NFG Season One - Deadbeat

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Description: Reporting for his first official session as a student of team Metal, JD is taken under the wing of Sensei Corporal Panesh. If only he'd come alone, or were the one she actually wanted to punch.

The stay at the Lakeside Plaza Suites has been nice so far. A four-star hotel, different form of take-out every night. Team Metal really wants its recruits to be well-fed, at least in the beginning. But the honeymoon won't last forever -- as a less ritzy place has been acquired for the weeks of training which are about to commence. And it's -almost- ready to move in, at this point.

The site of an old drugstore, the new and informally-dubbed 'Fort Metal' is an embodiment of the Marine drive to get things working with as little materiel as possible. Concrete floors are coated in a rubbery non-slip finish. It's still clear which wall panels were salvageable and which needed to be replaced with fresh drywall -- everything smells like joint compound. Construction waste is piled up in one corner of the workout space. There is, at least, a power rack setup for those who enjoy weight training. But... until the living quarters get framed and drywalled, paint will have to wait.

But, right now, all the construction workers have gone home for the day. Free-standing floor lights provide the majority of the illumination for the training area. A few practice dummies are positioned for striking practice. And a few stools are provided for those who might need to sit, arranged near a water cooler. Things could be better, for sure, but things could be a -lot- worse.

And Minal herself is currently delivering a string of half-hearted punches on a heavy sandbag, hanging off to one side. The sound of her impacts - thud, thud-thud, thud-thud-thud - is interspersed with the sounds of her rhythmic breathing. Here, she waits.

For a world renowned actor and media sensation, John Doe is a surprisingly chill room mate. Quiet, tidy, and rarely around to begin with, he's given Kenzo little to complain about. Equally, of the stipend each student was given to handle necessary equipment and training aids, he has spent the least. Which is to say, he doesn't seem to have touched it. Perhaps it's a pride thing, and he's been paying out of pocket? Or maybe his Lawyer has been managing his funds. Whatever the case, the teenage heartthrob is turning out to be a surprisingly cheap date.
If only he didn't come with so much, baggage.
"Yooooo! Bro, they got a power rack!"
These are the first words out of Matt Dangerfield's mouth as he bursts into the room, gold chains rattling as he swings his elbows out and flexes ostentatiously, pecks popping beneath his shirt while his spindly legs quaver beneath the weight of so much Grade A American BEEF. As always the orange-tanned man is clad in over-tight tank top and baggy basketball shorts, this time in white and purple, his bleached hair spiked and artificially white teeth gleaming.
It is in the wake of this pompous bag of flatulence that John himself arrives. Shorter than Matt and possessed of a pale, tragic beauty, the actor shuffles through the open door with his hands in his hoodie pockets, head bowed slightly as if to hide beneath his thick curtain of black hair. Whatever build the lad sports is hidden beneath layers of clothing, a loose grey hoodie worn open over a baggy blue knitted sweater, over white T-shirt beneath. If the California heat is bothering him it doesn't show, his heavy jeans and sneakers a far cry from the bootie shorts and sandals worn by many of the locals.
"Ah man, a full kitchen too? This place is lit!"
With Matt off to poke his nose into every area not actively barred to him, JD wanders his slightly unsteady way toward Mint, right hand tugging from his pocket to wave with a slight wince of a smile. Handsome features crinkling, he lifts his shoulders, then drops them, but seems too shy to actually say anything to the Marine.

There are many ways in which Mint communicates with people. The first is probably the most memorable: an open, effusive greeting and -way- too much talking. The second is what Matt gets today: a simple wave and nod. If the corporal could stuff those giant oversized gauntlets in her pockets, she totally would. She's more than happy to let him jaunt off to discover the rest of the facility on his own. After all, the kitchen appliances may very well be in place, but the shelves are bare and nothing is actually hooked up yet.

John Doe will receive that first treatment.

"Hi! Oh man, I'm so happy you made it out here! I've been..." She'd been talking a mile a minute, but she needs to take a rephrase her thoughts without the word 'dying.' "I've -really- been looking forward to talking with you!"

The micro-Marine extends her gigantic robot hand up to the man a foot taller than herself.

"Corporal Minal Panesh of the US Special Forces. And Team Metal, of course. But please -- call me Mint! And... should I call you Mr Doe, or John, or...?"

Some men might find the prospect of giant robot hands intimidating, or at the very least a touch emasculating. John Doe, however, is not one of those men. Clasping her middle and ring fingers in a firm but cool grip, he gives the enormous hand a shake and smiles a touch more warmly, shoulders relaxing somewhat beneath his unseasonable layers.
"RMmfrft..." he grumbles offhandedly, shrugging the question away with easy charm.
"Just call him JD!"
This helpfully shouted from somewhere in amidst the 8 sectioned off bedrooms, Matt having chosen to explore each one of them as if they might not soon belong to people other than himself.
The actor himself has been a bit of a mystery. While the US military likely has strong opinions on what he may or may not actually be, confirming it has been a weirdly challenging series of events. Sending him to doctors for regular checkups has had a weird tendency to get him a clean bill of health. Even providing their own medical specialist returns excuses like 'Equipment Malfunctions' and 'Off Days.' On paper it's seemed like so much sloppy nonsense, but to stand before him in person? I mean, obviously he's good looking if you're in to the pale quiet types. And he has some muscles under those clothes. Not body builder, but strong. But mostly, when he flashes that grin of his it's hard not to assume the best of him. A slightly helpless but well meaning guy just trying to make his way in this world.

"... JD, then." Mint smiles as that -seems- to be acceptable to the taciturn young man. "Thanks, Matt!" she calls back, afterwards, sharing a smirk with JD.

The micro-Marine takes a step back, gesturing at the facility with a faint grin. "Well, the contractors have been working their butts off to get this place cleaned up for you guys. I am really lookin' forward to having a good place set up for trainin' hard and playin' hard. And sleepin' hard." Mint glances back towards the bedroom area. Definitely gonna need more.

"But, hey." Her smile fades a little, in confusion: she's finding -something- unusual and maybe even a little alluring about the actor's aura, but she's not able to quite put a finger on what. Dismissing the thought, she coughs into a fist and continues. "I... was wondering if you had plans for training. You know -- things you might have learned in Fight Fest, or things you might want to work on most?"

She pauses for a moment -- and then a grin sets her features alight. "Or we could spar, if you wanna? Some things are easy to explain, others are easier to just -do-, right?"

Though JD doesn't seem the type to smirk at another's expense, at least not normally, there is a knowing crinkle around his partially hidden gaze when his instructor turns that expression on him. Clearly he knows, and understands, and yet there is a kindness there. An unwillingness to throw those around him under the bus, even when they're a bit of a prat.
That said, at the mention of more rooms the actor gives a firm negative shake of his head. Motioning back the way he came, he dismisses the thought of further accommodations. After all, they seem to have been doing fine paying their own way thus far. Or maybe he provides entirely for his personal staff.
Whatever the case, when Mint transitions to the topic of fighting his return smile banishes all further consideration, beaming forth like a ray of sun peeking between the clouds. Both hands now free of his pockets, he makes to clap the palm of his left against the back of her right, jostling the limb slightly as it's lifted to catch her polite little cough. Shaking his hair back from his face, he shuffles a couple of steps back, angling away from the nearby stacks of construction materials, and spreads his hands in invitation.
"Frfht?" he grumbles, brows quirking good naturedly, before balling both hands into eager but unskilled fists.

There's a lot that Mint can learn from non-verbal expressions. And it seems to be where she's picking up the most from JD, at this point, considering. JD seems like a bright guy -- just... doesn't talk much! And the Marine can work with that!

For one -- it isn't that JD isn't communicative. She snaps a quick salute, whispering quietly, 'Got it,' when he mentions his preferences on rooms. She appreciates the way he reached out to make contact, sharing an amused smile with him as he shows his interest in fighting. With Matt in the other rooms it's much easier for her to tell where JD stops and Matt begins -- invaluable intel!

Now... she could have some words about the way he holds his fists. She has opinions about that. But as becomes clear when she raises her own fists -- similar to a boxer's usual stance, but a little low as she has -huge- arm extensions -- she is ready to make good on that assurance of a spar.

A playful spark flits across the Marine's features. "Let me see what I'm working with here. My style's boxing, as I'm sure you already guessed -- but I gotta see how you work around it. So, come at me when you're ready!"

With her guard raised, she bobs with a lightweight, easygoing grace. Despite the weight of her gauntlets, she moves with as much agility as someone unburdened. Float like a butterfly, sting like a fifty-pound bee?

COMBATSYS: Mint has started a fight here.

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Mint             0/-------/------=|

COMBATSYS: John Doe has joined the fight here.

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Mint             0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0         John Doe

With his fists held low and out to the sides, JD seems, well, ready to get punched in the face honestly. Clearly having no idea what to do with himself, the actor's grin becomes a bit reckless when his tiny teacher gives him the first move, fighting spirit surging up to the surface as easy as breathing.
"You know, man, it really isn't fair if you think about it. All these rooms are the same size, so that little gremlin chick got like a mansion or something!"
Matt's helpful commentary ringing throughout the room, John Doe takes a single lurching step forward, curls his core and knees into a half crouch, and Leaps!
Only, rather than soaring through the air in some sort of flying superman punch, the teenager hurls himself forward into an ungraceful belly flop, smacking face-first into the ground and skidding in low to crash into Mint's shins, arms flailing out to try and roll her down with him into a scrambling clinch that is all eager strength and enthusiasm but -10 percent skill.

COMBATSYS: Mint blocks John Doe's Return of the Living Dead.

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Mint             0/-------/-----==|-------\-------\0         John Doe

Mint is almost, -almost- in the zone, before Matt's blurting forces a twitch through her expression. But... she doesn't have the chance to deal with that, because JD is... lurching?? Towards her? She drops to one knee, throwing her gauntlets in his path to defend. The corporal adopts a more neutral expression as the clinch shoves her back, but the size of her gauntlets works in her favor, allowing her to wrest control back and twist out of the hold.

Planting her feet again, she calls over her shoulder without dropping her eyes from JD: "Hey Matt? Shorty here..." But so as not to give JD too much idle time, she thrusts a straight punch at him -- a quick tag to let him remember the moment.

Still to Matt: "So maybe rethink that, brah!"

COMBATSYS: John Doe blocks Mint's Medium Punch.

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Mint             0/-------/-----==|==-----\-------\0         John Doe

The tangle of limbs and hands that is JD loses its hold on Mint's pants leg as she pulls free, giant hand lashing out toward the top of his hunched head. Having just about made it back to hands and knees, JD brings his left forearm swiping up with surprising strength, catching the blow with a CLONK and leveraging off of it to regain his unsteady feet.
"Do you mean Shorty like, Damn that Shorty is fine, or shorty like fun sized? Because I'm down with the small girls, and I always wondered if Indian girls got tan lines. But it's just like, big man big room. They call it a King size for a reason, if you know what I'm sayin'?"
Having emerged to stand in the doorway of one of the rooms with one elbow braced in the frame over his head, Matt poses in what he probably thinks is just the right way to show off his beefy biceps to best advantage. Aiming that oily smile toward the battling pair, he seems content just to watch.
Meanwhile, JD sways into a rightward stumble that nearly puts him back on the floor, grinning like a fool as he manages to twist out of it into a wide, full-bodied twist of a hook aimed for the marine's left upper arm. What, exactly, he's aiming to do is anyone's guess. Punch her arm until it stops working maybe. But his aim is so bad there's a non zero chance he could catch her in the ear purely by mistake.

COMBATSYS: Mint endures John Doe's Hook Punch.

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Mint             0/-------/---====|==-----\-------\0         John Doe

Mint smiles at JD's adaptation, nodding with approval. His attacks may be... unconventional, at best, but he's able to adapt -- and that's key in battle! But the whole time, Matt is calling back her way, and it's just... something she kind of sidelines for a moment, as JD rises to his feet.

"Serious question: have those lines ever actually worked?" Mint sucks in her breath, flashing an encouraging nod to JD. "Aside from that, I'm busy with your client, Matt!" She sees him winding up a punch, and sees him throwing a punch at her metal gauntlet. That... will -hurt- if he does it the way he plans it. So she lets her gauntlet slip down a little bit, and takes it on the flesh of her upper arm instead. One eye wincing shut, she nods with appreciation and understanding -- but also declines to press her positional advantage.

"You hit hard, but were you aiming at the metal -- or something else?" She raises her own fists in a defensive stance, flexing her arm muscle to regain the blood flow.

"You got good form and good power. But you gotta think about the strat too. Someone like me? You wanna hit the flesh, not the armor. Wear -me- down, not your fists."

She grins, fist turning into a beckoning hand. "Come at me again?"

COMBATSYS: Mint takes no action.

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Mint             0/-------/---====|==-----\-------\0         John Doe

"Hey, whoa, not cool, Babe." Matt replies, still all smiles and joviality as he watches from the distant sidelines. "JD is my boy, man. He's not a client. We're bros. And the honeys know that. Wolves hunt in packs."
John, in the process of rearing back for a second punch at Mint's urging, seems to lose all possible steam. Deflating slightly, he drops his hands to his sides with an exasperated sigh, luxurious black locks falling back across his face as he gives a slow shake of his head. Left hand lifting to palm hair out of his eyes, he flings the other toward Mint in a 'one moment' gesture, turning with a lurch to shuffle his way toward Matt's smirking bulk.
He doesn't say anything, but then again he doesn't have to. Planting a gentle hand on the bigger man's shoulder, he gives him a light nudge toward the exit, grunting softly behind closed lips.
For his part, Matt allows himself to be shoved out of the doorway, arms flapping to his sides and grin becoming a little more genuine. Bobbing his head amiably down to his nominal Bro, the disruptive life coach saunters his way toward the front doors, tossing his words casually back over one shoulder.
"Guess I'll go get some lunch. Steak sub for me and JD, salad for the lady?"
He can't see the idle roll of John's eyes behind his back, young man offering a 'what can you do?' kind of shrug in her direction.

COMBATSYS: John Doe takes no action.

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Mint             0/-------/---====|==-----\-------\0         John Doe

Mint doesn't seem all that perturbed as Matt protests the implication that he's being paid. She's naturally distrustful of people -like- Matt, after all, and it's all according to the con artist playbook.

By and large, Minal is focused on John. If he hadn't raised his finger, she'd be more concerned. But as it is, she acquiesces, lowering her guard so that John can speak with his life coach.

... It's still strange, thinks the North Jersey native. If Matt isn't taking a cut of JD's winnings, is... he correct in stating that he's a bro? Weird.

She doesn't question the departure.
But she does question the order.
"Nah, steak sub for me too! Uh... salad day was yesterday!" She bares her teeth for a grin to John, nodding once she realizes Matt won't look back and catch her doing so.

Still -- there is a lesson to be taught. She waits for John to show receptiveness, and then raises her fists again.

"In football they say the best defense is a good offense. And yet, in fighting, the opposite can also be true in certain circumstances. This is one of them."

Mint rears back her right fist. The turbines on her gauntlet begin to spin.

"If the other fighter's too aggressive, you can turn that to your advantage! If I strike now -- I'll be top-heavy, overextended and off-balance. Consider that when you react!"

The gauntlet's turbine spins up faster and faster. It's a show -- but it's an impressive one. And when the engines flare blue, Mint surges forward, fist-first -- aiming just a -little- off-center to ensure she doesn't give JD a heart attack if he were to underestimate her speed!

COMBATSYS: John Doe endures Mint's Knuckle Dragger.

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Mint             0/-------/--=====|=====--\-------\0         John Doe

"Yeah, right." Matt shoots back, tone all knowing jocularity as he hauls open the converted medshop's front door. "Good one Pantish. But I know Indians don't eat cow."
And without a backward look, and the beginnings of a whistled tune on his lips, the spray-tanned wrecking ball of a conversationalist heads out into the blazing California sun.
JD looks, baffled? Perplexed? Grey eyes sweeping back to Mint, he goggles at her a moment, then gives an amiable bob of his head to let her know he's ready. And, even more, to let her know he understands.
Fists lifting to chest level, the beautiful brawler watches with focused intent as his pint-sized sensei begins to power up. Not only is it visually impressive, but Jesus Christ is it loud, the noise absolutely filling the space as she revs herself up, takes aim, and launches herself toward a, oddly calm-looking pupal, all things considered.
One who isn't getting out of the way.
Who STILL isn't getting out of the way!
Just before impact, Corporal Panesh has a front row seat to the idiotic actor's beaming grin. In that expression can be read a touch of mischief, sure, but also goofiness and guileless good humor. It is a smile that holds nothing but warmth and the best of intentions for all involved.
Fist catching him high on his right side, John Doe is thrown backward off of his feet and smashed full-tilt into the wall behind him. However, where she might have expected to feel bones creak, or a yelp of pain, there is only the resounding impact of steel on flesh, the pressure of her knuckles pinning his surprisingly sturdy frame to the wall, and lean but powerful arms snaking around her smaller form as he attempts to draw her in close, crushing her against his chest and lifting to dangle her feet off of the ground before staggering away from the wall in a drunken half spin, his back falling toward Earth even as he attempts to heave his teacher up and over his head in a head-to-rubber colision with the thankfully padded floor.

COMBATSYS: Mint blocks John Doe's Cemetery Man.

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Mint             0/-------/-======|======-\-------\0         John Doe

One thing a martial arts instructor should -never- want to do is injure her student. Time seems to slow down for the moment just as her fist makes contact... and she sees him... -smiling?-

The nozzle flame withers as backflow vents pop open, hot air hissing out in a -forward- direction, heated air blasting hair about. It's not enough to stop the impact, but it is enough to slow her thrust, by some measure, so that she wouldn't crush as -many- bones...

And yet, she doesn't feel -anything-. That's ... a relief, right?

But then, suddenly, she feels the young man who -ought- to be unconscious or at least in considerable pain ... -wrap his arms- about her, and draw her off the ground! Gritting her teeth, she realizes she fell for the gambit, and leans into it. When he staggers away from the wall, she makes her move -- angling her oversized "forearms" down so that they can hit the ground before her body itself can. It's enough to draw a loud grunt of pain from the teacher -- but with a quick burst of stored pneumatics, she twists at an odd angle and slips free of the hold with some effort.

Mint seems to be breathing heavily -- but her grin is intact. "Yes, -yes-, that was -great!-" she announces, while half-rolling, half-pushing back to her feet. "A little suicidal, but like.. gosh. Are your bones rubber or something?" She laughs -- and yet, one raised eyebrow means she actually doesn't know if there's truth in that!

"Okay, I'm starting to read you now." She raises her guard again, grinning. "So let me see how you deal with this kind of pressure!"

Minal drops her head and shoulders low, reducing her attack profile. She makes a hard rush into JD's personal space, leading with her fists -- and makes the most of her short height! She throws a quick left to his stomach, but it's just a peppering blow -- her real attack is a leaping uppercut towards his jaw! She'd learned from last time though -- no jet thrust on this go!

COMBATSYS: John Doe interrupts Attack of Opportunity from Mint with Dead Rising.
- Power hit! -

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Mint             0/-------/=======|======-\-------\0         John Doe

With the pair of them on the ground and scrambling, John surges away from his teacher in the opposite direction, rolling onto hands and knees with far less grace than the smaller marine. With all the staggering, swaying, and mumbling he really does seem like he could be very drunk half the time, but she hasn't smelled it on him, or read it in the earnest attention with which he follows her instructions. Still, there is something, off. And that only becomes more clear as he lurches unsteadily to his feet, chin dipping against his chest so that his inky hair completely hides his expression.
Going by body language alone, however, he seems, excited? Excited and maybe a touch embarrassed if his answering shrug is anything to go by, the actor clearly having no idea if his bones are made of rubber or not.
The excitement he can feel radiating off of her, however? He drinks it in. Grows giddy on it, muscles surging with promise. So eager is he that, for one glorious moment, he forgets where he is. Knows only what is coming, and where he needs to be.
So it is that as Mint dashes in low, her student staggers forward to meet her. Big fist pounding hard into his gut, he doubles forward over the blow, knees appearing to lose all strength. In an ungainly heap he collapses, chin swaying to the side of her rising fist so that it powers off over his head, left hand and knee thudding to the floor while his right remains bent...
With a groan of effort, JD surges up from the floor, right fist swinging up below Mint's own arm to catch his Sensei square in the chin, the force of the blow sending him staggering a couple of steps to regain his balance. Still, even with his face covered she can tell he is beaming at her, the goofy guy very pleased with himself in that moment.
Did, he do that on purpose? Or was it just luck...

Mint was expecting her fist to crash in. That seems to be John's -thing-. And it also explains why Mint had such a hard time understanding just -what- was going on in the fight footage.

She was expecting him to hit back.
Just... not like -that-.

The surprised look on her face is probably priceless though. Especially when she catches sight of him -grinning like a madman-, right before she finds herself forcibly separated from said student, and suddenly sees the training room spin around her, as her shoulders spiral upward from the unexpected uppercut!

She has a few moments aloft to catch her wits -- and -just- before the micro-Marine hits the floor, she guns the throttle on her engines, slowing her fall and allowing herself one quick tumble to kill the momentum.

As she rises, she strokes her tender jaw with a padded hand. "Ouch, ow, ow..." Hissing her breath, she forges a pleased -- if pained -- grin for her student. "Yes. Yes, that's -exactly- what you should do, haha. I see that smile!" She breaks into a small laugh. And then extends her knuckles to him for a fistbump in congratulations. "Okay, I've seen enough for now -- put 'er there!"

Mint seems more than ecstatic -- maybe even moreso than John -- now that she's figured out what his particular strengths are. The cogs are turning in the engineer's mind, now...

Swaying a bit unsteadily on his feet, John is all hidden smile and good cheer when his teacher returns to him, the glow of it only dimming once the pain he has caused begins to register. It is a slightly abashed student that shuffles forward to clonk his pale knuckles against hers, hesitating for a moment before reaching past the gigantic hand to try and flutter a pat to her shoulder.
"SRrr..." he mutters apologetically, finally beginning to settle down into something more cool and collected after the brief burst of excitement.

Mint grins as JD meets her fist -- and reaches out for a personal touch. That's a thing? She's flashes a warm smile to her taller student -- glad that he trusts her enough to be close in such a way.

"Alright. Grab some water for now -- in a few minutes, I'll have some drills for you to work through. Then when your buddy comes back we can eat."

And, though no one is around, she looks both ways, and leans closer to John, hand raised in a privacy-providing gesture.

"Don't tell Matt. But I'm -terrible- at tradition." Her face falls into mock seriousness. "If it's good and spicy, I don't even care -- I'm gonna eat it."

COMBATSYS: John Doe has left the fight here.

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Mint             0/-------/=======|

COMBATSYS: Mint has ended the fight here.

Log created on 13:10:39 06/10/2023 by John Doe, and last modified on 08:34:45 06/11/2023.