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Lena Corros vs Fiona Seabound

Started by That one guy from earlier, July 24, 2019, 12:09:58 am

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Who won?

Lena Corros (That one guy from earlier)
2 (66.7%)
Fiona Seabound (Crank)
1 (33.3%)

Total Members Voted: 3

Voting closed: August 07, 2019, 12:15:48 am

That one guy from earlier

July 24, 2019, 12:09:58 am Last Edit: July 24, 2019, 12:18:05 am by That one guy from earlier
Its that time again isn't it? And that can only mean one thing. Its time for gladiatorial combat!


That one guy from earlier 1
The sound of wood scraping against wood could be heard throughout the room as Lena Corros pushed the final piece of furniture back into place. Namely, a deceptively heavy dark ironwood chest with two black metal bands. And when all was finished, Lena brushed her dark hazel brown hair to the left and huffed.

The girl's dark red eyes darted around as she examined the room. It was the last section of the house to be cleaned up and the last to be searched for missing items. But now, everything was back in place and the six cots were once again neatly lined up against the plastered yellow walls. None of which was thanks to her partner.

(Damian really could have helped. What the heck is he even doing?)

Within moments, her question was answered by the faint creak of the door behind her. In response, she stood up and turned around to find a partner clad from neck to toe in his dark blue uniform just like her. Like her, his mask was on his belt and his hood was down as well. But unlike her, his sword hilt noticeably lacked its weapon.

"So," He began with what could only be described as a growl. "Did the insect take anything other than my sword?"

"Just the food card that guy from the mall gave us. I believe we're dealing with a low time thief." Lena replied before closing her eyes, taking a deep breath as she summoned whatever willpower was left in her to not berate her ally, opening her eyes, and continuing. "The good news is that you were right. We have one, count them one, spare sword lying around. But that doesn't change the fact that we have got to get the one they stole back."

"Believe me, I'm aware of that. That's actually what I've been working on."

"Really now?" the girl said politely enough, but with more than a hint of irritation in her tone.

"Yes. In fact, I think I know who our perpetrator was," Damian replied as he calmly reached for his left sleeve with his right hand and pulled out a grey ovoidal stone. "You see, this house comes with its fair share of magic wards. I believe one of them caught our intruder in the act."

At that, her ally threw the stone into the air. In was innocuous enough of course, but dropped to a height where Lena's mass was, gravity ceased to work. And at that, Lena gave an audible sigh. Going forward wasn't going to be easy, but at the very least, the two of them had a lead to follow.

"Alright then," Lena started with less disdain in her voice than before. "Sel Sevani, Fulcium. Who acted against us?"

As soon as she finished the question, the process began. The stone broke apart into a light blue mist which first floated into the air, but gradually molded into the shape of a human. Namely, the female that trashed their safehouse.

Then finally, the blue transitioned into the colors of their target until a translucent image of their target stood before them. She bore platinum blond hair tried neatly in a bun, soft green eyes, a dark brown pair of pants that went down to her ankles, and a cloth shirt that only showed its true tan color in intermittent spots.  Crimson pools expanded from the torn shoulder, as well as the punctures in her side and hip, and where there wasn't red, the dirt and grass stains were prolific.  Additionally, she appeared to be around the same age as Lena herself. The target bore some signs of dimples but otherwise had a fit if somewhat skinny appearance. But most importantly, the target was armed. She bore a standard wooden bo staff, two picks, and despite having no apparent bow, she had an intricate quiver and slung over her right shoulder lined with painted arrows.

"Alright then. Damian, you focus on retracing the insect's tracks and finding what she took from us. I think I know where she is, so I'm going to head there and search for her directly."

Truthfully, she could have been anywhere, but her profile combined with what she stole pointed to one place. Her clothes were in shambles and of all the things that she could have taken, she only bothered to take a sword and a meal card. Such painted the picture of someone who was desperate. Moreover, Lena had been told that there was only one place in all of Sarannac where that card was any good. So, odds were that their target would head there soon.

(Alright then. Time to pay Megaplex Mall another visit)

------------Megaplex Mall-------------

Lena, or rather, an apparition of her consciousness stood within the white, well-lit, chilly back hallway that led to two grey metal bathroom doors behind her with her arms crossed, eyes vigilant, and taking deep breaths as it, and the original Lena watched the scene with anticipation pulsing through their veins.

Under the circumstances, she elected to wear something less conspicuous than her uniform. Instead, she wore a faded yellow round neck long-sleeved T-shirt of her own with a white long-sleeved, hooded jacket over it, dark grey cargo pants lined with pockets, a brown belt, and soft but practical grey sneakers. Most importantly, however, was the sword sheath attached to the right hip on her belt. Gladiators came from all over the world as she had seen so thankfully, nobody so much as blinked twice when they saw one more carrying a weapon.

So far, she took note of her surroundings. Of course, there were the high ceilings within the circular area ahead of her, the polished tan and grey tiled floors, and the distinct lack of the skylight on the roof. Likewise, there were the usual food vendors that lined the walls, two of what she had been told were escalators heading up to the half-moon balcony that was the second floor as well as two more that headed to the third and so on to the fifth, and the bright red four-legged seats that circled round single-legged tables. Yet, while they were astounding, they were but distractions.

The copy ignored the cliche music that played over what they were told was the speakers as well as the delectable aroma that permeated throughout the area and focused instead of scouring the bustling crowds for their target. Something easier said than done with the cafeteria seemingly always filled to the brim.

Yet, after ten minutes and what felt like forever, she spotted her target. The girl now bore a black T-shirt, darker pants, and she lacked the injuries that she had when she robbed the hideout save for the faint trace on her skin here and there, but her appearance was unmistakable. And so, when the intruder took a step forward to passed by where she was stationed, she narrowed her eyes and swiftly moved to intercept.

"Can I help you?" The thief replied calmly enough the moment Lena's duplicate stood between her and her destination. However, her green eyes darted to the copy's sword as soon as she did.

"Yes you can," the swordswoman replied in a pleasant tone and with a smile. But all the while, she took a subtle step to the right so that the other person would be between her and the hallway from which she came. After that, she continued with barely enough volume for Fiona to hear her over the noise of the crowd in the background. "You stole two things from me. I need both of them back."

"I did not-" Fiona cut herself off when she looked once more at the weapon within Lena's duplicate's hilt. And for a brief moment, her eyes dilated. "I think you've mistaken me for someone else."

"Oh really. My weapon seems to be familiar to you," The clone remarked with irony dripping from her tone as her eyes darted around to see if anyone was watching. Sure enough, the crowd seemed to busy to bother to look in her little corner. And so, if one fluid motion, she unsheathed the blade with her left hand and pointed it to the thief's throat with but a foot between her neck and the tip of the blade. "Why don't I give you a closer look? It might jog your memory."

The intruder instinctively stepped backward into the hallway. At the same time, her eyes darted around the area and her calm expression dropped to a visible frown.

"Don't bother denying it, we caught you red-handed," The Void Watch member explained as she dropped her own pretenses to a cold warning tone. "I ought to have you detained, but I don't have time for your crap so I'm doing to make this short and simple. Come with me, give back everything you took from me, and allow me to erase the last two days from your memory, and you have my word that I'll let you go the moment you recover. Or don't, make me retrieve what you stole from me myself, and I will personally make you regret it."
[close]
Crank 1
Fiona's eyes had darkened the moment the soldier mentioned taking her memories.  The worst event of her life may have had a different cause than ghosts or trauma, and although she was far from home, her mind began putting her own dots together.  Before she trashed it, Lena's home was tidy, but distant.  It was void of pictures or identification, there were no letters to or from loved ones, and there were no symbols to say who they represented.  Furthermore, the jail and torture tools in the basement declared authority, but being hidden on the outskirts showed an attempted anonimity.  Every thief she ever met had their symbol somewhere, and the homes they lived in were full of life.  The swordswoman was something different.  Some type of opperitive?  Fiona still had no idea where she was, but if Lena worked for the local government, she'd have no reason to take her quietly, or if she was just a serial killer, she'd have no reason to keep her alive.  If she worked for someone else, however, that at least gave the woman secrets that Fiona could leverage. 

"Tell me something," At first, Fiona's volume matched Lena's, but it quickly rose to a normal speaking one, "Are you whispering for my benefit, or your own?  You've told me what you think, but I'll tell you what I know.  The only reason you're threatening me here is because you have no idea where else to look for me.  You can't wait for me at home because you don't know where that is, and if you don't know where I live, you don't know who I am."  The thief considered drawing her staff, but decided to cross her arms instead.  "I also know that you shouldn't be here, and I don't mean here in this building.  Here in this country, because if your motivations were legal, you would've gone to the guards.  I stole a sword and food card, afterall, nothing sensitive.  So.  If I screamed, right now, how sure are you that you could kill me before anyone stopped you?  Would you bet your life?  I can't say I know how people are executed here, but spies were hung where I'm from."

"You'd hang too."  Lena's brow narrowed as she took a step forward.  "Or worse, if you test me, thief."

"You think I found you on accident?"  Fiona took a step herself, the blade inches from her throat, "If I was just a thief, why would I rob an old, abandoned house?  Why wouldn't I take anything valuable, and why your sword?  People suspected you were here.  Now they know."

The Void Watch member grit her teeth.  It was possible the woman was bluffing, in which case her guesses had a dangerous accuracy, but if she was telling the truth, the damage had been done.  It would've been cleaner if she'd drawn her own weapon.  Striking her down unarmed would've felt like a murder in cold blood.  "Why should I trust an insect like you?"

"Because people send insects when they don't want to risk people.  You saw me, didn't you?  I was in no state to refuse."  Fiona felt the blade tense on her throat as she reached into her pocket.  Slowly, she revealed a [solid gold orb/golden orb with white waves rippling from the surface] in her palm, letting the light above dance in its majesty, "And I made sure to be paid very well."
[close]
That one guy from earlier 2
The copy of Lena just took one glance at the object and seethed at the person before her as she made the obvious mental connections and her target carefully put the orb back where it was stored. The way she saw it, there were only two people who might have any reason to stop them. Zazner and the thief. Not that she had to guess who however because her target confessed to working for someone who opposed them and backed up her claim with logic as well as physical evidence of pay for her actions. All of which pointed towards the latter option.

Under any other circumstance, the apparition would have been vindictively pleased. But Fiona's prior claim rang through her mind. Namely, she couldn't detain her because the security, as well as possible gladiators, would stop her in her tracks. Of course, that left her with the definite possibility of killing the insect which was something she would be more willing to do. In fact, all she would have to do is take another step forward and let her blade sink into the culprit's throat. But alas, it would accomplish nothing other than drawing unwanted attention by branding herself as a criminal.

"If you oppose us then you must know why we're here. We're trying to prevent a war. And yet, you still oppose us for a magic ball made of gold." The duplicate of the swordswoman said in a chilling tone. Fiona flinched and stepped back, but she pressed on. "I was wrong about you. You aren't just an insect. You're a mosquito. You thrive on the blood of innocent people-"

"You ought to kill me?" Fiona finished. For a brief moment, her voice wavered ever so slightly but the soldier ignored it so she forced a smile and continued. "Well, I'm leaving now. You're free to try but if you do, it will do far more damage to your little operation than I ever did."

At that, the target took a side step to the right. And while the blade of the sword followed and stopped her from advancement, the two of them both knew that Lena couldn't maintain her position forever. Though her back was turned, it would only be a matter of time until someone noticed that she was holding someone back at sword point. So, for a moment, the sword user's pulse picked up before the obvious realization came to her.

The mosquito's threats worked both ways. If she made the first act and thief screamed, it would have lasting consequences on her mission. But if something were to happen to her in front of everyone, she would lose the safety of appearing innocent. It wasn't but the perfect solution. After all, she could get away or she could be detained. Both of which would complicate her capture. However, the copy knew that it was the best option with which she had to work. So, she lifted the sword away from her target. And as she did, the culprit subtly exhaled.

But any relief that came would not last. For like all duplicates, this one was expendable. So as soon as she lifted to blade from her adversary's neck, she turned the sword around and drove the weapon into her own lower abdomen to the sound of a clean metallic slice.

The blade tore through the skin like carborane acid through tissue paper and made its way out of the replica's back. Immediately, the copy began to lose her footing as blood rushed out and visibly stained the entirety of the lower section of her shirt before it began to pool on the ground. Likewise, blood rushed to the apparition's mouth though it did little to stave off the gurgled cry of pain that echoed throughout the World Cafe.

As the copy of Lena slid to the floor against the wall, her target just stood wide-eyed with abject horror like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming car. Her heart skipped a beat as she wracked her brain to process what had happened. Nobody had noticed the two of them before, but the thief could feel the eyes of everyone nearby on her.

But after a second that felt like forever, her brain started to work again and she made one desperate lie. Something that was far from believable, but the only thing that came to her at the moment. In a way, it was one desperate saving throw to save herself.

"Sarah," Fiona spoke channeling her shock into what sounded like panic before turning to the crowd. Sure enough, all eyes were all them. Most were frozen, but a few were slowly heading over to the scene. "Someone help her! Can't you see she accidentally stabbed herself?! Someone, save her!"

The cries of agony began to fade as quickly as they started, but the thief didn't stick around to wait for her death. Instead, she whispered an apology and practically threw herself forward into a sprint as her heart hammered in her chest. After all, she had the perfect excuse to leave and she didn't know how long she had before the public began to question her. With luck, they would see the sheath at the victim's side and conclude her lie, but it was better to escape before they could stop her if they did not.

(That escalated too far. But at least- at least I'm home free. For now anyways.)

Already she saw men and women in what could only be security uniforms, likely the mall's security, rushing onto the scene from all directions. Too late, it occurred to her that her lie may have been more believable if she had stayed with the body. But she already began her sprint and she knew it was too late to go back. So, she stopped for but a moment to give one last explanation which she dared to hope would buy her more time before continuing her sprint.

"I told her to keep the thing sheathed but-! I-! Someone keep her stable while I get help!"

At that, she sprinted towards the hallway to what looked like the closest medical station. Not to get help, but to rush past it and escape. The crowd was thankfully more than willing to part from her. But in her rush, she failed to notice the eyes of one person in particular as she sped off away from the scene.

In the crowd was the real Lena Corros and she stood silent, unharmed, and with her eyes fixed upon her target. While the crowd was too busy to bother to overhear the conversation between her target and her copy, she was most certainly not. So, when she ran off, the reason was obvious.

The soldier turned back to where her now lifeless duplicate lay sprawled against the blood-splattered wall behind her. Its eyes were closed, both of its hands gripped the handle, and its legs stretched out awkwardly. Overall, it was a performance that made her nod in agreement the moment she caught on to the plan. And while it would have been better if it had lived long enough to tell the spectators now approaching that the target stabbed her, it at least removed whatever security her foe had derived from the crowd. After all, the target was running from the crowd and likely from any possible witnesses to their impending confrontation. Besides, it would be much easier to claim that she was trying to apprehend a murderer if she was caught. Sure her target could claim otherwise, but the ambiguity muddied the situation. It wasn't ideal, but the situation was salvageable.

So, the swordswoman motionlessly willed her copy to fade away into nothing before turning away and blending into the crowd. The shock was palpable within the crowd the moment she did, but she didn't need to wait to know what would happen. The body would fade away along with the equipment and the blood. Then, people would either come to believe that magic was involved or people would question whether or not their senses deceived them. Either way, she had more important problems to handle.

(Alright Lena, you would do best not to underestimate her. She's intelligent enough to escape your apparition's wrath, she's quick on her feet, and you still have no idea what she's capable of. Stick to your training, let your copies wear her down, try to funnel her somewhere where she can't escape, take nothing for granted, and you'll have your vengeance as well as your answers.)
[close]
Crank 2
In sharp contrast to the soldier behind her, panicked feet flew Fiona forward, her hands shoving past every soul in her way, more than one falling to the ground from the sudden push.  As fast as she moved, her brain moved faster as it spun out of control.  If the torturer was prepared to kill herself, why not do it after slaying her?  The thought made the thief wince.  If the soldier had something to hide, leaving her own body behind would only hinder her, if not cripple her outright, and she had so many options other than suicide.  It was the first Fiona had seen, but the further she sped from the crime scene, the more intensely the dead eyes burned in her mind.  Whatever was happening, Fiona had to leave it behind.  She had to get Malvi and get-

'Stop!'

The voice of a late friend slammed into her mind so hard that she stumbled on a sharp turn, bashing her shoulder into a wall, and causing her to nearly trip into a booth upon her recovery.  Mumbling an apology, she let herself imagine the form of her largest friend, towering at six feet crouched down before extending himself to his full seven.  It was his wrath that Fiona felt when she'd encountered the noble and the stitch-mouth-girl, but it was his sheer size that found himself in the employ of a fiend of his own.  The Tax Collector had a militia of broken men who would rather die than betray him.  All but one, at least, and after hiring strangers who he'd come to love to his last breath, Wolfgang personally sealed his master's fate with a match.

'She was a fanatic, Fiona, and she didn't work alone.'

Panting in a panic, the thief's head darted over her shoulder.  Chaos was still ensuing behind her, but just as many people were fleeing the sight of a corpse as were coming to investigate.  The crowd was a tornado, winds roaring as they rushed to and fro, but Fiona's heart practically stopped when her mind made another statement in her old friend's voice.

'And she died doubting you did.'

For only a moment, Fiona was glad she didn't know where Malvi had expected to meet her within the World Cafe, but the prospect of being isolated and hunted by a stranger crushed her like a cavein the next moment.  A stranger whose organization cared so little for life that their people were willing to kill themselves for- for what?  Chaos?  Distraction?  Failure?  Before raiding the basement, Fiona had seen an iron maiden once in her life: When her queen melted it for parts once the capital was taken.  The prospect of seeing one close on her, however, was petrifying.  Stretching out an arm, Fiona tried bracing herself, but stabilizing her palm only called more attention to how badly she was shaking. 

'Look for the sword.  They both had one.'

Trembling, her green eyes darted among the crowd, bodies a blur as they jumped from one to the next withou-

'You have to breathe.'

It took two quivering breathes before she was able to regain any control over her body, but she almost lost everything she worked for when she saw a ghost among the living.  The red eyes beneath a white hood were unmistakable, and she could even see bits of the yellow long sleeved shirt under the zipper and peeking out at her wrists.  Salem had always sworn up and down that ghosts where invisible but-

'Twins.'

A fresh guilt impaled Fiona's heart.  She told a lie, and a woman killed herself.  A torturer true, but maybe a tortured one herself?  Cupping her hands to her mouth, she watched the all too familiar face swim against the current of the crowd, not quite at her, and not quite looking at her, but the thief knew from experience that you don't need to be staring at something to know it's there.  Hyper-aware of her quiver, Fiona gripped its sash with her left hand while her right fiddled between opening and closing. 

Locking on a target of her own, the thief vanished into the swirling mass of people, but even as she lowered herself, the ends of her arrows poked out of the horde like gophers in a field.  Left hand falling on her blade, Lena's right brushed past the people blocking her from her enemy.  The soldier could see the quiver's back, and if the insect was walking backwards she'd be bumping into more people.  Instead, the coward smoothly slid through the others, but they wouldn't protect her now.  Lena saw it in the way she stopped.  The thief turned back because she was trying to protect something, and while it was best to contain her, it was better to kill her than lose her.  Up ahead, the quiver spun suddenly and blonde hair whipped through the air.  She must've bumped into someone, and paranoia was tightening its constriction on her bones.

As well it should've.  Pressing the final steps, Lena's grip clutched her hilt, but when she weaved between the final stranger blocking her from her enemy, shocked blue eyes blinked back at her, intricate quiver loosely hanging off the shoulder baring a shirt only black in the back, its front proudly displaying the design of a band she's never heard of.  The thief found a different blonde.  Before Lena could turn around, a sharp pain exploded from her thumb, and the decoy before her let out a shriek at its tip dropped to the ground, along with her sheathed blade without an intact belt to hold it.  Shock delayed the soldier a fraction of a second, but that's all it took for Fiona's hand to find the blade first, awkwardly holding it with her bloody knife while peeling it from the sheath as she drew it back.

Barely composed, Fiona's brain sparked for her to make her statement as she whipped the blade inches from her enemy's face.  She'd rehearsed it in her head every step she took towards the other blonde, tweaking her words to better serve her purpose, to determine just how much damage she'd done, as well as how damaged the twin was in her fanaticism, but the moment she opened her mouth, a scream replaced her short speech.  A strike of pressure pounded against the tip of the sword, slamming it from her grasp as crimson trailed down the blade, as well as the jelly of the eye Lena had headbutted it with.  Graymatter stained the tip as the weapon clattered on the ground, and as a pool of blood spread at her feet, Fiona felt the fluid flush from her own face.  Darting her green eyes at the decoy she'd made, she discovered she wasn't the only one who's shrieked.  Hating herself, she snatched her quiver back, frantically throwing it back over her shoulder as a single word echoed in her mind, growing louder and more desperate each time it rang out.

Run.

Run.

Run!
[close]
That one guy from earlier 3
And run she did. The real Lena melded into the crowd and watched as her target bolted away from the new crime scene and the crowd around erupted into panicked chaos of screams and frantic movements. Furthermore, her opinions were mixed. It really would have been preferable if she could have apprehended her. But, at the very least, this debacle seemed to isolate her. And that put an ever so slight smile on her face.

(Patience Lena. Water doesn't erode through rock in a day.)

So, she bit her lip, looked back at her duplicate's corpse, and willed it to fade away just like the last one. Sure enough, it gradually did along with its blood and equipment. And sure enough, the panic that gripped everyone seemed to worsen. In particular, the thief's own decoy went pale.

Yet, while the guy looked increasingly lightheaded at the ordeal, he clearly didn't sustain any actual injuries from the ordeal. Besides, the thought came to the front of her mind that it would only make things worse for him if he saw her. So, she instead looked back on her target and melded into the panicked crowd and made her way towards her target once more with the one exception of steering away from the unlucky guy.

(Alright then. Let's focus on subduing her this time.)

Of course, with each passing second, it became ever increasingly clear that she was no longer the only person with that goal. People who noticed the thief seemed to actively disperse but at the same time, people who both fighters could have only described as the mall's security began to head in her direction. At least, the ones that weren't yelling over the screams of the crowd to calm them down so that a proper investigation could start were going after the thief.

Fiona was all too aware of that as she scrambled away from the scene. She didn't look back and her brain barely put two semi-coherent thoughts together as her heart hammered in her chest. But nonetheless, she could practically feel their eyes gaze on her as the same panicked thought echoed throughout her mind.

(RUN!)

It was then that Fiona pushed out of the crowd and slowed down only to look for a means of escape. Or at least, somewhere where she could find refuge from the guards. And so, her green eyes darted around the dizzying blur that was the left hallway before her that connected to the north-central area. Within seconds, she saw another thick wall of mall-goers panicked like the rest but no less clustered because of it. And beyond that, she located a place that she could slip to.

(Okay. Evade, circle back, find Malvi, and-)

The intruder's thoughts were interrupted when a faint noise reached her ears. In spite of the panicked cries around her, the unmistakable sound of a small blade cutting through the air came from her left.

The only thing that stopped Fiona from trembling was instinct. She shifted her weight forwards and twisted her body. And within a fraction of a second, she was thankful that she did. A kunai grazed past her right though, tore into her pants, and scratched the front of her leg spraying blood into the direction that it was traveling. It stung, but the cut was too shallow to debilitate her.

But as she staggered and looked around, what she saw made her pale. The kunai, now sliding harmlessly to a stop across the ground, had a dark blue handle, a light grey counterbalance, and a blade that followed the exact same pattern as the sword that she stole. And even worse, when she snuck a glance at the crowd, she thought she saw the same unmistakable red eyes that belonged to the soldier.

At that, the thief's mind just quit. She turned around and somehow sprinted faster than before against all logic. Barely daring to breathe as she frantically shuffled herself into the crowd beyond her. All the while, she didn't dare to look back at the kunai or attempt to confirm her sight of Lena.

As such, she didn't notice the weapon fade from existence leaving only faint trickles of her own blood behind.

Instead, she stumbled into a quiet little store in every sense of the word pale and shaking. It was then that she looked around at her surroundings. And really, it was about anything that one would come to expect from a general store. The floor was black and much smoother than the floor outside, the walls were a dark green with oak wooden trims, the kiosk was to the right, there seemed to be a hallway in the back with a door on the left, two on the right, and one at the far end, and the whole place was lined with everything that general stores typically sold as well as a few extras.

The store seemed to follow a theme. Boots, hunting shirts, hats, and glasses seemed to line their own circular stands in the center, non-perishable food seemed to line the walls on the left, even various candies seemed to be stored in a section next to the kiosk, and free coupons, as well as various other promotions, appeared to be on the right of the kiosk. Likely installed by the mall itself. On the right, however, were a wide variety of supplies including sunscreen, various fishing implements, maps of the Center Stage, and red boxes that contained medical supplies. The last of which Fiona discovered when she heard a voice come from behind the desk.

"I see you're eyeing the medical supply kits. I suppose they are a best seller." Came the voice. Fiona looked over to see a man about her age with jet black hair, dark brown eyes, light tan brown pants, and a dark green long-sleeved shirt that had the same logo on it as the girl's, calmly smile back at her. "Anyways, welcome to Ozer's." The man paused and looked outside. "Do you have any idea what's going on out there?"

At that, a girl just below her age with jet black hair twisted into a single ponytail that went down to below her shoulders, a dark green shirt, and dark brown pants turned to face her from her task of stocking fishing hooks. Both stopped what they were doing and glanced at her. When they did, the man was the first to frown. But soon, the girl stopped what she was doing, turned to face her, and start to calmly head over in her direction.

"Did someone try to hurt you? We can take you somewhere safe and patch that injury up if you want." The girl said with some concern in her tone before glancing over at the man behind the counter. "Derrick, you still have that spare supply kit right?"

The man behind the counter solemnly nodded.
[close]
Crank 3
"A lot of people tried to hurt me," Fiona's voice was so meek that the woman barely heard it over the ambient music, "But they--"

The stranger gave her a moment.  "They what?"

"They..."  Carrying a supply kit, Derrick paced around the counter while a shaking thief tried finding the words.  "They- they keep killing themselves."

The man stopped and the woman blinked.  Exchanging a glance, they spoke almost in unison.  "What?"

"I told a lie, and two sisters died in front of me."  Trembling, the girl pushed herself deeper into the aisle, "I don't know how they know my face, but they do, and if they don't kill me, they kill themselves.  I can't watch that again, I have to keep the next one alive."

"Next one?" Uneasily, Derrick crossed his arms.

"Triplets."  Fiona was quiet for a moment.  "How do you tell someone that their sisters are dead?  That they died for nothing?"

Derrick filled an uncomfortable silence by clearing his throat, but it was the woman who spoke.  "Maybe it'd be best if it didn't come from you.  We have a room you'd be safe in, we can call the-"

"I wasn't thinking when I came here, people saw me-"  Fiona froze.  People saw her go there, and if no one saw here leave... The thief went pale as she saw the woman's irises fade to gray and a crimson line spread across her neck, opening to reveal the muscles composing her throat.  Fiona stiffened when a red tide poured down her like a bucket, soaking the girl in scarlet as she crossed her arms.

"My brother and I both used to be gladiators.  We can call the police and keep you safe until they get here."  She looked to Derrick who nodded as a grid of punctures filled his shirt. 

"It'll be alright,"  He promised as the green he wore turned red, "Come on, let's get you to the back and take care of your leg.  Maybe it's not as bad as you think, I've actually helped someone fake their death before, this could be just the one person."

Fiona shook her head.

"Derrick, she looks sick.  I th-"  A chime interrupted her thoughts, but when she looked the direction of the door, her brother was already on the way to intercept.

"Hi- oh, uh, is there a problem?"

"I'm afraid so."  At the very least, it brought relief to Fiona that the voice wasn't Lena's.  "There's been a double murder."  Chills tore up the thief's spine.  Derrick's stunned silence didn't bode well, and Fiona watched as his sister's eyes widened.  "Do you mind if I take a look inside?  The suspect is armed and extremely dangerous."

"I..."

"Thank you."

"I thought you said suicide."  The sister's voice was low as footsteps approached, the red fading from her clothes and her neck sealing as a new fear gripped Fiona.  How many people would she be dooming if she complied?  If the fanatics would kill themselves, what would stop them from doing the same to the shopkeepers?  If Fiona was arrested and brought to a dungeon, what lengths would they go to silence her?  How many guards would be cut down over a lie, and how many civilians would be lost in the bloody wake?  "I need a reason to trust you."

"I'm sorry."  Closing her eyes, Fiona lifted her arms along with her voice.  "I'm here!"

"Don't move!"  The command came from the stranger, "Drop your weapons!"

Fiona said nothing, her brain running scenarios.  She didn't have the time to explain just how the sisters killed themselves, and she didn't see a way out of the store that wouldn't end in violence.  With one arm still raised, she awkwardly slung her quiver around her body.  Salem had spent a fortune on those arrows, and Fiona made a silent promise to herself that if she escaped the disaster she was walking into, she'd come back from them, or at least the quiver if its contents were sold.  Holding them in front of her, the thief knew it was likely to be the last time she saw them, and they were more decoration than actual weapons, both due to her lack of bow, as well as the craftsmanship that went into them.  Several weren't even arrowdynamic, to the point that the late archer had to carve 'x's into their butts so she wouldn't grab them on accident.  One of them even had a glass head filled with water.  Fiona smiled softly when she found it.  It had been so expensive that Salem had to save for it, but the expression quickly vanished when the guard saw her.

"What are those?"

The thief blinked.  "Arrows?"

"I know that."  Brandishing a pistol, the man's voice darkened.  "What do they do?"

Having never seen a gun, however, Fiona was unphased by the weapon aimed at her head.  She gathered it probably worked like a crossbow, but the weapon seemed too small to be fatal.  "They're just arrows," She stated, slowly pulling out one to demonstrate, "Except this one."  It had been in shadow for so long that Fiona had forgotten that the glass that incased the water was green, but seeing the guard's courage fade away encouraged her not to elaborate.  If it was worse than venom or oil, she couldn't imagine it.  Hesitantly, she grabbed another from her quiver, her hand finding one that had a silver snake traversing its shaft with its mouth agape, arrowhead protruding from it's open maw.  It didn't need a marked nock, the weight alone made it obvious it wasn't for shooting, but Fiona set it on the shelf in front of the medical kits before grabbing one. 

"Please don't sell that.  I'll be back once I find a way to pay for this.  And..."  For only a moment, she looked at the woman, "I truly didn't mean to cause you trouble.  I'm sorry, ma'am."  Returning her quiver to her back, the thief left the aisle, glass arrow leading her path.  Facing the exit, she saw a crushing amount of disappointment in Derrick's eyes, and while his body blocked the door, Fiona's gaze was drawn to a figure behind the glass, red irises vanishing from view when someone walked in front of the phantom, but they were lost once the pedestrian had passed.  She'd found them.  All of them. 

"I have to leave, Derrick," Fiona's voice cracked, "I can't watch another good person die, you need to move."
[close]
That one guy from earlier 4
Within seconds, Fiona's pleas were answered. However, they weren't answered in the way that she wanted. Because instead of stepping aside, Derrick stood in the doorway, put both hands into his pockets, and simply shook his head.

"The last time I was told to move and leave someone to their fate, they were kidnapped, mind-controlled, and forced to act as a puppet for one of the more sadistic gladiators for four years." The shopkeeper somberly surmised as he involuntarily stole a glance in his sister Rachel's direction. "I saved the person, barely, but I'm never going to leave someone to deal with a situation like that again."

The thief visibly frowned the moment the guy finished for two reasons. First, while she didn't turn her head, her eyes visibly followed his glance and her brain connected the dots. And second, because the man appeared adamant in his response. Yet, the red eyes from the crowd were still vivid in her mind. Her pursuer knew where she was. And the longer she stayed, the greater the danger for everyone around her.

(I need to escape.)

"Well like it or not, we still have to detain her. She's been accused of killing two people and I saw one of the murders with my own eyes. Now stay back for goodness sakes. She's still considered dangerous" Came the faintly troubled voice of the guard behind. At the same time, Fiona heard the sound of a chain jingling. "And lady, you need to drop your staff and pickaxes as well."

Derrick just took a glance at her and then at the guard that seemed to be grabbing whatever this world had for a restraint. The girl knew she had to escape soon and that it might possibly be her last opportunity to save everyone in the store. So, she whispered an apology.

"He knows that much," The guy's sister replied with a quick sigh. "But if she claims someone is after her life, it needs to be taken seriously. My brother no doubt just wants to make sure everything is resolved fairly and safely."

"It isn't that I don't trust you guys. You haven't done anything dishonest as far as I can tell. But-"

That was it. At that moment where the man blocking the way out looked at the guard, Fiona darted forward to the left and towards the doorway. And as soon as she did, everyone reacted. Derrick was the first to notice and even reached out his right hand to grab or stop her. But his reach failed to meet its target and all he managed to do was touch the back of Fiona's shirt as she surged out of the doorway.

As soon as she did. She noticed something she hadn't noticed before. Namely, that there were no less than four guards outside the shop waiting for her. As soon as they saw her, they reacted. Most of them reached for a weapon and some seemed ready to try and tackle her but all of their eyes lit up with surprise when they saw the intruder step out of the shop.

The thief was all too willing to use their state of mind to her own advantage. Frantically, she pulled out one of her remaining weapons, her cheap wooden staff, and swung it down to her right in a diagonal fashion. It was gentle and slow enough to dodge but firm enough to push them out of the way.

Sure enough, it succeeded. Most of the guards got out of the way of her downward sweep and the one person on the far left that the staff connected to merely lost their balance and stumbled backward awkwardly but unharmed for it.

And that was the direction she bolted. Her heart pounded, her eyes scanned the area the crowds that seemed to be calming down despite being just as busy and dizzying as ever, and she said a silent prayer to whoever would listen that everyone behind her didn't start firing into the crowd to stop her.

She heard the sound of the shop door open behind her, as well as the footsteps of three people, leaving. But she paid it no heed. Instead, she put her weapon back, reached the crowd once more, and parted them with both of her arms.

After that, she ran faster than she had in weeks as her muscles burned and her body tired. For some time, she felt almost as if she could collapse. But regardless, she continued. She heard many footsteps and she couldn't tell which belonged to the guards. But she knew they were on her trail like a hunter chasing its prey.

After seconds that felt like forever and what Fiona knew was too long. Her green eyes darted around the mall and she looked for some means of escape. There were shops of course on both sides and for a brief moment, everything in her told her to go into one and beg or hide. But she pushed her instinct to the back of her mind and shook her head.

(She knows where I am. She'll follow me if I run into one of them and kill me ... or worse. And I doubt that anyone around me will be safe either.)

No, she had to keep going. To keep running until she found an exit. Malvi was smart enough to know that something wasn't right and leave right?

It was then that the thief caught something out of the corner of her eye. Namely, her adversary headed toward her at her two-o-clock. The soldier looked to be panting as heavily as her, but at the same time, she had her sword in her hand by her left side and she glared directly at the intruder as she slowly stepped over to block her path.

That was it. She knew that she couldn't stop to fight the person. So, her eyes darted in the opposite direction for a place that she might be able to run to in order to escape. Sure enough, her eyes fell upon a single open light grey windowless door. Beyond it was a stairwell with white plastered walls and a grey smooth staircase. It wasn't ideal by any stretch of the imagination. But the girl's mind raced, there was nobody inside, and as she darted inside, she dared to hope that the mall guards at least wouldn't be able to spot her in the thick crowd.

But as soon as she reached the base of the stairs, she came to regret it. A creaking noise pierced the otherwise quiet stairwell and she nearly jumped before she turned to see the source of the noise. Though when she did, what she saw made her skin crawl.

As the door shut and the noise stopped, the real Lena Corros looked back at the intruder. At first, both of her eyebrows were raised with what seemed to be surprise that the intruder even went into the stairwell. But in short order, they lowered as she narrowed her eyes at her target. And in the blink of an eye, she drew her weapon to point it at her foe's center mass.

"Your sisters. They- why are you doing this?" Was all that Fiona managed to say between breaths as her right hand reached for her staff and her eyes widened. "Why are you willing to- kill yourselves just to oppose me?!"

The sword wielder didn't approach, but she kept her sword up and managed to scoff in between her own heavy breathing. The lady before her invaded her home, stole from her, trashed her place, and admitted herself that she was working for the person who stole the glass tendril. So, she paid no heed to her opponent's pleading tone.

"Didn't we already tell you?" the Void Watch member replied with a cold but somewhat composed tone. All the while, somehow mustering the strength not pant between words. "We're trying to prevent the war that your client, and by extension, you, are going to start."

"War?" The thief before said with a slight wince. "I don't want to start-"

"Well, I know you don't want to start it," The swordmaster interrupted. "But you don't care if it does. You've proven that you know why we're here and that means you know that a war is going to break out unless we retrieve the Glass Tendril. You may not want to start a war, but you're both willing to make it happen for personal profit."
[close]
Crank 4
As a vetran, Fiona couldn't mask her offense to the statement.  Years before her people revolted she was sending money and weapons back home, saving only what she needed for food and supplies.  She even turned down the land and lordship she was offered when it ended, choosing life as a nomad over nobility, but a significant portion of that was fear of the responsibility.  The only times she even needed money before meeting Malvi was when she was visiting the shop Adam opened or the bakery Wolfgang's sister ran.  And now she was being called a war profiteer?

"It's nice seeing you speechless for a change."

"How dare you."

"How dare I?"

"How dare you let your sisters kill themselves for a decoration.  If your king wants a war so badly that he'd use that as an excuse, war is coming."

"And that makes what you did right?"

"It makes me wish I found all your swords."  Fiona's scowl deepened as her mind connected a few more dots.  "You aren't diplomats, otherwise your sister wouldn't have held me at sword point when we met.  You aren't spies, otherwise you would've gathered more information about me before confronting me.  You're just soldiers, aren't you?  Your king chose not to send someone specialized for recovery, which means you aren't here to prevent the war, are you?  That's why your sisters are dead.  That's why you don't care.  Isn't it?"

"I found you, didn't I."

Fiona's eye twitched.  'I'?  The thief would've been ashamed if she ever used her name to erase her team's.  "Yes.  You found me.  Was it worth your family?"

"Was your gold orb worth your life?"  The swordswoman finally took a step forward, but the tip of her blade tapped against the thief's staff when Fiona reached it out.  "Is your life worth the countless you've doomed?"

"They're only doomed if their skies stay clouded.  I hope the people here don't believe in torture, because I'm keeping you alive."

"Then you may want to fight to the death," Splinters shed as Lena's blade carved against Fiona's staff, "Because it works for us."
[close]

That one guy from earlier

The fight continues on this thread because the character limit was exceeded.
That one guy from Earlier 5
As their weapon's clashed, Lena took a quick silent breath to calm herself, grabbed the handle of her weapon with both hands, and glared into her opponent's eyes with her own red ones. All the while, a million thoughts raced through her mind. The first and foremost was that her opponent shouldn't even have been there in front of her. But she supposed that that was just her luck. What was more troubling, however, was how much her opponent seemed to know about her.

(While she was wrong about who exactly sent us to fail and my intentions, she was right about the reason why Zazner sent us here.)

She mentally shrugged it off. After all, there were more than enough explanations for how she knew so much. Besides, she had more important matters to attend to such apprehending the target. And so, she pushed forward letting the blade of her sword sink deeper into her opponent's own weapon and leave a clean cut in its wake.

Fiona and her staff were saved when she looked at it and frantically threw herself left towards the right wall in the stairwell. The target stumbled backward until she hit the surface with a dull resounding thud. But aside from a notch in her weapon that dug two-thirds of the way through it, she was no worse off than she was before for it.

"Huh, I'd say I struck a nerve but I didn't think that was possible," Her adversary taunted as her own eyes narrowed at the soldier and the grip on her weapon tightened. "After all, you don't even care about your own family."

At that, Lena opened her mouth to retort. But after a second, she stopped herself and closed her mouth as the obvious thought came to her. The insect was calling her king, her nation, and her mission into question. And there was only one reason that she would have for wanting to do that.

(She's baiting you, Lena. The insect wants you to do something brash like telling her something she didn't know or even killing her so that you lose your only lead. Stick to the plan Lena and let your sword talk for you.)

And so, she did. She took a deep breath, adopted an inside right sword stance, and eyed her target. In response, the soldier thought for an ever brief micro instant that she saw her adversary twitch uncomfortably ever so slightly.

Nonetheless, the swordswoman showed no mercy. In the blink of an eye, she took a right step forward and swung the sword rightward horizontally towards her opponent's midsection. And while the strike wasn't deep enough to kill her target, the aggressor knew it would cause problems.

The hit never landed. The moment she stepped into her opponent's guard, Fiona's eyes widened and in what the soldier could only describe as a desperate struggle from a dying insect, she brought her own weapon upwards glancing the flat part of the sword blade with it.

From there, both parties sought to go or stay on the offensive. The thief brought her staff downward vertically into full swing while the Void Watch member loosened her grip on her weapon and turned it around with her left hand. However, the sword wielder was faster. And with about a second of time to spare, she drove the pommel of her weapon into her target's sternum.

As the pommel dug into the thief, the target clenched her teeth in what had to be pain and aborted her own attack. As a result, Lena finally let another vindictive smile creep across her lips. After all, her first and foremost thought was that it served the target right for all the harm she caused and would cause if she had her way. But at the same time, she knew in the back of her mind that there was a difference between savoring victory and choking on it. So, she set her priorities and pressed on.

She flipped her weapon back around. As she did, Fiona took the opportunity to recoil and cover her chest with both of her arms. But as she did, the swordmaster brought forward another attack. This time, she stepped forward with her left foot and thrust the blade straight towards the target's right arm.

The intruder caught on and started throwing her weight to the left. But it was too late to avoid the blow completely. The sword glanced off the arm of the target carving a deep cut into it. Then, blood gushed out of the wound onto the arm, the blade, and the white wall behind her. And then, her foe cried out in a pained shriek that coursed throughout the stairwell as her grip on the staff loosened.

But Lena wasn't finished. With one final blow in her flurry, she raised the pommel of her sword to bring down towards the target's head. Though even as she did, the insect bit her lip and leaped to the left in the same direction that she was already headed. As a result, the pommel struct nothing but air and the blade of the sword tore through the wall behind where the target was. Taking plaster with it and staining the brick underneath with Fiona's blood.

It was then at that moment that the blade lodged within the brick and mortar behind the plaster of the wall. The moment the Void Watch member realized, she tugged at the sword. But as she did, she realized how tired she was. Her body ached, she was already breathing heavily before the confrontation, and her heart was hammering in her chest. The sword loosened on the second tug and came free on the third, but it was too late. Because within the three seconds that the action took, she heard the sound of a metal hatch opening and turned right to inspect it.

As soon as she did, she practically felt her weakness come back to bite her. Because the moment she glanced at her foe, she saw that Fiona had her staff rested against the wall behind her while she literally dragged a larger red cylindrical device with a black nozzle on the top out of a red frame in the wall and bear it in both of her hands. Her body sagged from the weight, but she stood nonetheless and she struggled to grip the thing with her bloody hand, but she caught it.

Lena's eyes widened as she caught on. She didn't know exactly what the device was, but her brain connected the dots when she saw the nozzle pointed at her and she stepped forward to stop it the moment she realized her opponent's plan.

But even with her reflexes, it was too late, her opponent looked down at the instructions, pointed the nozzle at her, pulled the pin, and pulled the trigger. Within moments, a hiss reached her ears as the white plume erupted from the canister into her face. As no sooner than when she closed her eyes, she felt some sort of powdery substance cover her face.

After that, things went too quickly for her to process. She brought her right hand up to her mouth, wiped whatever she could get off with a quick swipe, coughed violently, heard the clatter of the canister as it hit the ground and rolled away, and opened her eyes. But most importantly, she felt something hit her.

With a hollow wooden crack, the intruder's weapon collided with her body, knocking her off of her feet and forcing the weapon she held out of her hand as a sharp pain spike throughout her own abdomen. And within seconds, both she and her sword landed on the ground. She landed on her back with a duller pain that coursed through her, but the blade landed next to Fiona with a loud metalling ring as it hit the floor.

Lena's pulse picked up and she visibly frowned as she saw the thief give her a wry smile. All the while, some degree of dread coursed through her as she looked up at her foe. The intruder wasted no time pointed her staff at her. And for a second, she dared to think that she was in danger.

(I had a chance to take her down but I blew it. I hope it's not too late.)

The sword user's eyes darted around the room towards both the weapon and the fire extinguisher. Both were too far away, but her adversary must have known what she was thinking because she took no time warning her against going for either.

"Don't you dare!" The thief warned between her own deep breaths with what sounded like a hint of relief in her tone. All the while, her right hand trembled, but her hold kept firm. "Try it and I will hurt you. Or at least, I'll hurt you worse."

At that, the soldier looked at the staff wielder and seethed as fear turned to anger and she held back a growl. She wanted nothing more than to grab her sword and to incapacitate the insect before her. But at the same time, her words rang true. She was on the ground with just her kunai and if she even started to make a move to throw one or to grab her weapons, the girl before her would strike her down. Of course, Damian could heal any injuries that she would get, but if her opponent knocked her unconscious, then even she couldn't know what her foe would do to her or to her operation.

(She said she wanted to keep me alive. And she seemed to imply that she would hand me over to the government here somehow. But I can't let that happen. I have to get out of this!)

And so, the only immediate means of escape that she could think of came to mind. Namely, to summon a copy of herself. She looked once more at her weapon and hesitated to do this of course. After all, the obvious thought of not revealing her hand to her adversary came to mind. But after a short pause, she knew that she had no other options. And so, she sighed and willed an apparition into existence by her sword.

Naturally, it worked. A copy of her slowly appeared on the ground near her sword. Like a mirror, it bore whatever chemicals the extinguisher had spouted on its face. But if it minded, it didn't show it. Instead, as soon as the duplicate fully materialized, it reached out its left hand towards the weapon on the ground, gripped it, and sprung upwards with a diagonal upward right cut aimed for her opponent's midsection in tow.

Once more, the color left Fiona's face and she began to shake. But she staggered back just in time for the tip of the sword to breeze past her and caught herself before she could stumble.

"H-how?!" Was all that the intruder could manage as her eyes darted between the two of them.

"Figure it out, insect." The real soldier deadpanned as she got up onto her feet once more, brushed most of the chemicals off of her face with her right hand until only a few specks remained on her face and in her hair, and practically imprinted her eyes into her target. Then, she spoke directly to her foe with ice-cold venom in her tone. "I told you I wouldn't fail right? Actually, I don't believe I have but I am telling you now. There are millions of innocent lives at stake on both sides. So no matter what I came here for, I am going to save them. So I am taking that Glass Tendril back. And neither you nor your client will stop me."

From there, Lena pressed her advantage. In one fluid motion, the duplicate threw her sword back to her. For a second, the blade sliced through the air to the audible sound of metal piercing wind. But a second later, in an equally fluid motion, she caught the weapon with her left hand and tightened her grip on it.

Her foe backed up towards the door that led outside into the hallway once more but she didn't care. Instead, she willed the current copy of herself to fade away. And the moment it did, she willed another to appear in its place. The process felt like forever, but within seconds, the end result was an exact look-alike that stood before the culprit and readied itself to close in just like its summoner.
[close]
Crank 5
Never in her life had Fiona needed Adam's logic, Salem's conspiracist thoughts, Wolfgang's endurance, or Mason's impulse more.  The voices in her head were silent as the cool edge of a blade was pressed to her throat, but even as its pressure drew blood, her mind was elsewhere.  All the rules she was familiar with were shattered like glass, every semblance of reality had distorted, and her life seemed to be at its close.  If she'd died in the fog and her soul had descended, she couldn't imagine which god had claimed her. 

'I've never liked the gods.'

Clinging to the tangent, Fiona's archer had appeared, a transparent shade behind her enemy's copy.  The thief could hear the soldier say something with venom in her voice, but it was Salem's words that rang for her.

'Kick this one in the teeth for me, will ya?'

The sword on her neck loosened for a moment, but only so a blow to the back of her head could daze her.  The blade moved so Fiona could lurch forward, taking a few stumbling steps before crashing to the ground.  She felt her skull throb with every beat of her heart, and she tried blinking the blur out of her eyes.  Crimson speckled the floor below her when she spit.

'The leader's more tired than she should be.'  With closed eyes, Adam was even more vivid in the void, his burly arms crossed across his triangular body.  'The last daughter was a mistake.  However she's reproducing is exhausting her.'

'Too much to carry you,' Wolfgang added, fading into Adam's place and towering a half foot above him, 'She wouldn't kill you, and she needs you conscious to transport.  This has gone too far for her to cut her loses.'

'But it's not too late to cut her and get lost.'  A smug grin was all she saw of Mason before the world started fading back into place for Fiona, 'You still have your knives behind, don't you?'

"Now."  It didn't dawn on the thief how long she'd been ignoring the soldier, but a blade returning to her neck served as a reminder.  "On your feet.  Don't make me ask you again."

With hands trembling, Fiona tried to comply, rising a few feet with the edge following every inch, before her strength finally gave way.  A cut formed on her neck before the blade could be turned, clanging on the floor before being pinned against her cheek while her chest fell on her arms.

Towering above her, Lena's copy frowned heavily.  This had gone on too long, and both parties were too bloody to leave conspicuously.  "We'll need new clothes to move her," The clone signed, beginning to remove the blade in a way that would leave a long scar across her enemy, "Would it be safer to risk detainment fr-"

A sudden yelp cut off the last word when Fiona struck like a snake, a hidden blade from the thief's left hand impaling the upper thigh of Lena's other while her dominant tore the weapon from her weakening grip.  Twisting her body as she fell from her lunge, the trice-sword thief let the weapon fly, it's edge spinning at Lena like a helicopter blade, but it vanished as soon as the Void Watch member willed it gone. 

The knife behind it, however, was not hers to control.  There was only one rotation left to spin when it's cover was gone, and its edge plunged deep into the soldier's waist before she could respond.  Crimson drained from her body, but before shock could grip her, her left hand ripped for her kunia, only to have the muscles on its upper arm impaled by a second blade.  Staggering back, the soldier seethed fire while the thief scooted to a wall, digging out another knife from her person.

She was met with a volley of kunia, but spinning suddenly, most were blocked by the girl's quiver, embedding into the intricate design as they threatened to crack its foundation, while others sprayed red on the walls behind the criminal.  Screaming, Fiona turned back, arc of blood leaving her back while she whipped another projectile, punching into Lena's shoulder as she turned, finally sending her to the ground as well.  Red puddles formed below the warriors as their throws became more wild, blood loss and agony plummeting their accuracy, while the suspicions that the other intended the spare them began to die.  If Lena had a moment to focus, she could summon a copy to cut the insect's thieving head off, but sacrificing a second could sacrifice her life as well, especially when Fiona began returning fire with the kunia her quiver had caught. 

The puddles turned to pools and they were past pain as Lena lined another throw, zipping a full six inches to Fiona's left while she countered with a projectile of her own, smacking the ground halfway between them.  Their worlds were too dark, and clattering had long replaced the ambient music within the mall.  Fiona winced when a numb ripple spiked through her back, but when an unmistakable thunk resounded a couple inches to her right, there wasn't a doubt in the girl's mind she'd found the door.  Plucking the weapon from the wood, the thief haphazardly threw it over the long-turned-shield quiver before palming for the doorknob, a clang echoing the fractured bone as a projectile found it was well. 

The thief let out a shriek as she barely found the strength to turn it.  Having been in dim darkness for so long, it was blinding when light flooded in like an apocalyptic storm.  It felt like a white flash as Fiona collapsed, trying to will form into the blurry masses that jolted at the sudden swing.  There was a surprised yelp and a scream.  Someone else exclaimed a curse she was unfamiliar with as they hopped to avoid stepping on her oozing hand, but as she lay, sprawled halfway out of a room more scarlet than a red maple, she knew in her bleeding heart that she was found.

And for the first time in a long time...

That was a good thing.
[close]
That one guy from earlier Final
As the light poured into the stairwell and the corridor to the stairs in which Lena laid, the world faded for a moment into a blur. She was pale but luckily though, the obvious pain shot through her body from her two wounds and she could feel her blood dripping from them. It wasn't pleasant and the dazing ambient light made her feel weaker, but it meant that she was at least alive.

Death and injury weren't so easily fought off, however. And if left to her own devices, the soldier did not know what would have become of her. But when the frantic shouts outside reached her ears and when her vision cleared enough to see her target and everyone beyond, it became very clear what was going to happen. Both of them were going to be rescued.

The swordswoman glared at the thief and in the direction of the guards that were approaching her. Wherever the medical team was, they weren't here yet. But she had no doubt that they would be soon. Either way, it wasn't what she wanted though her adversary would be detained at the very least. She would need to be dealt with later of course, but she was certain that Damian could finish the intruder off in her current condition.

(She still managed to match me in combat. I'm not sure how I'm ever going to apprehend her boss at this rate. Unless-)

Lena took a deep breath. The moment she did, she felt the sharp pains from her stab wounds magnify. But she continued regardless and pressed both arms out against the ground to exert everything she had into getting back up. Seconds felt like hours, but eventually, she lifted herself an inch-

Only to crash back down into the floor.

(Never mind.)

"Don't move." Came an alarmed voice. When she looked up, she saw it belonged to one of three guards headed over to her. Namely, one that stood between two others. One of them muttered something into a device on their shoulder but the others proceeded towards her. Moreover, the one on the right continued. "Our medical response team will be here soon."

The soldier nodded as they continued. They seemed to know something about first aid because they all worked with what little they had. And one of them grabbed a cloth from somewhere while she wasn't looking and proceeded to apply pressure to her injuries to the best of his abilities. A quick glance over towards the perpetrator told her that those nearby were trying to save Fiona as well.

"It's a good thing we were called over here earlier." The one on the left went on.

"We were called here because that monster killed this lady's sisters!" The far one cut the guy off with a stern growl in his tone. "It's your fault for not catching her earlier that this happened!"

The final guy turned his head to say something back to the guy, but Lena scarcely bothered to pay attention. Instead, she eyed her target beyond the threshold of the door as well as a development that entailed. Namely, the male shopkeeper from earlier seemed to have arrived. He looked like he wanted to approach the scene and she even caught sight of a cylindrical object in his hand. Yet, two guards actively kept him away from the area.

"Ugh, why?" Lena through pained wheezes. Mostly to sound like someone who would realistically be upset with the deaths of her sisters, but with clear disappointment in her tone as well.

"I know it's awful." The person on the left that was tending to her proclaimed. "To think, she even has the nerve to accuse you of hunting her down."

At first, the tone sounded as though nobody believed the accusation. But a second passed, she felt one of back away a fraction of an inch, and the thought crept into her mind that doubt just might have crept into one of her rescuers' minds.

"The deaths do seem a bit off." The one on the right admitted. "They were all stabbed by swords that their own sheaths held. She could have used their own weapons against them, but that begs the question of why."

"To be honest, I don't know," The sword user replied as she looked back and wracked her brain for the most believable response she could think of. The pain didn't help her cognitive prowess, but she managed after a second and continued. "Perhaps she didn't want evidence of a body. My sisters and I were going- we were going to join the system. We bought matching swords and everything. But you see, they were cursed weapons. They remove whoever they kill and whatever items they owned from existence." After that, she paused and continued in what sounded like someone who was about to burst into tears. "Oh my gosh, they're dead aren't they?"

As soon as the words left Lena's lips, she regretted the excuse. Too late, her mind told her that she didn't know the extent to which this world knew about magic or how well the excuse would be accepted. But as she looked at them, her fears were assuaged. Albeit by witnessing them look around the room and seeing one shiver when he eyed a kunai on the ground by the doorway.

And that was when a realization came to her. Namely, the realization that her adversary likely still had the food card on her person. After all, she carried no food with her and showed no signs of eating when she was found. So slowly but surely, an idea came to fruition. It wasn't strictly speaking necessary, but at the same time, she was going to take everything she could get.

"It's all my fault. If I hadn't lent my sister a food card for the cafe, she wouldn't have run into that butcher and we all might-"

The girl couldn't bury her head into her hands, but she hung her head, closed her eyes and listened to what they had to say. Sure enough, they took her bait.

"Wait. If it was lent to her then that would mean she didn't own it and that it should still exist. But there wasn't a card at the crime scene." The guard in the back said.

"The culprit might have taken it from her. We should probably make a note of that in case we find it on her person." The guy on the right remarked.

The sword wielder would have smiled in spite of everything if it weren't for the fact that it would ruin her impression. Yet, the moment passed quickly. And as soon as it was, it was replaced with the sound of footsteps heading towards her, a sensation of her body being lifted onto something that felt like a stretcher, and the world around her fading into darkness. The pain began to subside and her mind began to dull until finally, she succumbed to unconsciousness.

------------East Point General Hospital: Room D202-------------

The sounds of mechanical beeping poured into Lena's senses. At first, they were distant. But they came quickly to the front of her mind until finally, she stirred and the rhythm of the noise that permeated through to her mind changed. As she did, she realized that sharp pain still coursed through her, but it was negligible compared to what it was like earlier.

The void watch member groaned and opened her eyes. Moreover, she looked around the room. To her surprise, she found herself in the bed of a room with white walls, a white ceiling, a light brown wood door to her right, a window to her left that poured light into the room, two black chairs over by the wall across from the bed, a single bright bulb in the ceiling, and of course, several pieces of machinery behind her. Many of which seemed connected to her by wires and tubes.

And that was when a figure materialized into view. It had light crystal blue eyes, messy jet black hair, an open black jacket that bore a dark grey T-shirt, blue jeans, and sneakers. Moreover, it held out its hand towards her and the palm of it was glowing a whitish-yellow. All which of which more than enough for her to recognize the man immediately. And as soon as she did, the guy visibly exhaled with what must have been relief.

"D-Damian." Lena stammered breaking the methodical noise of the machinery medical machines in the silence. It was then that she looked down to avoid looking him in the eyes and noticed that she wasn't wearing her normal clothes anymore. But rather, some light blue gown. So when she looked back up, she frowned. "What exactly is going on here?"

"Well for starters, you nearly gave me a heart attack. It took me a half-hour of holding my hand out and healing you aside from the occasional break before you finally woke up. And before you ask, yes people know what I'm doing but nobody cares about a friend healing another friend." The guy replied with a smile. "Aside from that, you were injured so you were taken here for emergency treatment. Whatever they did to you wasn't me. Oh, I also dealt with the footage of your little debacle and found out what footage was while I did. I should probably warn you about it later. And lastly-" his smile dropped. "I have to say, I am disappointed you let her overpower you like that."

The girl just bit her lip. She had no excuse for letting herself get stabbed like she did. Suffice to say that some remedial practice rounds about dodging were definitely in order. But at the same time, a thought came to her and she realized she had something that she needed to tell her ally.

"She's not just a normal thief Damian," She warned in a dead-serious tone all the while choosing her words carefully. "She's working with the other thief."

At that, her partner frowned. And she couldn't help but feel like she was about to hear bad news. So, when she looked back up at him, she frowned as well.

"I wish I knew that. I had a chance to apprehend her but I was still searching for you. It's a long story and I'll tell you later. But the point is, she's gone. She must have been offered some sort of deal because she was moved to some high-security medical facility that nobody I've talked to seems to know the location of. All I could get was someone saying something about the gladiator system."

Lena just nodded and sighed.

(So our best lead escaped because I messed up and let her stab me.)

Damian must have caught on because he forced a thin smile, retracted his hand, let the glow on it subside, and sighed as if it were not a big deal. Even though it was obvious to both of them that it was a huge deal to know someone who worked for their nemesis and let them get away.

"No matter I suppose," he said. "We don't strictly speaking have to mention you being injured to Zazner and we've seen her face. If she is in the gladiator system, we'll find her again. Next time, she will have to deal with both of us and you'll be better at dodging because I'm going to help you practice. Plus, I have some good news."

"Really?" The soldier said and she let a hint of hope come to her.

"I do. Of course, you did well for the most part so it shouldn't be a surprise to you. First, everyone believes your side of the story. Second, everyone at the mall managed to collect your supplies. You will be getting your weapons back as soon as you can leave which won't be long thanks to me. Third, I found my sword. Our culprit apparently tried to dispose of it because I stumbled on it not too far from where we live. I have no idea where the culprit herself went, but I found that at least. And fourth, and most importantly, I found a brochure for the multiverse museum at the mall on my way over to find you. It's a long story but the point is, it stated that the museum has another recently returned artifact called the cloak of the lost civilization. It supposedly lets you retrieve whatever you desire and considering they owe us, I think it's about time we cashed in on that favor to recover what we need most of all."

Lena nodded once and her pulse picked up in a combination of excitement and medicine. The beeping in the room picked up in pace but she ignored it. Instead, she managed to smile and opened her mouth to finish his explanation for him. He didn't explicitly say it, but within short order, she managed to connect the dots. They could use the artifact at the museum to retrieve the glass tendril.

"So, all we have to do now is to retrieve the glass tendril from the artifact at the museum and then all we'll have left to do is capture the person who stole the original from us."

Her ally simply nodded back. And so, it was settled. All they had to do was waltz into the museum, collect on their favor, and leave with the gem they needed. And if they were refused the artifact they needed, they could borrow it through other means. Either way, they would be one major step closer to success by the end of the day once her ally's healing magic finished removing her wounds and they headed there. And as for the person who took the glass tendril, they were a step closer to him as well. While her target escaped, the lead was still there. All they had to do was find her again. And so, one final thought came to her.

(It seems like I've failed in such a way that I've succeeded after all.)
[close]
Crank Final
Dozens of miles away, devastation struck Malvi like a lightning bolt, her ghostly pale face losing its last few hints of color while her arm snatched out to grip the pillar before the vet's office to keep her balance. 

"You're sure?"

Exchanging a glance with the EMT behind her, the elderly medical doctor cleared his throat.  "Yes.  She'll make a full recovery."

"Because if she'd be in too much pain, I think she'd be happier-"

"You aren't family, are you?"  After catching Fiona's gold ball from his final toss, the first responder crossed his arms, symbol of a phoenix on the right shoulder of his black uniform.  "Your friend will live, provided she keeps her head down, otherwise, she'll lose it in the pits."  He frowned before taking a look at the priceless artifact he held.  "She's lucky she had this or I wouldn't have believed a word she said, but you're looking at the emperor's new clothes.  I doubt a jury would trust a rock that didn't work for them, especially if witnesses remember murders, not suicides." 

Hesitantly, he reached it out to Malvi, who accepted it with her least bad hand.  With such dry skin, however, it began splitting when she opened her palm, red quickly filling the lines that appeared. 

"There's an ointment for that."

Malvi grunted, but the vet broke the silence by clearing his throat.

"Miss Seabound needs help walking."

"Alright."  Malvi remained still.

Both the EMT and veterinarian waited.

"You aren't a friend either, are you?"

"What?  She has a stick."

The two men shared another glance, but with more judgement in their eyes.

"Fine."  Shaking her head, Malvi motioned the vet ahead of her, walking through the door when he opened it.  The moment the dogs started barking she was reminded why she thought it was better to wait outside.  On sight, or scent, or however the four-leggers judged, each mutt decided she was an enemy and made sure to let her know. It was as loud as a warzone as the pair walked the narrow corridor, but being a small building, the journey was short.  Closing the door behind them, the noise dropped a few decibels, and while there was no more red soaking Fiona, crimson rags had filled the trash and she looked more mummy than human with all the bandages wrapped around the flesh that protruded her hospital gown.  Her right hand especially was covered, encased so tightly she couldn't even move her wrist, but she was awake at least.  The green-eyed girl was blinking out of unison as she hugged her IV pole for dear life, one foot flat on the floor while the other was limp on its side.

"Morphine," The vet informed her over the dogs.

"Do you have more?  I think she'll need more."  Taking a better look, Malvi noticed the blood pack hanging on the pole.  "Of that too."

"I treat dogs.  That's all there is."

Malvi rolled her eyes before going to get her keeper, her hand gently pressing against Fiona's back as she guided her forward, but offered no other support.  With disdain, the vet crossed his arms, following behind the wildly high and off balance thief staggering through the corridor.  The dogs only stopped barking when the door shut behind them, the trio moving into the shameful sight of the EMT.

"Neither of you?"

"I explicitly told you to stop bringing people here."

The first responder let out a sigh as he opened the back of his ambulance.  "Yeah?  Well I trust you."

"I wish you didn't."

The medic shook his head as Fiona groggily looked to Malvi.  "Knife?"

"I have your equipment in a duffle bag."  The EMT called out, "You were going to need it for the pits."

The thief looked at him for a moment before glancing back to Malvi.  "Green knife."

"I'm using it," The girl replied, haphazardly pushing the other in the back of the transport, "You can have it back when I'm done."

If Fiona's face was more functional, her eyes would've narrowed.  While absently gazing at her ally, however, she noticed the gold orb she held.

"You two have somewhere safe I can leave you?"

"Yeah, I'll give you direc-"

"Museum," Fiona blurted, indicating the English Cue.

"I really think you should-"

"Sell it?"

"Keep it."

Malvi let out a huff.

"Not ours.  Don't need."  It took two breaths to get the sentences out, and the girl winced as she shuffled into a corner.  "Gift shop?"

"There?  Yeah, I think so."

"Good."  It took a second to find in her hazy vision, but when Fiona found the duffle bag, she dragged it close, her hand gently pressing against its fabric and feeling the quiver inside.  A soft smile found her face as her fingers traced the raven engraved in it, but when her gaze returned to the inside of the vehicle, her expression expanded.  It appeared cramped, but her faint vision let her see all four of her friends, huddled close and grinning down at her, Salem resting her arm on Mason's shoulder while Adam and Wolfgang sat beside their injured friend.  Panning across them all, her voice was soft.

"I miss you."

'We miss you too.'
[close]

That one guy from earlier

Alright. So, Crank, I know I posted this via PM but it felt rushed and insincere to me. The truth is, you did a lot of favors for me in making this and they are all appreciated.

Honest opinions and some CnC
I failed to explain to you earlier that I appreciate how agreeable you were in all of this. Like pretty much every time we worked on something together, you never got angry or impatient with me. And when I had that delay at the very end, you waited for me. Granted, you said you would before we started, but I appreciate it nonetheless. Moreover, you went ahead and agreed to the suggestion on the setting which was really cool. Though I'm not 100% pleased with how it went, It meant a lot. Finally, you never criticized me no matter what I did or what mistakes I made and you only ever asked for one request in all of it. So basically, you're a great guy.

That said, there is a glaring mistake that I, unfortunately, feel like I need to make. I'm not going to nitpick here. I'm just going to talk about the overall problem with facing Fiona.

Your main problem is that you are too harsh with how you write your character. Namely, you keep getting her into situations that are really difficult to write her out of. If I had any of the characters other than Lena and Fiona act competently, Fiona would have been eliminated well before she even reached Lena.

For a more accurate and specific breakdown, I refer to the mall guards, who really should have been able to overpower Fiona if they followed proper protocol. Heck, they're security guards in a mall filled to the brim with gladiators and weapons. They should be trained to deal with this. Once more, this happens with Derrick himself who for those reading who don't know, is an ex-gladiator from the former site that Crank fought and has quite enough experience to be able to reliably stop Fiona. But honestly, what was I supposed to do Crank? You put Fiona at odds with them. And don't argue that I set the scenarios up because you are the one that got rid of Fiona's "outs" as well as the one that wanted her to get to the store. Of course, this says nothing of Lena in your part 5. I actually am cool with her being overpowered but it came out of nowhere and she beat both her and her copy. It would be fine if it were a one-time thing, but Fiona getting herself out of ridiculous situations was a recurring theme throughout the match. And how you did it kind of completely undermines Lena's strengths. Since we're on the topic, summoning copies doesn't tire Lena out. The sprint and the subsequent match tired them both out.

My advice is to fix your character. Fiona isn't a bad character, but you either need to A) stop persecuting her so heavily or B) give her a power or gadget that she can use to escape. I cannot stress how much this needs to happen for the sake of your next opponent whomever they may be.

And that's about it really. You're a really cool guy and I wish I could say I enjoyed this. But that problem really killed it for me. We could have had our characters brawling at various stores and utilizing the inventory they had or sprinting along the balconies of the mall to the roof. But instead, it was more or less us both being forced to get Fiona out of these situations by dumbing down everyone around her.
[close]

Crank

Well for the tire out specifically, I'm pretty sure I mentioned she couldn't summon another copy because she lacked the time to focus.  If you had an issue with direction, you could've let me know, I wouldn't have been against changing/tweaking things

That one guy from earlier

July 24, 2019, 11:51:27 am #4 Last Edit: July 24, 2019, 11:54:45 am by That one guy from earlier
It was mainly bogged down at the end. And I didn't think you would re-write everything. Like, I was cool with her being chased by the guards to an extent and I figured you had a good reason for wanting Fiona to visit the general store so I didn't ask you to change anything. But by that point, it was starting to get ridiculous. That's also why I had her run into the stairwell actually. In retrospect, I should have spoken up when I was writing her escape from the store though I suppose.

Regardless, do want Fiona to get her arrows back? Because I can arrange for her to get them back.

Crank

Heh, Dozer can keep the one, but because Fiona was meant to become a fighter she was transported with her equipment

Pleb with a Pen

July 28, 2019, 10:45:40 am #6 Last Edit: July 28, 2019, 10:48:29 am by Pleb with a Pen
First of all, I have to point a glaring problem that I find very disappointed you guys let it pass. The e in the earlier is capitalised in the 5th spoiler.

My vote went for TOGFE(I'll dare use it again) mainly because his parts of the story where more understandable for me. Although both had parts where it was hard to follow, TOGFE(see?)'s parts for me were clearing out the story and establishing the scene better. This may be entirely my fault for not following through at some parts, but hey, can't vote for something I can't understand. To you Crank, maybe tone down some of the descriptions, or better, drag them out a bit more since not everyone(myself included) can catch on to everything that's going on.

Also, since both fighters were women, at some parts the 'she' can confuse if you don't pay attention. Overall both stories were very good and the flow from one to the other was very nice. It took me a long time to understand that both characters were in a foreign setting, but I guess I should refresh their lores once more? Damn, I'm getting sidetracked by myself. The fact that this was more of chase rather than a battle can largely be overlooked. I also have nothing to say about the last two of each of your parts since they

TOGFE
I have to admit, I was very happy when you included the Cloak from the event(even though I ended up not finishing my part), but the in the very end I understood the orb was the English Cue.

Aside from some grammar mistake and one time you forgot to capitalise the Void Watch, the story was very nice although I feel like there were better settings that could show off each character's abilities(and writing) better.Neither character felt 'cheated' to me, but as I said, only Lena's ability to create duplicates really showed throughout the story(from both of you). The only thing that kinda threw me off was some of the metaphors or similis were refering directly to out world and not theirs(although towards the end I understood what was going on) so that broke the imersion at some point.
[close]

Crank
Like I said above, your writing is very vivid and some descriptions are, for lack of a better expression, finger-licking good, that means that less and less people are gonna 'get it' the more complex or intricate you make it. I really am not sure if what I say doesn't apply only to some instances so take it with a cup of salt.

I can kinda see what TOGFE meant when he said he had to write Fiona out of difficult situations, but I can't to what extend that's true for obvious reasons. My main grudge was that this was this whole 'fight' was more of a chase scene(didn't want to say like I said above/before). Apart from some grammar mistakes, everything else was as good as usual.
[close]

This one felt like a shorter read than it actually was to be honest. However, I don't feel like this format of one story and swapping writers can be reliably maintained. Although there is one specific deirection and the writers cooperate to make it work, they also have less opportunity to show off the whole extent of their skills and it most often than not will end in a draw in the actual fight. 

I feel like I overuse parentheses lately(probably just my imagination).
Check out my piece!

Heh, now there's two of the them!

My proudest creation so far: The Hybrids

That one guy from earlier

July 29, 2019, 12:30:33 am #7 Last Edit: July 29, 2019, 12:38:11 am by That one guy from earlier
Thanks for the feedback. There are a few things I have to explain.

First of all, the spoiler head was my fault. I'll be sure to fix it once the polls are finished.

Second, as you may have figured out based on your critique to me, Megaplex Mall was my idea and I take full responsibility for that. I get that it wasn't the best location with how everything turned out but alas. I've been trying to arrange for something to happen there for a very long time and Crank agreed to the opportunity so that was my stubbornness. That said, I think it may have been better if it were after hours or if the story went in a different direction. I'm not going to justify my choice since I set the time of day but I figured I'd at least explain myself. Anyways, I am a tad upset that the characters didn't get to showcase all their abilities but I suppose that is the price that was paid which leads me to my conclusion.

Finally, the way things went wasn't entirely Crank's fault. I should have spoken up or put my foot down sooner like at Fiona got to the store. We share the blame for turning it into more of a chase. The fight didn't turn out like I wanted it to, but I should have communicated better with Crank. The moral of the story is, the next time I do a collab, it's going to be an actual collab and I'm going to work to make sure this doesn't happen again.

Crank

Thanks for the feedback, Pen! I'll try toning down a bit.  I had a kinda hard time staying true to the characters in all honesty.  It wouldn't make sense for Lena to fight Fiona herself, which is why I saw the chase as necessary, but it was also hard to keep someone who'd rather be unseen in such a spotlight.  I tried positioning my endings as 'this is her goal' but I fear they were missinterpereted as 'this is what happens next'.  Communication was rough on my end as well, essentially.

But, I can communicate this, at least.  Congrats, Guy!


That one guy from earlier

August 08, 2019, 11:25:43 pm #9 Last Edit: August 08, 2019, 11:27:15 pm by That one guy from earlier
Thanks Crank. First of all, I would like to say that you actually did a pretty decent job at portraying Fiona. Other than what I mentioned which honestly is perfectly explainable in most circumstances, you more or less nailed her character. And if we ever collaborate again, I promise to communicate more.