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No title.
(2013-07-22 - Now)
No description.
Akari Seran Midday in the desert, the sun hangs high overhead in a cloudless sky. Waves of overwhelming heat beat down upon the parched and barren dunes, mercilessly sapping the energy and life out of the weak and the unprepared.

The harshness of the desert makes it one of the most dangerous places in the world. Not only is the environement deadly but those creatures that survive its trials are all the more cunning and hardy for their efforts. Which is precisely the reason why Akari spends so much time here.

Despite her Ifriti heritage, the young delinquent never felt much connection to the burning sands of her homeland nor does she take comfort from being in places that remind her of it. It was made clear that she was no more welcome in the Bonfire than she was anywhere else on Galianda, which suits her just fine. Now that the world has been consumed by darkness, the final ties to her past have been broken, save for the few remnants from the Academy that managed to survive.

Oddly enough, the one person she's come to be able to tolerate in the wake of her new-found freedom from the responsibilities heaped upon her by her family is another student. Little Aeschere, the dark lancer. She was stronger than Akari had anticipated and, for some reason, willing to put up with her foul temper and sudden mood swings.

At the moment, Chera was elsewhere, dealing with some menial chore foisted on her by the Zaibatsu. Normally Akari would be right there with her but the task called for a little more delicacy than she's able to muster up. Instead, she wandered off into the desert to blow off a little steam.

After nearly three hours of continuous fighting, one can almost trace the geomancer's path across the golden sands. A trail of broken monstrous bodies and unsual craters pockmark the landscape in an irregular winding fashion, beginning at the southern edge of the Figaro desert and making its way steadily northwards.

Black black and viscious ooze stain the ground in such a way as to make it impossible to determine exactly how many foes have crossed her path but the number seems excessive, almost like her presence is calling out for the local denizens to assault her.

From a distance, a whirlwind of blinding sand tears across the horizon at the edge of the grisly trail. The sheer amount of dust being thrown up by the abnormal storm conceals whatever might be at its epicenter from afar but the sounds of thunderous impacts can be heard, almost like peals of thunder that cause the ground itself to shudder for miles.
Zack Fair Zack Fair isn't lost. He just...he doesn't have any idea where he is, that's all. There's a very important distinction here, you see - being lost implies that Zack was going somewhere important. That's not the case at all; Zack's just...wandering.

With a map.

That he can't read.

Zack is currently sitting down, sword slung over his shoulder, map unrolled in his hands as he tries to make heads and-or tails of it. So far, he hasn't managed to do either of those things. But that's okay, because the important thing is persistence.

"'d think people'd know how to make maps other people can read," Zack mutters as he flips the map for like the third time. He holds it up towards the sun, the ink shining through the paper. "Maybe it's like moon-runes or something?"

There's the sound of thunder in the distance; the whirlwind of sand catches Zack's eye, and he frowns.

"Hey, what do you make of that?" Zack asks his erstwhile guide, pointing over at the sandstorm. "Should we...I dunno, should we get to cover?"
Gerad Iron Fogair "That's a sand tornado," comments Gerad, eyes narrowed beneath the sweepy dramatic folds of his desert hood. The man's standing in front of the squatting Soldier, spear slung over one shoulder, canteen in front of his lips. He looks good like this. Official-like, which is good, because Zack is paying him like a LOT of munny for the "guide services", and Gerad needs to look as authentic as possible.

The Figaro Desert has changed from what he remembers, so he has -no- idea where they are.

"We're probably gonna want to leave, uh..." A look over his shoulder. Zack is paying *no* attention to him. Gerad glances downwards, to eye his canteen. Almost empty.

"Probably soon. Anyway, sand tornadoes only happen near oases, something about the--" What is he talking about? Sand torndoes don't even exist. "--moisture in the air near the oasis. Water in the desert and all that. Let's go."

Gerad stalks off towards almost certain danger. He's hoping that whoever is causing the tornado is carrying water.

Maybe it's a babe.

-Maybe it is the exact opposite of a babe.-
Akari Seran While dirt devils and whirling dervishes are actually a thing, such 'storms' are little more than amusing phenomenon. The towering pillar of spinning sand ahead of them is far more potent than anything that should exist naturally.

Fortunately, the tornado is still quite some distance off giving them several minutes to evaluate it as they draw closer. The uneven muffled thumps that emanate from the whirlwind grow steadily louder and more potent and as the wanderers draw closer they are joined by an occasional fierce howl or shrieking cry that cannot be human in nature.

Upon reaching the outer edge of the debris field the cloud of dust grows so thick that visibility is cut down to little more than a few dozen feet. The pounding impacts responsible for the noise are bone-jarring from this distance, every dull thump shaking the ground around them even through the shifting sands.

A sudden piercing wail cuts through the howl of the wind. A massive dark silhouette takes shape amid the veil of sand, growing bigger by the moment, until the unmistakable form of a giant scorpion erupts into view. Bizarrely, the creature is not skittering across the dunes on it's many legs, but flying through the air in ballistic arc as if tossed by some incredible force.

The monster flails wildly as it sails overhead, it's deadly tail thrashing violently despite the upper half being broken cleanly off. It's heavy body hits the ground with a loud crunch and the thick carapace explodes, geysers of disgusting mucus erupting from its joints and fissures in its broken body. The death throes last but a few moments before it gives one final dying spasm and lies still.

The obvious question of what could inflict such a fate on something so large is answered quickly. Another cry comes from the tornado, this one more familiar and human. A young woman, no older than her early twenties by the size of her, erupts from the wall of sand.


The girl doesn't bother to introduce herself. She runs directly at the two warriors, bounding across the sand at incredible speed. Covered in blood and entrails and sporting a look of unfettered rage, she descends upon them like an angel of battle, her single fist swinging into them with a wild titanic blow.
Zack Fair Huh. It's a good thing Zack has such a knowledgeable guide! Zack nods at Gerad as he stands up and rolls up the map. "Well, that means we're near an oasis, right? And the canteen's starting to run pretty low. Maybe we should just take the tornado head-on? We'll probably be fine, and we kinda need the water."

Zack slings his pack over his shoulder only seconds before he's punched in the face.

He bounces off the sand, skidding a bit as he scrabbles to come to a stop. Zack coughs out a bit of sand and looks up at Gerad.

"That isn't a sand tornado at all!"

Zack springs back to his feet, the materia blade sliding out of its sheathe. Zack's no stranger to random encounters, fortunately! He doesn't really care who's attacking him, most of the time; Zack deals with the immediate situation first and foremost.

"...does this mean there's no oasis nearby?" He asks Gerad offhandedly.
Gerad Iron Fogair Not even a few steps towards the -sand tornado-, Gerad is slowing in his pace, becoming cautious in his approach! The reason for this is pretty obvious; a giant scorpion has landed in front of him, and the resultant explosion has him not-quite liberally coated in mucus and arachnid innards.

"Okay, I'm taking it back, this isn't a sand tornado at all! I think we need to turn arou-!?" Gerad *was* in the process of addressing poor Zack, but his employer gets hit in the face! It leaves Gerad with a precious few seconds to *juke*; the desert warrior twists on his heel and -barely- manages to keep himself from falling over. Akari's fist misses him by a handsbreadth.

It's always the ugly/psychotic/beefy girls that get this close to him.

"You again?! What is going on!" Gerad reaches beneath his cloak and tosses a sphere towards the ground Akari runs toward! She'll find that the ground is suddenly *very* keen on tossing her upwards; this is followed by a rapid-fire gunshot from her "old friend"'s hidden pistol, and a final, nerve-deadening impact from a second, blunted shot! Awful!

"Why are you still out here?? Have you even gone back to town yet?"

Gerad looks to Zack, furtive. "There *has* to be an oasis nearby. This young man's been out here for... weeks! He can't be drinking scorpion blood, can he?"
Zack Fair " scorpions /have/ blood?" Zack asks, "That sounds wrong somehow."
Akari Seran Akari lets out a wordless battlecry as her fist lashes out. The blow that sends Zack reeling causes a loud pop, almost like an explosion and the impact sends a violent plume of sand into the air that joins the already wildly spinning hurricane of gritty debris.

The blow is unfocused and wild, however, most if its power shunting sideways into the ground as the Soldier's head snaps back. The berserker stumbles from her own momentum, blundering right into the explosive charge that flings her into the air.

Akari spins as she rises, her hand smacking Gerad upside the head but the awkward strike has little power behind it. A barrage of bullets slams into her back, causing her to jolt about like a puppet on a string as the dozens of impacts rock her in midair, but none of the projectiles manage to penetrate her skin. Instead, tiny cracks appears all across her body as if it were made of rock instead of flesh.

Grunting in feral annoyance, Akari flips about like a cat, planting her feet on an invisible platform of pure air that manifests at her will. She lunges back towards the ground, taking the blunt orb to her gut in the process, but it does little to slow her plunge downwards.

Akari hits the sand like a bomb, causing another explosion of pressure that geysers sand into the air. She comes down swinging, lashing out at Gerad with a furious swing before she suddenly turns and leaps at Zack, flipping in the air to drive her feet down at him like a hammer.
Zack Fair Akari comes swinging down with her feet; Zack grabs a rock, flinging it upwards into her path as he rolls out of the way.

Said rock is, notably, the same rock he was sitting on. It shatters into pieces, sending Zack's roll into a tumble; again, he faceplants into the sand. Superhuman strength is all well and good, but sometimes he overdoes things, even now...

"Hey, hey, guy! Is there an oasis near here? See, we just ran out of water, and I'm pretty sure scorpions don't actually have blood!"

As Zack talks, however, the back of his gloved hand starts to glow. He holds up his fist, punching it into the sky; there's the sound of something...chopping...through the air from afar as Zack's hand comes down. Zack glances over at Gerad.

"...wait, when did you get covered in bug g-"

With those words, the helicopter manifests itself. The blades chop through the air as it spins to life what is very clearly a magical machine gun; the summoned helicopter begins firing on Akari with both barrels, the deafening chaingun screaming over whatever it was that Zack was about to ask. Guts? Goo? The question will be lost to time.
Gerad Iron Fogair "Hurk!" Gerad is just -blown away- by Akari's anger; he continually underestimates the young woman and her rippling fury! Her cataclysmic landing has the spearman flipped into the air - the incoming punch *slams* him into the ground, just like something out of Tekken. He curls up on the ground for just the slightest moment, eyes watering from the pain in his gut-- and then he's coming to, slowly but surely.

Of course, Gerad is *so clever* that he's going to milk this opportunity for everything that it's worth! Maybe she'll think he's dead!

"OH, MY BLOOD IS GOING EVERYWHERE!" Unseen, Gerad uncorks his canteen. Lurid gurgling noises leave his curled-up form while he pours the canteen's contents into the sands beneath him. "I THINK I'M DYING!" Gerad glances down to his rags, where he keeps the bulk of his machines. Something to help the illusion that maybe he's dead.

"IT'S... getting... dark..." Gerad presses a button.

Something on his person makes a noise not unlike a foghorn, and the entire area begins smelling -- incredibly bad. It's like somebody lit Bigfoot's mange on fire. It's like the Cookie Monster vomited. It's like Dracula aired out his coffin for the first time in a century. It smells like a zombie orgy.

Gerad kind of convulses where he is.

"God damm-" Another foghorn.
Zack Fair "Hey, no, you can't die! You're the only one of us who knows how to read the map!" Zack shouts over the sound of the helicopter's chaingun.
Akari Seran The rock does absolutely nothing to impede the crazed woman's descent on Zack, her body merely smashing through it as if it were little more than a clump of dirt. His evasive manuevers prove to be more effective and Akari slams down where the Soldier was just standing, burying herself clean up to the waist in the sands and creating another blinding explosion.

In the terrible visibility the magical helicopter finds it difficult to get a proper lock on its target. Bullets fill the air and tear into the sand, sending tiny puffs of yellow dust up that only adds to the fog of battle. For several seconds their opponent vanishes from sight.

All at once the already hellish temperature cranks up to volcanic levels as a beam of pure red heat lances out of the dust cloud. The energy zips past Zack, only barely missing catching him in its deadly wash of burning energy as it engulfs the helicopter in the sky. The magical construct begins to melt, its metal frame sagging like wax before it detonates violently.

The burst of pressure from the air pushes the sand down long enough for visual contact to be reestablished. Akari stands unharmed before them, her face still twisted into a snarl of fury. Her fist clenches as she concentrates, drawing the power of her native element earth into her body. The odd cracks and fractures in her skin begin to slowly seal themselves over as her spirit infuses her with renewed vitality.
Zack Fair It doesn't take Zack long to notice the horrible smell. Zack coughs, covering his mouth with both hands as his eyes widen. He starts to shout something at Gerad, but the smell...he's afraid to open his mouth any further. Zack immediately covers his mouth as he starts coughing.

That is just freaking horrible.

Akari's little display is lost on Zack, who's trying really really hard right now to breathe.

The desert air, hot and dry, sweeps over him, and Zack gratefully sucks in a sandy breath, coughing all the while. "That's.../horrible/!" Zack wheezes at Gerad, "What /is/ that? It's like you killed a Marlboro and let it rot in your pockets for a week! *Yuck!*"

Now that he can breathe again, he can fight. Zack spins the Materia Blade in one hand, shouldering it. He holds it for a moment, then springs himself off the desert floor, sand kicked up in his wake as his blade comes swinging around for Akari. The heavy weapon slashes far too rapidly, especially given that Zack's holding it one-handed; it flashes in between strikes, magical energy trailing along as he chains his strikes together one after the other.

"Rotten. Marlboro," Zack announces once he's sprung back to cover Gerad.
Gerad Iron Fogair "I don't think the map is a problem right now, pal! Focus!"

Gerad listens to Akari bull through yet another of Zack's attacks, and brings himself to his feet while she's recovering herself. The smell has dissipated by now, which means Gerad is able to recover some semblance of collection; once he's to his feet, he turns, brandishes his spear, and eyes the rogue monk!

"Listen, kid, I don't know what your problem is, but you're getting to be a *major* pain." He doesn't bother with tricks or tools anymore - not right now. Instead, it's something Akari might find more amenable to her combat style - rushdown! Cue Gerad *sprinting* forward, sliding through the sand in an explosive approach! Through the wall of kicked-up dust, Akari *will* catch the wickedly-swung haft of a spear; either she's going to sense it in its approach, or her chin will sense it slapping into her.

He's not done. Spinning, now, Gerad drives one gauntleted fist squarely into Akari's belly while she's flipped upwards, and uses the impetus to continue his wicked spin - with his other hand, he's reversed his spear into a javelin-style carriage.

This is *thrust* into Akari before she's finally catapulted skywards! She might remember a similar impalement inflicted upon her best friend in the world, Aeschere Childs.

"I don't... want to talk about it," says Gerad to Zack. His attention is rather wholly on Akari. "Something's wrong with this kid."
Akari Seran Zack's lunging attack is met with another berserk cry from the one-armed girl. She doesn't even try to dodge, instead swinging her fist up to meet the thick edge of the massive blade. There is a resounding crack as the two objects meet, a fist of impenetrable stone clashing with a sword crafted for a super human.

In the end, neither yields. Zack's superior tactical skill allows him to deflect the strike to one side and Akari, unwilling to hold back, stumbles forward as her line-of-attack is shifted. The Materia Blade hacks into her exposed body from the side, carving a dozen gouges into the stone-like skin and driving the girl back from the ferocity of the blows.

After a few seconds of this, Akari manages to recover. Her hand snaps out, catching the hefty slab of steel in her bare palm and cutting it's downward motion to a halt as if it has struck the side of a mountain. Before she can attempt to counter strike, however, Gerad rushes back into the fray, slamming his spear into the side of her face.

The girl's head snaps upwards, forcing her to take a step back but the follow-up strike manages to lift her free of the ground. This time, when Akari turns her gaze down upon him again, she's not glaring, she's grinning.

The spear lances into her chest but instead of punching through, it merely adds the final bit of power needed to launch her properly upwards. As she sails skywards, Akari holds her arm out and summons up her geomantic powers, seemingly unconcerned by the painful beating she just took. The sand floating throughout the air begins to condense, swirling tighter and tighter inwards until it converges on the girl.

A ball of whirl dust engulfs Akari for several seconds, cocooning her in its shielding embrace. A sudden surge of power shakes the land once more and the shpere erupts into a blaze orb of red light, revealing her new form.

Where she had only a single arm before, Akari now sports eight. From her ruined stump protrudes a carbon-copy of her fleshy limb, only composed entirely out of stone. Strange carvings cover the newly grown appendage and six more just like it protrude from her shoulders and back. Each arm flexes at once, their fists clenching as she turns her blind gaze downwards.

Like a comet, she drops out of the sky, falling upon them in a flurry of furious strikes. Every swing of her fists is like a punch from the Titan himself and she deforms the land as her power is unleashed, a demi-god of wrath and stone.
Gerad Iron Fogair Another punch to the face! Gerad has been knocked around too much today. He gets to his feet after this latest Titan-esque flurry of blows, spits out like, some blood and a tooth or something, and considers his options.

A) Akari may be rabid. She hasn't bit him yet, so he's lucky there. Should he keep doing this? She's not even talking!
B) Agrabah has a tavern that's got excellent ale specials on Mondays. Zack probably gets silly when he's drunk, and Gerad needs a wingman.

It is not, precisely, a difficult dilemma to solve. In no time flat the spearman is sort of limping back Zack's way, shaking his head fervently.

"We need to go back! This isn't gonna work! Besides *THAT*, there's beer specials at the tavern, and I don't want to catch whatever this... THING has!" Gerad gestures wildly at Zack, like this is going to fix anything. In their defense, and aiding their escape, Gerad is a *genius* with most things.

"Summon your helicopter again!" Gerad just starts running the opposite direction, away from this *hellhole*. He'll need to reconsider his strategy.
Zack Fair Zack gets hammered, and not in a fun way. He's been hit pretty hard before, by a lot of things that were really, really frightening; combined with the fact that he's literally a superhuman, that probably saves his life. He bounces off the sand once, twice, three, four times, collides with and springs off a cactus, and finally winds up with his face against the rock. That...that hurt.

Zack rolls off the rock and groans as Gerad starts shouting at him. His ears are ringing. "H...uh?" He heard something about a...a tavern? Zack sticks his finger in his ear and rubs it for a moment. "Did you say-"

Zack blinks at 'summon your helicopter'. "What, like, we're running?" As Gerad takes off, Zack starts weighing his options.

He could stay here. He could probably take this weird person who showed up out of the desert and decided to attack them for no reason. He could probably do a lot of things - but he was pretty sure that if his guide left him, he'd die in the desert. And, well, that was kinda bad. Can't punch heat and dehydration to death.

"Mmmm..." Zack didn't really like running, but, well...survival demanded it. He throws up his hand, the helicopter surging back into existence; it lays down some harmless covering fire as Zack grabs onto the rope ladder dangling from its side, and it starts pulling away, swinging towards Gerad. Zack sticks out his hand for his guide.

"Does this happen to you often?" He shouts over the chopper.
Akari Seran Akari continues to swing, her multitude of arms pummeling and pounding in a non-stop barrage until both of her foes have been thoroughly tenderized; And she's still hungry for more. In her lust for battle she loses track of the two men amid the clouds of sand and dust kicked up by her own assault, which gives them time to formulate their escape plan.

It isn't until the sound of the heavy rotors breaks through the wind that she finally snaps out of her rage, fists half buried in the empty sand. With a scowl, the woman gets to her feet and crosses her primary arms, watching the two men retreat.

"Hmph. COWARDS!" She yells after then, her arms all thrown wide in challenge. "CAN NO ONE FACE MY WRATH?!"

Despite her bravado, the sting of the lashes she took from Zack's sword still tingle with burning pain. Nothing she can't handle but he did more to wound her than anyone has in quite some time. It earns him a tiny bit of respect, which means she just wants to fight him all the more.

Akari spits on the ground as the sound of the flying vehicle fades away. No way she can chase them through the air. Her teeth grind a little.

"Next time."

This scene contained 18 poses. The players who were present were: Zack Fair, Akari Seran, Gerad Iron Fogair