LLK Act I.War - War : Dark Tide Rising

Description: Alma Towazu has returned in time to oversee the fortification of the YFCC against Southtown's escalating chaos. Some volunteers have left for greater responsibilities, some have fled-- but a surprising number have stayed, faithful to the organization that has brought stability and meaning to their lives. Side-by-side with sworn brother Jiro and Hotaru's protege Kentou, he and the main defense force of the YFCC confront another assault by NESTS, this time led by the formidable Zero and fencing researcher Foxy-- but though passion and brotherhood may defy death itself, the dark tide that has risen against them is unstoppable. (Winner: NESTS)

Preparations are complete.
The distant echoes of battle are no more deafening than the silence that now reigns here; the stillness may be worse than the confusion of only an hour. The chaos that is writhing through the city is framed here in a frozen tableau: chairs and couches are a tangle, formed into haphazard fortifications, looming toward the glass bay windows by the center's entrance. It is terrible, somehow, staring into yet unshattered glass-- waiting, waiting for the inevitable moment when it will implode, and battle will commence.
He is happy to have returned in time.
Alma Towazu, young director and nominal head of the Young Fighter's Community Center, is for once wearing casual clothes at work, stylish and slim-fitting wear that is faintly tarnished, though would be considered surprisingly clean if his fellows knew that he had been wandering for weeks. He is standing at the 'gate' left open by their childish wall, a clear-eyed sentry, a veritable Warring States general that appears as composed as he is alert, in significant contrast to the volunteers huddled out of view by his sides. A surprising number of the volunteers elected to stay.
Maybe they're getting used to this.
Alma's growing reputation for a worthy and unlikely combination of coolness under fire and the ability to bring fire all his own, so to speak, meant his unexpected arrival automatically swelled the morale of his charges here, and his deliberate planning did no less to reassure them. The children have been escorted out through their underground tunnels, the same that precluded NESTS from capturing them during the last decisive battle. But this situation is altogether different. Unlike some of his subordinates, Alma does not think that a lack of potential hostages will deter any attackers; he has thus also resisted the urges of some of his more fiery volunteers to commence a counter-attack to aid the city itself. The situation is too volatile; they must first secure their home base before sallying forth. Alma knows the YFCC, at this stage, remains anything but secure.
Solemnly, enigmatically yet reassuringly mild-faced as always, he contemplates the inevitability of his death.
Then, done with that, he reflects on whether or not these dark times have anything to do with the miasma that has been thickening throughout the city, whether the sinister entity that plagued his fellow psychics has had some part to play in this. He decides, practically enough, that it really doesn't matter right now. But that more than any particular skill at leadership is what is rendering Alma so exceptionally unfazed by this madness, why his personal courage is able to function as such an inspiration at this juncture, and why this place is so silent, defying the noise outdoors: he has been facing a rising tide for quite some time.
Just the wave up and hit from somewhere else entirely, that's all.

Whispers, now, as some people begin to relax. Maybe no one will come after all. Maybe in a couple days we'll be safely mocking our peers who fled, able to brag about our bravery without the cost of actually seeing combat. Maybe we won't need to put our practice into practice. It's difficult to say how Alma feels about their presence; but much as with the political or metaphysical realities of the situation, Alma himself doesn't think his feelings matter much. This place isn't about being or becoming a great fighter. This place is meant to help people take responsibility for themselves, to make whatever power they possess meaningful to them. They aren't adults, perhaps. But neither was he, when he had to face his own hollowness, and make something of it or die.
He can't know whether it is right or wrong, to let them fight.
He can only trust in their wisdom and their courage.
Alma is no stranger to faith.
But, well--
Squinting one eye, the beautiful youth breaks his stalwart and elegant pose for a brief moment to crick his neck, keeping his eyes on the door.
All things considered, he'd rather not die today.
He's got friends to protect, scattered throughout defending here and other areas of the center, and promises to keep-- and a certain complicated situation involving a Geese Howard with whom he needs to share a few words, particularly before the YFCC accepts any more gargantuan donations.
Well, he'll try to avoid it if possible.

It is a very important war. There has been many city-wide wars that the young man had been through. Metro City was a war where he was forced underground and having to rally men to fight against the forces of Rolento. It was a time where bloodshed was apparent and people were losing hope. It was a situation that spelled bad things.
This is likely a bigger war. However, the focus for now is the city of Southtown itself. No. Right now, the focus is on the Youth Center and the inhabitants. It is no wonder why the old Stray Dog is with the young man.
While Alma stands ready, along with many of the inhabitants, a lone figure is stepping out of the training room. With a new purpose comes with a new attire. Shrouding his face is a white hood that is attached to a sleeveless jacket. Underneath can be seen a black tanktop with a white t-shirt underneath, where the sleeves sticks out from the sleeveless outfit. A pair of black pants adorn his legs with some strange hip designs.
It's the fugitive. The Hunted. The foretold murderer. The Stray Dog.
Walking along Alma's side, the shrouded Kasagi adjusts the straps of his gauntlets. The eyes shift forward as he stares beyond the hood.
"...Time to kick some asses."

"Under what in the what now?" Was Kentou's initial query when informed that Southtown was under attack. A rivulette of melted vanilla at the corner of his lip from a half-eaten ice-cream crepe.
The city has seen its violence. Constantly rated the most violent city in Japan, the town is a seething cauldron of gang warfare, organized crime and petty skulduggery. Heck, over on Gedo Street battles can sometimes rage in a scale not unlike some third world countries. That some big fight or a giant riot is breaking out somewhere is disconcerting but no more alarming than mentioning to a Californian that they just had a 4 point Oh Earthquake.
'Oh' They might say. 'Huh' is another.
With initial non-chalance, Kentou was about to continue with his daily routine. The usual for him, day in and day out for the past several months. A chemistry equation narrowly balanced between school at Pacific High and constant training beneath the learned aegis of Hotaru Futaba. The boy only visits the YFCC a few times out of the week - mostly to pass time or visit friends such as Instructor Frei or help his Sensei instruct one of her many classes here.
As a refuge for children to learn discipline and martial arts in a city of violence, Kentou is something of an advanced student compared to his peers. A wee bit beyond hanging out and training with the kids here. A passerby, one could say.

It wasn't until Kentou heard the first explosion from further in the city that the boy's heart grew cold. Freezing in place and staring at the windows, shuddering from the man-made thunder. The icy confection falling from his fingers, utterly forgotten.

Under attack. The city is under attack? With like.. Tanks and bombs?
That's the most ludicrous thing the kid's ever heard. Absolute madness.. But the truth of it is immutable now as further reports from panicked citizens start coming in. That previous dispassion slowly evolving into a trembling fear deep in the pit of his being.
This is Japan - Not Iraq or Thailand! Wars don't happen here! How could the JDSF let this happen? The Americans? Reality itself is coming undone and without the underpinnings of a sane world... Kentou isn't sure he was ever this afraid.
For all his personal, mortal concerns.. Two thoughts dominate his worries. Chief among them.. Where is Hotaru? Is she alright in all this craziness? In his recollection she SHOULD be home right now, but her schedule is a hectic thing. She could be anywhere out there right now, for all he knows. Secondly, thoughts of his guardian. That old gruff fisherman at the wharf and his bait shop. What if they invaded by the ocean? What if they overran that first? Is he alright? Is he safe?
More than anything Kentou wants to go out to his loved ones. He'd brave the madness in the streets to go to them now if he could... But there is a higher responsibility at work here.

The youth center director has asked for volunteers to help defend the children. Anyone who is able-bodied and capable. By all rights, Kentou should be exempt.
He's fourteen years old. He's a freshman at high school. Sure, he's a world-ranking martial artist but.. That's a sport. Kentou may be a fighter but he is not a soldier. Fighting wars or defeating evil is not why he learned the Ondori and Futaba Schools! He should make a break with the other kids and sneak out the tunnels, be concerned for his own family.

Save.. Is that what Hotaru would want him to do? What Frei would want him to do? He has the power to make a difference, weither he wanted to use that power for that purpose or not... Is irrelevant. He can help people. Alma is asking for help. What kind of person does Kentou want to be? The sort who sneaks out the back? Or the sort who stands against nameless fear no matter how or where it might show itself? No matter how completely and utterly terrified he might be?

"So... Uh.." Kentou stammeringly muses while tightening the bindings on his hands and wrists for the tenth time in ten minutes, his mousy eyes staring at the barricaded entrance as if some horrid monster might spring forth at any instant, "... T.. Think m.. maybe they'll get lost? ... You think? Rush hour.. you know..uh.." Standing in the vicinity of Alma and Jiro.

There is a saying, one that becomes rather prevalent when dealing with the brave, and the bold, and the stupid:
How brave you were doesn't matter much when you're dead.
The Young Fighter's Community Center is a warzone; all of Southtown is a warzone, but this one part of the city has been struck particularly hard. Led by what very well may be the presence of evil itself, the forces of Shadaloo and NESTS come crashing into the front doors of the YFCC with guns and fists at the ready. YFCC was prepared.
But how prepared can you be against a force of nature?
The answer to that question comes when the doors -- and even the barricades so hopelessly attempting to keep out the forces without -- to the YFCC's lobby suddenly blow apart with the shatter of glass, wood, plastic, and metal, an explosive foreshadowing to one, simple fact: the enemy is at the gates. Soldiers adorned in the regalia of NESTS and Shadaloo begin to pour in, adorned with battle armor, guns, grenades -- anything. This is war. And the side that they're fighting isn't exactly /normal./ And to deal with the abnormal, one needs appropriate counter measures.
Those countermeasures come with the stepping of thick-healed boots into the grounds of the YFCC, the source of the devastated barricades. Glass crunches in an unsavory fashion beneath the heel of Zero as he strides in calmly, coldly amidst the swarm of troops. His dead eyes stare forward unerringly, hands crossed behind his back and expression deadened. That dark gaze sweeps the room, before his hand snaps forward, gesturing outward.
"Take everyone. Do not shoot to kill unless they resist." His words seem merciful, but the implications are hardly merciful: some of these fighters might have better uses within a lab rather than a battleground. Slowly, his eyes fall upon those gathered at the front. Zero does not even bat an eye at the gathering as his extended hand calmly falls to the hem of his mighty battleskirt, a terrible, ominous sensation slowly swelling outward from him.
"Give up now, or suffer the consequences," he explains, succinctly.
"This courtesy shall not be extended twice."

With war, there are always casualties. It's a fact that Foxy has come to deal with. While things have been relatively quiet before, now the time has come to act. Orders are orders, and they must be followed, whether she likes them or not.

Suffice to say, she doesn't really like the idea of assaulting the YFCC. But again--orders are orders. If she doesn't follow what she's been ordered to do, well...

Silently the Venezuelan woman follows behind her superior, moving a few feet behind the imposing Zero as he strides through the blown-out doors of the YFCC. Her face is cool and composed, lacking any real, tell-tale emotions even as orders are given. Secretly, she hopes no one resists. Surely they wouldn't compromise the well-being of the younger people here..?

Clutching firmly to the sleek, lengthy rapier at her hip, Foxy says not a word. Instead, the dusky-skinned woman remains attentive and alert, crimson-colored eyes peering over the surroundings she finds herself in. While the men and women here may be young, they shouldn't be underestimated.

Glancing sidelong at his oath-brother, Alma Towazu grins.
His voice is low and gentle, with the supreme confidence of one who needs make no show of his courage. Of course, his standing out in the middle here is something of a show in and of itself, but-- that's just style.
That comes naturally.
That calm gaze soon settles on a shorter boy hovering near their midst, one whose participations Alma has no inhibitions about despite his obvious youth, for the psychic can see the unusually vibrant aura hovering about him, the distinguishing mark of great potential, no less human but brighter. Definitely no less human; one does not need to be an empath to see -- and hear -- the way he trembles. Alma watches him silently for some moments, expression reserved and revealing little of his thoughts, but not unkind for that.
"Kentou Ondori, yes?"
Their soft-spoken leader does not turn from his position, but in his sideways glance is the simple directness of an interaction between equals.
"You're Hotaru's charge."
He smiles, and his eyes seem to glitter.
"I'll be counting on you, Kentou."
He looks back toward the door, apparently feeling as though that is enough.
This is not only a fight for justice. This is a battle for trust, and self-respect-- for love, as Alma understands it. Such things are not worth saying here, though, he knows. Such things do not /need/ to be said; they permeate the air around them, the gift of a fighter's presence, of an iron resolve. This is a battle for human dignity, waged against anything and anyone that would undermine it.
Convenient, that this is NESTS's express goal.
Even as he spoke, the echoes seemed to rise in volume. Is it just their imagination? Is something passing by? Such optimism is not the sort that Alma trucks with-- and in this case, it is to his advantage.
For he does not flinch when their world explodes.
"Hold your positions!"
His shout, clear and controlled, somehow manages to be heard over the sounds of an army attacking, of battle lines being arranged. Deadly weapons, armored foes; adversaries no one here deserves to face. But some of them are equipped to face them in ways their own. These are the ones that will stand in front of the fortifications, and not behind; these are the ones who are assigned to be more than gate-watchers, to do more than hold the line.
Alma steps forward.
His gaze quietly, solemnly sweeps the forces arrayed before him. He listens to their leader's words. But his eyes flutter only once; only once does he seem shaken. And that is when he lays eyes upon a woman, her hand upon her rapier, her eyes concerned but resolute.
Could it be?
The young man closes his eyes, and sighs silently.
To meet again, after so long, under such circumstances.
"...Good afternoon."
When Alma opens his eyes, he is staring straight at Zero.
"Your offer of surrender is unnecessary, sir."
But no opponent could deter him, not with what is at stake.
"It is you to whom I would be happy to offer mercy. But..."
It will not be the first time he has destroyed a woman he's cared for.
"I fear that men such as you... are already dead."
He raises one hand, toward the ceiling and the heavens.
"All that is left is to reveal... the truth!"
That hand ignites, blossoming into pearly luminesence-- and that is the signal for which his carefully drilled, terrified but adamant pupils have been waiting. Those who can manage it with whatever skill they can muster begin hurling chi through the haphazard fortifications, the gaps between the chairs and tables serving as arrow slots, unconventional weaponry facing conventional. Those who cannot hurl with all their trained strength projectiles of all shapes and sizes-- no match for illegal or military weapons-- but sufficient, perhaps, to safeguard the charge of the cavalry.
That would be us.

Unleashing a passionate battle cry that, in shocking contrast to his usual speaking voice, resounds mightily throughout the domed room, Alma hurls himself across the gap between them, aiming directly for their general and plunging directly toward their ranks, blurring past whatever startled attacks might be levied his way by less formidable foes. Eyes narrowed, sharp and intent, the guardian angel of the YFCC homes in directly on Zero and draws that blazing hand back, feinting quickly before thrusting out earlier than he appeared he would, not closing in entirely but bringing forth instead a lance of soulfire that extends outward from his fist, charged to pierce the skirted man through.

COMBATSYS: Alma has started a fight here on the right meter side.

                                  >  //////////////////////////////]
                                 |-------\-------\0             Alma

COMBATSYS: Jiro has joined the fight here on the right meter side.

                                  >  //////////////////////////////]
                                 |-------\-------\0             Alma
                                  >  //////////////////////////////]
                                 |-------\-------\0             Jiro

COMBATSYS: Kentou has joined the fight here on the right meter side.

                                  >  //////////////////////////////]
                                 |-------\-------\0             Alma
                                  >  //////////////////////////////]
                                 |-------\-------\0             Jiro
                                  >  //////////////////////////////]
                                 |-------\-------\0           Kentou

COMBATSYS: Foxy has joined the fight here on the left meter side.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Foxy             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0             Alma
                                  >  //////////////////////////////]
                                 |-------\-------\0             Jiro
                                  >  //////////////////////////////]
                                 |-------\-------\0           Kentou

COMBATSYS: Zero has joined the fight here on the left meter side.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Foxy             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0             Alma
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Zero             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0             Jiro
                                  >  //////////////////////////////]
                                 |-------\-------\0           Kentou

The eyes shift towards Kentou, looking a bit worried. After all, despite the fact that the boy doesn't think much of him, he is Hotaru's student. "...Hey. Are you sure you want to get involved in this? You have potential, but you still have a good amount of years ahead of you." The eyes shift forward, "...This isn't like an arena match. Folks get killed over this..."
Both eyes shut, "...Not stopping you or anything. I just want you to know what you're getting yourself into before shit goes---" Before Jiro can even finish the sentence, the explosion against the door ignites. Glass, wood, plastic, and metal are sent flying everywhere. Jiro, for the most part, doesn't flinch at all. Instead, his attention is focused right towards the entrance to see the foot soldiers in with their weapons. A feral, fanged smile manifests at the sight of the soldiers.
"I feel like breaking some folks."
Yet, when Zero is making his approach, Jiro's eyes shift over towards the man. At that instant, a flash strikes Jiro's eyes, causing a sudden surge to run into Jiro's head. At the same instant, it is like the breath of life has left Jiro's lips. Both hands rising up, the palms clamp against his temples as a growl escapes.

~ ...What the hell? It's the same feeling that I had when I ran into Igniz... ~

And then... things start to come back. A white, secluded room.Halls were empty and there was a glass window. Kain was on the other side, watching. The man in front of him wielded a bonesaw that edged closer to the young man's face. ...That man was Zero. The memories of the burning sensation and the feral screams that filled the hall become dominant.

...It all comes back.

"....What.. the hell?" As a hand rests against the face, the digits cover half of the face, save for the spread fingers to the left and the right of his right eye. Jiro gives out a guttal roar. The right eye is almost blood shot, inhuman slit.
"....I don't know what you did to me..." The eyes narrow, feeling the Wildness take over. "But I'm going to fucking break you."
Swiping the right hand out, the Stray Dog immediately takes off, charging through the crowd. Should any of the soldiers get in his way, Jiro is aiming to extend the right arm out to clothesline the frontline out of his way.
A right foot strikes towards the ground, giving him a boost to ascend towards the air. He launches himself straight at Zero, winding his left fist back. Next, he thrusts the fist out against Zero's face.

When the barricaded doors explode with the force of a dozen armed soldiers.. Kentou's courage nearly fails.
The boy was hoping beyond hope that the invasion was a false alarm.. or something, anything else than a real terrorist attack on Japanese soil. As the high-tech warriors reveal themselves, all hope for a more pleasant reality are destroyed.
This isn't happening. This can't be happening. Is this a nightmare? This can't be real. The surreality of watching those stormtroopers crush the glass of shattered windows beneath their boots - their blackened firearms raised menacingly at the assembled young men and women - forces Kentou's jaw to slack, his mind to reel. This event causes his fists to droop ever so slightly, a step backwards.

It is not until Kentou gets a clear look at Zero that he realizes he is going to die.

The menace radiating from that fell figure is straight out of the blackest pit of Hell. What was the boy thinking? Beat up a couple soldiers? Be a hero? Any and all such heroic narratives are slain the instant Zero's full wicked regalia meets the boy's gaze. Kentou's learned just enough of fighting to know how far he has to go. He's fought some of the best in the entire world - One gets a sense for these things. The way they present themselves, an 'aura' if you will.
Staring at this dark figure, at once Kentou realizes he's never met a more powerful human being in his entire life. A figure that has dictated that if anyone so much as raises their fists, they will die.

Kentou likes to think that he isn't the only person seriously considering holding up his hands right now. Well.. Maybe not Jiro, but that guy's crazy. >.>
As this would-be Darth Vader's svelte liutenant stalks in beside him, herself clearly a dangerous and capable fighter with that sword at her hip.. The boy nearly tugs at Alma's sleeve. Hands gripping together, fighting that survival instinct to beg Alma to consider that man's ultimatum.
What hope have they against -that-? Kids against hardened soldiers that could crush the best martial artists on the planet Earth? There's no way the center's director is going to allow that slaughter. No matter how tough he might be, he can't take that!
Sure, Kentou has fought against plenty of opponents he has no real hope against. Blanka. Acacia. Even Jiro here. But that's for sport, that's not for life or death! If he picks this fight and he loses - its over. He dies. Everyone here dies. He can't help Hotaru. He can't help Old Sakana. He'll just be a nameless statistic in what's sure to be the worst catastrophe to ever happen on Japanese soil since the World Wars. Is fighting for some stupid building worth throwing his life away?
A concern that Jiro himself voices to the boy. Kentou finds himself unable to answer the Stray Dog in kind. He can't even meet the feral man's gaze. Yes, that Kentou knows the risks is evident on his nervous expression.

'I'll be counting on you.'
The radiant man's words echo in Kentou's thoughts. That calm, serene smile. Absolutely without fear. Believing in.. What? Him? His cause? Or perhaps believing just to -believe- in something.
Kentou's never met Alma in person before this moment, and already he's going to die for him. For no greater reason than.. Well.. Kentou never turns his back on someone who's counting on him. When did Kentou decide that about himself?
Five seconds ago.

Then it all goes to chaos. Alma erupting with a brilliance that Kentou cannot easily define. A power so striking the boy has to double-take, gawking at an energy that seems similar enough to the manner of power that Hotaru and himself hurtles about.. But wholly different somehow. For an instant.. A scant instant.. There is hope. Maybe Alma can hurt that dark general.. Maybe..

"YOUDAN RENGEKI!" Kentou shouts the words, adding his own smaller voice to that battlecry as he accompanies Alma and Jiro's assault with his own. Unwilling to close the distance on someone so massive, the boy chooses a ranged technique. Also, his size makes it easier for a multitude of attacks to find purchase, shooting above Jiro's charge. The Lieutenant and soldiers can wait a moment.. If they can perhaps drop their leader right off the bat.. This might be over before it even starts..
The boy takes a quick hoping step forwards. Leading hand generating a fairly sizable sphere of emerald energy in a whirling motion before lobbing the luminescent mass forth like a bomb. As the globe travels in a high arc, Kentou completes his movement with a whirling rotation, his off-hand around his back flinging a second dart of energy impacting the first.
The detonation of chi may be a mild thing compared to what his compatriots are employing.. But a multitude of tiny blows can still chop even the greatest tree down!

COMBATSYS: Zero blocks Alma's Self Expression.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Foxy             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0             Alma
[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Zero             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0             Jiro
                                  >  ///////////////////////////// ]
                                 |-------\-------\0           Kentou

COMBATSYS: Zero just-defends Jiro's Medium Punch!

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Foxy             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0             Alma
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Zero             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0             Jiro
                                  >  ///////////////////////////// ]
                                 |-------\-------\0           Kentou

COMBATSYS: Zero reflects Youdan Rengeki from Kentou with Hankyou.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Foxy             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0             Alma
[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Zero             0/-------/-----==|-------\-------\0             Jiro
                                  >  ///////////////////////////// ]
                                 |-------\-------\0           Kentou

The words are all fallen upon deaf ears. All of them. Zero stares on as impassively as ever as Alma makes his bold, defiant declarations, as Jiro seems to have a shot of nostalgia. Dark eyes only drift momentarily towards the young man. If Zero remembers him, he makes no gesture that would imply it.
Zero has no time to care about one experiment out of thousands, after all.
But if there is one thing that Zero derives from all of this preamble, it is what he suspected from the moment he stepped foot within the bounds of the YFCC: they will not surrender. His lips twitch vaguely downward in response.
"Then we will commence disablement."
The man barely even budges an inch as Alma suddenly rushes forward. The battle cry clues him in to what will come next before it even happens; Psycho Power fluctuates, a prickling feeling at the back of Zero's neck he has come to know well. That lance of fire flings outward, closer and closer--
--And then suddenly, it meets a single, shimmering palm.
It all happens within the span of several seconds, almost too fast to really keep up with under normal conditions. In a blurr of dark fabrics, Zero knocks aside the burning soul power with one hand shimmering with artificial chi, meeting it with a forward palm thrust before smacking it aside -- a vague numbness running down his arm, but little more. Jiro's arm flings out, but he never even /touches/ the NESTS second-in-command; seconds, /inches/ from reaching the dusky-skinned man's face, a crackling semi-bubble of violet energy suddenly washes into being between the two off them, the shimmering defensive field intercepting the punch harmlessly as Zero stares impassively onward. Not to Jiro -- but to Kentou.
"... This level of power is insufficient. You do not understand."
That field fades away before, in a flash, Zero /surges/ past Jiro, gripping the hem of his skirt. That sphere of energy is swatted forwards... and meets the metal, sharp-tipped prongs of the edge of Zero's skirt. Energy is suddenly gobbled up as Zero rotates in mid-air in a deft, one-eighty degree turn... and at the apex of the turn, all that gobbled chi is suddenly -shunted- out, redirected faster, more furiously, straight towards Kentou.
"You will die if you continue."

A familiar sight--


Blinking her red eyes, Foxy's expression briefly shifts, a mild expression of disbelief before she simply looks aside. She recalls the last they met--but only briefly. She refuses to let her thoughts delve further than that. It might cause her to hesitate. And if she hesitates, she could jeopardize this mission. Rather than meet Alma in the eyes, Foxy lets her eyes shift to the ground.

If he is as passionate as she recalls, maybe things will end peacefully..?

Sadly, this will not be the case. Instead, the YFCC's three saviors make their move. Flinching briefly as all three foolishly pursue one of NESTS' most powerful men in its employ, Foxy takes a step away before she leaps gracefully back. In tandem her rapier unsheaths itself from her hip, a flicker of crimson and steel as the ornate weapon is produced and readied.

"This isn't what I wanted," she muses softly aloud, her words tinged with a soft--almost sad--Spanish lilt.

"But this is what must be."

Gripping firmly to the hilt of her weapon, Foxy pushes off her back heel and lunges into the fray, a flash of steel as her weapon lashes out and thrusts forward, intent on severing the likes of Jiro away from Zero.

"Relent now!"

Even cavalry cannot trample down a wall.
And Alma cannot help but feel that a wall is what Zero is, or possesses; a wall of skill and technology that defuses and counters each of their combined attacks. The battle is being waged all around them, but they do not have time to pay attention to it. Victory will come down to the results of this fight here, in more ways than one. His allies depend on his courage just as much as his skill.
Time to wade into the fray.
"Encircle them!" Alma roars, sweeping aside a few swarming attackers, most of whom are eager to get out of his way and fight someone more on their level. "We have the advantage!" Presumably, he is referring to sheer numbers; technically, this is not true, as the NESTS soldiers unfortunately outnumber the students that remain. But in terms of 'officers', this is true-- and perhaps all that matters.
They certainly cannot just attack from the front.
He was expecting something along these lines, given the abilities that Igniz possesses, but Alma still cannot help but flinch slightly as Kentou's own attack is so powerfully reflected. He will save his breath for battle and strategy, though, and lead by example.
When he turns toward Foxy, there is no mercy in his eyes.
This is a time for justice.
As she approaches from Jiro's flank, Alma will plunge back from behind, having already pushed his way deeper into the enemy force. Seeking both to assist Jiro and set-up for a more effective team maneuver, trusting the intuitions of his allies, he'll throw himself into a spinning roundhouse kick, his foot igniting brightly with that same sparkling soulfire, a veritable banner for their side. Pure white mingles with cherry-blossom pink and royal indigo; whether or not that surprise kick connects, he will be spinning into several more, the latent force of his Soul Power buoying him up towards Foxy's head and into view of his allies.
But for all his determination, in the heat of battle he cannot prevent a hint of pain from reaching his eyes. Must be? Didn't want? This is exactly what Alma wants, insofar as he has no other worthy choice of action. And yet-- he understands precisely what she means.
That's exactly why...
"...You fool!"
He can't forgive her.

COMBATSYS: Jiro blocks Foxy's Medium Strike.

[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Foxy             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0             Alma
[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Zero             0/-------/-----==|=------\-------\0             Jiro
                                  >  ///////////////////////////// ]
                                 |-------\-------\0           Kentou

This is quite the situation.
As Jiro charges in towards Zero, the young man immediately slams the fist out against Zero's defenses. The energy field gives off a clatter of sparks as the young man is immediately pushed back from his assault. Hissing out a swear, the young man lands on his feet. The Stray Dog lands in time to get attacked by the woman's flank. When the flash of steel streaks towards his direction, Jiro shifts his head over to lift the right hand up in order to guard against it. The guantleted arm sparks upon impact.
The mind is under his battle mode. Anyone that gets in his way is a target. Yet, Jiro has to remember... he is not an animal anymore. He is not a monster. He is a fighter. His eyes shift over towards Alma to see him shooting to the air.
Jiro zips over towards the other side of Foxy with a spin, swinging the right leg against her ankles, aiming to have her fall into the path of Alma's flying kick. During the course of the spin, his eyes focus on Zero and the soldiers.
The eyes narrow.
They will get theirs.

COMBATSYS: Kentou blocks Zero's Reflected Youdan Rengeki.

[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Foxy             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0             Alma
[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Zero             0/-------/----===|-------\-------\0             Jiro
                                  >  //////////////////////////    ]
                                 |==-----\-------\0           Kentou

As the hail of attacks from the trio of extremely capable fighters simply rolls from the dark general like water off a duck's back.. That slim little hope Kentou had possessed is once again at the brink of extinction. Even worse.. Much worse..

Zero is looking at -him-.
Zero dismantles Kentou's neophyte technique as a master engineer would deconstruct a child's toy. Breaking apart its component chi with a whirl of that hyper-tech cape and hurtling a reconfigured blast of chi ten times as accurate and lethal as anything Kentou himself could generate so quickly. The oncoming destruction reflects in the boy's gaze like the headlights of a mac truck before the dumbstruck deer. Lips working in useless murmurs of disbelief as Kentou has only a split second to craft a defense! The youth -throws- himself backwards. His arms sweeping upwards in a deflecting movement. He knows he cannot meet Zero force for force - That is folly. He can only go loose, like a leaf on the wind.
The blast of energy's trajectory is altered only slightly upon impact, it is more accurate to say that Kentou bounces away from the blast that he does knock it astray. The boy -crashes- to the ground in a hard tumble, rolling to his feet without any feeling in his left arm whatsoever after the impact. The stray blast?
TThrough the wall. And the wall behind that.

Zero repeated his intentions. This time -specifically- at Kentou. 'May you be noticed by people of power' is a strong curse back home in Chinatown. Kentou wanted to help defend the place... But being singled out by a killing machine is the last thing he hoped would happen. Kentou believes every word the wicked invader utters. There is no boast or emotive vindictive there. It's a statement with all the matter-of-factness of a machine.
The boy's teeth grit, his fists curling tightly. It takes every last moment of his training to keep him from shaking all over.
'I'll be counting on you.'

Numb fingers slowly curl themselves into a fist. Leading before the second, held at his shoulder. Left bare foot sliding before right across broken glass, the comparatively tiny cuts mattering not at all. Kentou stares death in the face and replies with a ghost of a voice, "..T..that the.. best you got?"

Don't have to beat him.. Just have to delay him. Let Jiro and Alma take care of that Lieutenant over there first. Widdle them down. Stall the general just a little longer. Just a little more.. Let him make that much of a difference at least.
Please Hotaru.. Let all his training have counted for that much..

The boy is off like a shot. Crossing the distance, leaping from shoulder to shoulder of clustered soldiers and diving upon Zero like a suicidal bird of prey, "SHIN-JOU TAI!" Intent on raining down a half-dozen kicks, literally climbing up the ebon goliath's frame and delivering one more solid strike upside his head!

COMBATSYS: Foxy blocks Jiro's Quick Throw.

[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Foxy             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0             Alma
[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Zero             0/-------/----===|-------\-------\0             Jiro
                                  >  /////////////////////////     ]
                                 |==-----\-------\0           Kentou

COMBATSYS: Foxy counters Shooting Star from Alma with Seven Cycles.

[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Foxy             0/-------/------=|===----\-------\0             Alma
[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Zero             0/-------/----===|-------\-------\0             Jiro
                                  >  /////////////////////////     ]
                                 |==-----\-------\0           Kentou

COMBATSYS: Zero blocks Kentou's Shin-Jou Tai.

[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Foxy             0/-------/------=|===----\-------\0             Alma
[   \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Zero             0/-------/----===|-------\-------\0             Jiro
                                  >  /////////////////////////     ]
                                 |==-----\-------\0           Kentou

With the simple and decisive flick of his wrist, Zero's cape snaps back into rest across his long, powerful legs. That unnatural sensation builds again -- like an icyness that shudders across the entire lobby, seeming to mute out everything. Even as gunfire rings out, as soldiers are knocked back by people desperate to protect one of the few safe havens that they have remaining --
--Zero calculates the best, most resource-efficient method of stamping out all hope.
Still, Kentou is nothing if not determined. Glancing backwards towards Alma and Jiro as they engage Foxy, Zero says nothing; the woman can handle herself. They are, at this moment, not his problem. The weak link of this trio still stands -- Zero would eliminate him first before moving on to the others. Distantly, those cold eyes look down towards Kentou as he struggles back up. Those words of defiance almost seem to fall upon deaf ears again.
'...T...that the... best you got?'
Kentou springs forward, alone on this impromptu battlefield. Defiant and fast, he seeks to almost attempt to kick Zero into oblivion -- but each is met with the impact of palms as Kentou rises, literally /climbing up/ on Zero's /hands/ rather than his body. The final blow meets one solid forearm instead of head, a dull pain running across his darkly-clad arm. A soft grunt escapes him, but little more than that before he pushes Kentou away.
The words are stated almost matter-of-factly, and as Kentou falls, he might noticed why: Zero's shadow is /spreading out towards him./ Tendrils of darkness whip out across the floor, seeping up to grapple around Kentou's legs, dark arms and grasping hands of icy black-blue shadowy chi that seeks to hold him with a burning, cold, unpleasant grasp. Hold him still...
... Just in time for Zero to suddenly /hammer/ down towards the young man in a brutal, dizzyingly fast series of body blows, pummeling the younger, smaller boy with a series of punches and kicks to the head, the chest, the gut -- any weak points, before it is all finished by one singularly titanic punch straight to the child's forehead.
"It is not."

Steel cuts the air as Foxy blazes for Jiro, red eyes narrowed sharply as her arm extends. Muscles tense, the blade slicing forward at the youth--but to no real avail. An arm lifts, and to some mild surprise of the Venezuelan woman, he shields her blow with a gauntlet. Steel grinds on steel, sparks erupting before her blade withdraws. A counterattack is immanent; Foxy readies herself mentally.

--and physically. As Jiro zips around and swings a leg out to take her legs out from beneath her the woman steels her legs, boots unmoving and firmly planted. She moves slightly, a light grunt slipping past her lips before she turns her attentions aside, toward Alma. Within moments the young man is advancing upon Foxy, flames pouring from his very soul.

'You fool,' he accuses her. The woman frowns, long gloved fingers clutching tightly to her blade.

As the roundhouse comes in, Foxy suddenly moves, her arm a blur as that steel rises and swings around and down, intercepting the flaming strike. Stopping the pursuit cold, the woman delivers a grunt as she exerts herself and shoves forward with her blade, unbalancing the young man before she slashes the rapier at an angle, to mercilessly slash Alma from hip to shoulder.

"Am I?" she wonders softly.

"Think of what you've done, mister Towazu," Foxy advises with a frown. "You disobeyed orders. You didn't stand down. And now? You have endangered you and your friends here.

"Can you really call me a fool?"

Alma tumbles out of a sprawl, managing to neatly and gracefully regain his balance and master his momentum in the midst of a melee, seemingly unfazed by whatever injury he has sustained from the woman's flashing blade.
There is no time for vengeance.
Damn. They were too slow. Or, at least, their adversaries are too fast. The young director knows he cannot allow this state of affairs to continue any longer. Now that he has led the charge, as ineffectual as it may have been, and taken the initiative-- it is time to resume his real role, that of a bastion of defense.
"The wise do not fear sacrifice."
He shifts his gaze to Foxy, briefly amidst the roiling chaos.
"Our pain is meaningful. Our courage fulfills us."
He is both their friend and their father.
"Does a good mother hide her children, or teach them to take a stand?"
Surely she must understand.
"I thought you stood... for more than this."
They both have their integrity. He cannot truly be sad.
But maybe after this, they can be friends again.
If he doesn't have to kill her.
Leaping towards his youngest ally, diving out of the fray and into a new one, the alternate possible conclusion to this encounter, one that would too preclude their continued friendship, fails to slow him in the slightest.
"Kentou, behind me!"
If the boy can escape from his massive attacker, whether safely or less so, he will now have the option of standing behind their general-- charged, eyes blazing, now standing tall again, the diagonal line of blood staining his torso only magnifying his presence. He shudders faintly as lines of light surge through his veins, and the brightness that is so clear to him for once becomes obvious to others, his anima blossoming into view: a shield of gold and rose, burning about its edges with the white traced with pink and purple so familiar to those who have borne the brunt of his attacks. He stands in the center of the battlefield, back-- again a living banner to rally and mark the line of the defense.
He won't budge.
The weight of his duty will bind his feet to the ground.
The passion to do what is right will guide his fists.
His face does not betray it, but--
"There is no victory for the misguided."
Every fiber of his being sings with ecstasy.
He lives to stake his life.

COMBATSYS: Alma gathers his will.

[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Foxy             0/-------/------=|=======\-------\0             Alma
[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Zero             0/-------/-----==|-------\-------\0             Jiro
                                  >  /////////////////////////     ]
                                 |==-----\-------\0           Kentou

For the most part, Jiro had no intentions of getting hacked by the rapier of the woman. No, instead, Jiro chose to keep his guard over and to strike at her. Unfortunately, she proved to be too fast for his maneuver and the set-up. Alma is the unfortunate recipient in the blow. This elicts a hiss and a swear from the young man. A contempuous glare is marked on Foxy, yet his glare is soon shot towards Zero. A growl is echoing from him as he finally pivots his feet, shifting his stance to face Zero now.
With Kentou left alone, Jiro grunts and already moves off to assist the young boy. Thankfuly, Alma seems to have the same intentions on helping the younger lad.
~ Alma, you fucking dumbass... You should not had brought the kid in this! ~
The fist strikes against the ground, the feral eyes now directing itself towards Zero. "The sight of you..." The well of emotions draw along his body. The Ankoku flames ignite, burning with the fury. The scarlet blaze come to life to leave a trail of flames as Jiro zooms in towards Zero's direction.
Jiro closes in onto Zero, the leading fist grinding against the floor while his right leg leads in. As the distance becomes arm's length, Jiro immediately launches his fist upward to strike against Zero.

COMBATSYS: Zero successfully hits Kentou with Mabukousou.

[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Foxy             0/-------/------=|=======\-------\0             Alma
[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Zero             0/-------/---====|-------\-------\0             Jiro
                                  >  ///////////////               ]
                                 |=======\==-----\1           Kentou

============================ Character Information ============================
Message: 7/53 Posted Author
Kentou (Dead) Tue Feb 17 2009 Helios
Giblets of Kentou are now available for app.

Combating this menace is not merely a contest of physics. To fight Zero is to fight darkness itself. There is nothing more terrifying than the cold, calculations of a machine. An unfeeling, uncaring thing that cuts champions and children down with equal ruthlessness. The boy has serious doubts this ... Thing.. is even a human being. What good Earth could harbor such a terrible thing as he? Every moment of this battle Kentou fights for his -courage-. The will to continue meeting this ... abomination.
Only an idiot would throw his life away recklessly. Every moment in this presence of this unnamed fear flays at his nerve. Kentou forces himself to focus.. Forces himself to think.
Every moment he fights this thing.. Another kid gets away. Every moment he fights this thing.. Hotaru's chances of being alright are a little bigger.
In that context.. Kentou regrets only that he doesn't have enough moments to give.

As the dark giant deflects Kentou's rain of blows with hardly any effort at all, the boy is not deterred. The youth expected this - If Zero could thwart Alma and Jiro's assaults with relative ease, the youth knew the chances of him scoring a clean hit on this evil general is just above nil. No, the goal was to just keep him on the defensive, maybe hold him off just a little more..

Kentou vaults away from Zero's dismissive block in a full flip. Landing nimbly on his feet on the dark floor, just beginning to reassert his mobile stance. Mobility is unquestionably key here to fight that man. If he can't move.. The boy is surely d-

"Ooooohcrap.." Kentou blurts as he realizes his feet are glued to the floor. Wide eyes stare downwards as a gasp explodes from his lips.. He's been caught - By his SHADOW? The youth never even considered someone could attack like that.. Never even thought to look straight down.. Never even..
Legs worm powerlessly in the coiling blackness. Eyes lift up just in time to see Zero upon him like an executioner's blade. Alma's screaming voice only barely heard in the back of his mind as time itself slows down to the moment where his vision is completely blotted by the dark.

....I tried Hotaru..

Butchery is barely an apt description for what Zero inflicts upon the mere boy. Blood splatters paint the floor here and there in wild patterns as the young fighter is smashed relentlessly. Body flailing with every impact helplessly before that final blow directly to the head. Buckling him completely backwards, finally freeing him from the dark prison of the floor.
The youth hurtles through the previously blasted hole in the wall.. To crash in a wet heap a room over.

The weakest link must surely have been broken with that...

COMBATSYS: Kentou takes no action.

[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Foxy             0/-------/------=|=======\-------\0             Alma
[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Zero             0/-------/---====|-------\-------\0             Jiro
                                  >  ///////////////               ]
                                 |=======\==-----\1           Kentou

COMBATSYS: Zero counters Burning Hell from Jiro with Forcefield.

[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Foxy             0/-------/------=|=======\-------\0             Alma
[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Zero             0/-------/-======|===----\-------\0             Jiro
                                  >  ///////////////               ]
                                 |=======\==-----\1           Kentou

Staring on blandly, Zero says nothing as his crushing blows send the poor, little defender spiraling through the air to land in a bloody heap well beyond the scope of his vision. His right hand snapping back to his side, Zero dismisses Kentou just as simply as that. There is no remorse, no pity.
And it cannot be said he didn't give them justifiable chance to relent.
Now there is no chance for it; each and every one of these defenders must be pummeled into nothing. Soldiers sweep back around him, being pushed back and pushing forward in return. Light fixtures explode with the spray of errant bullets, electricity crackling as shattered glass rains down around him. He dismisses it, looking sidelong towards Alma. He's preparing something. But what--
Zero is not alloted the time to discern such things; only a second after his gaze shifts, Jiro is rushing at Zero headling. It is a reckless charge, a blatantly obvious charge. Yet Zero still does not look at him. That fist swings upward in a fiery blow--
--and once more strikes artificially-induced energy with the surging crackle of violet. Chi fields ripple in waves of violet like a lake disturbed as Zero's eyes blandly look towards Jiro.
"... Begone."
Defense is suddenly converted into offense as, in an instant, that forcefield shunts out electric-like jolts of royal purple energy, intent on blasting Jiro backwards and away from the second-in-command of NESTS once more.
"...Suicide charges were labeled such for a reason."

"You would sacrifice your colleagues for this?"

Withdrawing her blade, the woman's arm shoots out to her side, a spray of red staining the floor by her booted heel. "You call this fight meaningful?" Frowning sharply, the woman's crimson-colored eyes hood, her jaw set as she lightly clenches her teeth. "No, a mother does not hide her children."

Pausing, a sharp breath escapes Foxy's lips.

"But there is a proper time and place--this is not one of them. Don't you see that?"

A glance is spared, her eyes taken off the passionate Alma as she regards her superior and the mess he has made. He handles himself well, she notes. There was never a doubt that Zero could very well handle this all by himself against the YFCC. But NESTS isn't made of fools; all caution must be fully exercised. Foxy must be sharp--she cannot let herself falter, even if she doesn't agree with violence against children like Kentou. Alma's words aren't helping that.

Furrowing her brows, Foxy says nothing. Instead, her dusky features seem distantly insulted before she glances back to Alma, her eyes narrowed. That energy of his...

She won't be thrown off. No; Foxy will give her all, for her ambitions and hopes. This is all necessary, if only for a better world. Someday, everything will be as she dreams. A world that is peaceful. A world without pain or violence. This is but a step forward, a step in the right direction--

All she sees is Alma as she breaks into a dash before she drops low and attempts to slide into Alma's ankle and take his feet out. But she doesn't stop there; instead, her body flips up and around above Alma as her rapier flashes once again, a wide, circular swing delivered with the blade, a flicker of pale violet energy lancing across the blade as she strikes.


COMBATSYS: Foxy successfully hits Alma with Silver Moon.

[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Foxy             0/-------/-----==|=======\===----\1             Alma
[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Zero             0/-------/-======|===----\-------\0             Jiro
                                  >  ///////////////               ]
                                 |=======\==-----\1           Kentou

Alma isn't sure what hurts more.
Poised; he was poised, ready to take whatever onslaught was offered. Ruthless; conviction frees him from the shackles of the emotional stress of this battle, allowing him to transcend what would otherwise rend his heart asunder. But Kentou's pain, he cannot but feel it. Even barring regret, even if on some level his will toward his ideals is no less terrifying than that of his opponents, Alma's braced body trembles with the sight of the disaster that befalls his young compatriot.
Yet his expression does not change.
What courage; what an undeserved fate.
His determined gaze makes it easy to miss his tears.
But stress piles up upon even the most transcendant of us, and what occur might as well be a twin assault upon Alma's body and heart. He is a split-second too slow, his guard following rather than pre-empting the woman's strikes; what would have been a jam kick to stop her slide only staggers him, rendering him open to the wide slash. Yet the spray of blood appears to him as from someone else. The pain registers as though from afar, no matter how close.
For it is meaningful, and therefore cannot deter him.
Hold them. He just needs to hold them. He will be the line of defense; he will not spare himself anything. For his friends; for Kentou; out of the urgent need to set his own life afire. Unfazed, unrelenting, Alma cries out with righteous fury, his fists blurring around Foxy's blade in an effort to force her back and reassert a guarded stance, one prepared for the further assaults of anyone who might dare to pass.

Leave it to Jiro to perform such suicidal charges.
As the young man thrusts his fist out to strike against Zero's form, his fist finds its way towards the artificially-induced energy that crackles. A hiss escapes Jiro as he growls at the taller man. "You.... bassttaaarddd!" And then, that is when the shield manifests an electric jolt to send Jiro flying across the building. "Egghghn...." The body smashes against the wall, splattering the blood all over the place. Few chunks of the wall crumble upon impact.
Slowly, but surely, Jiro is getting back to his feet. He steps straight towards Zero, then he extends a hand out. He twists the hand to a middle finger and he snorts. "..Bring it, asshole. It'll take more than that to take me down."

COMBATSYS: Jiro focuses on his next action.

[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////           ]
Foxy             0/-------/-----==|=======\===----\1             Alma
[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Zero             0/-------/-======|===----\-------\0             Jiro
                                  >  ///////////////               ]
                                 |=======\==-----\1           Kentou

It is definitely not looking good for the home team.

Alma continues going toe to toe with the swordswoman without much avail and the Stray Dog is being hurled about like a ragdoll by the completely unfazed Zero. The remaining younger fighters are slowly but surely being driven back by the well-armed soldiers as the YFCC is being overtaken inch by inch.

But its defenders, as ragtag and inexperienced as they may be, have suffered much over the last year. Hope may be lost.. But by God these attackers will know they were in a -fight-.

Or so swears Kentou.. As the previously-thought slaughtered youth crawls back into sight of the battle.
Everything hurts. Zero's assault literally knocked the boy cold for the span of several seconds. He doesn't think he's ever been beaten so hard in his entire life.. And he's taken a pounding before.
Blood runs from the corners of his lips. His chinese fighting uniform in tatters around his bruised frame.
But.. He stands.
Kentou staggers from the other room, clobbering an onrushing NESTs soldier before the jackbooted thug could pistol whip a retreating student. The flurry of blows followed by a sharp kick to yet another Soldier whom doubles to the floor. His entire universe is composed of red and pain. If he thought about running before.. Those thoughts have tripled in urgency now. He can't run.. He won't run.
In his blurry vision he can barely make out Jiro squaring off with the monolithic villain, still unhurt despite everything thrown at him. The bright light still dueling with the swordswoman. In his addled estimation.. That larger threat must be dealt with. No matter how terrifying.. No matter how seemingly invincible. If they turn their back on him now.. It will only make it that much easier for him to cut them down. There's no going back now. The decision has been made.
All Kentou can hope for.. Is that what they do now will be worthy of remembrance.
"..HaaH!" The boy's stumble breaks into a run. Shoulder-rushing yet another unexpecting Soldier to the floor as he rushes for that dark giant. Elegance thrown to the wind now, as Kentou just does what he can. Perhaps disrupting Zero's concentration just long enough.. just little enough.. for Jiro's attack to land true..
The boy's fists whirl in a double-palm strike towards Zero's mid-section, stepping into the blow to muster as much force and speed as the boy can bring to bear!

COMBATSYS: Zero interrupts Fierce Punch from Kentou with Satsuma.

[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////           ]
Foxy             0/-------/-----==|=======\===----\1             Alma
[       \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Zero             0/-------/=======|===----\-------\0             Jiro
                                  >  /////                         ]
                                 |>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2           Kentou

Violet chi crackles away like shards of ethereal glass as Zero stares in silent contemplation at Jiro. The boy knows him. From where? He considers for a moment, and then--
"Oh," he says, as if in a revelation. The boy with the rage suppressant. Zero's lips twitch idly upon the memory. Nostalgic?
"It seems that experiment was a failure, then."
Likely not.
But Jiro seems to be holding his ground. The action is dismissed almost immediately; already, the NESTS field commander is already devising counter strategies, developing a plan to disrupt whatever Jiro thinks he has in mind. Invisible force wells up around Zero like a sickening, forboding presence--
But whatever he has planned never sees the light of day. The second he takes a step forward, Zero notices something out of the corner of his eye: a soldier blown backwards in the wake of a furious blow. A desperate blow. A technique that seems rather indicative of--
"Wasted energy."
The very minute Kentou springs upon him, Zero grips onto the edge of his skirt, and strikes. Those palms just barely scrape against Zero's chest with enough force to briefly stumble him before his wrist flicks. His massive cape suddenly expands to even larger proportions as nanoweave fibres stretch outwards, the toothed edge of the blade sawing upwards into Kentou's torso, dragging from hip to shoulder in a vicious diagonal swathe of complete and unrelenting brutality, as if he would simply have sawed the boy in half if it had been convenient.
Fortunately for Kentou, it is not.
"... You are done here."

COMBATSYS: Foxy just-defends Alma's Spring Shower!

[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////           ]
Foxy             0/-------/-----==|=======\===----\1             Alma
[       \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Zero             0/-------/=======|===----\-------\0             Jiro
                                  >  /////                         ]
                                 |>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2           Kentou

Keeping her eyes entirely on Alma, she does so for good reason. She doesn't want to watch how or what Zero does to the young fighter refusing to stand down. She can feel in her bones it won't be good. It can't be good. They should have stood down. They should have let NESTS through without a fight. But they didn't! And now--

Steeling her gaze, the woman's hand clutches firmly to the hilt of her ornate rapier. It shudders lightly beneath her glove, the weapon's tip shivering in the air--before it stops. Those oddly blood-red eyes of Foxy's narrow. There lies resolve upon her face now. She is determined. She must fight, even if she does not agree with this or her compatriot's methods. The smell of blood is strong.

The young man moves swiftly, but Foxy holds firm to her ground. She lets her arm tense as Alma pursues, his fist aimed to strike one of many blows upon the Venezuelan. "Futile!" she cries, the steel of her weapon suddenly cutting sideways, intercepting the initial strike before she swiftly hops back and away, distancing herself from Alma as her weapon sheathes at her hip.

Slowly, both arms rise up, crossing at the wrists above her head.

"It wasn't worth it," she speaks softly. "This fight was doomed from the beginning..."

With a flick of her wrist, eight crimson steel needles are produced. Seconds after she steps forward and swings both arms outwards, launching a wave of needles right for Alma, to pierce through his defenses--and possibly worse.

COMBATSYS: Alma fails to interrupt Horn of the Unicorn from Foxy with Blaze of Glory EX.

[   \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Foxy             0/-------/----===|=======\======-\1             Alma
[       \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Zero             0/-------/=======|===----\-------\0             Jiro
                                  >  /////                         ]
                                 |>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2           Kentou

Blood. Blood everywhere.
Alma cannot see for the haze of his own fury. Is that-- is that Kentou? No-- how could he be so reckless? Is it his fault? Is it what he said?
Is this what he deserves?
'You think you can take responsibility for that man's life?'
Oddly, it is his words to Seishirou that echo back at him now.
To take responsibility for another man's life...
There's no turning back now.
He grins through his tears at his opponent.
"Nothing is more worthy than a doomed battle!"
If he has been wrong--
He will pay with his life.
Surging from his fist, a blazing blade. Cutting out, shearing away, he plunges forth, directly into Foxy's attack. It's a heinously risky maneuver, yet initially he seems to do quite well. Needle after needle is neatly parried, and it seems as though he is about to reach her, that the young man's blade of illusory fire may cut through her own, phasing into her body, making his emotions ring clear throughout her heart.
It is not to be.
Only the first five are blocked-- the later three he cannot endure. Pierced first, he staggers; the final two shear directly through his body, gore exploding in thin streaks from his back. Those manning the fortifications, already hard pressed, seem to waver-- never more than now does it seem as though their victory in the center is pinned to their victory here.
Did those just-- go through him?
That's strange.
Blinking, with an almost clinical expression, Alma tears away his ruined shirt, studiously mopping away at his small but gaping wounds.
He can't feel anything.
Taking a deep breath, he sets his feet once more, refusing to fall.
Everything just... melts away.
As though he's afire.

That barrier.... Jiro has to break through that damn forcefield somehow. This is something that will not do. Jiro grits his teeth, drawing upon the well of energy until the man slowly draws his attention straight towards the young boy charging at Zero with the double-palm strike, at least, only to see Zero use the massive saw-blades to rend the boy into pieces. His eyes widen in horror, "KENTOU!"
Sure, Kentou did not like Jiro. Sure, Jiro has tried what he could to make the boy at least see things from his point of view. And he is sure Kentou is glad that Jiro is convicted as a murderer. However, he is Hotaru's student and so Jiro takes some responsibiity for the boy. Growling under his breath, the young man immediately brings his right hand down to his side. His fingers bend and the palm pushes out. A low whir of energy echos forth as scarlet sparks illuminate from the palm.
Lifting the hand up, he winds the right hand down while he left arm grips to the end of the forearm, near the elbow.
A surge of energy ignites from the right hand, then he keeps his stance on the ground as he concentrates the rush of energy into his grasp. He will not let Kentou's strike go in vain. As the surge becomes rapid, the scarlet ball expands. Encompassing his entire hand, the ball soon separates, growing to the size of his entire mid-section.
"This is for Kentou...."
A thunderous boom crackles from the hand as the giant scarlet ball launches from the hand. Joining it are a few smaller sparks of energy orbiting the single large ball as it zooms towards Zero.

Done and undone.

Even if Kentou was at the very top of his game, the youth would never have suspected an attack method as oblique as nanoweave battle skirts. Doubtful that he could have managed the incredible timing and precision it would have taken to evade such a defensive strike.. And the wobbly youth is hardly at the top of his game.

The boy rushes to his doom. The sawing blade shrieks upwards, rending him across his middle in a horrific display. Once again the surfaces of the YFCC are bathed in the blood of its defenders. A shriek escapes the youth's lips as he's thrown away. Crashing onto the ruin of the front desk that Frei so often sat in slumbering vigilance. The frame buckling beneath him and crumpling into splintered wreckage. His limbs akimbo.. Body utterly spent and broken.

Was it courage that guided the boy? Foolishness in the face of an enemy they should have retreated before? Is there ever a good reason to fall before an enemy? .. Kentou can only hope he found one. As consciousness mercifully leaves the periphery of his darkening vision.. He can only hope he made Hotaru proud somehow.. Someway..

The fourteen year old boy's head rolls to the side. His young, blooded body going still.

COMBATSYS: Kentou takes no action.

[   \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Foxy             0/-------/----===|=======\======-\1             Alma
[       \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Zero             0/-------/=======|==-----\-------\0             Jiro

COMBATSYS: Kentou can no longer fight.

[   \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Foxy             0/-------/----===|=======\======-\1             Alma
[       \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Zero             0/-------/=======|==-----\-------\0             Jiro

COMBATSYS: Zero blocks Jiro's Meteor Buster.

[   \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Foxy             0/-------/----===|=======\======-\1             Alma
[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Zero             1/-------/=======|===----\-------\0             Jiro

[OOC] Alma says, "Good to go, your move Zero."

[OOC] Alma yyyooooouuur mooooooove~

"Target eliminated."
The words come coldly as the bladed edge of Zero's cape knock Kentou away like a veritable sack of potatoes; and really, that is what he might as well be in Zero's eyes -- what all of them might as well be.
His value for their lives ceased to exist the moment they decided to turn down the offer of surrender.
Blood spatters against the cold ground of the YFCC lobby as Zero snaps his skirt back into place along his legs. Lifeless eyes observe Kentou's fallen form for a brief, dispassionate moment -- before the man's senses pick up that surge of chi from Jiro once more. His gaze drifts impassively towards the young man as he lifts a single hand.
"Perhaps you did not hear me before."
Black and violet chi encircles Zero's hand as Jiro's scarlet mass of orbiting power is launched free. Encasing his open palm like a chrysalis, Zero /thrusts/ that hand forward STRAIGHT into the mass of chi, puncturing it through its epicentre. Scarlet flames burn at his arm, dragging up a path to his shoulder. But the stark majority? Is dispersed across Zero's body, shattered into nothingness before it can hit cleanly.
"The difference between us is too wide. You do not stand a chance."
And suddenly, Zero is upon Jiro, lunging forward at furious speed to simply lodge his right knee straight into the young man's midsection without even a second's glance.

There is no arrogance on her face, no smug pleasure or morbid delight; instead, Foxy's tanned face is the picture of stern determination. She hides well the uneasiness this encounter brings to her soul. She fights for a future that is without pain and agony, but--

The needles fly from her delicate hands, aimed for the spirited young man. And though he tries well to break through them and counterattack, her pursuits prevail. Needles pierce, blood flying from the impact as they find their mark. Lightly--barely perceptible--is the wince on the woman's face. She didn't want it to come to this. Really...

Recoiling a step away from the bloodied young fighter, Foxy looks away, glancing briefly elsewhere. She takes inventory: one down, two left. Zero has handled himself more than capably here in this endeavor, and there is no immediate need for her to intervene. Not yet, anyway.

"Mister Towazu," the woman states, her blood-red gaze sliding back onto Alma.

"Do you really believe that all of this was worth the blood and pain?"

Whatever his answer, Foxy doesn't wait. Instead, the woman kicks off her back foot and unsheathes the blade once more. With her rapier in hand, the Venezuelan fencer thrusts forward with the blade's tip, attempting to pierce the fighter's abdomen with a swift strike before she plants a foot. Almost instantly she pivots on her heel and spins, swinging the blade around, a circular slash delivered at the blonde's chest.

COMBATSYS: Alma interrupts Memory of Noah from Foxy with Divine Intervention EX.

[       \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////                   ]
Foxy             0/-------/=======|=======\===----\1             Alma
[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Zero             0/-------/-======|===----\-------\0             Jiro

[OOC] Jiro 'Rampantly Contagious' Kasagi says, "Yay, Alma!"

[OOC] Alma says, "Let's get epic. XD"

Blood mars his vision; pain rings shrilly in his ears. Body numb from injury, heart rended with agony, the chaos around him is half-perceived, surreally presented in blips and flashes.
Alma hears her words as though from afar.
The looming possibility of his own death fails to disturb him. In his own way, the young man has long felt as though he were living on borrowed time, that his awakening should have been his end and that, somehow, the fate he unintentionally evaded still wanders confusedly in the past, looking for him, someday to emerge into the present and claim the person he has become. A man who thinks like this must become either a ghost or an angel-- and Alma made his choice. Yet this choice has always depended on his faith, on his certainty that he has taken responsibility for all his actions, that he will have no apology to make to that stray reaper.
Can he really embrace this?
His charges, they may die.
Has he saved anyone? Are his standards simply too skewed?
Blood, and pain...
Alma blinks into the glint of her rapier.
How trivial they might be if he lived otherwise.
His body trembling, that resilient flame ignites once more, traveling up his arm to subsume his body-- and down to his off-hand, with which he slaps aside the deadly point of her blade. And as he draws his right hand back, his bloodied face, its beauty acquiring a tinge of the ethereal with its growing paleness, is clear-eyed and soft, as though under the influence of a blessed religious trance.
He sounds almost surprised.
Thrusting forward his right fist, he unleashes a piercing beam of white light to, it appears, shear through her lower torso, illusory flame propelling Foxy backwards, as it passes through the broken windows and up into the sky, a beacon of his spirit.
The blood is unfamiliar. He can't feel the pain anymore. He's not afraid.
But something hurts, hurts so much, deep inside.
He cares. They all care.
That, he is certain, is worth all of this.

[OOC] Jiro 'Rampantly Contagious' Kasagi says, "Okay. Time to join Alma in the success train!"

[OOC] Jiro 'Rampantly Contagious' Kasagi hops on.

COMBATSYS: Jiro counters Light Kick from Zero with Helldrive.

[       \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////                   ]
Foxy             0/-------/=======|=======\===----\1             Alma
[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Zero             1/-------/=======|====---\-------\0             Jiro

[OOC] Alma laughs.

[OOC] Jiro 'Rampantly Contagious' Kasagi says, "Wow, I didn't get kicked off like I thought I was."

[OOC] Alma says, "Clever, Jiro. By jinxing yourself, you overrode your perpetual auto-jinx. A veritable double negative of luck."

[OOC] Jiro 'Rampantly Contagious' Kasagi <3

[OOC] Alma XD XD

Zero would pay. That is all that mattered to Jiro.
Honestly, Jiro doesn't remember all that Zero did to him. Only thing that Jiro can recall is his feral screams and the remininence of the sears against his face, as if it left a mark on him. He doesn't remember any of the past events, but he could remember that Kain was watching on the other side of the glass. Something that -he- allowed.
Now? Kentou was beaten like a rag doll by the man and Jiro was getting the equal treatment. Sure, Kentou doesn't like him. Jiro hasn't bothered trying to make the kid like him, but at least understand him. But this is where his heart is at. The boy was brave enough to fight, he would be avenged.
When the blast zooms towards the NESTS agent, Jiro sneers. Lowering his head, the eyes remain staring at Zero, now forming to inhuman slits as his fangs bear. "Egghgnnnnn!"
As the struggle of chi manifests and the scarlet ball of energy is quickly dispersed, Jiro's eyes widen with shock, then the eyes narrow once more. As Zero approaches Jiro, the young man notes the speeding foot coming his way. That is...
"I heard you... But..."
... When Jiro steps towards Zero. His hand smacks against Zero's foot and then both hands snap out at Zero's neck. The fingers wrap around the man's neck and the fingers slide against the dispassionate man's throat, seeking to press against it.
"Fuck. You."
Next, Jiro immediately lifts Zero up to press the choke, and then he launches Zero off of his feet and into the air enough for the young man to wrap each arm around each of Zero's legs. His body ignites with the scarlet blaze. The fury of the Ankoku flames engulfing him. After wrapping along the legs, Jiro immediately swings his body towards the path of the ground, transferring the chi towards Zero's form.
As Jiro delivers a forceful powerbomb on Zero, the ground releases an explosion of scarlet chi for the landing.

[OOC] Zero says, "did you just say biotch"

[OOC] Jiro 'Rampantly Contagious' Kasagi says, "Yes."

[OOC] Zero says, "the word commonly used by angry fat black women"

[OOC] Zero says, "i just imagine you z-snapping now :("

[OOC] Jiro 'Rampantly Contagious' Kasagi :(

Flames and arms overtake Zero in a brief flash of pain as Jiro manages to override and outmaneuver his assault. There is a momentary look of surprise on the NESTS XO's face -- a brief flicker of disbelief that lasts all of a second before he is vaulted upwards and then SLAMMED down into the hard ground with the eruption of scarlet flames.
By the time Zero detaches from Jiro and rolls back onto his knees, that dispassionate expression has once more settled in. Chi instantly snuffs out around Zero's body; dusky skin is scorched here and there, and parts of his seemingly simple yet infinitely complex battle armor seem to be somewhat burnt. He doesn't seem to notice. Jiro surprised him, but--
"Hrm. Your chi output..." he begins slowly, calmly. "... burns out quickly, doesn't it?"
Once more, Zero presses into close combat, refusing to give Jiro even an inch to stand in. His right fist slings out, to bury itself powerfully into the young man's solar plexus -- before swinging about in a sudden, oddly graceful movement to /smash/ his left elbow straight into Jiro's temple, restraining no force nor effort in the movement.

Yes, Alma replies. The woman's features turn a touch grim.

"Very well," Foxy murmurs, clutching to her rapier. "I confess--I do not regret anything!" If he chooses to fight for his causes, for his beliefs without regret...then so too must she. For her dreams..!

Pushing forward, the woman's body moves hurriedly, sleek steel winking in the light as she makes her advance. Yet just as her weapon slashes outward, cutting into the young defender--

She can't really think. Pain blinds the woman's vision, flames of soul energy searing into her lanky form and propelling the NESTS scientist back several feet. Determined, though, she quickly recaptures her balance, heels skidding across the floor of the YFCC before finally she comes to a stop. Her features are painted with an expression of pain, her breathing a touch heavy. He's strong...

A breath slips past her lips, sharp but painful, as she gathers her will to fight. "I will not relent until you have been neutralized," she warns, frowning lightly as her red eyes narrow. "It must be so."

And so, despite her aching body, Foxy once again charges, rapier in hand as she darts forth with every intention of skewering her weapon through the man's abdomen.

COMBATSYS: Foxy successfully hits Alma with Tree of Beginning.
- Power hit! -

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////                       ]
Foxy             1/-------/=======|=======\======-\1             Alma
[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Zero             1/-------/=======|====---\-------\0             Jiro

Alma wonders.
Does Foxy not regret anything? Is this truly what she wants? Is she not mistaken regarding the manner in which she pursues her goals, her conviction blinding her to the consequences? Or is Alma no different himself?
Is this not the consequence of unadulterated faith?
Alma exhales quietly, blood flecking his opponent's face.
With a silent melancholy air, his gaze lowers to regard the sword that has thrust through his body, the bloody hands that vice-like grasp her own. And with his breath, the ghost of words, almost inaudible:
"It must be so."
It has ceased to matter who is right and who is wrong; in the madness of battle even he can no longer discern the difference. Alma will never cease, in the defiance of his beliefs, to insist that the conviction of men such as Igniz is inherently flawed, that in its sins contains within it the seeds of its own destruction. But he has learned that it is conviction nonetheless. It is difficult for him, but he must regard Foxy herself as evil.
Still, she has integrity, just as much as he.
With such a realization, even a crusader can find peace.
It is thus that when Alma, spectral with his body's torment, looks up again, he is smiling; and it is thus that when his hand has, wraith-like, risen with the speed of unbidden intuition to Foxy's temple, he has the expression of one making a heartfelt gesture of respect.
Is this not the tragic beauty of those who recognize the urgent necessity of taking a stand?
Given the opportunity, he will make her world white flame.
This is all he needs now.
With this engraving, may he live within her heart forever--
As a fellow champion of noble ideals.

COMBATSYS: Zero successfully hits Jiro with Medium Punch.

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////                       ]
Foxy             1/-------/=======|===----\-------\0             Alma
[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Zero             1/-------/=======|=======\-------\0             Jiro

[OOC] Jiro 'Rampantly Contagious' Kasagi says, "Egggcchhhh!!! e_e"

Slamming the stoic mad brought a sense of satisfaction to Jiro. Maybe it is because Jiro performed a Pro-Wrestling technique. Perhaps this is part of Jiro's vengance for Kentou and his memories. Perhaps it is justice. Whatever it is, Jiro is soaking in on that pleasure inwardly while he outwardly shifts back into his fighting position. With the hood over his head, both hands extend out and the hands ball into knuckles before they contract back to a guarding position.
"...Meh. I don't need a long chi output to kick your ass."
When Zero steps into the range, Jiro is attempting to shift his right leg out and twist for the punch to go past his side. Unfortunately, the fist makes a nice swing towards his solar plex. As it strikes true to the center, his eyes widen as his back arches. The hunching causes saliva to fly out before he is caught against the temple with the elbow. THe body is twisting towards the ground and Jiro falls flat on his face.
Slowly getting back up to his feet, Jiro lifts his hands back up, gritting his teeth while he keeps his guard. Taking a step forward, Jiro sweeps his right hand out towards Zero's arm, attempting to grab the arm over to launch a knee towards his stomach before whipping towards the left to send him across the lobby.

COMBATSYS: Zero fails to counter Improvised Grapple from Jiro with Mabukousou.

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////                       ]
Foxy             1/-------/=======|===----\-------\0             Alma
[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Zero             1/-----==/=======|=======\-------\1             Jiro

[OOC] Jiro 'Rampantly Contagious' Kasagi says, "I got to try out my new normal. *_*"

Hyo has disconnected.

Hyo has connected.

The twin blows strike cleanly, with the tremendous physical force that Zero has to bring to bear. His body snaps around, as if in preparation for what's to come next. He sees Jiro lunging forward, he knows quite clearly what will come next --
--But something happens between the moment of his blows' connection to the second that Jiro grasps his arm. Whether the young man moved too fast, or Zero miscalculated his own forward thrust, brief crackles of eerie black chi is all that Jiro will see as the precursor of what could have been before that blow buries itself into Zero's stomach. It is far more than enough to stagger him, disable his footing--
-- before Jiro uses that momentum to his advantage, capitalizing on Zero's momentary poor balance to whip him across the lobby. Zero flies, crashing back-first into a desk, with enough force to briefly knock the wind out of him. Plastic and stone crunch underneath his impact, and for a moment, Zero lies there, silent. He frowns.
"... Perhaps it is time to consider you a slightly more serious threat."

COMBATSYS: Foxy blocks Alma's Absolution.

[            \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////                       ]
Foxy             1/-----==/=======|===----\-------\0             Alma
[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Zero             1/------=/=======|=======\-------\1             Jiro

At Alma's words, his seeming peace and acceptance somewhat disarming for Foxy. Briefly her gaze falters, crimson-colored eyes glancing aside as she holds to her blade--the blade skewered through her opponent. Surely this is the limit--surely he cannot push himself any further. He's taken so much and lost so much blood...

Frowning, the woman just meets Alma's gaze, even as he begins to bleed that odd soul power at his command. She watches, her arms discreetly tense in anticipation. He is sure to retaliate--her fighter's intuition tells her as much. That aura around Alma--

Suddenly his arm moves. Her reaction is simple; withdrawing the blade from within Alma, the woman pushes back and draws her arms up, shielding her face and torso from the sudden rush of white fiery energy that roars forward. It's intense and painful, the woman's defenses pushed and tested by Alma's passions and determination. But, like him, she too is guided by her passions and determination. She won't relent. She won't be taken down.

"I'm sorry," she whispers.

With a shrill cry, Foxy pushes forward, rapier in hand once more as she attempts to close in on Alma and deliver a slash of her weapon from left hip to right shoulder before she snaps a gloved hand out, to push the youth backwards--and hopefully down.

COMBATSYS: Alma dodges Foxy's Medium Strike.

[            \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////                       ]
Foxy             1/-----==/=======|===----\-------\0             Alma
[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Zero             1/------=/=======|=======\-------\1             Jiro

Yes; he must already be dead.
Alma's body feels weightless, his spirit empty and depleted. It's alright; it's alright. His effusion of Soul Power, the release of his inner turmoil as focused and controlled by that burning passion, seemed to strike a wall, dispersing, pre-empted. Yet he feels no particular dissatisfaction.
No, don't be sorry; why be sorry?
What he cannot quite understand is why she seems to be attacking again. Every sense convinces him he is no longer a part of this world; he cannot experience his body as his own. Perhaps she has mistaken his corpse for a living person. Or no, is this his mistake, is this simply a delusion, a flaring aftereffect of what he has unleashed?
Blinking like a curious child, Alma sways with the surreal grace of a drunken master, eerily unfazed by his numerous flowing wounds. He can no longer hear the cries of those he swore to lead. He feels merely a mother's arms wrapped around him, the embrace of the void.
Sighing, falling backwards, the ravaged beauty gently lifts a hand as though releasing a butterfly, bringing forth seemingly by accident a spiraling plume of sparkling soulfire instead, his ragged breaths taking form, his being continuing to assert itself against Foxy's own as it plunges toward her.
The fire within him, it's still burning, but only just.
Soon, surely, it will consume him utterly.
Is this what it means to be free?
Or maybe...
Well, it's no longer worth asking.
His thoughts simply won't order themselves anymore.

"Tsch....About time."
Jiro scoffs at Zero as he is flying against the desk. A glare remains homed in at the man as he focuses on the next movement. The fact is this. Jiro is not going to go for anything fancy, but only something very direct and practical.
"The Center's closed...."
While Zero remains remains lying on the desk, the young man starts to sprint at his very direction. As Jiro gets the head start on meeting with Zero, Jiro immediately takes a quick spring off of the ground with the leading foot. His right leg drives down to strike at the stomach of Zero, aiming to give a good thrust to keep him planted on the table.

COMBATSYS: Zero blocks Jiro's Light Kick.

[            \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////                        ]
Foxy             1/-----==/=======|===----\-------\0             Alma
[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Zero             1/-----==/=======|=======\-------\1             Jiro

"Do not grow arrogant."
The statement is delivered coldly and with such abrupt, matter-of-factness it might take anyone by surprise. Delivered with such a sharp contrast to Jiro's angry, almost incoherent yelling, Zero stands full and tall, gripping something within his right hand. He watches Jiro with a look of mild dissatisfaction as the boy charges in. One leg sweeps--
--and it intercepted with a single palm, almost effortlessly stopping the boy's assault mid-swing. Foot meets palm in a sudden CRACK of impact before Zero /thrusts/ the leg to the side, leaps back--
--and in one, smooth motion, launches forward a single chunk of stone dislodged from the desk, aiming to knock it straight across the side of Jiro's head as he lands just a short distance away.
"It leads to sloppy errors."

COMBATSYS: Foxy blocks Alma's Sacred Wave.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////                        ]
Foxy             1/----===/=======|====---\-------\0             Alma
[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Zero             1/-----==/=======|=======\-------\1             Jiro


He's greatly wounded, bloodied and beaten--and yet, despite this, the young blonde continues to fight admirably. He doesn't seem slowed down, even as the woman's blade snaps forward, to end this encounter. No, he continues to fight on regardless, even if his body looks like it's on its proverbial last legs. Yet her blade...does not meet its mark.

Planting a foot and regaining her balance, the Venezuelan woman steadies her blade as her crimson gaze fixes on Alma. Frowning still, she brings it level to her face, the sharp length of steel vertically poised before her as she waits. Yes, she is sorry...but Foxy regrets nothing. NESTS is the future. NESTS will bring peace to the world. This is a small step forward.

His arm moves, a swath of energy cutting through the air toward the woman. Shifting her stance, the length of crimson-colored steel swipes through the air, cutting through the majority of the plume, though not cleanly. Stray fire singes and burns the woman, a feeling unlike chi.

Exhaling softly, Foxy lowers her blade, the tip aimed to the floor as she fixes her eyes upon Alma. Hooding them sharply, she watches him closely, her dusky features fixed in a determined expression as she surveys her opponent.

"You shouldn't do this," she offers, her words hinted with sympathy. "Just stop."

COMBATSYS: Foxy calculates her next move.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////                        ]
Foxy             1/----===/=======|====---\-------\0             Alma
[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Zero             1/-----==/=======|=======\-------\1             Jiro

"Haaa... haaa..."
What's going on?
~ My body... ~
Alma floats silently within a bright, familiar void.
He had returned here not long ago, to purge his friend Shurui of the darkness gnawing within her; part of his mission, part of his commitment to her. Yes-- this place is always waiting. Waiting to welcome him back, to swallow him up. Any time you're ready, it seems to tell him now-- just let those flames rise up. Let that purifying fire finally purify you yourself from this existence; let your passion be your funeral pyre.
Perceiving only his own harmony with the world, seeing every success and every moment of courage and dignity as the mastery of how to live a meaningful life, Alma had allowed himself to forget that at the heart of his faith had always been a defiance, of his own uncertainty and of a lurking despair, a fear at the cost of his own conviction. Now that shadow rises up, but his defiance itself feels exhausted. Perhaps now is that time when grace, and not defiance, is the path to dignity. Now, perhaps, the light is prepared to welcome him home, to rejoin the people and the world that left him behind.
That's not right.
"Aaahh-- aaaaaaahhh!"
Feeling returns.
Vision goes from blurry to sharply clearer; suddenly he can hear every echo, every cry of pain, every shout for help. The battle is going against them. He is failing in his mission.
This is no time for grace.
The rapture can wait!
A fury long forgotten surges back into his eyes. Savaged chest swelling, Alma howls out his proud rejection of Foxy's plea, thrusting out his palm once more to bring forth his very life energy, exploding outward in a roiling, twisting beam of barely-controlled psyche-crushing Soul Power.
A true hero has no hopes for heaven.
/This/ is his home!

COMBATSYS: Zero successfully hits Jiro with Thrown Object.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////                          ]
Foxy             1/----===/=======|===----\-------\0             Alma
[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////                 ]
Zero             1/-----==/=======|=======\===----\1             Jiro

[OOC] Jiro 'Rampantly Contagious' Kasagi says, "... Okay, I guess that was appropriate."

It's quite a quick blow. The intentions were to add insult with injury. To make the man feel the pain that Jiro was left feeling. He wanted blood: Zero's blood.
Unfortunately, that would not be possible. When Jiro's foot comes down towards the NESTS agent, his foot is caught by the palm with a grunt. That chastizing earn a snarl from Jiro. The hood veils his face again as Jiro continues to press the leg forward until Zero tosses the leg to the side. This sends Jiro off balance once more.
When he springs back, he lifts his head up in time to get belted across the head with the chunk of stone. His head recoils back and he curses a lot, "Son of a..." He hisses forth, stumbling back. Holding his head, the young man shifts his gaze at Zero, locking onto him.
Need to get the cobwebs out and just concentrate. Remember yourself, Jiro. Don't get cocky. He's right.

COMBATSYS: Jiro focuses on his next action.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////                          ]
Foxy             1/----===/=======|===----\-------\0             Alma
[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Zero             1/-----==/=======|=======\===----\1             Jiro

Jiro opts to stand stock still.
This might be a mistake.
Upon landing, Zero stares with a grim expression towards his target. As he does, inky waves of blankness begin to surge and pulse around him in a slow, pensive motion -- as if restrained only by Zero's will.
"Caution will do you no good, either," the NESTS XO explains calmly as suddenly, a single PULSE of blackness stretches out over the entire lobby. It is harmless, but carries with it a deep, dark chilling sensation -- as if the entire room were suddenly drenched in ice water. Zero's eyes close slowly; around him, his skirt begins to lift, undulating like liquid.
"There is no escape."
When Zero's eyes open, they are glowing a faint, violet hue. A second later, that cape suddenly SURGES forward, stretching outward to impossible lengths as its spiked tips seek to SLAM into Jiro, impaling him across the shoulders, the stomach, legs, arms -- to hold there, /securely/. Black and violet energy will crackle around those sharp metal teeth...
... and whatever they bite into? Will suddenly explode in a series of furious, black-purple spheres of sheer power.

COMBATSYS: Alma successfully hits Foxy with Divine Intervention.

[                    \\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////                          ]
Foxy             1/-======/=======|====---\-------\0             Alma
[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Zero             1/-----==/=======|=======\===----\1             Jiro

He won't stop fighting.

A frown deeply graces Foxy's lips.

His outburst is startling, the woman's eyes hooding once more as he bursts with energy. The soul fire explodes outwards, screaming through the air for her body. Tensing her legs, she attempts to avoid the roiling energy, but--

It strikes her chest, sending the woman staggering back with a startled gasp. In no time flat he's turned the tables against her, and things seem somewhat grim for the NESTS woman. A glance is spared, red eyes turned to her superior before she narrows her eyes, eyes sliding back onto Alma. Things may look grim, but there's still a fight left inside her.

"With this blade..." From her side, Foxy's rapier rises.

"I will cut a path toward a new future!"

Her form blurs suddenly, the woman rushing toward Alma with newfound resolve. She lashes out as she closes in, delivering a series of rapid blows with the blade from seemingly all angles with practiced grace and precision. A dance of steel and elegance, the woman slashes relentlessly upon the blonde fighter until, with a twist of her body and a pivot of her heel, she spins her body and swings her blade in a wide circle.

"This ends now!"

[OOC] Jiro 'I like innocent little girls' Kasagi says, "Alma, you can survive this! I know you can!"

COMBATSYS: Foxy successfully hits Alma with Poetry of Cygnus.

[                    \\\\\\\\\\  < >                                ]
Foxy             0/-------/-======|=======\=------\1             Alma
[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Zero             0/-------/-----==|=======\===----\1             Jiro

[OOC] Jiro 'I like innocent little girls' Kasagi D:

Hyo has disconnected.

Marco has left.

Marco has arrived.

ODROP::OSUCC::Marco leaves the community center.

ODROP::Marco arrives from the community center.

This ends now.
With the return of feeling to Alma's body, so too does his fatigue finally manifest, iron weights upon his limbs. Any moment now their improvised fortifications will be breached; the gaps in them are like the many wounds that have pierced Alma's own flesh.
A new future.
A future he cannot accept.
That is enough.
It is clear Alma makes a stalwart effort to avoid her strikes; lunging in, he weaves around the first blurring cuts, gritting teeth against pain and exhaustion-- but the first cut might as well be the last. Caught, he cannot escape any of the further blows, and the final circular strike paints a spray of warm blood in the air-- how much men have.
There cannot be much left.
Jiro... Hotaru...
He did not need to submit to grace after all.
Even as he strains against his fate, reaching out into a tunnel toward the foe that consumes his entire vision and right hand igniting with the last of that righteous fury, surrounding him are nothing but good memories. A sensation of great affection arises within him, drowning out all other feelings, making his actions seem to him more poetic than violent.
Grace came to him.
He will lash out with everything he has, a series of blazing punches and low kicks aiming to penetrate the woman's defenses one final time. But whether because repulsed by Foxy or from the backdraft of his own burning strikes, the young man will stagger backward, back toward their final defensive line, eyes soft and lips parted, seeing something far away.
Will he be dragged away, if they must retreat? What will happen to the YFCC as the battle progresses? How fare his friends? Will he ever see them again? Even as their images rise up within him, the bonds that he has forged from nothing, he does not consider any of these things. It does not bother him, somehow, that he may be dying.
Perhaps in this future of Foxy's, there is no place for him.
But he stood in the way of it, and, well--
He collapses in the 'gate', slumping, seated; leaning forward, face obscured, he would appear merely at rest were he not so clearly greviously injured, and blocked the path, again a silent sentinel.
That is proof enough of himself.

COMBATSYS: Alma can no longer fight.

[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Foxy             0/-------/-======|=======\===----\1             Jiro
[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Zero             0/-------/-----==|

[OOC] Jiro 'I like innocent little girls' Kasagi says, "Alma..."

[OOC] Jiro 'I like innocent little girls' Kasagi says, "Well. Just to let you know."

[OOC] Jiro 'I like innocent little girls' Kasagi says, "...I love you, man."

COMBATSYS: Zero successfully hits Jiro with Mokushiroku.

[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //                            ]
Foxy             0/-------/-======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2             Jiro
[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Zero             0/-------/-----==|

[OOC] Alma says, "j... jiro <3"

Hyo has connected.

Being cautious was not good for Jiro as he thought it would be.
This is not good.
The eyes widen when he reveals the black pulse stretching out the entire lobby. His eyes narrow at the NESTS XO. He holds his stance, positioning both feet against the ground. With his arms lifted up, the young man brings both of his arms together in an X-shape to help guard against what could be a very deadly situation.
That is when it happens.
The cape launches forth, striking out to pierce against the arms. It breaks through his guard and pins against his skin, blood escaping while leaving an opening to catch him against the stomach, legs, and shoulders. "Eghnnn!!" And the blue and violent energy crackles violently against him.
His head lifts up and he releases a scream of pain. "Arrggggghhhhhhhhh!!!!!" The eyes widen as the surge of power flows in him. The everylasting surge of pain tears him asunder, ripping against his life force.
...Until a burst of scarlet energy blasts against the piercing cape, dislodging the points from pinning him any further.
As if tearing himself from the wall, Jiro is launching himself towards Zero's path, both eyes widen as the hood finally flies off of his face. The blue eyes expose the inhuman slits as his fangs reveal themself in his wrath. His right fist draws back, the explosion of fire igniting in the gloved hand. As if tearing through anything in its path from the army around him to the path of Zero, Jiro is moving towards his destination: Zero.
With the fist flying and Jiro dashing, the young man says, "I AM NOT DONE YET!"
And so, the fist comes flying towards Zero's chin in an upward motion, aiming to capture him in a powerful uppercut.

[OOC] Jiro 'I like innocent little girls' Kasagi says, "More if."

COMBATSYS: Jiro can no longer fight.

[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Foxy             0/-------/-======|
[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Zero             0/-------/-----==|

COMBATSYS: Zero counters Scarlet Slaughter from Jiro with Forcefield.

[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Foxy             0/-------/-======|
[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Zero             0/-------/-----==|

[OOC] Jiro 'I like innocent little girls' Kasagi :(

[OOC] Zero :]

[OOC] Kentou Ondori says, "Ruh roh. :O"

Hyo has reconnected.

Hyo has dropped a connection.

[OOC] Zero says, "apologies for slowness, posing in multiple places"

[OOC] Kentou Ondori salutes! "Got plenty of time here now. XD

"A rabid dog is nothing more than a desperate and pathetic animal."
Zero speaks calmly even as Jiro's scarlet flames suddenly sprout out in full fury. He stares on cautiously, his dark eyes narrowing to slits as he lifts up his right hand. All that anger, all that energy, all of it is released... but it is slow. It is staggered, both by Zero's assault, and from the sheer damage that Jiro has suffered, and the amount he has pushed himself. Jiro hopes that his fist pierces Zero's guard, strikes his chin--
--What he strikes instead is a shimmering, crackling field of violet.
"In summary: you are done."
Before any reply can be offered, Zero gives unto Jiro his short, succinct counter-point: a surge of powerful violet electical chi that pulses out of the forcefield interposed between himself and Jiro, aiming to just -blast- the poor boy backwards into a nearby wall and knock him out cleanly.
In the aftermath? Zero looks towards Foxy and her fight, frowning deeply.
"... Finished?"

COMBATSYS: Foxy counters Trial by Fire from Alma with Seven Stars.

[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  <
Foxy             0/-------/-======|
[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Zero             0/-------/-----==|

COMBATSYS: Zero has left the fight here.

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

[OOC] Zero says, "forgot to do that, whoops"

The scent of blood isn't an unfamiliar smell for the Venezuelan woman. She has seen her share of combat and felt her share of pain. Her red blade may very well be stained red from the fights it has seen--but her fights are not futile. They draw her one step closer to the future of peace she envisions for the world.

No one, she decided, would stand in her way.

Gracefully stepping backwards as the last slash makes its mark upon Alma, the woman's red eyes narrow. Surely he cannot fight anymore. She proved it--she proved that this was a futile effort, that he should have stood down. She didn't want to bring harm to Alma, or those he cared about...

He moves, despite his wounds--but his steps are predictable and sluggish. Drawing her thin rapier's blade upwards in a graceful sweep, she stabs forward, a lunging, piercing strike before drawing her blade upwards and angling it just so, redirecting the incoming strike and blazing soul fire elsewhere before leaping away and out of harm's way.

"Not today," she whispers, as Alma finds peace among pain.

With a snap of her arm outwards at her side, Foxy cleans her blade, dismissing the blood staining its length before she carefully and smoothly sheathes it at her hip with a labored breath and a wince of pain. Turning, she faces Zero and offers a nod, her features lacking emotion--she's all business.

"We are finished here, sir. Our operations were a success."

COMBATSYS: Foxy has ended the fight here.

[OOC] Alma says, "Ahh, hmm. Should we just end it there, and leave the consequences ambiguous until round 1.5?"

[OOC] Jiro 'Teacup' Towazu tattooed 'ALMA' on his scrotum in flowing calligraphy, and hehs.

[OOC] Alma spittakes.

[OOC] Jiro 'Teacup' Towazu tattooed 'ALMA' on his scrotum in flowing calligraphy, and..... :|

[OOC] Alma says, "is that.. is that a new one"

[OOC] Jiro 'Teacup' Towazu tattooed 'ALMA' on his scrotum in flowing calligraphy, and says, "Yes. Yes it is. ._."

[OOC] Kentou Ondori headscratches, "I guess that depends what kind of downtime we're looking at before the next phase. Or if Zero is still typing up a pose here. >.>

[OOC] Alma says, "Technically, it's my pose."

[OOC] Alma says, "But it would have to be a meta-pose, since I'm hella comatose."

[OOC] Kentou Ondori says, "Aaah."

[OOC] Zero says, "we can probably end here"

[OOC] Alma says, "Sure thing."

Log created on 21:30:32 02/16/2009 by Alma, and last modified on 03:43:26 02/21/2009.