5895/Shrine of Adversity: Bones of Contention

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Shrine of Adversity: Bones of Contention
Date of Scene: 01 June 2018
Location: Shrine of Adversity
Synopsis: Septette and Penelope spar in the Shrine of Adversity.
Cast of Characters: 632, Staren, 6399

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     The arena that Septette's created here is forebodingly simple. When Penelope enters the simulation, she'll find herself in a flat hexagonal expanse of soft gray metal, surrounded on all sides by sheer walls and enclosed above by a translucent humming force-dome. Scattered around the arena are polyhedral chunks of metal five to ten feet tall that look like abstracted wargame terrain designed by a depressed brutalist architect.

     There are convenient seats just outside the force-dome for any spectators, but Septette herself is sitting cross-legged on one of the die-like metal boulders near the middle of the arena. A sun-bleached and ragged purple shawl is wrapped around her shoulders and a journal of some sort is in her lap, though she stops scribbling in it and stashes it in her satchel almost as soon as Penelope comes in.

     "Glad you could make it. I prefer to go in blind, but do tell me if there are any rules or guidelines you'd prefer we adhere to. Otherwise, I'm ready when you are." She tosses the satchel up to the bleachers far above, but makes no motion to draw a weapon.

Staren has posed:
    "Pff, boring." Staren comments on the arena as he enters. "I know it's just a simulation so the looks don't really matter, but maybe you should take up art?" Then he smiles. "All the same, good to see you, Septette." He suddenly projects his wings, made of translucent orange energy like an insect's but more stylized. They buzz quietly as he flies up to the bleachers and takes a seat, then they disappear again.

Penelope Vasquez (6399) has posed:
    The journey to the Shrine gives Penelope enough time to calm a little- collect herself, prepare herself for the fight promised ahead, even if it was founded upon cajoling between puns. She seems confident, casual- unimpressed by the grandeur of Grand Dorado, even if the sheer scale of the Shrine itself gives her pause on her way in. She weaves through visiting multiversal patrons with ease as she seeks out the training grounds, poking about until she finds the active scene Septette has set up. She steps into the zone with some caution, attempting to size up the five-foot-nothing woman as she stands.

    Analysis: whole lotta nothing. Not human, despite looking like it, kinda. Confident about a fight, so tougher than she looks. Weapons hidden under that shawl, probably- but to call her on it is calling the kettle black, so the point is just filed away. The watcher is given a raised brow, before summarily ignored. Penelope shifts her legs, assuming a practiced, steady stance.

    "I'd prefer we don't actually kill each other- being out of comission for a couple days is bad for my business. But otherwise, I'm game. Nice to meet you in the flesh, Sep. Let's go." A faint pulling of her fingers on a hand, enticing the smaller figure to charge.

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     "It's not boring, Staren. It's good composition. A real artist knows not to distract from the center of attention with pointless frippery." Septette flips her hair with an exaggeratedly preening demeanor, then slides off the metal boulder. There's an unsettlingly loud CLANG when she hits the ground, despite gracefully bending her knees on impact- sounds like armored boots.

     Her purple eyes briefly flicker a shade brighter as she gives Penelope a once-over. The wire and ampoule-collar say cyborg; the watchful caution and range-ambivalence say generalist operative. "No promises, but I'll do my best not to inflict anything too severe. I'll ask the same of you, of course." The way she adds that last part as an afterthought hints at a bit of genuine arrogance under the comedic facade.

     Extrapolating from multiversal cyborg trends:
     10% chance of exploitable thermal conductivity.
     5% chance of poor cryo-tolerance.
     15% chance of electromagnetic susceptibility.

     The only warning Penelope gets is a slight shift in Septette's posture; she turns her left shoulder towards the enforcer and raises her elbow, pulling the shawl up like a matador's cloak. Then a bolt of coruscating yellow energy burns right through the fabric as if fired from a holdout pistol inside. Despite the awkward angle, it's aimed straight at Penelope's center mass!

Staren has posed:
    Staren smiles when Penelope asks not to fight to the death. Is he glad she won't go that far, or just amused that anyone would think they're in danger of killing Septette?

    Although, if this wasn't the Shrine, putting her back together after the attempt COULD be troublesome.

    "No, it's not. Colors and patterns help us make sense of our environment and mentally model how it's laid out. Everything being one flat color, or poorly-chosen textures, can make it difficult, even if we DO have depth perception. It's like how you describe looking at video screens, you can make sense of it but it's harder..." Suddenly his eyes widen and his ears perk up. "Ohmigosh! We could use the Shrine to display videos for you! Although it's not practical for long-term use... hmm... and pinks still wouldn't work, magentas anyway..."

Penelope Vasquez (6399) has posed:
    The game begins. Guns under there, of course! Just Penelope's specialty. Probably going to be something like attrition, actually closing the distance, but not an issue.

    Of course, Penelope doesn't have quite enough time to actually think right this second- her body reacts on computer-assisted instinct, body twisting at blurring speed to draw the blade from her back. It comes free, over and down in a single smooth motion as her legs press, springing her off the spot. Not quite faster than a bullet, or in this case, a blast of electrical energy, but she's able to move her entire body in enough of a synchronized flow to change where the blast strikes- cracking across the blade shoved in the way. She moves with momentum, streaking from zero to blurring from the spot she was stood at, and behind one of the surely depression-inspired stones in the arena. Goggles are hurriedly pulled from a pocket and slapped over her forehead, and she peers through the rock, watching the attacker in the few seconds she has.

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     The strangest thing about how Septette reacts to her opponent's augmented speed is the simple fact that she does. Despite Penelope's breakneck pace, she keeps her eyes locked on that dark blur right up until it vanishes behind a metal boulder! "Someone played a lot of dodgeball as a kid," she teases. "My pitching arm's rusty. You'll help me fix that, won't you?"

     By the time Penelope puts on the goggles, Septette's already halfway closed the distance, powerwalking over with a kind of affected nonchalance. They do provide one distinct benefit, even so: the killbot doesn't know she's being watched, and she tips her hand a bit earlier than she'd intended to as a result.

     Vasquez would be able to see her stop a couple of feet short of the boulder, pull back with her clawed metal fist, and then slam it into the polyhedron's flat face with herculean force. A fraction of a second later the entire boulder explodes into jagged spalling shrapnel from the force of the blow, threatening to rip into her!

     When the dust settles, Septette wrings her hand with a slight grimace. "Right. Softer metal next time."

Penelope Vasquez (6399) has posed:
    Thank god for wallhacking- Penelope is backing away from the stone as Septette approaches, perhaps expecting her to pick it up and wield it as a blunt instrument or something similar, but can only gasp in shock as the entire thing evaporates into flying shards. She pauses for the breath of a second- before tucking her head and turning her back to her opponent, as well as the shrapnel about to coat the entire arena.
    The metal pounds against her rubber-like coat with a sound not unlike astoundingly heavy rain. They make small cuts here and there, a few are lodged, but many are flattened, as if they struck a stone face. Shards dig into the metal of the ground in a tinkling cacophany, bouncing and rattling. Vasquez doesn't stop in her turn. Never fight the momentum. She's facing front again in time to catch Sep shaking her hand out.

    Robots don't need to shake their hands out. She's- she's playing it up. A more sound mind might take this as the moment to express something like fear, or shock, at the utter mismatch of a fight. Penelope hoots a cry of glee instead, rocketing towards the magitech golem with the speed of an oncomming semitruck.

    She doesn't aim for a direct collision. Instead, a drive-by; a hand shoots towards her hip, drawing up the boxy weapon there, aiming it at speed. It looses off a volley of shrapnel nearly identical to that created by the boulder's explosion, except a concentrated stream. Quite honestly, it's unlikely to really damage something made of metal. But it's certain to shred cloth to nonexistance, showing the hitwoman exactly what she's up against.

Staren has posed:
    Staren is brought out of his reverie by the sound of metal shattering. "Geeze!" Shards hit the forcedome, and he wonders just how much energy was required to get metal to DO that with a punch from one side. "Alright, come on, show us what you got!" He shouts to the newcomer as she draws a weapon and charges past Septette. A flechette thrower? He doesn't think that's a good choice, but it's not like he's shot Septette with a bunch of weapons to test... well okay, he DID do that but flechettes weren't one of them. He leans forward, curious to see if it might turn out to be more effective than expected.

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     When Penelope avoided her electric fastball, Septette was impressed. Now that she's seemingly demonstrated downright precognitive reaction times, the little murderbot is worried. The hitwoman's injuries from the shrapnel look like chip damage, thanks to her alacrity and bulletproof coat. She needs to land something decisive before her observant adversary figures out too many of her tricks.

     Again, the robot shows startling reaction times, even if her body can't quite keep up. The millisecond Vasquez starts to reach for her gun, Septette's already twisting to minimize her profile. As the trigger-finger tenses, she brings up her arm inside her shawl to protect her torso.

     The shrapnel-blast catches her in the shoulder and chest with clinging, clanking echoes, tearing away the shawl to reveal a gruesome synthetic anatomy and ricocheting inside her hollow ribcage. Septette staggers immediately to mimic how the momentum would affect her if she weighed as much as an organic, pauses just long enough to emulate human reaction lag, and then widens her eyes in pain.

     It isn't sandbagging; there's too much verisimilitude and practice in the act for that. Rather, she's trying to condition Penelope into treating her like a human combatant with human limitations.

     The fact that she immediately picks up a boulder with one hand and heats it via some invisible mechanism to near-melting somewhat undercuts that. At least she's 'bleeding' black hydraulic fluid from a series of lacerations on her black muscle-like tubing.

     "You're doing impossible things already," Septette says, her cheery tone conflicting with her evinced pain. "Keep it up, won't you?" A moment later, she hurls the red-hot boulder across the battlefield to explode in a spray of searing slag!

Penelope Vasquez (6399) has posed:
    Penelope is experienced. She's been doing this for a while. Maybe not fighting adversaries at her paygrade, or in this case, significantly above it, very often- but she's no fool. Were she in Staren's position, an observer, it's not unlikely that 'this is a robot' would beat out ingrained instincts to treat apparent pain or injury as a victory. Unfortunately, her brain is washed in adrenaline and dopamine, and there's a silent cheer as the shotgun-like blast apparently staggars the superhumanly strong machine. It feels pain! Maybe she did need to shake out that hand. Maybe this isn't as unbalanced as she thought! Maybe she's the best. Penelope knows she's the best, who's she kidding.

    As is usual, she keeps on running after the handcannon fires, head swiveling to stay locked to the opponent as she leaves her behind- running alongside the edge of the arena in a swooping circle, like increasingly deluded shark and prey. She maintains the breakneck speed as Septette heats and lifts the stone, but as she heaves to toss it- an adjustment of course. Obviously a warmachine like Sep would take trajectories into account when when tossing a rock, and were Penelope to stay her path, or even really be very near it, it's doubtless she'd be caught by the semimolten material.

    She kicks the ground mid-step as the stone is in mid-flight, and launches directly into the sheer wall.

    The hitwoman balls herself up to land at least one foot-first, which immediately has a spike push out of the jackboot's toe there. It digs into the metal. Shallowly, but enough to be at least a little secure. A push, slide out, hand up- glove sticks to the wall like it's glue. She clambers as high as she can in the brief moments she has available, before jumping. The stone explodes below, spraying molten steel and shattering metal in all directions- more horizontally, but enough vertically to prove that this was a stupid idea. She has her back facing the impact, smart- but bulletproof does not mean lavaproof. She screeches in pain- it's got to be genuine- as her trenchcoat and back are coated in burning splotches. She hits the ground ineligantly, rolling a few times before finding herself flat, facedown, an unmoving black lump on the ground. There's patches of melted material where she hit- the air is filled with the stink of a tire fire, with heady notes of flaming chemical factory. It doesn't look like Penelope is still burning, but there's holes in her armor, revealing skin and unitard beneath.

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     Heavy clanking footfalls slowly draw closer to Penelope, resounding through the arena like the tolling of an ominous bell. The undisguised racket of her movement and the inhuman design of her body contrast sharply with her lifelike rueful smile and the way her left arm hangs a little limp from her 'bleeding' shoulder. "Come on, Patty," she coaxes in a voice edged with synthetic pain. "Get up. We both know you're not done."

     Goliath offensive, tetrahedral boulder. [Won't yield useful data.]

     Kujura's Rejoinder, C6 to L1. [Overcommittal.]

     Hypatia, NW variation. [Reveals abilities, but strong.]

     Her knifelike fingers make a strange gesture, twitching slightly as crimson energy gathers at their tips. A moment later, a red circle appears on the ground directly under Penelope and pulses with an ominous glow- there's a noise distinctly like a flywheel spinning up. The circle's several feet across, but she is noticeably off-center, such that she's closer to the edge nearer Septette. In a second or two, it'll erupt in a pillar of flames tall enough to smash into the arena's forcefield ceiling- but she hardly expects Pen to sit there and take it.

     Predicting forward roll into standing position. Commit.

     Before Penelope has even begun to respond to the magic circle, Septette's already moving to attack where she thinks the assassin will be. She lunges forward, unfolds a hideous curved blade from her forearm, and swings hard a couple of feet in front of Penelope. If her prediction's off, it'll whiff completely- but if she's guessed right, Pen might be hard-pressed to respond in time!

Penelope Vasquez (6399) has posed:
    The downed woman doesn't move as the killbot approaches- looking all the world like someone at least severely winded, perhaps dead. Which is likely what gave her up- it just seems plain wimpy to go down from burns, mitigated by more than one layer of protective clothing. She shifts marginally, lets out a groan, as she gets closer- but there's no movements like she's getting up. Until the magic does it's work, painting a target underneath the enforcer.

    When you're given a sword and legs like a cheetah, one thing is drilled into your head. Close the distance. If you're against a normal man- close the distance. Perhaps you're up against someone with the same speed as you- close the distance, even if the connection is fleeting. Someone tougher. Close the distance and keep it closed. This is a largely unforseen instance of both, but the mantra is the same. Close the distance. And, graciously, Septette has done that for her.
    In the same moment the red circle appears, Penelope disappears. Poof. Gone. Like a lightswitch has been flicked.
    To be replaced by Penelope, in roughly the same position, but nowhere near the same posture- legs tensed instead of lax, hand gripping nearly-fallen blade instead of merely on it, half the little nodules on her neck empty and clear instead of filled. Eyes up and watching, instead of staring at the ground. She kicks forwards, aimed between Septette's legs, sword trailing just behind her arm. The swing clears her head and long body by inches.

    Presumably, Septette has been able to get a decent look at Penelope's weapon over the battle. It's long, a little longer than half her own body. The blade curves into a hook on the end. That hook is out, hoping to catch the calf of a leg as the hitwoman sails between them. Where Septette made a prediction, this is a gamble. No matter the outcome, Penelope looks guaranteed to skid head-first into the ground in the arc of her launch.

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     The whiplash-inducing recovery completely blindsides the killbot's predictions. She realizes almost instantly that her swing is going to go high, but there's just no time to course correct. Though she's been playing at human density, Septette's compact frame weighs as much as a car, and even her terrifying strength can't allow her to turn on a dime easily. She's essentially locked into the attack, even as she tracks Penelope diving between her legs.

     That density serves her well in another capacity, however: toppling her is far more difficult than it would be with an ordinary person. The hooked sword's tip catches on the exposed hydraulic muscles of her calf, but it simply rips through them in a spray of black fluid rather than tripping her. That'll hurt her mobility later, but it does set up her counterattack!

     There is nothing of Septette that does not contribute in some way to her capacity for violence- even something as ornamental and mundane as her hair. As Penelope's blade hits home, the fine carbon-metal fibers abruptly come alive. They writhe like a nest of snakes before twining together into a cohesive 'limb' that tries to wrap around the enforcer's ankle like a boa constrictor! If the bizarre grapple is successful, she'll try to flip Pen right over her head and slam her back into the ground- right into the raging pillar of fire.

     Regardless of whether Penelope lands behind her or is successfully grabbed-and-flipped, however, Septette will immediately try to follow it up with an overhead slam using the blunt edge of her armblade. Catching someone as frighteningly agile as Penelope in a position of compromised mobility is a rare chance, and she intends to capitalize on it!

Staren has posed:
    Staren sees what Septette is trying to do as soon as he notices the positioning of the magic circle. Is Septette's magic even normally so telegraphed? But Penelope sees it to, and does something surprising! Staren winces as he sees Septette's calf sliced open. Even if she can surely function without it... and this is all going to be undone by the Shrine, anyway.

    He's even more surprised when HER HAIR COMES ALIVE, though! "Since when can you do THAT?!"

    He's about to hop on the radio and point out to her that allies need to communicate their abilities. As soon as he's done mentally rehearsing the line 'Once I had an ally leave me in the claws of a strong enemy because she thought I could teleport out of it, and the teleporter doesn't work that way!', though, he realizes before he even opens his mouth:

    Septette knows this.

    She's already done a cost-benefit analysis and determined that the risk that her allies might inadvertently reveal her capabilities to enemies, is more probabalistically damaging than the risk posed by an ally NOT knowing what she can do. It's Septette, after all. She's tough enough to take like 99.999% of things that will happen.

    So instead he just doesn't say more on the subject.

Penelope Vasquez (6399) has posed:
    As the black blood sprays against her passing legs, Penelope begins to laugh, a heavy, loud cackle- it's stopped only by the lurch in her diaphram as the boa-like hair-limb curls itself around her passing lower leg and cinches, halting her bolt with a rather sudden and jarring change of motion. She's heavier than her frame would suggest, much like the Yggdroid- not nearly as heavy, not by a long shot, but what should be a lanky skinny-minnie does not feel like one, even accounting for musculature.

    She's helpless to resist the overhead throw, but she never stops working. Her pupils are dilated nearly to the point of crowding out her iris as she looks down at what has a hold on her. The un-grabbed leg swipes, once, twice- the blade sticking from the end of the boot slashing at the strands. Designed to dig into beyond-modern metals, it's eventually able to slash enough to loosen the grip- halfway through the throw. Penelope is launched nearly straight up. As she arcs, she is... vocal, for the first time in the fight. Very. A screeching, accented sing-song.

    "Oooooooooohhhhh, neurodes, there's neurodes! There's branches of a great ash colored oceanwood and it's falling and the lights are sparking-"

    She's reached the apex of the arc, and has adjusted, catlike, to track her quarry on her way down. At some point in the rise, an extra pair of arms appeared, branching from the ones that were already there. Coming together with another sword, slid out of the other. The first is poised to stab downwards. The second pair looks ready to swing, using that dreadful hook to catch whatever it can as she lands. "-but we're cutting them down, we're deforesting, they're falling, they're falling!" The last few words are a ragged yell, as she drops like a stone.

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     Penelope's attempts to free herself have the anticipated effect, though not in the expected fashion. As each individual strand reaches its breaking point it curls and whips away from the blade, letting go of her leg in the process. In aggregate, it looks like the tendril resists for a moment and then peels itself away, recoiling from the boot-blade like a living thing.

     Neurodes? Ash oceanwoods? It takes a moment for her to rule out some kind of bizarre activation phrase or psychological warfare. Stimulant-induced cognitive impairment. Discard previous behavioral data; judgement likely affected. Predictive models have to go out- she's running strictly reactively here. Fortunately, leaping attacks are about as committal and telegraphed as one can get, even with an extra blade in the mix!

     Septette raises her right leg as if to kick upwards, standing on her injured left. The first blade pierces cleanly through her raised arm with its downward thrust, wedging itself between her exoskeletal ulna and radius and gouging through the internal machinery. Her leg is positioned to ward off the second blade, angling to deflect it at a steep angle over her head like rain off a slanted roof.

     More worrying than the defense is the fact that she's still able to support her entire weight on a leg that's had its motor systems ripped open. There's no visible mechanic behind its movement anymore, like a cartoon skeleton devoid of muscle.

     "Sorry, Patty. But everything that goes up..." She cocks her other arm back, then throws a terrific haymaker- directly at the remaining glass ampoules on Penelope's collar! "-must come down."

Penelope Vasquez (6399) has posed:
    Penelope's drug-induced brutality works as planned- the downward-facing blade impales itself into the machine. The second pair of arms, wielding the second blade- abruptly disappears, as it intersects with the upraised leg. She beams in rabid triumph as the sword locks into maimed machinery, unmoving in it's pinch between artificial bones. It falls, a little, tinged with open-mouth surprise as Septette continues to stare back at her, fully sturdy. Moreso when a yank can't free the sword. Unwilling to let go of the thing, she's forced to take the haymaker directly to the intended target.

    There's a metal-on-skin slap and a crack of glass as the nodules are shattered by the force of the impact- her gloves keep grip on her blade, tearing it out of the robot to come with her and arresting what would likely send her flying to the side. She still is, but not for a great distance. She lands heavily on her back and arm as a miniscule amount of white liquid stains the ground where she was, the drug evaporating nearly as quickly as it puddles. The drug-fueled crazed look is gone as she looks back to Septette, replaced by what can only be identified as genuine emotional hurt- like a puppy that's been kicked. A lover who's seen their love go away. The expression is gone as quick as it came, morphed into anger.

    Penelope knows and, based on the quantities, Sep can surmise, that those stimulants are not a high-dose thing. Designed for quick bursts of extra energy, to dance across a room in a singing of blades. She has precious few seconds before what's already in her system leaves it, and the pain from that punch- as well as the other burns and scrapes of battle- hits her in full force.

    That's what her hindbrain processes, really. The frontal lobe wants more more more and is staring at the golem who took it. She screeches, "Mierda!" kicking backwards, arcing upright. Her arm shoots to the SMG at her hip- the flechette thrower was lost, somewhere. It's drawn up and fired off, a rata-tat stream of armor-piercing parabellum rounds as she attempts to backpeddle to her feet, aiming for the Giant Glowing Weak Point in Septette's chest.

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     Septette could already hazard a guess that those drug ampoules weren't a long-lasting thing- few substances with an onset that quick can be. Even as the blade tears free of her arm in a shower of sparks and dark fluid, worsening the pressure-bleeding, she's still reasonably sure that time is on her side: the comedown from stimulants that strong is likely to be brutal. Penelope's near-animalistic response to the ampoules' shattering only drives the point home further.

     She has to hope that there'll be a comeuppance soon, at any rate, because she looks to be in considerably worse shape than Pen at the moment. With her hydraulic pressure plummeting from ongoing bleeding despite self-sealing, her movement is noticeably slowed and halting as she advances on her backpedaling opponent- a zombielike, paradoxically implacable limp that makes little effort to play up her humanity. "You'll get them back when it's over," she says in the sort of voice one might use to coax a dog back inside. "Just lie down and let me crush you, Patty."

     In truth, she's hoping her words will stoke Penelope's resolve further- and she more than gets her wish when the enforcer opens fire on her reactor core, giving her a bit more than she was prepared to defend against. Unfortunately for Pen, you don't just leave a glowing power source wholly exposed unless it can more than take the punishment. That softball-sized bauble is easily the toughest part of Septette's entire body, and the bullets simply ricochet off or shatter against it, armor-piercing or no. The surrounding components and "organs" are not so lucky: the high-velocity shrapnel perforates them, bleeding her even further.

     Septette's movements slow to a crawl, and then- for just a moment- they freeze. She's stuck like a statue as the muscle system finally drops below operational pressure. Lights dim, humming ceases. And then, somehow, she takes another step forward. And another. Purple-green light slithers under her exoskeleton, flickering through the gaps in the plates as she lifts her head once more. She lurches forward, hopefully closing the distance between them, and tries to stomp on Penelope's leg while leveling a deceptively quick slash at her side!

Penelope Vasquez (6399) has posed:
    The machinegun unloads into the golem, shredding much of the material near the core. Penelope backsteps as Septette frontsteps, watching her warily, but you can almost see the comedown hitting her- color draining from an already pale face, pupils normalizing their shape. As the robot slows, and slows, Penelope stops, planting the blade's tip into the metal, leaning against the hilt. She pants, watching. Her limbs shudder like they're vibrating for a moment, grimacing as pain fades back in. When the construct finally stops moving, she lets her head hang, rubbing the back of a hand against her face.

    And then it steps forwards again. She blinks, not believing it. By the time she's taking a second step, Penelope is pulling back- but at the speed of a normal woman, which is not nearly enough. She groans as foot-claw comes down onto boot, and the blade to her side is hampered, for a moment, by her coat- but with it's lost structural integrity from the earler molten bombardment, it pushes through, digging into her hip- solidifying it's place with a muffled grind of metal on metal.

    She spent her energy on the damages earlier, and with no more uppers at her disposal, she can't power her way through. The slash knocks the wind out of her. The one in return, aimed at the leg pinning her foot to the ground, is more token than anything else.

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     This is long past the point at which Septette would, in the real world, pull back and lick her wounds. To say that there's still fight in her would be an understatement, but every piece of her is a priceless and limited artifact. Anything beyond minor injuries is a theft from her existence, another replacement part lost from a limited and dwindling stock.

     That is not true here. Neither pain, nor rational risk management, nor vestigial self-preservation holds her back. The slash across her leg is surprisingly effective: a crackle of purple-green energy tears across her shin along the path of the blade like ethereal blood drawn from invisible flesh, and the underlying metal groans and creaks as it's embrittled by the loss of its magic.

     Even so, she doesn't flinch- now that the act is dropped, it seems like nothing short of death could cause that. Her face is masklike, placid; her eyes are brighter than ever, but lifeless and flat. It gives the impression that she really is a zombie- though more likely, she's just decided to drop the affective charade.

     Septette's foot-talons dig into Penelope's leg as a second crimson magical circle materializes- this one under both of them, too broad to escape without first escaping the viselike grip. Given the fact that the first circle from several seconds earlier is still a sustained sky-piercing pillar of hellfire, the odds of her being able to safely facetank it are likely dim.

     But it doesn't activate- not until Septette sees if her opponent still has any fight left. "I probably ought to be dead right now," she says conversationally, as if confessing some minor foible. "So I'd say you did great. Is there gonna be a round two, or are we calling it here?"

Penelope Vasquez (6399) has posed:
    Penelope stifles another grunt as the talons dig further into her leg. The blade-carrying arm already raising for a second, firmer strike pauses at the top of it's arc as the spell circle appears. She's gritting her teeth, body tensing- maybe preparing for a parting blow- before the mask speaks again. The swordswoman blinks, nods- speaks a word. "Uncle."
    The blade slowly finds it's way back into it's home at her back. Penelope's eyes remain locked to the glowing ones about a foot below.

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     As the gunmetal-gray arena fades to a bland eggshell expanse, Septette's body reverts to its intact state as if her injuries were illusions melting away. Even her more-or-less annihilated shawl weaves itself back together, though she looks... tired? Is that an applicable term for an automaton? Depleted, somehow, at the least.

     It isn't until she starts breathing again that it's obvious she ever stopped. A thousand miniscule habits of the living flow back into her demeanor, like blood into a limb after a tourniquet's removal. It's a little bit eerie, contrasted with what's under the shawl- like a really shitty puppet with a good puppeteer. She leaps up to grab her satchel from where it was thrown, then meanders back over to Penelope, handing her the dropped shrapnel-gun in the process.

     "Like I said earlier. You did impossible things today. There are stars in the sky that can't burn a hair on my head, and you made me bleed with a pistol. ... I never get used to that." She seems a little bit sheepish at that last part, though given how ready she was to revert to emotionlessness earlier, it's hard to say what's genuine anymore.

Staren has posed:
    Staren winces when he sees Penelope go for the Core. He doesn't expect it to be damaged, but what if something goes wrong?

    It is educational to see how bullets directed at the core tend to tear into other components, though. Maybe Septette could wear armor, but what armor wouldn't fall to 'clothing damage' with what Septette would put it through? He watches, wordlessly, until the fight ends, nodding when it does, then picking up the satchel and handing it to Septette when he sees her going for it (Or briefly trying to and then giving her an apologetic shrug if it turns out to be super-heavy).

    "So... what was the point of all that?"

Penelope Vasquez (6399) has posed:
    Penelope steps away as the arena fades- rubbing the spot on her side which should be wide open, instead knitting back together without even a scar to remember it by, only a dull ache. A touch to her neck reveals the collar at her neck is whole once again as well- still topped up. She still looks a bit shaken; maybe aftershocks of her comedown, despite the arena's effects. More steady by the minute though, and smiling faintly once Septette is closer, though her eyes aren't very warm. At the question from the peanut gallery, she shrugs, looking to the bot, then the man. "Adrenaline rush?"

    If she notices the 'life' ebbing back into the construct, she doesn't seem entirely put off by it. She extends a hand, for a shake, speaking a bit softer. "You... are a marathon, not a sprint. Very, very good. Penelope. Good to meet, Sep." It's very... formal, without real affect, like it's spoken from reflex. She smiles more earnestly, shaking out her other arm. "Feel all tingly. You good?"

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     A hand with knifelike fingers takes Penelope's hand and shakes, ever-so-carefully angling their edges to not brush against the skin- though by now, she doubts Pen would be seriously bothered by a papercut like that. "I'm not clear on what your job is, but I'm sure you're damn good at it. If you can make me bleed, you can handle most anything out here." She smiles- guileless, almost but not quite prideless- and folds her hands behind her back.

     "Lots of reasons, Staren. But mostly- it's just fun. You ever play a 'clicker' game? That weird feeling you get when the numbers go up? That's fighting things, for me." She starts to head out, then pauses and reaches into her bag... and pulls out a tiny piece of broken tan-and-gray plastic.

     She says a single syllable that doesn't translate as she walks out of the simulation, still peering into her satchel, but it shouldn't be hard to guess the gist.