A Humbling Experience

June 16, 2015:

Searching for Earthican knowledge, Faora-Ul accosts a nice person minding their own business.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

From afar, the routine that the young man known as Alexander Aaron indulges in might seem terribly chaotic to some. The only thing pinning him down to steady times seems to be the occasional class he wanders to, at times early, at times late. But that moderate amount of variance is nothing compared to the hours he keeps and the times he chooses to train, or stalk the streets, or even travel. A slice of his life would show a penchant for going out, frequenting places to dance and drink and indulge. But such a thing is at direct opposition to the way he comes at his training. Upon campus, with students around him in the gymnasium, he is a pillar of focus and discipline. He imparts what wisdom and knowledge he cares to, teaching the use of blade and fist should some seek such. Yet it's when he retires to his father's training hall in Chinatown that he lets loose.
It's a three story building all told. The windows are soaped over, there is a skylight that allows one to look into the third floor from far above, and the outside is nothing to remark upon. Yet within it is a storied place. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of students had trained there in that converted loft. The hardwood floors still shined and the walls still had that tangy scent of sweat shed from all the students of the past. A myriad of weapons line one wall, each from a different part of the world. At the back of the room is a small shrine to some past sensei there and other than that there is little of remark save for the training apparatus.
Tonight, within the confines of that building, the son of Ares has been practicing. The last three hours have seen him crossing blades with a suit of ancient bronze armor that seems animated, moving in perfect counterpoint to the young man's motions. Its female faceplate offers no hint of emotion, but there seems to be an almost malice in its movements as it strikes and lashes out at the young deity.

The bronze armor is not the only cold, unfeeling faceplate mask in the loft. Like Phobos's sparring partner, Faora-Ul's rebreather that conceals her face hints at dead serenity, lifeless and cold. She stands at the top of the building, black armor from head to toe, perfectly camoflauged against the night sky. Except that her form as she leans over the window and peers down blocks out the stars.
She makes no effort to enter, not immediately, watching the intricate dance of the boy and his automaton, hands clasped behind her back. She does not interfere, partially for reconnaisance demands some manner of subtlety, but also because she is also keenly curious to see how long until trained instincts alert him to her presence.
The wailing of distance sirens cover the shift of her feet as she kneels, place a hand on the glass, fingers slowly curling into a fist.

Before, she might have been able to tell in the way he moved that something perhaps prayed upon his mind. There was a subtle shift in focus as that suit of armor lashed out and around, metal shin plate trying to slam hard into the young man's face and then stomping down attempting to crush his foot underneath its tread. Yet he moves with the precision of muscle memory, of long years of training.
She most likely senses the opening the same moment he does. It's just enough of a turn, a pivot off his supporting leg as he drops low and his bare foot sweeps across the ground and slices the animated armor's legs out from under it. He twists, rising cleanly and uncurling into a wide-legged stance that has him dropping down with a fist thrusting straight at where the 'throat' would be on the armor even as he emits a short sharp, 'KIYAI!' If she's observed such before, she would see it was a Japanese style, different in some ways to the Kryptonian arts.
But as fate would have it in that instant he checks his strike, it turns him just so to face the direction of her and where she crouches next to that skylight. She can see him fully then, handsome in truth but different than most mortals. His form is precise, as if sculpted. His flesh is pale, and those eyes of his… they gleam with red and trail hints of light like an over-exposed frame in an old film.
He sees her. His eyes narrow.

She sees him. Her eyes narrow.
The rebreather peels back from her face with a soft hiss of air, light flickering off the vector field that isolates her head from local atmosphere, and she lunges forward feet first into the glass. A human would have trouble breaking through, but not her, glass falling alongside her in a rain of glittering shards. She lands, hand pressed to ground, knees bent to asorb the impact. Only after a second does she rise, taking a step forward and crushing glass beneath her boot.

The automaton turns in a whirl, regaining its armored feet and shifting its attention to Faora. It drops into a defensive stance and seems ready to set upon the Kryptonian when the young man lifts his voice and says quietly, "Stand down, Valasca." And as he says those words, the suit of armor smoothly straightens up to stand there at attention, now utterly unmoving.
As for the young Olympian he tilts his head to the side, considering the Kryptonian through narrowed lashes. His head tilts the other way and then he straightens up as well to stand tall. He stands a good five or six inches taller than her, but she seems to exude such… confidence?
His voice lifts as he offers his first words to her, "Welcome. Are you here to learn?"

The Kryptonian only pauses in her advance when she is within a dozen paces of the man and his vigilant sentry. Her posture widens, clasping hands behind her back in parade rest. "Alexander Aaron?" She tastes the word in an deep accent, strange to his well-travelled ears. "I am Faora-Ul. You are no common man." That he wittles his free time away battling armor says as much. "You are child of the man known as Ares?" She takes a step to the right, still studying him as she paces. "Where is he now?"

Those glowing red eyes follow her as she moves and she can almost feel the palpable weight of his judgement as he gauges her. Not like a woman, though she has a certain cruel beauty to her, but as an opponent. The way she moves, the surety of her step, her apparent strength or reach… all are considered and yet through it all he maintains that calm facade.
"I am, Alexander. And Ares is my father." It's rare for him to be so forthright, his place in the pantheon perhaps not entirely something of pride. But he answers calmly, levelly. "You are welcome, Faora-Ul." The words are given as if completing some ritual. Then he adds, "My father is upon Olympus. War wages eternal."
His brow furrows slightly and then he offers, "Care for some tea?"

"No." Faora-Ul's answer is curt and to the point. She pauses as he announces that his father is indisposed, or at the very least, untouchable. Her lips purse, a tension settling around her eyes. Fustration to a point. She's human enough to express that common sentiment and have it be read in her body language. Her strength has been made most obvious in her explosive entrance, but since then, she has controlled herself well. "Perhaps you will suffice. What do you know of HYDRA?" She turns and faces him squarely, body relaxed. Too relaxed.

The moment slips into silence, a moment that grows and to other beings might almost be awkward. Yet for them it might seem merely another subtle clash of their senses as they consider each other. A steady breath is drawn and he says quietly. "Mortals that seek power amongst their own."
As easy as that he compartmentalizes the terrorist organization. Not as villains, nor as opposition to him. Simply as another flavor of mortality. Certainly they are more interesting to fight against than the usual fare, but for the moment she has his full attention. For the enigma of this being before him is entirely more interesting than the fanatics of Hydra.
He turns his hips just so, barely shifting his weight to the other foot as he presents his side towards her in a stance that she can tell is made to counter the fourteen angles of attack she could take from her position. He is good. Very good, such can be discerned by a being that has trained as long as she.
"Why do you seek them?"

"That is my own concern." Faora-Ul says, judging his expression and his words. Her conclusion is clear when she scowls, stepping forward as he shifts his weight. "This has been a waste of my time. I had hoped there was something of use here." His preparation was key, for she moves with the speed that only a select few could match, all nuance forgotten as she trusts in her own raw physical ability. A simple hook aimed at his head, that should it connect, would likely remove it for him.

It is only that long training that saves him, the slight hint of a telegraph that offers a hint to her vicious attack. She lashes out and perhaps to her surprise he moves quickly in counter. Not as quickly as she assuredly, but it is enough for him to turn just so, to shift his shoulders to the side and let him make that evasion.
Yet his response is just as quick, and already his approach alters with this new capability of hers discovered. He steps in, knee firing upwards and to the side seeking a blurringly fast strike that she might notice though it is not as strong as her own strikes, intended to buy a moment of time, a bare minimum of distance even as he continues to move forward, past. Turning to keep her in front of him. Those crimson eyes gleam with sudden awareness and his eyes widen.

Faora's left arm comes sliding down, a forearm blow that intercepts the knee. She pursues, her footsteps silent on the wooden floor, a whisper of a shadow in her black carapace. If he had hoped to buy himself some time, he's soon to be very disappointed, bringing her arms back in tight like a boxer while peeking over the knuckles. She moves, serpentine weaves that are hard for the eye to follow, feinting left then planting her foot and lunging forward with her shoulder under the expected defensive posture, slamming the sharp point of her joint into his solar plexus.

For a moment, a bare moment, he is able to stand toe to toe with her. Those weaving and wending movements countered by short sharp steps. The wooden floor creaks under their steps, their forms merging in a blur of motion as each shift faster than the naked eye can see. But then suddenly she seems to snap forwards, almost like a blink of teleportation and her shoulder /slams/ hard into him and sending him crashing backwards, shattering the practice dummy upon the floor and smashing the mural of the wall. He rolls to a halt, slashing his head back and forth clearing it quickly as a spatter of blood mars the floor after he spits to the side.
Suddenly he is no longer just that blonde young man before her. Suddenly he is a thing of shadow in her mind's eye as black wispy wings snap outwards even as his eyes glow with their harsh preternatural gleam. She can feel the sudden influx of roiling fear, the stranger that is… self-doubt? Even as the dojo darkens and a guttural roar seems to come from somewhere far off.
His voice lifts, eerie as he snarls, « A challenge. It has been far too long. » And even as that voice roils and snarps, lashing the air with reverberating evil a flicker of reality appears in the young deity's hand.

Faora stops, standing upright as she strikes him to the ground. "You are not unskilled. It is a shame that we met in such a pointless ba—" She pauses, turning her head to the right, as shadows darken and the atmosphere becomes oppressive. The rebreather hisses as it slides back over her face, taking stock of the dojo, eyes and ears straining to determine what mystical threat has arrived. She finally looks back to Phobos as he speaks, a shadow in her mind eye, feeling a bead of sweat drop from her hairline to the bridge of her nose.
The woman does not fear death. She has faced the destruction of her people and her planet, and wages a lonely war in the revival of its majesty. She clenches her fist, arms stretching, pulling at a weight that settles on her wrist. The sound of clinking chains, the cold compress of manacles around her wrist. She swallows back the taste of blood where she bit her gum, expression a rictus of pain as she battles with her personal demons. "More… Magic." Her distaste comes out metallic, echoing in the dojo, vocalizer robbing her voice of accent and any actual warmth it might have had. She growls, then lunges forward toward the man, movement instinctive instead of precise, leaving herself open to a counterstrike this time.

There is nothing human any longer in those crimson eyes and even as Faora starts to realize what encroaches upon her awareness… that flickering of reality forms itself into a crimson bladed sword that manifests in the young deity's hand. His eyes hold hers and there is another one of those moments as she deals with the fear and the horror.
But it is to her credit that she is able to recover, that she does not wilt before its pressure and instead bursts forth charging at him.
And it gives him the perfect opening as he meets her charge, the blade flashing faster than can be seen even as he steps forwards and to the side. It is a clean stroke, precisely given and already he steps back and away, turning to face her once again but with blade held in chudan-no-kamae, the end of the sword pointing straight at her throat.

Faora does not scream as the blade pierces her armor, which should turn any common weapon, drawing blood along the side. It is a minor wound, one that she will heal from almost immediately, but she does look at it with something like bemusement. The rebreather hisses with her breath as she struggles through the mind-altering aura. "Impressive." She does not flinch from the weapon or the man, but her respect for them are spoken in her pause.

And she can already see the torn flesh at the corner of his mouth is already knitting, the bloodflow halted even as he holds his stance there with those crimson eyes locked with hers. This woman is fast, and powerful, and if she is the one that will in the end take his life then he feels he must say simply this, "You are amazing."
Yet he does not lower his guard. He holds himself at the ready, and in this moment he faces the entirety of death for it is feasible that she could see such task through with a being even as powerful as he. And what is his reaction? He smiles. Slowly, just a slight half-curl at the corner of his mouth. If this is death then let it be damned, he'll face it laughing.

The armored woman keeps her hand pressed to the wound, immobile. She does not thank him for the compliment. That she does not bring the fight to its expected conclusion says a little about her own interest in both the blade and its wielder. "You fight well." Her voice is cold, the vocalizer and rebreather still in place. "We will meet again." A duel with swords in a grassy field? Who knows. Her legs bunch, and she thrusts herself up, going through the broken window and out into the night.

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