Voodoo Programming [Closed]

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Re: Voodoo Programming [Closed]

Post by Ryoko » Thu May 14, 2020 2:02 am

"Uhhhh"

Ryoko had literally no idea who this Mr. Miyagi fellow was. Given the inflection with which he spoke the man's name, Garrick must've held him in some high regard. She decided to take that as a compliment, even if she wasn't immediately sure what kind.

"I, well... yeah, I suppose I can tell you about my past. It's probably going to make me look bad, though."

Those words were followed by an awkward chuckle. She had alot of mixed feelings upon re-approaching this topic. On the one hand, it was nice to have someone who wanted to know about her life. On the other, she wished that she had a better story to tell. Or, at least, a story that painted her in a better light.

"I suppose that the best place to start would be with my purpose. My old job. See, one thing about you humans is that you guys basically get to decide what meaning you want your life to have. It's a blessing and a curse. My people kinda had it laid out for us instinctively. We defended this world from all kinds of eldritch, anomalous and mystical threats until its residents could fend for themselves. And when we completed our job, we'd get to spend the rest of eternity in a place that... could best be described as 'heaven for dragons'. And uh..." a morbid shrug accompanied a slight frown, "I didn't get in."

Ryoko didn't know what the universe held in store for men when they passed, if anything. That was something for them to discover and worry about; and she'd likely never know. But, if Garrick had even an ounce of faith or insight into the perspectives of those who did, he'd understand the effect that being rejected at the pearly gates would have on someone who believed for as long as she did that she was destined to enter.

"It's not that I didn't do my job, so much as I didn't do it right. I was... the black sheep. Our home was supposed to be the sky and the void above. Come down when there's trouble, wipe it out, and go make an exit. That's what my brothers and sisters did. But I took a fancy to mankind because... I don't know. You guys were just interesting, I guess. But uh..."

Her eyes darted away from Garrick as she fell silent. She took her time to find the right words before she continued. Unless she started lying, there was no way to not make herself sound bad at this part of the story.

"At some point, I started... using my duties to gain clout. I started trying to convince the people that I was a god. I'd rip the head off of some behemoth or roast some abomination, then I'd... I'd uh... I'd kinda... coerce them into worshiping me a little bit." Actually, it was almost every time she did something, "And have parties and chant my name, all that kinda stuff. I mean, at the time... I was getting rid of dangerous monsters and they didn't seem to mind. But... my boss sure did. And so, when the Weidmann got strong enough to fend for themselves without our help, our contract ended. And, instead of walking into paradise, I ended up falling from heaven for about a thousand years. And then I landed near an old, dilapidated temple where my followers used to pray to me every night. Apparently, they lost faith after I stopped showing up."

Ryoko sighed; a small plume of warm smoke accompanying her breath.

"A thousand years gave me a long time to think about who I should... could be, rather than who I had let myself be. Still, I would like to get into 'the good place', but I'm not entirely sure how. Everyone who I could ask is on the other side, and well out of my reach. So far, I've just been trying to generally be a good person with hopes that that'll make up for how I acted, but I always wonder if me trying to be good makes the whole thing disingenuous."

That's the problem with faith when you've seen what's actually waiting for you on the other side.

"I try to convince myself that I'm genuine, but I always wonder if I'm being good because I'm actually good or because I just want my prize. I think I already missed the opportunity to be undoubtedly genuine."
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Re: Voodoo Programming [Closed]

Post by Deus Mortis » Thu May 14, 2020 4:06 pm

Garrick got himself a little more comfortable, leaning back on the ground with his two arms for support. When she warned him that her story was going to make her look back, he steeled himself for the worst. Not only to be ready to hear the atrocities she’s committed but to keep a neutral face as he did so. An unbiased expression rather than a patronizing one.

And so, he listened.

He listened as she revealed that there used to more of her kind and he listened as she told him that they had all ascended into the draconic afterlife. The tale of her having been an ancient defender of humanity was not entirely surprising to him considering the type of person Ryoko was nowadays. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that the story wasn’t leading to a happy end for her.

As more of her story unfurled before him, he gave her an almost entirely impassive look, though in his eyes were glints of sympathy. He braced himself for the absolute worst when he started, almost expecting her to have been some genocidal dragon more befitting dragons seen in fantasy novels. The ones that hoarded piles of gold and brought ruin to countrysides. Instead, the story he heard was one of a fallen angel, denied paradise because of her vanity. The thousand years of self-reflection stuck with him. To be trapped with only your mind as company was a torture like no other.

Garrick wanted to say he felt like he could relate to her but held back, her feelings on being good forcing him to pause. The concerns she had were the same he’s asked himself ever since the Society accepted him back. He wasn’t sure what answer would bring her peace. He’s yet to find one that’s brought him that.

He looked up at some of the passing clouds, the sky no longer blackened by fleeing birds. His face betrayed the thoughts going through his mind, his soul searching for an answer.

”I think...” A pause as he kept his eyes looking towards the sky, barely mindful of the clouds overhead. ”...when you do it long enough, it stops mattering. Eventually, anyone can become genuinely good.”

There is little delay in his pause, finding the next words almost immediately.

”Everyone is the result of their upbringing and the challenges they face in life. If you do enough bad things or get exposed to a lot of adversity, you can slip into becoming a bad person. I don’t see why the reverse wouldn’t be true. If you do enough good things, it can end up becoming second nature to do the right thing. Eventually, our intentions become nobler without us realizing it. Maybe not completely...but they’re definitely changed for the better.”

He looked away from the clouds, his attention on Ryoko now.

”Your kind were allowed into heaven because they avoided temptation and just did what they were supposed to. Why can't you still do the same?”

There was a determined look on his face.

”What you did was vain.” The words were blunt but they were not without sympathy. ”But it was far from the worst thing you could have done. You were still protecting people like you were supposed to. You were thrown out because you weren’t...humble. Humility isn’t easy to learn. When you’re born at the top, it can be easy to become tempted by what you have or the way you’re treated because of it. It happens to regular people too. ”

He shifted to better face the dragon.

”Whether you’re whole-heartedly good for the sake of being good is hard to tell. I don’t think it matters if your intentions are one-hundred percent pure. Feels like just learning how to control your temptations and being virtuous through actions is all anyone could ask for. Dragon God included.”

There was a moment of silence following his words in which he sat a bit straighter.

”If it means anything, You aren’t the same person you were before your fall.” There was not a hint of doubt that could be found in his words, his confidence clear as he spoke his mind. ”In my eyes, you’re definitely on the genuine side of doing good.”

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Re: Voodoo Programming [Closed]

Post by Ryoko » Sat May 16, 2020 3:29 pm

"Maybe. Like, shit, you should've seen me when I first got back. I started trying to grind up cosmic karma points like a fucking idiot"

She reached out, put a hand on Garrick's shoulder, and just laughed at herself a bit. Well, this was more like a joyous howl; the kind of laugh that makes your belly ache and starves you oxygen. The bit of tension about her beginning to melt away as humor made its way in. Outwardly, she might not have made that big a deal of his kind words, but if he hadn't said them, she wouldn't have been so open and... honest with him now.

"I started in Duskburg. You know Duskburg? Well, I was out in Duskburg just... sniffing out crimes, man. Just looking for more tallies to add to the board to earn my way in. And every time I did three or four things and nothing happened, I'd flip the bird towards the sky and shout bloody murder towards the god who denied my what I was so convinced that I rightfully earned,"

Ryoko started fighting the laugh before Garrick lost the ability to understand what she was saying.

"Yeah, I think it took me... just a little over a thousand years to start growing up. Old habits die hard, you know?"

She glanced over at him and saw how the recovery was going. His chi suggested that he would be ready another exercise in another minute or two. And there was still something that she needed to know. Something that any tutor needed to know in order to properly guide their client.

"Hey, what are you shooting for, Garrick? Like, in a couple months or years of training up this power, what level are you hoping to reach? You've got alot of potential in there, even if you're barely a fraction of the way to tapping into it. Do you want to be like your old master?"

The thing is, here in these tea-leaf woods, that was the first time that Ryoko had ever heard that name. Volksgeist. And she had yet to really develop much of an opinion on him from what little she'd heard. He was an eldest, so she had to assume that he was powerful. He was the guy who gave Garrick and Teja powers, the guy who took Garrick on as an apprentice, and the guy who... they killed. Ryoko wasn't sure how Garrick felt about the him, but... she didn't feel hatred coming off of him.

"Do you want to be like Volksgeist?"
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Re: Voodoo Programming [Closed]

Post by Deus Mortis » Sat May 16, 2020 8:07 pm

”Do you want to be like Volksgeist?”

That name, that invocation. It was enough to make his breath pause. His body tensed ever slightly, muscles subconsciously twitching. The moment stretched on for a timeless second before he blinked, the pause in time shattering into pieces around him. He looked back up to the sky for a time.

”...No.” The words were delivered with a thoughtful trail. ”...No, I do not.”

And then, finality.

Do you even remember who you were, Valeria?

Somewhere, the voice of his mentor beckoned. His eyebrows furrowed, his expression more serious in response. The warm friendliness he had was gone, replaced by a somber consideration.

”Volksgeist was...many things.” He began, unsure of where his words would lead him. ”He was a god, a warrior, and an enemy.”

Krakatoa.

The fight on the grounds of an erupting volcano was still fresh in his mind.

”He was...also a broken man.”

Rome. Where the Spirit of Conflict’s attempt to merge the Eldest back with mankind went horribly wrong.

”He lost a lot in life. I saw what he lost, I felt it. When he said we were finally one, I didn’t understand what he meant at the time.” A chuckle caught in his throat. ”Now, I know.”

As divine as Volksgeist first believed himself to be, in the end, he proved that even gods could be human.

”Volksgeist was a threat to the world, not out of an evil in his heart but desperation. He lost his wife to one of his own kin. The way he tried to revive her was...always an option, but he dreaded it. He wanted to find another way, but even gods had limits. Eons of failures wore him down like a rushing river against rock. Every failure in the last few years were some of the greatest failures he's suffered in his life. In his eyes, he killed one of his kin near D.C and in Rome, he struck down what was akin to a baby brother to him. A Neo-Eldest. Every failure pushed him closer and closer to the edge.”

He was reminded of Teja. How far she had gone when she heard of Garrick’s own death, the things she’s tried to do to protect everyone from herself and Hector. In each instance, Valeria saw fragmented glass.

”Krakatoa was his breaking point. It marked the point of no return for him. He stirred conflict as his end grew near to try and train me further and to grow his strength. If he hadn't done that...maybe he would have still been alive today.” His words barely hid his growing remorse. ”But he changed...in the end. It was the first time in a long while where he was able to see the world clearly. He saw what he'd done. In those final moments, it had finally sunk.”

His eyes faced the clouds overhead but his mind was looking somewhere else.

”He died tired. Tired and full of regrets from hurting those closest to him. He became an amalgamation of everything he had tried to avoid. All for nothing.”

His gaze went back to Ryoko.

”I don’t want to be like him.”

The howl of a wolf echoed in the distance, heard by him, and him alone.

"I don't want to be like Volksgeist or Teja or Arno or Michael...I just..."

A sigh escaped from his lips, whether out of exhaustion or relief difficult to discern.

"...I want to be me."

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Re: Voodoo Programming [Closed]

Post by Ryoko » Sun May 17, 2020 2:25 pm

Ryoko had to wonder if her question was something that had been plaguing Garrick's mind long before she had even met him.

He'd clearly thought about it before. The implications that came alongside carrying the legacy of a destructive madman. Having to feel the essence of the man that he murdered surge through his body whenever he put his power to use. Ryoko wouldn't pretend to understand Volksgeist, and she'd never be able to experience whatever the Eldest had put mankind through in her absence. But... none of that really changed how she saw the man sitting beside her. Ultimately, it didn't matter where it came from, it was his power now.

"Okay," a succinct answer followed by a brief pause, "Then don't. Volksgeist left you his strength, not his madness. As long as you have the freedom to use that power however you'd like, then it's just another tool to be honed. And don't... don't put too much weight on that question, man. It's not like I've ever met the guy, personally, you know?"

Ryoko's hand slid off of his shoulder and she rose to her feet. Then she leaned forward and extended an open hand to help him up.

"You ready to continue? We can come back to Mithridatism later," especially considering how his chi had just started to even out, "I've got a few other ideas I'd like to try out."
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Re: Voodoo Programming [Closed]

Post by Deus Mortis » Tue May 19, 2020 1:11 pm

Huh.

Garrick blinked hard, processing what he’d just done. Like before, he’d said much more than he ever meant to say. It wasn’t even a conscious choice. With most people, he would have kept an answer to something like that shorter and much more plain. Instead, he went on a light monologue which slightly worried him. It wasn’t the first time he’d done it, though it was the first time he’s done so with remorse and sadness to anyone apart from Teja.

He turned away for a moment as a million different things were trying to connect in his head. The confusion was apparent on his face, though it was minimal enough to be confused as something else...maybe. When it came to matters like this, keeping a straight face wasn’t the easiest, especially when he wasn’t actively trying to do so.

Why do I trust her this much?

As she rose up and offered him a hand, he accepted it with a quiet "thank you" accompanied with a nod.

Was it because she’d taken the time to train him? Or was it because Teja trusted her too? It was difficult to say. He doubted he would have said as much to even someone like Elektra. Maybe it was the ancient dragon wisdom Garrick was associating with her now...eh, maybe.

”Yeah, I’m ready.” He changed from the old topic quickly, shoving down any awkwardness he may have been feeling from his previous words. Hearing she still had more ideas on how to proceed gave some insight into how much she’s been thinking about this. ”What’d you have in mind?”

He dusted himself off, small bits of dirt falling off from the back of his pants. He looked at her after with an amused smile.

”I’m going to guess dragon yoga is out of the question?”

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Re: Voodoo Programming [Closed]

Post by Ryoko » Wed May 20, 2020 3:54 pm

"See, you're being funny right now but a bit of stretching might actually be a good idea considering what I have in mind."

Ryoko chortled as she moved to a nearby tree and leaned up against it.

"What I'd like to do next is something I consider to be a bit of... 'worst case scenario' training. As of now, I'm not entirely sure how your powers will eventually manifest, but I know that you have no intention to wait and see how things turn out before running headlong into danger against 'blockbusters' again. As it stands, your powers are potent but transient. Great for doing large bursts of damage, but a huge waste if used defensively. So we're going to work on your already impressive agility and refine it as much as possible."

She'd only fought alongside him twice, and she noticed his strengths. Stealth, evasion, and opportunistic assault. Ironically, that particular set of skills paired up pretty well with powers that, at least for the moment, required mindfulness so as to not leave their practitioner practically defenseless.

"We're going to be playing a game that I like to call Death Tag."

A brief pause. Partly because she wanted Garrick to consider that that term might've meant. Partly because she wanted him to make a few inferences based on what she had already said.

"Now, despite the name, nobody's going to be dying out here in Xishuangbana. And, truthfully, there's no real difference between Death Tag and regular Tag. It's all in how you approach the game, mentally. In Death Tag, I am not Ryoko. You can't look at me and acknowledge me as your friend. You're going to have to see me as a Titan, or an Eldest, or whatever-the-fuck- doesn't matter. The point is, in Death Tag, you have to understand that, when you're tagged, you haven't just lost the game. You've lost your life."

That was a fundamental part to any kind of training. If you didn't take it seriously then, sure, you'd still learn something... but your skills would cap out at a fairly low level. And, sure, Garrick could just give up if he started to feel fatigued. He could simply allow her to touch him and he'd be perfectly fine out here in this tea-leaf forest.

Those would never be options in a real game of "Death Tag", though.

"Given how the SOS work- or heroes in general, I guess- the likelihood of you having to face down a high-level threat without any backup is fairly low. But it's not impossible, and neither is the chance of 'blockbuster' focusing their efforts towards taking you out, specifically. Death Tag isn't necessarily a game that you can win, but it is a game that you can improve upon dramatically with practice. You can make yourself as untouchable as possible. It'll keep you alive, help you to find openings for you to retaliate in combat, and, honestly, just acting as a distraction that can keep an enemy occupied for extended periods of time can make you a huge boon to whatever team you're working with. So, I'd like to think that taking the game seriously is in your best interests."

It was a game that he had already played with Jackal once before, was it not? It's true that he wasn't able to take Jackal down single-handedly, but it's also true that that entire mission would've been a catastrophic failure if Garrick hadn't been there to cover for Ryoko while she was recovering from a blow that nearly launched her into space.

"So, yeah... a bit of pre-workout 'dragon yoga' might do you some good. Let me know when you're ready, or if you have any questions. Because, as soon as you say when..."

She crossed her arms and kept her spot against the tall rubber tree.

"...I'll be coming for you."
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Re: Voodoo Programming [Closed]

Post by Deus Mortis » Wed May 20, 2020 11:34 pm

Garrick playfully shrugged at Ryoko’s affirmation of the “yoga”, the laugh small but a victory nonetheless in his books. It was nice seeing people enjoying themselves and not all gloomy. There was enough of that in the past few months.

I got negative there for a second too.

Talking about Volksgeist often did. Today marked the day he was going to try and work on that. Letting someone like the God of War have such a grip on him subconsciously was a fuse begging to be lit. If he didn’t confront it himself and conquer it, he’d always have that little weakness waiting to be exploited or he’d just explode one day because of it.

He’d devote some time to that later. For now, he gave Ryoko his full attention, nodding as she broke down his abilities. His lips twitched at each end, a smile mentally repressed. It was hard to tell whether it was the note about his tendency to rush into danger or the term “blockbusters” that made him want to smile. Could have been both.

"We're going to be playing a game that I like to call Death Tag."

Garrick stared at Ryoko within that small pause, the moment feeling longer than what it really was. In that second, he went through a split second of confusion, familiarity, and then understanding. By the time she was ready to speak, he put an arm over his head, hooked it back, and began stretching.

Dragon yoga it is.

As Ryoko went over the rules, he went through a series of dynamic stretches. Even though they fought a little earlier, he didn’t have enough time to get a good warm up before coming here. The rules of the bout were pretty clear to him, Garrick himself having trained many times under the same conditions. Sometimes the condition of not being tagged at all was sort of implied. Not much you could do after taking a hit from a primordial axe after all.

When she finished her explanation, Garrick neared the end of his routine. It was shorter than one would expect but he knew that. If Death Tag was going to simulate him in one of the worst possible situations he could be in, he wasn’t going to give himself the luxury of being 100% ready to go. Heroes rarely ever had enough time to get a good stretch in after all.

”...I’ll be coming for you.”

Garrick got off of the ground and looked at her. A threat from a dragon should have made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. Instead, he smirked.

He raised his hands out in front of him, his left a little farther out than his right. His right leg was a step back now, slightly bent. A classic boxer’s stance. The first martial art Garrick was ever taught.

”And if I tag you?”

Garrick’s smirk slowly dropped as he focused on the fight. Ryoko was still his friend, but he no longer had that at the forefront of his mind. She was Ryoko, Dragon of the East. A supernatural high-tier threat with the ability to go blow for blow against exonormals like Jackal and aliens like Surgath. Her fists moved faster than most could process or even see. She was sturdy enough to take a hit that sent her high enough to touch the clouds and come back for me. For all intents and purposes, Garrick was fucked, but that didn’t bother him.

The odds were stacked against him, the battlefield a series of observations handled with the care and speed of a veteran. His agility was practically superhuman, his reflexes and body quick enough to deflect bullets. A continued assault from Ryoko would end in death, but if he managed to survive the initial attack, he had a chance.

He hadn’t chosen his boxer’s stance because it offered him one of the best stances to strike from. He chose it because it allowed him some of the best maneuverability. Footwork was one of the foundations of boxing. Coupled with his reflexes, there was a chance that he’d be able to evade Ryoko’s first strike, and as all good dodges go, he could try and follow it up with a devastating counter.

Ryoko looked at him expectantly.

The only response he gave her was the growing golden glow of his right hand.

I’m ready.

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Re: Voodoo Programming [Closed]

Post by Ryoko » Sat May 23, 2020 1:48 pm

"Good question."

Garrick's boundless confidence made her smile. She could only hope that his determination would prove to be just as resolute. And his inquiry was, admittedly, not something that she'd thought of up until that point, though it did give her some ideas.

"Alright, Garrick. Here's your win condition. In the event that you tag me, without having been tagged yourself, then it's your win. If it's a trade, then you still lose."

Those rules probably didn't seem fair, but Garrick had to keep in mind that Ryoko didn't say that she would win in the event of a trade. Only that he would still lose. This was worst case scenario training, after all.

"I'm trying to make you into a winner who comes back home unscathed, not another sacrifice who gave his life to land a single blow, even if it does win the fight. Understand?"

His response was taciturn; adopting a fighting stance and raising a golden fist. Ryoko understood his meaning, all the same. She got up off of the tree and stood tall. Then she vanished.

Silence. Stillness. The only aspect of the forest that was fast enough to capture her approach were the photons, themselves, that illuminated the area. The world barely seemed to notice the object barreling forward through the tea-leaf forest. It wasn't until her fist came to a stop that the rest of reality found the time to catch up.

A sonic boom tore through the area after just a millisecond or two after full extension. The agitated winds bent the flora away from her knuckles as through she had been pointing in the direction of the sun and every leaf in the area had been reaching for its light. And yet, despite her nightmarish speed, her power was controlled. At best, if took a hit, he'd have the wind knocked out of him and the image of a hole blown through his chest carved into the back of his mind.

A single strike to his center of mass that would mark the start of the game.
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Re: Voodoo Programming [Closed]

Post by Deus Mortis » Sat May 23, 2020 9:07 pm

The world was still without its dragon.

Birds chirped idly in the far distance as leaves fell from the trees they’ve built their nests on. Small woodland animals chased each other through the forests or slept soundly within their burrows. Others were in the midst of eating their prey.

Garrick was certainly not the predator in this situation. Ryoko made sure he knew that when she vanished from sight, her speed incomprehensible. In her wake, she left only a silence, winds whispering wordless promises of what was to come.

Steady.

This was not the time for him to make the first move. With one foot rooted to the ground, he circled around where he stood, taking not even a half step to any particular side. His senses were on overdrive as he peered through any sort of veil the forest may have had. Against an opponent whose speed surpassed that of sound, relying on his ears and sense of touch was useless. Any scent that the dragon carried with her were likely blown around by the wind or still in the process of catching up to her rendering his nose similarly useless. He skipped using his sense of taste as he wasn’t going to taste test the air and somehow find her. That only left one sense left.

Sight.

Focus.

The jungle was alive.

A bush off in the distance moved, its body moving against the natural wind. An alarm rang in his head as the air in front of him blurred within the span of a second. The dragon was here.

Instinct took precedence over coherent thinking, though with enough time together, the two become almost synchronized under the right conditions. For Garrick, his mind always worked the best when he was in a fight of some kind, especially ones where the odds were stacked against him. Like his old mentor, he shined when fate wanted nothing more than to see him fail.

His body moved on its own, though against an opponent like Ryoko, he didn’t get more than a few inches to the side. His torso was quicker, almost snapping sideways as the rest of his body followed like a ripple effect.

An arm extended, though it was not his own. What felt like a tempest followed suit. Gales of wind smacked against Garrick, his baggier pants and looser shirt flapping at its edges as if they were flags in a storm. His eyelids shut themselves and the world went dark, leaving him with only his thoughts. And they yelled for him to fight.

His left jab shot out as fast as a bullet, thrown out towards Ryoko’s face. No damage would come from a hit, he knew that, but he wasn’t looking for that.

Feint.

Lead.

His jab was to do both, a success if it gave him even a moment of time to act. With his right hand, he’d send his right hand up into Ryoko’s abdomen, the power of it still potent but lesser than before. An insight to his self-control.

If the strike landed, the Dragon would be hit with what felt like an artillery shell slamming against the front of her stomach. Painful for her, but far from lethal.

In Death Tag, I am not Ryoko.

Whether his attack landed or not, it mattered not to him as he continued his flow, turning the punch into a reverse spin to stay low and away from a possible reactive punch swung his way.

”So, I'd like to think that taking the game seriously is in your best interests.”

Her words rang clear even through the violent struggle.

There were no chances for him to trade blows here. There was no just being happy that he helped take down the bad guy. She wanted him to do it while surviving. She made the game harder out of compassion, but right now that didn’t matter to him. It was barely even registered.

The only thing that mattered was taking her down, because the woman in front of him was no longer Ryoko.

She was a dragon standing in the way of him ever seeing his friends again.

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