Kagero - Motel California

Description: [Personnel] You meet the strangest people when you're on the road. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

Malin sighs, shaking her head lightly. It'd only been a few days at this particular motel, and she was already sick of the place. She was used to down market accommodation, of course she was, she could hardly complain when she was at least off the streets, but, there was down market, and there was -down market-. This place had definitely veered way off 'sleazy' and deep into 'slimy' territory. It was after yet another argument over the roaches and other various interesting insects adorning her room, that she'd decided enough was enough, and slung her pack on her back and handed in her keys.

Of course, there was still one more bit of business to take care of before she left for good. It was high noon. The traditional time for calling someone out, and that had, of course, played to her sense of the dramatic as she strides from the motel, and unslings her pack.

"Alright! I know you are out there. Come on. Show yourself, might as well get this over with, right?" She declares this quite loudly, getting an odd look from a family just moving in to the motel.

For a long moment, the scene is still. A frozen tableau. There's nothing but the sounds of traffic from the highway in the distance, nobody in sight but the puzzled family unit, the parents keeping their children from the strange girl - apparently yelling at empty air.



A clear sound, a merry soprano trill. It comes from above. Overhead, upon the crumbling brick facade of the old motel, a slim figure detatches herself from the shadows around the building's signboard. She steps out from behind the looping script of kanji, swinging over the battered flourescent-tube Engrish mispelling of the motel's name on her way down.

The 'Longe Branchu', indeed.

She lands on the asphalt of the parking lot, falling soundlessly upon the ground. Then she rises, the long trailing edges of a bright yellow raincoat sweeping around her.

The girl, a teenager around Malin's age - or possibly even younger - brings her slender hands together in applause. Her features light up, beaming bright as the sun.

"Ooh," Riko says, "you're -good-."

Malin grins when she hears the laughter. Not the reaction one might be expecting from the girl, but, hey. That wasn't the laugh that belonged to the regular goons of the people she beat up. That was a laugh that belonged to either... the elite of those same goons (nah, not crazy enough), or... some random person she hadn't met yet, but who wanted to meet her! And hey, being able to track Malin down was a good enough measure of competence for Malin to take whoever it was seriously!

When Riko lands, the girls grin only gets wider, and she straightens up, "Well, 'they' wouldn't hire me if I wasn't -good-, would 'they'?" She asks, idly brushing a lock of her hair back behind her ear. "So... question is, who are you? And what have I done to get someone on my trail? I mean, I'm guessing you know my name, right? It's only fair you share yours."

The other girl gives a shake of the head, flipping her hair. She brings a hand to her face, covering her eyes with her fingers. Her other hand drops to her hip, resting upon her side as she shifts her footing.

Polyurethane scrapes against the rough surface of the motel parking lot - it is apparent, now that Riko's no longer moving and standing at full height...that she's wearing in-line skates, her feet clad in pastel-coloured plastic armour, solid wheels bolted beneath.

She regards Malin, pouting ever-so-slightly, glossy pink lips sticking out.

"Pleased to meet you," she says, sweetly, "won't you guess my name?"

With a flourish, she mimes riffing on an air guitar.

"But what's troubling you," Riko adds, with a grin, "is the nature of my game."

Malin laughs, shaking her head slowly, she looks pretty incredulous- surely the girl couldn't be serious? But.... she certainly seemed to be, and far be it from Malin -not- to play up to some sort of wacky show. Even in as bizarre a situation as this was turning out to be. Others might feel a bit intimidated by being tracked down to a skate-wearing lunatic, but, Malin? Malin could take it in her stride.
"Heh, alright!" She declares, pointing across the intervening distance between her and the skater-ninja dramatically, "Let's do this, then! I'm guessing you didn't come to play air-guitar, if you want to play seriously, well. I'm game! If I win, though, you are going to tell me who sent you, and who you are, deal?"

That cocky grin comes back full force, a twinkle in her eye. This was going to be fun! She didn't know who the heck this girl was, but, she liked her already. She had style!

Riko spreads her hands, sketching a movement somewhere between bow and curtsy. She bobs her head - then looks up, meeting Malin's gaze. She regards the other girl with a half-lidded gaze, a faintly feral smile spreading across her own features.

In the background, the stunned parents quickly shove their protesting children through the motel doors, shepherding their brood away from the two crazy girls staring off in the parking lot. Much to the protests of said kids, because they wanna stay and watch. This is /better/ than television!

As she returns to a standing stance, Riko stretches languidly. Then she lifts one hand, the back turned towards Malin - and curls her fingers deliberately, in the time-honoured gesture common to bad action movies the world over.

Bring it.

COMBATSYS: Riko has started a fight here.

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Riko             0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Malin has joined the fight here.

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Malin            0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0             Riko

Malin raises a brow at that, and that grin grows into a full smile, teeth sparkling. "Okay! You asked for it, mysterious skater! Let's see if Malin can't show you a few of the tricks up her sleeve..."

The girl reaches into her back pocket, and wraps her finger into place in the loop of her familiar toy. Painfully aware of the attention she's receiving. Well. The kids might be being ushered away. But if she won... well, she might just extend her stay here to give out autographs!

Quite suddenly, the girl rolls forwards, and the familiar yoyo is pulled from her pocket, and sent hurtling towards Riko at full speed! Wicked blades spring out from the buzzing toy, as it aims to slice its way across the distance, and let any doubt about who she was, if indeed there was any, be cast away.

COMBATSYS: Malin successfully hits Riko with Onigumo.

[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Malin            0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0             Riko

Blood flecks the ground, staining the concrete path in front of the old motel. Riko skids back a step, a line carved through the slick plastic sleeve of her coat, reaching the skin beneath.

Her expression, though, doesn't change. She's still grinning, still bemused.

Her narrowed eyes remain locked on Malin. Her lips purse in quiet appreciation.

"Mmm," Riko murmurs, sounding almost thoughtful.

Then she flicks her wounded arm. Despite the injury, it doesn't seem like her movement is hampered any. The limb swings forward, something sliding from the cuff of her raincoat, dropping to her palm - and out towards the other girl, her fingers barely brushing the cool metal.

Razor steel flashes through the air, as Riko sends a sharpened kunai flying at Malin.

COMBATSYS: Malin dodges Riko's Sudden Fling.

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Malin            0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0             Riko

Malin dives forwards as though it's reflex. And, perhaps, in a way, it is. She's pretty used to sharp, point objects being thrown around, after all. Okay, so usually she was the one throwing them, but, she wasn't in any hurry to find out what its like to be on the receiving end of that. Sparks fly up from the concrete where the kunai strikes home, and in that moment, Malin has crossed the intervening distance, and brought her Onigumo back to her hand, where it is smoothly deposited back about her person.

Her other hand? That's reached up inside her sleeve, and a sharp knife is produced, jabbing forwards as the girl rises before her opponent, aiming for the center mass in another sharp prod. She had, of course, noted what it was that had been flung her way. That didn't bode well... at all.

COMBATSYS: Malin successfully hits Riko with Weapon Jab.

[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Malin            0/-------/------=|==-----\-------\0             Riko

The tip of Malin's blade slashes across the fabric of Riko's t-shirt, drawing a red line across the flesh of her abdomen. Riko exhales, breath leaving her lungs involuntarily in a muted hiss. The wheels of her skates heat up with a roar of friction as she slides backwards, spine curling to protect her newly injured body.

"Ooh," she whistles, the note hanging in the air, "that hurt."

It's a terribly matter-of-fact observation, her voice casual. Too casual, really.

Her arm, the one she used to throw her /own/ knife...jerks, once, drawing back. Something metallic glints in the air, a thin line visible between Riko's wrist and the ninja dagger buried in the concrete ground. With a sharp tug, the kunai rips free, flickering through space...arcing in towards Malin from behind with a flourish of savage glee.

COMBATSYS: Malin blocks Riko's Medium Fling.

[   \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Malin            0/-------/----===|==-----\-------\0             Riko

Malin at first looks a little concerned for her opponent. Confused between the disparity of what was being said, and the tone it was being said in. And then her eyes go wide, catching the glimmer of metal on the air. That sends warning signals flaring, and she spins around, and brings her arms across her body to defend herself. The knife slices across her forearm, before she can send it spinning away, ducking down and out of the way to avoid getting caught in that wire. That was a pretty nifty trick! She'd have to remember that one!

"Heh. Not bad!" She declares, "But... don't get too cocky!"

To punctuate that sentiment, the girl arches suddenly, and leaps across the distance between the two girls blindingly fast, that knife in her hand again, as she aims to draw it up the length of her opponent. Payback for that nasty little trick!

COMBATSYS: Riko interrupts Suzume Bachi from Malin with Metamysticparallectrolysis EX.

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Malin            0/-------/-======|====---\-------\0             Riko

Payback's a bitch. Unfortunately, it looks like the Republic of Riko is determined to run up national debt by a consistent policy of deficit spending. Blame the government. Who elected that girl anyway?

Oh, the blade hits Riko. It slashes stray strands of hair from her bangs, tears the top layer of skin off the bridge of her nose, slashes another few rips down her shirt. But she's grinning all the way. And that would be because while Malin's been terribly careful to avoid getting entangled by the wire extending from Riko's sleeve...

...said wire has other ideas.

The line, and the dagger attached to it, writhes like a living thing, snaking through space. Slamming into the other girl. And that's when Riko's hand flexes.

Energy crackles through the air, soul-forged electricity so strong it draws the distinctive stench of ozone - furious current roaring from Riko through the steel wire...into Malin.

Malin let's out a terribly uncool noise. Somewhere between a shriek and a squeal as she feels herself, quite suddenly, -full- of electricity. Ouch. That's gotta hurt! And indeed it does. A /lot/. When the girl hits the floor, she manages to keep her wits about her enough to crouch, but she's smoking lightly, and looks just a little bit more shaky as she rises up to her feet. Putting a little bit more distance between herself and the ninja.

"Yow!" She declares, "That... was impressive! Hah! Well, I guess I'm not the only one with tricks up my sleeve..."

And for a demonstration of those tricks? The girl reaches behind her for a moment, and then, quite suddenly, brings her hands whipping forwards, a multitude of knives flung forwards at Riko, well. She might not have Riko's nifty electric-knife-trick-thing, but she could make up for it in sheer quantity!

COMBATSYS: Malin successfully hits Riko with Thrown Object.

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Malin            0/-------/-======|=====--\-------\0             Riko

It's a good thing this motel's in such a bad state anyway. 'cause, y'know, with all the crumbling brick and plaster over the front of the building, with all that faded and peeling paint...it's not like it can get any -worse-. Case in point, really. All those knives embedded in the front probably improve the aesthetics. Of course, there's also a shriek or two from within, where a couple stray blades have crashed through the door in a spray of glass, embedding themselves past the reception desk.

But such are the fortunes of war.

There's a couple of blades embedded in Riko, as well. She exhales through clenched teeth as one dagger drops from her side, bouncing with an almost musical ring against the ground.

She snorts, locking her eyes on Malin. She arches a slender eyebrow, as if to say:

That all ya got?

COMBATSYS: Riko focuses on her next action.

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Malin            0/-------/-======|=====--\-------\0             Riko

Malin grins, the kind of grin that says in reply, 'if you think that's all I've got, you don't know who I am'. And, well, she didn't like this place anyway! Maybe if they had been a bit more accommodating on the roach problem, she'd feel even the slightest bit of remorse for the poor owners of this most unfortunate motel. But. Hey. They hadn't, and she didn't.

Still. At least nobody got hurt. That'd look bad. And those knives? Heck, those would -totally- be worth a fortune on the internet after she'd climbed her way to fortune! Treasure them, kids!

But. No time to reflect on how fortunate these people are to be dodging her flung weaponry, Malin surges forwards with surprising speed. Hands reaching down behind her. Again, she pulls out more weapons. This time, a pair of metal tubes. A button is pressed on the side, and, as she brings them in... they spark into life! Both brought around from as far apart as she can manage, aiming to make contact with the girl, and deliver the -real- payback for that nasty electric charge she had gotten earlier.

What a shocking turn of events!

COMBATSYS: Riko interrupts Electric Prod EX from Malin with Improvised Tactics EX.

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Malin            1/-----==/=======|======-\-------\0             Riko

Oh yes, payback really -is- a bitch. A cast iron bitch. Or something metal, anyway. Probably some copper, at that, and a battery or two. Getting a cattle prod shoved into your body cannot possibly be an enjoyable experience. Nuh-uh, nope. Not fun at all.

Riko weathers it, though. She just /takes/ it with bared teeth, her mouth stretched back to reveal a bright white grin, her expression a sheer rictus of controled pain. She twitches, then - but it's not an involuntary muscle spasm. No, when she moves, it's quite deliberate. Because even as Malin closes the distance with her, she slashes her arm down.

In the intervening time, the dagger and cable attached to Riko's arm and sleeve have somehow found themselves embedded halfway up the motel building's front. And when Riko /wrenches/, there's a terrible shriek of parting bolts and metal. The motel's signboard comes completely free of the wall, plummeting in a hail of rust flakes and sparking florescent light tubes.

Straight down on Malin.

The impact shakes the parking lot. Across the carpark, a car alarm begins to blare, screaming bloody murder to the heavens.

Malin is a bit too worried about the... -disturbing- degree of control this girl had to immediately concern herself with the sound of metal tearing and giving way. All that changes when she becomes aware of the way the sun appears to be dimming. At the last moment, she looks up, eyes quite wide. That was /big/. And it was coming down right on top of her.

For a long moment, it looks like Riko might have actually crushed Malin under the sign and done the girl in for good. It doesn't last, however. As, crawling from the rubble, Malin shakes her head, dazed and more than a little confused at what had just happened. "Ouch." She groans, brushing broken glass from her hair. "That really hurt!" She declares, and then, quite suddenly, she moves forwards, flicking yet another knife from its hidden location, she takes a firm grip on it. "But don't count me out yet!" She declares, aiming to drive the knife home in the girls side before jumping back in order to, again, buy some distance. Paying a bit more attention to her surroundings now. She didn't like having no idea where the next attack was going to come from!

COMBATSYS: Malin successfully hits Riko with Medium Strike.

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Malin            1/-----==/=======|=======\-------\1             Riko

Riko -does- wince this time, a fresh spray of blood staining the length of Malin's blade - and a new rip marring the billowing length of her coat. She stumbles, nearly falling. Nearly. Not quite. Riko recovers fast enough, catching her balance, the wheels of her skates digging into the scarred concrete and asphalt of the motel lot.

"Oh no," Riko replies, the denial spilling languidly off her tongue. She brings a hand up, waggling her index finger at Malin.

Her voice lifting in a lilt, she trills:

"I'm watching you! o/~"

Riko moves, then. As she does, the line attached to her wrist snaps, detatching from her coat sleeve. The wire clatters to the ground, along with the dagger at the end. Leaving the weapon behind, Riko instead scoops up a length of rust-encrusted metal torn from the fallen signboard. She spins the bar through a full rotation, before swinging it mercilessly at Malin.

COMBATSYS: Malin endures Riko's Quick Strike.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Malin            1/---====/=======|=======\-------\1             Riko

Malin takes a deep breath as the attack comes in. And, for a moment, she considers her options. Okay. So. Riko was coming at her with an iron bar. She could deal with that. Does she try and evade? Well, she could try. But the girl was coming in awfully fast, and she was starting to get tired of dancing around. Does she block it? Well, she could, but again, that's an awfully quick strike. And she didn't want to risk getting entangled in any of those wires a second time if she didn't remain very careful about herself.

So, instead, the girl shoots back a bright grin, "You've been watching me?" She asks, putting her hands behind her head, "Aw, I'm flattered!" And -then- the attack hits home. The girl flinches, wincing as she suddenly has an iron bar introduced to her side. But. She's in the perfect position...

"I bet you didn't see this coming!" She shouts at the top of her lungs, hands still behind her head, quite suddenly, she is wielding a /HUGE/ mallet, bringing the massive weapon down with all her strength behind it, this close, she hoped, Riko would have little choice but to take the full brunt of her trademark Mallet of Doom!

COMBATSYS: Riko blocks Malin's Tsuzuchi.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Malin            0/-------/-------|=======\==-----\1             Riko

A loud metallic BOOM echoes across the motel carpark, rising above the constant wailing of that triggered car alarm. In Riko's hands, the rusted metal spar is /bent/ - having intercepted the head of Malin's oversized hammer. The abused steel groans beneath the strain. Riko's arms tremble from the effort, the shock having conducted all the way into her lean frame, muscles working overtime to absorb the impact.

But she holds her ground. And she looks past the interlocked weapons to glare at Malin.

Riko sticks her tongue out, a flash of pink blurring past her lips.

"/Wanna bet?/"

And then the steel bar in Riko's hands lights up with a crackle of azure - as she conducts her electrical chi, forcing electrons down new paths. Spiralling through the steel interlocked with Malin's mallet - and /into/ the other girl's weapon.

COMBATSYS: Riko successfully hits Malin with Light Fantastic.

[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Malin            0/-------/-----==|=======\===----\1             Riko

Malin's eyes go a little bit wide at that. Okay. Maybe this strange girl /had/ been watching her! Malin has an inkling of what is going to happen, and, somewhat desperate, tries to drop her hammer and get out of there, but, she's too slow. The energy courses through her, and again she finds herself lighting up with the charge and crackle of electricity. That... was not a pleasant feeling. Not at all.

Let it not be said that Malin gives up easily, however. Though she's breathing hard, and is definitely starting to feel these injuries, she's not going to let herself go down until she can move no more. There was just no way that the girl hadn't felt that. She'd put everything she had into that move!

Still on one knee, she moves her hand to her boot. "You... /are/ good." She admits, shaking her head, "But... you don't know when to quit!" She declares brazenly. Nope. She didn't really have a clue what she was talking about any more. Still. That had never stopped her in the past!

Because suddenly, Malin is surging up from her floored position, knife in hand, she strains, putting all she had into make sure this hit and hit -well-. She didn't have too many options open to her any more. And she was starting to fear that she might really be bested here. The idea the girl could know her style well enough to anticipate her moves, when even Malin didn't know what she was going to throw out most of the time, that... was a scary thought.

COMBATSYS: Riko endures Malin's Suzume Bachi.

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Malin            0/-------/----===|=======\====---\1             Riko

The knife sinks into Riko's flesh, cutting through her coat, t-shirt, into skin, flesh and muscle. A good solid hit, before it slips free coated in rivulets of crimson. But Riko ignores the pain, ignores the surge travelling through her nerves. Her face doesn't so much as twitch. Her eyes are solidly locked upon Malin, her mouth carved into that same overly-wide smile...a grin that'd make the Cheshire Cat eat its own entrails in shame.

"Do I?"

Her tone's deceptively simple, deceptively mild.

Beside Riko, the twisted steel bar bounces against the ground.

With her now free hand, she drives her palm towards Malin's gut. Just a simple motion, as well, a quick thrust. Hardly enough to hurt, really, even with a touch.

Of course, the small wad of plastic explosive cradled in Riko's hand might have something to do with that.

COMBATSYS: Riko successfully hits Malin with Chaos Tactics.

[                         \\\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Malin            0/-------/-======|====---\-------\0             Riko

Malin grits her teeth, trying to get out of the way of the incoming palm... simply because she didn't feel much like finding out what nasty trick the girl had up her sleeve. However, despite her best efforts, the palm connects, and the explosion sends her flying back, to impact the ground quite painfully. She... is pretty much out of this fight. She knew that, there was very little she could do to keep it up. But. Since when had giving up been part of her repertoire?! Never! She may be down... but she'd not stay down easily.

Again, she charges across the intervening distance, although her steps are a little more irregular this time, and again, that knife lashes out. This time, however. After the blow has landed or failed... Malin sags, and collapses. Either onto the hard floor, or onto Riko's shoulder. Whichever happens to be closer at the time.

And then she'd answer, falteringly, and coughing a bit. "Y... yeah."

COMBATSYS: Malin can no longer fight.

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

COMBATSYS: Riko dodges Malin's Suzume Bachi.

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

Riko grins from ear to ear, as the blade slips by her by just a hair's breadth. She skids back a step, wheels sparking on the ground. Having breezed aside, she simply lets Malin collapse in front of her, spilling over the parking lot. No, there's absolutely no spite to her. Not at all, nope. No sense of superiority either.

That's a perfectly sedate smile.

She tilts her head, looking at the fallen Malin.

Smoke curls from Riko's palm, thin wisps of acrid chemical residue rising from freshly seared reddish flesh - where she just slammed that wad of plastic explosive into Malin. Riko tucks her hand into her coat pocket, a languid sort of gesture.

"Well," she observes, "that's that. And how do you feel?"

COMBATSYS: Riko has ended the fight here.

Malin groans, stirring somewhat on the ground, though not very much. She was -hurting-. Blown up. Electrocuted. It was hard to think of a previous time when she had felt /quite/ as bad as she felt right now. Of course. The somewhat irritating calmness of the girl who had beaten her so badly didn't help. Not in the slightest.

"Who... -are- you?" She asks, starting to get up, and then, well, thinking better of it. It was just a little beyond her to quite gather the strength to stand under her own power right this second. Besides. It's nice down here on the floor. She can get a really good look at those skates. Fashionable stuff!

Riko crouches, the hem of her battered raincoat trailing against the asphalt. She's bleeding from more than a few places, almost as badly hurt as Malin is. Blood soaks her t-shirt, and trails of crimson trickle down the outside of her sleeve, standing out against the yellow plastic. Now that the violence part of the programme is concluded, she's moving a lot slower, her motions deliberate and careful.

She lowers herself down to Malin's level, resting one knee against the ground...so she can stare at the other girl face-to-face.

"Saaa," Riko murmurs, rolling her eyes thoughtfully. Then she grins impishly, her eyes glinting.

"Does the name," she asks, "Seishirou Ryouhara...mean anything to you?"

Malin's eyes betray her recognition long before her words do. Flickering with concern. About a dozen things run through her mind, none of them good. After all. Why would this girl beat the hell out of her if she was a /friend/ of Seishirou's? Chances are, she wanted to get back at him. Or somehow his recent actions had been linked to her in some way. Neither possibility boded particularly well for her. With some effort, the girl forces herself to sit up, wincing, and still breathing quite hard.

Still. She knew herself well enough to know that it was too late to completely deny that she knew him. And even if she hadn't given that away, there was no doubt someone who had linked her to the man would -know- she was lying. The expert liar that she is, she wants to avoid that at all costs. So. Why not try the truth for a change?

"And if I do?" She asks, straining to struggle up to her feet. "If you know the first thing about him, or me, you know that he's... not going to go risking his neck to save me. And I haven't seen the guy in ages. I haven't got a clue where he is, either, if that's what you want."

"Mou," Riko complains, making a face. She scowls darkly, hair falling across her eyes.

Rising part of the way from the ground, Riko extends a hand - not the one singed by point-blank explosions - offering to help Malin up.

"Seishirou-sama is -always- like that," she continues, her voice somewhere between lament and indignation, "he just doesn't know how to treat a girl. He never writes, he never calls..."

She pouts.

"Honestly! And he even sent me after you, rather than having the courtesy to mercilessly ambush you himself."

Riko tsks in faux disapproval.

Malin hesitates for a moment, and then takes the assistance, pulling herself up to her feet. The girl just looks... confused. "What?" She asks, trying to ignore the protest of her muscles, "... You mean he /asked/ you to ambush me?" She demands, "... Why would he do that?! What have I done to annoy -him- lately? Geez. I thought you were with the Syndicate or those NESTS goons or something, not..." She pauses for a moment, shaking her head.

"Geez. That's some way to say 'hi'. What does he want that's so important its got to be delivered after a beating like that?" She doesn't sound too happy. But, at least it didn't look like imminent death or being dragged off were on the table. That was good, right?

Riko untangles her hand from Malin's. She brings it to her face, tapping her chin with one slender digit. She makes a small sound, as if mulling over the question, her eyes going unfocused and distant. A classic thinking pose.

When she does speak, her voice drops softer, almost inaudible over the wailing car alarm in the background, echoing through the parking lot. The sort of voice calculated...and especially so under these circumstances...to force Malin to really /listen/.

"Ne," she replies, "we're fighters, right? I mean, random mindless violence is totally the same as a polite 'how do you do' in these circles."

Riko swings her finger round, pointing at Malin.

"Or," she says, "maaaaybe he just wanted to see how good you are these days."

Riko smirks.

"What do you think?"

Malin does listen, very carefully. She's very good at listening. And she considers what she is told pretty carefully for a long moment. Seeming to ponder this for a long moment. She knits her brows, and then sighs. She shakes her head, then. "Nah. I don't think either of those is it." She says at last, before pointing at the girl, and cracking a bright grin. She might be injured as hell, but the day she couldn't mask that? That was the day she gave up!

"I think he's planning something big, and he wants me and my organization on side to help him. And he sent you to check just how sharp I'm staying to make sure that I'd still be useful if he came and asked for help." Well, given his latest actions in the world at large, that was hardly a huge leap of logic to make, after all.

Malin, however, doesn't stop there. "'course. I don't blame him. If I was in his position, I'd be looking for all the friends I could get, too! And at least he thought enough of me to send someone halfway competent to come and check me out. I'm not way off base here, am I?"

Riko waggles her finger from side to side, making another of those tsk'ing noises.

"Saaa," she muses, out loud, "I can see why Seishirou-sama likes you. I'm sure the Romanian judge might have some complaint, but it looks like a perfect ten from where I'm standing."

Ignoring her own bleeding wounds, Riko stretches. The movement causes a tiny wince to roll past her face, but only for a heartbeat or two. Her injured hand comes out of her pocket, and she draws that arm to full extension...before bringing it back with her other hand in an enthusiastic bit of applause.

Then she stops, suddenly.

Behind Riko, the constant shriek of the car alarm just /cuts off/ abruptly.

At the very same instant her hands freeze.

In a quiet voice, Riko asks:

"And is that your final answer?"

And suddenly Malin is serious. Too serious, really, given her absolutely -unserious- attitude thus far. The girl sighs, and shakes her head lightly. "I haven't got a clue where I stand." She says at last, tucking one hand into her pocket, and scratching behind her head with the other. She looks just a little uncomfortable.

"I like the guy. We get on great, but... he hurt some innocent people in his latest stunt. And I can't figure out why. He better have had some pretty darn good reasons for doing what he did. I mean. I can't see him doing something like that for -no- reason, but, like I said. He hurt a lot of people. And all to get at Geese? What the heck has /that/ guy ever done? Except charity work and setting up that fighting league?"

She sighs, "Besides. I hear there are big problems in Metro City. I was heading that way to try and do my bit to clear it up. I... can't speak for my organization, of course, but... if Seishirou can't give me a real good reason -why- I should help him out... I don't think I can. I can't put my name to a bunch of terrorists, right?"

"Really," Riko murmurs, "is that what you think?"

She gives a small shake of the head. Twisting her wrist, she plucks a small business card from thin air, the white rectangle appearing between her fingers. She turns this towards Malin, beckoning her to take it.

The card is blank, save for a long number printed in black ink. An unfamiliar telephone exchange code...with far too many digits.

"Well," Riko says, "I suppose we'll have to work harder to convince you. But I'm sure you won't mind listening, at least?"

Her manner is different. No longer cheerful. Her inflections are smoother, and her voice even seems to drop half an octave. "Because," she adds, "I will tell you this."

"The client for the contract on Geese Howard," Riko says, silkily, "is Geese Howard."

Malin takes the card, and turns it over in her hands a few times. -Very- confused by what she's hearing. The girls brow furrows. "Really?" She asks, "Well... that -is- weird." She pauses, tucking the card away about her person so that she wouldn't lose it, she nods slowly. "Alright. Well. You've got my attention... sure. I want to know more about this though, before I promise to do anything either way. And I'll have to clear it with the higher-ups, but, if this is as interesting as you are making it sound... I shouldn't have any trouble convincing them."

She hesitates for a moment. "Maybe I'll delay my trip to Metro, then. If it's easier for you and your people to contact me here. Tell Seishirou to... you know... call me, some time. To clear this all up."

"Oh," Riko reassures Malin, "it's fine, we don't want to unduly inconvenience you."

Spoken as only Riko can - someone who just attacked Malin with nothing short of lethal force.

"I'm sure," she says gently, "we won't have any trouble getting in touch."

She raises one hand, palm towards Malin, fingers open...and cocks it at the wrist, in something resembling a wave.

Malin raises a brow at that. She really didn't like the subtle threat that was hidden in those words. But. That was ninja for you, always about the subtle threats and menace. Even the skating ones.

Malin nods slightly, "Yeah. Sure. Be seeing you." She says, returning the little wave, before...


"Gottabegoing!" She declares quickly, giving a short nod to Riko before, injured and hobbling though she is, the young rogue makes good her escape. Leaving a very damaged motel, and a very angry motel-owner in her wake.

Log created on 11:59:35 03/02/2008 by Riko, and last modified on 16:22:27 03/02/2008.