying to anticipate what will come next. She's still deep in an Ultratech facility, after all. And she knows Heidern is not the only one of his forces within the building. She can't afford to get too caught up in the heat of the moment...

Which is exactly what seems to happen with Shina. Renka's eyes widen, her focus stolen from Heidern, as a power seems to overcome the other darkstalker. It's enough to give the fox-tailed swordswoman pause. This is not her first exposure to a shifter... even though in world of darkstalkers, they're exceedingly rare. She has, however, encountered enouhg of them in her long life to know the effect such a transformation has can vary from individual to individual. Some retaining nearly all of their faculties. For others, the transformation can be all-consuming, suppressing conscious thought, leaving only feral instinct and undirected bloodlust.

Without knowing where the wereleopard falls on the scale, she isn't sure how well she can trust the alarmingly powerful looking beast. In the moment, the fox's wariness of Heidern is applied almost equally to the other darkstalker's.

"You better be keeping it together." Renka shouts, poised behind her azure flame sword, "He's worth nothing dead!"

She needs to know - any sign - that the smell of blood in air hasn't awoken a new threat to herself.

COMBATSYS: Renka focuses on her next action.

[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////      ]
Heidern          1/----===/=======|======-\-------\0            Renka
                                  >  //////////////////////////    ]
                                  |====---\-------\0            Shina

COMBATSYS: Heidern blocks Shina's Demolition Fang EX.

[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////      ]
Heidern          1/----===/=======|======-\-------\0            Renka
                                  >  //////////////////////////    ]
                                  |=====--\-------\0            Shina

Standing with softly humming computers to his left and right, with the armored expanse of the server room window yawning dark and misty behind him, Heidern watches his target break low. Form blurring into a smear of muted gold, black and tan, Shina blitzes forward and between the arms of his Cross Cutter, landing before him with liquid grace. If he is surprised by the sudden appearance of fur and fangs it does not show on his face, the Ikari Commander still and calm even as the missed attack slashes deep gouges into the tile where she had lane but moments before.
Despite his obvious injuries, despite the growing gap of momentum that rolls things ever in her favor, Heidern stares sternly into her amber eyes with blunt disapproval.
Without time for words, he conveys everything he means to in that simple glance, bones grinding within his shoulder as he snaps a gloved hand out toward the table to his right. Only Renka is in a good position to see him swipe a floppy rubber wrist rest from in front of its keyboard and flick it sharply through the air, a faint crimson glow infusing its surface as it snaps out straight and stiff across his body. With blunt precision he lifts the improvised weapon and wedges it long-ways between Shina's snapping jaws, razor-sharp teeth grinding across a surface gone hard as steel.
"You are no assassin." He rebukes the ferocious shifter, using his greater reach to briefly hold her at bay.
Maintaining his grip on one end of the wrist rest, he shoves sharply up, twisting his wrist to try and keep it wedged between her top and bottom fangs. Unless she can regain the advantage, he will step in beneath her and turn to slam his broken shoulder into her ribs, thrusting up with his body while his hand on the bit jerks sharply down to drive the wind out of her and flip her up and over his back, accelerating her arcing tumble toward, and hopefully through, another table loaded with computer equipment. It is at the very last moment that he will release his hold on the length of rubber, red chi slowly leaching out of it until it is no tougher than any other piece of floppy black office surplus.
This confrontation leaves the cautious Kitsune free to observe and plan, but it seems the mercenaries have something to work out between them.

COMBATSYS: Shina interrupts Medium Throw from Heidern with Rising Razor.

[                      \\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////      ]
Heidern          1/---====/=======|======-\-------\0            Renka
                                  >  //////////////////////        ]
                                  |=======\-------\0            Shina

'Keep it together' says the girl with the flaming swor, 'He's worth nothing dead'. Even as the wereleopard bites down upon the improvised guard, she manages a very human rolling of her eyes. A simple tell that Shina is far more in control of herself than her bestial assault might suggest. She is excited, she is enjoying things, and she has become a beast with claws and fangs, but she is still herself. She cannot be anything but.

Jeanne Gado knows that people make assumptions. Appearances, behaviors, she has been doubted in the past for being herself. Even her father demanded a more prim and 'normal' life for her. Though she was never going to be anything but herself. She knows the assumptions carry over when she's wearing a leopard skin. And even if she feels the pangs of frustration, the logical part of her mind verymuch banks on these presumptions. Because someone fighting a person fights one way, fighting an animal is a whole different story.

The focus on her fangs is just the kind of attention she wants. Because when Heidern moves in, that is when she plans on truly fighting back.

The shock of the shoulder was still more than she bargained for; the strength of the Ikari commander is not to be underestimated. The pain in her breast will linger deep in the bone for a day or two, she cannot deny that. The rattling force should knock her off her feet. But for now her paws stay planted, because in controlling her jaws, Shina has been readying her claws. A wicked set of claws extend from her padded fingertips. They glimmer with crackling purple lightning. Heidern is close, thudding against Shina's chest, and right as she wants him for her to cut an upward streaking swipe.

Controlled energy, and a beast's claw cut upward with lifting force. To take Heidern off his base and to put him onto a back foot. To expose the commander to Shina's red-headed impromptu partner. The canny eye and the battlefield tested should see the set up maneuver for what it was. A baited assault. A call for focus on herself. A harrying in order to open up for a partner.

Shina glances toward Renka and that magic weapon and the curious magic. In that moment, few things are more self-satisfied and coolly in control of herself as a cat.

The sounds, scents, and sights of battle play out in front of the Librarium soldier as Renka hangs back for a moment of hesitant consideration. Across the vast gamut of life simply lumped under labels such as 'nonhuman', 'darkstalkers', 'monsters', there are still predators and prey, creatures as dangerous to other life whatever it might be. And until the fox-tailed soldier is sure of what she's dealing with, she isn't about to chance reengaging in the chaotic contest of human strength verses the claw and fang augmented bestial power of the shifter.

Which is why she's several feet away when Ikari Warrior and wereleopard continue to vie for control. Memories of being pursued by powerful, furred beasts that considered her prey in the dark places of Japan's forests flash through her mind causing her to hold her breath without realizing it. To most humans, all monsters are the same - one big collective cooperative threat to humanity - but the truth was far closer to the food chain of the mundane animal chain than that...

It takes the kitsune a moment to confirm the lack of one aspect of those older threats - for as beastlike as Shina might appear, there wasn't that primal sense of hunger to go with it. She was fighting fiercely, using the gifts her shifted form provided, but she wasn't bloodthirsty...

The controlled attempt at trying to position Heidern all but confirms what Renka was beginning to realize. It would seem her ally of convenience is every bit in control as she could help for.

And by the time Shina casts her glance, she'll find the fox already winding up, twisting her torso to the left, holding her sword with only one hand as she slides it back into position low to her left, almost as if sheathing it though it remains free of her scabbard.

And finally she acts, moving in coordination with the timing required to match Shina's attempted positioning of the Ikari Warrior, bursting forward across the small distance to their mutual target.
%tWhen the swordswoman twists to the right, she moves her sword arm with the motion, swinging it through an arc that starts angled upward then levels out at chest height before continuing through its path toward her right side.

But unlike her earlier draw attack, there is more to follow, her left arm snapping out, following the momentum of her turn, fingers curled like claws, a swath of foxfire billowing behind her hand as she aims to follow the quick sword slash with a glancing strike from her hand and a violent infusion of the spiritual fire that accompanies the kitsune's techniques.

But rather than simply letting her left hand move with the follow through of the strike, she braces herself, twisting back toward the left, slamming her left hand out, palm open, attempting to plant it hard against Heidern's body, while her right hand lifts at her side, bent at the elbow, moving to aim the tip of her sword straight for his body.

"Surrender," she growls - command backed by the point of her blade.

COMBATSYS: Renka successfully hits Heidern with As a Voice in the Wild.

[                          \\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Heidern          1/-======/=======|=======\-------\0            Renka
                                  >  //////////////////////        ]
                                  |=======\-------\0            Shina

The moment shoulder meets chest Heidern knows he's been had. Not so much that he doesn't expect her to use her claws, it is why cats have them after all, but that he didn't expect her to dig in and resist the pull of the throw. Claws grind into tile as she anchors herself against the lifting force, jaw and neck straining against the twist of the makeshift bit. Few are the felines that will waste an opportunity to flip through the air, to show that innate ability to land on their feet. And yet.
Releasing his hold on the wrist rest, the Commander is just able to twist away before the lightning-infused claw tears a path up his right flank, leather tearing and blood splattering the wall. Continuing the turn, he comes face to face with the Kitsune in mid charge, cool eye meeting hers as two futures unfold between them.
Continue the twist, outrange the slash, slip the follow up?
Meet force with force, break through. Turn the hunt around.
The Ikari hesitates for only a moment, still reeling from the literal shock of Shina's claws. Barely a fraction of indecision, but in the end, enough.
Continuing the turn, Heidern is half way through a step that should take him just clear of Renka's blade when the sword cleaves into his back, slicing an arcing path through duster, uniform, and flesh. Step transitioning into a staggering stumble, he is forced to throw a hand out and grip the center console for support as blazing foxfire rushes forth to consume him, engulfing him back to front in a wave of spiritual burning.
He grunts.
Palm remaining braced against his blood-slick back, sword poised, only the clever fox can feel when the duster begins to fall away, heavy garment collapsing toward the floor as the last of the fire burns away into wisps of bluish vapor. Crumpling, the garment puddles into a bloody heap before her, all sign of the Commander having vanished in that brief instant when all was bright aflame. From right beneath her palm he vanished, but to where?
To flee?
"You remind me of your father."
Though rough with pain, the words are spoken with quiet calm, accompanied by a set of black-gloved hands that reach forth from behind Shina in an attempt to grab her firmly by the back of the head and chin. And then, with no more care than a man wringing out a dish towel, he twists with astounding force, attempting to twist her neck to its ultimate limit. If she weren't as flexible as a cat, it might just break her spine. But as it is, unless she can stop him he will give her one hell of a spinal adjustment, setting bones and joints to popping from skull to tail bone...

COMBATSYS: Heidern can no longer fight.

                                  >  ///////////////////////       ]
                                  |=======\-------\0            Renka
                                  >  //////////////////////        ]
                                  |=======\-------\0            Shina

COMBATSYS: Heidern successfully hits Shina with Final Bringer.

                                  >  ///////////////////////       ]
                                  |=======\-------\0            Renka
                                  >  //////                        ]
                                  |=======\-------\0            Shina

Claw cleaves true.

Shina's claw remains raised in the crackling glow and hazy ozone scent of her swipe. She hears the Librarian capitalize on the opening created. She can hear the simple order of surrender. She can smell the blood and victory in the moment.

She is pleased.

She is also cocksure. It is wholly true that Shina is a young fighter, and a talented one, and she has flaws in her. Her claw melts down, talon and pad retreating to simply calloused human fingers. Pelt retreating to her skin. Fang and jaw setting themselves in human angles and curve. Her eyes blinking and clearing to a more human coloration. Her short plume of blonde hair settling in a rough muss. Her clothing worse for the wear, but still hanging with popped seam and stretched band.

It's in this brief moment of over relaxation that she is caught off guard. Caught haughty and, rather catlike, satisfied in her clear victory. A curse is cut short with the force of two gloved hands about her chin and head. Teeth grit and her hands claw up for Heidern's wrists. But she hasn't the power to stop his sudden snapping twist.

Stars spark in her eyes as the pain lances through her body. She jolts, rigid, and falls to a knee with a gasping, ragged wheeze. Eyes reddening from burst capillaries, she sucks at air. Still standing, still having fight in her. She is ragged from the whiplash of the sudden maneuver, staggered in the moment, but there is yet fight within her.

Though the initiative is taken out. She twitches in that heavy second. She's paralyzed with anger and frustration and the obvious pain. Operating on a sensory autopilot, but ready.

"Spirited." Continues the commander conversationally while releasing Shina to fall to one knee, bowed but unbroken. With her body temporarily unresponsive, she can only feel what Renka sees as the tall man straightens the fingers of his right hand out into a spear, glancing sternly down at the blond collapsed at his boots.
His eye narrows, both respectful, and disapproving.
And with that, the old legend rams his right hand through the shifter's back, fingers irrupting from the front of her shirt in a fountaining spray of blood. It hurts oddly little at first, an unexplainable pressure that blossoms into agony as he lifts her free from the floor, thrusting her up overhead while crimson energy pulses to life across his bloody hand, throbbing in sink with the young warrior's heartbeat. For a brief moment the server room is rendered hellish by the bloody glow, skin washed red and shadows growing long and deep. And with every pounding beat of her heart, with each wet pulse of blood, a portion of Shina's vitality is siphoned away.
"You'll live."
And with that, he sweeps his impaling hand down and to the side, the clawing drag of his chi rushing out in an enormous blast that sends her tumbling away over the center console. He seems vastly unconcerned at where she might land, but she is a cat, after all.
Gaze settling upon Renka, the mercenary reaches over to drag a chair from beneath the nearby table, turns it about, and settles himself with weary ease. His uniform is torn and ragged, chest and back wet with his own blood. The Were-Leopard's drenches his right arm from fingertips to elbows, falling away in large droplets that pitter pat against the floor. He is in no state to defend himself, even if the Kitsune can feel the borrowed energy slowly absorbing into his body, reinforcing his own natural healing and keeping him on his feet.
"Hazama," Commander Heidern explains bluntly, "Submitted false Intel to the NOL after we had a disagreement about his hobbies. My men aren't terrorists, or threats to humanity. But none of us are leaving this complex without the password, and frankly, Ms. Kaneko, you don't have a way to get it out of me."
A cool glance is cast down at himself, then across the room in the direction he last saw Shina, words expanding to include them both.
"It isn't often I'm taken by surprise. I didn't expect the two of you would beat me."
Bringing his gloved hands together, one bloody, one not, he steeples his fingers and considers the situation they find themselves in. Him defenseless, the two of them surrounded by a very alert band of world renowned mercenaries.
"Another time, I might call them off and let you take me for the reward, but I'm busy. So instead, I'll make you both a deal. To the NOL, all of the information my people have managed to gather on the JANUS project. And to you," his eye flicks calmly toward Shina, who frankly has the most reason to try and tear his throat out, "All of the information I have on your father's latest project, and my help in the future, if you need it."
Falling silent, the long-limbed man waits to see what will happen, his last card face up upon the table.

COMBATSYS: Shina has left the fight here.

                                  >  ///////////////////////       ]
                                  |=======\-------\0            Renka

Fingers on her extended hand close over the abandoned, sliced garment only to feel its comparative weightlessness. She releases it in an instant, drawing her left arm back and pivoting her stance as to move her weapon into a more defensive angle, left joining right as she grips the sword with both hands. He's given her the slip - a remarkable feat given the size of his stature and clearly wounded condition. The lapse in awareness of his position lasts only an instant - but it's an instant long enough as by the time she twists on her feet to lock eyes on him again, he's already gone after her much needed ally in arms.

He attacks in a vulnerable moment - the instant the the young woman sheds the more physical aspects of her dual nature that would mark her as 'other'. Of course, she thinks, the old warrior still has fight in him. Growling, she pushes herself to move once again, her dwindling swarm of foxfire spheres pursuing the twin-tailed Libarium soldier as she rushes for him again, moving her sword down to an angle on her left, ready to be forced into a dangerous slash to the right once she gets in range.

Only, the Corporal is forced to slide to a stop as Heidern wrenches Shina in-between them, blocking Renka's approach and leaving the fox-eared operative to watch aghast as he executes an unearthly technique on the wereleopard.

And the second it ends, the moment he no longer draws vitality from Shina with that ghoulish technique that would make any vampire proud, Renka is ready to charge him again, sword shifted up to the level of her shoulder, bladed tip forward, blue flame dancing along its length, teeth grit.

But he makes no move to defend himself, nor turn his attention back to her with another attack, and after two heartbeats, she grunts, "Tch," relaxing her stance, lowering her sword, and rushing over to check on Shina. The attack on her fellow darkstalker's back and neck could have killed almost any person in the world - but she knew the young woman was tough, and the blessing of her supernatural blood might be more than enough to overcome the injury.

Only when settled near Shina, dropping to one knee only so long as the young woman remains down, does Renka turn her focus back to the blood-soaked Heidern.

Her ears flick at the mention of the serpent within the Novus Orbis Librarium. Having encountered the unpleasant man herself, even having to work with him once on assignment, the acting Corporal is far from high on her list of people she respects within the organization... But still, he was, in a way, part of her chain of command. The accusation twists her stomach, eyes flashing a glare for the older mercenary. If he had made it about any other commander she had met, she wouldn't be so easily swayed, but Hazama... something about his statement had a ring of truth. Thinking back on the other two Ikari's she had fought in a basement bar in the States... she couldn't help but think the quality of their character supported Heidern's explanation far more than what the NOL database had to say about them.

He offers a deal. Full intel on the JANUS project. Or, perhaps the two of them are going to have to fight the rest of the unit with whom he infiltrated this research station?

The NOL Corporal glances around, never taking her eyes off the veteran warrior for more than an instant, perhaps weighing her chances of using force to resolve this in the end. It might be possible... she could at least take down more of the squad on her own, of that she was certain, but she wouldn't be able to pull her attacks. She'd have to strike to maim and in ways that carried the risk of death. If there were a shred of doubt about the NOL's veracity on the Ikari Warriors... could she really do that?

But what of Shina, what would be her stance on the old soldier's promise of information and aid?

A slow, resigned exhale is released through her nose, her lips pressed tightly closed. The flicker of foxfire fades from her sword though the few remaining motes of that spiritual fire still drift in her vicinity.

"What you're saying about Colonel Hazama... I can't take your word alone. But I would be willing to learn more..." She flicks her eyes to the side for a moment's thought. "But not now." He isn't the only one that's busy. If Ultratech has any sense that the facility has been compromised, how long before they storm the place? Or just blow it up to reduce its secrets to ash?

"The information you're offering could save a lot of darkstalkers... I'll take it." It could be the biggest break in her investigation she could possibly hope for. The matter of the Ikari Warriors files could wait.

COMBATSYS: Renka has ended the fight here.

Pain. Sudden and searing. The iron taste of blood on her tongue. Her own. The ground taken from underneath her. The air. A landing to a knee. A cough. The red speckling the floor. Survival instinct roars. Still, she remains in her crouched pose. She can hear her own heartbeat. The din in her chest threatening to block out the important noises made by the assassin. The mercenary king.

"Fils d pute!"

Gagged words choked out from a young woman on her knee, facing away. Registering that someone was nearby. Her body screams at her to fight back. No animalistic passion, simple survival of a someone with her life threatened. But through the corner of her eye, she can see it's the fox girl. The librarian wasn't an enemy. Even if she had entertained the thought if things had turned out differently.

She spits, a gob of red joining the mess on the floor in front of her. ". . .sans-couilles. . ." she mutters to herself, rising up despite the pain. The world spinning around her. The focus falling back to the hazy outline of Heidern.

She eyes Heidern with an irate rage and fermenting disgust as she reaches down to the thigh pocket of her pants. She pulls out a small drive and waggles it at the slender man. "Only if it matches mine," she hisses through ragged breaths. She looks at Renka with a darting, furtive eye.

She has to make a call on the woman. She has to judge just how this goes. She has no personal stake on whatever internal politics is going on here. But there could be additional help for future endeavors. She can't speak up, not in the moment. She has to swallow her instinct.

Shina would have to wait.

Cool eye studying Shina as she eventually turns to face him, Commander Heidern flicks a neutral glance toward the drive in her hand. Seeming neither angry, nor afraid, the mercenary returns his attention to the young woman's eyes, noting the growing dislike that burns within them. Something he may have to deal with, eventually. But there is too much at stake for the time being.
"I would lie to you if I had to." the aging merc admits, flicking a look toward Renka as he does. "But I'm not. The NOL is walking a fine line between genuine protectors and an insidiously spreading tyranny. If we ever become enemies, it will be because you've crossed that line."
A hard opinion to take when at the mercy of others, but Heidern seems completely unphased by that fact. Single eye pinning Renka in place, he slowly stands from his seat, hands dropping to his sides as a long breath of pain and exhaustion escapes his otherwise stoic frame. Bloody fingers flick a gesture toward his abandoned coat, attention already drifting back toward Shina.
"Right pocket. Everything this facility has to offer. You should destroy the servers before you go. As for you,"
Fixing the feline mercenary with a steady look, the tall man considers his next words for a moment, standing bloody and ragged but as prideful as any cat himself.
"Your Father and I have had our words, but we've never been at odds. Spirited, Independent, and Foolish. You share these traits. But neither of you are traitors. You should go to him. Your cover isn't going to last. The drive has all I know about the Liberation Front's recent activities."
And with that, Heidern turns toward the door, approaching it with the long, steady stride of a man with places to be and plans to execute. Less bloody hand reaching for the door controls, he pauses, head turning just fractionally to offer one last bit of advice over his shoulder.
"The way will be clear in 45 seconds. You will have anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes before this place is flooded by Ultratech personnel."
Then, without another word or a second glance, the Ikari Commander is gone.

Next to her, Shina spits and coughs up blood, uttering words in a language unfamiliar to the NOL operative but carrying the weight of growled expletives, so she suspects she gets the gist of the message all the same. The were-leopard proves her mettle as she stands and Renka does likewise. One hand releases her sword to slip into the pocket of her jacket, withdrawing a clean white cloth which she runs along the length of her blade before returning her weapon of choice back to its sheath at her side, never taking her eyes off Heidern all the while.

The cleaning cloth is folded into a small square and returned to a pocket on the inside of her jacket. Only when the other woman produces a small drive and shakes it does the kitsune flick her eyes to look, lips pressing together tightly.

The Ikari Warrior issues a warning about crossing paths as potential enemies depending on the course her loyalty to the Librarium takes her down and Renka exhales softly, eyes back on the old soldier, brow furrowing, "My conscience is at peace with the missions I have undertaken." A truth spoken without guile even though it omits possible misgivings about actions of the para-military organization outside of her immediate purview.

He moves after letting her know where the promised information can be found and Renka finally moves likewise, stepping swiftly to the coat, pivoting to face Shina and the departing Heidern as she bends down to search out the indicated pocket.

With the Ikari Commander vanishing into the hall, her focus returns to Shina. She saw her for Ultratech security when this conflict first broke out... and in taking the data Heidern promised, the NOL Corporal is definitely aiming to act contrary to the megacorps interests.

"My investigation has turned up evidence enough to strongly support the theory that the JANUS Project involves capturing darkstalkers from around the globe - stealing them from schools where they were doing no one any harm, and even pulling them from their homes without any evidence of wrongdoing or threats against humans."

Renka stands, drive in her closed hand after fishing it from the pocket of Heidern's coat. "I believe this information will be enough to prove that they are violating the rights of Darkstalkers as afforded by agreements between the Novus Orbis Librarium and all nations it begun lawfully operating in. I intend to take it."

Her expression softens slightly as she regards Shina, "I hope you can understand... and if this proof does come to light, I hope you can reconsider if this organization deserves your loyalty."

That said, she starts to walk forward. It has been forty-five seconds since the old soldier's departure. The way should be clear if his word is as good as she suspects it is. The look she gives the shifter is imploring but not unwary, out of respect for the fighter she knows Shina to be and due caution for the possibility that she might decide to stop the fox-eared swordswoman from taking the data with her.

This whole endeavor started with a search. Jeanne Gado knew she was meant to contend with Darkstalkers. Zoanthropes like her, that is. And her father. She needed to find him, and she needed to know what his plans were. For that, she needed Ultratech's funds and she needed to get herself close to them.

So far her plan had placed her close to sensitive information, but also in danger for her life. Though it would seem the mercenary lord didn't quite know of Shina's own Intelligence on the situation. But she has no reason to doubt Heidern's assertion that Alan Gado is not a traitor. But not a traitor to whom?

The young shapeshifter watches Heidern with a smoldering intensity. She burns hot, but the grudge isn't lasting. She recovers quickly enough. Not to the degree of others like her, but enough to allow her to bounce back. Each moment ticking by brings a settling to her frame. Her hunch less pained and haggard and more the sullen annoyance of a young woman in mild-irritation.

Renka's words are no surprise; she came into this operation knowing full well what Ultratech is up to. A fact she confirms when she crosses her arms over her chest and nods to the Librarium agent. "They are. I know this because they've hired me to do such things. They do not do so without claiming cause, however. But I've already been betrayed once."

She offers forth her own drive. "I have reason to think the Liberation Front is also involved," she states. "To draw in the zoanthropes that would stand for themselves. A honey pot, I think is what it is called. Take what I have. Put a stop to them."

Shina is no fool. She knows Ultratech is not on her side. She knows she needs them distracted. If Ultratech was buys contending with the NOL's investigation, she can take what she's earned and make herself scarce. She can find work elsewhere. A mercenary was only as good as their moral code. And now that she had information on her father, she can focus on maintaining her own.

Shina's words confirm the conclusion Corporal Kaneko came to through her own investigation, simply and matter of fact, and the fox-eared darkstalker tilts her head to the side slightly at the bluntness of the answer. She opens her mouth as if to reply, then closes it, biting back the first words that come to mind in favor of more careful consideration, and further listening.

Eyes flick to the side in quest thought for only a moment before settling back on the zoanthrope. "Was it just for money then?" she wonders out loud. "Or something else?" She hesitates, as if considering whether she wants to continue, before adding, "I don't know your story. If you have your own reasons for wanting what the JANUS Project is promising, to be rid of... that part of you, I would never blame you. But not all of us feel that way and no one should be forced."

She falls quiet for one more heartbeat before adding, "But from what I saw... what you have is a gift. I hope you weigh any such options carefully."

She relaxes a little then, quirking a faint smile, "You fought well against the Ikari leader. I wouldn't have had a chance against him alone. Thank you."

And with that, the fox-tailed darkstalker steps into the hall, glancing up and down it for sign of any ambush. "I have a feeling I'll see you around sometime. Good luck."

Log created on 11:52:39 04/04/2022 by Shina, and last modified on 19:46:40 06/10/2022.