NFG Season One - Time To Chill Out

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Description: Life under Team Thunder's roof is busy as always. Ichika and Chevy carve aside some time to catch up with one another and discovering some interesting new truths about themselves.

Things have certainly been intense for young Ichika as the newest recruits to Thunder make their presence so roundly felt. When she came to - which in retrospect, was nowhere near as guaranteed as she had arrogantly presumed - the girl had cleaned the common area away as much as she could, limped to her room, and when she'd awoken a second time, she'd asked Chevy to borrow her laptop. She hadn't elaborated much further at the time; urgent in her need to get back to work and not ready to explain.

Of course, that can only last so long. After a period of withdrawal and focus on her schooling, she had to attend to her training with the same level of diligence. Perhaps more. It has never felt more important that she pull her weight on the team; she may be doing better, but there are real threats arising now, and who could say whether they would remain as docile as they ought just because the tournament organisers expected them to?

So she had sent a text message to Chevy, tucked the older teenager's laptop under her arm, and went to wait in the common area.

Notably, she's not wearing her usual fighting outfit. Instead, she has put the Justice High uniform back on; its orange and black looks strange to her now, as does her hair, after her old-style effort to tame it back into place with comb and gel. It hasn't worked, but the foiled effort is clear as day.

The message was a simple one, just four words:

How about a rematch?

The reply was four words as well, after a minute's delay.

Sure! Be there in five.

Chevy has had a pretty full plate since coming here to Metro City. Being in the same town as her agent for once has opened up many opportunities to visit him in person. (She also doesn't shy away from reminding the old family friend just how unfriendly she can get when pressured...) And ... she's also been off... practicing, oddly. That sort of thing would have been unheard of prior to the Rumble.

So she's been in and out, only checking in sporadically. She had been on the way to practice, in fact, when Ichika had asked to borrow her laptop. Chevy knew better than to question the unusual request. Though, as Ichika had looked like she might enjoy a pick-me-up, Chevy gently suggested the cookies in the common area.

Now? Chevy's ready to fight. Mostly. The slosh-sloshes and clang-clangs of her pails would be easy enough to hear, suspended from the galvanized pole propped upon her shoulders. And it wouldn't be surprising at all to see her decked out in denim shortalls -- a solid, all-purpose outfit for going all-out in a fight. She carries a medium-sized tablet tucked under one arm.

It might, though, be a bit of a surprise to see half of a poptart dangling from her mouth. That poptart gets progessively shorter with every few steps that Chevy takes, until just before the hayseed enters speaking range.

"Hey, Ichika!" She makes a point of checking out the Justice student's uniform, as she sets the tablet down next to her laptop, and the buckets down onto the floor. "Bringin' back the classic look! Man, it's been a while, haha."

That shade of orange is one she's only really seen on Djamila lately. But Chevy knows better than to bring -that- piece of irrelevant trivia up right now.

She... looks like she'd just woke up from a nap, under closer inspection. Her hair is mussed slightly, and she looks a -little- groggy -- but as she rocks side to side for some light stretching, it looks like she's committed to keeping her end of the rematch bargain all the same.

"Hey, sorry I ain't been around all that much lately. Been workin' on some new techniques." She flashes a predator's grin for a moment: "But I guess you'll find that out soon enough, huh?"

Chevy... hadn't been around.

Ichika can't help but feel a little guilty at the realisation. She's been so caught up in her own problems she hadn't even noticed. "Ah, well..." She says, "To be honest, I have been very busy as well. Trying to keep on top of everything is, exhausting." Quite literally. Ichika's energy reserves are incredibly high, it's part of what had propelled her along so far, but even she has her limits, and just getting back to where she ought to be had taken many sleepness nights in the last week. Still. She had managed it, just about, and slept, and ... whilst she's not completely there, she's infinitely better than she has been in what seems like an eternity.

She smiles at the note about her uniform. "I felt like it was time to get back in touch with the start of the journey." She says, "When this all began, bringing pride to my school was a big part of what I hoped to achieve. When I decided not to wear the uniform any more, I was sure that Imawano-sensei would jump out of the shadows and devour me whole!" That's... probably some sort of strange metaphor, right? It has to be. Probably. Maybe. "But, actually, he has been nothing but supportive."

Seeing that her friend is just as tired as she is, Ichika makes her way to the kitchenette. "We don't need to jump straight into the fight." She says, "Let's have some tea first. Then you can show me your new moves. There are, some thing that I should probably catch you up on, anyway, since rumours are going to be flying around very soon anyway."

She had been careful not to just outright say what had happened in the Ichikast. She didn't like the thought that everyone would know the full extent of the wound that had been inflicted, the reasons behind it. In some ways, she was sheltering Junko. As the more public face of the team, and having taken the fault on herself, it would be assumed that the trouble started with her - 'Ice Queen' that some are still determined to paint her as - and that Junko had simply defended herself. Perhaps after a confrontation about the miko's reckless endangerment of the public.

She didn't like to lie. But if others wanted to come to false conclusions based on incomplete information... that was for them. This way, at least, their dirty laundry remained between them. But Chevy deserved to know the truth. She was at risk otherwise.

As she waits for the kettle to boil, Ichika leans against the kitchen unit and her serious expression says a lot. "If you have not spent much time here, I suppose... you haven't had much opportunity to interact with Daidoji-san, either?"

It's not strictly necessary for the waterbender to leave the sanctity of Team Thunder's base of operations. The carved out station has stood for over a hundred years, so it's sure to withstand whatever the rookie has to throw at it. And as the team has been good about keeping things up off the floor, the few gallons she has in her buckets now won't do much more damage than, well, mopping.

The seed of determination has been planted. And now, with the drive to figure things out on her own, she'd found places of her own along the abandoned subway tunnels to practice her skills. Places she could practice without troubling other people -quite- so much.

"Well, it ain't no skin off my nose. I could tell y'been busy. Lord knows Justice High's keepin' you a far sight busier than Farmville Central ever did me." So she'd respected her teammate's privacy, giving her the space she'd needed -- and even lending the laptop. Chevy could keep track of social media on her phone almost as easily, after all.

She seems momentarily taken aback, though, as Ichika transitions to the kitchenette area. In her half-groggy state she'd been expecting to jump right into combat -- but with the momentary reprieve, she lets her drowsiness flag fly, stretching one arm up, and covering a yawn with the other. "Man, you got a good relationship with your principal though. Mine sure won't fond of seein' my face week after week." She bares her teeth in a grin as she, too, makes her way over towards the teakettle. ... Though, as Ichika talks about catching up, she spares a brief glance over to her laptop, and the tablet.

That brief glance gives way to a more amiabe smile as Chevy gives Ichika her full attention. "Daidoji-san, hm?" She blinks for a moment. And then it clicks. "Oh... her, right." She presses her lips together, shaking her head in the negative. "Watched her fight with Djamila, that's about it..."

She offers a friendly smile. There's danger in them hills, and she isn't about to push her friend to respond any more quickly than necessary. Especially not after having seen Ichika's uncharacteristic lack of elaboration during the Ichikast...

"I had never actually spoken with him until I asked him for an exemption to take part in this." Ichika says, smiling at the memory of just how frightened she'd been standing before the Principal's door. Imawano-sensei's temper was a thing of legend, but he'd actually seemed... impressed by her. And she'd done so many things since then which were so much more frightening. Every journey, though, starts with the first step, and crossing that threshold to make her desires known, to speak loudly and clearly about what she wanted for a change... it had started the full-on sprint to where she stood now.

"Maybe I can show you some time." She says, "If I go back, I mean. Justice High is... it's wonderful. A real place of learning. It's a funny thing to say, given everything, but I don't think I could appreciate it, not really, until I wasn't there any more."

She starts to make the tea, then; nothing fancy, but it is hot and it is good. She cradles her hand around the cup as she waits for it to cool, and considers her next words carefully, because she doesn't want to panic her friend. The heat of the cup, though, reminds her of the far more intense heat that had been a constant nuisance for days.

"She attacked me." She says, seeing no other way to put it. "I tried to show her that I wasn't afraid of her, and then when my guard was down, she struck. When I asked why, she would only say that I had left her no choice. Because I was too happy."

Ichika's voice is quite... flat, as she recounts this. Little emotion; she's trying to keep the description as calm and factual as she can, looking down into the tea as she talks. She can't help but relive the memory of the fact. Her shock and pain. Her anger. It still smolders in her, but at least things ... are not as bad as she feared they might become, in the end.

"I have been trying to think of what the next steps should be."

"I mean, is that -normal-, for Japanese high schools to be staffed by ninjas? I mean, heck, no wonder you're so concerned about keepin' up with your work." Ichika's smiling, so that means it's time to keep things lighthearted... right?

"Oh, sure! I'd love to take a look around. Though my win over Kenzo might've painted a target on my back over there." She laughs softly, resting one hand on a hip while she watches the tea preparations. It's... a good feeling.

Until, well, it isn't.
The color drains from her face.
"She what?"
Each further statement serves to drag her eyebrows just -that- much lower, her pupils dilating -that- much further.

As Ichika falls silent, Chevy lets out the breath she hadn't realized she was holding in. Her hands curl -- not into fists, but enough for her thumbs to turn white as she presses them against the side of her index fingers. She sees what's going through Ichika's mind; the silence speaks volumes. Miss Beaumont may be... agitated. But she won't speak until Ichika states her take on the situation, and how to move on from it.

She points to the dormitory passage. "Well, if she were to turn round that bend right now, I ain't gonna promise nothin'."

She draws in another breath -- and huffs it out almost as quickly. It seems like that, and the bravado, may have been enough to help the waterbender find her calm.

"... I shoulda been here. I shoulda heard all that." Regret colors her voice. But it's not long before the blue-eyed American steps forward, placing a gentle hand on Ichika's shoulder.

Optimism pulls the corners of her lips upward. "You're not still hurt, are you?"

There's a faint chuckle at the idea that Reizo could be a ninja, that huge bear of a man - but, then, Ichika had said that he attacked from the shadows. No doubt that was where the misconception had come from. Unfortunately, things turn to the more serious topic of conversation quite quickly after that, and the girl shakes her head, waving one hand loosely as Chevy chides herself.

"No, I'm glad you weren't here for it." She says, "If you were... she would only have hidden her intention for longer. It is good that things were made clear sooner rather than later."

A beat. "Not, that I would have minded the backup." She says, with a little smile. A half-hearted joke. But a joke, or an attempt at one. The world has not ended. She is not yet in atari.

"Daidoji-san's power is, wrong." She says, "I do not fully know how to explain it, but it is corrupted in some way. When I first reached out to her, she made it clear she did not want me to do so because she feared hurting me, so I showed her that I am not afraid of that risk. Then she came back later and attacked properly. However, she did not damage my sword, nor did she attempt to leave a lasting injury when I was ... incapacitated. Which leads me to consider three possibilities."

There's so much of the old Ichika in this; much less emotional, far more analytical. Maybe it is something in the uniform. Maybe it is just that she has had this all playing in her mind for so long since it first happened.

"First possibility, she is a psychopath who enjoys causing pain for its own sake. She didn't seem to be enjoying herself, however, so I think that unlikely. Second, perhaps she just wishes to be hated because she considers friendship a weakness. She did say it would be 'easier' if I hate her. Or third, she lost control of her power in some way."

Ichika shrugs, then, and pauses to take a sip of her tea before she continues.

"I presume that the nature of her power and learning to deal with it is why our sponsors chose her. Until that process is completed, though, she is a dangerous liability. And even when it is..."

Her jaw tightens. Her eyes finally look up from her tea, back to meet Chevy's directly. A thunderous blue indeed. "It was a cowardly tactic. I do not know if I can forgive her."

As to whether she is still hurt, well... that is a question which she doesn't answer. She doesn't look visibly hurt at least; even the bandages from her match against Iris have been removed by now.

That... is a remarkably level-headed assessment from Ichika. But Chevy doesn't treat it that way at first. The thought that she should be -spared- the -complication- of helping draws another frustrated huff from the hayseed. When Ichika makes light of it, Chevy puts on a half-grin, rubbing the back of her neck as she turns her focus aside. Once she happens to catch sight of the serene surface of the tea in the cup not held, she's able to calm herself enough to listen along.

Chevy reaches out to the cup, blowing gently across the surface. "I don't see no point in that. We're teammates, we look out for one another. But maybe she's just gotta figure that out for herself." She takes a sip of her tea, in concert with Ichika... and even as -Chevy- was about to offer her insight, she sees Ichika's intensity.

In at least 65% seriousness, she takes a step backwards. "Whoa. Ninja school response right there." The response was considerably -less- serious, granted.

Chevy brings the cup to her lips again, for an attempt to reset herself back to some form of seriousness. "Honestly, maybe just give her some space, let her play this out. She wants you to back off and she ain't tellin' why." Chevy shrugs mildly. "She could just be jealous that people call the new guy 'Hated' instead'a her, who knows? I'll give 'er a little snarl whenever I see her, see if that keeps her happy." Cocking an eyebrow upward, she amends: "Or angry. Whichever it is."

Chevy wraps both her hands about the cup, appreciating the warmth. "I tell you one thing though, if she takes another move against you -or- me, we're gonna see how hard she goes splat against the walls in here. After hearin' what you said, I ain't of a mind to be playin' games with her."

"I am mostly annoyed with myself." Ichika says with a faint sigh and a shake of her head, "I knew that she had a great deal of anger in her. I thought that showing I was not afraid of that would convince her to cooperate. We don't need to be friends, but we do need to work together if we aren't going to be at a significant disadvantage to the other teams."

She shakes her head and takes another long sip of her tea. She lets herself smile at the notion of 'ninja school'. Chevy always was good at finding ways to make her feel better. "I agree that just leaving her for now is the best course of action." She says, "What I am not sure of is whether I should inform our teachers. I was, furious, in the moment. And Lightheart-sensei is not a fool. She will already have guessed enough..." Because she knows that the sponsor had all the pieces from the podcast to at least understand the broad strokes of what had happened. She'd helped so much.

"... I just miscalculated so badly!" She exclaims, "I got arrogant. I thought I'd won her over, so I stopped seeing her as a threat. If I'd been more careful, I could have protected everything, and then I wouldn't have lost my temper... and I would have beaten her easily, instead of falling for her trap."

Again, a mistake she knows she shouldn't be making. Self-recrimination. She should let her teachers guide her on what her flaws are and correct them. But after everything she has been through over the last few days it is difficult not to hammer herself. So much wasted time, so much stress, all because she stupidly trusted someone so full of rage that it could boil water faster than the kettle.

"... anyway." She says, softly, "Hopefully your time has been better spent than mine?"

Chevy's annoyed at herself for not sensing the signs of Junko's behavior beforehand. And now Ichika announces... well, pretty much the same thing?

Chevy offers a hopeful smile. "... Well, I mean, your guess is as good as anyone's, Ichika. If she ain't tellin' no one what's on her mind, I mean, all we can do's guess."

The American is happy to stand and listen to her friend talk. They haven't had the opportunity to spend much time at all together, since their stay together in North Carolina -- so the time she can spend is all the more treasured now. Not unlike the joys of Justice High, to Ichika. Fortunately for Chevy, it sounds like Ichika already has the answers to the questions she's asking. The hayseed is happy to be a sounding board for the moment, nodding along.

At least, that was the plan, until Ichika raises her voice. Showing the emotion she'd been holding back on.

Chevy calmly sets her tea back on the counter. And then wraps her arms around Ichika's shoulders. A nice, warm hug.

"You're still breathin'. Any mistake you can walk away from cain't be all that bad."

Chevy holds the hug juuust long enough to be sure Ichika's alright from it, before pulling away. And when she does, she's still got that big-sisterly smile.

"We'll tell 'em, sure. Maybe they'll have some good advice for dealin' with her. I don't think they woulda gone with her if they didn't see *some* good in her deep down."

Chevy smiles back at Ichika. And... for some reason, she keeps from holding back.

She reaches out and runs her fingers through the lock of Ichika's hair that stands out. With the faintest of snickers.

"We'll do this the Team Thunder way. It'll work out."

She steps back with a grin. And picks her tea up again. "Mm... yeah! I've been workin' on what Miss Ichijo taught me. I think I just about nailed it. I told you about that, didn't I?" It's possible that she didn't -- considering that they'd made the pact to -not- talk about fighting at all.

"... And..." Chevy's grin goes from its usual 60% to more of a 90%. "I... got to talk with Princess Lightheart. She, uh... worked up somethin' -real- nice for me."

Ichika blinks when she is hugged, stiffens - and then, after a moment, she returns it. It's easy to forget how comfortable Chevy is with this kind of physical affection. Most of the team and the sponsors, actually. But it wasn't unpleasant. The comfort is appreciated, even if it hadn't been what the girl had been going for. The cool, rational mask slips just a bit. Knowing something intellectually is one thing. Accepting and processing the emotions which go along with it is quite another, and all of Ichika's intellect can't help her with that.

Really, it's the same issue she's struggled with at so many moments since she started walking this path. She does not deal well with failure.

The teasing to her hair makes Ichika blush, especially as the product-laden mass responds by pinging out of its half-hearted confinement. She squirms backwards, sets down the drink, and returns the smile. It's, impossible to keep up a serious and flinty demeanor when you've just been ruffled by your closest friend.

"... You're right." She says, nodding her head firmly, "The Team Thunder way."

She's glad that they are moving on though. "That's great! You didn't, so it'll be a surprise." She says, brightly. "Ichijo-sensei's insights are incredible. I can't wait to see what you've learned first-hand." And then Chevy says she's met Lyraelle...

"Lightheart-sensei is so cool, isn't she?" She says, returning Chevy's wide smile. "I didn't really know what to expect when I first met her, I thought she didn't like me at all actually, but ..." She hesitates, trying to think about how to phrase this. "Of all the sponsors, Lightheart-sensei is probably the only one I'd call my friend. And she knows so many amazing things." She claps her hands suddenly as she realises, excited. "Is it a uniform change?! Her people are incredible! They're so much fun to work with! I thought *I* would hate that, but actually it was such a great day!!"

Team Thunder really -is- something of a happy accident, in a number of ways. The first evolution of the team was, in many ways, a concerted effort to pick four fighters who had all demonstrated a talent with the supernatural. That the team not only got along well with one another, but bonded into a cohesive whole, was a happy accident. This time around, the conditions of the Draft may have been different, but Chevy's optimism prevents her from seeing the union as anything but serendipitous. Overcoming adversity together can foster strength -- and to a smiling Miss Beaumont, that -is- the Team Thunder way.

It isn't till Ichika responds that she hadn't that Chevy's eyes widen just a little. "Huh." The surprise lasts only a moment before turning into a smile. "Well it just goes to show, we kept true to not talkin' 'bout fightin' at all on our trip." Shrugging mildly, she clasps her hands, as if showing the moves in question without the staff she'd left across the room. "Yeah... she taught me lots about different ways to harness momentum and my skills! Plus, gosh -- did you know she was really good with crafting things? She made a really sweet pole with neat lil' slots to keep the buckets locked in place." She grins. "All to teach lil' ol' me how to do some stuff." She smiles, her heart fluttering as she remembers how good she'd felt that day, learning about just how involved the quiet miko actually -was- with her training.

And of course that look just gets even more enthusiastic with the new revelation of the day. Chevy nods cheerily. She didn't really -know- about Lyraelle much before joining the team, but now having met her in person, her outlook has changed. "Oh, yeah, her read of me was spot -on-."

Chevy starts to walk back to the table with her tea. She's careful to set the tea -away- from her laptop, and picks up the tablet. After a swipe, she turns the tablet towards Ichika. Pictured is a fashionplate avatar of Chevy wearing flared jeans and a denim jacket, over a white single-shoulder top, with white shoes. The denim is stylishly distressed, but blinged out with the words 'TEAM' and 'THUNDER' across the legs in diamante style. The name 'Chevy' is emblazoned across the back of the jacket in script text, and 'Thunder' is across the seat of the high-waisted jeans.

The elder teen is ecstatic, bobbing about on the balls of her feet. And *almost* clapping her hands with excitement. "It's... it's not somethin' I woulda thought to pick myself, and it *wasn't* the first idea we looked at... but when she turned to this one I was in *love*. It reminds me of, like, *all* the things that make me happy."

She pauses for a beat, as she takes another look at the orange and black of her dear friend's uniform. And... decides to let one of her thoughts go without acknowledgment.

Ichika smiles to think of Ayame going through all that effort. She wouldn't have done it if she didn't see some value in Chevy, and in Chevy's fighting style, so the fact that she had... well. It makes the Justice High girl all the more secure in her choice of friends. "I did." She confirms, nodding, "I'm not surprised at all that she was able to help with the weapon aspects of your style. She gave me incredible guidance on mine, and the katana isn't even close to one of her primary forms."

When the picture is shown, though, the girl's eyes widen. It's not the sort of look she would have thought of for Chevy either; it's not the sort of thing she even has the tools to describe, really, but it is certainly a striking look. As striking as the one that she had crafted for herself, in fact, and the result is very similar. An outfit that makes Chevy look more Chevy. Her smile becomes huge, only growing as her friend practically overflows with excitement at the very thought of what she's getting. It's enough to banish all those dark thoughts that had been lingering in her mind far away.

"This is going to be so cool." She beams, "I... used to think of these things as being, superficial, you know? Like, I didn't see how it mattered what you wore, but it really does. The clothes you wear, the image we project into the world, it tells others how we want to be seen. When I wear my fighting outfit, I am telling everyone that I am a fighter. When I wear my uniform, I carry the pride of Justice High with me. And when you wear your outfit..."

She clasps her fist in front of her - dramatic Ninja School vibes indeed. "I hope the world is ready to meet Chevelle Beaumont!"

Chevy grins. She has a few more thoughts on Ayame's training... but considering the four simple words that started this meeting off, the considerably less-drowsy hayseed saves those thoughts for when she can actually demonstrate the techniques for real.

Chevy smiles. She just likes her outfit so much that she's momentarily beyond words -- so she's more than happy to let Ichika speak her mind about the new look. She nods slowly -- and starts to understand why Ichika is now falling back to her Justice High uniform. Particularly with... well, whatever might have happened to the outfit in the wake of Junko's flames.

"Haha, yeah! It -will- seem like a new debut, won't it?" She grins cheerily. "I thought they were just, y'know, just clothes too. Like, I want to look -nice- for people, but the idea of wearin' somethin' with my name on it? Somethin' that ain't the gold 'bowtie,' I mean." There's no shortage of Chevrolet-Chevy merchandise, at any rate.

"But seein' how folks reacted to your outfit reveal, and how much people loved it... I think my fans are gonna be real happy with this one."

Chevy draws in her breath. It's a cool look! She's pretty taken with it. "Though, it'll be a bit of a challenge. I gotta get my answer back to Princess Lightheart and Miss Shermie so they can get started with it. It might take me a lil' while to get used to the denim sleeves and pant legs, but there's a good chance the weight might actually help me move better."

She blinks for a moment -- and then raises a finger. "Oh! And before I forget." She points her finger at Ichika -- well, not -directly- in her face, because that'd be rude. "Great work on the Ichikast this week!" It would've been clear enough that Chevy had watched it on her phone when a 2000-yen donation rolled in with her name on it. It isn't about the donation -- but Ichika! "You're 'bout to put Tom and Lou out of a job!"

"It felt strange at first." Ichika admits, "It was almost as though I were putting on a costume. Pretending to be something I'm not. But, the more I wore it, and the more I saw how the people around me reacted to it... the more I realised, it really wasn't an act. Suppressing that part of me to try and be more respectable, that was the act."

She is still smiling, and she nods along at the thought about how it will change Chevy's actual fighting performance - there are practical things to consider, after all. She had needed to discard her jacket when the torn leather had risked becoming an entangling nuisance rather than a cool expression of who she is - but she's sure Chevy has considered all of that. Besides, it doesn't look too impractical to her. She's at least thirteen belts away from the Belt Maximum at any rate.

She laughs a little at the praise, too, shaking her head. "And, thank you for the donation." She says softly, "I've already given the money to Lightheart-sensei's people to source the laptop replacement, they are very diligent. I..." She scratches behind the back of her head, making more of that hair splay up.

"I watch every fight anyway as part of my training of course, and I don't go into every thought in public because... I don't, want everyone to be aware of everything I have in mind to counter them. But it's what I wanted the Ichikast to be about. Hopefully, there are people out there becoming inspired to start their own journeys, and maybe hearing how I think about these things will help them walk a few steps along their own Warrior's Road, as so many books have helped me."

"Well, I mean, they kind of -are- costumes..." notes Chevy. Her smile fades for a moment, as she recalls something else she'd been told. "It's... like Princess Lightheart was sayin' to me: about how the person we are while we're fighting in front of cameras might not actually be our real selves, you know? Fans warn't ever really gonna see -us- as ourselves -- at least, not all the time. We gotta keep some secrets."

Her mood lightens as she has another thought about her fans. "Like how some folks -really- let their imaginations run wild with me and Hawksley, until he came out and told 'em the facts."

She takes a sip of her tea, musing to herself for a moment. "I'm kinda jealous, I don't think I'd do too well at analyzin' fights the way you do. If I'm -there- that's one thing, but watchin' over video is somethin' else." She brushes her stray locks back into some semblance of order with her fingers. "I definitely want to put on a -good- show for my fans, and I don't think I can do it as well as you do. As -sincerely- as you do."

She smiles cheerily, wrapping both hands around her cup once again. "What kinda tea is this, anyway?"

Ichika considers this for a moment, falling into silence because... those first two points, the outfit and her analysis, both feel like they are linked. It takes her a little while to sort through that feeling in her head, connect all the dots and understand the connection.

"The only way to really get to know someone in that way is by fighting them." She says, "At least, that's the only way I've found that works quickly. I suppose other people must do it in other ways, but fighting someone in the flesh lets me test their principles, their core, right there and then. It's, difficult to explain, but there's something in the rhythm of the fight, the ... tactile, nature of it, the ebb and flow..."

She stumbles over her words a little here. It has been a while since she did that, but fighting is still the subject where she has to grapple with these big questions and try to find her way to the right answer.

"When I watch the videos, it is very much like the outfits. I see what they are trying to put out there, the self they want us to see, but I don't... get more than the surface level. It's useful, especially for the really big changes in style like a new technique, but there's nothing deeper there, nothing more emotional. No Truth."

She seems to settle on that as the encompassing final point, nodding slowly to herself. Talking with Chevy is always so helpful in sorting out her own thoughts and feeling. Then she smiles again, glances down at the tea. "Sencha." She says, "It isn't, the best, but it is a small taste of home."

A beat, and then. "So. Shall we see how far we have come since the Hotel Southtown?"

In Chevy's mind... well, the best way to talk with one's fans is to talk with one's fans, as Ichika does in her IchiKast streams. And as the main way -she- has talked with her fans has been through promo spots that someone else has written for her, well, she is a little jealous of the young prodigy's connection. Not jealous enough to keep her laptop from being used for such a purpose, of course!

"Right, yeah! That's it exactly. I don't... I don't really -know- much about someone unless I can feel it, or see someone else reacting. Like, I figger Genie is prob'ly gonna hit me like a Mack truck because of the way she done hit you." She grins -- flexing her bicep for no reason other than to show that it wasn't -meant- to drag up any bad memories.

The answer to her query about tea is met with a small nod. "Sencha. Okay! Princess Lightheart had me try somethin' else. It warn't sweet, and it warn't like sencha or anythin' I done had over in Southtown."

In her natural environment, Chevy sure drank a -lot- of Southern-style sweet tea, after all. There's just not much of an overlap.

The challenge to a fight, though -- that brings a much more competitive smile to her face. "Well, sure! I sure been itchin' to show you!"

Chevy jogs over to her pole, and with the toe of her shoe, kicks it upward into her grasp as if the buckets were practically weightless. They're not, of course -- the water sloshes around as she makes contact with the pole, with a few sparse drops splashing free to splatter on the floor. The old subway station can take it though!

Chevy spins the pole in one hand, flashing a lopsided grin at Ichika. "You ready to show me your Truth?"

"Bouvier-san is ... actually an exception. I still have no idea about how she does what she does or what it means. It's, strange..."

The faint half-smile on Ichika's lips shows no sign that she's taken the reminder of that particular bout to heart. It had been an incredible fight, if one of the most baffling in her experience so far. That's not something she can have any regrets over; it just remains a puzzle that she has yet to solve. She'll get there, she's sure. One day.

But for now there's more important things to worry about - like fighting her friend.

She walks back over to the communal area and the differences are already obvious. Before, she had knelt and meditated - then she'd drawn her sword and attacked Chevy as swiftly as she possibly could right from the off. This time, she doesn't draw her blade at all.

Instead, she steadies herself, wraps her hand around the hilt of her sword, makes sure her footing is as close to perfect as she can get it, and then looks up at Chevy with those wide, sparkling blue eyes of hers. This is what fighting should feel like. Not two people flailing and screaming at each other, but a considered test of skill, one against the other.

"So." She says, grinning, "Come on at me, when you are ready."

COMBATSYS: Chevy has started a fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Chevy            0/-------/-------|

"Yeah. I mean, I think we found -a- solution in the Rumble." Her smile turns into a light frown... "It warn't the -best- solution, but it showed she ain't invisible."

She crosses her eyes as that word spills out of her mouth. It felt right when she said it, but not immediately afterwards. After two seconds, though, she decides that she's in too good of a mood to continue second-guessing herself.

As she walks to a more appropriate starting position for fighting, she brings her pole to almost level, her left and leading arm just a little bit higher than the right. She... does tilt her head, as if she were a big bird, with a querying look at Ichika's iai stance."Hm," she ponders aloud.

The words that come from Ichika bring a broad smile back to her face. Were those the same words she'd said to Ichika in their first battle? It's not clear if Chevy can remember back that far -- but she does recognize the tiniest hint of the South in Ichika's word choice. "Now you're talkin' my language," she grins.

Of course, she's not going to just -charge in-. She might not know the name of the iai stance, but she knows that rushing in on a simple request is likely to get herself skewered.

"Miss Ichijo told me somethin' very important about my style that I warn't ever really usin' much. It's that I ain't got two weapons to attack with."

She grins, one hand departing from the pole to gesture to herself. "One."

Her left hand raises the staff, as her right hand returns to its place on the pole. "Two."

She rolls the pole slightly, sloshing the water around in it as she takes a step closer to Ichika's wary stance. "Three..."

COMBATSYS: Ichika has joined the fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Ichika           0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Chevy

Without too much additional warning, Chevy closes the remaining distance, stabbing forward with her pole. "Four and five!"

She'd seek to line her staff up with one of Ichika's hands -- and loop the handle of her bucket around it!

In the chance that she manages to accomplish that, she'd sharply pull her pole back, leaving her bucket wrapped around Ichika's arm. As she turns, the water-filled bucket would move with a seeming mind of its own, tugging Ichika sharply to the side. And if -that- happens -- Chevy would close in to try and wrap her elbow around Ichika's neck -- and escort her down to the floor in a slam!

COMBATSYS: Chevy successfully hits Ichika with Battleship Chains.

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Ichika           0/-------/----===|==-----\-------\0            Chevy

Ichika does see her friend's mistake, but it's a funny one. Genie had proven to be neither invincible nor invisible; as quickly as she had been taken out of the Rumble, her dramatic display had certainly caught more than a few eyes. She doesn't correct Chevy on the word choice, only nodding as she assumes her position, and waits to see this new technique.

It's an impressive one! She follows along with the explanation, nodding her head thoughtfully as she tries to see where Chevy is going with this. Perhaps she's getting a little too caught up in it, in fact, because when the bucket handle becomes a makeshift cuff, it takes a moment for Ichika's eyebrow to raise. Hm! That is a very precise technique!

She tries to pull her hand back out, but much too slow. There's a huff as the girl finds her arm being twisted around, and then a much louder grunt as she's taken down hard. "... impressive." She concedes; but the arm which had been grabbed was, naturally, not the one actually holding her sword. That one would have needed far more work to pull from the grip of her katana, and though she's been taken to the ground, Ichika has still been focusing herself.

So when she makes her move, it is with a blinding slash of searing blue light. The first blow comes swinging around with shocking speed, the girl driven to strike back with as much force as she can muster. The momentum in the blow has to be enough not just to twist free of Chevy's grip - but also come up and around and regain her footing.

And... she doesn't stop - focused and intent, she can see the position the move has put her in all too clearly. She needs to try and overwhelm Chevy's measure, force her to back off - which in this case, means slashing again and again at the teenager, sweeping arcs which carve shimmering trails of cerulean light in the air as she aims a full six rapid blows at her and - unless she is rudely interrupted - ends with a swish, and a return of the blade to its saya.


COMBATSYS: Ichika successfully hits Chevy with Lambent Assault EX.

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Ichika           0/-------/--=====|======-\-------\0            Chevy

Chevy smiles faintly as she pulls back from Ichika. She's still holding her pole and the 'fifth' weapon, her bucket, close to her, as she steps back. The rookie's forehead creases in concentration as she tries to keep the handle of the 'fourth' weapon taut against Ichika's wrist. The divided focus costs her though; it means she's a bit slower to respond to the slash that thunders forward, catching her in the arm. "Nngh!" she starts, her feet already starting to backpedal.

With her focus interrupted, her bucket clangs, loosing some of its payload onto the floor -- and alas, Ichika's uniform. Chevy's forehead wrinkles in desperation, and she starts to raise her arms in defense...

Only for the slashes to tear in beneath her pole -and- her raised defense, carving razor-sharp rents into her shortalls and undershirt, the strikes so accurate as to leave no blood at first. Chevy definitely feels it though, grunting as she clamps her jaw down to keep from shouting.

"So... -fast-," she comments through grit teeth, almost dropping to one knee as she collects herself. One hand presses to her side -- it doesn't take long for her to tell that it's wet, and not from water. "Glad to see you ain't holdin' back..." Famous last words?

Miss Beaumont flashes a grin. She may be in pain, but it's far too early to throw in the towel. So instead, she just throws the rest of her water onto the floor. Getting her foot good and wet, she suddenly kicks off -- and the spilled contents of the bucket surge into a powerful wave, propelling the redhead at her friend! With one bucket still -- for the moment -- looped around Ichika's arm, the surfing Southerner hopes to keep Ichika off-balance enough that she can lean in and -- with luck -- latch her arms around Ichika's waist and tug her skyward! If she manages that, she'd hope to reverse that momentum and sling the airborne swordswoman back down to the ground! And -then- the bucket might finally come undone...

COMBATSYS: Ichika blocks Chevy's Mudskipper EX.

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Ichika           0/-------/=======|======-\-------\0            Chevy

Not for the first time, Ichika finds herself marveling at Chevy's flexibility. In her first fight, she'd seen that the range advantage was significant; Chevy has many ways to attack at greater reach than she does. This time, caught up close and personal, she finds that there's also plenty to marvel at within her guard as well. She can't help but smile at the compliment; she hadn't nearly enough control to even imagine that technique the first time they had fought. Now, she has even taken the basis of it and used it to improve everything else she can do. The experimentation which led to it opened her eyes to the possibility of the iaido style, and that in turn has done so much to help her find the rhythm of the fight.

"I never hold back." Ichika replies, and in that moment, she wrenches her arm free of the snare, turns, and slaps Chevy's grasping arms aside. The strain of ripping herself out of the trap is, intense. She's taken clean hits that hurt less...

... but Ichika's willingness to endure pain to reach her goals is nothing new.

"Five weapons." She muses, thoughtfully. "I've considered adding just a second to my arsenal, but a wakizashi would change ... everything."

She leaps backwards, putting distance between herself and the water as she takes a deep breath, and lets the moment flow over her. It'd be easy to assume that the girl is giving Chevy her space after the initial clash -

Except that quite suddenly, she is back in the air. Ichika springs upwards, and at the apex of her jump, she draws the katana. In defiance of gravity, she twists in mid-air and then comes down fast, blade carving a shining metal spark in the air as she aims to cut across Chevy's side - her boots coming back down just past the edge of the puddle behind the hydromancer, back briefly turned as she sheathes the blade once more.

COMBATSYS: Chevy counters Artful Slash from Ichika with Low Tide.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Ichika           0/-------/--=====|=======\=------\1            Chevy

Riding such a wave had carried Chevy far, both in league combat and in the Rumble. However in this case, it might have been a slight miscalculation to try the stock attack against her close friend and training partner. Even metal handle digging into her wrist wasn't enough to deter Ichika from an attempt at escape. Kasumoto's quick thinking allows her to pull her arms free, parrying her attacks aside as she continues onward. While the discarded bucket, no longer held back by Ichika's pressure, flies freely to the side, as the wave thunders onward.

"A waka-whatty?"

Leaping free of the wave, she lands in a three-point crouch, her right hand on the floor, her left holding the pole and empty bucket behind her. In front of her, the mostly-filled bucket hits the ground in the aftermath of Ichika's escape.

"Is that like the chain thingy Kenzo uses?"

Chevy might not know her wakizashi from her kusarigama, but vocabulary is not exactly one of her strong points, even in American English. What -is- a strong point of Chevy's is her mastery over water -- and from her moment's respite, it's almost a sure bet that the water will return to her in a few moments.

It's just that, well, Ichika's -faster- than that. The hydromancer had assumed her prodigious friend would be giving her that moment to catch her breath. But her reminder rings clear -- she will not hold back -- and suddenly she's airborne again.

Chevy sees Ichika take flight. And without thinking, she draws in her breath, clamping her right hand closed and drawing it sharply to her right.

The puddles of spilled water spring to life, racing together into one cohesive mass, bucking about towards Chevy's right like a playful sea lion.

For one incredible moment, Chevelle's eyes lock onto Ichika's. Sky blue versus storm blue. Ichika is as fast as lightning itself -- and Chevy knows it. One wrong move -- and those wounds on her side will feel like tickles in comparison.

Chevy's right palm thrusts upward. A thundering wave blasts Ichika a meter and a half off-course, a scant moment before that shining spark can hit its mark, the light bent into a sharp angle.

And in the next moment, Miss Kasumoto will feel one hand snare her by the shoulder, halting her flight. A moment after that, Chevy will be driving an elbow into her back, slamming her down onto the floor. And an instant later, the wave itself will crash down, thoroughly drenching -both- of the fighters.

"Hah... hah..." pants Chevy, as she rises, one hand wringing water from her soaked hair. "Almost skewered me with that one...!"

There's some irony, Ichika reflects as she is snatched out of the air and hammered painfully into the ground, that Chevy had been talking about how hard Genie had hit her. This is about on that level, if not worse. The air is knocked out of her as she grunts with the impact. She knew her friend's style well enough to know she ~could~ do things like that, but she'd thought the speed and the improved angle of attack from her last demonstration of it would be enough to dissuade the attempt.

Rolling back and dripping wet, Ichika rises up to her feet - and this time, she does give Chevy that moment of breathing space. Her uniform is much less water resistant than her regular fighting outfit; the leather jacket would have been a much more sensible choice, now she feels weighed down by all this water, and that only makes her feel more vulnerable to Chevy's particular style.

And then she laughs.

It's a sweet, high-pitched sound and she shakes her head wonderingly. "I'm doing worse against you now than I did back then." She says with a smile, "And the last time I used that move, you countered it as well. Haa, this is amusing. I've improved my aerial technique, but you've improved your counter just the same."

Sliding her katana back into her saya, the girl takes a deep breath, and lets the tension flow out of her as she focuses her gaze intently on Chevy. "A wakizashi is a shorter sword." She adds, "It was traditional for Samurai to pair them. Not, that I consider myself a Samurai, but there are plenty of tactical reasons why two blades can be superior to one. Though, as I say, it would require a complete change in my style ... and I like the single blade. It feels focused. Straightforward. True, it is less flexible than fighting with five weapons at once..."

She adjusts her footing slightly, resumes the easy grip on the hilt of her sword, and steadies herself.

"... but mastering a single blade is no easy thing, and there are still many possibilities even in that."

COMBATSYS: Ichika focuses on her next action.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Ichika           0/-------/--=====|=======\=------\1            Chevy

In their first meeting, Chevy was a little apprehensive towards Ichika. They might both have been -- and in many ways, still *are* -- new to the fighting scene, but the onus had been on her to set a good example for the younger fighter.

Things are different now. The two have fought by each other's side so much that the experience of turning blade and bucket against one another feels new and fresh again. And with it -- a touch of that same sense of anxiety. And for the elder teenager, the same burden of responsibility. If serious injury were to result, it'd reflect poorly on her, not Ichika. It's probably silly to worry about such things when there's a teammate who *is* at risk of losing control running rampant, but fears don't have to be rational.

Miss Beaumont regains her pole and bucket, pulling herself back to her feet. It's a gigantic relief to hear laughter as Ichika regains her footing, keeping her distance. It's not 'going easy' on her, she rationalizes -- she just doesn't want to get hit three times as hard from an overly-pressured Ichika.

"Well, dang. You remember all that? It feels like it was a whole *year* ago."

The redhead's impressed. She remembers the broad strokes, the emotional beats, but the details are fuzzy, blurred out by the sands of time. Her fingers flex upon the length of her pole as she keeps a wary distance, subtly pacing over towards the spot her other bucket had fallen.

"Ain't neither of us standin' still through this. We got better and we're gonna -keep- gettin' better."

Chevy is, however, intrigued by the explanation of the purpose of a wakizashi. She notices that Ichika is... slowing down her breathing. Focusing, really, even though she's able to keep up a steady conversation. And she remembers... Ichika calling her out in Sunshine City...

That fight looked like the first time I've really seen you ... deliberately focus.

Miss Beaumont presses her lips together. So that's what this is, she tells herself with a slight chuckle. She spares a glance down to the water at her feet -- another, for the water scattered throughout the area. And, returning her gaze to Ichika, she nods in reply.

"Really? Samurai carry -two- swords around? I only ever see 'em whip out one, unless it's some over-the-top action flick."

Something's a little different though: Chevy's grip on her pole. Her fingers... start to turn white from the pressure.
An instant later, drops of water *pop* free from her brow, from her shoulders, from her thighs. Hundreds of tiny water droplets, hanging weightlessly in space for a moment, before gravity begins to reassert control.

"... Is that the reason Miss Ichijo taught you to hold the blade funny for that one move?"

The water droplets don't entirely... -fall-, though. And the rest of the water begins moving to circle around her feet. One puddle slams into the side of the bucket, causing a small clamor. The bucket fills part way -- and begins to take flight.

"Yeah. I think the one sword's workin' fine for you right now."

Chevy's eyes remain locked onto Ichika's. That slightly silly smile hardens into a thin line, as she nods slowly. Yeah -- she's focusing rather intently. And the water -- and the bucket -- begin to rise from the floor, circling around her: a ring of ominous portent.

COMBATSYS: Chevy gets ready to turn the tide!

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Ichika           0/-------/--=====|=======\=====--\1            Chevy

Ichika smiles softly at her friend. "I can't forget, Chevy." She reminds the other teenager gently. "I remember everything. When I'm fighting, it's usually easier to keep quiet, but right now, I remember you blocking my corkscrew strike, my note that your guard is weaker without water in the buckets, a brief exchange of blows, my heaviest attack, both giving our all, and then... failure."

She chuckles softly, shaking her head. "There is a reason I no longer attempt to combine grappling with my swordplay." She notes, wryly. Yes. In her head, Ichika has just played out the entirety of their first match. It's still amusing to her that she finds herself in a worse situation at this point in time than she did at the same point in the last fight. It only reinforces her opinion; Chevy is the strongest of Team Thunder. The older teenager might not have the 'book learning' and studious approach that Ichika takes, but she studies, she works, and she has such an inherent link to the natural flow of combat.

"So." She says, as the water begins to rise and Chevy's power rises with it to such an extent that Ichika can practically see it churning within her. "Let's try something different."

She can feel the power there. She could wait for it. Calling it like this is something she's done quite a few times now, and it rarely ends well for her. But. Chevy's attacks are strong. She can't match her in her current state; she needs more. A switch in strategy. A new direction.

And so she starts to glow.

Chevy has seen Ichika's power before; bright as the clear blue sky and shining as the dawn. She reaches out and grasps it. This place, this room, had witnessed a terrible shame. She asks it now to help her build something beautiful; to let her use this fight to truly show her friend how far she has come.

And the world answers.

When she draws her blade it is unlike anything Chevy has seen from her before. The light is so bright as to be almost blinding. The sword isn't the old, unremarkable katana she had pulled out of an antique shop months ago. It is a Katana. Long, sharp, beautifully curved, made to cut down those who stand before it. A sword fit to be wielded by the men and women of her homeland who dedicated their lives to the protection of Japan and its people.

She grasps it tight. And then, she moves.

She had been fast before, but this is everything she has. This will be the moment the battle hinges on. If it strikes true, she can turn things around, if it doesn't, she has committed too much now to recover from it. She knows this in her heart, and yet she makes that decision freely. The old Ichika might have tried to play for time and find some other, less risky way through.

But she knows now: to shy away from risk is not to believe in herself. And she does believe in herself. And in Chevy, in Team Thunder, in the New Fighting Generation she calls her friends. Most importantly, she believes in the future - it's a bright, brilliant one.

Her grin is wild as she brings the blade up and around - such a strange expression for the girl in her Justice High uniform, once so stoic and serious.

"Come, Chevy!" She shouts, "Let's reach our dreams... together!"

And with that the sword comes down in a single dazzling stroke, aiming to slash Chevy from shoulder to hip in an eruption of blazing blue light and shining steel.

When the energy finally leaves the sword, Ichika is left breathing hard - and she's still glowing. No longer is a single mote of that power wasted. She draws it all back into herself, coating her skin in a protective barrier and helping to recharge the vast amount of energy she just expended from her own reserves.

COMBATSYS: Ichika successfully hits Chevy with Tomorrow's World EX.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////                 ]
Ichika           0/-------/-------|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2            Chevy

Chevy smiles back at her friend. Her eyes remain locked on. She knows the score -- her path has been intertwined with Ichika's along this voyage for long enough that she can recognize the signs: the cerulean radiance, the shining blade. The hayseed's focus remains, unwavering.

The ring of water continues to swirl around Chevy. The bucket makes its orbit, steadily approaching the hydromancer's left hip. She lifts her staff just slightly, the bucket nearing its lower tip.

It's at that moment that Chevy recognizes the impulse of motion. It's a heartbeat away -- the moment of truth.

Would Ichika -expect- her to counter with her water, a second time in such rapid succession? Chevy thinks so. It's bold of Ichika to try, even with those odds.

Would Ichika -know- this, though? The Justice High prodigy has become a master tactician with her field experience. And she knows Chevy almost as well as herself... doesn't she?

Chevy's lips press into a firm line. She'd made up her mind on the course of action before she'd even committed to it: she wants to keep her feet planted this time. She -doesn't- want to fall into a trap of endlessly second-guessing herself.

She keeps her feet planted.
She raises her staff.
Sparks rain out as the exquisite blade bites down deep into galvanized pipe.
Chevy grits her teeth as the pipe wobbles in her grip.
The bucket on the far end of the pipe begins to freefall.
A moment later -- just over 10% of the pipe plunges into the bucket.

The next moment is a blur of things happening all at once. The bucket falls. The rest of the pipe falls. Perfected steel digs into Chevy's shoulder, carving through flesh and cloth alike. A cry rings out -- choked off after a moment. A large red crescent spills into the air -- only to be disrupted by the introduction of fresh water from the bucket slamming against Chevy's elbow.

The aftermath, heralded by the clamor of a hollow pole against the floor, makes things clearer. Two buckets land a heartbeat later, their contents upended into an oddly shaped puddle. A tearful Chevy rests upon her knees, a fresh wound in red run through her shoulder, ruddy water running down the front of her sliced undershirt. Half of her shortalls bib hangs folded over, its bifurcated strap painted dark. Her hands, now bearing some of her weight, sink into the depths of the puddle -- the water that "skins" higher where it contacts her skin.

Chevy's eyes screw shut, her bared teeth offsetting a rictus frown. Everything hurts. Even -breathing- hurts, due to the scream she'd held back out of some misplaced sense of decorum.

And yet -- she's still upright. Her now-shorter pole shudders, sending concentric ripples throughout the puddle in which she rests.

And then her ribcage heaves with laughter, as she parts her eyelids, as she sees her friend as never before.

There was a time where Chevy used to think Ichika was devoting too much of herself into her attacks. There was a time where -- like Noboru Miyama -- she might have thought it wasteful.

But now?
She understands.
It's just enough.
Perfection itself.
And she's gonna need to step it up a bit, too.

Chevy draws in her breath.

"I ain't never seen you like this. You're shinin' so -bright!-"

She doesn't remember the past encounter the same way Ichika does. But she owes the girl her best. In this case, as her left knee starts to lift up: weapons one and two.

A perfected Ichika stands before her. Soaked, maybe. But a seasoned warrior maiden in shining armor, no longer the little rookie in the workout area of the Hotel Southtown.

Chevelle Beaumont rises to the challenge. The water shudders, as if congealed, thickened. Stepping forward off her left foot, she seeks to close the gap. She'll rise and attack in the same gesture -- two hands reaching out for Ichika's right shoulder and left hip, a parallel the targets carved through scant moments earlier.

The two hands are, however, much larger than the ones Chevy normally employs. These -- are more like watery mitts, wrapped securely around her wrists and forearms, resonating with a harmonious tone. And chi-imbued hands will seek to grab hold of Ichika. Should they gain purchase -- Ichika may find herself pulled right up off her feet -- and then whipped through the air, before being slammed down at the floor. And after a moment's respite, the chi-imbued hands would grab hold a second time, this time by the legs, for an encore performance.

COMBATSYS: Ichika dodges Chevy's Spout Toss.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Ichika           0/-------/-------|>>>>>>>\-------\1            Chevy

Ichika takes no pleasure in hurting Chevy; if there's one thing about fighting that she wishes she could somehow magically turn off it is the pain. It doesn't bother her when she is hurt, she is very well able to compartmentalise physical pain (... emotional pain, not so much ...) but when Chevy cries out, when she realises that she's cut not just into her friend but through the weapon... that makes her flinch.

'Why did you take up the sword?' Ayame had asked, and it was a fair question. As had been so brutally proven in the most recent round, the sword is an instrument designed to kill. At the time, Ichika had thought of it as a coldly rational decision. She chose the sword because it would counteract her weaknesses and require little training to be dangerous.

Now, though. She suspects something deeper. When she grasped that sword, everything fell so neatly into place. Perhaps it was not just that she had chosen it, but that the world had chosen her to find it.

The Katana flicks to the side, slides neatly back into place at her side with a *click*. And she smiles like the sun itself.

"It is in all of us, Chevy." She says, softly. "The only difference is, I can make it visible. It's beautiful, isn't it? To think... there was a time I was disappointed that my chi was just... 'blue'."

And then the fight is back on, and Ichika throws up her hand as though it is the easiest thing in the world. A barrier of intense blue light slams into existence, as solid as rock, and Ichika dances backwards, away from danger. By the time the shield is disappearing into sparks, she is far out of reach and able to plot her next attack.

And as quick as she had danced away, she comes back in - the girl is still at least a little slower, gathering that much power had taken a toll, but she has no intention of letting up now; instead striking out at the fullest extent of her range to try and earn a strike on Chevy's thigh. She's quietly impressed that the hydromancer has kept trying to fight even after her weapon was so severely damaged - but she'd compliment her on that later, right now, she knows that if she wants to close this fight out, she's going to need to use every trick in her considerably expanded arsenal... and probably hope for more than a little luck, as well.

COMBATSYS: Chevy dodges Ichika's Evasive Strike.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Ichika           0/-------/-------|>>>>>>>\-------\1            Chevy

Shapeless globs of water resonate outward from that blue barrier, thrumming as if they'd just struck a taiko drum amidst a shower of sparks. Chevy grits her teeth as her fingertips themselves strike the barrier -- a sensation that leaves them feeling numb. "Tingly..." she mumbles aloud, withdrawing her hands as the water falls back into a pool at her feet.

There's not enough -time- to stand there dumbfounded though, as a shining Ichika is showing just how much she wants to close the battle out. Miss Beaumont pivots backwards on the opposite leg, the blade falling short of contact by mere inches. "Ooh! Almost..."

Chevy's foot lands with a wet splash, not far from her fallen pole. Water starts to fill her buckets as she watches Ichika distance herself.

"Well... I don't got nothin' that can make my pole all shiny and new, like you got," she laughs.

With a nudge of her foot, she edges it closer to the bucket, allowing it to catch one bucket handle. She reaches down to pick up the staff, threading it through the other bucket handle. Even with a portion missing, the pipe still has enough length to carry both buckets comfortably. And with a small grin, Chevy starts to... walk towards Ichika, the pole and its buckets lugged along casually at left her side. With her attire in shreds, she looks like she's been through a post-apocalyptic warzone -- and ruddy water spattered across her form makes the cheerful redhead seem considerably scarier than she realizes!

"Aside from that, now... you sure you wanna be playin' keep-away with me, Ichika? I mean, heck, I ain't in no rush..."

Some three meters away, the walk turns into a dash. And the water in her buckets begins to glisten with an inner glow.

Chevy flings the pole up to a nearly vertical position, letting go for a moment so that the lower bucket can slingshot past her hand's height, slapping into the upper bucket with a loud clank.

That's... not the attack, though. Because Chevy's reaching out with her -right- hand, aiming to grab hold of Ichika's sword-bearing wrist from the outside!

COMBATSYS: Ichika auto-guards Chevy's Riptide EX.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Ichika           0/-------/-------|=======\-------\1            Chevy

And if Chevy had managed to grab hold, that's when the real fun would start. Chevy would suddenly swing her -left- hand outward. The upper bucket's handle would hit the flanging at the end of the pole, and an instant later, the other bucket would clang into it! -Both- buckets would counterweight themselves outward along the abbreviated length of Chevy's pole. The weapons and the water would, collectively, act as a giant hammer; a counterweight. Chevy herself would be the fulcrum, her sneakers squeaking on the wet floor. If Ichika were unlucky enough to be pulled along for the ride, she might have been uncomfortably flung down onto her shoulder as Chevy rotated counter-clockwise with the whirling momentum of her water 'hammer' in an exhibition of Miss Ichijo's training...

Ichika gives Chevy the time to collect her bucket and repair her weapon without complaint. In fact, she shakes her head wonderingly as the teenager just, carries on through it. Would she be able to do the same if the first couple of inches of blade were lost mid-fight? The thought is a deeply uncomfortable wrong. The weight would be completely different, the reach inexorably altered.

"You really are amazing." She murmurs, "How can you *be* that adaptable."

That has been the constant struggle with Ichika; the balance between knowing herself, her weapon, her plan, and executing on it... without being completely thrown off when that plan starts to fall apart. The ability to respond so fluidly is something she's grasped at just a few key moments, held on to most notably during the Rumble, but Chevy has always been far more in-tune with the moment-to-moment demands of the fight.

Focus. Calm. Learn. What is she seeing here? Other than her friend's easy, casual confidence.

"A riddle for you, Chevy." Ichika says, in reply to that teasing question. "When is a sword not a sword?"

She can see the glow. Feel the energy in those buckets. The clang of steel on steel doesn't even make her blink. Instead, as Chevy reaches for her hand, Ichika spins in place. The girl is still glowing, still surrounded by that glow of bright blue energy, even if it is slowly starting to fade. And as Chevy tries to grab her hand, the effect is ... disorienting; a twisting series of afterimages until the flat of Ichika's katana finds the elbow of Chevy's grasping hand and, gently, nudges it up and out of the way.

"When it is a shield, instead."

Her feet find the ground again and she exhales. Restoring her footing, she slides the sword fully back into place and takes a heartbeat to consider. This is how fighting should be. And it is in that moment she finally understands why the motion had resonated with her so much.

The click of hilt hitting saya.

The click of each stone falling into place.

And, perhaps bizarrely to poor Chevy, Ichika lets out a bark of sudden laughter. "I am such a fool." She chuckles, "How, did I miss that?"

And only then does she come forwards again; not one strike, but three in rapid succession. Quick, loose stabbing motions aiming to poke at the older teenager's shoulders. "I can't beat you at range forever." She admits, finally actually addressing that point. "But up close, you can catch me. My only choice is to try and keep you off balance, until I can find a way to put you in an unwinnable situation..."

The luminous assault she'd opened with had been a good start there; Chevy clearly hadn't been ready for the speed and power she could bring to bare on it. The power now slowly being taken back into herself was another; her friend simply didn't know that Ichika's control over her abilities had reached that point yet. She couldn't see it coming.

She needed at least one more trick. The problem was, the first two had cost her dearly, she didn't have much left to pull!

COMBATSYS: Chevy blocks Ichika's Quick Strike.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////                    ]
Ichika           0/-------/-------|=======\=------\1            Chevy


Chevy cracks a grin in what might be the friendliest and possibly most macabre swagger she's ever shown Ichika.

"It ain't like I'm gonna pitch a fit about it. New pipe's like thirty bucks at Agri-Supply."

There's really nothing special about the staff. It's just a normal pipe for providing water with threaded ends and a special flange. A closet rod could suffice, if it were strong enough to support the water buckets. It's just a weapon for the work caste, not really a -weapon- in the truest sense, like Ichika's katana.

A few moments, a few quick motions later -- and Chevy finds her calm confidence shaken by a blur of motion, resulting in her practiced -- and yet never actually -landed- -- move steered away from its mark. The downside of needing to approach from a distance, perhaps.

She grins at the riddle's answer, secretly glad that it wasn't 'When it is a pipe cutter.' That might -start- her on the path to madness.

Chevy levels her staff again, sliding one bucket out towards the freshly-cut edge, mindful of the fact that there's no flange to stop its travel. As she backs away, the rectangular imprint of shining steel remains obvious in the flesh of her forearm. Her brow furrows in confusion: she's missing part of her friend's internal monologue. As far as she knows, Ichika's comment was a self-recrimination over her own joke.

"... What, what? That was good! Kinda 'Zen,' but..."

Still... -somewhat- focused on the fight, she forgets to follow through with a question, as Ichika is giving her two other things to think about. One -- the blisteringly fast assault. And two -- the sort of thought-provoking comment she was advised to ignore. "Ulp..."

Sparks fly as the pole swings upward, deflecting the first probing stab off course. As the sword is withdrawn, Chevy takes a step back to give herself room to deflect again, with a second clash and a second shower of sparks. She's not so lucky with the third strike, though; the buckets are closer than she'd like due to the shortness of the pipe, which means they're in her line of sight. The tip of Ichika's blade jabs right -under- her staff.

Gasping for breath as a crimson spurt erupts from her forearm, she realizes the very clue Ichika is giving her: that she was -right- to call her out on keeping her distance.

"This technique is perhaps easier to execute against opponents of equal or greater height, but if you bend your knees before attempting to lock it in, you can make it work against almost anyone."

Chevy bends her knees, bringing her leveled staff down, closing it like a portcullis upon Ichika's probing katana. She's hoping that works. But then the next sentence of Miss Ichijo's rings in her head.

"Hopefully it is not someone you like very much."

Her eyes dampen. She grits her teeth.

"Cain't /do/ that..."

And in the next instant, she pivots sharply to one side, releasing some of the downforce upon Ichika's katana, as the pole twists into a near vertical.

Chevy's modified tactic is to shift back to a tried and true attack -- slamming one bucket into the inside of Ichika's ankle, and then sweeping it out from under her. She's counting on the water-slicked floor to do the rest of the job.

"-- I just -cain't-..." she rasps again, cursing herself for getting so caught up in the thrill of the moment.

COMBATSYS: Ichika dodges Chevy's Mix-Up Throw.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////                    ]
Ichika           0/-------/-------|=======\-------\1            Chevy

"Still, though. To be able to adjust so readily..."

Ichika still does her best to come at Chevy with all she has; sparks and blood fly, and then there's a moment where her blade is being forced downwards. Trapped. This is something she's feared a lot in fighting; it hasn't actually happened much at all, but she's always considered it the means by which she would defeat her if she were most of her opponents.

Because despite all the ways in which Ichika is not a perfectly normal teenage girl... when it comes to her physical strength, that's exactly what she is. Most everyone in the tournament has more raw muscle than she does. If her blade can be pinned, she's in for a world of trouble.

Only. Chevy doesn't follow through. She backs up. And the moment she's able to regain control over her katana, Ichika wrenches it free, diving backwards and away from the sweeping strike. Once again she finds herself at a distance with Chevy; the very situation they were just agreeing was not to her advantage. But rather than press the attack, the younger girl cocks her head to the side.

"What can't you do?"

As she asks the question she straightens, flicks her sword to clean it, and then slides it back into its home at her side. Her hand remains loosely wrapped around the blade, and the last of that brilliant blue glow finally fades away into nothing. She's not breathing nearly as hard any more. The girl's bright blue eyes show genuine concern.

"You had me for a moment there, and then you let me go." She says - more confusion than anger in her voice. She knows Chevy well enough to know that her friend is not any more inclined to hold back against her than she is in turn. Or at least, she thought she did.

"Is there a problem?"

COMBATSYS: Ichika takes no action.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////                    ]
Ichika           0/-------/-------|=======\-------\1            Chevy

It isn't that Chevy gives up on the battle. When Ichika breaks away, the hayseed still follows through properly, swinging her pole upwards in such a fashion that the water's able to stay in its buckets without any additional guidance on her part. But when the pole swings back to waist height... it'll be obvious from her face that she's a bit distraught.

Her eyebrows sag. She'd -wanted- to keep up the pressure. She'd wanted to show Ichika a new technique of her new bag of tricks. But.

"I cain't show you that one. It might hurt."

Which is a -hell- of a dumb thing for a martial artist who slams people into the floor to say to another martial artist who just filled her full of holes, isn't it? Realizing the dissonance, Chevy shakes her head slowly from side to side.

"I mean, Miss Ichijo told me it was... meant for someone I don't like too much. It works great on a practice dummy, but..."

Chevy frowns. She's not just -worried-. Even thinking about the attack makes her profoundly upset.

"... I ain't actually tried it on a person yet, and I don't want that to be you."

She paces closer, as if to close the gap. Ichika's refrain left her uncertain, her commitment wavering.

"We can talk about it later, though, yeah?"

She raises her buckets to shoulder height, forging a smile. She's willing to keep going if Ichika is ready to put the pressure back onto her.

Ichika seems to think about this for a long moment. And then, in what is definitely a first for the young fight-happy woman, she... shakes her head.

"Let's talk about it now, Chevy."

She smiles, and holds up her hands. "It's fine. We each showed off some new tricks. But... I think the moment to finish this fight, has passed."

She nods towards one of the training dummies at the far side of the room, "I'd, like to see what has you so worked up, though. Can you demonstrate the move to me on something you are happy to use it on?"

Because there is another aspect here. One that she's not, quite, ready to start talking about out loud, just in case she's leaping to a whole bunch of conclusions. But it is an important thing to clarify, something that has genuinely got her concerned for the wellbeing of her friend.

Right now, Ichika is still trying to tell herself that she's overthinking it; that she is probably wrong or missing something. But, there is a kind of urgency underlying the request that they stop and move into another area of training. Because if Chevy is this upset about the mere prospect of using such a technique on her ... what does that imply about what the technique would do to her when she actually did use it on another person?

Chevy bites her lip, nostrils flaring as she draws in her breath. Ichika may be thinking this through rationally, but the part of Chevy that still wants to fight is acting out across her features -- for a brief moment, anyway.

Closing her eyes, she grips her pole in her right hand, letting it and the buckets swing to her side. She... plays it off as a stretch, rolling her neck from side to side. But then she explains herself.

"Aww, Ichika. You really wanted a rematch an' all. I was hopin' to give you -that- much at least."

She opens her eyes, sharing a more honest smile with her stormy-eyed friend. Chevy knows Ichika's got the right idea here -- and helping each other is kind of what the team is about. And friendship in general, of course. She nods to the suggestion, walking over to the practice dummies.

"It's... well, I think Miss Ichijo taught it to me since I was worried about fightin' up close. Especially against a certain someone who'd mommick me to heck an' back."

Chevy eyes the wing chun dummy -- which has nothing resembling a neck. She shakes her head and moves to the one beside it -- a standard, faceless, mannequin-like dummy on a base. She hooks a hand around that one and drags it into the middle of the floor.

She spares a look to Ichika, over her shoulder. The bleeding has, thankfully, stopped.

"With... you up close, it would've been... real easy to pull off. In theory."

She stands in front of the dummy, replaying the sword strikes from her perspective, right up until the moment where she levels the staff and brings it low, warding away the katana. She starts to bend her knees, lowering her hips and shoulders in the process.

"And this... is what Miss Ichijo showed me."

Shoulders squared with those of the dummy, she suddenly launches upwards with her legs. There is a clack -- the sound of the pole cracking against the dummy's chin -- and then in, within the very next moment, Chevy has flipped over -top- of the dummy, about to land behind it with her arms outstretched overhead -- the pole exactly where it was.

And in the next moment, as Chevy touches down, the practice dummy is hurled forcefully into the -wall-, as she it wasn't weighted quite like the practice dummy she was used to in Sunshine City.

*THUD* *thunk* *crash*

Chevy bares her teeth in a desperate frown at all the noise. "S-see? It's... it's a -lot!-"

Ichika smiles, and nods her head. "I did." She says, softly. "And, we had one. You showed me how much you had improved, and I showed you my new trick as well. In the end... which of us would be left standing if we gave it our all? That, is less important to me. You're the one who taught me that winning or losing the fight, isn't actually... the point."

It's a strange thing to say. Victory is still important for so many periphery things, but, it's true. If Chevy had beaten her, she would have had no complaints. If she had beaten Chevy, she would still think that Chevy is the strongest member of Team Thunder, for every reason she has previously reiterated. Going all the way would tell them something, but the important part of the fight... the part where they demonstrate their advancement? Ichika had done hers. And Chevy needed to show her, not in the fight itself.

She lets the tension in her flow out, releasing the mindset that she is in battle, so she can instead focus on what Chevy is showing her without being caught up in her own moment. She might not be totally sure that she agrees it would be so easy to pull off in practice. Would she stand still after her sword was trapped, so that she could be caught in the chin? It's... plausible, that she wouldn't be able to escape, but is it really guaranteed?

Less arguable is the fact that the move is, indeed, a lot. The motion Chevy had used would put someone's full weight on their neck. Not for long, but... certainly for long enough. Definitely a very potent, and painful, move.

"I see." She says, "You certainly seem as though you've practiced it to the point where you CAN do it." She continues, very carefully. "But. You didn't want to do it to me."

Chevy sets the buckets down, and slips her pole out from between them. Then she jogs over to where the practice dummy was hurled. She smooths her fingertips over the few smudges of color left by the collision upon the concrete walls. "Well, no, because if I *aimed* it wrong I'd have crushed your windpipe, which ain't high on the list of things I'd have to explain to your folks *or* mine," she replies, while righting the dummy. Agitation brings her brogue out a bit more than usual. With the dummy standing, she takes the opportunity to demonstrate by tapping her pole against its 'throat'.

"So that's one dangerous part. It's s'posed to land -here-," she comments, tapping her pole against the chin. "But if I warn't to *lift* right," she continues, using her hands to demonstrate the dummy's head rocking backwards, "Then your neck's broke, an' I don't even know what happens then."

Anguished, she pulls her pole away and gives the dummy's shoulder a shove. "I -want- to use it though. I've been cookin' up ways to use my water to latch the pole to someone's shoulders so it ain't pulling -all- the force along the neck. But I done spent so much time on the other attack -- the one you 'shielded' y'self from with your sword -- I done forgot to spend any time workin' this one out."

Finally... she expels her breath. And there is a bit more of her usual cheer, now that she's worked it out of her system.

"... I 'unno, Ichika. What do you think?"

Ichika nods slowly at the explanation. She hadn't seen the danger to the windpipe at first, but she certainly can see it now that it has been pointed out to her. The girl is quiet for a long time. It feels, strange, to be critical of a technique which has been suggested by Ayame. Especially when she can't do so on any kind of practical grounds. In terms of what the move would accomplish if it were put into practice flawlessly, there's no doubt that it would have the intended effect. A powerful, punishing strike that dissuades the short-range combat that would, ordinarily, be the obvious way to try and foil her friend's style.

On the other hand...

"Every technique that I use which includes my sword is potentially lethal." She says, confronting that head on. "I was critical of Cernik-san and Jarvi-san because I do not feel that they respected that fact enough when they were fighting each other. When I strike, I am very aware that if I hit the wrong area... if I open an artery, or sever a part of my opponent, I could do permanent and lasting damage. That is why I aim for the arms, the legs, the torso, and I ... rarely ... risk moves that will cut too deeply."

She draws her sword again, but it isn't to continue the fight. In fact, the fight is far from her mind as she presents the blade for her friend's inspection.

"But that is the price of using the katana. And the katana is my chosen weapon. I have embraced that choice. You, chose your weapon without needing to consider such things. If you develop along that path, where you have to start thinking of your opponent's welfare, more than about incapacitating them..."

Her eyes lift. No more smiling, deadly serious. "It is not a small choice. I do not think it is a good thing, or a bad thing, in itself. But I do think that you shouldn't use that technique on anybody, until you are so confident in its execution that you would use it on me without hesitation."

It's... tough for Chevy to remember names as it is. Ichika citing out last names makes it a bit of an issue. But, thankfully, the fact that she doesn't -remember- those last names singles it down to just four individuals, only two of which were given a blistering assessment in the last Ichikast.

It's just a fleeting thought, though, and one Chevy resolves within a couple seconds of thought. She nods along at the idea that the sword is, well... designed to be fatal. She looks down at herself and her damp clothes -- only now realizing the bloody furrow cut across her chest, the cloth that's been cut through, and the bib flap that's been pulled down. Sure, they'd -hurt-, but it wasn't till now, with the cessation of adrenaline, that she'd stopped to notice.

There are many points Chevy will negotiate over, or defer to better judgment on. The rationale for choosing her weapon: that's not really one of them, and she feels necessary to clarify. She seems a bit antsy to get that clarification in, drawing up her shoulders... but she keeps from voicing anything while Ichika continues speaking.

Though, once she does stop... she draws in her breath and nods. An astute observation.

"... I mean, I chose my weapon and crafted my style because I didn't -wanna- leave marks on anyone. Didn't wanna cripple anyone."

She smiles -- a typically Chevy reaction, little more.

"But no. That makes sense. I probably -should- workshop it a bit more..."

She looks down at the pole. Flipping it about in her hand.

She looks at Ichika hopefully.

"... It's a weird thing to ask, but... can I try it with you? The first part, before the flip?"

Ichika resheathes her sword, and when Chevy says what she says... she smiles, nodding her head.

"I did wonder." She says, "You've... never seemed like someone with, well, any desire to really hurt anyone. Even when they deserve it."

She hesitates, then, and it's easy to see the conflict in her as she purses her lips. This really does feel like a betrayal, of a kind, but. When has Ichika ever been any good at keeping her mouth shut?

"I know you said you wanted to use the move, and I understand that. Ichijo-sensei's insights are... powerful. It's a strong move, for certain. But. You don't, have, to keep it exactly as it is. If it goes against the core of why you picked up the staff to begin with."

Walking over to the dummy, she picks it back up off the ground and - with some effort - maneuvers it back into place in front of Chevy.

"I'll work with you if you like. If you're set on learning the move as it is... then, yes, of course. But. Maybe if we work together, we can find something with similar principles and less risk?"

Chevy smiles back to Ichika. Her friend knows her so well. "Yeah, I don't think it's really in my nature."

There's a moment where she can tell that Ichika's conflicted; her smile fades in her curiosity. But after Ichika clarifies what's on her mind, Chevy nods along. "Oh... yeah. She suggested changes. I changed the other move -- uh... Riptide's what I'm callin' it, 'cause o' how it'd drag ya off without warnin' -- to make it work a lil' better for my control. Too many quick hand motions get me tangled up like a gar in a shrimper net."

Supposedly that's a bad thing.

She nods -- grinning a bit brighter as Ichika offers her assistance. "Thanks. I really appreciate it. ... And, um... I don't -think- it's against the core? I based my staff style on Miss Ichijo's, after all. So it's just... making sure it's safe."

While Ichika is setting up the dummy, Chevy goes over to loop her pole into the handles of her buckets. Bringing those over, she asks -- out of simple curiosity:

"... So is it true that folks used to test a sword's strength by how many bodies it could cut through?"

She then turns her attention to the dummy, raising the pole to its chin as before. She practices lowering herself and raising herself and the pole into the chin area, pondering the mechanics of such. The only difference now, is the gentle sloshing of the buckets as they sway back and forth with the slow-motion rehearsals. Motions that Chevy is -sensing- more than actively doing something about, at the moment.

"The trick is just... holdin' it in place."

Ichika nods slowly, though she doesn't continue to press the point on the move's dangers. She just watches the way the move is repeated, over and over again. Quietly wondering if she actually can improve on this in a safe way without completely invalidating the advantages that the move offers. The position it is intended to punish would make it clumsy to go for the arms instead, which had been her initial thought...

"I'm sure there were some who did." She says, a hint of distaste in her voice. "The Samurai were, by and large, a disgusting class of people. It also doesn't make any sense, really. The sword is the smallest part of the story. So long as it has an edge, a Master could cut through a dozen people with a relatively blunt blade, whilst a novice could have the finest edge honed by man and still struggle to hurt anyone with it. Not to mention the difference between the body of an untrained person and the body of a fighter..."

She trails off, then, and considers. "Could you use your water?" She asks, thoughtfully. "If a little of it splashed out over the neck, could you use it to ensure the pole always slides into position, without reducing the force of the move overmuch?"

Miss Beaumont blinks as Ichika lays bare her distaste for the samurai. No -wonder- she felt so offended by Buford. "Huh," she answers, the surprise clear in her voice. But no -- Ichika raises some good points, and Chevy nods along. "It warn't somethin' I put a lot of study into, but yeah, I know you're real good with one." She grins, belatedly, at the suggestion that a fighter's body might put up more of a challenge for the sharpness of a blade.

The attack Chevy is practicing was -- presumably -- conceived as a fallback -- a rapid way to return momentum against someone who may have been successful in pressuring Chevy away from her buckets or her water. As defined by the master miko, it still works brilliantly as a strong punishment for those intruding on her personal space. But Chevy clearly has a mind to tailor it for her own temperament and style -- to make it more her -own-. And maybe not deal quite as much pain.

"Yeah, that's what I was thinkin'... In a pinch, I can do it without, as you see, but..."

She grins. And decides to try it. "Alright. Here we go."

She crouches down, pulling the staff back to herself.

She lunges upwards, thrusting the staff forward but not locking her elbows.

The pole slams into the practice dummy's chin, rocking it upwards a centimeter or two.

And a moment later, water splashes from her buckets, billowing forth to coat the dummy's shoulders and neck area. An instant later, the water halts in place, taking on a glossy finish.

Chevy lets out a small huff, her brow furrowed with concentration. She grins, almost disbelieving -- and, just to test her theory, she twists the staff from one side to the other. The practice dummy is... pretty much *glued* to her staff, now, frozen firmly in place by a solid block of ice that only then starts to show the bubbling.

"... Hmm...!"

Ichika returns the smile. And for once, she doesn't completely reject the compliment to her fighting. "I'm getting better." She says, "I have a long way to go before I can say I am a Master, but... maybe, I am better than average."

But she's far more interested in watching her friend's innovation on the technique than in discussing her own sword skills. It's good that they were on the same page; using Chevy's power to protect her opponent from unwarranted harm whilst ensuring that they received the level of harm she wanted. That has a pleasing quality to it, to Ichika. And when she sees what Chevy has done with a few moments of thought about the matter, she claps her hands together.

"Yes!" She declares, "Now that's an exciting development! I assume you can release it as you wish, as well?"

She approaches, circling the dummy so she can get a good look at what has happened from every angle. This... is where her ideas start to break down a little bit. She has no idea how much effort this takes for her friend, or what she can even reasonably do in a short amount of time from that moment of capture. But as uncomfortable and unpleasant as it would no doubt be to be in the dummy's position, she's also quite confident that it would be very difficult to accidentally break a person's neck doing this in particular.

Accepting compliments? Chevy may make an honorary American out of the girl yet.

Chevy's shop teacher back in high school may have imparted more useful information to the teenager than just about any other teacher. One of the techniques she'd learned there was how to build a jig for a table saw. It seemed like something every saw should come with. Yet, the shop teacher was adamant that everyone in the class learn how to make their own. Not just for the experience -- but so they would understand that by making the equipment safer, they'd be empowered to build better and more complex creations.

In a way -- that's what Chevy sees this as: a more secure way of holding onto her opponent."Ahahaha! This is awesome! I think that'll give me the grip I need, yeah!"

It's so solid that when Ichika asks her if she can release it as she wishes, Chevy... frowns.

And wiggles her hands -- along with the still-attached practice dummy. Her fingers, having been soaked to the core, are frozen to the pole.

A panicked grunt resonates from the bottom of her throat. She realizes that Ichika may have heard that, though, and clears her throat properly. As politely as she can without use of her hands, anyway.

"Um." She pauses, looking helplessly back at Ichika for a moment. "I hadn't really been tryin' to -freeze- it, to be honest."

And now that she's looked away, it'd be easier to hear the sound of water droplets hitting the floor. One, then two, then... twelve, then forty...

And then it all breaks loose, the water drenching her all over again. Chevy looks back down at herself with cautious optimism.

"Oh. Ahahaha... So."

She clears her throat, looking back to Ichika. And then she puts on the goofiest smile she can.

"... More things to try, yeah?"

Ichika watches, and if she notices the panic, she has the good grace not to comment on it. Learning new moves is challenging. The amount of times she had smashed her own face into the training dummy trying to get her Future Perfect move down was... more than she would like to admit. Being involved with this at all is extremely flattering, really, and quietly she makes a mental note to make sure to return the favour the next time she is considering her own style. There are certain things she has been musing on, though nothing she's even ready to begin iterating in practice.

She gives a nod at the admission that it wasn't deliberate. "Sometimes, our subconscious mind shows us how we are to achieve what we want, even if it isn't the way we thought we wanted it." She says, and as the water breaks loose, returning to a splashing puddle, she smiles.

"Yes, I think this is a great way forward. Now we just need to refine it."

Wait, we?

Well. She did say she was happy to help Chevy practice the first part on a live target. Even if that now seems like it is something that is going to take, quite a while to get down. She draws her sword again, takes a deep breath, and gets ready to go through a very uncomfortable experience... several dozen times. Ready to repeat the motion that Chevy had caught her in some minutes before.

"Shall we?"

Log created on 11:49:36 09/18/2023 by Chevy, and last modified on 03:26:07 09/23/2023.