NFG Season One Finals - Round Two: Buck vs Laurel

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Description: The King of the RUMBLE holds the high ground in this matchup, but can Marble Lake's Terror of the Deep avoid a watery grave at the hands of his implacable foe?

It's a sobering sight, an arena jam packed full of NFG fans and camera crews ready to catch every angle of the fight to come. Spotlights shine down on the main arena, ready for the next bout to begin.

As the folksy rock guitar of Buck's chosen theme song fills the arena he braces and makes his way to the stage with his head held high, and his usual eager smile plastered to his face.

He's dressed up today, well, as much as he ever dresses up for these matches. In addition to his lucky leather jacket he's got on one of his better pairs of jeans, and the cowboy boots he wears actually have a pair of spurs on the back, more decorative but might be an interesting choice of addition, and it goes with the wide brimmed hat he wears on his head, like he just stepped off his farm.

As he enters the ring, he takes of the jacket and tosses it back over the ropes to the ninja catgirl Kitty Fantastica who is still acting as his Team Thunder chaperone.

He pounds one fist into the palm of his other hand, then gives the crowd a fist pump to work them up a little more before turning to wait for his opponent to make her entrance.

COMBATSYS: Buck has started a fight here.

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Buck             0/-------/------=|

COMBATSYS: Laurel has joined the fight here.

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Laurel           0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0             Buck

It's the largest crowd Laurel has ever performed in front of, and it isn't even close. She was never particularly _encouraged_ to explore fighting as a professional/competitive art, growing up; at most, she managed amateur exhibitions in gyms quarter-filled with half-interested onlookers, many of whom had phones glued to their hands.

It's also the first time Laurel has ever been asked for walkout music, and the question sent her into a something of an existential tailspin.

How does someone choose a song to summarize or embody themselves as a fighter when it's only nominally them in the ring?

How does someone prepare an audience for a performance that's drawn nothing but disgust from her peers and critics thus far?

The answer winds up involving smoke, blacklight beams, and a Bitches Brew flip. Emerging from thick plumes shot through with flickering streaks of color, Laurel is accompanied by prominent, thrumming bass notes and a minimalist drum loop injected with intermittent sax riffs and overlaid with relentlessly rapped lyrics as she walks down the ramp. Her cracked and weathered porcelain mask dangles from a chain around her neck; a spiky black leather jacket, white tank, and black jeans round out what is ultimately a simple fighting attire, accessorized by an ornate dagger sheath on her left hip.

After pulling down and stepping over the top rope - tall as she is, she just couldn't help trying it! - Laurel quickly finds her way to her corner and sinks into it, as if the turnbuckles will provide some measure of shelter from the violence to come. She's happy to let Buck pump up and show out for the crowd as he will; all the while, she focuses on long, deep breathes and staring a lidded-eye hole into the canvas. This continues through the music dropping off to be replaced by the announcer; it continues through the bell ringing even, with the sole exception of a brief tugging war between her and the weapon sheathed at her hip that leaves her wielding a full-on /sword/, and the sheathe dribbling a little water onto the mat.

Then, she swallows, cupping the mask in her free hand and carefully lifting it against her face. Dark fingers splay across its surface, holding it in place for a beat; despite a lack of visible straps, it doesn't budge after she takes her hand away.

And the arena lights never quite find their initial brightness despite being well past her dimly lit entrance, leaving the ring itself illuminated in stark relief against the shadows blanketing the audience-- an island of combat floating in a deep, dark sea.

The next time she breathes out, she becomes a blur thundering across the mat, intent on seizing Buck by the throat and hurling him into the corner she just emerged from with an utter lack of care or precision. Sheer darkness emanates from the eyeholes of her mask.

COMBATSYS: Buck blocks Laurel's Aggressive Throw.

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Laurel           0/-------/-------|===----\-------\0             Buck

Buck as usual is ever the sunny optimist, and even is his current opponent doesn't seem much on the pre-match banter he still shoots her one of his beaming smiles and extends a thumbs up in her direction. "Let's give the people the show they want, yeah?" He says in his slight country drawl.

His eyes flick towards the mask. He's heard some rumors from his teammates, but his smile flickers slightly at the air of menace Laurel seems to exude when that mask is placed on.

And some people call his thing a horror show.

Still a fight is a fight and even as the light dims a little, Buck's eyes seem to glint as he keeps the locked on Laurel, like a cat's eyes gleaming in the night.

And for a moment he seems to move like a cat, too. Even as Laurel gets her hold on him and send him across the arena, he seems to twist in a way that makes him seem almost boneless for a moment, stopping himself, by landing in a three-point stance with one foot back against the turnbuckle, a hand and the other foot on the mat, and his other hand placed atop his hat to keep it on his head.

"Ain't the chatty sort, then?" Buck quips, his smile flashing back at full brightness. "Guess it's all business then."

Using the foot planted on the turnbuckle like a runner's starting block, he shoves off of it and goes into a headlong rush right at Laurel, he keeps his head down and hand on his hat as he pounds across the mat, spurs giving a slight jingle as he runs.

Pulling his hat off his head, he reveals a set of horns starting to sprout from his brow, curling outwards as his countenance becomes distinctly bovine, hid skull thickening as he aims to bash Laurel head-on with his bullish noggin.

COMBATSYS: Laurel endures Buck's Bullheaded.

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Laurel           0/-------/---====|====---\-------\0             Buck

The smile and thumbs up earned a smile in turn, albeit a faintly cautious one. The drawl, a warm but measured, "Good luck."

Now that the mask is in place, however:

"No," is all the response he gets, low and rumbling.

Devoid of anything beyond the determination necessary to speak through her broken mien.

Nor, apparently, is she the evasive type: Buck crashes right into her gut as she widens her stance to greet him, driving her back several steps as the air is forced from her lungs. One hand's immediately occupied with gripping at horns and twisting Buck's head to minimize the risk of impalement; the other fights its way up between the thrashing absence of space between their bodies, once again seeking purchase around his throat. As soon as she feels secure, she tries to pivot into another attempt at launching Buck into the corner, as if heedless of the risks posed by another round of bull-skulled battering. This time, however, she intends to follow launching him away from herself by stalking right after him, right hand extended behind her while the heirloom blade she was forced to abandon undulates along the mat, leaving wet streaks on the canvas in its quicksilver wake--

This time, she intends to meet him in the corner with a sword poised to be driven towards his gut on an upward angle.

COMBATSYS: Laurel successfully hits Buck with Twist & Shatter EX.

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Laurel           0/-------/---====|======-\-------\0             Buck

"That's alright. Always good with lettin' fists do the talkin'. Or swords."

Even as Buck tries to drive those horns home, wrestling against Laurel's grip as he keeps trying to push her back, maybe intending to simply drive her out of the ring.

Instead he finds himself one more sent towards one of the corners of the ring, though this time with less grace. He hits the turnbuckle with his back, eliciting a heavy grunt. Which is more sound than he makes when that sword cuts along his exposed ribs, leaving a crimson streak of blood across his tanned skin.

He doesn't have time to waste on worrying about it, and if one thing having Ichika as a teammate has tought him, it's not to shy away from having blades pointed at him.

He quickly coils his arms around the ropes to either side of him, using them to brace himself against the corner post as he lifts his legs up off the ground, pulling his knees to his chest.

The jeans he wears seem to be straining against leg muscles that are noticeably more stout then they were a moment ago, the seams giving little creaks of protest but nonetheless holding. Luckily.

He then kicks out, his feet in his boots like a twin pair of hammers aimed right for Laurel's midsection.

COMBATSYS: Laurel blocks Buck's Hoofing It ES.

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Laurel           0/-------/-======|=======\-------\0             Buck

Hammering hooves crash against the flat of a blade presented just in time, turning what could have been a body-crumpling blow into one that throws Laurel several feet backwards, into a three point slide that leaves her crouched low.

In lieu of standing, she draws a long, shuddering breath, head bowed and shoulders hunched. The glittering streaks twinkling down the mask's cheeks are hard to make out amidst lights focused primarily on the ring, faint as they are; however, there is a moment where a pair of twinkling clusters falling towards the mat shine their cold, grayish-blue light strongly enough to be clearly perceived.

"You're a monster too," she murmurs, a crystal clear intonation that is easily audible across the whole expanse of the ring.

Sparkling tears splash against canvas and swirl together into an amalgamation of writhing, spindly wraiths with anguished faces and long, wicked claws. The wailing mass races along the mat, hungry to seize Buck and feast on his flesh for the precious few seconds they're allowed before collapsing into wispy nothingness.

COMBATSYS: Buck blocks Laurel's Liquid Friend.

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Laurel           0/-------/-======|=======\-------\1             Buck

"Monster's a bit harsh." Buck says easily as he plants his feet back on the ground, stepping away from the turnbuckle and placing his hat back on his head, fingers sliding across the brim to straighten it. "It ain't totally wrong, but it's a bit harsh. I prefer personification of the wild."

He snerks softly after he says it, perhaps it's meant to be a joke. Though his eyes once more glint as he locks them onto Laurel, pupils narrowing into slits. He's definitely a bit on the chatty side today.

As the fluid phantasms come rushing at him, he charges forward himself, bringing his arms up in front of him. "Well, ain't that sometin'." He mutters as his fingers splay, the tip of each digit splitting apart as wickedly curved cats claws slide free. He brute forces his way through the attack coming at him, slashing at the gastly spectres, giving them some flesh to chew, but only for the briefest moment as he continues right on towards Laurel, undistracted.

As he closes the distance, he continues to savagely rake his claws through the space in front of him, a wild but determinedly focused assault.

COMBATSYS: Laurel interrupts Aggressive Strike from Buck with Broken Wings.

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Laurel           1/-------/=======|=======\===----\1             Buck

"And I prefer avenger."

Laurel doesn't make much of a sound at all after she says it, nor is there any kind of canvas for facial tells. If Buck /was/ joking, it lands just as it would've if he were being entirely earnest.

"Only one of us has been judged otherwise," follows as she lifts her chin, locking her gaze with his as blood-red light blooms to the surface of her inky eyes-- staring directly into the oncoming gale of rending claws that so readily turn her summoned ghosts into astral detritus.

Leaping /into/ the storm, she suffers a smattering of fresh red slashes across her chest, neck, and left arm as she drives the lattermost beyond his claws to seize him by the throat. Upward momentum carries them both several feet into the air before giving way to violent gravity; Laurel drives the wild avatar back to the mat spine-first then rolls side, lying on her back and bleeding for a beat before lurching upright.

Buck really needs to stop getting in fights where he gets thrown about. But, that seems to be his lot. He struggles in Laurels grasp, still trying to rake out with his claws even as he's lifted into the air. There's no fear of the drop, even as it comes. He hits the mat hard enough to drive all the air out of his lungs, a loud groan escaping his lips.

"Aw hell, ain't been chokeslammed like that except by my brothers." He says in a hoarse voice, rolling on to his side to begin picking himself up. Even bruised he's not going to lay about in the middle of the match.

"Far as I know." He mutters poking what is hopefully only a bruised rib. "I ain't done nothin' that needs avengin' for. Well, unless pulling Cindy Harper's braid in fifth grade is really that bad." He still grins, injured and bleeding and he still jokes.

He steps towards his opponent, striking out with an open palm, not trying to injure her as simply make contact.

He follows that strike up with another, and another, just trying to tag her as many times as he's able. Though each strike comes with a burst of chi-infused threads of sticky spider silk bursting from his open hand, intending to goop up the masked avenger in a slowing web.

COMBATSYS: Laurel endures Buck's Spin Doctor.

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Laurel           1/-----==/=======|=======\====---\1             Buck

All the grinning banter gets Buck is stony silence and throbbing red eyes gazing clean through him.

As Laurel climbs to her feet, the first palm strike claps against her bicep. Her head briefly twitches towards the contact point-- and despite the sticky thread stretching between it and Buck's retreating hand, she seems to take the measured impact as an opening. It's not quite hard /enough/ to dissuade her from marching into the fray, advancing directly into the onslaught of blows that follow-- and by the time attrition ought to take its toll, she's too deeply committed to stop. Ultimately, this leaves her cocooned just a couple feet from Buck with countless sticky threads wound so densely around her that little more than bare snatches of black leather or gleaming metal are visible as contrasts.

It's the metal that budges first: webbing stretches and distorts in its midst, then begins snapping as Laurel manages to force enough freedom for that limb to begin cutting through strands. Given a few seconds, she's cut enough webbing from her body to allow for ripping even more of it free with her other hand-- but rather than concentrate on freeing herself and hoping against all reason that Buck is willing to /let/ her, she sweeps the sword in a rising, diagonal arc along his torso while her left hand gathers a bundle of threads and tears them free.

COMBATSYS: Buck blocks Laurel's Fierce Strike.

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Laurel           1/----===/=======|=======\=====--\1             Buck

Buck has learned quite a bit since he began fighting in the NFG. When he joined the tournament, he fell back on his brawling style, interspersing his animalistic attacks when he could muster up the energy. Since then he's learned to weave his abilities boons more fully into his combat. It's this that he displays as he steps into LAurel's swing. Undaunted by the blade coming for him.

He brings up his left arm to block the sword, not worried about the cut as the edge digs into a thick layer of scales that coats the back of his arm, his bicep straingin to keep the sword away from any other part of him. Some blood trickles free, but less than a normal person would shed trying that particular maneuver.

There's no witty jest this time, he's probably decided it's finally time to actually lets his fists do the talking like he claimed. He pulls back his right arm, which is suddenly swelling with muscle as his fist grows noticeably larger, black fur sprouting up from his hand to his elbow. Then he lashes out with a brawling right hook, but with a gorilla sized fist to drive the attack home as he puts most of his weight into the blow.

COMBATSYS: Laurel blocks Buck's Strong Punch.

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Laurel           1/--=====/=======|=======\=====--\1             Buck

The surge of extra muscle means Laurel goes low for a more stable base and braces her free hand against the flat of her weapon when that enormous fist crashes into it. In the immediate aftermath of the strike, her arms fall limp to her side while kinetic feedback rips through her body; she sucks in a long, heavy breath and hunches in place rather than trying to stand back up.

Upon exhaling, Laurel darts forward, snapping her free hand towards one of Buck's ankles in an effort to seize, yank, and flip him to his back with a share of the momentum she pours into retaking her feet.

COMBATSYS: Buck blocks Laurel's Mix-Up Throw.

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Laurel           1/--=====/=======|=======\======-\1             Buck

As always, the changes Buck makes don't stick around long, reverting almost as soon as they're not needed anymore. Though he does shake his fist out, not entirely enjoying having impacted the flat of Laurel's blade as hard as he did.

Luckily, he notices her retaliation and as he falls to the mat he tucks and rolls back awa from the masked woman, landing in a three point stance with his hand once more holding his hat in place atop his head.

He raises his head, his grin wide, too wide, as his face distorts into a reptilian snout. A forked tongue flicks between scaled lips before his grin splits wide as he opens his jaw stretching far further than any human has a right to do, a pair of snake fangs sliding into view.

He doesn't go for a bite, though. Instead he hisses and sends a three quick volleys of venom flying across the arena towards his opponent.

COMBATSYS: Buck successfully hits Laurel with Spit Take.

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Laurel           2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\======-\1             Buck

Venom streams explode one after the other against Laurel's body, each one driving her progressively closer to the floor until she's down to one knee, shoulders heaving with the effort of breathing as wild, lethal nature rips through her supernaturally enhanced form. It turns leather into spindly tatters dangling from her shoulders and leaves luminous green visibly pulsing through her veins. The first time she tries to stand, it drives her right back down, weaving unsteadily and threatening to topple over at any moment.

The sword, however, offers just enough support to keep her from crumpling entirely. It sends gentle shudders through the canvas when she plants its tip against the mat-- and given a couple seconds of taut, silent effort, she manages to force herself into a hunched, standing posture with its help. When she starts to tip backwards, a quick hand against the ropes keeps her from falling-- and when she pushes off from the ropes, the momentum helps to drive her forward, spinning through thundering, increasingly swift steps as her bracing blade becomes a whirling onslaught of arcing strikes.

COMBATSYS: Buck endures Laurel's Monsters Ball.

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Laurel           2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2             Buck

As Buck returns to his feet, he doesn't seem overly inclined to get out of the way of Laurel's sudden slashing assault. Much as she did with his clawing frenzy, he instead just braces himself, bringing up his arms in front of him. It's not a true guard though, and he doesn't slide out the protective scales either, instead letting his arms take slice after slice.

He hunches forward slightly, his grin still plastered to his face despite ribbons of crimson blood flying in front of him. He tenses himself, shifting one foot a bit furth back to brace himself as his back and shoulders begin to swell, the serpentine scales on his face pouring down over his torso in a cascade.

"Sorry if you're watchin' this, Chevs." He mutters as his back and shoulders seem to suddenly explode outwards and near a dozen mosterous heads burst free on the end of sinuous snake like necks, each one some sort of reptilian monstrosity. Then in unison they open their mouths, esposing venom dripping teeth as they let out a echoing roar. Then they start to strike.

Snap. Snap. Snap.

One after another they chomp and bite at the masked swordswoman, coming from each and every angle as they try to sink noxious fangs into flesh. Meanwhile, it seems all that Buck can do is to brace himself and keep the assault focused on his target, his teeth nearly grinding together at the focus he's keeping on the attack.

COMBATSYS: Buck successfully hits Laurel with #Ultimate Hydration ES#.

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Laurel           2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|-------\-------\0             Buck

Rearing back for another strike, Laurel is greeted with an abruptly exploding phalanx of dripping maws slithering from Buck's torso. A sane person - even a fighter - would likely hesitate-- or better yet, retreat and reposition in the face of so many deadly sets of venomous fangs.

When Laurel lowers her weapon, it's in favor of snatching one of those snakes in the hopes of twisting it brutally off-target. It's to reorient the blade to try severing even more heads from the writhing mass before they have a chance to bite--

And in a matter of moments, her destructive efforts at protection are overwhelmed. What seems like an endless array of snapping snakeheads latch on, bite, and smother the towering, masked woman until she's utterly lost within their depths, leaving her facedown on the mat and visible between thrashing scales in fleeting moments.

Facedown, still; unbreathing, with the sword held in the loosest of grips.

Facedown, still, unbreathing--

-- melting -- shrinking, clothes and weapon and all -- into a bubbling, sparkling, bluish-gray pool that refuses to seep into the mat and disappear. It -- she -- spreads impossibly across the canvas, rising to the point of covering Buck's ankles as she begins overflowing past the edges of the ring, only for violent eddies to begin stirring her newly liquid form.

In a matter of seconds, violent eddies become waves crashing against Buck's body until one of those waves suddenly /explodes/ to his eye level and beyond, a rising wall of water charging towards the wild paragon as unseen forces shape its twinkling mass into an enormous, semi-solid effigy sweeping her weapon towards Buck's center in a rising arc.

Whether it connects as intended or not, the liquid effigy of Laurel sinks back into the bubbling pool-- which in turn soaks, finally, into the canvas, leaving her still body lying on the mat.

COMBATSYS: Laurel can no longer fight.

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Buck             0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Buck blocks Laurel's Marsh Lagoon EX.

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Buck             0/-------/------<|

It's definitely a bit of a horror show from the farm boy. The heads don't care about being cut, slashed, or even lopped off. Much like the hydra the attack is inspired by, they simply keep coming. The heads withdraw, hovering over Buck like a fan as he drops to one knee. "Heck, that's hard." He says with a wince.

Then his eyes focus on Laurel's prone form, frowning as she begins to melt into a puddle. Certainly the venom he produced wasn't that toxic. Instead he watches as the pool spreads and frowns.

Perhaps, unfortunately for the masked avenger, she's facing off against a man who's spent the whole of his time in the NFG as teammates with a skilled wielder of the sword in one and a fluid manipulating hydromancer in another. And due to that, he's become overly wary of pools of water or whatever liquid this is laying around a battlefield.

He let's out a momentary, "Aw, heck." And then pulls in on himself as the still writhing mass of hydra heads snaps around him in a protective cocoon.

The strike connects, but it's hard to see how cleanly it may have done so through the twisted coils wrapped around him. Then slowly, the extra heads begin to retreat, sinking back into him as they unwind.

As they once more vanish into his once more human form he still stands, swaying slowly but up.

He waits for a moment, watching Laurel as he waits to see if she pulls herself back up, and when its clear she's not going to he lets out a sigh. "Good fight." He murmurs, probably not even loud enough to be heard over the crowd. He slowly turns and begins walking from the arena, putting a hand over one of the worst cuts with a wince. "This is gonna take a hot minute to stitch up, dang it."

COMBATSYS: Buck has ended the fight here.

Log created on 19:58:11 11/10/2023 by Laurel, and last modified on 04:31:57 11/12/2023.