NFG Season One - Metro City R2 - Zarine vs Chevy

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Description: Zarine and Chevy meet under the light of the moon to test their powers against one another. Will the Hydromancer prevail, or will the insidious power of the vampire triumph?

Longtime fans had unearthed photos of Chevelle Beaumont dating back from years prior to the introduction of the NFG. Many of these fans found themselves stepping up to the plate against her detractors, calling her then-current fascination with denim clothing 'basic' and 'derivative' -- particularly the jacket which was claimed to be like a 'dated' throwback to the 1980s, well before Chevy's own time.

It was those fans who were most vindicated when Chevy's social media accounts unveiled exclusive footage of her new fighting outfit earlier in the week: matching flared jeans and denim jacket over a single-shouldered white top. Naturally, the look's received a glow-up for the times: light dusting of white paint, distressing for texture and style. The jacket itself is personalized with 'Chevy' across the back, while the jeans bear custom Team Thunder appliques. Chevy's fandom loves it for bringing out the Southerner's charm in a way that, at least among the NFG's fighters, only she could pull off.

Unsurprisingly, it wouldn't be hard to find her on Metro City's Skywalk. The Skywalk has led to a bold reimagining of Metro City nightlife, giving residents a reason to look up and ahead to the future -- and it's no wonder that fashion photographers can be found here at all hours of the night. Flashbulbs are going off like crazy as Chevy makes her appearance -- it's bad enough that her agent -- in attendance, for once -- saw fit to lend her a pair of sunglasses to deal with the blinding glare. It wouldn't be accurate to call the hayseed "shy," exactly -- and yet, under all this unexpected attention, it's hard for her to keep her focus on the mission at hand.

Luckily -- that -is- one of the things her agent is good at: navigating the NFG's 'girl next door' through the crowds to the area marked off as the fight venue. A brand new galvanized pole rests on her right shoulder as she finds her way; hanging from the pole are two new buckets, filled almost to the brim with water that sloshes with each step.

The fight venue in particular is a span of the Skywalk that crosses over one of the busier streets of Metro City - lit broadly with both overhead floodlights and the light of a half moon. Water-filled, neon orange barriers mark off the fight area from the rest of the walk, allowing pedestrians to stroll path -- if and where they can negotiate past the surging masses gathered to observe the match between one of the NFG's new arrivals and one of its starting lineup.

Once she arrives at the 'arena', slipping over top of one of the barriers to enter, Chevy doffs the sunglasses, returning them to her agent.

"Wow, I ain't ever been up -here- before... I had no idea this warn't just a normal footbridge."

Chevy smiles, scanning the area. She'd reviewed her opponent's last fight. And she's trying her damndest to keep from looking scared. But her heartbeat is, well... definitely elevated. Before her agent steps away, she suddenly thumps the back of her hand towards his chest.

"Water," she whispers hoarsely.

And a moment later, after her agent hands her a bottle, the Southerner cracks open the lid and starts sipping. Where -is- her opponent, anyway...?

After the buzz, both positive and negative, about her last fight, Zarine has been putting the work in. Watching footage of Chevy's past fights, learning about the young woman, as well as practicing her swordplay on her own, trying to -reduce- the lethality of her technique. It's an odd mental space to hold, and who knows if she'll be able to maintain it under duress. Though the truth of the matter is that she truly has no desire to kill anyone involved in these proceedings. She doesn't even kill to feed, after all. Well, not if she can avoid it.

Also, she is late to her fight. Only a little. Mostly because she wishes to make a dramatic entrance. A silvery mist swirls around the ankles of the gawkers and the passers-by, flowing with intent and purpose towards the impromptu arena. The wisps and tendrils flow together past the barricades, swirling together and rising into a pillar. ... Not a tall pillar, though. The mist coalesces and condenses into the petite form of Zarine.

Whoever is minding her has suggested updating her wardrobe a bit. She's wearing a deep red dress that falls to midthigh. The bodice is more like a corset than anything, sleeveless and strapless and cinched tight to her hips. On her legs are fishnet tights that fall into servicable combat boots. Her white hair is pinned back with a headband that looks like it's made of jagged thorns.

"Miss Beaumont. Pardon my tardiness."

/ I was originally quite excited that we had two more swordswomen in the Project, but... /

The words from the latest IchiKast weighed heavily on Chevy this night. In many ways, Chevy wishes that Ichika were here in her place, her fine-edged blade standing against Zarine's in perfect, mirrorlike opposition. But... having -heard- the concern in Ichika's voice, and knowing first-hand just how far Ichika might go in pursuit of victory... It's a thought she thankfully doesn't have to finish.

The hayseed drinks her water even faster. Because the thought of blood loss also weighs even more heavily upon her. And unlike the hypothetical case -- this one is staring her right in the eye, in the form of a cloud of silvery mist.

She tries not to think about the things Ichika -hadn't- shared online. The concerns about whether Zarine belongs here in this league of rookie fighters. It doesn't matter now -- for as those deep red eyes materialize before her, there's only two things that matter most.

Victory. And survival.

The rest of the outfit, though. The denim-clad waterbender lifts herself away from the barricade, draining the last of her bottle as she gets a better look at her opponent. She actually looks... kind of cool, now?

"... Oh, hey. You can call me Chevy, uh..." She tries to remember the last name. Ichika's -always- saying the last names. "uh, Miss Cernik."

Steadying her staff, she bows in greeting. Ichika always bows too, even though it's not a thing in America. It just goes to show who Chevy hangs out with the most.

"Oh, and uh..."

She clears her throat, putting on the most posh-sounding accent she can muster.

"Tardiness don't do your team credit."

She has to fight from snickering -- and manages. Mostly.

"I forgive you."

She lifts the pole from her shoulder, giving it one quick revolution before steadying it before her in a ready stance.

"It's nice to meetcha. You ready to rumble?"

Chevy's agent barks something at her from the sidelines. The freckle-faced elder teen reddens, lifting one hand to the back of her head in embarassment.

"Ohhhh right, ah can't say that. You ready to get this party started?"

COMBATSYS: Chevy has started a fight here.

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Chevy            0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Zarine has joined the fight here.

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Chevy            0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Zarine

In many ways, Zarine is the dark mirror of Chevy. Where Chevy is full of down home charm, Zarine is icy and refined. Where the southern lass seems to truly care for her teammates and other people in general, Zarine is a predator. Ruthless and efficient despite her haughty, almost posh attitude. They could not be more different. Save, it seems, for the fact that Chevy possesses manners. This makes the vampire smile slightly. She manages to not make it predatory. Barely.

"Please. Call me Zarine. We are ... equals in this."

As Chevy gets her pole ready, the vampire extends her left hand. Something pulses, the air rippling around her palm until there's the pop of air displacing, and her delicate looking fingers close around the scabbard of a sword. Her sword is somewhat odd. Mostly in exactly how long the blade is. The whole thing is pushing four feet in length, with a thin blade seemingly made for thrusting. Her right hand crosses over, grasping the hilt and drawing the weapon, the scabbard getting tossed aside. No one will steal it. Probably.

She lifts the weapon in a salute before taking the hilt in both hands and lifting it upwards, leaving the blade parallel to the ground and the point leveled at Chevy.

"Yes. Let us do so. Have at you!"

Zarine takes one step forward and blurs as she darts towards Chevy, sending a testing thrust towards the young woman. She's being careful, it seems. At least to start with.

COMBATSYS: Chevy blocks Zarine's Evasive Strike.

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Chevy            0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0           Zarine

In her round 3 bonus fight against Buford "Kyle Katarn" Maclanky and Sarah "Rey" Kuzumi, Chevy's pre-fight studying materials had caused her to make a number of references to Star Wars that -- while they resonated with some members of her community -- completely failed to make an impression upon her fellow fighters. Her slightly flawed (and drawled) recitation of Zarine's previous introduction is on track to meet a similarly upvoted fate.

Equals. Hearing Zarine say that does seem to have chased some of the butterflies away from her stomach; she relaxes and gives a hearty nod. "Alright, then."

Those butterflies come back with a vengeance when Zarine pops a sword out of thin air. It shouldn't have come as a surprise, and maybe it -wouldn't-, if it hadn't had that blood-curdling pop sound along with it. It takes Chevy a moment to recognize the lift of the sword as a salute -- hence, the delayed bob of her own weapon in response.

"Right! Let's do this, Zarine!" Chevy guesses from context that Zarine's response means 'yes.' And as she sees the blade whip out, Chevy suddenly whirls her blade in a circle before her, not willing to take the chance that the pesky blade can dart past her defenses. Her guess is proven correct: sparks fly as the blade strikes against her pole and slides down its length. But it also serves to bite into her fingers, causing an injury sharp enough to Chevy to pull her hand free from the staff, shaking it in dismay. "Yow!"

The pole itself seems to be none the worse for wear, spinning steadily as Chevy withdraws a step to recover. In a moment, though, the hayseed gives chase, leaning in to thrust the bucket on one end of her pole between Zarine's feet. And if she can hook the bucket around her right ankle, she'll wield her mastery over the water to aid in hauling Zarine's leg out from under her!

COMBATSYS: Zarine blocks Chevy's Corner Store.

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Chevy            0/-------/-----==|=------\-------\0           Zarine

Just the little nick sends the scent of blood racing for Zarine's nose. Oddly, as she pulls the sword back, the tiny droplets of Chevy's blood swirl up the blade and then disappear into it. Odd. It's blatant from the impact and the skittering of the blade along the metal pole that Zarine is, on some level, holding back. Though, that may not be the right term. She entirely lacks malicious intent. Whatever madness overtook her in the fight against Laurel does not seem to be present. At least not yet.

The bucket catches her, and the instant of confusion almost makes it a tragedy. She hisses at the impact of the weight, but as Chevy starts to leverage weight, Zarine explodes into a swarm of little red bats. They chitter and scream as they whirl around, flowing away from the intended flow, only to pile back up and reform into the red eyed vampire.

"Your technique is ... interesting. Very peasa---erm. Nevermind."

She swings the sword up, and draws the blade across her own wrist, ichorous dark blood flowing from the wound onto the blade. Somehow, her blood crackles with power. The wound seals as she moves like a dancer, swinging the blade up and then down, the magicked blood trailing out like a ribbon. She flicks her wrist as she closes, sending it out like some kind of entangling strip of razors.

Okay, so her style is a little bloodier than most.

COMBATSYS: Zarine successfully hits Chevy with Ribbons.

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Chevy            0/-------/=======|====---\-------\0           Zarine

Chevy felt that the battle was starting to go her way as soon as her bucket caught hold of an ankle.

And then the same resistance that let her know she'd gotten a handhold gives way to a storm of flapping, leathery wings. That's not something that -normally- happens when she whacks someone with her staff. There's a look of surprise on her face, mixed with a dose of fear. But after a moment of swinging her buckets and pole through a colony of bats, it doesn't take her long to remember what she'd seen in the video footage.

"I ain't gonna let you mommick me..." she responds, taking a step back as she reins the momentum of her buckets back into control. She's got this. And when the bats reconstitutes back into Zarine, Chevy flashes a confident smile. Though she arches a skeptical eyebrow. "... Peasant-y?" she asks.

That confidence melts away as she watches Zarine gut her own wrist. Seeing it in video's one thing. Seeing it live is something else -- especially when it's blood spurting out of a place she wasn't ready for it to. Chevy clasps one hand over her mouth -- not out of shock. But out of -sickness-.

She doesn't even pay attention to the fact that the blood spilling out isn't following normal rules like gravity or water tension, or that it seems to be spilling out into regular shapes. Not until it's too late -- and the razor-sharp blades slice ribbons across her jacket sleeves, carving deep furrows all throughout.

She screams. None of it really makes much sense to the hayseed. She's been bumped, bruised, even beaten -- but never carved open to such a degree that it hurts to even -hold- her staff.

Her eyes screw shut -- and even though the razor-wire of blood beckons her forward, every fiber of her body tells her to pull back.

Until she opens her eyes.
Until she sees Zarine's blood-red eyes.
Until she sees the face staring back at her.

And then Chevy -roars- back.

The Carolina girl hurls down her buckets. The water hangs in midair -- and she punches her bloodied hands right through the gloopy cylinders of water. In the same enraged motion -- she plunges straight forward -- seeking to grab hold of Zarine.


She could turn into bats. She could turn into mist. And really -- it's all the same to Chevy. Because at this point, Miss Beaumont is seeing red. And she is going to *make Zarine hurt*.

She'll do this by trying to grab hold of her with her water-coated hands -- hands that are suddenly -freezing cold- -- to soothe the pain, however temporarily. Hands that would grab hold of Zarine by one shoulder and one hip. Hands that would *slam* her down into the Skywalk with hellacious speed and force. And hands that would not stop there -- but pick her right off the Skywalk and *smash* her down a second time!

... Maybe it's... not really what her fandom signed up for in this match.
But it will definitely do some numbers.

COMBATSYS: Chevy successfully hits Zarine with Spout Toss.

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Chevy            0/-------/-----==|=======\-------\1           Zarine

Perhaps Zarine is not a fantastic fit for this event. Or, maybe, she is the perfect fit. The New Fighting Generation is all about training up new fighters, teaching and molding them into something that is both marketable and experienced. Experience against many types of opponents is valuable. Be they street brawlers, highly trained martial artists and, yes, even inhuman monsters. Even urbane, polite inhuman monsters.

As The mystical razor ribbons do their thing, the vampire steps back, lifting her sword to the ready, her expression an unreadable, marble mask. She should be fine with the reaction. Unmoved. Possibly even sickly amused at the pain and anger from the -prey animal-.

She's not. Chevy's sudden blind fury shakes her. That cold mask slips, and she actually looks a little -hurt-. True, she's drawing blood. Her fighting style is obviously designed to be lethal, and yet she's been reigning it in. Making a show of it, but holding her (un)natural murderous impulses in check.

Even so, the slipping of her poise (which will either become a rallying image for her stand, or a meme or both), makes her move slower. React more stiffly. She doesn't even try to shapechange to get out of the way of the infuriated Chevy, she tries to move and picks the wrong direction. Her frame is light, and Chevy -easily- slams her into the ground with brutal force not once, but twice. She remains still for a moment before she wrenches free, rolling away from Chevy to come to her feet. For another moment, she looks disappointed, approaching sad, before the mask slips back into place and she's all frozen poise and haughty superiority.

"So be it. If you wish to treat me like a monster, then you shall have one, mortal! Behold the creature that made your ancestors cower in caves and fear the night! If you wish a villain, then -I- will haunt your nightmares!"

Her face shifts subtly. Her cheekbones become somewhat more angular and sharper, her eyes seem to glow. Her lips peel back in a snarl, the wicked fangs on display. A visible threat.

She swings her sword, and power ripples around it, the air seeming to darken around it. She brings the weapon up once more, and she stutter steps towards Chevy, leveraging a bit more of her vampiric speed. What she can still muster of it, anyway. The blade feints a thrust for center mass before the vampire pivots, sending a mystically augmented slash at the hydromancer.

COMBATSYS: Chevy parries Zarine's Sunless!

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Chevy            0/-------/---====|=======\-------\0           Zarine

It's a number of 'firsts' for Chevy, really.
The first time she's really felt true, mortal, *fear*.
The first time that she felt her own *body* being used against her.
The first time her natural affinity felt anything other than *unique*.

Seeing her own blood climb up that sword was one thing. But Chevy had, in some small part, been there for the whole trip, a captive observer to something that had been in her own body... being led to the enemy.

And feeling all... *that*, in one single exchange, was a bit much.

The tomboy was no stranger to blurting out her own thoughts when challenged. But words are one thing. This is the first time she's felt the need to *act*. Not just on a challenge, but on an audacious *intrusion* into her own autonomy. Seeing her blood extracted away for eventual repurposing was nothing short of an *outrage*.

It didn't matter what Zarine looked like, or how she spoke, or what pretty clothes she put on. She may not be a monster, but she is *definitely* walking and talking like one.

Icy water clings to her hands like giant oversized gloves as she pulls away from Zarine. The bloody rents in her hands and forearms seal, ever so slightly, with the aid of the chill. The cold helps Chevy reassert the panicked fears from the harsh reality -- that this -is- still a fight. That there -is- salvaging the situation. She pants for breath, her breath crystallizing in the chill air wafting from her nearly ice-cold hands as Zarine rolls free.

The hayseed tilts her head, eyes focusing from their wild-eyed trance. ... Is it really just Chevy -treating- her like a monster? She takes a breath, keeping her distance as she witnesses Zarine's transformation into something... else.

"... Ma'am," she starts, before correcting herself. "*Zarine*," she continues, ensuring that she has a name to place to the face that's twisting into madness right in front of her. "I don't know if you noticed, but I'm havin' a whole moment o'er here."

The sword is brought to bear. And Chevy sucks her breath back in. In her fit of pique she'd left her buckets and pole aside. But she still has two weapons on her person.

Her irises narrow back at Zarine as the stutter step begins. The water on her arms shifts sharply, the highlights growing harsh and severe. In an instant, the water freezes solid.

Two loud *CH'NK!* sounds are heard as shards of frost are chiseled away from the icy growths clinging to Chevy's arms -- first from the feinted strike that she reaches out to deflect, a second as she backs away to rapidly knock the blade upwards.

If she weren't... having a whole moment, as she said, maybe she'd have had the time to realize what just happened there. But Chevy has never been one to wax poetic about occurrences in the here and now. Zarine is pushing her past the redline -- and the only thought in her mind is to push -back- against the challenge.

She breathes out again, the ice's surface growing less solid. She lunges to Zarine's side, abruptly reaching out for Zarine's sword hand.

The water would be the -true- threat though, as one bucketfull of water flows out to grab hold.

Chevy breathes in, her forehead tensing as she suddenly gives Zarine's arm a hard shove with an aim to spin her around to the side. Relying on her water to, once again, freeze back up and act as a solid weight on Zarine's arm, the hydromancer surges in to try and lock her elbow around Zarine.

And if she manages that? She'd continue with that forward momentum, slingshotting herself forward as she slams Zarine face-first into the ground! The icy weight -- that'd be Zarine's to take care of for the moment.

COMBATSYS: Zarine blocks Chevy's Battleship Chains EX.

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Chevy            0/-------/--=====|=======\=------\1           Zarine

It's hard out here being a monster. Even when you're actively trying not to be. Humans do not understand the mindset of a predator, and it's equally difficult for Zarine to understand them anymore. It's been centuries since she was human. Since she was breathing. Since she cared about anything but power and blood. The whole thrust of her existence has been clawing for power and the struggle for survival in the endless night.

Is this not a similar struggle? Gamified of course, with stakes much, much lower than what she's used to, but it's still the same. You rise and fight against a foe that can cause you harm. You struggle to show your superiority. And this is truly a struggle.

Zarine's blade clangs off of the ice, eliciting a growl from the not quite feral vampire and sending frozen shardes into her face. The hydromancer is successful in grabbing Zarine, eliciting a hiss. Leverage is important, as it lets Chevy wrench Zarine's arm around and spin her as she pleases. The momentum carries, and the hydromancer drives Zarine towards the ground. Luckily for her, she gets her elbow up in time, catching herself on the forearm rather than her face. She wrenches her head around, looking at Chevy for a moment as she's being pressed, her face softening back to, well, mostly human.

"I not understand, Mi--Chevy. A 'moment'?"

Instead of writhing free, she just dissolves into mist again, flowing out and away from Chevy, leaving the ice bindings behind. She reforms, drawing herself to her unimpressive full height. She brings the blade up, and launches herself at the hydromancer again. This time, she simply flicks the tip of it at Chevy, looking to score a quick, light strike before she can fully get back up from the ground.

COMBATSYS: Zarine successfully hits Chevy with Black Planet.

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Chevy            1/-------/=======|=======\==-----\1           Zarine

Before joining the New Fighting Generation, Chevy hadn't left home much. She'd heard of darkstalkers before, knew that the ones she'd heard about on the news were creepy. By and large, though, they didn't have any roles to play in her idyllic rural life. Ignorance is bliss.

And then she'd met Tamaki. She'd seen supernatural life, up close and personal. And she'd realized, through Tamaki, that... darkstalkers are people too. With real dreams and aspirations, real hopes and desires, and real... needs to be loved and understood.

It hurts, to be called a monster, a freak of nature, a defect. She'd imagine it hurts every bit as much as being called a tomboy who doesn't deserve a pretty dress, or a pig girl who loves to roll around in the muck. And she knows she didn't say those horrible words.

Chevy was scared -- scared of the unknown. Scared of the implications. And she came to wrestle with that.

And now, she feels she understands the reality of the situation better, as Zarine turns to mist, leaving Chevy to fall to the ground alongside her icy bracer. Zarine has talents -- just like her own.

The ice smashes down, but a moment afterwards, it starts to melt. Breathing out, Chevy pushes herself off the Skywalk...

... Only to be skewered in the shoulder by the quick strike. Denim and flesh alike yield, giving more blood to the thirsty blade.

Chevy grimaces in pain as she rolls back to her feet -- but as she reaches out with her hand to the ice binding, it turns more fully into water and rolls along the ground.

Positioned once more by her staff, she tips the buckets over, letting the water from her hand and the water from Zarine's binding flow back inside. Chevy curls her fingers about the pole, hauling herself back to a kneeling stance as her water does its work. Blue eyes address the reds of Zarine.

"I'm sorry for actin' the way I did, Zarine."

Chevy speaks with quiet sincerity, rising to her feet.

"It was a lot to take in. You... an' your abilities, they scared me."

She smiles, faintly, as she comes to grips with her new situation. The change to Zarine's appearance does not go unnoticed. Her own jacket is torn in a number of places now, dark bloodstains contrasting starkly against the flecks of white; her jeans have accumulated some tar and grit from the street surface. But the freckle-faced Southerner isn't concerned by that now; she keeps her gaze locked onto Zarine.

"So I just needed a moment. I ain't tryin' to make enemies."

She inclines her head towards the sword. And adjusts her grip on the pole in her hands, sloshing the water around in her buckets.

"Maybe we ain't so diff'rent, y'know?"

COMBATSYS: Chevy focuses on her next action.

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Chevy            1/-------/=======|=======\==-----\1           Zarine

Zarine hops back after her swift strike, holding her blade at the ready. She watches Chevy in silence as the young woman gets up, unaware of the thoughts running through her opponent's head, even as she tries to fight back the black wave of bitterness at her circumstances. Forced into slumber hundreds of years ago, defeated by her own arrogance and trechery. Woken up in this new world, stripped of much of her power. Faced with disdain and scorn because of what she is. She would be far more accepting of it if the way she was treated was because of her attitude, but no. She is a vampire and therefore a terrible creature.

Sure, she leans into it for effect, and she is often ruled by her predatory nature. No matter how much she lies to herself, she still has feelings. They can be hurt. They kind of hurt now.

She tilts her head slightly as Chevy (sort of) apologizes. Her expression softens further, and for a moment she could just be an albino young woman.

"Perhaps we are not," she says, going still. "Even so. I intend to win. I will not hold back, but be assured that I am not intending to take your life."

She takes her blade in her right hand and holds out her left. With her fingernails, she tears her own palm open, and ichorous blood flows free, swirling into a sphere. She squeezes the sphere and it shifts, changing shape by lengthening and stretching into a copy of the sword in her other hand. She crosses them in front of herself, and she moves.

For this instant, this moment in time, Zarine shows her true power. The power she used to hold, and it taxes her. She moves in a blur, rushing Chevy down. She lashes out with her blades, then vanishes again, only to reappear at another angle and strike once more. Slashing and thrusting shallowly, but with purpose.

When she stops, she sways on her feet, the blood sword disappating in a fine red mist. The vampire's other sword goes tip first onto the ground and she leans on it.

COMBATSYS: Chevy counters Sisters of Mercy from Zarine with High Tide.

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Chevy            1/-----==/=======|===----\-------\0           Zarine

Chevy smiles, swelling with good cheer. Likewise -- she can't read thoughts, but she can appreciate that Zarine is definitely going through the effort to meet her halfway on that whole 'being nice' stage.

"Oh, I warn't sayin' I's gonna hold back. I sure wouldn't want -you- to." Wouldn't want her to hold back -or- take her life. It's one of those things that becomes clearer in context, really.

Be that as it may, the hayseed's still turns a shade of pale green when Zarine takes another slice out of her own arm. She may have conquered part of her problems with the aged vampire's personal style, but she's not -quite- able to tamp down her visceral reactions to the sight of blood spilled in such a casual, unhurried manner.

With her focus, though, Chevy realizes that there's now two potentially fatal weapons instead of just one. With firm concentration, she sets her jaw, raising her staff as she prepares for the onslaught. She comforts herself with the knowledge that she has -some- experience with swords, thanks to her friend. And when Zarine begins to move -- she can realizes the can sense the flow of chi that makes that sword's existence possible, as well.

The swords blur into motion -- hazy, and difficult to read. But each sword moves along a path architected by Zarine's formidable will -- paths that Chevy has realized she can *sense*. What happens next is... not something she would be able to replicate easily upon command, as she responds to the attacks just as a sight-reading musician might. A falling stroke is met by a twist of her pole, directed harmlessly aside. A gouging stab is met by the inside of a bucket, water freezing on command to prevent penetration, then releasing to the flow of combat. The redhead's face is all but expressionless as it happens, the hydromancer so fixated on maintaining her part in the melodic dance of give-and-take.

The audience takes notice. To them -- there's no chance to follow it as anything other than a flurry of parried strikes and blurred action. All they know is one thing -- it looks wicked as hell. And their cheers demonstrate this.

Each stroke is swept away with fluid motion, as Chevy proves her intent to keep up the attack. Rushed beyond words, she has no time to process what she's doing -- constantly reacting. But as she is backed against a barrier, she finds she's out of room. And that nagging pressure in the back of her head reminds her... it's time to make something of this.

Zarine's thrust may be shallow -- but it strikes at her core. And that is why Chevy sidesteps it entirely, as the pole twists to a vertical: one bucket to the floor; the other at head level.

The perfect amount of force.
Applied at the perfect moment.
To direct Zarine sideways.
To force a stagger.
And create an opening.

Chevy leaves her pole behind, anchored by her control of the water. She lunges forward, stepping in to grasp hold of Zarine's arm -- knowing the sword is trapped from following her motion. And with nothing more than a simple application of force -- Chevy aims to twist her downward into an armbar slam.

Panting for breath, she steps back and away -- snaring her pole before it falls. She has no words -- though, as Ichijo-sensei had told her, there's not always a -need- to speak in combat.

Zarine's blades sing as she moves them. The metal one whistles and chirps as it cuts through the air. The sword of blood thrums like a beating heart. Both of them clash with the pole, throwing sparks and making the metal chime. The vampire's eyes widen slightly as not only is Chevy meeting her speed, she seems to be exceeding it. Almost predicting where the swords are going to be.

"Impressive," Zarine intones. "Most impressi--"

That's about when the flurry ends and she's forced into a stagger, then her newly free hand is locked into an armbar and she's thrown to the ground yet again. She grunts, what little breath is in her is hurled free. Unlike most people, she doesn't bother to replace it, which is probably quite off-putting.

She rolls to her back as Chevy steps away, peering up at her. Red eyes actually glow this time as she draws upon her blaspmemous constitution, feeding it into her fighting power. That free hand lifts, palm up, and fire, black as a moonless night, hot as the hells below wells up. It spirals around, roiling its way into a sphere. With just a gesture, it goes flying for Chevy.

The expression on the vampire's face is one of someone making peace with an outcome.

COMBATSYS: Chevy parries Zarine's Black Sun!

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

Chevy looks skeptical, once she resumes her footing.

"... Was that a Star Wars thing? I think that was a Star Wars thing."

Chevy was forced to suffer through the dialogue of the original trilogy way too many times.

It was a ludicrously improbable series of events that brought the denim-clad Southerner to this stage in the fight, and perhaps wisely, she chooses to avoid pressing her luck. Especially as she sees Zarine's red eyes flare even brighter, casting their own shadows upon the moonlit Skywalk.

The audience notices as well -- with the daring ones silencing their cheers, and the -smart- ones shrinking backwards from the sight.

Chevy did promise to do her best -- and she certainly didn't forget Zarine's oath to do the same. So when that hand lifts up, and and a black hole sun (won't you come?) erupts in her palm... Miss Beaumont makes the safe bet that it won't be a throwaway attack. Air hisses through gritted teeth as she considers her options, with that ball of certain doom hurtling her ways towards her.

She stares back. Reflecting in her bright blue eyes, the seething void of nothingness creeps ever closer, larger and larger, threatening to consume them whole.

Chevy swings her staff ninety degrees to her left, dumping the water onto the Skywalk in the process. And then she starts to run into the water she'd just thrown down -- just slightly left of the ball of death hurtling towards her.

And as she approaches, she shifts her grip on her pole. And -shoves- it, abruptly, towards the black sun.

The nearest bucket turns a bright cherry red. The pole shrinks inward, twisting and distorting from the extreme pressure. But three very curious things happen as well...

One -- the orb's flight starts to sag, weighed down by the bucket. So that its flight would be considerably less likely to affect any of the bystanders which turn to flee from its path.

Two -- Chevy uses the gravitational force to slingshot herself forward even faster.

And three -- their job carried out, the partially-melted pole and its buckets fall free, clattering to the ground.

Chevy, crouching low, thunders towards Zarine on a wave of her own creation. The rookie surfer will aim to leverage her momentum, scoop up the multicentenarian by the arm and bodyslam her into the nearest barrier!

COMBATSYS: Chevy successfully hits Zarine with Mudskipper EX.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >                                ]
Chevy            1/--=====/=======|=======\-------\1           Zarine

As the ball of fire flies, Zarine gets back to her feet, giving herself a little dust off. Her eyes widen as Chevy manipulates the water in order to manage weight and density to redirect the ball of flame. Regardless of the damage to the pole and buckets, the vaporizing water. It is amazing to watch.

So amazing that Chevy can, once more, get the drop on her. Still light, she is easily picked up and driven into the barriers with a grunt, her body seeming almost fragile if it didn't have the texture to the touch of marble.

Clearly on her last legs, she pulls everything she has out of reserve, drawing deeply on her power, and sure she will be paying for it when she is done. Her expression flickers between determined young woman and sliding into monstrous. Her eyes glow and her jaw opens wide, fangs extending as she leans forward to bite Chevy.

The fangs never make it. Instead, her left fist swings in with every ounce of power she can muster, wreathed in a scintilating crimson aura to sucker punch Chevy with everything she has.

That's right. A fakeout of a bite.

COMBATSYS: Zarine can no longer fight.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Chevy            1/--=====/=======|

COMBATSYS: Chevy blocks Zarine's Bury Me Deep.

[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Chevy            2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|

In her previous grapple, Chevy didn't notice how -cold- Zarine was to the touch -- mostly because her hands were still suffering the vibrations from warding off what seemed like dozens of sword strikes. But now, with the her breaking wave splashing up a misty breeze, refreshing in the night air, she can finally notice the chill of Zarine's alabaster flesh, the calm determination.

The redhead starts to say something.
But that is when Zarine's face flickers.
Eyes glow with burning fury.
Terrible, curved teeth make themselves known.
The sky itself flexes and distorts, tinted red with rage.
In doing so, Zarine lays the foundation for future nightmares.

"AAAAH!" shouts Chevy, the mist freezing into a current of flurries as she suddenly jams her elbow upward, pinning it between herself and Zarine's chin -- panicked hope unfortunately bringing a bloodied denim sleeve within -inches- of Zarine's maw. Her other hand swings close, as if to help in the shove. Stricken with fear, the waterbender momentarily -forgets- the weapon which has kept her side the whole fight...

But then, by sheer -chance-, her flail brings her forearm into the path of that sucker punch. It isn't a perfect defense -- indeed, it only serves to graze Zarine's knuckles as they continue, detoured, into her abdomen.

Chevy staggers backward, pain writ large upon her features as she staggers back from Zarine. But when her eyes crack open again -- first one, then the other -- she realizes what's happened: that the raw fury was directed -solely- into that punch.

"... Ahh... so close..!"

She gasps, in disbelief. And as she steps backwards, she's still prepared for reprisal. She still believes that the woman before her will find another way to strike. She finally thinks to swirl the water into motion around her...

Only for the panting Chevy -- and a hesitant audience -- to realize an attack won't be coming. She clasps a hand to her chest -- her heart is pounding a mile a minute.

"Like to scare me right outta my own skin... That was a heck of a fight!"

She smiles -- still showing -some- signs of agitation as the crowd erupts in applause.

"Oh my goodness... -thank you-, Zarine...! I got so much to learn now...!"

COMBATSYS: Chevy lets the tide wash out.

[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Chevy            2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|

COMBATSYS: Chevy has ended the fight here.

The fake out did not fly. Or rather, it worked -too- well. Chevy blocks the spicy punch, and, well, the hydromancer still seems raring to go, if a bit fatigued. Zarine, on the other hand, is exhausted. She taxed herself to her limit and beyond. She can feel it creeping at the edge of her awareness, the hunger. The drive to round on the bystanders and grab as many as she can. To slake her thirst in a shower of screams and gore.

She resists.

She slips free, staggering slightly, and extends her left hand. The long discarded scabbard sails to her from where she tossed it, the sword slipping inside with a scrape before they both dissolve into smoke.

The vampire regards Chevy for a long moment, silent and still as a statue save for the occasional blink. She wills herself to breathe before speaking.

"I, too, have much to learn. Thank you for teaching me."

She gives a furtive glance at the crowd, hearing their heartbeats, smelling their blood. She grimaces in a mixture of hunger and shame. "I...I must go, or these spectators will be in danger from me. I... I hunger. Good evening."

This time, when she turns away, her form melts and shrinks, transforming into a single black bat. It's the size of a large housecat, but it's a single bat at least. Leathery wings flap, and she arcs up into the sky, becoming nothing more than a shadow crossing the moon and then she's gone.

Log created on 19:45:12 09/22/2023 by Zarine, and last modified on 17:54:31 09/24/2023.