NFG Season One Finals - Round Three: Chevy vs Iris

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Description: It's time for a Rumble rematch in the NFG quarterfinals, as Chevelle Beaumont and Iris Osterlund get their very first, and last, 1-on-1 fight with each other. Both of them have plenty to prove, and the resulting fight takes the knob all the way to 11 and thensome!

SlamMasters Arena is, well, slammed with fans eager to spectate the night's fights. The arena is abuzz with the white noise of audience members chatting amongst themselves and shouting orders to the roaming food and drink vendors.

At around T-minus-five, block letters spelling out the name IRIS OSTERLUND slam onto the screen like Tetris blocks. The block letters dissolve smoothly into quick cuts from Iris's fights throughout the NFG season, starting with her fights in Sunshine City, trekking through to her breakout performance within the Rumble, and continuing through the Metro City fights. The footage that gets the most coverage, of course, is her latest matchup against Big Buford. The compilation ends, perhaps unsurprisingly for her fanbase, with the squeak of a mallet sending Buford to the mat. As Iris hauls the mallet onto her shoulder, the video freezes into a high-contrast alter-ego of itself, as the shading is reduced to halftoning dots, for a stylish dissolve into the next sequence.

The sequence for Chevy starts off in similar fashion, showing her fights more or less in order as they were for Iris. The video ends with Chevy lifting Braun off his feet with a gigantic wave -- and freezes on her expression of exhausted elation.

That... is when the footage -explodes- offscreen, replaced with extended cuts from the Rumble itself -- the many times that Iris and Chevy faced each other one-on-one! Eagle-eyed crowd members would be able to spot Ichika, John Doe, Ayala, and Buck within the grand melee, but it's clear that the focus is on the times Chevy and Iris use their own abilities against each other. And it's water versus magic and summoned weaponry -- right up until the end, where the best surfer of the night is shown to be, not Chevy, but Iris on a summoned wooden shield...

As the lights go low and one last blitz of advertisement slides hits the jumbotron, the crowd's excitement is -off the chain-. The 'Chevaliers' are out in force, with many of them having staked out (and/or seat-swapped) into one quadrant of the arena. They each have big pieces of white and blue posterboard to hold up -- it's clear they're practicing their 'wave!'

After another minute... a set of lights snaps on above an entry door. The sounds of 'Misirlou' by Dick Dale and the Del Tones can be heard on the loudspeakers as the NFG's 'Girl Next Door' is seen as the doors are pulled open. She's decked out in her denim outfit -- a jacket emblazoned with her name on the back, flared jeans with 'Team Thunder' on the legs, custom designed by Shermie, of course! -- and, having learned from the lights in her previous appearances, she's wearing 80s-style sunglasses as well.

In her left hand is the galvanized steel pipe that serves as her primary weapon. And of course, hanging from it are the pair of buckets that would nominally be full of water.

But, as she moves forward, pushing her pole against the floor as if it were an oar or paddle, it becomes clear that the young woman has a nice pool of water under her feet. To the thundrous cries of her Chevaliers, she slaloms her way down the ramp, using the pole to guide her through turns, kicking up a fine spray of mist at each zig and zag.

Grinning at all the crowd reaction, she surfs herself right towards the ring. The wave she's riding bucks right at the last moment, allowing her to -leap- upwards, twisting sideways in a stylish turn that allows her to roll lengthwise beneath the ropes.

The Chevaliers go -nuts- at that. It seems her practice has paid off a bit. Kind words from Brian Storm seem to have been taken to heart, there.

Water pools around her feet as she takes a knee -- then leaps up to offer a big wave to those in the arena! An NFG staffer brings a microphone out to her, as in the last match...

"Hey, y'all...! We meet again!" A toothy grin on her face, she turns to the audience, waiting a moment for their fevered applause to fade before continuing. "This is gonna be a great fight, I know it! Me an' Iris done had a close finish at the Rumble. But I cain't -wait- to show y'all what I've been workin' on. So keep your eyes peeled for it, folks! Let's get hype!"

Her entrance to the Rumble had been properly dramatic, but Iris was in no hurry to repeat it; after all, flashy or not, it had been a response to something upsetting and depressing... and through it all, to get to this point, it HAS been a journey to being in a better place. But the NFG organizers -- the same ones who cut that actually quite nice sizzle reel that preceded Chevy's entrance -- insisted that she do SOMETHING.

It took a few days, and she was still mulling things over, when she'd had that lunch with Mint where she asked what her strengths are. Something the corporal said really made a gear click into place for this.

Chevelle Beaumont addresses the crowd and receives their (totally earned) adoration; it's honestly a bit of a shame that she didn't start a career in pro wrestling properly, because she has all the qualities for a star. Of course, the crowd's reaction makes it clear she's got the qualities of a star in this arena, too. But as Chevy finishes hyping the crowd, there's a bit of silence, and then the spots snap over to the opposite entry door.

Where there is absolutely no one standing.

There's definitely a moment or two of entirely expected 'wut' from the audience, until out of nowhere, in a burst of rainbow sparks, the mic in Chevy's hands quite literally disappears. Shortly after, and perfectly amplified, Iris's voice rings out from the speakers. "You know what they say about magicians..."

This is when the music starts: peppy disco-electronica, a very different vibe than Chevy's classic American oeuvre... but the lyrics, when they cut in, make everything clear:

o/~ I feel like anything could happen
o/~ The stars look different tonight
o/~ They're glowing all around me

In another burst of rainbow light, Iris appears in the ring, holding the mic with a knowing smile on her face, and over the sounds of Kylie Minogue's "Magic" playing --

o/~ Boy, do you believe in magic?
o/~ Do you, do you, do you?

-- Iris greets the crowd with a wink. "It's all about misdirection."

That gets a response from the crowd, as Iris hands the mic off to the NFG staffer (and Chevy might notice that said staffer seemed to know this was going to happen). How could it not? What an entrance. There's definitely a 'YAAAAAAAAAAAS QUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN' out there somewhere, but really: how could the gays NOT love Iris? Rainbow hair, rainbow magic. Her name literally MEANS 'Rainbow'.

There's one last little flashy bit of pre-planned showmanship: Iris turns to Chevy, then brings her hand down to her side, summoning a spear, but then lets it vanish before bringing her hand up near her opposite shoulder, pulling a mace into existence, then letting THAT go and throwing her hand out to her side, summoning the fancy rapier she's begun using before finally letting that go. It's an extremely fast one-two-three, much faster than she's summoned/dismissed weapons before, CLEARLY the result of practice for that EXACT thing.

"Whatever happens," she says to Chevy with a nod, "bubble tea is on me after, by way of apology for the Rumble."

COMBATSYS: Chevy has started a fight here.

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Chevy            0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Iris has joined the fight here.

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Chevy            0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0             Iris

Down at center stage, Chevy finds herself turning up to track the door. She even peels her sunglasses off, so the audience can see her baby blue eyes squinting -- as if that might help her spot the rainbow-haired fighter who isn't actually there. Like the audience, she's confused. But unlike the audience, she has a microphone in her hand. And she doesn't realize it's still hot.

"Huh. Well, that just happ--"

And then, like divine punishment for dredging from the same basic dialogue well that movie directors have drained in the past fifteen years, the microphone is cruelly spirited away from her hands in a prismacolor explosion. Chevy staggers backwards, staring incredulously at her now-empty hand. Did that -hurt?- Was it -supposed- to? The confusion is obvious on her face as she looks around, looks up to the loudspeakers as the sounds appear, looks -again- to the empty doorway...

And then she suddenly -hops- backwards as the rainbow lights swell into existence, swinging her pole and (empty) buckets before her defensively. The water at her feet splashses at first, but begins to whirl around her in a ring, eager to move on her command.

Though, as the crowd goes -wild- at Iris' arrival, Chevy turns to look at the obviously-complicit NFG staffer. She narrows her eyes at him, feigning disapproval if for nothing more than giving the crowd something to respond to.

The summoned weapons, though, make her glad that she'd brought the pole before her as a preemptive defense. Thankfully, Iris isn't one to attack -this- early into her appearance -- and Chevy quietly breathes a sigh of relief. And... she starts to smile, showing her audience that she might be playacting a -bit-.

And now, with the microphone out of the equation, Iris has some words for her. Chevy's response is a dismissive side-to-side twitch of her head. "Ain't gotta apologize for that. You did great!"

By this point... the actual officials make their moves to kick off the fight. Chevy doesn't ever pay much mind to their words. It's hard for her to even hear Tom and Lou's commentary, with the way the acoustics work out. All the better to focus on just Iris, as she takes the momentary upselling of the officials to idly shuffle water from the mat into her two buckets.

She smiles. And she can hear the important word starting the bout:


She doesn't wait a second longer, closing the distance to Iris with two long strides. She swings her pole and buckets in an overhand slash -- though Iris would likely know that Chevy rarely if ever moves to outright clobber someone with those.

"Best of luck to you!"

It's more so that she can get the buckets close enough, so that her next stride can thrust a bucket underneath Iris' right arm. And then Chevy would seek to lift up and to -her- right -- catching Iris under the arm and, if all goes as planned, plucking her right off her feet and spinning her around in a quick fling to the mat! The attack is a feat of leverage trick that'd normally be difficult to pull off -- but Chevy's mastery over the water in those buckets makes it just a -bit- more plausible...!

COMBATSYS: Chevy successfully hits Iris with Medium Throw.

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Chevy            0/-------/------=|===----\-------\0             Iris

These two have never really had a fight that was just them before, and that is definitively working in Chevy's favor, here. Iris *isn't* a martial artist, not really; she is a rune mage who is slowly learning how to apply magic to the art of combat. The problem here is that attacks like Chevy's, which are not the typical kind of smack-to-the-face fighting novices are used to, have a definite edge.

Thus Iris makes two key mistakes in responding to this opening salvo: the first is in focusing her attempt to evade on the pole itself, and the other is thinking that hitting her with the pole was Chevy's plan. This means she actually twists in such a way that Chevy has an easier time than usual hooking and then upending the wizard, who slams down on the mat on her back with a loud 'whuf!' of exhaled breath.

Getting to her feet, the Brit wipes a hand across her mouth and tries her best to focus... and to smile. Remember to smile, and not necessarily for the audience; smile for yourself. Remember what you told Mint: losing today doesn't mean everything that got you here goes away. All of that matters.

Still, winning wouldn't exactly feel BAD or anything.

"I've been watching more footage of older fighters," Iris says carefully, circling Chevy a bit, even if that's a bit of a non-sequitur. "And I noticed a lot of them shout out the name of an attack right before they do it?"

A hand comes up and starts to trace a rune in the air, the purple-blue hue of the shape she's drawing making it clear to anyone who's watched her fight so far what's coming, and perhaps to Chevy too. Simple JRPG logic: fighting a water-based boss? Use lightning.

As the prickly feeling of pressure changing no doubt surrounds Ms. Beaumont, Iris can be heard saying "I'd feel weird shouting 'Thunderbolt!' before doing this, though. Wouldn't you?"

Then a lightning bolt drops out of the proverbial sky. If she wants to be able to chime in an answer, the Carolinian had better get out of the way!

COMBATSYS: Chevy blocks Iris' Thurisaz - Mjolnir's Echo.

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Chevy            0/-------/-----==|===----\-------\0             Iris

Something that Chevy's agent had told her early on was the importance of expressing a positive outlook. It's a secret weapon of sorts -- for when the power of one's fanbase is on one's side, any arena can become the 'hometown' arena.

Chevy grins back as the Brit climbs to her feet, glad to see the quick recovery. She brings her pole back -- only a few drops escape the pull, leaving small darkened spots on the mat as they impact. The hydromancer does arch an eyebrow as Iris brings up older fighters, but it doesn't appear to dampen her enthusiasm. She whips the pole around, bringing it before her again.

"M-maybe...?" answers Chevy. She can feel the tingly sensation of the growing pressure right in the roots of her her auburn locks. And it's with that in mind that she quickly twists the staff in front of her, slinging the water outwards in an almost-vertical disc around her. The water rains down around her, drops falling like the bars of a cage, drenching the arms of her denim jacket before streaming downward to the mat.

An heartbeat later, the reason for that becomes clear as lightning drops like a hammer, glowing brilliantly as it completes a dozen maze-like paths to the mat. Chevy clamps her jaw shut as the redirected electrical flow lances through her forearms -- but after that wave passes, she flashes the smile her fans expect. Her fingers wiggle as she speaks, working out the numbness.

"I mean, as a name, 'thunderbolt' is okay I guess?"

She stamps her foot, spinning the pole in another quick motion. The springy mat bounces downards, and on the upstroke, her fallen water leaps back into the buckets -- a task made easier by Chevy giving the pole one more half-turn.

"I don't know if I gotta clear attack names with my agent, anyway. So you'll just have to make due with this'un."

She spins the staff once more, moving to lunge in. As before, she -seems- to be attacking with the pole and buckets. But instead of a slash, it's with a stabbing, spear-like motion. And instead of moving to grapple -- she's aiming at Iris' left hand.

The real attack is the -water- which splashes out of the bucket -- a close-range strike, intended to get the water up close. And if it reaches Iris -- the water would deep-freeze into place, locking hold. If successful, Chevy's following motion would spin the Brit around to face -away- from the hydromancer. And then Chevy would leap forward, wrapping the crook of her elbow around the back of Iris' neck, as her leaping momentum seeks to carry Iris forward -- dropping her face-first onto the springy mat! In this scenario, the ice would also stay frozen on Iris' hand, encumbering her motion for a little bit...

COMBATSYS: Iris blocks Chevy's Battleship Chains.

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Chevy            0/-------/----===|=====--\-------\0             Iris

As Chevy weighs in on the supposed name of the attack, Iris grins a little. "Well, words do have power, you know. Nobody knows that better than a rune magus." After all, in Iris's hands, some words have very real power, as Chevy is currently experiencing with the oncoming lightning burst.

The Carolinian's defense, however, is impressively inventive, enough so that her opponent gives a low whistle of appreciation for it. After all, 'disperse the attack through a watery network' is not the sort of thing the typical person would think of on the spot. "I feel like I have to correct some things I said to Mint, now," the Brit adds, cryptically. Maybe she really DID need to watch videos of Chevy's fights more closely.

However, as the pole comes back her way, Iris has a very clear moment of 'fool me once/fool me twice,' and has her own moment of quick thinking: as the water from the buckets snakes out to grasp her hand, there's a sudden flash of rainbow light as the magus attempts a trick she'd done once before, in the right: the offending hand and arm, up to the elbow, are suddenly covered in a metal gauntlet. It's the gauntlet that ends up being frozen in place, rather than Iris's hand itself. She still hisses in pain -- ever stuck your hand onto a piece of metal in sub-zero temperatures before? Now try having your entire forearm wrapped in that -- but it also means as her opponent comes in, Iris only has to pull her hand OUT of the gauntlet and fade backwards to avoid the rest of the technique entirely.

It also makes for a cool still for the highlight reel, of a metal gauntlet held frozen in the air by Chevy's chains of ice, before said gauntlet blinks out of existence.

Extending her hand, Iris summons one of her more common weapons, a narrow winged spear, and faces off with Chevy from a slight distance. "Plus all of my techniques involve the Elder Futhark. They are HELL to pronounce aloud, so that's out of the question."

Taking off toward Chevy at a run, it looks as if Iris is just going to try and charge-stab her right in the stomach... but in fact, at the last second, Iris ducks low into what can only be called a baseball slide. When she gets near enough to Chevy, she suddenly plants the haft of the spear into the arena floor and uses it to flip UPWARDS like a pole-vaulter, attempting to just rising kick Chevy right under the chin. Apparently javelin toss wasn't her only track and field event in school!

COMBATSYS: Chevy counters Power Strike from Iris with High Tide EX.

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

Words have power? "Oh." This... may be something of a shock for Chevy, as things have -not- been great for her on the words front, since her fight with Braun. She pales, not really trusting herself to venture a response to that statement.

She feels a little more optimistic about her chances after redirecting the lightning though. Something about knowing the -name- of the attack just... helped her intuit a good way to handle it, maybe? Another reason to refrain from the ways of the Boomers.

"Mm?" she asks, initially curious to find out what Iris could have possibly been telling her mentor about that would merit a correction. But then, as she's still shaking off the residual shocks at the moment, she... decides to follow her agent's advice.

"I'll take that as a compliment," she confides with a grin.

In the exchange that follows, though, Chevy's eyes go wide as a gauntlet somehow manifests its way in the path of her watery trap. She can feel the lack of resistance to her manipulated ice cube -- and accordingly, she refrains from following through with the rest of the attack. Ice turns back to liquid form as the gauntlet evaporates, splashing onto the mat in a puddle as Chevy withdraws with another half-spin of her pole. The puddle dutifully follows along as she steps back to put some more space between herself and her opponent.

"Yeah, you gotta really practice sayin' stuff like that before you go up on camera..." 'Futhark,' in particular, sounds like a landmine waiting to explode.

This gives her the time she needs to decide on her response. The hydromancer -expects- a spear strike, or something close enough to it -- and she has an appropriate defense, lowering the trailing tip of her pole to the mat. The puddle moves in close, just forward of her left foot.

And when Iris suddenly drops into a baseball slide, Chevy seems... a bit surprised. Taking another step back, she adjusts -- and the puddle moves with her. Wait for it...

Something just feels -off-. And Chevy draws in her breath, focusing intently on the situation.

When Iris suddenly plants that spear into the mat, that's the sign Chevy was waiting for. She plants her -own- pole onto the mat, securing it in place within her puddle of water, which soon starts to harden into frost. It's not -directly- in line with the thrust of Iris' movement, but offset to Iris' left.

And when Iris comes flipping up, she'll feel the galvanized steel pole pressed against her thigh, along with a splash of chilled water. Just a warning of what's to come...

In one fluid motion, Chevy has sidestepped sideways, placing herself immediately to Iris' left. And in that same motion, Chevy is using the pole as leverage to twist Iris out of her intended trajectory. But Chevy would -also- be grabbing hold with her right hand -- a right hand now coated in ice-cold liquid -- and grabbing securely onto Iris' leg.

Iris will not only be knocked aside -- but grabbed and -twisted- to the mat, roughly 45 degrees from her initial heading, by Chevelle's applied force.

It's a quick motion -- and a moment afterward, Chevy's steps continue to carry her sideways in Iris' wake, as she pulls her staff back. The splashed water pools at her feet once again, as she keeps her attention focused upon Iris.

"... Dang, that was tricksy...!" she comments with a look of surprised admiration. "What would you call -that- one?"

Keep a smile on your face is a good idea, for the most part... but truth be told, as Chevy sends her to the mat a second time, Iris is finding it difficult to do that. First of all, because that *hurt*. Secondly, because it feels like nothing she throws at the American is working, while everything is going Chevy's way.

It's a tough place to be in, mentally, and as Iris reflected to others a while ago, it's not something you get good training in, all things considered. How would you run katas on 'don't get discouraged', after all?

But as the Brit gets to her feet, she bites back the response that was forming in her head -- 'a failure, apparently' -- and keeps it to herself. More than being discouraging, it's... well, disrespectful to Chevy, really, Iris thinks to herself, trying to psych herself back up. Shaking out her hands, the wizard forces a grin onto her face. "Committee's still working on it," she throws back, a much more pleasant response. "When they decide, I'll let you know."

Tricksy, Chevy had said. Alright, well... we can do tricksy.

Typically, summoning a weapon doesn't require tracing a rune, as anyone who's seen Iris fight knows. She only seems to 'write out' what she's doing for more complicated attacks or techniques. But that's exactly what she starts doing: writing a 'sentence' of sorts in the air before her, the letters shimmering with the same shifting prism hues the rest of her non-elemental magic has.

The result, however, is that above Chevy's head, we get... more spears. A lot more spears, all pointed downward. Given the space involved, it seems like a pretty inefficient way to attack someone; it's not as if there's space for more than one or two to hit her, even the ones that do will be glancing blows.

But then, perhaps Iris's words during her flashy intro are still in Chevy's head.

With a gesture, the spears fall... but in a burst of light, ONE of those spears suddenly has a newly-teleported Iris piloting it.

One's signature attack can become predictable, after all... if you want to keep it working, you've got to mix up the formula, sometimes. Besides, why drop one spear when you could use eight? Of course, if Chevy wants to do something about Iris, she has to also deal with the OTHER spears -- the ones that would otherwise be negligble...

COMBATSYS: Chevy blocks Iris' Raido - Solstice Journey ES.

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

Miss Beaumont might not be psychic, but she can tell the deliberation that went into Iris' response. Sweat beads on the back of her neck as she laughs nervously. "Ah... got it." She adds belatedly: "Sorry..."

Ayame had kindly suggested that if she didn't want to get better at banter, perhaps she should stop trying so hard. It's probably good advice in situations like this, she resolves.

Drawing in her breath, Chevy looks around the battlefield for a moment. Water beneath her -- and a momentary lack of anything which might signal some sort of lightning. Her attention is then drawn by the runes etched in the air -- and this just makes her a little nervous. Opting for a preemptive defense, Chevy swings the left end of her pole low, and then sweeps it upward in a high diagonal. The water at her feet obeys the call, shadowing the motion as it splashes in an upward arc. Denim dampens in a few more spots from the motion, but then Chevy's expressions fall into shadow as the water suddenly solidifies into an icy shield roughly two inches thick, with irregularly feathered edges. It's nowhere near as pretty as the gleaming metal spears which fall a heartbeat later; one thuds the lower end of the shield; it cracks off, hitting the mat with a loud *THUNK* a moment later.

The real threat, though, is the spear being piloted by Iris herself -- and that's the one that encounters the most icy resistance. It's not a -perfect- strike due to Chevy's stepping sideways. A jagged split rips its way through the shield as the spearpoint splits it in twain -- but the shield's presence was enough to keep the spearpoint from driving -too- far into Chevy's forearm before she could pull herself completely out of harm's way. "Nnnrgh..."

The shield falls away -- but the cragged ice is practically half-liquid by the time it hits the mat with a soggy crunch. Chevy is a bit erratic as she steps sideways, leaning on the end of her pole to recover her balance. "That's a lot of spears..." she notes, upon seeing the ones that -didn't- hit their marks...

But as soon as her heel hits the mat, she sharply reverses direction. She aims for a point just -past- Iris, as if she might be trying to clear some space again -- aiming to hook her staff and one of its buckets around the Brit's ankle -- and bring her feet right out from under her. If -Chevy- was off-balance from that high-angle attack, she's hoping Iris might be, too!

COMBATSYS: Chevy successfully hits Iris with Weapon Trip.

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

Thankfully for all involved, all of those spears are so much prismatic dust, about as quickly as Chevy's icy shield becomes water once more. Unthankfully for Iris, she IS slightly off-balance after the landing from that attack, meaning the Carolinian's simple hook does entirely upend the Brit, sending her flipping backwards; in a surprising display of reflexes, however, just before she hits the ground, there's a twist of the wrist, a gesture, a flash of light and... well.

Hopefully everybody remembers Bacardi the Bear, because although the wizard's BODY lands on the mat with a painful-sounding *WHUMP*, her *head* lands on a very soft teddy bear.

Groaning a little, Iris slowly hauls herself to her feet, holding Bacardi by one arm and looking at his adorable little face. "Thanks again, buddy," she says, patting the bear's head. Hopefully if a convalescing Coco sees this on the stream, she'll get a little chuckle out of it.

"One sec," Iris says to Chevy, walking over to the edge of the ring and handing the bear off to a staffer. Apparently he's been made one of those rare summons that gets teleported around rather than created outright. Turning back to Chevy, Iris gives a little grin. "A fight is a fight, but no civilian casualties, ursine or otherwise."

Still... this isn't looking good. Chevy's defenses have been airtight, and Iris's have been swiss cheese comparatively; the Brit is clearly struggling to stay up, and Team Thunder's water maiden looks fresh as a daisy (or water lily, one supposes). "But we've been here before, right?" Iris mutters to herself, probably not thinking about how the ring is mic'ed. "And we're not going out this way."

Limbering up her hands, the Brit locks eyes with her opponent for a moment or two. When she fought Buford, this attack had taken one very specific and dramatic form, perhaps born from a subconscious desire to guillotine him. But, that method -- much like the rain of spears just now -- was certainly easier, less demaning. It COULD be done another way, though.

A much harder way. A way where, if Iris messes it up, is going to turn out really, really poorly.

Shaking her hands out at her side, Iris lets out a deep breath. "Alright. Here we go."

And then her hands are a blur.

An arm comes out like she's throwing a softball pitch, but what she's actually throwing is... well, a sword. But her other hand swiftly traces a glowing blue-white rune in the air, the sword flying at Chevy suddenly rimed with biting frost. Which would be fine if this Iris had one weapon in mind.

She does not.

Two, three, five, ten times. Her hands and arms moving like blurs, interchanging -- summoning a weapon, throwing, tracing a rune for the next weapon being summoned by her other hand. Knives, swords, spears, maces. Anything and everything she can think of, thrown repeatedly, one after another, some coated in frost, others in galeforce wind, others in crackling lightning. A rapid-fire barrage of everything she can think of, an effort that leaves her panting and exhausted afterwards... but which hopefully closes the gap in the way she needs.

COMBATSYS: Iris successfully hits Chevy with Laguz - Rain of Blades ES.

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

Chevy's eyes go wide as a big fluffy teddy bear enters the ring. She'd seen the bear, in reviewing previous footage of Iris' fights. But seeing it up close and personal... it looks so much more squishy and cuddly than she'd imagined. "Wow, that's--" she starts, feeling a warmth flooding into her cheeks. "That's -really- cute..."

She raises a fist to cough into, as if easing herself back into focus. The puddles of water from her ice shield merge into one, guided with a helpful motion of the Carolinian's pole. The auburn-haired fighter continues to circle about, meeting the determined gaze of her opponent with a half-smile of her own -- and a nod she hopes come across as 'encouraging' and not 'condescending.' It might seem to Iris that she nods along with that quiet affirmation -- but the truth is, Chevy's a bit too far away to hear it.

But then the incantation begins. Chevy starts to jog, then run. The puddle moves at her feet, outpacing her about a step and a half. As the first sword is thrown, she steps on the puddle -- and the puddle -explodes- upwards into a column of water, propelling her higher. Her next step would, similarly, find a column of water ready beneath it, with a third and fourth to follow after -- a decisive, high-stakes game of hopscotch where each step brings her a few inches closer to landing a decisive counterattack against the blade summoner!

It might have looked really cool.
It still does, just not in the way Chevy hoped.
As the first sword impales her thigh.
She jacknifes forward, howling with pain.
The rimefrost coating stanched the bleeding, at least.
And the puddle's pattern is not continued.

Chevy starts to fall. Vulnerable, she's hit dead on with the second knife, that strikes just south of her ribcage. A spear follows up, slamming right into her calf muscle -- its electricity forcing the muscles there to spasm. A fourth, a fifth, a sixth. The mace is seventh, its spiky mass clobbering her so hard it sends her body into a dizzying lengthwise spiral as she hurtles towards the mat. After that point, the other weapons are a sea of blurred madness as Chevy collides with the floor, splashing down right into the puddle that had been keeping pace with her all this time.

Everything hurts now. The wounds aren't big and not as noticeable -- denim has a way of holding together when the blades are sharp and not dragged sideways -- but they're definitely there, as Chevy curls up, clamping her jaw shut to keep from screaming. It... yeah, it -hurts-.

But, she reminds herself: this is just the beginning. Fights are going to be tougher from here on out -- the NFG dream ride can't and won't last forever. There are times to live in the moment -- and when the moment hurts too much, it's time to grasp for the future.

Chevy rises in a spray of water, completely drenched. This is, of course, the moment a sizable contigent of her fanbase has been waiting for: her denim clings to her like a second skin, and her white, over-the-shoulder shirt is soaked through so thoroughly that the black lycra she wears underneath is now visible, as she clutches her pole in front of her. And the fierce look of determination she bears is now, in a word: serious.

Not only that -- it seems to have begun to rain around her. This is not a fire suppression system going awry -- just a localized storm front, thoroughly deluging her in raindrops from above.

The pool of water beneath her is not only growing-- but -churning- into an unsteady, wobbling donut shape, whirling around her like a raging maelstrom.

"... I hope you ain't in a hurry for that boba tea. I think the tide's fixin' to roll in."

Chevy winks back at Iris. The wounds may be bleeding -- but she's letting all that pain wash right off her. The fight's not over yet -- and she's getting ready to raise the stakes.

COMBATSYS: Chevy gets ready to turn the tide!

[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Chevy            2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|===----\-------\0             Iris

One might say that the hallmark of a good fighter -- not necessarily 'good at fighting', but someone who attempts to fight in a spirit of humanity and fairness -- is someone who can both empathize with the pain their attacks can cause, while trusting in the strength of the other person to get up afterwards. Whether or not Iris would consider herself a 'good fighter' -- or even a good *person* -- is up for debate, but she CAN have the wherewithal to not make any sort of pithy comment, as that technique shears through Chevy.

Internally, at least, she's exultant; not because she landed the attack (though that doesn't hurt), but because she could do it at all. The rapidfire summoning is one thing; weaving in the elemental enchantment during the ongoing onslaught is another thing entirely.

Still, at best, she helped to even the odds a little bit. Chevy is far, far from down or out, as the American's power-up sequence clearly demonstrates. This isn't over by a country mile, North Carolinan or otherwise.

The question, of course, is what to do, tactically, in this situation. Letting her sit there and gather her energy seems like an extremely silly idea... but also, while she didn't study them intently, Iris DID watch Chevy's matches, and even if she hadn't, just in this fight alone, she's seen the Carolinian's ability to reverse her enemy's momentum to her advantage. It's quite a little conundrum, really; dive in to disrupt the gathering energy and potentially get decidedly punished for her hubris? Or stay back and prepare herself for the coming storm... which may be pretty literal, all things considered?

Unpredictable, unpredictable...

There's a pause, and then Iris brings up her hands; in a flicker of prismatic light, she is suddenly holding a very plain-looking shortbow, the entire thing summoned with the string drawn back... and an arrow with a blunt, wrapped tip nocked.

"Here's hoping all those times I watched the Lord of the Rings movies pays off," she says, aloud. Trickery or honesty? Only time will tell.

The bowstring twangs heavily in the sudden lull as Iris pretty literally fires an arrow into the swelling tides. Now... is Iris a master of the bow? No, unless archery class at school counts. But, is her aim uncannily good? That, given her other attacks, appears to be 'yes'... and the arrow, while blunted, is aimed SQUARELY between Chevy's eyes. Perhaps a little bonk to the head will forestall whatever this is... or maybe Iris is about to have a very bad, very underwater time in the house tonight.

COMBATSYS: Chevy blocks Iris' Thrown Object.

[            \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Chevy            2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|===----\-------\0             Iris

Everything still aches. It might take a high-powered camera to see the small tears in Chevy's denim, what with the rain and all -- but they're there. Despite wielding ice, she's no more immune to frostbite than the next person. Nor is she immune to shocking, or the chappng from a gale-force wind; oddly enough, dry skin is something water can't often fix by itself.

That all-out onslaught was similar -- perhaps not -identical- per se, but close -- to the series of attacks that felled Buford. And it shows what can happen if Iris is given the space to move and the time to focus on what she's doing. And as Chevelle stands in the midst of a downpour she has only recently learned how to summon, she comes to realize: maybe she shouldn't be giving Iris quite so much leeway.

But first, there's the matter of a bow and arrow to deal with. Chevy squints through the downpour, affirming that -- yes, that -is- what she thought it was. Lord of the Rings? Something -else- her first boyfriend was completely taken with.

"Oh geez, this isn't gonna be a -flaming- arrow, is it......"

Her expression softens. And almost immediately, the downpour intensifies. As the arrow flies towards her, she raises her left forearm in front of her face.

Of the thousands of raindrops falling, three win the jackpot, slamming into the arrow and skewing its flight downward. The blunted point of the arrow sinks into Chevy's sleeve; the velocity pulls her arm out of the way as she pivots around it.

"Oh, whew. I ain't ever made it through one of those..."

It won't keep her up at night though. For the next thing she does is start running towards Iris to close that gap. Her pole and buckets -- full of water from the indoors squall -- are tucked behind her as she dashes. While the rainstorm itself tapers off to nothing, the gallons of water it produced aren't about to be left behind. In a second, the rushing waters overtake her, accelerating each rushing step. With the volume of water at her command, it seems like Chevy might be trying to break a new land speed record.

She drops low, aiming to loop her right arm around Iris' waist and lift her right off her feet. And if she manages to grab hold, she'll seek to keep driving Iris backwards into the ropes, with Chevy herself drift-braking to a mist-spray stop a couple feet before impact!

COMBATSYS: Chevy successfully hits Iris with Mudskipper.

[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////                     ]
Chevy            2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|======-\-------\0             Iris

The secret, which Chevy is going to find out for herself when she gets in close, is that whatever that was, it took a lot out of Iris... perhaps more than she had to give, all things considered. From a distance, it's probably only partially noticeable; after all, you can only take so many deep breaths without people figuring out what you're doing. But up close, Chevy can see and hear the little breaths that are happening BETWEEN the deep breaths.

The Carolinan's success in her technique is due partly to her skill and speed, and partly to Iris having spent a lot of what you might call 'fighting spirit' pushing back. The drive back into the ropes comes with a loud exhalation as Chevy's tidally-powered push knocks the wind from her (those ropes are stretchy but more solid than people think), and while in cartoons being pushed into the ropes always means being catapulted back into the ring -- much like the shot from that bow just now -- in real life, the result is one rainbow-haired Brit tumbling forward and then down onto the mat; she didn't so much bend into the ropes as *bounce off them*.

For a second, Iris is left on the mat on one knee, a hand palm down on the floor, coughing loudly. When you've had the wind knocked out of you, a hanging heavy mist usually isn't the best thing to try and inhale. But eventually she gets her way standing, clutching the elbow of her left arm by crossing her right over her torso, leaning forward slightly. Unlike Chevy's wounds, Iris's aren't visible; after multiple throwing and slamming techniques, her pain -- her *considerable* pain -- is all internal. There are probably some pretty nice bruises forming.


Part of her knows that expending so much energy on that volley of weapons was a mistake. Chevy's spirits are higher than ever; anything Iris does in the state she's in now would be walking directly into the lion's den. In truth, the magus probably sealed her fate all on her own. But she didn't want... to...

From the audience, inexplicably, and so shockingly that Iris turns away from Chevy to look, there is suddenly an unmistakable voice operating at a volume no crowd could possibly drown out. "'ERE, YOU, THAT WERE NANNY'S SEAT AND NO MISTAKE. SHOVE OFF!"

And right there, in the front rows, are the tiny, vampire-looking butler and enormous nanny/maid that Chevy might remember from the hotel lobby back in Southtown.

"I didn't imagine it last time," Iris suddenly says, as if she's forgotten entirely that a tactical nuclear Chevy is currently armed and ticking less than 10 feet away. "Why are they here? Is it just... to watch me fail? To gloat?"

Maybe she came to the right conclusion. Maybe it was the wrong one. Maybe neither really matters, and what Iris needed at this moment was motivation. Maybe it was all very calculated on their part. The truth is, we'll never know.

But when Iris turns back to Chevy, there is a fire in those eyes that wasn't there a moment ago.

Okay. She surfs on the water; keeps her mobile, brings her weapon with her. Works on defense. A holistic approach, that makes sense. "Seems like fun, actually," Iris suddenly says, aloud, corner of her lips turning up in a faint grin. "Let's try it."

A hand comes up and draws a glowing green rune in the air, which Iris reaches out and grabs, clenching it in a closed fist, which she then wraps her other hand around; the result is both of her closed hands shimmering with that same green energy. Her left, she suddenly turns and opens facing BEHIND her; the resulting burst of wind, rather than attacking, propels her FORWARD at Chevy, the Brit floating just above the surface of the ring like a hovercraft in her movement. Difficult to keep up for any length of time, but JUST enough to get close to Chevy and perhaps even push away a bit of the American's watery shield, before Iris swings her right hand around and attempts to detonate the second burst of wind right in Chevy's proverbial face.

COMBATSYS: Chevy fails to interrupt Eihwaz - Storm and Stress from Iris with Marsh Slam EX.
?!? Weird Hit! ?!?

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

Chevy swings her pole in front of her again, twisting it around in her hands as a way of easing the stress out of her arms. The battle is starting to take its toll on the American as well -- adrenaline can only do but so much at keeping exhaustion from taking root. She does stop to catch her breath as Iris rebounds from the ropes, shepherding her water reserves into a ring around herself again.

It's... difficult to ignore the booming voice from the crowd, especially when even Iris turns to look. It's less of a distraction for Chevy, who only needs to turn her head a little to pinpoint the sound from the front row.

"I don't think it's that..." answers the hayseed with a faint smile. She might not know the nanny and the butler enough to know for sure, but the optimist in her believes that they're here to support Iris.

But... it seems that the support paid off. Chevy grins, as she sees that competitive fire ignite into a firestorm. No more words are needed -- the NFG's points leader has seen it many, many times before. And she's happy that the path is once again clear for Iris!

Of course, that doesn't mean she necessarily has a path for dealing with it. She swings the pole in front of her, bracing it with both hands. The water swirling around her stands about two feet high -- but in anticipation of the attack, the whirling waters lift up from the mat, circling around her as a ring about shoulder-height! She lifts her pole to a horizontal, just underneath that spinning torus...

It's just that, well -- Iris seems to be counting on that water being there. The winds kick up in intensity -- and the donut-shaped mass starts to wobble around on its axis, battered about by the onrush of wind. And since that axis is, well, *Chevy*, she's more than a little concerned.

"Aww shoot, it's happenin' again..."

There's no time to blink. No time to react. She was all set to slam her pole into Iris' shoulders -- to cut short that push, using a technique she learned from Ayame, mastered with help from Ichika, and put into effect on Hawksley...

But that's when the *wind* hits her head on. The 'happening' that she could sense was awry but didn't have the expertise to deal with effectively.

The torus of water is what smacks Chevy right in the face -- the crystal-clear surface perturbed by the gale-force wind. And an instant later, her pole cracks against her shoulderblades, shoving her backwards into the ropes.

The ropes sway as they catch her, with a good deal of her personal pond splashing down onto the floor below. Sputtering, she spits out water, coughing; it's just as much of an impediment to her breathing as anyone else, after all. But as she steps to the side, it's clear she's still got -some- fighting capability left.

And some good humor, as it seems the drenched redhead is actually on the verge of laughing as she gets her airway settled. Don't expect any speeches for a while though...

Well. That didn't go... QUITE as planned. Later on there'll be a great motion still of Iris's 'wut' expression when she, who has committed to leaping face-first at Chevy, hears the American say 'aw shoot it's happening again', that's for sure. But at the very least, even if the only result was some slapstick, it appears that Iris was spared from a significant beatdown in the process.

The wizard actually floats back a step or two, literally; the last vestiges of the wind burst carry her backwards, though with considerably less drama than when they powered her forward charge. As she plants her feet once again on the mat, Iris blinks to find the results of Chevy's misadventures with a little localized windstorm, which she herself had been too busy deploying to fully notice. "That, ah, wasn't intentional, at least, I can promise that," the Brit says weakly. Nobody enjoys feeling like they're choking, even for a brief while.

While Chevy is getting back to form, Iris reflects on the OTHER thing her opponent said just now: 'I don't think it's that'. The magus bears Chevy no ill will for it, but she also finds it hard to believe. What she doesn't say aloud is: they abandoned me when I most needed reassurance, which is true, though only Iris knows this fact. Right before the Rumble, the pair of domestics had disappeared. Why show up now, other than to 'I told you so'?

Shaking her head, Iris sets her eyes forward and tries her damndest to focus. Fight that battle tomorrow, when there's time and opportunity for it. Right now there are more immediate problems.

And honestly, even if she WAS going to have that fight now... isn't the best argument turning this around?

With a swiping motion, and a burst of rainbow light, Iris's rapier appears in her outstretched hand. practically glistening in the stage lighting. Her replica of Joyeuse, the sword of Charlemagne, said to change colors numerous times a day. In a flicking movement, the blade comes up vertically in a near salute before tilting forward 45 degrees toward Chevy. "I gotta say 'en garde' first," the Brit jokes, grinning. "It's traditional."

Her left hand comes up, and her index and middle fingers draw a line across the blade, which suddenly crackles with a halo of purple lightning, widening the effective striking surface. Crouching low, drawing on as much of a martial art as she's ever learned, the magus leaps toward Chevy in a compact fleche -- a flying stab appropriately named with the French word for 'arrow'. Unless Chevy stops her somehow, Iris has two more strikes to follow: a diagonal upward cut, building on the low angle of her approach, and then a final disengaging spin which turns into a lateral slice across the midsection... but the blade, through all of this, remains charged by the lightning Iris imbued into it.

COMBATSYS: Chevy parries Iris' Teiwaz - Prism Blade!

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Chevy            2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=====--\-------\0             Iris

Chevy may make it look easy -- but there's a lot to waterbending. Most of the times, if she asks the water to move a certain way, it obeys. And against most opponents, that's enough.

But, starting with the Rumble, Chevy began to encounter opponents that water -didn't- move solely according to her own whims. The most notable incident in which her water betrayed her was... caused by Iris, in the Rumble, in which Chevy found herself frozen to the floor in the wake of her own rushing wave. From that point on, she dedicated herself more wholly to exercising her skills. In the process, she learned more about freezing and rain, finally putting into practice the lessons she'd learned from Senseis Peng You, Ariastra, and of course, Hazuki.

Chevy's practice efforts -may- have inadvertently led to some misshapen ice cream bars in a few different convenience stores. Maybe. Or it could have been unattended children leaving the freezer door open too long, it's hard to say.

What -is- important is that, in the here and now, Chevy is still recovering from inadvertently breathing some of her weapon of choice. Most of her supply of that weapon is pooled just outside the arena -- a place she'll have to leave it for now, as she's got two partly-full buckets, her back to the ropes, and a magus staring her down.

"Oh, yeah. Tradition!"

The freckled fighter smiles back at her.
The leading bucket rises in a complementary stance.
"En garde!"

Chevy might not have any lightning to etch onto her weapon of choice. But she does have a disarming smile. And as the Brit leaps in, the American shows that she can move to match her, partly crouching as she swings the pole around to a near vertical, and in the process, contacting the point of the stabbing rapier with a loud, resonant ringing sound.

The fire that had lit in Iris' eyes from before is reflected in Chevy's determined expression, as the hayseed shifts the staff upward to match, releasing her left hand. The staff moves quickly -- but then it stops, momentum carrying the lower bucket upwards with enough speed to outpace the diagonal cut that follows -- the rapier clangs against the filled bucket with a quite -different- tone.

But the lightning is not to be discounted; tongues of lightning splay out across the pole, energizing the droplets of water clinging to its surface. Chevy grits her teeth as she returns her left hand grip to the staff, holding on tight with both hands again. When the lateral swing comes in, quick footwork has Chevy's pole once more taking the brunt of the attack -- another loud ring sounding out as sparks fly across the arena, sizzling as they hit the mat.

At this point, both of Chevy's buckets are raised high upon the pole. Right next to each other, in fact, as the pole resembles something of a hammer.

But this is where the American gets a little more daring...
There's a glint in her eyes...
The glow of lightning dancing along the pole...
She reaches out for Iris' wrist.
And she grabs hold as tightly as she can.

In the next blink of an eye, the hog-wrestling hayseed lashes her pole sharply to her left, swinging it in a 180-degree arc with herself as the fulcrum. Chevy aims to use the massive leverage of her unbalanced pole-and-bucket system to not only pivot herself away from the ropes, but to abruptly fling Iris -into- them with her spin! It'd hurt the wrist a little -- but the sudden surprise of being thrown shoulder-first into the ropes without warning might hurt a -bit- more...!

COMBATSYS: Iris just-defends Chevy's Riptide EX!

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Chevy            1/---<<<</<<<<<<<|=====--\-------\0             Iris

This is gonna look pretty rad on the highlight reel, at the very least. Quarterstaff (or locally-sourced quarterstaff analogs) vs. rapier is not one of the more traditional duelling setups, but Chevy's weapon work shows some very real skill, here; deflecting the point of a rapier with a relatively narrow point of contact like a metal pole is pretty dang difficult (frankly, there are some pro fencers watching this who probably whistled in appreciation at that). Never mind all of the followup, which is impressively deft.

Iris lets her hand open and the rapier vanish, as this fevered dance comes to a close... or does it? The issue with traditional single-blade fencing is that your other hand is usually left open and extended, for balance purposes. This means Iris's left hand is right there for Chevy, with her effective parrying of Iris's attack, to grab onto.

For a second, in the Brit's perception, time seems to slow down JUST a little bit. Okay... fair play to Chevy. Problem: she has a grip already, Iris has a basic understanding of centripetal force, and Chevy's entire fighting style makes decided use of fulcrum grappling techniques.

FUN FACT: the reason Iris can do teleportation magic quickly, despite the math involved, is because the spell itself is 'pre-written,' rune-wise, into her jewelry. Option 1: reverse the grip and throw Chevy... possible, but unlikely. Option 2: Yank your hand away and run like hell? No, even less likely to work.

Then there's option 3: Simply don't be there anymore.

Which: fine. The math required means that Iris limits how often she teleports in the ring so that Bad Accidents don't happen, but sometimes you just have to go with your instincs. THE PROBLEM IS: CHEVY IS STILL TOUCHING HER.

There's a burst of rainbow light, and then a metallic sound as the non-bucket end of Chevy's pole hits the ground, because there's nobody holding on to it. At the same time, around 6 feet farther into the ring from there, both young women reappear in the blink of an eye.

There is, amazingly, a moment or two of silence from the crowd as they work out what just happened. Iris, for her part, looks... well. If you can look *embarassed* about not getting thrown into the ropes by someone, she's managed to do it, though she's also careful to yank her hand out of Chevy's grip in the process. "That was, uh... hmmm." A pause, then Iris clears her throat. "Sorry about that," the Brit adds meekly. What else do you say about this?

Presumably Chevy will want to walk over and re-arm herself, which Iris absolutely allows her to do without any interference whatsoever.

Imagine, if you will, having the ability to feel... almost -every- drop of water in the immediate vicinity. To not just be able to see it, but to hear it, feel it, and ... well, thankfully not -taste- it, because some people are just frankly disgusting with what they mix in their drinks.

And then imagine having that entire mental map just pulled, abruptly, six feet away in the blink of an eye. Did it -happen?- The eyes say 'yes.' The ears say 'maybe? It's fuzzy.' And the fingers just nod their fingertips enthusiastically.

That's both the weakest and the strongest analog to how Chevy feels right now, with the added bonus of knowing her pole was just wrenched -right- out of her grip, just like her momma wrenched the shovel out of her hand that one time she'd caught lil' Chevy rooting around in her prize flowerbed. Thankfully, as she stares into the crowd, mouth gaping wide open, her right hand feeling oddly -dry- in the wake of the teleporation, it only takes her a moment to come to a very important realization.

The buckets she'd been holding in her left hand...
Currently have no one to hold them...
And are now careening towards her right heel.
She gives the mat a sharp kick.
The canvas bounces like a drum.
Sending the nearest bucket upward in the process.

Combined with a conductor-like gesture from her extended fingers, the buckets and their pole -- sail right back up into her grasp.

The wave of nausea that roils through her system, gratefully waited till then to strike. As she pivots sideways, squaring up with Iris once again, the redhead is starting to look a little green.

"I don't know -what- that was, but I think my lunch wants to tell you 'hi'..."

Iris has the good grace to look a LITTLE bit sheepish, at Chevy's remark about her upset tummy. "Yeah... sorry. You get used to it after a while and start to forget what it does to most people." Does that mean Iris used to feel like that ALL THE TIME? The answer, coincidentally, is yes, while she was learning how to even do that.

Look, there's a reason wizards take Con as their second-highest stat nowadays.

Still, there's a fight going on, which Chevy's quite flashy re-arming of herself demonstrates nicely. Extending a hand, there's a burst of rainbow light and Iris closes her hand around the black and gold bat that made an appearance in her fight with Ichika. Some internal voice is saying, right now: if you're gonna attack someone after *that*, maybe don't use anything sharp.

"Alright. You good?" The question is perfunctory, though, because Iris waits only briefly for an answer, before... well, unwisely charging in and, planting one foot when she gets close, looking to swing the bat right into Chevy's midsection... which probably isn't going to make her upset stomach any better, but there's a tournament placement on the line, here!

COMBATSYS: Chevy blocks Iris' Quick Strike.

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Chevy            1/--<<<<</<<<<<<<|======-\-------\0             Iris

Chevy staggers backwards, her cheeks puffing out as she keeps her gaze fixed upon Iris. She slowly lets out her breath as she remembers: the nature of water is to be -calm-, right?

It gets better once she's better acclimated to where her water's moved to. ... Technically, -rationally-, she knows it's a matter of where -she's- moved to, but you try telling that to a central nervous system that was constructed without any knowledge of what teleportation is.

"... Well, if it's the same to you..." she starts. But, halfway into that statement, she just shakes her head slowly, forging a smile. She hopes that's sufficient to convey the sentiment.

The perfunctory question gets a similarly perfunctory answer, as Chevy readies her grip on her galvanized metal pole. "Yeah, game on!"

Chevy isn't really -great- at parrying rapiers. She's just... really lucky, at times. And other times, less lucky, like that one time she managed to get hit by eight weapons in rapid succession.

Baseball bats, though, she knows what those are. And she did have to dodge a few during the days she was playing catcher back in school. So she... knows they hurt.

Which is why she's quick to spin the staff to a diagonal again, balancing the buckets back to their usual place -- and slams the pipe against the baseball bat. It's a not insignificant pain that's caused by the rattling of the hollow metal pipe, reverberating all the way down her arms and through her shoulders, chattering her teeth all the while -- but it beats getting beat.

Thing is -- with Chevy's Bizarre Adventure through four-dimensional space -- it was, at the moment, tough enough for her to just stand in place. And she'd forgotten that, if she weren't able to hold the water in those buckets, it would just go flying out of them at such an impact.

Luckily -- inspiration has a funny way of striking. And that's when Chevy suddenly, impulsively, drops the reverberating pole, and jams her hands right into the poor, neglected water that's starting to pour out of the buckets. It sticks to her outstretched fingers, just like catcher's mitts.

"Okay, this is bringin' back some awkward memories..." she says. The neglected pole and buckets clatter to the mat -- and Chevy suddenly rushes in to clamp her mitts around Iris's shoulder and her opposite hip. If she manages to grab hold, she'll use her chi-enhanced grip to hoist Iris up and off her feet -- and slam her down bodily onto the mat!

COMBATSYS: Iris fails to interrupt Spout Toss from Chevy with Uruz - Gandrekr.

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Chevy            1/------=/=======|=======\-------\1             Iris

COMBATSYS: Iris keeps on fighting!

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Chevy            1/------=/=======|=======\-------\1             Iris

It's a really good thing Iris is too young to have really watched "The Princess Bride," because if she HAD at any point, she would almost certainly be using 'but *I* am not left handed!' far too often and someone would just have to kill her, eventually. And that would be a loss for all of us (especially Iris, though).

As it is, however, she doesn't have any pithy Cary Elwes OR Mandy Patinkin impressions to do, but she DOES have what she thinks is a surprise in store for Chevy, as her other arm comes up WHILE the baseball bat is being deflected, having summoned a thin but sturdy length of chain in her other hand, which she whips out at snakebite speed, wrapping it about the pole. Now, a chance to give Chevy a taste of her own throwing medicin--

Oh, she dropped the pole entirely. Hmm.

This certainly accounts for why, rather than 'oh no' or 'nice one' or 'what?' when Chevy's ice mitts come for her, Iris just lets out "...WWWWWWWWWWWWELP" complete with holding the 'W' for a quite a while, shortly before Chevy sends the Brit right onto the mat, where she rolls undignified-ly off to the side, stopping face down.

For a second, it really seems like the refs are about to award the match to Chevy, given how still Iris looks... but with the universe's sense of drama, the wizard starts to slowly haul herself to her feet. It takes a while, and she really looks like all Chevy would need to do to knock her out is make a particularly pointed comment, let alone throw a punch... but she's standing.

"Doing great, Chevelle. You've earned it, for sure... but you're going to have to give more than 100% to take it all the way home, I'm sorry to say." Her nose is bleeding a bit, her hair is a disaster, and she's clearly on her last legs... but there's still a bit of a gleam in those blue eyes. This isn't over at all.

The crowd is going wild. ... Check that, the crowd's actually -been- wild for most of the night, but it's easy to forget that the audience exists under the weight of the overhead megawatt lights. Their chants have subsumed into a dull roar of white noise -- a roar that starts to rise in volume as it looks like Iris might be down for the count.

Paradoxically, the noise gets -even louder- in response to Iris' remarkable return to her feet. Chevy's fans may have been loud -- but it would seem the fashionable Brit has a pretty sizable contingent present!

And yet, somehow the drenched redhead is still able to hear her opponent.

"Wow, yeah, you're like a cat with nine lives over here!"

She flashes her rainbow-haired opponent a broad smile. Chevelle's glad.

And yet... the air pressure is a bit at odds to that: heavier.

"I'm really glad we got to fight, Iris. You done showed me a lot about my water bendin' that I didn't even realize."

The pressure builds higher. And while it isn't -exactly- clear when it starts, the rain definitely begins to pour onto Iris by the time Chevy starts running towards her.

Dropping her pole to one side, Chevy drops in low, parting the water into twin waves as she slides on her knee across the mat. If there weren't water there, and it weren't under her control, this would -surely- hurt. But as the fighters are both burning hot -- it might just feel a little refreshing to her...

"So let's put a bow on this!"

She'd aim to lock one arm around Iris' waist; the opposite hand would reach up to secure Iris by the upper arm, with her shoulders pressing up into Iris' ribcage.

The water would then -explode- upwards into a powerful geyser, sending the pair sailing upwards. And then, in midair, the American would seek to reorient the pair so that the Brit's back faces the mat.

And then gravity takes over, with Chevy hoping to sandwich Iris onto the mat with a loud splash!

COMBATSYS: Iris parries Chevy's Sound Side!

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

"You know," Iris says, heaving a few deep breaths, "me too. I'm still working it all out emotionally, you know... the fighting thing. Especially fighting someone you think is pretty neat."

Somewhere, Buford sneezes, probably.

"Plus it's fun to imagine the look on Ichika's face, watching this." After all, whoever walks out of the ring here might just be facing down the young prodigy in the ring, depending on how her match goes, and... well. Chevy is her cherished teammate and friend, and Iris and Ichika have plenty of history themselves that would merit a rematch.

But the fight needs to be resolved, first, of course.

The Brit watches the oncoming waves warily, and can't help but feel a bit of renewed respect for Chevy's fighting style. She doesn't need to summon weapons; her weapon is literally everywhere, if you think about it. The wave doesn't seem intended to wash her away, at least, but Chevy herself -- when she drives in for the proverbial kill -- is moving at a VERY fast pace. Her hands are on Iris before the magus knows it, and then there's a geyser sending them skyward?! "Wh--"

And then they're rising... and rising... and as happens in her best, most shining moments, Iris's ingenuity kicks into complete overdrive. Chevy's technique is strong, her control over her water equally impressive, but the complexity of this technique ends up giving Iris the opening she needs. Teleporting in the heat of combat requires math, which is why she doesn't do it that much, but critically, the less distance you're traveling, the less math you need... and going a couple of feet is practically no math at all.

Iris waits for the split second when Chevy has to let go, so there's no repeat of last time, but a split second is all she needs to blink out of existence and pop back INTO reality... on the OTHER SIDE of Chevy, an inversion of Chevy's planned inversion. But the Brit's not done. With the sort of inarticulate "YaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAH--!" that can only come from combat adrenaline, she thrusts a hand down and traces one of the simplest, most effective shapes in the runic alphabet:

The rune 'Isa', a simple vertical | in the air. Or more aptly put: Isa, the rune of frost and ice.

Below Chevy, the very water she used to carry them into the air, before gravity can reclaim it, freezes INSTANTLY solid in a replay of their Rumble matchup... as as Iris heads more safely to the ground, Chevy has to deal with the world around her potentially freezing her in place at the top of a column of solid ice, if she can't find some safe way around it!

COMBATSYS: Chevy blocks Iris' Isa - Fimbulwinter EX.

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

Chevy had been having flashbacks to her fight with Iris for... pretty much the whole match. It's always been in the back of her mind, embedded like a splinter, always there. She'd done a -lot- of self-improvement since then. She'd done -so- much work. And she'd practiced -really- hard.

Not a single -one- of her practiced techniques works on an opponent who can just decide to call in absent whenever she feels like it.

The teleportation isn't as jarring this time. Probably because it wasn't she who was translocated out of position, but rather, the nice Cantabrigian she'd planned to land upon. Her skin is chilled with refreshing water -- the body heat of Iris pressed firmly against her denim-clad back. She would drive her shoulderblades in -- and that would be the end of the fight, right?

And then Iris just isn't there at all. And the cold chill strikes.

Chevy grits her teeth. She knew this -might- happen. It's 'happening again,' as she stated earlier -- a dispute over which of the two ladies gets to pull rank on the water.

She's thought long and hard about this -- thinking back to her discussions with Peng You at the very beginning.

Pinnacles of frost begin to form at her flesh. Ice begins to press firmly against her back. But Chevy closes her eyes. Her mouth pleading.

Control of the elements was likened to a conversation, with terms like direction, persuasion, and command coming about. The -tone- of conversation determines how far the element can shift from its natural state.

Ice is a command.
Water is a -request-.
It's all about convincing the water to behave like itself.

Columns of ice form, pressing sharply into Chevy's back, halting her fall -- her limbs flail like a ragdoll, lingering in midair for one uncomfortably long breath.


Then fissures form -- stress fractures at first. But then the sharp edges of those fissures round off, dripping away. The negotiation continues -- and those ice columns shear off, their perfect crystalline structure giving way to the entropy of water's true nature.

Chevy's back hits the mat with a mix of crunching ice and soggy splashes. It's... not unlike falling into the mess left by an upended box of Legos. Her hair, her skin, her jacket -- they may still be bedazzled with frosty peaks. But as she grunts with pain, rolling onto her side, the worst aftereffect of all would definitely have to be the enfeebling chill creeping through her bones.

"You got me that -one time-, Iris..." she declares, planting a nearly-frozen hand down on the mat for support. She blows out her breath -- crystals form, almost instantly. She leaves behind the mess of half-melted ice -- that 'conversation' can wait.

"But it's time for a good ol' fashioned shoot-out now."

Springing to her feet, she grabs her staff, amidst the puddles of now-empty buckets. Normally that might be a problem. But not for the plan she has as she pushes back to her feet.

She grips the pole, hands separating it into thirds. And then she begins to twist it around, as if she's pedalling a bicycle. Water flows up, circling around the center of the pole -- and is -fired- out at Iris at seemingly unthinkable speeds. Each 'shot' would sting like hell -- as Chevy uses her skills to pack them tight with a solid ice core in mid-flight. She isn't interested in closing gaps, at the moment -- just finishing the deal, now that Iris has brought the shivering hayseed ever closer to the razors' edge of consciousness!

COMBATSYS: Chevy successfully hits Iris with Rinse Cycle.
- CRAZY Hit! -

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

The thing about a last stand is absolutely that word 'last' -- giving it your all with your back to the wall, as a wrestling promoter might say. As Iris stares down Chevy after that last exchange, feeling the fatigue and ache in basically every part of her body, that truism rings in her head. But she's satisfied, really. There was a very possible version of this fight where Chevy walked all over her and took the win uncontested; Chevy's got the skills and experience to do that.

But as Ichika said to her, walking this 'Warrior's Road' means not stopping until you know you've done everything possible.

As the salvo of little watery comets (ice core!) start flying her way, however, it should be clear to anyone that Chevy's attempt to put this fight to an end is likely going to succeed; her movements, her facial expression, even her breathing all speak to someone hanging on by a thread. It's honestly a minor miracle she's made it as far as she has, effectively on willpower alone. It's really the fact that this is a series of projectiles, rather than one big one, that seals the deal; Iris *almost* squeaks by one of them, but the second hits her, and from there it's just a matter of being rebounded into the next hit by the one before it.

The unexpected shot comes right at the end, however, where an unlucky positioning from her attempt to dodge means that by the final shot, the resulting impacts -- which look like nothing so much as a silhouette of someone being shot in an anime -- have turned her so that the final one hits her *square in the forehead*, quite literally "right between the eyes."

The unexpectedness and positioning of that blow turn an attack that should have put her on one knee to one that literally lands her on her back, staring glassy-eyed at the ceiling. There's no obvious damage, thankfully, but there's enough time on the mat that, again, the refs consider calling it... but they're also mindful of what happened LAST time, and hesitate.

It's enough time for the Brit to replay so much in her head: her journey here, her discussions about fighting and what it means to fight. What it is she wants to get out of this, especially now versus when she started.

'You can just stop,' says an internal voice. 'You made a strong showing. That's enough.' Which is true. There's no shame in staying down.


'But you can still stand up, can't you?' asks another voice in her head. 'You've got it in you. One last hurrah, not out of spite, but out of respect.'

A hand twitches. Eyes close, then open. And then Iris hauls herself unsteadily to her feet, wiping a trickle of blood from under her nose.

She knows this is probably futile. In truth, her vision of Chevy is a little blurry, which isn't going to help her aim any. But the wizard is going to literally empty the proverbial tank. Isn't this exactly the time and place to do that? To spend it all?

A hand unsteadily extends and opens, and in a shimmer of light, there appears an honest to god, Castlevania-esque chain whip, though blessedly with no spiked morning star at the end. "Get ready," Iris rasps, which is Chevy's only warning.

The chain lashes out, looking to catch ANYTHING it can: an arm, a leg, even her pole if need be. If Iris gets her grip, she uses whatever strength is left to her to YANK backwards, hauling Chevy toward her just as her other hand comes up, wielding the same slender spear from before, Iris rushing forward to meet the oncoming victim and delivering a blast of emerald wind on spearpoint contact to separate both fighters.

After that, however, there is no coming back for Iris; the weapons blink out of existence, and the Brit drops to one knee heavily, hand palm-down on the ring floor, gasping for breath and, if the refs look her way, nodding at their likely unspoken question. She is done.

COMBATSYS: Iris can no longer fight.

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

COMBATSYS: Chevy dodges Iris' Inguz - Binding of the Wolf.

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

There are many things that could have happened as a result of machine-gunning water-bullets at Iris. Clocking her in the forehead, and triggering a slow-motion realization sequence in at least two of the parties present, was not one of them.

Chevy's jaw drops, as she suddenly lifts up from her ad-hoc gunner's nest. The aghast look on her face is enough to suggest: Okay, maybe that's enough for now. She raises the pipe, resting its edge on the mat, as the twinned buckets hang loosely from their divots. Water slowly forms a more orderly ring around herself -- while a much -larger- pool of water grows larget as the last remnants of the ice columns finally melt away.

And yet.
This battle is not yet over.
Not so long as the will to stand remains!

Chevy's eyes widen yet again. A smile forms on her face, as she knows her friend is still - in some capacity - okay!

Chevy grips her staff with both hands again, nodding in reply: she's ready.

... To be fair, she was ready for a -bladed- weapon. It isn't till she registers the jangling links of chain that she had started to worry. And when that chain lashes out, Chevy just falls her to instinct.

She leaps to her left.
And she flings her pole upward at the chain.


One bucket slings loose from her pole, spooling the chain up in the process. And as it happens -- the tail of the chain whip coils around the loose handle of the bucket, tugging it along for the ride.

It won't give as much resistance as the Carolinian might have; the bucket is tugged through the air, sailing right back to Iris.

Which is -- the part that Chevy didn't really -plan- on.

Minus one bucket, Chevy teeters to one side, keeping both hands on her staff, and ... looks expectantly at Iris. Chevy bares her teeth for a hopeful grin...

The nod is given. And the officials are quick to make their announcement.

"Your winner is.... Chevyyyyyy... Beaumonnt!"

The crowd goes -wild-. Blue and white signs fluctuating all around. Foam-rubber swords and spears are thrust high into the air. The stadium's population is -deafening- for the next few minutes. And for good reason -- a fight like that was enough to make fans of both competitors happy!

Just... not the janitors who will have to mop up after Chevy in a little bit.

Miss Beaumont is quick to rush to Iris' side. Almost as quick as the first aid team rushing in to check on her.

"That fight was -great-, Iris... You really made me work for it!"

COMBATSYS: Chevy lets the tide wash out.

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

COMBATSYS: Chevy has ended the fight here.

Log created on 11:11:30 11/19/2023 by Iris, and last modified on 16:25:02 11/21/2023.