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Heavy Duty

Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2007 9:10 am
by Zan

--Terrain Type: Snowfield, buildings littered about.
--Weather: Snow comes and goes. It's sunrise.
--Element: Rue.
--Monsters You Want: General Armors and Temple Knights, modified for the proper element to match the field.
--Where Those Monsters Are: Wandering.
--Who Is In The Thread: Zan and Nulus.
--Raine: No healing, no resurrecting.


The return from the pleasant trip above had Zan in a new mood. Nulus, still hidden and anchored in the obsidian cuffs, seemed rather pleased about the whole thing in turn. The Cultural City was everything it had been cracked up to be (and more), and there was no reason for Zan to be thinking anything but calm thoughts. After all, simple shopping and sight-seeing while mumbling to a hidden Shade (something that earned him more than his fair share of bizarre stares) could be nothing but enjoyable. Half the time the lycanthrope had to convince Nulus that there was a perfectly good reason he wasn't letting him out just so he could kill a player with numbers or cliché titles in their name, but that in and of itself had resulted in small bouts of laughter. Laughing felt...good. Something in finding Wryneck's Sphere had changed his partner and, though he was still a pain in the ass and his jokes could be a little macabre in nature, it was seemingly for the better. The masochist that he could be sometimes, however, Zan felt that his little trip - all the fun that it had been - needed something to balance it out. It was with this in mind that his eyes fell upon the entrance down into the Training Room and the idea flowed into his mind: it was time to practice. It occurred to him to ask someone along, but in the end he decided against it. Teamwork was all well and good, and it would be something he'd hit the Training Room for at a later date, but Nulus and him had yet to tap their potential together as fighters.

The last trip in had helped, immensely, and even led to their discovery of the Merged. Such a discovery was obviously a mixed blessing, the power it gave not always thought to be worth what they had to give up in turn, but it still taught. Lessons, of almost any variety, were necessary for people to progress. The most obvious considerations came in the form of the infamous orb. Not only was Zan fairly excited to see what kind of power the attack would possess (what with Nulus' stat connection to Twin Blades meaning he had more magical power than the werewolf), but what shape it would take. It was a fairly widely known fact in The World that not everyone's summons looked the same. While some attributed this to preference and personal modification, others stacked it with the boxes of chance of luck. A roll of the dice. Being actually trapped in the game, however, gave a person a little perspective on other possibilities. What would Nulus' summon, let alone one of Wryneck, come out to be? Though Zan wouldn't have been shocked if it came out to be some grotesque, alien creation or the stereotypical archdemon, the comment Nulus had made about the woods at night had the Lycan thinking on entirely different terms.

Finally letting the Shade out now that they had reached the safety of the Hideout, he gave him a subtle sideways sniff and found that his suspicions had been confirmed. Nulus didn't shower. Chuckling at his own joke, switching to a more serious mulling, Zan did indeed find that he had been right. Or, at least, that he had more evidence to support his growing theory. Rather than smell like anything one might associate with evil (blood, ash, etc.), Nulus was a mingle of things that reminded the lycanthrope of any trip he had ever had into the woods at night be it camping with Leo, just getting away from father, or anything of the sort. It wasn't something he could explain in English with any intricacy, but his comrade also smelled like a predator...and a protector. The image the aroma gave him was one of a great, hulking forest in the dead of night with moonlight and the sounds of numerous species conversing in their own languages. In that forest was Nulus' essence, his self. He held the scent of the thing you feared in the dark when you camped, that everyone subconsciously fears when they defile nature. He smelled like that which snuffs the life of those that betray the Wylds and he who keeps the wary traveler safe when said traveler respects his power, the Wyld's power.

The sensation of it, the conflict of stimuli from every sense paused Zan for a moment, but he found himself looking upon Nulus with a new edge of respect. If being affiliated with Wryneck and the Wave of Darkness, of Ani made him out to be such a person (if only in scent), then it couldn't possibly be a bad change. If the Shade had managed to worm into the werewolf's thoughts throughout, he didn't show a sign of it. Rather, the both walked in peaceful silence as Zan thumped down the stairs and found Raine at her station. The request that fell from his lips made Nulus still beside him...only to grin beneath that hood. How he grinned when Zan was fairly certain there was nothing but...nothing...under his tattered, dark green cloak the Heavy Blade couldn't have said. For a minute or two the woman simply went about her word, fingers flying over the keyboard with a speed that would have probably impressed Nighthand and Nall. For a second, Zan almost regretted his choice of contents, almost asked Raine to make a revision, but stopped. They wouldn't always be fighting mobs of easily handled monsters. Rather, the battles that mattered were against things like the Marionette Devil and Primal. He wasn't exactly going boss level inside of the Training Room, but it was an elevation of their last training. That was for damn sure.

When the doors to the simulation opened and the duo stepped in, both couldn't help but still at the magnificence of it. How Raine made such places of sheer beauty with idle, almost bored movements of her fingers was beyond Zan. He shouldn't be surprised, not after all of this time spent in a video game that seemed more wonderful to him than the real world, but he couldn't help it. The sky was a mixture, a sky-sherbert of purple and pink in early sunrise (put that way perpetually thanks to his request) in a fashion that only those who lived in true arctic places ever got to see. Powder was thick and dense at their feet and, like he had asked, the temperature was cold for even his lycanthropic blood. It would serve as an extra distraction, extra weight on the dumbbell. Standing upon one of the field's bigger hills, the two were given the perfect vantage point to survey the challenge before them. Like in many of the snowfields in the game, hollowed-out buildings that had suffered from apparent trauma littered the area and offered both shelter and danger. Fashioned of some blue brick (or so the trick of the light seemed to make them out to be), the houses ranged from simple huts to two story, raspy complexes. Though Zan could have stood their staring at the detail of it all, of how well Raine had put it together, the monsters that stirred around prevented such indulgences.

General Armors and Temple Knights (or what were Rue versions of the same monsters, anyway) littered the grounds. Though they were mercifully spaced apart, their altered levels made things interesting for the two. Not only that, but their sizes would make for an interesting alteration of combat styles. Rather than the usual 'swat, get out of my way', they'd actually have to hold their grounds. It was a bit more grating than their last trip inside, but it was one of the biggest rules of level-based gaming: you didn't get levels by fighting in places of your difficulty and skill, but in places higher. Zan knew he couldn't actually gain levels in this place, but the fighting skill he'd hopefully gain would be well worth such a thing. The last Hub had proven that the two could be a good team, that their synchronization could be a deadly thing if put to the proper use. The rest of the Freedom Fighters had played their equal parts, no doubt, but it was still nice to see that everything paid off. Zan had had initial doubts about the Training Room when it was first made, that it wouldn't actually do anything but distract or actually soften them, he had been proven wrong in spades and wasn't remotely upset. All that was in the past and his future had beautiful images of carnage and violence ahead.

"Mm. Carnage."

"Stop breaking into my mind and listening to my thoughts, jackass." Said with a little less bite than usual.

"'Stop breaking into my mind.' Well, if the puzzle wasn't so simple..." Nulus was laughing. God help him, Zan was too.

This was going to be fun.

Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2007 5:27 pm
by Nighthand
Approved and whatnot. Go for it.

Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2007 9:58 am
by Zan
Zan was in no rush to initiate combat or, really, make use of the whole reason Nulus and himself were there in the first place - to train. It seemed suddenly too much work amidst the beauty of Raine's work...too...unfortunate. That such a place had to be disturbed with violence was a pity. No, that Zan had to eventually leave there was the real pity. The monsters seemed just as content to roam in the distance between the shelters of blue-tinted, crumbled buildings. Was training and, thus, using the Training Room for its purpose really so necessary when it could be used as genuine relaxation instead? Sure, he could just go off and do that in an actual, non-simulated field and not take up valuable space that someone else could be using but...well, the logic seemed so distant and so meaningless right then. Despite what he knew to be the right course of action, the lycanthrope simply came to sit on the hill he had 'gated in' on. Raine had done exactly as he asked, of course, so the temperature was numbing even to his boiling Lycan blood. Not a second after finding a semi-comfortable position that allowed him perfect vantage of the purple-pink, cloudy skies and already he was beginning to shiver. God damn; she was good. Almost too good. The player could only be happy she was on their side. What an ally the Elites would gain from her loyalty...

Shaking that off, the werewolf looking up to his right where Nulus still floated on...loyal. He suddenly felt like he had a sentinel over his shoulder rather than just a friend. Friend? Were they really that now? Something about the Shade's conversion to the Wave of Darkness had actually made him...tolerable. No, that wasn't fair. It had made him admirable, if only in presence. There was a nobility in the way he hovered there above Zan, head straight, glowing green flames that served as his wolven eyes scanning the horizon not for beauty, but threats. A quick, curious look into Nulus' mind let the werewolf know that it wasn't simply concern for his own life, but for Zan's in turn. The surface of his thoughts were too superficial to discern whether this is because he'd, theoretically, cease existing if anything detrimental were to happen to the Heavy Blade or if he really cared. Though it was mildly hard to believe, knowing what kind of entity the First had been and how he had first adapted to his humanity, the player found himself inclined to believe the latter option. Connected as he was to the Shade, his core wouldn't allow him to accept another degree, another angle of possibility. He could lie to himself, blanket his inner knowledge with deceit and doubt, but in the end it would be a masquerade that wasn't worth putting on.

For a second, just a second, Nulus glanced down at his friend and Zan felt the smile underneath the hood. Just as soon as the look was there, as the two understood each other, the seven-foot and some odd inch being looked again to the horizon. The sudden acceptance of his good half had Zan wondering something about the Merged, however. Though the lycanthrope was fully aware that some of its malice came from him, he also knew the nasty, eroding darkness that made up a lot of its outward personality was because of the Shade. What, then, would the Merged me like now? Would Nulus' shift be significant enough to effect the personality of that creature? Would he not smell Phoenix's fear the next time the shift became necessary? The potential, the possibility of it made him want to test the theory now, Giving the Merged any unnecessary opportunities to decide he was there to stay seemed foolish. Maybe it had a time limit or damage limit that Zan wasn't aware of, but it was feasible that time would grant it a strength and a fortitude to never again split into its parent components. Parents. Uck. The Lycan realllllly needed to come up with a better phrase to describe what Nulus and him were considered in relation to the Merged. Fragments seemed a sufficient term. Yeah; fragments.

Though the mental distraction had served to make him forget about the God damn cold, the sensation became steadily more apparent when he coughed. The plume of visible air and the following inhalation was like swallowing ice. Ugh. Clearing his throat, trying to ignore the pain, Zan came to a pretty obvious decision; it was time to move around. That would heat him up and make breathing and swallowing not agonizing tasks. Nulus had no plumes of breath so, that brought up an interesting point. Apparently...he didn't breathe. Or he did in a way that was really fucking subtle. Deciding it was something to address later, the werewolf rubbed his arms and came to stand once more, the scenery seeming much less attractive in his current state of pain. Time to do a little violence. Glacial eyes came to settle on the vision of parting Temple Knight and he knew, because Raine was excellent at following specifications, that it wasn't going to be easy for him to take down. Even with Nulus there'd be a struggle and that, that was exactly what this whole training session was about. Learning to fight things superior to him more efficiently was a skill he didn't exactly excel at. No, he wasn't terrible in the field, but there was definite room for improvement. Instead of speaking his intentions verbally, Zan used what he had became a reflexive skill, his mind bonding and synchronizing with the Shade's on a level that allowed them to communicate through emotion and concept rather than time-consuming speech.

They were suddenly launching forward, Zan thundering his footsteps through the sturdy snow and Nulus flying expertly beside him. The Temple Knight stopped and turned around almost robotically, its interest peaked at the sudden presence of sound and apparent motion. Just as soon as the lycanthrope had been staring at a monster, however, he was suddenly in a maelstrom of ice and sleet that only made the environment harder to handle. What was apparently a Rue Rom spell, or perhaps its second level counterpart MeRue Rom, had trapped him and his partner in a haze. Though the Lycan was able to use his hefty Ghostdancer to knock aside the occasional crag, still more struck him upside the head, on his shoulders, his back and his knees. It was like getting jostled around in one of those cranked Bingo reels. When it ended, needless to say, the werewolf could have been happier with his HP. The Temple Knight, upon request, had been made to be magically proficient while still physically guarded. The physical assaults it was capable of with its twin swords were formidable, but fairly standard. It was its Rue spells and stamina that Nulus and him would have to surpass. Momentarily equipping the Scarab Earrings, Zan mumbled a, "La Repth..." and regained his footing. The Temple Knight didn't move...much. No, it stayed there, waiting for their next move.

Always happy to deliver, Zan charged forward...and suddenly flipped forward in the air, eyes remaining on the monster the whole time as he turned in mid-air and landed on the other side of the Temple Knight, still facing it. It did as it was supposed to, of course, and immediately drew the ire of the creature, spinning it around to bring down the wrath of its weapons upon the Heavy Blade. Shuffling through the snow and away from the fall of the first blade, Zan heaved all of his strength into a repose of the other with his Ghostdancer, clashing it and sliding it through one of the weapon's many steel branches until it dug harmlessly in the slush. The Lycan and the Shade converged on their paused foe in the same instant, the Vak Skill 'Kannon' initiated on the Ghostdancer a heartbeat before the first strike was made. With the odd-shaped steel alight with dancing flames, flames that were immensely effective against a Rue-based opponent, the Heavy Blade made the first thrust above the Temple Knight's waist as the skill called for, a web of red-glowing cracks splintering across the armor upon impact and sending the monster swaying - right into Nulus' eager hands. Vicious claws scraped with metallic, grating noises along the Knight's massive back, shuddering it with pain. No time was allowed for reaction, of course, as Kannon had yet to ride out its fury. The second, below-the-waist stab dug a similar, flame-cracked hole in the beast's thick and armored hide, but it was still standing. Even when Zan completed the move with a forward flip that brought down the Ghostdancer with devastating force and even more flame, the Temple Knight was not felled.

Oh, sure, the seared line down its middle wasn't going out and flames were casually intruding upon its guard, but it was not defeated. Raine had really gone all out. The werewolf felt his partner's mild frustration at the lack of power he had to inflict a similar skill, that only claws were at its call...but it realized: Wryneck. It had the summon, had the power to bring it to power and through the ether of 'The World.' He held back, however. Zan knew that he wanted to wait, wanted to prolong that revelation until the Third Hub. That such a significant spell, both in power and to him, would be used its first time on a simple monster was...laughable at best. Instead, Nulus once again grew satisfied with his flurried swipes, the stats of a Twin Blade (SP and HP aside) granting him the efficiently to make each weak blow add up...count. Stupidly, fumbling for a way to salvage its life, the Temple Knight turned to its current assailant and attempted to fend the Shade away with a swipe of its duel swords. And succeeded. Nulus had been unprepared for the sudden turn and proceeding attack, his face and his cloak batted at with razor edge until he was soaring back and rolling across the tundra floor. The 'stupidly', however, came in the Knight turning its back to an opponent that was wielding a jagged, six-foot long blade. A charged hack, battle cry shouted through the sudden rush of adrenaline through Zan's blood, he put all of the strength available to him in human form in a single swoop that landed with a clang.

The impact rebounded his weapon across the armored back (one littered with Nulus' scratches), but made sure it left behind a note of its presence beside the painful ringing in Zan's bones. Though it lacked the dark majesty of the flames the splintered armor on the Temple Knight's front possessed, a significant network of jagged cracks became prominent along the surface. Before the monster could turn around, Zan used the momentum and the weapon's backswing to lay another blow along the same spot. It widened the radius of the cracks until a piece of the armor actually thunked to the snow floor. Barely living, all the panicked Temple Knight had the time to do was turn around and watch as a third fall of the Ghostdancer in less than a few seconds ended its life and reduced it to dissipated data. Panting, glancing over at the slowly-recovering Shade, Zan could only smile, reequipping his Stormlord Helm and swapping out the Ghostdancer for his Life Sword.

"Ol Repth." Directed, of course, at Nulus.

This was going to be fun.

Posted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 8:07 am
by Zan
Lingering in the charred stench of the Temple Knight's death gave Zan time to mull over the battle in slow motion in his head. Though he rarely had the time to indulge such tactical ponderings when in the midst of some Freedom Fighter mission, it was something he tried to do as often as possible when out on training runs. It allowed him to think and rethink the actions he had taken, their origins of reflex, and how he could have done them better. In the times he couldn't think of how to better how his offence was unleashed, the werewolf chose instead to roll around the 'film' of his defense. How did he block? How did he dodge? Why did he block? Why did that particular method of dodging seem the most proficient? Was it? Some of the group - Phoenix was the first to come to mind - thought ill of the way he handled himself in battle. They thought he was all about barbarian strategies and brute methods of assault. It was so ignorant. Sure, there were times that Zan didn't exactly fight like a human being, but that was only because he wasn't - not completely. Fighting like an animal didn't make him less, didn't make him mindless. Rather, it tapped him into a part of himself that the others could only dream of, could only watch and wonder if mankind had ever exchanged blows in such a manner. The lizard brain was more capable of killing than the moral, human cerebellum. The Heavy Blade used this knowledge and integrated it when he needed to, used what he was only aware of on a primal level to give the Elites and their cronies a run for their money. Keep them on their toes.

For the most part, Zan was happy with how the fight had went. Defenses were solid, attacks were fluid, and the timeframe in which it had been accomplished was more than acceptable. The one flaw in their whole execution was the damage Nulus had sustained. Injury in any fight is usually impossible to completely avoid, so it wasn't the taking of the wounds itself that bothered Zan. It was something that irked his partner, irked the Shade in turn. They had so carefully practiced their teamwork-ridden strategies that anything rallying against the expected reactions made them stumble for a second. It was something they both recognized needed work and, upon realizing it, the werewolf wasn't upset. Being able to see their faults was a good thing. It was a step in a direction that led them to greater finesse and might. That all taken into mind, Zan found his drifting to the Training Room as a whole. Did Raine realize how important the implement had been? The things it had done for Zan and Nulus, the kind of change it put in their ability to work as a pair...priceless. It was because of that very thing that the Lycan was determined to visit the room whenever he was back at the Hideout, whenever he had a spare chance and some open time. Nothing but growth could be found there. Not yet, anyway.

With the introspection of the fight done and over with, glacial eyes swept over the snowscape in search of another target. A blue-tinted General Armor in the distance, just past a two-story, makeshift building was both the closest and the most tactically acceptable. It hadn't noticed them yet, something confirmed in its disappearance around the corner of the tattered edifice. Plans came in an exchange of lightning-fast concepts and flashes of emotion and imagery. One second Nulus and Zan were standing still, staring, and the next they were on the move in a burst of movement. The Shade kept on forward, gearing to whip around the corner and surprise the hulking monster. Zan, however, jerked right, his weapon put away and his fingers suddenly capping off with inch-long claws. With dexterous grace, the lycanthrope blurred up the side of the building, fingers digging in and clawing him to the top with a final yank of strength that hurled him in a front flip before the Heavy Blade landed lightly on the balls of his feet. The edge of the structure was approached with caution. A quick look over the thirty or forty foot drop revealed a suddenly-engaged foe hefting blow after blow towards Zan's weaving friend. No hit had landed yet, but the werewolf was aware that such a thing wouldn't last. He needed to move on to the next step of their plan. Rather than bring out his Ghostdancer, however, it was the High Forger that was called forth.

"Vak Smash!"

Despite the vocal announcement, the General Armor had little more than a second to glance up before a slue of vicious swipes from Nulus' knife-like fingers stole its focus once more. The teal weapon caught fire in a beautiful display of orange and red, whipping slightly in the cold wind of the field. With a half-flip, Zan was mounted perpendicular to the buildings edge, the flame-blossoming High Forger dug into the stone of it surface with its wielder doing a perfectly balanced headstand on top of it. There was a beautiful timeless moment, a frozen snapshot in which everything was crystalline, in which everything made sense...and then Zan was tumbling forward, the distance of the fall making him spin more than once until his speed made him seem more like a descending fireball than anything else. With a darkly satisfying thud and crack, the player's billowing weapon crashed over the top of the General Armor's helmet, fire exploding and splashing over its body with the impact and the ELEMENTAL CRITICAL that popped up over its head. The momentum sent everything into a temporary state of disarray, however, Zan rolling madly over the snow, the monster staggering with its maiming wound, and Nulus flying away from the spray of flame. A moment of dizzying nausea aside, the Heavy Blade found his way back to his feet in the end no more worse for the wear.

The General Armor was an entirely different story. Its inhuman groan as it swayed, as parts of its helmets crumbled away spoke volumes of its current state of health. The attack hadn't been enough to kill it, but both the velocity of the assault and the proceeding Elemental Critical had been more than enough to seal its fate. The question came in 'how.' There were a number of ways it could be dealt with, a number of possible gestures that would end its life and allow them to proceed. Knowing this and being armed with the advantage of a stunned opponent, Zan wanted to make sure they came out of this little victory flawless. There had to be a way to get at it again, to avoid any retaliation in their coup de grace. When it hit him, well, to say he felt foolish that it hadn't been an immediate thought was underestimating his ability to be brutal with himself. Although both his class and his Twilight abilities made close combat an emphasis, that wasn't at all his limit. A careful hoarding of particular armors and his vast array of swords had given him a fairly impressive skill selection list. Spells would act as the solution, something in the realm of Vak to make the damage really stick. Hell, another Elemental Critical might make itself known. Swapping his armor for the slightly weaker Hands of Fire and Firedrake Mail, the final stroke was ready to be given. Zan was going to make sure the General Armor really felt it.

"Dek Vakz!" The rune burned itself below the monster, inflicting it with the status effect. "Vak Kruz!"

And with that, a small platoon of flaming orbs swirled around the creature that was only now beginning to right itself and regain composure. Sadly, it was only in time to watch as the fireballs converged upon it in unison, a sickening crunch sounding through the area as armor shattered and crackled into little more than streams of data, leaving the snow floor beneath it melted and puddled. In a few seconds it would freeze over, but the effect was savored just the same. Rather than analyze the fight like he had with the last one, Zan chose instead to savor the speed and efficiency of their kill. Although no second critical had been given, the damage was still more than enough to bring the mighty monster down. It had served to reteach him the importance of range. It was true that he acted as the group tank and, in that, had to be up close a lot. The Lycan accepted that. Still, there were times that would call for distanced discretion and the recent fight had reminded him of such. Nulus, his flight to Zan slightly lagged because of his recovery from the energy it took to dodge the General Armor's advances in the early stage of the plan, had a pleased air about him upon approach. They were getting better. They were getting stronger. The next time Zan met up with the Elites?

He wouldn't be taken down so easily.

Posted: Sun Oct 07, 2007 10:22 pm
by Zan
Death by magic. It almost seemed a ludicrous, such a defeat coming from the hands of Zan. All of it had made him realize how little he used the stuff, how often he relied on his physical might and completely ignored his almost daunting arsenal of magical spells. Only one of them was of the second level, of course. That, however, mattered little when it came down to it. What was of real importance was how versatile his spell list made him, allowing him to elementally oppose all but those of the Rai element. The lycanthrope no longer had access to the game manual or any online guides, so he couldn't say for certain, but he was pretty sure that he wouldn't have access to Ani spells for quite some time now. No, it was through luck or fate or some other cosmic smile that Nulus had become the embodiment of the one Wave he lacked. Though, to his knowledge, the Shade only had access to Wryneck...that was a really strong fucking Ani spell. Over time and with experience, Zan was positive that the game's glitched balance system for 'pets', the EX system as it was, would grant him more and more of those magical spheres and open up Nulus' own personal dark armory. Hopefully Wryneck was only the tip of the iceberg, only the beginning. Zan knew, with a quick reference to his partner's mind, that Nulus was certainly gunning for more to fall into his hands. Time would tell.

Thoughts of his only lacking elemental ability aside, Zan's mind again drifted back to the realm of magical uses. There would certainly be situations in which physical attacks went beyond the normal level of danger and stood on the grounds of moronic. The Lycan had already seen them in the past, memories of the fight against Jett only one example. Still, he had persisted in his pursuit of physical violence and it had often only led him to agony of some kind or another and the fumbled chances of his group's win. It was other people, individuals wielding magic like Nighthand, that had saved their asses in those cases. The whole thing almost seemed silly, really. Zan had purposefully hoarded a mountain of blades and pieces of armor with the intention of stacking up a looming behemoth of skills and spells. was only the physical skills he ever found himself using in the heat of the moment and oftentimes it was the wrong decision. Aside from his favored MeRue Rom, spells had gone on largely ignored and thought of as lesser - if only for him. The fact that he could shapeshift into a hulking beast of muscle and swift fury had polluted his mind with the delusion that physical might was always the better road to travel. The worst part about it? He hadn't even known he thought that way. It had taken some random excursion into the Training Room to point out the subtle workings in his mind. Flawed workings. Bugged and upside down workings.

But that's what the room was for in the end, wasn't it? Zan was reminded, again, that he should thank Raine for coming up with the brilliant idea that instated the place. Truly, it was because of otherwise simple exercises like this that he was being given the chance to analyze his fighting style and combat options in ways life-threatening confrontations never allowed. The fact that he knew that if he died he wouldn't be a hindrance to the Freedom Fighters, wouldn't slow them down but would instead simply respawn outside of the Training Room? There was a peace in it. It wasn't the reckless sort of tranquility that made someone go out and just run shit down like a berserker because consequences weren't present. Oh no. Rather, it was the serenity that flowed in a fashion that allowed him not to fight on old instinct, but forge new, stronger reflexes. Perhaps he was over-thinking the whole thing. Maybe, just maybe, a simple Vak Kruz was nothing to get overexcited about. Then again...maybe it was everything in the world worth getting excited about. After all, what was better than a discovery that lead to your growth not only as a functioning player within the game, but as a wrench to be tossed in the Great Machine of the Elites' sway over 'The World'? Alright; sex, candy, raw meat, napping. A few things.

But certainly not many.

Both had paused during the brief moment of pondering, but they were again on the move. They had tried their luck only facing against one opponent at the time and had come out shining. Now was the time to up the stakes. When normal human sight offered him nothing in the way of paired monsters, both irises flared into the amber of the wolf, the world around him suddenly a thing of dizzying clarity. Now able to 'zoom in' and 'zoom out' his vision's magnification on will, Zan swept his eyes over the tundra was that field, his blood hot from battle and offering a point of relief from the cold. It was two Temple Knights roaming with one another that eventually caught his attention, their location only about a mile away from the duo's. A momentary swap of the Time Headband and both were invigorated with Ap Do. Inherent speed, granted by Twilight, was amplified by magic as they rocketed across the field, too quickly gone for any monsters they passed to give them a second look. When the distance was covered, both wasted little time in allowing the twin Temple Knights to adjust to the sudden danger. Momentum didn't allow time for Zan to pull out a weapon right away, but he didn't allow that to become a bad thing. Leaping into the air, fist arched behind him, the lycanthrope came down on the creature with a resounding, supernaturally strong crack of his knuckles across its oddly configured skull.

The Knight shuddered and floated back with the impact, a shake of its head righting its composure and removing the element of initial surprise. Zan didn't mind. Calling the Ghostdancer into being, circles of spaced and spinning data summoning the weapon at his hand, Zan again charged the monster with a shout. He dragged the weapon on the snow behind him, the dulled metallic scrape sounding as he feigned a strike that brought both of the Temple Knight's arm blades up to deflect it. With the monster's midsection now open, the Lycan allowed his weapon to clang loosely off of the weapons, giving him all the distraction needed as he suddenly hoisted himself up and dropkicked the chestplate of the beast. Thudding on his back into the cold powder, he watched for a moment as the Knight again floated back with the force and the damage of the attack. Seeing an opportunity to put a newly-learned lesson into effect, the Heavy Blade quickly snapped on his Fire Bracer and shouted Vak Rom's incantation into the icy winds. As the tornado of whipping flames and arching miasma came into effect, Zan wasted no time in swapping the Fire Bracer for the Smith's Gloves. Right as the first spell ended, a Vak Don chained the combo together, drawing the Temple Knight's eyes to the sky as the large fireball descended. To end the series of attacks, one he hoped would end the Knight, Zan was on his feet and using the last remaining seconds of the Ap Do to slam into his foe with a fire-ridden Kannon. Though the Vak Rom brought no critical, both the Vak Don and the skill did, the consecutive traumas reducing the monster to smoking bits of glyphs and dissipated numbers.

While just the beginning of Zan's assault was being initiated, Nulus was busy taking down his own monster. He couldn't very well let Zan be the only one capable of doing such, after all. Oh, sure, he didn't have the scary physical ability of a Heavy Blade and, sure, he had absolutely no access to fire spells...but that didn't mean he was down for the count. Having equipped the Dek Do sphere for the extent of the Training Room (though it allowed him to swap them out if he wished it), that was the first spell leaving his lips against his opponent. The Shade watched, pleased, as the second Temple Knight suddenly seemed to lag in its retaliation of his presence. Nulus was on the Knight then like white on rice, the old expression happening to very much apply as his knife-like hands cut into armor, each furious swipe adding up small damage numbers into a total that would make any mere creature cringe. Truly, the Temple Knight was at Nulus' mercy during the Dek Do's duration, forced to endure strike after merciless strike as its Hit Points were slowly whittled down. It managed a lulled swipe of its blades once, but Nulus was behind it before the change of position could even be registered. His defeat of the Knight was a bit slower coming, Zan having enough time to stand there and watch, but it did arrive. It proved that, despite the 'Twin Blade' stats making him weaker, speed was definitely a forced to be reckoned with.

Zan could hardly disagree.

Posted: Sat Oct 27, 2007 1:55 am
by Zan
Zan's time in the Training Room was beginning to draw to a close. It hadn't been a full excursion or some epic stretch of adventure, but it had some to serve its purpose much like the last one. Preparation was needed for the final Hub, for the last of Marionette's Guardians and whatever challenges such an individual would set before them. The lessons the lycanthrope had learned, however few, would not leave him. They had given him a handful of new tricks that could, in the end, actually save his life against the Elites. The Lycan knew he only had a few more minutes left, perhaps a little more, and he wasn't going to waste it. He would have liked to stay longer, of course, but there were other people that needed to use it and other things he still had to do above. Zan knew, through their bond, that Nulus was beginning to accept that they'd have to be going soon was well. He, like the Heavy Blade, had no desire to leave to paradise of snow and ancient, crumbling architecture. Alright, so ancient was a bit of a stretch, but the serenity of the place - despite the lethal, hulking monsters that lumbered about - would be missed just the same. The Shade had never had the opportunity to see anything like it before and, though his affinity lay with Ani, the Rue tundra was quite the sight.

Nulus was the first to turn around, to go about hunting once more, and the werewolf followed with an edge of reluctance in his step. It was curious, really. Did everyone in the Freedom Fighters get the kind of use out of the thing as Zan and his companion did? Hell, had some of them forgotten it was even down there? What with the beds and the comfortable couches, not to mention the delicious kitchen food, thumping down to go exhaust yourself against monsters that didn't really give you any experience - the statistical kind - wasn't exactly appealing to the masses. Zan understood that. He wondered, though, if they realized what kind of mental experience it garnered for those who actually put some real, decent effort into. The Heavy Blade wasn't exactly Mr. Workshisassoff in the Training Room, sure, but he offered enough of himself to it that it paid him back in kind. Even if it was just stuff that should have been obvious, that served as just a reminder like remembering the usefulness of ranged combat even for a physically-oriented still helped. When you were pitying yourself against minions that served a collection of the most powerful hackers in all of 'The World', not to mention (eventually) the hackers themselves? Every bit of help should be savored and cherished. That's what Zan attempted to do, what he was pretty sure he was succeeding in.

Casting Ap Do on both himself and his partner, Zan found himself dashing across the icescape with not only the magic under his feet, but his Twilight abilities in turn. The speed was intoxicating and, though no where close to the kind of thing Nighthand could pull with a state shift, it was still something he found easy to lose himself in. Nulus began to fall behind and only when the lycanthrope realized this did he finally let himself calm and the hunting pace reclaim its reigns over their muscles. What should they look for? They had faced the Temple Knight by itself, the General Armor (or did that say Armor General?) by itself, and even faced two enemies simultaneously. The pondering came down to how they'd go out. Would it be with a bang? Would they take on a hoard of monsters looking to, and probably able to, do them in? Or did they slip out with one last, easy-going fight that would set the mood at less stress and more fun? Zan was aware that he should have gone the harder route, that he shouldn't be having fun in a room meant for physical training, but he convinced himself that he had worked hard enough. The real stress could be earned in the next Hub, where the Guardian was no doubt waiting for them so he, she, it or whatever could make them wish they had never come in the first place. Now that he dwelled on that, the Lycan found his decision much more delectable.

The Temple Knight they came across in their magically-induced rush seemed busy inspecting a building; too busy, in fact, to initially notice them at all. Rather than do anything particularly fancy or mind-boggling, the duo readied their respective weapons and struck simultaneously. Zan's, the ever-wonderful but oddly shaped Ghostdancer, hit the armored skirt-hide of the beast with a resounding thud that made his eardrums ring. Nulus, wielding his eight-inch finger blades, ended up going with a straight on stab that pierced through the metal with the force of the Shade's flying momentum. Unable to just stop after such a thing, of course, they plowed into the creature not a second after their mostly-sloppy hits and toppled over in a rolling mass of flesh, cloak, and steel. The Knight made a sound that was indistinguishable with any sound Zan had heard (except maybe the passing sound of a blaring car horn) and it acted as a particularly curious distraction because of it. Coming up from the tumble found both the lycanthrope and Nulus victim to the sudden presence of swinging dual-wielded swords that bit into flesh and bled shadow as they both hurled in a sidespin until landing uncomfortably on a particularly hard collection of snow. Gah. He should have asked Raine to program in pillows to cushion their fall. A note for next time.

The edge they had arrived with, one that more or less had made their mindless attack successful in a situation that would have otherwise failed horribly, was effectively - and obviously - gone at that point. The Temple Knight didn't move to immediately cover the distance between them, but as Zan cast a La Repth to seal up their wounds, it seemed to be judging the best way to proceed. The hell? They hadn't done that before. Was Raine tampering with things, knowing he was about to leave? Was she making it harder? If she wasn't, it was just the lycanthrope seeing too much in a meaningless posture, but if she was? That bitch was clevvvvver. He'd be mad if he wasn't so damned impressed with her ability to improvise in a way that actually suited him. Nulus was the first to lose his patience, to decide just hovering their waiting for the monster to decide it was stupid enough to attack wasn't worth the boredom. Before Zan could ask him not to, before he could again establish the mental link that allowed them to fight so effortlessly together, the son of a bitch was flying off and straight into the awaiting swing of the Knight. He was able to duck that strike, but had apparently forgotten that the monster had two hands of weaponry much like him. With a snarl of pain, the Shade retreated, looking more embarrassed than hurt.

Despite the recklessness of it all, it had given Zan something resembling an opening, so he found himself a little reluctant to be upset. The Kannon was called into action before the Temple Knight had time to react, the six feet flaming weapon crashing against its form time after charring time until it retreated from the blows. Zan used the skill again, but did it this time knowing it wasn't going to hit, that it was instead going to drive the thing into an awaiting Nulus. Surprisingly, the plan actually went according to...plan...and the Knight discovered its mistake a little too late. Busy undergoing the flurry of Shade blows, it wasn't able to block the third Kannon or the Elemental Critical that followed it and bent the monster into streams of data. It was done. Huffing a bit, Zan turned to the rest of the field with flame only beginning to recede on his blade. Nulus was quick to join him and, for a little while, they just stood, coat and cloak flipping through the artic winds. It was done in silence, in a way that allowed them what it remember what it was like to be in a place of peace. A word to Raine and the simulation died, leaving them in a dull room that hardly seemed like it should have been capable of holding the thing of beauty that had so quickly left them. Ah well, in the end, an illusion and was an illusion and shouldn't be given the same kind of respect as the real deal. Which, of course, just brought up the fact that the whole game was technically an illusion. Zan wasn't going there. No philosophy after all that. A wave to the room and...

...he was gone.