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Axel vs. Liska: The Match (part 1)
Thu Sep 17, 2009 1:04pm

The construction mechaniloids had finished their work on the arena for Liska's battle against Axel. In the center of the arena was a structure, looking very much like a construction site. Three stories tall, consisting of a framework of iron girders and partially completed floors, the structure provided an even mix of stable footing and a risk of falling through an incomplete floor, making it suitable for a variety of battle tactics. Surrounding the building--to make escape difficult--several hazards had been placed with the explicit purpose of being deadly. Red-hot vats of molten steel, fields of plasma-coated vibro spikes, and industrial scrap grinders formed a perfect ring around the structure. Combatants were to be blind folded, then airlifted by mechaniloids to a random destination inside the structure. Then, it would be a matter of seek and destroy. Although the sides of the structure were open to the outside world, the occasional wall inside the building left several blind spots. For this match, special mechaniloids would be deployed, acting as a referee as well as broadcasting images to the massive cube-shaped display hovering over the arena.

Axel ignored the announcer as the man dutifully began hyping up the crowd for the upcoming battle. He--and he assumed Liska--had not been informed ahead of time what the arena was going to be, so he spent the minute or so he had remaining to assess the situation. One of the referee hover-bots floated past briefly, and the Russian chuckled at its appearance. From the waist up it looked like a nondescript humanoid robot. From the waist down, it looked like an inverted coffee mug, complete with a 'handle' consisting of a curved external power conduit of some sort. Movement to his left caught his attention and he cursed himself for becoming distracted--his transport mechaniloid had arrived. Constructed to resemble a winged centaur, it was offering Axel a black hood with an outstretched hand. Accepting the hood and mounting the mechaniloid, Axel pulled the black cloth over his head. There was barely time to secure a grip as the mechaniloid leaped straight up, then zipped through the air towards the facility.

In seconds the rushing of the wind subsided, and a moment later the ride came to a jarring halt, punctuated with the cla-clank of the hooves touching cement. Axel dismounted, dim light filling his vision as the mechaniloid yanked the hood from his head. With a smooth leap backwards, the thing exited the way it came, leaving Axel by himself in a half-completed building.

No, not alone. Liska was also here somewhere...probably even now on the move to hunt him down. Axel took a moment to scan the area, trying to listen for anything that might divulge Liska's location. The roar of the crowd drowned out anything though, so the Russian opted for a more proactive solution. His body washed out with green undulating plasma as the layers of plate dissolved, the dense combat mode reshaping itself into his Stratos armor. Leaping backwards out of the building, Axel ignited his thrusters and went into a two-engine burn skyward.

Liska likewise took a moment to orient herself, but immediately went on the defensive. She shouldered her plasma shotgun and plastered herself against the nearest wall, creeping slowly along it to reach the corner. She peeked her head around ever so briefly--long enough to check the corridor, but not enough to present any kind of a target. Confirming that the coast was clear, she started proceeding slowly, shotgun ready and her finger firmly on the trigger. Zeo's words echoed in her mind as she stalked the corridor, occasionally whirling a 180 to watch her back. "'s his only nonlethal weapon..." Disarm Axel? The Russian was strong as an ox. Stronger! Liska grimaced, the logistics of how she could possibly wrest that weapon from Axel's hand completely escaped her.

Liska planted her back against another wall on the left side of a T intersection, poking her head out just enough to shoot a quick left-right glance. Clear. The left-hand path extended straight to the edge of the building, the roaring crowd clearly visible through the absent external walls. Liska stepped out into the corridor, heading down the left path hoping to reach the edge to better determine what floor she was on. She had barely taken three steps though when a green and blue flash propelled by a fusion jet shot vertically. She fired her shotgun, a slug of plasma sailing down the corridor, out of the building, and disintegrating on the forcefield shielding the crowd. She missed Axel by a mile--by the time she even squeezed the trigger, Axel had already gone out of view. Liska winced, hoping Axel hadn't heard, or that if he had he wasn't able to deduce her location. Either way, she knew Axel was going to the rooftop, probably to use a dragnet approach and flush her out. She dropped her guard then, racing down the corridors quickly until she encountered an incomplete floor. She dropped down to what had to be the first floor, putting as much distance between her and the Russian.

"God, what am I gonna do?" she lamented, thumping her head back against a wall she had stopped to lean against. Then, inspiration hit. Her eyes went wide as an idea presented itself to her. It was a long shot, sure, but...well hell, this whole battle was a long shot. She quickly dropped to one knee, removing the plasma inducer from her shotgun and locking the standard shell clip into place. She scanned left and right down the corridor, hoping she had enough time to act. Working quickly, she pulled one shell out and began to work...

Liska's impromptu attack did not catch Axel unawares. Even through the combined roar of the crowd and his engines, the Russian's years of experience enabled him to pick out the distinct sound of a shotgun report. He glanced down and saw the ripples emanating from the stadium force field, and a quick estimation told him Liska had fired that round from the second floor. Axel leaned forward, adusting his flight path to an arc over the building. In mid-air he cut the engines and landed on the rooftop using repulsors only. Another green flash, and the flight mechanism dissolved into solid metal, reforming into his thick plated combat armor. He grinned to himself, knowing he had the upper hand now. Axel walked to the center of the rooftop where a six-foot square opening led down to the third floor, forming an arm cannon and hefting his shield as he went. Dropping confidently down to the third floor, Axel simply stood his ground, blasting charged shots into the walls that cut swaths clean through the half-constructed material.

"Come out, come out, wherever you are!" the Russian taunted as he fired a blast, then turned a bit to fire another. Axel made a point not to fire diagonally, lest he hit one of the four major supports for the building's infrastructure. He wanted to destroy the internal walls, not bring the whole structure down. So the Russian began the hunt, systematically obliterating all cover on the third floor, while searching for the opening leading down to the second.

Liska heard the havoc from two stories up clearly, and went into a brief panic. What the hell was Axel doing up there? Had this become another free-for-all match, with additional combatants brought in by surprise? Or was he just taunting her, trying to make her nervous? She closed her eyes and took two deep breaths, calming her nerves enough to steady her hands. Opening her eyes, she began loading her eight rounds into the clip, then inserted a ninth manually into the chamber to max it out.

"I hope this works," she whispered to herself. Of all the mercs she had to go up against, it would have to be one that couldn't be harmed by flames. It was the shotgun, or the C4, and she dared not use the C4 inside this building. Like Axel, she had no intention of bringing the structure down atop herself.

  • Axel vs. Liska: PlottingAxel, Thu Sep 17 1:03pm
    Liska's room for the duration of the Iron Hand Tournament was little more than a walk-in closet, equipped with only the bare necessities. The only luxury was a private video screen, on which she was... more
    • Axel vs. Liska: The Match (part 1) — Axel, Thu Sep 17 1:04pm
      • Axel vs. Liska: The Match (part 2)Axel, Thu Sep 17 1:05pm
        The third floor was a smoldering ruin, as Axel had expertly destroyed every single wall up there without harming the primary supports. Nodding in satisfaction, Axel proceeded over to the hole leading ... more
        • Axel vs. Liska: The Match (part 3)Axel, Thu Sep 17 1:05pm
          Liska crouched on the roof, taking careful aim with her shotgun. The small pop-can shaped explosive was perched precisely next to the rooftop access shot...that's all she needed. One shot... more
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