Fightfest 2023 - The Inaugural NFG Draft

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Description: The first draft of the New Fighting Generation sees sparks fly and fists fly - even before the season has begun! In the end, Team Metal, Team Thunder, Team Blaze, and Team Frost all have their rosters completed and ready to face off in the New Fighting Generation's first season!

The Hotel Southtown boardroom has a huge white rectangular shaped table at its centre, surrounded by comfortable, padded black leather chairs that provide enough seating for up to fifty people. The floors are wooden and white slatted blinds hang at the windows, allowing them to be adjusted to let in varying degrees of light. A TV screen, projector, whiteboard and drink making facilities are all provided.

Presently, representatives from each of the sponsor teams have been allotted seats at the central meeting table, with seating on the periphery provided for the prospects to observe as well as a few members of the fighting press - it's less that it's an exclusive opportunity and more that the event, while having provided quite a bit of hype amongst some fans, hasn't necessarily warranted more extensive coverage. Besides, the NFG's own media team is providing a live stream of the draft for the website and FightTube.

Overseeing the proceedings is a red-haired woman somewhere between her 30s and 60s in a white skirt suit - CEO Carly Meadows of Professional Fighting Worldwide. For the most part she's content to sit back and lounge in her chair.

Once the appointed time arrives, though, she rises from her chair and speaks in a Deep South accent.

"Welcome, everybody, and thank you for joining us! Now, you've all been briefed on the procedure for this draft. I'm here as an impartial overseer, as Professional Fighting Worldwide isn't participating directly in the competitive element of the sponsorship. Otherwise, I'll be leaving most of the talkin' to our good friends Tom and Lou. We'll start off by drawin' for the pick order for the first round."

On a screen to one side flanked by the broadcasting duo, the four team names are shown side by side in columns, with empty space beneath each for prospects' names to be moved to. Currently, the prospects are lifted in a separate column labelled 'FREE' down the side, with a reminder of their NFG point totals.

NIXIE - 11 Points
HAWKSLEY - 10 Points
TAMAKI - 9 Points
DJAMILA - 8 Points
COCO - 8 Points
SARAH - 7 Points
BUFORD - 6 Points
ICHIKA - 6 Points
GENIE - 6 Points
KENZO - 6 Points
AYALA - 5 Points
JOHN DOE - 5 Points
CHEVY - 5 Points
IRIS - 4 Points
BUCK - 4 points
BRIAN STORM - 4 Points

Representatives from each of the sponsor teams gather to draw from what essentially amounts to a hat. Once the results have been established, they're announced by Tom:

"Alright, folks! It looks like the draft order has been established. For the first round, the order is Team Thunder, then Team Metal, then Team Frost, then Team Blaze."

The columns on the screen shuffle to reflect the order.

"And there ends our neutrality!" Lou says. "Looks like Team Blaze has that coveted first round last pick, while Team Thunder will set the point of discussion by choosing who they want first."

There's ample space between the teams for private deliberation.

Ariastra and the rest of Team Thunder take a moment to talk between themselves to decide which choice they want to make. For the first round, as our first pick, the talk seem to be civilized. No one seems to get into an argument during it.

After some more talk and deliberation, they settle on a name. Ariastra comes forth, looking in the general direction of Tom and Lou. "After our deliberation, we have settled for Ichika as our first pick"

After she says the name, she moves back to go to her previous position with the team.

With the announcement of Team Thunder's first pick, the name ICHIKA appears on the board in glowing yellow highlight, indicating that the pick has been made but can still be contested this round. Curiously, Princess Lyraelle looks slightly dejected as she slumps in her chair and pouts following the deliberations of the sponsor team.

Ichika had, of course, gotten here well in advance of the meeting time. Her uniform is neatly pressed, her hair... is as messy as ever, but the girl is content to stand quietly towards the back of the room. She had assumed that she wouldn't need to do anything for quite some time; after all, points-wise, she is dead in the middle of the pack. She expected the winners to receive the lion's share of the early competition.

Then the first pick is made and the girl actually stumbles. She definitely must have misheard that, right? Only, no. Her name flashes up first?! Shock is written all over the girl's face. And then understanding seems to dawn, and she nods her head very slowly, murmuring to her fellow prospects.

"Ah, very clever... they're, starting with someone they don't expect much competition over, to, see what strategy the other teams employ... I, can understand that..."

Minal Panesh has a reputation as an outgoing person, full of smiles and sarcasm but generally in a good mood. Her demeanor goes along well with the name 'Mint.'

From the deliberations taking place in the Team Metal area, she does not look like she's in her element right now. Stone-faced and reserved, she looks every bit the Marine she was trained to be, parting her mouth for only brief, laconic statements, and the occasional burst of high-speed, low-volume whispering.

Finally, the pint-sized pugilist is the one who advances to the Team Metal podium, steps atop the provided stepstool, and eyes the speaker. Her voice rings out, with clarity and professionalism.

"Team Metal selects Nixie Greene."

Statement delivered, she bows her head slightly, then steps down and returns to her team's area, her emotions concealed beneath a stony facade.

NIXIE pops up in the same flashing yellow underneath Team Metal's column as a murmur rises from those assembled. "Well, not an unexpected pick at this point in the draft," Lou comments. "She's the winner of the tournament, after all. That leaves two choices for the other teams to contest, or they might go for their own picks. Next up is Team Frost!"

Meanwhile, Lyraelle appears to sulk even harder as she sinks deeper into her chair and scowls at nothing in particular.

Juri had been lounging indolent as always. The woman has at least made a vague effort not to look like a wanted terrorist. Which is to say, she has her hair down and she's wearing a vaguely respectable uniform. She doesn't even pretend to bother consulting with her teammates. They might be talking; she wasn't listening. She'd instead stared intently at both the prior spokespeople, as though daring them to say the wrong thing, and gives a short nod of approval with each one.

She steps up and grins to the gathered professionals.

"Genie is mine. Anyone want to fight me on this?"

That baleful eye of hers is turned on Team Blaze. Challenging.

"Good grief, I will fight you!"

That's the outburst from the Team Blaze huddle as a tall, narrow teenage girl in a Seijyun High uniform bursts out. Almost stumbling out from the group, and completely alone, she looks dead on at Juri, her faintly colored lips curled up in anger. "I'm Mitsuru Tokugawa, and I don't like you, and I don't trust you, and I -know- you don't care about Guinevere! So I'm not letting you have her without a fight!" Mitsuru stops and puffs out her chest, stamping down a furred boot that was made by an unnamed designer in France. "So you better try picking somebody else, unless you want me to bust your hindquarters." She declares, daring Juri to step up.

"Aren't you one of the competitors?"

Juri sounds genuinely confused for a moment and then she laughs, loud. Perhaps a little too loud. "Oh, right, no, you don't have a sword. Sorry, who let this kid in the room?"

She gives a dismissive gesture, looking to the officials as though genuinely expecting whoever-this-is to get chucked out on her ass.

Mitsuru turns bright red as Juri utterly dismisses her.

"I'm not one of the competitors! I'm one of the sponsors you id- you not smart person! I'm MItsuru Tokougawa of Seijyun High and Team Blaze, and I have every right to contest this! Guinevere is a proper young lady and shouldn't be seen with uncouth foreigners! She should be mentored by someone proper like me or even Kyokugen-" She brings up her fists in what seems to be a boxing stance of sorts, as the young lady grits her teeth. "And don't you look away from me! Don't you realize who you are dealing with! I won't be ignored by you too!"

What a time. Three contestants have already been chosen, and one is contested. Djamila is amused a bit as it seems like it is going to turn into a fight.

It would be something to do. Instead of letting us choose where we want to go if contested, the sponsors fight, and the victorious one gets the contestant. She is amused as she sees that scenario in her head, but besides that she waits to see how this rivalry between sponsors will turn out.

The word 'GENIE' pops up in yellow highlight under Team Frost's column. The word 'GENIE' then pops up in the yellow highlight under Team Blaze's column.

"Oh, man. This isn't necessarily the contest I was expecting," Lou comments. "A clash of ice and fire!"

"Someone might write a song about it," Tom replies. "To be fair, though, she did have an impressive first showing -"

"COCO!" a booming voice suddenly calls out from the table. A huge, incredibly rotund individual is sitting next to the entirety of Team Blaze, dressed in a furry loincloth, with a crude compass hanging around his neck next to a large nametag on which someone has written the name 'ZOG' in giant capital letters.

"Fire Team takes Coco. We don't want a genie! They're too tricksy."

Strange as the attempt to overrule Mitsuru from within her own team may appear, the word 'GENIE' disappears from beneath Team Blaze, replaced by 'COCO.' The names of all four fighters shift from yellow highlights to green, signifying that the choices have been locked in.

"Wow - looks like dissent in the ranks of Team Blaze," Lou says.

"Which means that all four teams get to lock in their initial picks, technically uncontested," Tom adds. "And with that, the next round starts with Team Blaze picking first!"

Chevy is here too -- though considerably less formal than Ichika. She clearly chose the 50's era of fashion, wearing a white button-up blouse, powder blue poodle skirt, and heeled patent-leather boots. When Ichika's name was selected, she had clasped her hands together and was only -barely- able to suppress an exclamation of delight for her good friend. "Go Ichika!" she manages, with a bit more subdued tone.

Now? She's watching with grit teeth at the exchange between Juri and Mitsuru. Is... one of these going to be the people she's working with? Is this going to happen for -every- round, she wonders?

And then -Zog- speaks up. That guy ... she didn't even notice him until he spoke. Chevy gapes, slack-jawed for a moment, before straightening up and forcing a smile. This is... way more intense than she'd imagined!

She does steal a glance over to Ichika, though, her smile growing more giddy if eye contact is made.

Juri rounds on Mitsuru as she keeps blabbing, and it really looks like she might make good on her threat of violence. Her voice is like acid. A cold, burning hiss that definitely fits the 'frost' theme.

"If you're a sponsor you should have a brain in your skull. There's ONE person in this room who can help shield that girl. From HERSELF as much as anyone else, and like me or not... I'm the best bet she's got."

When Mitsuru is overruled, she lets out a shrill laugh. "Okay! Now that's more like it!" She exclaims, tipping her head to Zog with an insolent salute. "I owe you one, big guy. See you around, Motsy. Feel free to come at me about it later. Or right now, if you ~really~ want." She claps Goldlewis on the shoulder, and then raps her knuckles against Abigail's immense midsection.

"You boys have got it from here, right? Good luck."

And... she actually, just, walks away. Back out into the hotel, her part in the draft done.

Mint, for her part, seems to be looking for new ways to grind her teeth together. The negotiations with her own team were... tense, to say the least. But the brawl over Genie revealed some considerations that hadn't occured to her in the earlier team meeting -- and she's quick to scratch some notes down in a clipboard, before turning back to her team.

Buck sits quietly watching the draft, he expects to be one of the last selected, so he's settled in for a wait, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees as his eyes dart between the sponsors. He didn't bother dressing up either, he's dressed like he's about to go out for a day on the farm in faded jeans, sturdy boots, and a gray tee under his usual leather jacket.

Some of the picks have him arching his brows, others nodding understandingly, especially as Nixie is snapped up without contest.

He watches the stirring row wearily, at least until things settle down. There's that slight look of disappointment he always seems to wear when a brewing fight fizzles out. Though his eyes do trail after Juri as she leaves, and he looks a touch worried about the volatile sponsor.

Mitsuru says something, but is completely drowned out by Zog.

As the official Team Blaze pick is made, Mitsuru turns bright red. Body tensed, she starts speaking wordlessly as she goes back and forth between Zog and Juri. Stamping both of her feet over and over again, she only barely manages to get her composure long enough to snarl out at Zog. "NO! Coco wasn't even the RIGHT BOXER! She is the FOOT kind! We were supposed to do the HAND KIND why aren't you doing the PLAN I! GUH! How dare you buffoons ignore my authority!" She declares with a brief haughty tone. That haughtiness remains as it comes back to Team Blaze, and she looks back over. "Team Blaze will take Hawksley then! He is the right kind of boxer! That's the official choice nobody speak over me!" Her gaze levels on the other sponsors. "And none of you low-class riff-raff better dare to challenge, or I will ora ora you in your bottom!" Mitsuru throws out some punches in the air, to make it clear how serious her threat is.

"Hawksley? The fire guy?" Zog lazes back in his chair and lifts his shoulders. "Sure, ain't a bad one. We already got us a cutie."

While the other Team Blaze members don't seem to be impressed with his criteria, the choice of Hawksley seems to get their assent, and 'HAWKSLEY' appears in the second row beneath Team Blaze as the columns shift so that Blaze is first, representing the turn order.

Ichika does indeed meet Chevy's eye - mostly, because all the arguing, shouting and threats have clearly unnerved the girl. There's a trickle of sweat that beads on her brow, and she returns the smile. "Good luck." She whispers to the redhead, her eyes echoing what every participant is probably thinking right now - 'I really hope you don't get stuck with them'.

But... she has her team, now! So she can relax, right? She walks over to stand with Team Thunder, clasps her hands behind her back, and resolves to try and make herself as quiet and unobtrusive as possible from here on out. Who wants to be the centre of attention after all that?!

Kenzo, for his part, is dressed in a black dress jacket, black dress slacks, stylish black shoes and a black tie that while it's a clip on, seems as if there's more to it than immediately meets the eye.

As he watches the interactions between the sponsor giving him better idea of who he wants to recruit him.

This time, the deliberation seems to go quicker. Seem to be a bit of tension between Ariastra and Lyraelle, but it's still the former who comes forward.

She looks toward the announcement again and speaks with more conviction. This pick is more of a personal one. Though she's happy with Ichika as well. "Team Thunder goes for Chevy as their second pick." She then turns around, and as she comes back to team thunder, she puts a hand on Ichika's shoulder. "Welcome to the team Ichika. Happy to have you here. I see great things in your future."

Coco looks rather surprised when she's locked in for Team Blaze. The purple-haired teenager turns a dubious look toward the giant that secured her recruitment to the team and frowning ever-so-slightly. "Oh em gee. Where did they get /that/ guy from?" she says with a flat tone, before her eyebrows rise up at the announcement that Blaze's second pick is Hawksley. Her eyes flit across the room toward the Irish brawler, though aside from the slight surprise in her eyes she maintains a poker face.

'CHEVY' appears under the column for Team Thunder.

"Interesting. Team Thunder again defying expectations. These guys are a real puzzle, but they seem to know what they want," Lou says.

After much debating with the other members of Team Thunder, it appears that Lyraelle has lost out again, judging by the angst with which she stares into the middle distance after Ariastra's announcement.

Buford was still recovering from one of the most traumatic experiences in his life.

After his death-defying encounter with Abigail at the party, which he barely escaped with his life, he had a good and noble cry back at his hotel room, until he was interrupted by a gift being sent to him. After opening it, he spent another period of time crying, so much that he ultimately fell asleep at a reasonable hour instead of staying up late researching anti-ninja techniques like he had planned.

He had just woken up in time for the draft, and after a 5 minute ritual on cleaning himself up, preparing his topknot, getting dressed with the clothing from the other day (he was in his full-body leather coat flame shorts and black shirt as normal), and leaving. He even brought his vaporizer hilt just in case they needed to see him demonstrate his amazing swordsmanship. Buford arrives in time to see Chevelle getting picked. HThe noble samurai begins loudly applauding, hooting robustly as he strides in, before outright tipping his hat to the southern belle. It was a good thing he got here so early by his standards, he could feel that he was about ready to be selected for the draftings.

There's just the tiniest flinch from Ichika as Ariastra places her hand on her shoulder. She does her best to hide it, but... there it is. "Ah, thank you, Sensei." She says, softly. "I... there are, certainly a lot of people who keep telling me such." She makes herself smile, though when she realises that Chevy was just -- picked! To be on her team! The girl's eyes light up. The nervous tension in her redoubles. She has to look cool and composed and not make a scene, but... she already knows what a great training partner Chevy can be! How lucky is that?!

Hawksley has been sitting silently in the conference room so far. Being in such a place is enough to give him the shivers and shakes. One of his best buddies from back home in Cork had gone all corporate on him, not long before his departure to Southtown and he thanks his lucky stars every day, that life had other plans for him.

From his admittedly comfortable seat, he watches the dynamics develop in the room. The tension is electric, the egos are inflated. It's actually pretty good fun. Sipping from his silver flask of whiskey, he nods his head as four of his teammates are snapped up by the sponsors.

"That's grand. Fair play to you" is his standard greeting to the first three. Coco however gets a much less polite sticking out of his tongue.

So the posh totty was gonna be on Blaze was she? It's clearly the team name that's suited best to his own fighting style, but there's more than just that to consider.

He's contemplating other potential factors, when he hears his own name announced by the fiery teenage girl, Mitsuru. Rising to his feet, he slips his flask away and rests his hands on his worn jeans. "Could be you and me Coco" he murmurs, though his eyes shift to the other teams present, wondering if they will put up a fight for him.

Chevy is quick to applaud when Coco's name is selected. She might be a rival -- in more ways than one -- but the redhead doesn't bear any particular malice towards her. Yet. She seems like good people.

She applauds even louder when Hawksley gets picked. Though -- if the situation holds, that means -both- of those two would be heading to Blaze. And while she makes every outward show of support for the fiery brawler, part of her still wonders... okay, but what now...?

She doesn't seem to respond as her name is called though. Like, it was no more than a hallucination. It isn't until she realizes that people are clapping -- for her -- that she looks to the board. And sees her own name.

With wide eyes, she raises a hand to her eyes, smiling tearfully and bowing her head in appreciation! "Thank you!" The words come out -- though much more softly than intended.

The deliberations amongst Team Metal go much more quickly this time. And when Minal rises to the podium, and her little stepstool, her expression bears a bit more of her representative confidence, and the hint of a smile.

"Team Metal selects Kenzo Kuroiwa."

The Marine's eyes are full of warmth as she casts her gaze over to Kenzo for a moment. She pivots back sharply afterwards, to return back to the team area.

From Team Frost, there is chattering between the members, especially with Juri being out and, well, there was a pick that took place. From the huddle, comes General Goldlewis Dickerson. The big boy is in his Air Force uniform, and he has a big coffin with Area 51 on it. "Now hold on hoss," The General states firmly, but with a unaggressive air. "Not to be stepping in anybody's cookpot here, but we at Team Frost have put a priority on a one Chevelle Beaumont. Now I wouldn't consider it to be fair for my team if I let you take her without a fight." Goldlewis brings down the coffin with a boom. Stroking his beard, he focuses over at Team Thunder. "I am contesting on your Chevy pick. I'm willing to be diplomatic about this with you, Team Thunder. We get the first pick next round. You give us Chevelle, and we'll take any choice you want for us next round. Anybody. And we'll hold on to it. I'm not fixing to start a war here, hoss. Will those terms suffice?" He runs a finger on the side of his glasses, almost aiming them.

"Or are we gonna have to fight."

Chevy is still flush with excitement over Team Thunder's selection that she almost misses out on Kenzo's! She's quick to clap for him too, greeting him with an enthusiastic smile. "Awesome!"

But then the Secretary of Defense makes his presence known with that big ol' coffin. Chevy's pose stiffens as she gives him her full attention.

And now, she looks over at Team Frost with anticipation. ... -Two?- That means she could work with Abigail, who she'd spoken with at the party... or Ayame Ichijo, who could teach her more about the staff, and maybe even her skills?

Chevy smiles anxiously, her gaze darting between the two teams. She's... flattered! But also filled with trepidation...!

Ariastra smiles and nods at Ichika, and removes her hand from her shoulder. Not everyone enjoys the touchy-feely she brings to the table sometimes. Blame that on old age.

She is rather quiet for the rest of the time right now until General Goldlewis speaks up for his pick... Diplomatic about it. It's more like Give me my pick peacefully or we will fight. Fine, if it's comes to that..

She takes a deep breath and comes forth. "I am more than willing to fight for Chevy if it comes to that General. You and me. If that's what this draft contestation comes to. Or, I am willing to let Chevy pick on her own too. I want her here, but not unwillingly if she prefers your team." She says firmly but as respectfully as she can too.

"It looks like things are heating up over Chevy Beaumont," Tom says from his side of the board as 'KENZO' pops up under Team Metal and 'CHEVY' pops up under Team Frost. The yellow highlights flash orange as the pick becomes contested.

"I didn't even think they could do this trading picks thing - but it looks like Team Thunder's turning it down anyway. Which means that Thunder and Frost get to take turns pitching to Chevy why she should join their team," Lou says.

"It wasn't widely broadcast beforehand, but the sponsors pitch in reverse pick order. So, Frost gets the first pitch, and Thunder gets to counter-pitch. Then Chevelle has to pick her choice of team," Tom elucidates.

Hawksley notes Chevy's support and greets her with a cheery grin. He's quick to repay the favour, applauding and whistling when her own name is announced too. It will be good for Ichika to have the older girl present on Team Storm, if it pans out that way.

But then...Team Frost, in the form of Goldlewis, say they want Chevy too. What a dilemma for the farm girl. Now she's faced with choosing between her young friend and the team with the sponsor who's her idol. Talk about drama!

Sandwiched between this, is the choice by Team Metal for Kenzo. "Good work, fella" the Cork man calls out to him.

These latest picks mean that his own fate is sealed, so he makes his way over to join Team Blaze.

"Jesus, you're a big fella aren't you?" he remarks to Zog, who seems even more imposing, once the Irishman is closer.

"Thanks for choosing me" he adds to Mitsuru. "I won't be letting you down, so I won't."

Upon hearing his name called, Kenzo rises to his feet and clicks something behind his tie. An image of tread plate metal appears on his tie. Wait... Does that mean he had a design for any potential team he could be recruited for?

As he moves towards the Metal team area, he hears Goldlewis contest Thunder's pick of Chevy. While he'd want to work with Ichika, being picked to join Nixie presents an opportunity he wouldn't have otherwise.

He moves to stand with Mint smiling the entire time.

It seems that a third option was brought up. Goldlewis lowers his voice to a whisper. "'Sponsors pitch in reverse pick order' that wasn't in the documentation. Hell I think they are making this up as they go along." Goldlewis mutters under his breath. This was worse than asking for extra funding from Congress for the AIr Force. But those golf courses didn't pay for themselves, and you always made sure to get the golf course before the hangars. He raises his voice, looking at Chevy, and makes his pitch for his team.

"When I sat down with my team, we discussed who we wanted on our team. And Chevelle came up for her strong spirit, excellent values, and most importantly, her adoration of cars. Your unofficial interview with Abigail at the after party, Chevelle, absolutely demonstrated those key attributes. While I won't claim to be as articulate as our esteemed Abigail, I will share that he was impressed with you personally. You are not simply one of Team Frosts favored picks, but you are Abigail's favored pick, and that is what we have to offer. Focused attention and training from a World Warrior and King of Fighters champion." Goldlewis clears his throat a moment. "That is all."

Coco bites down on her lower lip as Hawksley's selection by Team Blaze gets closer and closer to uncontested... before being locked in. She realises that she might also be permitted to approach the sponsor team now that she's been locked in as well, so she drifts over with the slightest look of hesitation to the giant who apparently wanted her for his cutie collection and the schoolgirl who didn't want her at all, her black kickboxing gloves crossed behind her lower back.

"Suppose we're on the same team after all, Lucky," she says in a cagey tone. "How wonderful. I get to put up with your cheek even more than I already have." Captain Morgan wanders after Coco, his straw hat wobbling on his head with each step.

If she could hear the General thoughts, she would agree with him. It does feel like this draft makes rules as they go along.

For the time being, she listens to the General's arguments he pitches toward her. Good points. Then he brings up Abigail's pedigrees. Ok then. If it comes to that.

When it's her turn to speak, she comes forth. "When Team Thunder talked together, half of the team wanted Ichika as their favorite pick. You were mine. I think Lyraelle is pissed at me for forcing her to go along with it. Yet, she also knows this is a very sound choice, she couldn't argue. I kept an eye on you, and you have the right energy. The qualities you brought forth, we want to use them to make you a better fighter. You have all the raw materials to be a great fighter. We want to be the hammer that will forge you if you give us the chance. And if it matters. You are the favored pick of a 5000 years old immortal, who has seen many wars and battles. Granted, I took a couple of centuries off, to be with a love. Then we have Lyraelle. who is a world Champion, we have Ayame and we have the famed master Peng You. All great people. They all back me up for this pick.

SHe takes a deep breath. We also have Ichika. I saw you two had great chemistry together. Our team would only be stronger out of this." She takes a deep breath. Her eyes took a sad look for brief instant when she mentioned that 2 century break, but otherwise, she spoke with a passion.

Ichika turns red as it is casually mentioned that she wasn't just a tactical choice, but a favoured one...

... and then she turns *so red* it is a miracle her hair doesn't burst into flames when the ancient woman says that she and Chevy have 'great chemistry'. There's... only one place the sponsors could have seen that. Which means she saw her sobbing her eyes out and clinging to the redhead in a most undignified fashion. Oh NO!

The poor swordswoman takes a deep interest in her shoes. This, has to be her friend's choice, doesn't it? She can't... say a word.

Chevy's freckled cheeks flush red as Goldlewis makes his case. She hadn't spoken with Abigail long, but apparently it was enough to make the difference. She forges a smile and bows her head with a nod as his 'pitch' concludes -- belatedly mouthing the words 'Thank you' to him.

Abigail was a known quantity. She didn't know much about the rest of Team Frost. But, Team Thunder? Ayame and Lyraelle, champions in their own rights. But Peng You? Ariastra? Who -are- these mysterious people?

Chevy suddenly feels very small. Honored, to be sure, but to be honored by someone -five thousand years old?- She pales at that, covering her mouth with a hand. Especially when Ichika is called out.

The spotlight turns to her. She finds a microphone ready for her. But even then -- several seconds of eyelash-fluttering and breath-seeking occur before she can find the words to speak.

"Haha, wow... I warn't expectin' this at all. Y'all are makin' this tough for me!"

She pauses, finding her words again. It's tough, being up on stage with the spotlights bearing down, the din of the crowd drowning out the usual sounds of conversation. Professionals are used to it -- Chevy's a rank amateur.

Collecting herself, she continues. "I wanna start off by thanking you both." She smiles, emotion swelling in her chest as she wipes a tear from her eye. "As Mr Dickinson said, I was lucky enough to have a meeting with Mr Abigail. And there's a moment where I thought I warn't gonna have no sponsor at all." She looks at the members of Team Thunder and those of Team Frost with a smile. "And well, here we are," she grins, pausing for effect.

"And I did some soul searchin'. And talkin' with Ichika -- Miss Kasumoto -- I got to thinkin'. About what the New Fighting Generation means -- for me, for everyone here. About how it's not just about fightin', but how we can all -grow-."

She bows her head, once again. And looks to Team Frost, color flooding back into her cheeks.

"Thank you for stating your faith in me. Both of you. It means the world to me." She bows her head.

But then she turns to Ariastra.

"I would like to join Team Thunder."

She steps away from the microphone. And looks as if she could pop at any moment.

As Chevy announces her choice, the orange highlighted 'CHEVY' beneath Team Frost turns red before disintegrating, while the identical one under Team Thunder changes from orange to green, signalling that she's been locked in to Thunder.

"Wow! I had no idea what she was gonna pick, but I woulda guessed Abigail's team," Lou remarks.

"Well, with our first contested prospect claimed, Team Frost is up for the first pick of Round 3," Tom says. "They miss out on their pick for this round until the end of the draft, but that's the risk of contested picks."

Goldlewis is the first to applaud Chevy's choice.

"Well said, Chevelle, and well chosen." The general states firmly. "Now I'm not going to lie that I'm a bit sore we're not going to have you on our team, but it's not easy to make big choices like that, believe me. I'm proud you made your decision, and no hard feelings between us going forward. The best to you and Team Thunder." He gives a firm nod to Chevelle, and then turns back to the hosts.

"We will use our draft pick this round for Ayala."

When Chevy gets a microphone the spotlight on her, Ariastra listens. She wanted to fight for Chevy, but that wouldn't have been for her best interest but for Ariastra's own. Chevy deserved the choice. So here we are.

As she listens to Chevy, she knows she has made the right call, whatever happens. To her, at one point it feels like she will choose Team Frost, but then no. She ends up choosing Team Thunder, and Ariastra can't help but do a winning gesture because she wanted her in nothing fake about that..

When that moment of emotion is passed she looks at Team Frost. "Better luck next time, and if in the future we have to fight against one another, it will be with honor to do so.". Now she's willing to go for Lyraelle's pick next time, if possible, and if everyone agrees too.

Ichika listens carefully to what Chevy says, and there is a soft smile that grows on the girls lips as she goes on - because, as flattering as it is that she gives her a shout-out as well... there's no doubt in her mind about what Chevy will pick from that point, which is far more important for her. She finally manages to get that embarrassed blush of hers under control, and when Chevy does indeed choose to join her - not because of their friendship, but because of her commitment to growing beyond the boundaries she had seen for herself at the start of the tournament - Ichika finally claps for one of her fellows. She had restrained before not because she wasn't happy for them, but because... well... it hadn't been any of their choices until this moment.

"If any of us deserved the opportunity to seize our destiny, it was you, Chevy. We will find our way through this journey together." She says, smiling brightly. And then, in a much softer voice, when she joins them in Team Thunder Corner...

"... I think, it would be okay if you want to just go with Ichika, now, as well."

Djamila Everyone who has been picked, deserves it. Everyone has been great Djamila wouldn't say anything else than that. She just doesn't react a ton about any of them at the moment. It's only when Chevy gets picked and contested by two teams that a huge smile comes on her face. She isn't surprised one bit.%R%R When it's clear which team she is going on Djamila says. "Great Job Chevy. Best of everything that happens to you from now on.", before she leaves for Team Thunder.

There's a rather heated discussion in Team Blaze's corner, one voice in particular rising above the others in a bellow:

"But she got the best fashion sense! We gotta contest her! I'll fight 'em if I have to!"

More discussion ensues, and it seems that the large stranger known as 'Zog' is assuaged during the negotiations. "Alright, okay. She's a cutie too, and she's good at playin' the belly drums AND drinkin'. She'll be a good choice for our party, yeah."

Zog rises up from his massive chair and clears his throat. "Team Fire is pickin' da raccoon girl."

The named 'TAMAKI' pops up in yellow highlight beneath Team Blaze.

Mitsuru was stewing in her temper, as Team Blaze blah blah blahs. She was thinking not just about the other elegant lady she was going to pick. She was also thinking about how RUDE that Korean girl was. The Tokugawas always had strong opinions about Koreans, and this Korean was no exception to those good family opinions. She was especially angry about the whole brain and skull comment which was very rude and she was trying hard to think of a good rebuttal about it. Like something about brains and skulls. Maybe she was a empty headed dummy with pigtails! As their turn comes up she snaps out of her daze, as she raises her voice up. "Hmph! I would like to pick Ir-" And then Zog speaks up over her AGAIN, as the next pick comes up. Mitsuru screams, face bright crimson. Turning back at Team Blaze, the young lady begins throwing her fists at the ogre, shrieking furiously.

"You b-b-baka! You dummy! You are supposed to let me be in charge!"

Just like that it's Team Thunder again. She knows who Lyraelle wants, and she's fine with it, and the rest of the team seems fine with it as well. So now it's their turn to contest. Once it's settled, which doesn't take very long, she goes forth again. She seems to be the voice of the team. Maybe because of her age.

, "We contest Tamaki. We want her on our team as well." She moves back for now, even if she's aware she might have to do a pitch, but there is team metal. Who are they gonna pick? She briefly looks at Lyraelle and sees her happier with this. Good.

As she goes back, she also smiles at Chevy. "Happy you decided to join us Chevy." Again she touches a shoulder. It's just who she is.

Chevy breathes a sigh of relief as Goldlewis offers a response filled with professional courtesy. "Thank you sir." And to Ariastra, "Thank you, ma'am." Once again she bows -- a product of her joining the professional fighting ranks coinciding with her indoctrination to Japanese culture -- and moves over to the Team Thunder corner. She grins back towards Djamila, adding, "Thanks!" And to Buford -- belatedly -- a smile. If there was any enmity before, it seems his earlier show of support may have cleared out the balance.

She takes her seat with Ichika, grinning. She whispers: "Well, thanks. My heart was poundin' so fast I kept stumblin' over my words, haha. Better... safe than sorry?"

She blinks as Ariastra touches her shoulder. And then again as she catches up with what was just said -- this time with even wider eyes. -Tamaki- too? Chevy applauds heavily, beaming with support! "This'd be like a -dream- team!" she confides to Ichika.

Seated at the table for Team Metal, is one of Arctel's reps and salespeople--Katherine Flake! She's a very short woman, just about 5 feet, wearing a black and charcoal gray suit, black dress shoes, red cravat and black fedora. Her hair is a pale white color, and very curly. She currently has her hat off, sitting among the other Team Metal sponsors with her dark sunglasses clipped in her coat pocket. She's got what looks like a headset on as well, she's prepared.

"Katherine Flake of Team Metal here, can't deny there's so many with great potential here, but going to have to say our choice for this round is Djamila! I hope I said that right!" she gives a great big smile, almost a little too big, one might say.

Djamila is chilling after what happened with Chevy. She is amused a little Tamaki is contested. Again thunder is part of it, but otherwise, she keeps her nervousness inside. Who will pick her? Will she be the last choice for a team.

But, then Team Metal? Team Metal picks her. She doesn't even realize if her name was pronounced right or not. She just knows she has been picked, and she's very happy. She's still nervous too, however. She stands up with her staff, and then holding firmly she navigates the crowd and the stairs until she gets down there and can join Team Metal." She bows in front of the sponsors. "Thank you for choosing me. I am honored and excited at the prospect." Then she slams her staff down and leans on it on it, taking a deep breath. She finally has a place.

"You should have heard me try to talk to Imawano-sensei, I thought I was going to throw up the whole time." Ichika whispers to Chevy, though that smile of hers hasn't faded a single bit. Even MORE quietly, because she really doesn't want to insult the woman who just selected both of them, she asks, "Do... you think that she's really five thousand years old, or, is it... like, with how everyone pretends Armour King is actually, a Jaguar-man?"

She really doesn't know! Darkstalkers were strange enough to wrap her head around - though, it seemed like she was going to have to get over that quite quickly - the idea of a woman who was old enough to be there when the first katana was forged deigning to teach her how to use one during a fighting tournament was... well. It sounded like the premise to an anime more than something that happens in real life!

"I, didn't actually get to meet Tamaki." She continues, whispering away with her friend in the style of the worst schoolkids everywhere, "I watched her matches though. She seemed impressive. Though, I, don't know if I could keep up with her in partying..." Just, don't think about what she got up to at the last one!

%Buck has been watching the whole time in relative silence, other than cheering as some of his competitors are picked, more so for those he's had conversations with, but no one ius without at least some applause from the farm boy. Though Chevy and Hawksley get the most effusive clapping.

Still, he resigns himself to more of a wait, watching as the unpicked individuals on the screen dwindle, his eyes on his own name mear the bottom. The only expression his shows on his face is when Chevy decides to go with Team Thunder, a look cast in Team Frost's and more specifically Abigail's direction.

Mint had offered a friendly smile when Nixie was welcomed to the team. She'd offered a bigger smile to Kenzo. "Glad to have you on the team." And for the most part -- she'd decided to withdraw and let the taller members of her team shoulder the responsibilities as needed for a little bit.

Which gives her a bit more breathing room to welcome Djamila. She gives a friendly wave -- which Djamila would likely be able to hear, considering her prosthetic hands make a number of curious little whirring and clicking sounds in the process. "Welcome to the team! If there's anything you need, feel free to ask!" Luckily, Mint has done a -bit- of research into accessibility reearch in her years with the military.

Chevy shrugs silently in response to Ichika's query. Almost as if she's keenly aware that she -could- be heard. Though, so as not to be too rude to Ichika, she whispers back: "I'm goin' with 'yes?'" It's not as if she's run into a woman who claims to be -older- than she looks before.

As for whether Ichika can keep up with partying? "Ooh, I'd bet you -could-..." answers Chevy with a playful smirk.

She does hear the sound of Mint's waving hand. Sounds are a very important part of her daily life. But there is more to her than that. A secret, that one day might be discovered.

She bows her head again. "Thank you. It is generous. I shall if there are any problems, but I am used to having to deal. Things are better for blind people, but there is still a long. I am just lucky about everything. Thank you." She tries to not babble. "I will do my best. I will learn. I am ready to work hard." Yeah, now she's babbling. She stops after that and keeps holding onto her staff.

"So, with a contest between Teams Thunder and Blaze over the raccoon gi-I mean, bake-danuki Tamaki, Team Thunder will have to make their case to the tanuki gal first," Lou says as 'DJAMILA' and 'AYALA' turn green under Team Metal and Team Frost while 'TAMAKI' turns deep orange under teams Thunder and Blaze on the monitor.

Within moments of what appears to be deliberation amongst Team Thunder, Lyraelle makes a gesture, and a minotaur sitting behind her chair pulls it back from the table, the imps gathered around her throne scattering. Thus extracted, Lyraelle rises up from her seat, smoothing down the microskirt around her waist and clearing her throat. "Thank you, Lady Ariastra, but I wanted to address Tamaki-san myself," she begins in a sweet, clear voice, green eyes glittering.

"As you will likely know, during my reign over the Midnight Channel as Queen Lyraelle Darkheart, I made tireless efforts to advance the rights of those who are called 'darkstalkers' to compete and participate in public fighting events during a time when the Powers that Be of the fighting world were arrayed against the supernaturally endowed. I used the resources I had accrued from my streaming revenues to create a space in the world for 'darkstalkers' to participate both as competitors and audience members - the Midnight Channel - when Professional Fighting Worldwide had declared a blanket ban on all supernaturals from even so much as attending Saturday Night Fights with tickets they'd legitimately paid for."

Lyraelle brushes her white-gloved fingers through her long, pink hair as a small pink imp flutters next to her, wafting cool air toward her using a paper fan.

"Make no mistake - I did not wilfully and opportunistically abandon my nature as a 'darkstalker;' it was taken from me by the forces that still seek to oppress and obliterate those who are born to be different. And while I defer to my peers, it was not my choice to wait until the third round to attempt to claim you for Team Thunder; I would have chosen you first. Team Thunder would be honoured to have you, but I most of all, as someone who believes passionately in the protection and representation of the supernatural, would make available all of my resources - as well as my expertise as a World Champion and Neo-League Champion - to you, if you join us. Even if you join the /lovely/ Team Blaze," Lyraelle adds as a footnote, looking over toward Zog - "with their wealth of experience" - she looks toward Mitsuru and Yuri - "I can assure you that you would always be welcome on the Midnight Channel - and Saturday Night Fights, thanks to my efforts."

She seats herself primly, and the minotaur pushes her throne back into place.

Though Peng You has been billed as Sensei for Team Thunder, the mysterious old man seems content to allow the others of his team to take the lead in negotiations. After all, having the most famous face in Darkstalker relations, a 5,000 year old beauty from legend, and one of the most renowned Shrine Maidens of her age doesn't leave a lot of space for one white-haired old man.
And yet...
While Lyraelle stands to make her desires known, Peng You turns his attention on Zog and the comparatively tiny figure venting her rage upon him. Hands having been tucked into the opposite sleeves of a heavy grey robe, the old master slips the left free, gives a little wave to Mitsuru, and smiles slightly beneath the rim of his conical straw hat.
"I am pleased that the both of you have joined us," he offers aside to Chevy and Ichika, voice a quiet crackle that still manages to slice effortlessly through the noise.

As Djamila joins the rest of the draftees for Team Metal, Kenzo has a moment to get into his own head. And it isn't a great to be at that moment.

He thinks about his team's pick order. Nixie made sense to him. Champion of the tournament. If anything, he was surprised it was uncontested.

The next round was him sandwiched between the contesting of Chevy. The confusing part is that they had the option of taking Tamaki or Djamila off the board or contesting for Hawksley (though probably futile since he likes messing with Coco too much to go to any team besides Blaze if he had a choice). The third round was when Djamila got taken off the board where he would have taken himself with all consideration for his performance. A better first round performance could've had him picked first round. It made him wonder why he was picked where he was.

When Djamila places her staff down and leans upon it, Kenzo gets shaken out of his thoughts.

Chevy had little trouble staying still before -- frozen in the headlights, she was practically paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake. Now that she's seated close by to Ichika in the Team Thunder corner, it's the opposite scenario -- she wants to be part of -everyone's- story again, her foot starting to tap rapidly with anticipation. She and Ichika are settled, Coco and Hawksley are settled, Kenzo and Nixie are settled... and then Djamila is picked! Chevy pumps a fist in commisseration. "Aww yeah!" The two may not have spoken much but she was really excited to hear the sightless warrior's support earlier. And Chevy -is- still eager for a fight against her, all the same...

She spares a glance over to Buck, smiling faintly. If he happens to look her way she'll be grinning and tossing him a friendly wave of support. Though as "Sensei" in the bamboo hat looks back her way, a shiver runs down her spine. Not a bad one -- it's a -good- omen, right? She nods and bows her head in thanks. "Thank you for giving us the opportunity, Sensei. We'll do everything we can to make you proud."

Ariastra steps aside, and Lyraelle, right in front of her, makes a passionate plea for the rights of Darkstalkers. And she realizes ... that she and Ichika were the product of votes -ahead- of her chosen Tamaki. Which makes her feel good in a way, and a bit less good in another. Chevelle bites her lip as she stomachs that -particular- bit of trivia.

Sure -- Lyraelle is, in some senses, grandstanding. But it's definitely for the benefit of helping Tamaki make the decision that's right for her -- just as Chevy makes the decision that, she feels, is the right one for -her-. Miss Beaumont nods along with Lyraelle's words, smiling at Tamaki throughout. Just as Ichika had with her -- Chevy makes her support evident, but silent so as not to overtly sway the bake-danuki's opinion.

Mind -- Chevy is suddenly shaken -out- of her quiet moment with the slam of a staff, which has the redhead casting a momentary, startled gaze towards Team Metal. Which becomes a smile.

For once in her life, she feels like she's found a path forward for herself.

TO his credit, Abigail manages to stay quiet. This is not normal for the Mad Gear titan. He's also used to getting his way and making it very clear when displeasure rockets through him. A disappointed Abigail can be an emotional hurricane.

But the behemoth actually simply allows a rueful smile that slowly turns into a grin as Chevy makes her decision and he watches as she settles in with her teammates and grows more comfortable and assured.

"Eh.." he finally rumbles with a shrug, asiding in Juri's direction - who most assuredly doesn't care either way, "Eh...maybe her headlights are too bright from the streets of Metro City anyway.."

So she's gone and he leaves it be, refocusing his attention. All of the threats of fighting came and went before he could have a say so it'd just be tacky to get all aggressive now. And Abigail is many things but he's not tacky!

Still, pondering matters, he frowns lightly as he looks over those who remain of draft options. A fight might almost be preferrable. "Huh."

Before Ichika has time to get embarrassed about Chevy's light teasing, Lyraelle is talking and she immediately feels bad for her lack of knowledge in this area. It wasn't that she disliked Darkstalkers per se - but as she keeps talking, she realises that she doesn't even know if 'Darkstalker' is a term that the people themselves find acceptable! She had always just thought they were scary, and the high placement that they had achieved within the first round had solidified that impression in her mind at least a little bit. Nixie was able to create whole expanses of traps on a whim. Tamaki could steal your own style and use it against you. Such things were... well, they weren't natural! By definition, that's what supernatural means!

But the more Lyraelle speaks the more the girl realises how much of a struggle it must be to be the subject of such thoughts. To be feared for something you had no control over. That was an awful thing, wasn't it?

Luckily she is interrupted from her thoughts by Peng You and his impressive voice. She stiffens, and turns just a little so she can look at the ancient master properly. "Yes, thank you Sensei." She says, earnestly echoing Chevy's words. Though technically she didn't have a choice - after listening to Ariastra and Lyraelle's pitches, and with Chevy at her side, she couldn't be happier with the outcome. This team had obviously come with a plan for all of them, unlike at least some of the other teams who seemed mostly to be squabbling amongst themselves. Or disinterested in proceedings entirely. She feels she needs to add more though, and surely her sponsors would be wondering, so...

"I have received accommodations from my school so that I can fit my studies around your teachings. I look forward to making the most of this opportunity! So, thank you, again!"

"I reckon it will be just lovely to spend more time with you, Coco Pops" Hawksley beams at the Brit, before reaching out a hand to pet her companion. "You too, Captain."

As the prospect of Tamaki joining Team Blaze is raised, the party loving lad perks up even further. "Oh yes please, we'd have a ball with her on the squad too."

His hope of this actually happening however, starts to slip when the smooth talking and smoking hot Team Thunder rep delivers her speech. "Shit, that was good" he grumbles.

Buck catches the look from Chevy, returning a bright smile and a thumbs up from where he remains seated. At least half his seriousness is show for the cameras and the sponsors it seems, because after that grin it takes him a moment to school his face back to the passive neautrality he's been showing all day.

Lyraelle's speech to Tamaki has an oddly sobering effect on him however, making his brow scrunch in though as he looks down at his own hand, curling his fingers into a fist and opening it over and over again as he listens. His eyes narrow slightly, but then he shakes his head and lets out a soft sigh. "Question for later." He mutters just a softly.

It was Lyraelle that drew Mitsuru out of her relentless barrage into Zog.

Queen Lyraelle Darkheart. The name was like the sound a dog makes eating its own vomit. Mitsuru's eyes go wide. Turning back over, she stares at her rival, as her expression darkens. She almost completely forgets about Zog or Koreans or Tanukis or anything. Only how sweet and cute Lyraelle was being, oh, it made her sick. So the moment she seats herself?

Mitsuru shouts after her.

"LIAR!" Was the start of Team Blaze's articulate rebuttal. "She's a STUPID LIAR! Don't listen to her SUGAR COATED LIES! She will just kidnap you and lie to you over and over again! She's an awful, terrible psychopath that will ABUSE YOU! Why would you ever want to go over to Team Thunder! If they have Lyraelle on there, they probably are ALL MANIACS! EVIL, CRAZY MANIACS!" Mitsuru was almost turning purple now as she rants like she was hosting her own podcast. "Even if she was nice she would just put you in a cage and make you do tricks or something for her stupid TV show! Where the fights are rigged, um, and fake, and uh... uh..." Mitsuru's anger deflates, as she looks around. For a sudden, jarring moment, she was very self-aware how she was sounding right now in front of everyone. She flattens out her uniform and her skirt, and clears her throat.

Her face was at least only red now, instead of purple.

"Um, ugh, I guess I'm speaking up for us, um, and I can't um, be all negative. Uh. Hi Tamaki. You probably want to know about stuff that's helpful for you? Stuff that we can do. Well Yuri is really good at thumbs up, and also can do a thing like a Hadoken, but it's called a Haoh Sho Ko Ken and it's a lot bigger and you do like this!" Mitsuru does a gesture like in the song Baby Shark, except the parts with Daddy Shark and with big arms. "I'm really good at punches and can show you how to ora ora ora, like there is a comic series, well it's also an anime now but there is a series, where you have like... and um, I guess Zog could teach you Belly Tennis and we have this fourth guy who can do a really cool thing with his leg." Mitsuru lifts up her knee, standing on one leg. "And then he can kind of." Mitsuru hops over slightly, before dropping her leg suddenly to keep herself falling over. "I can't do it but he can do it without hopping. He also can appear out of nowhere it's really cool. So that's what Team Blaze can promise you. Not being trapped by a crazy demon lady who will bully you, how to shoot fireballs, how to ora ora ora people like a real Joestar or Kenshiro, how to bounce balls with your tummy, and how to slide around on one leg and surprise people." Mitsuru lowers her head, looking at the ground, as she kicks the toe of her shoe the floor.

"Um, that's it."

Zog seems to have been annoyed at Mitsuru's barrage, but his endlessly thick belly absorbs the impact without serious damage, and he ends up rubbing his front with one hand, an irritated expression on his face, as his grip tightens around the haft of the club in his other hand that rests on the floor.

As Mitsuru starts to shout her defamatory accusations at Lyraelle, the pink-clad princess pales initially, her gloved fingers digging into the desk as he expression tightens. Once Mitsuru finishes her pitch, she bolts upright, opening her mouth to speak.

"Objection! That is pure slander! I demand that it be stricken from the -"

"Darlin', this ain't a court of law," Carly, the red-haired CEO of Professional Fighting Worldwide, suddenly speaks up, interjecting into the princess' rebuttal. "But if it was, I'd say your objection was overruled. Only one pitch per team per prospect. We ain't gonna be here all week."

Lost for words, Lyraelle makes a sound that sounds faintly like choking before sinking back into her throne.

The speech from Mitsuru - especially the impressive, chameleon-like ability to change her colour - has Ichika staring. The more the girl goes on, the more challenging it is to keep control. But, she has an easier time when she isn't the centre of attention. After a brief moment of bug-eyed gawping, Ichika's face slides into smooth impassivity. She does clasp her hands behind her back. It makes it easier to squeeze them together where not everyone can see; work out the tension needed to prevent herself from bursting out laughing.

Seijyun was a cut above Taiyo - who was also represented on that team - but Seijyun is still Seijyun, and so far below Justice as not to be worthy of note. On one level, Ichika knows that she should keep her mouth shut; doubtless Mitsuru could make life difficult for her as a sponsor, even if she was in a totally different team.

But on another, far deeper, level... there is a school rivalry to consider, here. She can't keep her mouth shut. Her voice is just so *flat* and neutral, there's no mistaking her real meaning. Even if that impassive politeness gives her cover for it.

"An excellent speech, Tokugawa-chan. As expected of Seijyun's finest."

Chevy lasts about a second into Mitsuru's tirade before clapping her hands over her ears. It would be easy to dismiss the rant from Mitsuru as stark raving lunacy. And yet, as someone who was drafted into Team Thunder over the express avowed -objection- from the target of Mitsuru's ire, she can't help but feel that... perhaps, there might be -some- elements of truth in what the Seijyun highschooler is saying.

As Mitsuru catches herself and starts to double back on her words, Chevy slowly lowers her hands from her ears to her mouth. Mild panic remains in her eyes as she spares glances to Sensei. To Ayame. And to Ariastra. Her team of choice seems nice now, but would they be as forgiving if Princess Lightheart were truly as wicked as claimed? Or would she be... -trapped-, as Mitsuru suggests? Lyraelle voices an objection. The PFW CEO swats it down. And Chevy finds herself, for a moment, lost on what to consider.

Chevy looks to Ichika, curious to see if she has the same take.
She's swiftly proven wrong.
"--daaaamn," escapes her lips in scarcely a whisper.
Good thing her hands are still covering her mouth.

The redhead is at least 80% sure that she still made the right choice to join Team Thunder, even in the face of such an empassioned rebuttal. But that doesn't stop her from sparing quick glances to the sponsors and members of other teams.

Like Abigail.
Like Buck.
And like... Brian Storm.
Man, he's so cool. Chevy loved watching his fights.

... Wait, so is -that- what Mitsuru's doing? Is... that what Lyraelle's doing? Are they cutting promos -right here and now?- Chevy's hands fall away. Excitement courses through her veins as she sits up with a smile. She gains a new appreciation for this event. Showing her what a tournament centered on clashing personalities is -all about!-

Tamaki has been here - of course she has, she *has* to be here for this one. Boardrooms have zero attraction for her and she has never bothered to go into one before, but the people in it do, and she wanted to get some eyes on both the sponsors and the other fighters. Some of them have quite impressed her. Others, less so.

Tamaki has, however, not bothered to dress up. Fortunately, her 'I am just wearing whatever' outfit is at least reasonable, even if she looks mostly like a university-aged refugee from the late 1990s: a crop top that bares the lowest part of her belly, a pair of stonewash jeans worn low on her hips and then pulled down further in back in an attempt to get them on with a tail. She does have her tokkuri, and Chevy might notice a bucket-shaped charm with a tail tied to its strap in lieu of a cell phone.

When her name is called the first time, and attention is drawn to her, Tamaki is halfway through a long drink from her tokkuri. When it's called a *second* time, and people realize it's going to be a contested pick, she has lowered it. Her attention has clearly been coming and going, but given the topic is her, she has entirely tuned in.

Both teams make pitches of varying degrees of heartfelt-ness. Tamaki listens to both. Without obvious reaction, even when Mitsuru really goes for it! She takes another drink, but it's more thoughtful this time as Mitsuru finishes, and Lyraelle objects to it. She lowers it as she comes to the end of her (slightly drunken) thought process.

And then Tamaki stands up.

"When I signed up to do this, I didn't expect I'd be being fought over by two different teams," Tamaki says. "And I must say, I like members of both teams! I have never really been a part of the 'Darkstalker community'," and you can practically hear the finger quotes, "but I appreciate that they too wish to live with humans. And as for Team Blaze, I have never met anyone but me with quite as much ability to change their color as me." Tamaki grins, broadly, at the red-faced Mitsuru.

"I've always meant to go out and have some fun with Hawksley and Coco, too. And I've had fun with Chevy. Like I said, I like people on both teams. But really, there's only one I could pick." Tamaki raises her jug... and points it toward Lyraelle! "Much as I appreciate Team Blaze's offer, and especially Zog, I think I would, hmm... Be happier with Team Thunder."

A moment's pause. "Also, I already know how to bounce things off my belly," Tamaki adds, sounding almost offended, as she thumps the side of her stomach hard enough to cause an almost bass drum-like boom. "I don't need to learn belly tennis. I'd still go drinking, or to Zog's party, though. Especially if there's food. I haven't eaten in hours, ha ha!"

It's been maybe two hours. She'll live!

"But my final answer is Team Thunder."

Ariastra listens to what Tamaki has to say. It's a nice speech. Then she says she will come to them. She nods her head.

Then she looks at Lyraelle, great speech there. Well done. I am impressed. She chuckles. She doesn't react much to what Ichika said on the outside, but on the inside, she's amused.

Hawksley looks disappointed, if not surprised by Tamaki's choice. "You can still party with Coco and I" he calls to her, once she's declared her allegiance to Team Thunder.

Truth be told, he'd be happy to do that with any of the competitors in the New Fighting Generation. Even the much maligned Buford.

He takes a glance towards the remaining fighters, wondering who will end up joining him and Coco on Team Blaze. There's a couple who he would definitely favour, but it would be rude to vocalise this, so instead he awaits to see what fate has in store.

As the word 'TAMAKI' fades to red then disappears beneath Team Blaze and turns green under Team Thunder, Zog's disappointment is palpable - especially when the ogre bangs a fist down on the table, sending a thin crack rippling through a section of it. "Damn!" he shouts, before letting out a huff. Turning to his teammates, he says, "Ah, well. At least she wants to party. Maybe we can get her to switch teams by throwin' a real big feast!"

Meanwhile, Lyraelle, who was looking incredibly tense and stressed out before Tamaki's announcement, appears awash in relief, her cheeks flush as the realisation that she's won in spite of Mitsuru's clearly baseless (?) slander comes over her.

"Oh, thank you, Tamaki-chan! We're going to have sooo much fun together!" she says, clapping her hands and smiling with an enthusiasm that may just lead one to wonder if she really does have some sadistic intent in store for the bake-danuki. "Here, you can have my chair," she offers magnanimously, causing the minotaur to look surprised as she gestures to let her out of her throne. "I can always sit on Zander's shoulder." The minotaur rolls his eyes before picking the princess up and letting her perch atop one of his massive shoulders, easily broad enough to support her scantily-clad backside.

Mitsuru gives a very strong pout, as Tamaki makes her choice. She covers her face with her hands, running back to Team Blaze. She doesn't congratulate Tamaki for making her choice, and she definitely, -definitely- doesn't look at Lyraelle. She just hides behind Zog, and kind of hides her face in her hands. She didn't really want Hawksley or Coco to see it, but She wasn't crying though. Absolutely not. She was just napping, and it was just so hot in here- it was so hot with all these people.

That her eyes were just sweating something fierce.

"Oh, I have my own," Tamaki says, before sitting down in Team Thunder's zone -

On her tail, which has apparently grown to about the size of a beanbag chair when it's curled up, which it does as she lowers herself. She settles onto it without complaint, and ends up a little low compared to the others. Especially given she is pretty short to begin with!

"Love the outfit," she adds to Lyraelle, more quietly, "though I don't think I could pull it off myself, ha ha!" She gives Chevy a grin afterwards. "I knew we'd meet again, but I didn't think it would be this soon."

Ichiki at least gets a polite nod. Tamaki is inclined to... well, not dislike her, but it's more that she doesn't have the kind of easy familiarity she does with some others. Not that that stops her most of the time, though!

Minal has been weekend casual her whole time here - collared polo shirt, khakis. With the Secretary of Defense on an opposing team, she hadn't wanted to give the impression that the United States Armed Forces were working the playfield. Even if, well, maybe they... are? Whatever.

The point is, after listening to Lyraelle and Mitsuru volleying back and forth, the veteran is reminded about some of the prior meetings she's been party to. And in those meetings she was in dress uniforms. And in those meetings, -she'd been wearing a tie- which she could feign tightening as a way to relieve the stress. The corporal will -really- need to rethink her attire in the future, she thinks, glancing furtively back and forth amongst her partners.

Mint looks forward and nods appraisingly as Tamaki makes her statement. Finally, the room can breathe again! And as she's given the turn to speak, she steps up.

With as much seriousness as she can muster, she coughs into a bionic hand before speaking.
"Team Metal would like to stress that we are free-range sponsors and categorically reject any past, present, or future claims of candidate imprisonment."
She pauses, allowing the barest glimmer of a smirk across her lips.
"Also, we select Buck Finley."
She smiles and turns back to face him, as she takes her seat.

Ichika allows herself the tiniest smirk when Mitsuru beats a hasty retreat. It's arguably the nastiest side of her that she's shown in this tournament; but there's no indication whatsoever that she feels bad for the public humiliation of Seijyun's Platinum Brawler. She does at least make an attempt not to gloat, merely watching with cool eyes as her rival is crushed before her.

Then Tamaki is approaching and she gives a little bow as the tanuki takes her ... seat, "Tamaki-san. It's good to meet you, and I look forward to working with you in future."

She's definitely gone into more formal mode. Goodness that was ~invigorating~.

Buck is still staring down at his hand for the moment it takes him to realize his name has been called. He looks up, blinking, his eyes flitting to the board and then over to team Metal, perhaps missing which team's turn it was to draft. He stands up, hooking his thumbs in his pockets but stays standing in front of his seat. Not that he expects to be contested, but there's not many picks left which does heighten the chance.

However, the Oklahoma farm boy does smile and nod back to Mint after she calls his name, showing at least his appreciation as he stands patiently, waiting for the other teams to make their claim for this round. Though there is a look aside to the other remaining contestants and the expression on his face is clear. Why an unknown over known individuals still remaining.

Chevy throws up a fist as Tamaki picks Team Thunder! She's happy for many reasons -- happy to have another of her new friends on the team, clearly, but also for there to be a -second- contested pick to make the same choice. "Yeah! I had a feeling things would work out!"

The redhead smiles with infectious cheer -- and keeps that smile even as Buck is selected by an opposing team, as she breaks into applause! Will he become a -third- snipe from Team Thunder? She hasn't the faintest clue. But she's happy for her fellow American getting picked, all the same!

WIth the skirmishes of Round 3 ending, it was time for Round 4. Team Frost would be picking on the last turns, and with Goldlewis at the helm, he watches warily as Buck is selected. Buck was a promising unknown, and well an option for the Team Frost. Tactically, he could engage in another fight. Strategically... with Genie and Ayala matched off, Goldlewis himself wanted someone who was reliable, steady, and showing potential, as well as someone who might act as a balance personality-wise to the selection so far. And of his personal secondary picks... he looks upon a rather spirited dancer. No, not the one who uses a pole.

"Team Frost picks Sarah Ashley Kuzumi" Goldlewis announces firmly.

The tech ninja is politely silent as Lyraelle makes her case. The idea of having had her darkstalker traits removed against her will was shocking.

When Mitsuru makes her case, Kenzo can only watch, wide-eyed and stunned. Kidnapping and lies with a stunning amount of rage. Is it truth, fabrication, or delusion?

While his sponsor might have wished to have a tie to adjust, Kenzo has a tie with a tread plate metal design on it to adjust and he does. After Mint comes back from drafting Buck, he mutters to himself, "I'm glad I got recruited by Metal..."

Mitsuru takes a break from her not weeping, as it returns to Team Blaze. SHe was angry, insulted, embarrassed, and having rather puffy eyes at the moment. But scowling, she practically -growls- at Zog as she strides out. Puffing her chest out. "Well, are you done feeling bad for yourselves?!" Mitsuru declares to Team Blaze. "Yare yare daze, good grief! Well I am gonna get us a proper young lady then! I want Iris for Team Blaze!"

There is much talk between the Team Blaze members. At times, one team member shakes his head no. Then another time, a team member nods his head yes. After some deliberation, they seem to come up with a decision.

Ariastra comes forth, and she looks around. Then she speaks up. "We are contesting Buck."

She smiles then takes a deep breath. "I might as well start the pitch too. We are the last team after all." She ponders only for a short moment. "You know what the team has to offer. You know the sponsors of this team. You know the other members of this team. All this speaks for itself. We would love to help you develop your style, and we think you would be a great fit in here with the rest of us. So the ball is in your court. Everyone we chose deserves to be here, and I hope you will take what you deserve as well."

Ichika's eyes widen just a little as Ariastra steps up and contests Buck, and then... she looks at each of the other teams in turn.

"A contested pick from every other team, for everyone else except me." She murmurs, a slight frown tugging at her brow. Her tutors are clearly unwilling to 'play nice' with any of the others, as Goldlewis had attempted to do with his more concilliatory gambit. She can't help but feel a prickle of nervousness, though. A dawning sense of a familiar burden.

"I suppose... this is what it means to stand as part of the Super-Elite."

She can't help but look to Mint. She'd enjoyed her meeting with the Marine; she'd been wise counsel. Maybe, just maybe, she might be the one able to offer a convincing argument against the impressive case made by Thunder's leaders...

He was surprised by this round in its entirety. He was surprised that Mint had snatched up Buck seeing as he was eyeing Frost's Abigail as if wanting get recruited by that team. He was surprised that Frost opted not to contest though in hindsight it made sense seeing as they got burnt by a failed contest. The least surprising thing about the round was Thunder being the ones to contest seeing as they've contested each round except one and even then it was still unexpected since Iris (going by her interview) seemed to be one who fit best with the team identity they seemed to wanted to have.

Kenzo tenses up, having hoped to get Buck on the team free and clear. He takes a deep breath and releases it as looks to Mint to see what she has to say.

Mint had a clipboard. She stands up, sifting through it one more time -- but as she does so, she notes with her loud, military operations voice: "Hey, uh... advance notice, this might rustle some feathers here, so just buckle up, folks."

She coughs into a bionic fist. "Ahem."
And looks back to Ariastra with a raised eyebrow.
"Seriously, Ariastra, that's it?"

Panesh turns back to Buck with a wide grin. "Look, Buck, you've done the job hunt game before, right? How far do you get in the job search when you just fire off resumes with no cover letter, no research into the job you're apping for? How's that work these days, huh?"

Plastic squeaks as one hand flattens against her chest. Her other hand sweeps around to indicate her team. "Now, look at Team Metal. Us four? Just a bit older than you. And we picked out three folks straight outta college, four countin' you. People with similar life experiences, heads squarely planted on their shoulders, old enough to shop for their own groceries and do their own laundry and dishes."

She counts up till three on her fingers -- the room quiet enough to hear the servos spinning.
"The -champion- of Fight Fest 23. Smart as a whip, willin' to do what it takes to win."
"The smartest kid this side of Southtown who already solved the problem that just about flatlined Team Thunder's whiz kid over there."
Third finger. "And the brightest talent with a pole who doesn't put up with anyone's tired ol' bullshit."

Fourth finger out. "And then there's you. You ride your own horse, you've charted your own path -- and you've stumbled into a power which I have -never- seen before, and heck, I doubt any'a them've seen it either."

Mint chops her hands down, squaring them about shoulder-width apart, to frame the situation. Because it's just not possible for a Marine to give a talk without hand-chop motions. "You won't be partnering with kids, and you won't be seeking instruction from people so old they forgot what it's like to make honest mistakes."

"Because let's face it. They won't have time to help you figure your own stuff out -- they'll be too busy sorting out teenage drama you dealt with years ago."

Mint turns to Team Blaze, overemphasizing a -very- obvious wink in Mitsuru's direction before turning back to Buck.

With another gesturing to Kathy, Zel and Veronica, she continues. "Us? We're engineers. Scientists. -Aching- to probe life's mysteries, but not so full of ourselves we're just gonna run off copies of last year's lesson plans for you. And we ain't gonna ditch the team just as soon as we got our first pick."

This would be when Mint squints her left eye shut, for she has no one to actually wink at.

Confidently, she resumes her schpiel. "You want a life coach? Someone who'll give you vague platitudes about doin' the right thing? They got that at Thunder. I mean, heck, bonus points, they got Lyraelle, so you'll hear the same 'Just do better' advice like, what, /four/ times before they get to you."

She's smart enough to avoid eye contact that time.

"Or you can come with us. We're not so -young- we've never even been in a high-stakes match. We're not so old we've forgotten what an ass-beatin' felt like. And we got the brains, the determination, and the -passion- to make sure we're there to help you learn from your mistakes. Because at the end of the day, I think you want people who aren't so wrapped up in their own life experiences. I think you want people who'll keep their ears open and -listen- to you."

The tiniest little Marine folds her hands behind her back at parade rest. She also drops any pretense of smugness, or smirking, or showmanship. Because she's looking straight up -at- Buck, directly.

"But I'm not you, Buck. Maybe I'm right. Or maybe I don't know you that well. But you can rest assured that we here at Team Metal? We're all sure you'll make the right choice for -you,- Buck."

Ichika suddenly wishes she hadn't been paying such close attention to Mint's words.

There's real hurt, there. Her age? That was the reason why Mint had discounted her? After their talk? It's a good thing that she was already in 'impassive' mode, because the girl has to call on every part of her Justice High Etiquette Training to make her heart stone and swallow the upswell of emotion that rises in her. If she weren't a child, she might recognise that this is how SHE had made Mitsuru feel not ten minutes earlier. As though she's been given a public kicking. And she *doesn't understand why*.

Those bright eyes of hers are very cold by the time Mine stops talking. Her jaw is tight. But she stands like a statue. Not even seeming to breathe.

She had said she wanted to fight Mint one day. Then? She had wanted to do it to prove what she could do. She had thought it would be fun. But now? Oh no. Now that dangerous older motivation is creeping back in. It isn't enough to be recognised; when they cross mechanical fist against sword, she resolves, she will *win*. She doesn't know how, but that is a fight she is going to prepare for with everything she has.

Tamaki, who has absolutely no interest in university, jobs that involve cover letters, jobs that involve a university education, or in fact doing much of anything she didn't want to already...

Well, Mint's speech might work on Buck, but it doesn't seem to faze her at all that she's put herself in with one immortal, one (ex?)-Darkstalker, one mystic and one... whatever Peng You is. She hasn't gotten much of a read on him yet. In fact, it really confirms that she does *not* want to be on Team Metal, because it sounds boring as hell.

She pops the gourd tokkuri open again, but doesn't speak to Buck. Obviously, because she's on the team, not forming the team. Instead, she leans over and says to Chevy and Ichika, more quietly, "They talk a lot, don't they? But that's what business is these days, I suppose. There's no spark, no soul, all results."

This is probably the most profound thing Tamaki has ever bothered to say to anyone living, and she ruins it precisely two seconds later with a slightly louder, awkwardly good at carrying, "And so uptight, too! At least let yourself loose a little bit, ha ha!"

Tamaki, who has absolutely no interest in university, jobs that involve cover letters, jobs that involve a university education, or in fact doing much of anything she didn't want to already...

Well, Mint's speech might work on Buck, but it doesn't seem to faze her at all that she's put herself in with one immortal, one (ex?)-Darkstalker, one mystic and one... whatever Peng You is. She hasn't gotten much of a read on him yet. In fact, it really confirms that she does *not* want to be on Team Metal, because it sounds boring as hell.

She pops the gourd tokkuri open again, but doesn't speak to Buck. Obviously, because she's on the team, not forming the team. Instead, she leans over and says to Chevy and Ichika, more quietly, "They talk a lot, don't they? But that's what business is these days, I suppose. There's no spark, no soul, all results."

This is probably the most philosophical thing Tamaki has ever bothered to say to anyone alive (even though it's not THAT deeply philosophical), and she ruins it precisely two seconds later with a slightly louder, awkwardly good at carrying, "And so uptight, too! At least let yourself loose a little bit, ha ha!"

Mint isn't very tender. For a brief moment, a turquoise scythe appears in Arya's right hand before it disappears back out of reality. "That was enlighting." She says more to herself than anyone else. Though perhaps someone from the team would hear her say so.

She takes a deep breath, then chuckles it up. At the moment, it doesn't matter. She has complete Faith in the people on the team so far. And wouldn't change any of the choices. So she keeps quiet. She said her piece, she didn't need to prove the worth of anyone here. Either it was said before, or it was just an evidence

Djamila listens to Mint, and she gets really pumped up. She already was happy to be on Team Metal, but now that went to a whole new level. She is really at her place. She can't help but bang her staff in the ground in support. "Hell Yeah, well said." She bows and then goes back to her silent self. But now her spirit is very uplifted, and she's even more ready to give her 110% when the time is right. She can't help but have this wide half smirk, half smile on her face.

"There is truth in what Corporal Panesh says."
The quiet words issue not from Ariastra, who has seemed content to be the face of Team Thunder up to now, but the white-haired master now stepping out of the shadow of Lyraelle's massive Minotaur companion.
"Team Metal is comprised of those with sharp minds and ambition. If opportunity is what you seek, you would be wise to join them."
Hands clasped within the sleeves of his loose grey robe, Peng You comes to stand beside the immortal majesty of his fellow team lead, gazing around the room from beneath the shadow of his hat. He does not seem at all put out by the tiny marine's dismissal, a small flash of teeth offered the woman as his hidden gaze passes over her.
"I feel that her assessment of the rest of us, however, is less charitable."
Either not noticing, or choosing to ignore, the scythe that appears at his shoulder, the Sensei shifts his hidden gaze from person to person as he speaks, soft words cutting through the room with ease.
"Those in Team Blaze will find a proving ground in which to forge themselves. From great trials can emerge equal strength, both within themselves and the bonds they share. Team Frost is wise in the ways of personal accomplishment, with all its members having chosen, at some point, to walk the harder path. They can council you in these choices, help you to overcome those qualities in yourself that you are least proud of."
Attention finally falling upon Buck himself, Peng You considers the young man for a moment, whatever hint of a smile had lingered about his shadowed features fading to a more contemplative line.
"I see great potential in you, Buck. Many versions of the man you could grow to become. Within our ranks is a depth of experience you will not find in the others, and a team of young people who would like to join you on this journey. Ms. Ichijo, one of your potential instructors, is one of the most talented shrine maidens of her generation, and I believe she could help you to harness this gift you have been given. If that is what you want, please join us. If you are seeking a cure, I think, perhaps Team Metal will serve you best."
Again that smile returns to the old Sensei's face, hatted head inclining toward Mint before he turns to retreat back in amidst his team, long white hair trailing behind him.

All the while that the Sensei is speaking, Mint is standing there at parade rest, hands behind her back -- her gaze flitting between the Sensei and Carly the nice CEO who isn't cutting him off like she had Lyraelle. But... after the tenth second or so, she stops playing the impatience card she'd just dealt against the -other- teams, and fixes her eyes upon the wizened master.

"If I may... It's not a cure we'd be tryin' to find." clarifies the corporal. "We'd be working to make better use of the skills. Same as you."

She knows that speaking further will be pressing her luck against an already drawn-out defense. And bows her head. "Thank you for your words, Sensei."

Lyraelle herself looks rather surprised when Peng You steps out from behind her minotaur, her head tilting beneath her tiara. Her own emerald eyes turn to Carly, flitting between her and the old master just as Mint's do. She starts to scowl when Mint speaks back in reply to Peng You's remarks.

"Hey, isn't it supposed to be one pitch per team?" she demands of the corporate executive. It may be friendly fire, but there's something more important than Team Thunder's recruitment pitch on the line, here - Lyraelle's ego. If she's gonna get shut down for trying to rebuke the accusations against her, then everyone should get shut down for going twice! Even if she's perfectly aware of who she's expecting equal treatment with!

"I'll allow it," Carly says with a genteel smile. "On account that our new addition oughtta be able to make an informed decision. Besides, at this rate I should still be able to make it to Happy Hour once we're done."

Lyraelle looks as if she's about to turn a very deep shade of red - maybe even purple - but the expression fades into a smile, the colour draining from her cheeks as her lips draw tight.




Buck listens calmly to Ariastra's words, nodding at the conclusion. Lyraelle already gave the big fancy speech, and while he might not be a darkstalker, that one did have something of an effect on him. He's still occasionally balling one of his hands into a fist as he contemplates.

Ruffle some feathers indeed. Buck even winces a little at Mint's speech as she disects the opposition team. He lets out a sigh and lowers his head. He's thinking, and he's giving his choices their proper consideration. There's that much to be said for him in this moment.

It goes on for a few extended seconds, Buck standing there with his head down, and one might almost think he's gone to sleep other than the fact he crosses his arms over his chest, more perhaps to stop that twitching hand of his than anything else. Finally he looks up as Peng You speaks, his expression showing he's clearly torn between the two teams.

"Honestly." He starts in his mix of mid-west and Texas drawl, breaking out in his usualy easy grin. "I'm surprised I'm being contested at all. Heck if that don't make me feel a bit better about this whole thing." He runs his hand through his hair, pushing it back out of his face, only to have it flop over his forehead again. "Aw man, feel like I'm burnin' bridges either way."

"First, I'm honored to have this chance from both of you. And yer right, I think Metal would probably be a more comfortable fit for me, at least for who I've been. Y'all seem like a great lot, 'specially the Corpral." Buck stalls again, shifting words about in his brain, picking through them carefully. "But I didn't join this competition for comfort, I joined because of this power I got, and this power ain't got no root in science, that much I know." This with a nod to Peng You.

He inclines his head to to Team Metal. "That said, I'm still gonna learn what I can from you. When we cross paths in the fighting ring. I just think Thunder has the knowledge I need for now. Sorry." Oddly, he still approaches team Metal and extend his hand out to Mint for a shake, even if those gauntlets might crush his fingers. "Thanks for the offer though, means more than you know."

Handshake accepted or not, Thunder has its third sniped pick, which let's be honest, the ratings people are going to enjoy the drama of one team annoying the other three right off the bat. Eventually, Buck makes his way over to his new teammates on Team Thunder, trying to keep his features placid even if he looks like he kind of wants to be a little sick. "Brawling is easier than this." He mutters.

Tamaki's round ears are sharper than people expect. They flick as Buck seats himself.

"Sure is," she agrees with his muttered words, and then offers him a swig from the tokkuri. (It has sake in it, which is its usual when Tamaki doesn't want something special.)

With that, 'BUCK' disappears from under Team Metal and becomes green under Team Thunder, locking in their full team. The new order rotates in: Team Metal, Team Frost, and Team Blaze. The remaining prospects are reduced to Buford, John Doe, and Brian Storm.

Mint is quick to flash a grin back at Buck, and eagerly reaches out to shake his hand. Her little plastic hands aren't gonna crush anything, they're normal-sized and even feel, well, -almost- natural.

"Hey, we tried. All's fair in draft pick season and... those... other two things, right?" She laughs, stepping back afterwards. "Best of luck to you, Buck. You're goin' to a great team with great people either way. I'm just all about keepin' people on their toes."

She pauses a bit. "Easier to trip 'em that way," she adds, before sitting back down.

Ichika... is not terribly soothed by the outcome. Raiden's words are calm and logical; a tacit defense, but not a full-throated one. He puts the focus back on Buck, not on the offensive that Mint had launched against everyone else. That was probably wise. In the end, at least, Buck makes the choice the way Team Thunder wants him to. But not once throughout proceedings did the schoolgirl with her sword take her eyes off the Marine.

When Buck comes over to join them, she finally makes herself look away, to bow to Buck. "Finley-san." She says softly, "We did not get a chance to speak at the party, I was... not at my best. I apologise. And I look forward to getting to know you, as well."

Finally, she sits down. She has been standing this whole time, but now the girl unslings her scabbard so she can lay it across her knees, and closes her eyes as she tries to calm herself down.

"I also promise." She murmurs, "That I will try not to let any, teen drama, distract from our studies." How successful she will be in that promise? Well. That remains to be seen.

Ariastra listens to Peng You speech. She has to say it's a wonderful speech. In this case, he's a much better orator than she was. He might just be saving the day on this pick.

And saving he does. Buck chooses them and she is greatly happy about that too. She had been distracted earlier when Tamaki joined her place. But she also will take the time now.

She makes her way to both of them. If able, she still put a hand first on Tamaki's shoulder. "Welcome to the team. I meant to welcome you before, but so many things happening here. We're happy to have you here. Then she moves to Buck, same deal shoulder touching if he can. "Welcome to the team as well. Happy to have you here.

After that, she says. "You're all here as prime picks. No one is here because someone else wasn't available. I want you to know that. I meant it, you all deserve to be here." She smiles and is done for now.

Like a kaiju rising up from the bay just outside of Southtown.. Abigail stands.

It's a looming, lumbering deliberate sort of movement that sends a faint rumble through the structure of the meeting room. His skin is slightly redder then usual. Not a full on Max-Power display but it's impossible to not catch his rising ire, impatience and general displeasure at the moment..particularly as his sinew creaks and his very garments strain against his movements.

He begins a slow lumbering approach towards the front, approaching Goldlewis and passing by others like a monstrous cargo ship moving past two person boats. His gaze flickers around, expression scrunching up his death metal makeup a and his thick Bluto inspired beard twitching as he glares at each of the rival teams in turn, holding them and their entourage in his shifting gaze until he finally reaches Goldlewis and reaches down to lay a hand onnto the Secretary of Defense' shoulder before he leans in towards the man to rumble something unintelligible in his ear. He then straightens up back up slowly and stands there silently.

Buck returns the bow to Ichika, still not quite right, but he's starting to get the hand of it. "Ichika-san. No need to apologize, it was a party, can't be worry for lettin' your hair down a little. I have no worry about teen drama." Is there a slight glance in Mitsuru's direction? A hint of a relieved expression?

"Chevy, had a feelin' we might end up on the same team." He holds out his hand for a fist bump to his fellow American. Tamaki also gets a grin and a probably cryptic comment of, "We'll need to compare notes some time, say the thing you did to look like Chevy. Curious 'bout that."

He doesn't back away as Ariastra approaches him, nodding as he gets the pat on the shoulder. "Look forward to trainin' with you, ma'am." Even if she looks around his age, it's just the country boy's form of respect. Then he realizes that might not be the right way to address her. "Ah, er, or do you prefer sensei?"

Chevy was... honestly, on pins and needles for most of the exchange. Because -- yes! Buck! Buck got selected! He's cool! And... he got picked by her awesome team! Yes! Chevelle was pretty much about to burst the whole time!

... And then it was like a -chill- fell over the room as Mint was given the mic. Chevy's teeth ground together as each successive attack was dealt at her team's -- and other teams'! -- expense. This was someone who was nice! To Ichika, even! Calling her... full of teen drama?

"Yeah, totally..." she agrees with Tamaki. "Like, what's -her- problem?" Leaning towards Ichika, she mumbles, "I thought you said she was cool..."

And then the Sensei. The one she knew the least about, the quietest of the group -- standing up for the group. And standing up for the best part of -each- of the -other- groups.

Chevy raises a hand to her eye, choking back emotion. He's... he's got it right. Every word.

So when Buck makes his choice? She's quick to stand and begin applauding. Not like, loud or raucous -- just calm, steady, -relief-.

Suffice to say, she's quick to deliver a friendly fistbump. "Yeah, me too, Buck! Wow. This really -is- a dream team now." She's starting to feel bad that she hadn't already made him a cellphone charm.

With a smile to her teammates, and a hand to her heart, Chevelle lets herself sit back down. Good times, great people.

"Please don't call me Ma'am." She laughs, showing she's not offended by Buck saying it. "Sensei works. I do not care too much. I just am partial against Ma'am. As long as you can all listen, learn, and think for yourself. We're going to develop each and all of your potential to the max." She tells the young group of Recruits.

"Now, the other teachers might care more how they are called. So you check it out with them. If you have a problem, any of you, let me know. Or any other teachers. That's about all.

Again, welcome all of you to the team. We will do great things all together.

Minal sits back down at her seat, making a pillow for her head with folded arms. When the rest of her team looks back at her, she gives a half-hearted smirk and a mild shrugging gesture. That seems to be about the extent of her input for now.

Meanwhile, over on Team Metal's table, it would appear it's time for Katherine 'Kath' Flake has been watching the goings on confering with their team throughout this. And towards the end now they rise again to speak..

"It's not surprising so many were going for Buford, boy is that some power there--but I'm casting this vote for John Doe! He's really lurching up in the world!" Again, a big grin, though this time it isn't nearly as forced. Perhaps the pun energy weaves it's way through them more naturally. A Munin-like affinity, if you will.

If there's one thing that can motivate greatness, fate, the turning of the wheel, the building of champions, the foundations of the world itself to be shaken..

It is spite.

"We want -him-." rumbles Abigail's voice, rolling like the thunder of a revving monster truck just aching to go full speed.

His colossal arm lifts and drags itself over the room, sweeping like a rolling sequioa, to finally land with a thick finger pointing directly at..


Team Frost is going to make sure that Buford becomes the greatest samurai the world has never known."

Key phrasing there.

"He's got powerful engine that's wasted in anyone elses hands but I'll make sure that blade of his vrooooms with unstoppable horsepower and send him racing first across the finish line!"

As Abigail chooses Buford, the fellow Canadian scoffs proudly as he stares over at Goldlewis.

"Well it's about time. No surprise that Team Frost was the only team that -wasn't- fatphobic it seems." Buford tut tuts at the other three teams, shaking his head at them as he strides towards Team Frost. "And while I would have been quite tickled to have been a sort of big brother type for the lovely ladies at Team Thunder, well, I will simply have to teach them in the spirit of pitched battle with my charming partners, the wonderful cup of hot cocoa that is the Swiss Miss, a firm if but mannish cave woman, and that lovely Rey Skywalker, mmm'yes " Reaching where Team Frost has gathered, the husky samurai tips his fedora to Abigail. "By the way, where did that charming Korean lady trundle off to. Koreans are basically like the Japanese you know, with similar cultural values, but they tend to be much cuter if ask me." Buford takes a long draw off his hilt, before exhaling a thick cloud of sour apple mist.

"I am certain that barefooted cutie would be absolutely enchanted to meet a strong and swarthy Samurai like myself."

An ounce. Chevy had found an ounce of respect for Buford, earlier in the draft meeting, when he had been gracious enough to thank her for her gift. One she felt obligatory, and yet also, an olive branch towards some... reasonable misunderstandings in their previous encounter.
An ounce of respect that evaporates in a brief flash of light, like some cosmic joke dangled before a much-too-uptight starship captain.

After the last contest, Chevy had found herself drained. And yet now, she finds the courage to speak.

She coughs, in disbelief. "... Huh.. teach _us?_ Teach us what, like, how -high- your voice gets the closer you step to Mr Abigail?"

She brushes her hand through her bangs, sweeping them back into position as she sits back in her seat. That's... probably the end of her outburst.

Buck just stands, one arm across his chest, hand over the lower half of his face. He's trying not to comment really he is. Or be mean. So he just sort of stares in Buford's direction. Even with his face partially hidden his expression is one of mixed horror and confusion.

His voice barely tips above a whisper, keeping the next comment for his team only. "His own team is going to crush him before we even have a chance to fight." His eyes flick to his teammates, since they're probably more familiar with him that Buck is, trying to gauge their opinions, well, beyond Chevy's outburst that is.

Tamaki, who is not exactly skinny even if she's not as ... robust as Buford, just kind of looks at him over the upper edge of her tokkuri.

Then she laughs, once and apparently legitimately amused. She does not bother to explain exactly what about his entire speech she found amusing, and instead distracts herself by taking one last swig and leaning back on the tail she's using as a seat.

"Teach you how to be a proper fighter, Chevelle! " Buford explains brightly across to Chevy, a smile spread across his blubbery lips. He seemed to have interpreted Chevy's outburst at excitement for him finally being picked. And not even last, this was much better than every sport he was forced to participate in growing up! "I was so moved you have such a wonderful and sentimental present to me, a memory of our fight! So as a reward for being such a good girl, I was going to help teach you how to use a proper weapon. I mean no offense, considering how amazing your talent with the wet stuff is. But I think you would be an even greater fighter if you learned to use a proper weapon, Instead of whatever you found on the farm, M'lady!" Buford guffaws merrily, and he looks at Tamaki first, and then sweet and restrained Ichika.

"But I am sure your sponsors and teammates will be more than happy to educate on that for me!" He adds, before taking another heavy draw from his vaping hilt.

The Mad Gear Titan says..nothing.

He just sort of eyes Buford as he gives his speech and approaches him and then both of his eyebrows crank upwards as Buford inquires about Juri.

And then he grins, one of his 'knowing' trademark 'slasher' grins at the swordsman.

"Oooooh..she just went for some air. She'll be elated that you're on the team!"

He continues grinning like some mammoth great white shark and then he turns his full attention to the growing back and forth between Buford and the others.

As Chevy bites back, he looks first...but then Buford snaps back and Abigail goes from neutral to ..more entertained? Let's face it... there's a bit of Mad Gear forever in him despite him going 'legit' (or as close to it as he can manage) so this kind of back and forth is something he takes no issue with.

"Ooooh..don't you worry Chevy! I'll -personally- make sure that this fella here gets the Abigail Scrap Metal's special moddin' treatment to deal with any sort of high pitched squeak."

Chevy was there watching as Ichika had gotten her own jabs in, earlier. And... some of them were a little too far. She'd thought about shushing. But it's hard -not- to be a little cliquish now that she's on a team packed full of like-minded people.

Chevelle draws in air through her teeth as she nods back to Buck. Oh, Buck won't find -good- opinions from Chevy, not after his first remark since the Team Frost selection... and definitely not after his followup.

Of course, when Tamaki takes another swig, Chevy can hazard a guess as to what she -would- have been laughing at.

Whatever a 'proper fighter' would be, though? She happens to casting her gaze onto the mentors in her team. The ones who stuck up for her, who opted to give her a choice in the matter. She can agree with Buford on his final point -- and does so. "Probably!" she chirps back, folding her hands in her lap.

Abigail's rejoinder is just icing on the cake, bringing a broad smile to her face.

'JOHN DOE' and 'BUFORD' fade from the prospect list, now found in the color yellow under Team Metal and Team Frost. Brian Storm is left as the only remaining prospect, as the indicator moves to Team Blaze.

And Mitsuru suddenly strides forward!

"And we contest Brian Storm!" Mitsuru declares, crossing her arms furiously. "We won't stop until we... we..." She pauses a moment, as she looks at Team Thunder, then Metal, then Frost. She turns red again. "S-seriously?" She sputters. "None of you- I mean- like- um, uh, okay. I guess we pick Brian Storm since we do not have to, um, challenge for him." She looks at Buford, and shakes her head on disgust.

Within the deeper dark of gloom gathered behind the glowing screen, a darker shadow lurches ominously toward the light. Head bowed, the gorgeous profile of one John Doe shuffles into sight, hands in his hoodie pockets and lush black hair falling messily across his pallid face.
Pausing to look around, the teenage heartthrob lifts his chin, shakes his hair back from fine features, and smiles to everyone gathered, seeming more than happy to wander his slightly unsteady way across the room and join the now complete group of Team Metal.
"Mmmrffkf..." he grumbles warmly to them all, smile fading into a shy little grimace as he slouches into their midst.

Ichika was aware of Buford's voice, but she'd meant it when she gave her advice to Kenzo. He is stuck in his delusions. Whatever progress she had made in burning through them last time seemed to have been undone; like the thick fog of cloud that he fought with, his fantasies trapped him within an obscuring prison of his own making, where he couold be the greatest Samurai to ever live and all others but bit parts in his story. She opens her eyes again once the back and forth between himself and Chevy sounds like it has concluded, and finally the girl lets out a long, slow exhale. When she speaks, her voice is finally back to normal; not anywhere near the flat formality she had greeted Buck with whilst still in shock. She is back on more solid ground.

"Self-deceiving pride,
Turns vanity to folly,
The future to pain."

With the names of 'JOHN DOE,' 'BUFORD' and 'BRIAN STORM' turning green beneath the respective columns of Team Metal, Team Frost and Team Blaze, the teams are locked in.

"Wow," Lou comments as the draft has almost suddenly drawn to its conclusion. "Well, it looks like we've come to the conclusion of the draft, folks!"

"Indeed we have," Tom replies. "So, what do you make of it?"

"I have to admit, this didn't go down how I expected at all. We'll put out an official review once we've had a chance to gather our thoughts! For now, I'll just say that I can't wait to see these teams in action."

"I agree, Lou. I feel that there's definitely some tension between the teams after this," Tom says.

Carly Meadows rises from her chair, leaning her hands against the table as she addresses the teams.

"Well, thank you all for joining us! I'm sure you all will appreciate having some down time before your next competitions to get to know your teammates and sponsors, so we'll be giving you that. Your sponsors will be responsible for providing accommodations for you, moving forward, as I'm sure their input into your lifestyle will be an integral part of their training programs. Oh, and just so you know - the first round of the competition is starting in twelve days. And it's gonna be right across the water... in Sunshine City."

With that, Carly stands up fully and turns to make her way toward the exit, flanked by an entourage of Professional Fighting Worldwide employees.


The good cheer from Brian Storm is palpable as he pumps his fist in the Team Blaze corner, biceps bulging beneath the sleeves of his signature t-shirt - one with his own artistically stylized face on the front with the name 'BRIAN STORM' in bold blue letters shot through with streaks of lightning below it. For some reason, he's wearing a necktie over it.

He turns to his teammates.

"Alright, dudes! I had these made up!" he says as he starts digging through the contents of a large cardboard box that he's brought with him labelled 'Property of Brian Storm.' One by one, he pulls out t-shirts as he finds them - tossing one to Coco, then another to Hawksley, and a third at Iris. When unfurled, they're revealed to have the faces of the fighters they've been gifted to on them in the same stylisation as his own, with the name 'BRIAN STORM' in bold blue letters shot through with lightning underneath.

"Yeah, uh, I forgot to have the artist change the names on the template I guess," he says as they're revealed. "Don't worry, we can definitely get them reprinted. But, like, I thought it'd be cool if we all get our pictures taken with them! We could even wear them to a match. I've got extra ties, too," he adds, pulling out another box and opening it to reveal an array of purple neckties.

On hearing the commotion over at Team Blaze, Chevy cranes her neck to see if she can get a better look at that box. If Brian Storm were truly prepared for every eventuality....

That means there must be a shirt with her face and his name on it, too.

Finally the whole draft is done. It's been done a bit earlier for Team Thunder. If Team Thunder proved something, is. 'If you want something, go for it. Nothing is impossible. Nothing is out of reach.' It's not even because their recruits were forced to be on their team. One could make a point for Ichika. But Ichika, as the first pick, was strategic. Everyone picked when they should. If asked, Ariastra would say she was surprised when Ichika wasn't contested. She's guessing everyone else wanted someone more important to them. But Ichika was the most important at that moment.

She continues on her thoughts. Chevelle was second. One might wonder why not Tamaki. What made Team Thunder go for Chevelle first? It's like Ariastra knew. Knew if Chevelle was not picked in the second round, she was lost. But how could she know Tamaki wouldn't be? Instinct is important in everything. They got everyone, and everyone has a place in that team.

Ariastra feels good, and it shows on her face. Great teammates.Ggreat recruit. This is the NFG, and to her, they got the cream of the cream. The future will tell her if she's right, but she doesn't worry. She takes a look at her open right hand. For a few seconds, magic crackles into it, then she closes her hand, and the magic energy disappears in a puff of smoke.

NFG that's genius.

Hawksley wasn't feeling bad for himself, so he just stares at Mitsuru when she asks if they're done with this, before offering her a sympathetic smile. She seems about as hot under the collar as he is, when he's in the middle of a bar brawl.

He's pretty neutral about Team Blaze's choice of Iris, since he's never met the girl, but she seemed fun enough in her interview, so he'll welcome her with open arms.

As his new buddy, Buck becomes the object of battle, he sits forward in his chair, wondering which team will be lucky enough to score him. He'd put money on it being Team Thunder, with Chevy on board. The two seem to have some stuff in common. When his prediction proves correct, he nods his head. It looks like Team Thunder is proving to be quite the formidable force.

The rest of the draft continueS on without contest. Big Buford going to Frost, John, the fella from his first fight in the contest going to Metal and Brian joining Blaze. After the latest outburst from the Canadian, he's grateful to have avoided him as a teammate. He was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt after the party, putting his behaviour down to self esteem issues or social awkwardness, but he truly is terrible. Racist, sexist, patronising. Hawksley develops a sudden desire to punch him.

For now though he focuses on congratulating the newest member of Team Blaze. He seems like a lively lad.

"Alright, Brian. Pleased to have you on the team with us." He takes the t-shirt and holds it up, his thick dark eyebrows raising at the vision that greets him, before he hands it back to the wrestler. "I appreciate the sentiment, but I'll save wearing it till I have the reprint. I'll keep the tie though. I haven't brought one with me."

Turning to Coco, he gives her a nudge. "So, Sunshine City then. Looks like we're about to start another adventure."

The gadgeteer shinobi remained quiet as Mint made her case. While some of her points were valid and there some he might have agreed with. It isn't always what you say but how you say it. Honesty without tact is cruelty is a quote that immediately came to mind.

He noted the cold look on Ichika's face even though he could say that her response to Mitsuru was stoking teen drama. He notes the look on Chevy's face.

In the end, Buck gets snatched up and Metal pick up John Doe. Kenzo's face takes on a look of focus.

"Mint's speech effectively put a target on our backs. We need to work accordingly. They are coming for us and we need to meet the challenge and show that we can grow from it."

Mint leans back in her chair, resting on her elbow. "I hope you didn't sign up for this because you thought it'd be /easy/, Kuroiwa-san." The height-deficient engineer flashes a confident grin. "Not to scare you, but targets on your back are the least of your problems in Sunshine City. You'll -wish- you were right back here the first time we run into a Black Dragon patrol."

That said, Mint springs to her feet, thrusting out her hand to Kenzo for a handshake. And then she offers one to Nixie, Djamila, and John Doe in order of proximity as well. "For those of you who don't know me -- Minal Panesh, it's an honor to meet you. Please, call me Mint!"

Afterwards, she lowers her voice -- she doesn't really -care- if the other teams hear, but it's not for them.

"You're here because we spotted the best potential for -growth-. So we're gonna focus on that -- we'll shore up weaknesses, and magnify those strengths. Now, I don't know what Ms Flake, Ms Zel, or Ms O have in store for you, but I can tell you this. I don't have centuries of experience, but the US Marine Corps does. For my training, you four are gonna get tailored curricula to make the most of your skills."

Mint rests her plastic hands on her hips, stepping back. The 4-foot-9 Marine grins brightly. "But that all starts tomorrow. Tonight? We're gonna celebrate!"

Mint leans back in her chair, resting on her elbow. "I hope you didn't sign up for this because you thought it'd be /easy/, Kuroiwa-san." The height-deficient engineer flashes a confident grin. "Not to scare you, but targets on your back are the least of your problems in Sunshine City. You'll -wish- you were right back here the first time we run into a Black Dragon patrol."

That said, Mint springs to her feet, thrusting out her hand to Kenzo for a handshake. "Belatedly -- congratulations to you all. And welcome to Team Metal!" And then she offers one to Nixie, Djamila, and John Doe in order of proximity as well. "For those of you who don't know me -- Minal Panesh, it's an honor to meet you. Please, call me Mint!"

Afterwards, she lowers her voice -- she doesn't really -care- if the other teams hear, but it's not for them.

"You're here because -- first -- your performances were all solid. And most importantly, you showed the right attitude for -growth-. So we're gonna focus on that -- we'll shore up those very few weaknesses, and magnify those strengths. Now, I don't know what Ms Flake, Ms Zel, or Ms O have in store for you, but I can tell you this. I don't have centuries of experience, but the US Marine Corps does. For my training, you four are gonna get tailored curricula to make the most of your skills."

Mint rests her plastic hands on her hips, stepping back. The 4-foot-9 Marine grins brightly. "But that all starts tomorrow. Tonight? We're gonna celebrate!"

She listens to Mint. At first, it's not exactly a speech for her. She didn't expect easy. She's ready to sweat, hurt, and anything else they have in store for her, and anyone else for that matter. She will prove they were right to choose her. She will prove she has what it takes.

When Mint reaches for her in, she takes it and shakes it. She tries to give a firm handshake, but there is nervousness in there. I mean she's still new. She knows her worth, but you can't blame her for not thinking she could just take on Minal right now. "I will push myself to my 110%. Thank you for picking me." I tell you. Then I release your hand and go back to being quiet.

Truth be told, when she speaks of the training, she's even more excited. There is only so much she could do by herself. But now she is part of a team with real teachers, real fighters. She was going to grow. She was going to be the best she can be. A growl can almost be heard from her. Or was there an actual growl? Maybe she's just hungry.

Celebrating sounds good. But for now, she's stays quiet some more, in case the current teacher has more to say.

Ichika's eyes widen just a little bit when it is revealed that the next round will take place in Sunshine City. It genuinely hadn't occurred to her that she might be leaving Southtown; she'd thought that the justification for the entire project was the restoration of her home. This will be her first time traveling outside of Japan. She'd assumed some level of disruption but, wow. It was even more fortunate that she had cleared everything with the school in advance. Now, though, she has another conversation to have.

"Thank you, again, for picking me." She says to her tutors as she rises back to her feet. Ah, she'd only sat down for a few minutes, everything had been so dramatic! "And, truly, I look forward to training with all of you." To her teammates. The girl runs her hand through her hair and gives an apologetic laugh, "This, may not be a good start to my promise that my age won't be a distraction but... I must go and tell my parents that I'm leaving the country soon. It, won't, be an issue. But the longer they have to make peace with everything, the easier it will be on them. Besides, they were worried sick about the draft, I... I can only imagine what they will say when they learn that I was picked very first out of everyone..."

That isn't something she'd even let herself think about that much. The expectations it implied from, what Ariastra had said, fully half of the tutors... the further burden of expectation it would put on her from her family, who always see so much in their 'genius Super-Elite daughter'. Well. At least in this instance, it would hopefully counter any fears about her being taken so very far away.

"I, really can't wait to get started. I wish we could right now! But... but this is the last thing I need to deal with before I can give you all everything I have, so, I will take care of it, and then my focus will be absolute. Thank you again!"

With that, Ichika bows very low indeed, runs her hand through her messy hair, and then she turns and walks, fishing her phone from her pocket and already starting to dial. There's going to be tears. And a thousand rules to remember. And all of that is going to be hard...

... but when it is over, she will take the next step on the Warrior's Road, along with new friends and with new rivals clear in her sights. The more she thinks about that? The less important everything else seems.

Ariastra looks at Ichika. "Well, you come back fast Ichika, or I, on my end, will make ultra-intense training for you. I will have you fight me." Is she serious? Hard to tell at the moment. "I am sure your family is proud of you." She finally says to her and then watches her walk away. "All of your families can be proud." She says to the other. "Ok. We will at least show you three of your living accommodations. You all at least need a place to sleep until Sunshine City. So, that's one thing we'll focus on tonight. I bet you're not tired right now, adrenaline and all. One way or another, we'll make sure you all are.

After the speech, she looks at the other teachers. See when they are ready to go too.

There's got to be a light at the end of the tunnel here. A silver lining to the clouds. A nitro boost to the engine. Abigail looms there, still glowering at the other teams but he's getting to the point where he's not sure exactly what he's glowering about anymore. One of their priorities was nabbed. His other ideal choices...weeeeellll...

There is Buford..whom he knows is going to somehow end up being his responsbility else Juri kick him out of the top of the hotel before they even have a chance to leave the draft, putting their team down by one member. He quirks his nose, frowning, and just levels his gaze to just stare at the hefty swordsman. Stare.

But the Mad Gear titan-machinist has an instinct for these sort of things otherwise he wouldn't be where he is. It also helps to just see people as various forms of automotives just waiting to be tuned up, modded or flat out wrecked as need be...

"Nnngh..I better put in a call to Katana..." he grumbles to himself. One of the last people he wanted to reach out to as he'd been stalling on answering Katana's desperate work orders for his semi truck.

"I put my neck out for you.." he rumbles at Buford finally directly addressing him as he works out just how this is going to work between keeping him from being slain on the spot by one of his partners. "But I aint crazy. You got some speed and weight. Nitro and Horsepower. We can work with that.." He slowly grins as ideas are already starting to form. One can almost see the various engineering calculations flashing in his eyes. Only Mint might know such a crazed look, tuned up to Abigail levels.

"Yeah.. Yeah. I got some ideas. You're gonna be a Mad Gear when I'm through.."

Log created on 09:44:56 05/31/2023 by Lyraelle, and last modified on 15:38:43 06/02/2023.