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  1. Rosalia was in a much more relaxed mood than normal. The Team Genesis victory the week before had a lot to do with it. The rest, in hindsight, may have been fatigue at the hands of calorie deficit. The purchase of Kendra's Masquerade had not come cheaply, even for someone as good at managing finances as Rosalia was. Now that she thought about it, maybe she would stay off coffee. She had felt notably less jumpy in the last few days when she hadn't been able to justify buying it. Regardless, she was much more talkative today than she normally was, and had greeted every member of the team warmly that day, even Vega, her concerns about Vega's opinions of her leadership a distant concern. She felt good today. Especially since she had come to this meeting with a goal. Even the intrusion of a stranger was only a mild distraction. She raised her head to look over at Vega's mother, smiling, somewhat shyly: "Hello, ma'am," she said by way of greeting, unable to associate her with the level of familiarity of a first name even with her good mood. "It's nice to have you here today; I hope you're not offended if we dive right into things. We have an important match here, I think, even more so than the team may realize." She stood at her seat, splaying her hands across the table surface before her. "Again, congratulations are in order for Kendra and Daichi. Well done, the pair of you. Your skill level has improved notably in particular, Daichi. And Kendra, you outmaneuvered a very tricky opponent. You did well too, Falisha; I wouldn't wish that matchup on anyone," she tacked on consolingly. If Falisha felt even half as irate about her match as Rosalia did about her own previous bout, she had to feel dreadful. "But now we're gaining steam; Two wins... a draw," she added, a slight strain to the word, "and no losses. We're going to start garnering attention. Though we've already started gaining that in... one aspect." She turned her head to look down the table at Sai. "Sashisematta. I believe you remember our conversation earlier about the tact you took with Avery Frostwald, and what should happen if it went south." - - - - “... Your match against Avery was disrespectful to him… But you had intent behind it, a plan. I’m willing to see where it goes… for now. But you went too far against Avery. Do not push your luck… You’re skilled, there’s no denying it. And perhaps you’ll end up being correct about people wanting to see you lose. So for now we’ll wait and see if it works out. But don’t push it with this duel, Sashisematta.” - - - - "You lost your duel against Charlie Robin. I believe you told me people would flock to see you lose. That has already happened, and I've seen more than a few negative opinions about that duel follow us even now. I believe now might be an opportunity you can take, both for yourself and Team Genesis." She turned back to address the team at large. "I think we can take this momentum and really drive into it. For our next match... We attempt a clean sweep." She stood up straight, arms crossed. "I know every one of you does your best to win your duels every time, but here is where it might be the most important. If we win, 3 and O, no losses... THAT is significant. And I thing we especially should focus on the members of the team who could use it the most." She looked back at Sai. "The benefits of a Sashisematta victory can't be understated. Your attitude against Avery had intention, but the timing of your duel against Charlie Robin was... unfortunate. They are a skilled opponent, and your immediate loss to them, well. Some believe it made you look like a fool." She flinched slightly saying this, her voice growing softer. "Let me be clear, Sashisematta. That is NOT an opinion I hold. But it is something you will have to face within the arena." "I'm fine with being a fool in their eyes. It will only make the satisfaction of my rise all the richer." Sai lowered his eyelids halfway, gazing at Rosalia through his silvery white lashes, "I assure you, if I am dueling in our next bout, it will be a definitive win. I hope that your wish comes true and I wouldn't be alone in the winner's circle." Rosalia made brief eye contact with him. He's already figured out the next bit. She looked over at Eve and Falisha. "I'm not sure which of you is most suited for this; Both of you are strong duelists. Perhaps Falisha may be best in the wake of her last match, or Eve, given her opponent made what some would consider a game-making error. But I think either of you can make admirable showings." She sighed, placing a hand to her chest. "Unfortunately, I am the only one here without a win on their dueling record. The only one without a loss, as well, but as captain I think I am expected to have a strong showing, and my first was not up to my standards, or of potential sponsors." She ruefully looked at Vega with an apologetic expression. "I do not intend to repeat it." She gazed back at the team. "Those are my thoughts. Now let me ask you... What do you think?"
  2. "You caught a new Pokemon already?!?" Scully was agog as he stared at his companion. "Wow, that was so fast! Can I see it? Maybe we could even... have a little battle once we stop for the day, see how it performs?" Gligar enthusiastically waved a claw at this suggestion. "But! We can't lose daylight now, can we? Lets go, you guys!" Scully strode confidently ahead, trying his best to project leadership despite the fact he had no idea where he was going. Gligar tugged at his ear. "Gli Gli!" "What is it?" He asked, pausing to look back. He frowned, perplexed for a second, before he realized. "Oh, wait. We're short one, aren't we?" He quickly counted, only to see no sign of- "Where'd Ryu get to? Ah, guess we SHOULD wait for him... Which meeeeeans..." He whirled around, eyes wide with excitement as he eyed up Aruto. "Maybe we have time for a battle right now!" Gligar hopped up on top of Scully's head, waving his claws around excitedly. "C'mon Aruto, let's see what you've- Oh jeez!" Gligar had immediately fallen off his head, pulled along by the wind. Scully snatched at the bat Pokemon, only barely catching him by his tail before he could be sent tumbling along the canyon sides like a paper bag.
  3. Rosalia had been tense all day. While resplendent in a midnight blue silk dress and a black shawl hanging off her shoulders, her knuckles were stark white as they were clenched upon her knees. She had silently thanked God that Sai wasn't dueling tonight multiple times; As if she needed the stress of trying to predict what he was going to do this time. She was having a hard enough time keeping track of three duels at once. "Kendra has her back against the wall," she muttered to herself, though it was clearly audible to the others. "Even with the power of Radiation Dragon, she can't truly go on the offensive as long as Yukihito can turn it against her with his Bujingi monsters." Her knuckles somehow grew even whiter. Her eyes were locked on Yukihito, and there was anger in them. She did not like him speaking to her vice-captain like this. Her eyes flicked to the table beside her. There was an open envelope there, with Kendra's name written on it in Rosalia's own handwriting. Inside, presumably having been read by Kendra before she left it there, was a small index card, which Rosalia had, somewhat embarassedly, given to Vega to give to Kendra before the duels started. She hadn't been able to hand the letter over face to face. Kendra, I've been doing a lot of thinking since we talked at the mall. I'm still so unsure of myself. So unable to be honest about the things I'm afraid of, unlike you and even Sashisematta. Maybe the others as well. I'm still not sure I'm the one to lead Team Genesis. But what I am sure of is that you are an invaluable vice-captain. This is your first showing here in the circuit. You've helped me assuage some of my doubts, even if just a little (we both agreed I still had much to work through); Hopefully this helps do the same for your own. Rosalia The index card was sticking slightly from the envelope. The Duel Monsters card that had been inside was not. Rosalia's gray eyes turned back to the screen. "But she has something in her deck that can turn that tide." Her attention was ripped away from Kendra by a great bellowing roar. She turned her head to take in Daichi's side of the playing field. A great dragon spread its wings, Daichi sat astride it. Rosalia raised an eyebrow, a tiny smile quirking at the corner of her mouth as she noted the coloration of the dragon. "A red dragon," she commented wryly, looking sidelong to Sai. "Looks like Daichi's been taking notes from another Team Genesis member," she joked, the mental comparison to Sai's Crimsongleam Dragon humorous to her. She clasped her hands together as she watched Daichi rush for the Action Card. I hate this aspect of Action Duels... There's no way to consistently predict what happens. She let out a tiny sigh of frustration as Daichi failed to find a Holy Sword. He had been so close. But then Daichi's next move actually caused her to stand in surprise. "His dragon... He's taken the aspect of Action Duels that's most unpredictable: The random cards scattered on the field. And he's turned it into a strength." She clapped her hands back together, but this time in pleasure as Daichi's opponent lost the rest of his Life Points. She turned to Sai again, her smile genuine and warm this time. "He really has been taking notes off you."
  4. "Mahliiiii!" Scully rushed over from the rock he had been sitting on, Gligar clinging onto the back of his jacket for dear life. The bat Pokemon had been stuck to him like glue since he had come out into the windy area, trying desperately not to get swept away. "Hey, there you are, I got out here 'bout thirty minutes ago. Haven't seen the other guys just yet; Maybe they were behind you? Do you think they went ahead a little?" He didn't mention how he hadn't ventured further into the province to find them due to being too scared to go by himself. The walls of Mesagoza suddenly seemed far less imposing than the great high cliffs that reached up around him. "Mmmmaybe we could go ahead and try to find 'em? Maybe find some strong Pokemon out here, too! I'll be needing them to fight Iono when we get to Levincia!" He grinned hugely, feeling legitimately confident. "Not that I'm too worried." He reached up, patting at Gligar's head as the bat Pokemon finally found purchase on his shoulder to stand. I've heard Iono uses Electric-type Pokemon, he thought to himself. With a Ground type like Gligar, it'll be a piece of cake! I'll be off to a great start, with a badge from a Gym Leader who's trained with Team Star!
  5. Kess felt considerably better after a night's rest. She was still sore and aching in her muscles, but several hours sleep had done her good. But she was more than aware of the blazing eye that now oversaw her. Morgan was a demanding mistress, and her teeth ground as she looked over the scene and the- "Absolute metric fuckton of cops down there," she remarked casually, leaning on a knee that was hiked up on a bench, pensively string down at the kerfuffle. Her eyes traced up without moving her head to betray the subject of her glance; The winged man with the blade that stood atop the nearby building. "Not to mention Sephiroth up there." She already knew mixing it up with him was a lost cause; Morgan had been quite explicit with her "do not fuck with" warning on that regard. Tempest and Elita moving off under their cloak of shadows didn't put her at ease. The girl had been trying to save Stratford; She was soft, Kess could tell. "God, this is so BORING," she groused, stalking back and forth, choosing to direct her ire at Leo. "We're real shit for this pussyfooting around crap, huh? 'This is a stealth mission,' pffff, Stratford carved a miles-wide trench through this place yesterday, who CARES?" "What, you lookin ta scrap again?" Leo tapped the tip of his bat against the pavement, leaving a small crater that was hardly discernable for the ruination that surrounded them. "Pretty sure those pigs would be on us in a flash." Kess snorted. "I took on eighteen lamposts at once yesterday, a handful of paunchy cops doesn't scare me. Although..." Her eyes drifted up once again to the guy on the roof. "See that guy? Bit of a big deal around here. Bit of a narc, too." Her face arched into a sly smile. "Getting him to keep his eyes off things..." "You begging for my help, wrecking ball?" "I don't beg for shit," she tossed back casually, and she whipped around to swing a leg straight into his face. - - - - - - - Kaede had been following after Kiyoko since she had arrived. The other girl seemed so much more assured of herself than Kaede did, despite her resolution to see this through. She had slept poorly the night before, the specter of the Titan and the giant train serpents fresh in her mind's eye. But she had dragged her way here regardless, and now the thing that attracted her attention wasn't the giant pile of rubble. "Who do you suppose did that?" she asked, pointing across the way at the great mural depicting the Titan. "Do you think the one who compelled Stratford put that there? Scare people, maybe? I wish I could get a closer look at it. The Library's mentioned a few psychometry spells, I might be able to find out something about who put it there-" She was distracted then by the sound of utter chaos breaking out behind her. She looked over her shoulder just in time to see Kess diving at Leo with a feral glint in her eyes. She stumbled back, eyes wide. She didn't know much about the red-haired girl who had showed up late to the meeting, but she did know she was afraid of her. Kess somersaulted away from Leo, landing next to Kiyoko and Kaede. "Figure this shit out, dweebs, I can only fight this asshole for so long before I kick his ass," she spat quickly to Kiyoko, before she took off down the street, howling at Leo as they danced around the perimeter of the crime scene. "Oh... OH," Kaede gasped, realizing. "Um, Miss Kiyoko, I think we might have a chance now. Would you like to help me get a look at the mural? We'll have to move, and quickly!"
  6. "Pssst. Hey, buddy. Calm down, we gotta sit tight a second." Gligar hopped over to Scully's opposite shoulder, fidgeting as he steadied himself with one claw back behind the boy's head to support him, looking around nervously at the great crush of students that surrounded them. Used to wide-open sky, Gligar wasn't used to crowds, and he was getting anxious in the thick of one. Despite his assurances to the Pokemon, Scully wasn't too far off him, the Pokemon constantly having to shift its weight to stop himself from falling off Scully's shoulder as he shifted his weight from one leg to the other, sporadically half-turned, and generally made a fidgeting mess of himself. They couldn't help it, either of them. Fortunate for Scully that he sat toward the back of Jacq's class, otherwise the teacher might have noticed that he was blatantly not paying attention. The days ahead were completely suffusing his thoughts, and now he was about to set out on the Treasure Hunt. He had constructed a half a million elaborate scenarios in his head, hypothetical adventures that he, Gligar, and the Charcadet inside a Poke Ball in his pocket would soon undertake. He was excited, but also dreadfully nervous. Clavell finally passed the buck to the Top Champion and a contest rep, and Scully swallowed as Geeta took the stage. She seemed so effortlessly graceful, her strength and title almost visible. "I wish I were like that," he muttered, low enough that only Gligar heard it. The Pokemon tapped on the back of his shoulder with his tail, and when Scully turned his head a big, encouraging grin was awaiting him. He managed to return a determined one of his own. "And we'll both get there, right buddy?" "Gli gli!" - - - - - - "Gliiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!" "Ah jeez, Gligar, wait up!" Scully rushed down the stairs, chasing after Gligar as a strong gust blew the gliding Pokemon along, Gligar caught in the wind to blow along uncontrollably. Scully and Gligar had approached the bulleting board, which Gligar had set to spinning briefly when he hopped on top of it in a big to try and find Scully's name himself so his Trainer didn't have to force his way through to it. They were now on the way to the meeting spot for Group 13, and Scully let out a frustrated shout as Gligar was blown around a corner and he heard a crashing noise. "Gligar! Are you okay?" He whipped around the corner, skidding to a halt as he saw an older girl sat beside a ladder, holding a binder and just now turning to look and see a very pained-looking Gligar crumpled against the wall next to her. He could have only just missed her. "Buddy! Oh man, you gotta watch out for those strong winds." Scully darted forward, snatching up Gligar and holding him in his arms as they both looked to Helena. "Sorry if he almost hit you there," Scully apologized profusely, embarassed. "He um..." It was only then he truly took in the ladder next to Helena and realized where he was. His face reddened immediately, face turning down as his volume plummeted, Gligar looking up with confusion. "I ummm... You're Group 13? I'm.... I'm Scully..." He internally despaired at the circumstances of their meeting. At the very least he'd only embarassed himself in front of ONE member of Group 13.
  7. Ivy was quick to step forward. The red-haired girl's avatar opened up her response to Teimei by taking a confident step forward, taking the massive black sword she carried and striking the point into the floor, stood leaning on it like a walking stick. "I think we should go with Team Beyond; We're on Battle Horizon, so we should want to fight so hard we go BEYOND that Horizon, right?" She grinned, excitement running through her. The day had been rather rubbish up to that point; She had been balancing the budget of the student council for an hour and a half despite not even being the treasurer, but Akito seemed incredibly dense at maths anytime she was around to do it for him. But now the prospect of the raid duels to come lit a fire in her belly that she was itching to put to the torch. "As for a successful team.... well, we just have to make sure everyone's at the right skill level, shouldn't we? If we can win in any situation then the raid bosses are easy!" She scanned around the team, as well as the five across the way. Competitors, at the end of the day. "Teimei's record speaks for itself, and I feel pretty confident about my own. Well? How 'bout the rest of ya?" She grinned anew, winking at the rest of the team. "Might have to make sure we're all up to scratch; See what each other's made of!"
  8. Learn from the Past to Make a Brighter Future
  9. Kaede had spent the last several hours being very quiet. Usually you had to put a book in front of her face for that effect, but she was content now to merely sit and let the adults do all the talking. Her mother was being seen to by the swarm of paramedics who had descended upon the district. Kaede herself had only been allowed to go free by them about an hour before. “Okaa-san,” she had told her mother, hand in hers. “Jeremy told me um, some of the people who helped me out there are at this place down the street… I think I need to go there. I need to know what happened today." And now she was here. Still wrapped in the blanket the paramedics had given her, listening to the large group of Founts talking over the incident. She almost couldn’t believe Stratford was dead. It felt like he had been a fixture of the city forever. And that his killer, the one who had driven him this far, could still be out there. She had been listening carefully to the others the entire time, eyes unfocused as she took it all in, and THAT was the biggest takeaway she had. This could happen again. She frowned, pulling out the Library. She rolled it out on one of the tables near her, the great rainbow scroll glimmering against the wood. She had only translated a small portion of the Library, but there could be something about this, about all this, inside it. She just had to find it. Fast. “The one who compelled Stratford,” she said quietly, the first words she’d spoken. “They’re another Fount, right? Has to be. But if they can force Stratford to do all of this… They’re obviously very strong.” She looked up to April. “They can’t have gone unnoticed with strength like that, right? There has to be a record somewhere. Of who they are, or at least what their predecessors did with it, right? Oh and uuuuh, I guess I can do an interview, um, thing? I might be busy with this for a while though, it's a LOT of work.” She held up one end of the Library, pointing at it. “This has a lot of information in it about magic and other things… I just haven’t been able to decipher a lot of it.” She perked up. “I think I managed to translate the word ‘shadow’ though,” she called perkily to Elita. “If there was a shadow person I can maybe look for that! I’d love to look in your book as well, miss,” she said cheerily to Kiyoko, “see if there’s anything useful in there.” “But we’ve got to figure out who did it, right? I don’t want the thing with the Titan or anything like it to happen again. Besides… It could be one of us, next time. Especially if they catch wise we're poking around.” That was a stark thought, indeed. “So we just have to find out who it was and stop them, right?!?” she asked, rising to stand, the difference miniscule. Kerna’s entrance then thoroughly surprised her. Is it really just gonna be that easy?! - - - - - - - “Hell, if he wants to take the wrap for it, I say fuck it, let ‘im.” The door slammed shut behind a narrow-eyed Kess, Leo’s bat slung up behind her head, one hand on each end of it as she glared around at the assembled group, eyeing Karna in particular. “Saves me a fuckin’ headache, at the very least.” “Kessan-!” Ryo blanched as Kess swung the bat off her shoulders, leveling it at the girl. “Don’t use my full name, you snow-headed shit. Hell are you doing here anyway, having an ice cream social?” She cast her eyes around the room again, raising an eyebrow. “Aaaah, I gotcha… You guys are all the others, huh?” She turned her leg to show off the number 120 that was emblazoned on the side of her calf, visible through a large tear her jeans had incurred during her ejection from the Titan. “Let’s see, and is- HA!” She leveled the bat again, pointing it at Leo as she spotted him behind the bar. “Dropped something, dipshit,” she called lazily, tossing the bat with a little more vigor than was strictly necessary. It slammed into the wall behind him, breaking some of the few intact bottles in a glorious cascade of glass and sound. “Oops,” she said sardonically, striding up to the bar and hopping up on top, turning to sit upon it and lean back to glare at him. “You’re lucky I’m on the clock, or I’d settle our score from earlier.” Leo grinned, grabbing hold of his bat and swinging it around to rest on the bar in front of him, deliberately sweeping it through several more bottles, splattering the wall with alcohol. "You might want to get checked out by our new medic friend here, otherwise it wouldn't be a very fair fight," he raised an arm, pointing toward April with his thumb. Kess barked out a laugh, kicking her feet through the air lazily. “HA! You’re assuming you hurt me enough that I even noticed.” She was very tired, run down from the fighting and the long walk she had taken towards District 7 before she had caught sight of a cloud of shaped smoke in the sky above. One of Morgan’s regularly changing code signals, almost going unnoticed in the great haze of smoke and concrete dust rolling into the air from the Titan’s wake. Go back had been the directive. Kess had sworn loudly and wheeled back around to beat feet back towards the cite of the fight. She was worn out, but she'd be damned if she showed it. “So catch me up; Somebody tldr this shit. The fuck happened?” She looked back over her shoulder at Leo. “Oh, by the way, Bubblegum, you getting in my way to stop me from killing Stratford? Great job, he ate it anyway. Who killed him? One of you plucky shits get the kill on him? No small job.” Her eyes ran over the group. “Heard there was some bitch riding a horse. Joan of Arc get the guy?” “Oh, one last thing,” she added, interrupting the one or two voices that had begun to answer her, holding up a hand to point at Ryo. “Hey, you. Get the fuck out. I don’t give a shit what your frigid bitch leader ‘needs to know’, I need to know more and I’m tougher and hotter and more wiling to kick your ass from wall to wall to prove it than you. Shove off.” Ryo’s eye twitched, but that was the sole reaction this verbal onslaught garnered. "I have heard enough about what happened to take care of this on my own. Stay well, Kessandra." And with that she rose to leave, the door quietly closing behind her in a stark contrast to Kess’s entrance. Kess stared at the door for a second with an expression that looked like disappointment. In a way it was. “Well. That was shockingly easy. I feel ripped off. Aaaaah well. I just made this whole shebang way more bearable with a single callout, you can thank me later. And the name's Kess, for the record, not Kessandra.” She leaned back, turning her predatory gaze back to the despairing Karna. “Is it your fault or not, spit it out, man!” she barked, seemingly oblivious to the fact she had been dominating the verbal space since her entrance.
  10. Plan in Panic She had lost track of how long her mother had been inside the bag. Just thinking about her mother running out of air made Kaede start hyperventilating herself, even worse than she had been already, and she spent the few frantic minutes after Jeremy’s improvised plan in a state of barely conscious fugue, the edges of her vision dark and her mind racing, trying to figure out the count. Six minutes? Seven and thirty? No, maybe it’s just five and thirty… Or is it eight?!? Oh God, Okaa-san- She almost fell off of Sarashina’s horse again, and was brought back to the current situation as the now winged serpent slammed a storm of debris at them. She threw out a hand, desperately throwing up a barrier of solid rainbow light that sparked and spat as it blocked a decent chunk of the storm from striking them before Jeremy managed to intercede and blow away the lion’s share of it. She slid numbly off the horse, finding her hand reaching out to grab at the back of Jeremy’s shirt in a trembling death grip. She watched as Tempest and Kiyoko attempted to bring the beast down, but saw quickly that it wasn’t working. “Jeremy,” she said tremulously, eyes locked on the spectacle. “I have Okaa-san in my bag. She’s going to run out of air soon. I can’t take her out this close to the serpent or she’s going to die. Help me. Please.” Her words were simple, matter-of-fact, and nowhere near as chatterboxy as Jeremy would be used to hearing from the teenager. They had a flat, analytical bent to them. “I need you to blow something into the air for me. Not yet, though. Hold on.” She yanked her hand away from his shirt, almost as if her hand was attached and she actively needed to apply force to make herself move away from the one familiar thing on the battlefield. Maybe she did. She ran back to the horse and Sarashina on top of it. “M-Ma’am?” she asked, looking up wide-eyed at the woman. “Do you wanna stab this one too? I have an idea.” She started talking quickly, tracing her hand across the bag she had been lugging around this entire time. Rainbow light started tracing itself over her extended finger, slowly forming runic sigils over the surface of the bag. She was dimly aware of Tempest stabbing shadowy tethers into the great beast. Yes, please, she thought desperately, her inner thoughts still a roil despite her outward demeanor. Just keep it still, long enough for me to work the spell… And she reached up to trace a similar spell on Sarashina’s leg, finishing her explanation of her idea to the woman as she did so, feeling her last iteration of the spell she had just woven break, wherever those objects were. “Can you do that?” she asked, that hint of desperation still evident in her voice. She has forty seconds, she thought. At most. - - - - - - - Leo stood still for a few seconds, his eyes darting around as his smile grew subtle. His nostrils flared for a split second, and a sharp intake of oxygen was all he needed before dashing toward his opponent, spinning his improvised weapon more like an extended baton than a staff. He let it slip slightly in his hand, the momentum carrying it forward so that when he reaffirmed his grip, he was holding it by the very end, extending his reach so that the horizontal swing toward Kess came a pace sooner than he had telegraphed. “As IF-” Kess began to scream, ducking to the side to slide across a table, but his obfuscation had payed off. The staff tagged Kess in the bad shoulder she had twinged earlier, and she let out a gasp of pain as she felt it come dangerously close to dislocating. Her slide across the table lost a lot of control, and she landed on the floor opposite Leo and had to scramble for her footing, breathing now more ragged than it had been before. Rather than capitalize on the opening, Leo tossed his piece of rebar aside, embedding it sticking out of a nearby wall, and leaned against the table Kess had tumbled over, with a hand on the surface. "You good blud? Battery ain't dead yet, is it? We can keep chatting if you like." Kess’s good humor (or savage humor, as some might say) vanished instantly. Her face now set itself into a snarl as her eyes gained a disconcerting glow of rage. She shoved power into her legs, far more than was necessary, and her knees protested with burning pain as she rocketed towards Leo. She ignored it, turning to shoulder-check him as violently as possible. “Don’t slack off, Bubblegum Boy!” she snarled, fury lacing her voice just as the hexagonal sparks laced her body. Leo took the force of the impact head-on, launched back to smack hard against the further wall, slumping on the ground. He coughed up a bit more blood, and grinned back at Kess, raising a finger in front of his face with a tiny pink flaming hovering at the tip. "You put up an extra good fight, it's a right shame you had to lose like this." Kess became a blur of motion as she darted to one side, then the other. “Fuck you think you are?!!” she barked at him, the slight clink of metal buried beneath her shout. She darted at Leo, and in her hand was the bat he had tossed aside, drawn back across her body in an attempt at a brutal backhand blow. Before she could reach him, Leo blew out the tiny flame. "Tripwire Impact." The ceiling a floor up that Leo had pushed down off of. The table that he had leaned on. The rebar stuck in the wall. The fragments of the thrown table that were scattered throughout the room. Even the spotting of blood on Kess's clothing. It all flashed bright pink, and exploded. The resulting blast knocked the entire wing out of the side of the Samsara Titan.
  11. Kaede was discombobulated and dizzy amidst the crush of people between the snakes. She scrambled to avoid a snapping jaw, rushing back and bumping into- “Jeremy?! Ibuz?!?” She grabbed onto the man’s jacket instinctively, looking up at him with wide eyes. She held up the bag, waving it slowly due to it’s heft. “Ka-san’s in here! I have to get her somewhere safe! I don’t know what- EEEE!” She shrieked as she was forced to jump away from a scything tail, her train of thought derailed as thoroughly as the snakes now were. She barely heard Jeremy calling to her above the hubbub to use Flare. She jumped on top of a fallen mailbox, scrambling back atop the horse that Sarashina rode, grabbing onto the back of her cloak to steady herself. “Uuuum, okay okay okay, I can- RUSH!” She gabbled out the words of the spell, and in her haste, she channeled it through her hand to target not herself, but the horse she was barely clinging on to. The mistaken target saved her hide, as the beast of burden surged forth to avoid what could have been a clipping shot into a comfortable miss. “Oh god, oh god,” she wheezed, having almost fallen off the horse. “I can… I can make the horse go faster, keep them from-” she was cut off again by hearing Jeremy calling for the signal. How were things happening so quickly? “Oh god, FLARE!” The word was in ancient Coptic, and it summoned a burst of rainbow colored fire from the flailing scroll of the Library as Kaede held onto it with one hand for dear life, the other holding onto Sarashina like grim death. The flames burst outward toward the serpent, Kaede leaning back in response to the sudden burst of heat that it generated. - - - - - - - Savage Face-Off Kess hurtled toward Leo, making a punch at his center of mass. Bringing his bat up and holding it vertically, he absorbed the blow, skidding back a few inches. Energy seemed to vent from the bat, as Leo had used his ability to dampen the impact to his weapon. "You're fast, but that blow was extra weak. Give this a try!" The glow on the aluminum bat increased to a flash, as it was released in Kess's direction in the form of a wave of concussive force. Kess dove backward out of the hallway, smirking as a horde of cubicles immediately swarmed her, the wooden partitions shattering on impact as they unwittingly got between Kess and Leo’s attack. She charged at Leo again, but this time she had a large splintered slab of cubicle wall in each hand. She forced power into her arms, her left shoulder where she had hit the wall on her way in burning with pain as the muscles in it were forced into overworking themselves. The two pieces of cubicle flew through the air at Leo, with Kess ducking low, ready to scythe her leg up to smack Leo in the side. “You think that’s gonna scare ME off? I just dove into a walking TOWER, you MORON!” "We in the same tower you daft cunt, what kinda flex is that?" Leo cast forward his handful of dust, placing a cloud of debris between himself and the incoming attacks that immediately shone bright pink and exploded. Kess didn’t seem deterred at all, diving straight into the cloud of debris that blew up as a result. The moment she was clear of it, however, she was met with Leo diving downward from the ceiling, swinging his bat in a long arcing trajectory, "SLEDGE IMPACT!"
  12. Lightning Runner Kess was kicking animated objects out of the way, swearing with each minor impact on her foot. “Goddamn Ryo. Shit. First time I’ve seen her in what? A year and a half? Goddammit. Thinks she can order ME around? BITCH,” With this Kess gave off a scything kick, sending a trash can spiraling off down the street. “Get real! You’re the LAST person gets to order me around!” Out of the corner of her eyes she observed Ryo getting into position, before activating her Fount. For a moment she actually considered not doing anything and just letting Ryo be squished. Fortunately for Ryo, a far better distraction came about as a result of the British boy who launched a bus at the Titan. Kess grinned, beginning a sprint along the pavement towards the arm Leo wasn’t racing up now, the one Leo had eviscerated with his unorthodox choice of improvised weapon. She streaked up the arm, ducking one way, then the other to avoid bits of the crenelations that jutted out to block her path. As she reached the elbow, she stopped for the briefest instant, bending her knees and then pushing off, flying through the air at the bulk of the monster. Her landing wasn’t so smooth. The windows were largely eliminated thanks to Ryo’s barrage of strikes, but Kess still felt several tearing sensations around her as she flew into the window, to smack into the wall on the other end sidelong. She let out a grunt of pain and effort, collapsing to the floor before slowly dragging herself back up. “Jeez,” she let out in a wheeze, standing and stretching, feeling and hearing several things pop. “Big lumbering bastard.” She heard a rumbling noise and looked to see the window closing up behind her in a wave of stone. She then felt the tile floor shifting beneath her feet. “Oh, you have got to be kidding me.” She took off down the hallway again, ducking and jumping to avoid sudden jolts in the wall that sent cascades of bricks lashing out in an attempt to crush her. She reached another bank of windows, mercifully lighting her way forward. She glanced out the windows and frowned on reflex at seeing Ryo outside, backing up to get distance from the behemoth. Kess reached out, ripping a metal box off the wall with a shriek of tearing steel and making a quick pirouette to sling the box out the window, streaking towards Ryo through the sky. The white-haired girl barely spared it a second of thought before tossing a small handful of her glowing bullets through the air to break it into many harmless pieces. Just before the windows were swallowed by the morphing architecture of the building, Kess was rewarded with the sight of the girl being covered in a hail of white foam from the fire extinguisher that had been inside it. She was almost caught by the collapsing hallway behind her, she was laughing so hard. - - - - - - - Rumbling Pursuit The mother and daughter pair had only had to deal with a small handful of rampaging pieces of the city, and most of them small ones. The majority had been pretty easily dispatched by Kaede, blown aside with gusts of wind, sundered by small bursts of flame, or broken on barriers of magical force. Both Kaede and Midori had taken a few minor knocks, a few cuts and bruises, but nothing all that serious just yet. “We might be out of the Sixth soon!” Kaede piped up, with somewhat forced cheerfulness. “If we get into the Fifth we might be able to hide in one of the shops until…” She trailed off. She had been about to say ‘Until this is over’ but she honestly couldn’t guess what that even began to entail. But she forced that thought away. Not consciously, she was experiencing what she would only later be told was shock, but now her brain was running on survival instinct. “Yes,” said Midori, brushing concrete dust from her eyes. “Kaede, thank you so much, I don’t think I could have done anything out here by myself.” Kaede turned back to give a stressed-out grin. “Yeah, happy to help, Okaa-san! Just stay behind me and I think I can-” They were interrupted by a great, whirring whistle. Kaede turned slowly to see a great trundling form rolling down the street towards them, far off several blocks away, but approaching fast. Her eyes widened in horror as she saw the form of a great speeding train, huge curtains of sparks blasting from either side as it grated across the tarmac, and with a front that had torn itself asunder into a great, chomping mouth. Kaede shrieked, pushing her mother into the next street. The train blasted behind them a second later, buffeting the two small women several feet further into the street as it shrieked by in a blast of sound. Just like that it was past them, shrieking off down the street once more. Kaede and Midori both hyperventilated in concert as they rushed down the short street, but were forced to backpedal as the train appeared again, shrieking past them again. Kaede looked up at the buildings on either side of them. Each time the train blasted by they shook intensely, bricks rattling off and visible cracks running through the walls. She took a deep breath, pulling out the Library in one hand and the single large cloth shopping bag Midori had kept an ironlike grip on the whole while. “Okaa-san, I’m going to need you to do exactly what I say,” she said shakily, trying to raise her voice above the shriek of the train, pulling the shopping bag open as far as it would go. She set it down on the ground in front of her. “Step inside, quick! The train is going to collapse these buildings and we’ll be buried, and if we try to run it’ll just…” She couldn’t finish the sentence. “Get in!” Midori stepped into the bag, shakily looking down at Kaede as she traced several rainbow-colored runes on the bag. Upon completion of the last rune she called out an Egyptian phrase, and the interior of the bag suddenly went black, and Midori fell downward, and out of sight within the bag. “Ten minutes,” Kaede whispered to herself, wrapping the cloth straps of the bag around her hands and setting off towards the end of the street. Even at half her mother’s weight and Midori not being a large woman, Kaede was even smaller, and the bag was heavy enough to where she had to drag it. “Just hold on for ten minutes, please, Okaa-san,” she whispered, before intoning the phrase for her Float spell. Both she and the bag lifted off, Kaede kicking off the ground to gently begin hovering up above the train as it streaked by. Kaede’s intent had been to jump over the train and land on the roof of the laundromat on the other side. But she had failed to account for the weight of the bag that contained her mother. She was immediately punished for it as the bag caught on a jagged torn piece of metal sticking from the train. The straps snapped taught, and Kaede, with her reduced weight from the spell, was immediately jerked along for the ride, shrieking as the train blasted down the street towards the melee about the Samsara Tower.
  13. “Okaa-san!” Kaede cheerfully adjusted the large straw hat that sat over her violet hair as she ran across the street towards her mother, a small woman with hair a slightly darker shade than Kaede’s own, pulled into a small ponytail at the back of her head. Kaede held up her hands, grinning as she held up two calendars, one of which was labeled '12 Months of the Megalopolis Seas' and another that depicted 'The Wonders of Egypt.' “I got one for Oto-san too! I know he likes the ocean!” Kamegawa Midori smiled at this. “Thank you Kaede. Another Egypt one, though? You really are fully invested in that-” She stopped, looking around before lowering her voice to whisper “that little project of yours, aren’t you?” Her head bobbed up and down excitedly. “Mm-hmm! This one has Karnak in it, I think! It was a part of Thebes!” “I thought Thebes was one of the Greek ones?” “It’s both!” She let out a mischievous cackle. “They BOTH had one!” Midori shook her head as she started walking back towards the terminal. “I’m surprised you didn’t find ones you liked while we were in the fifth district,” she commented as she shifted the several bags of groceries she was holding. “Only the best!” Kaede dove in and grabbed two of the bags from her mother’s burden, slinging them over her shoulders. “Oh, Okaa-san, are you okay? Did you trip?” Her mother had faltered, stumbling to a stop as she looked up, perturbed. “Did… Did you feel that, Kaede?” “Eh?” Kaede looked around cluelessly, but it didn’t take long for the small girl to feel the ground juddering beneath her feet. “Wait, yeah, I do… What is it?” The screams reached them then. Thousands of screams of fear as a shadow appeared between the infrastructure of the trains. A great, looming presence that was at once recognizable. And moving. Kaede and her mother went white as they stared up at the great moving structure as it lumbered straight towards them. “Kaede! Run!” Her mother dropped the groceries, turning to shepherd Kaede away from the approaching tide of architecture, the girl stumbling to keep moving as she kept looking over her shoulder in horror. She tripped over a curb, falling to the ground. She looked up to see her mother stumbling, looking back towards her as she paused in her run towards an intersection. Thus not seeing the car that was now hurtling towards her. “Okaa-san!” A flash of rainbow light as Kaede reached into her pocket, a spray of rainbow runes flaring in front of her as the scroll of the Library of Alexandria rolled out before her. She selected a rune upon it, gabbling out the ancient Egyptian phrase. The mailbox on the curb next to Kaede suddenly sprang forward, rattling back and forth as it trundled out into the street and slammed into the car. The car veered out of the way, narrowly missing Midori as it slammed into a ticket terminal, Midori stepping back away from it with surprise. “Okaa-san!” Kaede ran out to her mother, grabbing her in a hug as she started breathing hard, tears welling at the corner of her eyes. Her mother’s shaking hands cradled her head. “It’s okay, it’s okay… Thank you, Kaede.” Kaede realized she was still holding one half of the Library in one hand, the rainbow runes hanging from it to the ground below. She looked around, biting her lip. “Okaa-san, I… I can use the Library, I can try and help us get away.” She sounded far more convinced than she felt, her heart thudding in her chest erratically. But what choice did she have? “Are you sure?” “Y… Yes. Let’s go, Okaa-san! We can go back the way it came, circle around behind it! We can get away!” Kaede seized her mother’s hand, turning and rushing off down the street, ready to yank the Library up to read from it at a second’s notice. Please, all the people who wrote this Library... Let what little I've got from you be enough for today! - - - - - - - The bus stop kiosk had been avoided the entire morning. The few who had ventured inside it had been sent running almost immediately, followed by angry, animal-like yowling. Only now as it was quite late in the day did somebody finally stir within. Kess squinted into the light of day as she leaned against the interior of the bus stop entrance. She ran a hand through her bright red hair, mangling it into something that resembled kempt. Her eyes had bags under them and were bloodshot, and the hand she held to her head to stave off her throbbing headache made her hangover evident to the naked eye. “Fuck am I? Sixth district? Christ.” She spat off to the side, scanning her eyes around the area to try and find a water fountain. “Last time I go to a party with Kirigaya. Kirigaya? Kirigaya!” She ducked around the bus stop, eyes narrowed in a glare as she searched for her companion. “Where the hell are ya, you stupid… Goddammit.” She kicked at the bus station’s base in anger. A long, trailing spark flicked off of her head, flashing in the daylight, and she pulled her foot back from the severely dented frame of the station. “Leavin’ me behind, you stupid dick?” She was shouting now, several pedestrians spooked away from the street. “Hell do you think I am? I hope you enjoy having working wrists, you jerkoff!” After a half hour that contained Kess finding water and angrily haggling with a food vendor that had eventually forked over three hotdogs, she was feeling much more like herself. She strolled through the streets of the northern Sixth district, finishing off the last hotdog as she looked down pensively at her phone. It was almost dead, and she had decided to use the last vestiges of its battery life to threaten Kirigaya’s various joints with grievous harm. It was the principle of the thing. “Happy friggin’ New Year to me, I guess,” she grumbled, scanning her eyes over a terminal board, trying to find something that was headed towards the Seventh district. Kess was cranky, and tired, and her head still hurt, so it took her a second to notice that there was a rumbling sound in the distance. But when a wave of lampposts and holophone booths started stampeding down the street, sending everyone scrambling around her, Kess began to take notice and turned to see the giant colossus rumbling towards her. Samsara Tower, large as life. “What the fuck…” she muttered, not processing at first what she was seeing. She was one of the few people at the board who wasn’t running away, and one of the holophone booths took advantage of that, scurrying towards her and trying to fall forward on top of her. “You’re fucking KIDDING ME,” she snarled, and with a jerk of the leg she sent the booth spiraling towards a nearby wall, impacting in a spray of glass and metal. Kess jumped forward, grabbing at one of the streetlights that had spontaneously gained movement and swinging it in a wide arc like a baseball bat, sparks leaking across her arms as she felt power surge through them. She squeezed the metal base so hard it crumpled like tinfoil in response to the lamppost’s struggling in her grip. “You goddamn stop it or I’ll shove you up that Tower’s ass!” she yelled at the somehow animate object. She tossed it up and over a nearby bridge, turning to look up at the bulk of Samsara Titan. “What the fuck have we here?” Her face twisted in a snarling, fierce grin as she started to slowly walk towards it. “No way in hell this ain’t a Fount… Let’s find out which one.” She left a spray of sparks behind as she broke out into a run, pavement cracking beneath her feet as she darted at far beyond human speed, pausing only long enough to bend her knees and leap up into the air, onto the roof of a train that had stopped on its track and running along it along its track, eyes fixed on the Titan. With Kess’ increased speed, it didn’t take her long to reach the block that the Titan had reached. Not that it could be called a block anymore. It resembled a battlefield more than anything else, and Kess splayed her eyes across a mess of moving bicycles and phone booths and cars and skittering motorcycles that all flocked around the feet of the Samsara Tower, an honest to god moving building. Kess let out one long, high whistle as she surveyed the scene. “Fuckin’ hell, this guy’s a goddamn terrorist or somethin’. Wonder if they’ll give me the key to the city when I knock it over.” A maudlin grin crossed her face as she backed up, bending down to take a runner’s pose as she set up her angle. “HEY YOU BIG GLORIFIED DMV, THE HELL YOU DOING?” She took off n a sprint, leaping from the rooftop she had scaled to fly through the air up towards the Titan. Almost as if it heard her, despite it not having ears, it slowly turned towards her, raising a hand. But Kess was smaller and faster, and she spun in midair as she flung her leg down in a brutal axe-kick towards the encroaching hand. She poured power into the leg and its speed rapidly increased, and leg met stone in a crash of rubble and debris. Kess winced as pain shot up through her leg, and she followed through with the kick, pushing off to fly past the titan once again. Her landing on the ledge of the billboard on the other side of her was rough, and she stumbled and thudded into the advertisement for a legal service, letting out a strangled gasp as she fell into an awkward sitting position on the billboard. Despite her awkward landing, a triumphant grin was plastered across her face. “Fuckin’ GOT YOU!” she shouted at the back of the Titan, which had paused as it held up the hand Kess had attacked. One of the fingers was nothing more than a dust-choked cloud, shattered into dozens of pieces. “You thought you could win cause you’re a goddamn BUILDING? I’m a goddamn wrecking crew!” Several pieces of masonry began to rise into the air. Kess’s boasts stopped as she saw the remnants of the finger begin to rush together, coalescing around the hand on a haze of concrete dust before the finger flexed upon the hand, reattached and whole once more. “God. FUCKING dammit!” She punched the billboard next to her, punching a hole in it like a toothpick through paper as several hexagon-shaped lines of light ran over her body. She used the hole to pull herself up, eyes on the Titan now with an appraising, critical look. With her free hand she pulled her phone from her pocket, flicking it open and hitting a contact before putting it up to her ear. All the while the Titan was slowly turning towards her. The line connected on the first ring. “What?” “The Samsara Tower’s sprouted legs. And arms. It’s in the Sixth District. Looks like it was headed towards you before it ran into me.” “Then stop it.” The no-nonsense female voice on the other end flippantly tossed that out to Kess before the dial tone blared in her ear. Kess yanked the phone away, glaring in maddened irritation at the screen. “Are you fucking for real?!” She yelled at it. “I tell you a building’s attacking the city and you hang up on me?! Are you SERIOUS?” She angrily started hammering in the call again, but the whooshing noise of a massive fist through the air forced her to drop the phone entirely, springing from the billboard as the titan’s fist cleanly sent it flying. Kess looked back over her shoulder to see her phone, visible for half a second, before it vanished into the dust of the collapsing building the billboard had been mounted on. “I swear to god,” she groused, as she landed atop the roof of a travel agency, grimacing as she looked up at the enormity of the Titan, fists raised, sparks flickering across her body.
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