- Since sparring with Ivana, Shiho feels that training with the Kejijo, particularly with Ishin (due to the ever-present desire to protect him from harm overriding her natural attack, this becoming habit), and general time away from her Arcani affiliates has softened her to many things Kratesis had previously conditioned out of her. That she has "gone soft."
- Likens the bout to many of her earlier experiences training with Krate-sama, in some ways increasing her fondness and respect for Twenty-three.
- Intends to seek new instruction.
- Almost ready to commence the next stage of her evolution.
- Shiho always relied on Amaranth and Kratesis to help her with repair of her armor. Now, her armor has been destroyed and she's partially lost with how to rectify this.
- May remotely detonate blood or other separated body parts and contents from any place.
Impero's forum posts
She sensed her before she heard her, and heard her before she saw her. Ivana's often soundless footsteps gave way to a bestial percussion beating against the mountain as she rushed Shiho with implacable intent. Her sword whistled potentially lethal tunes above the shrill mountain wind.
Emerald eyes flashed with wonder greater than that expressed at the bloodbending. Already commencing evasive maneuvers, a transparent, dome-like energy barrier was made manifest, expanding outward from the Impero's body, sealing her completely from the outside and continually expanding as if to push Ivana back. As Twenty-three weaved inward with her blade, however, there came a break, followed by a seal and continuing radial expansion. All the while, Shiho continued her evasive dance, arms down at her sides; they would make no difference anyway, and it was better to preserve. She bobbed, weaved, dipped, and ducked around the battlefield. True to form, Ivana kept up perfectly, chipping and carving new groves of grotesquely artistic history into the marble canvas of Haraguni flesh, as well as bone.
Atypically forced into a completely defensive, backpedal-sidestep rhythm, Shiho sweat and bled over the mountain's uneven surface, but yet kept her balance, enhanced via her own masterful Earth Yoso, lest any mistake open a potentially fatal stroke. The slightest indication of feeling showed in a hardened bite on her teeth, a single grunt escaping as a grove hacked into her shoulder. She never stopped observing, and she never stopped moving.
Moreover, never had her subtle destabilization of the air stopped, even as her body was likewise being systematically deconstructed by the tachyon-infused sword.
She topped it off with the subtle snap of a finger while exploding backwards at twice the speed of sound, looking to initiate a combustive chain reaction in the air, resulting in a singular multi-stage attack. Unleashing an energized blast wave throughout the area, rocking the mountain, followed by shockwaves which would continue to pass through objects, bodies, even armor, moving high amounts of energy through and damaging tissue, organs, bones. The combustion of air and blast force would additionally create a vacuum, rendering breathing attempts impractical and dangerous within the sealed area. She worried not for the extent of potential damages to her opponent in her attack; with Ivana, even in sparring, that had been her first mistake, one previously trained out of her, and one she didn't intend to make again. Besides, there could be aid afterwards.
Afterwards. For the moment, however, she never neglected her defense.
Ivana's was not the first biological attack made directly on Shiho's brain, nor was it the second, or the third. But of all bloodbenders and biological saboteurs, Ivana's attack was by far the most cleverly enacted and the most dangerous, even if mutually so. Had she challenged a short time sooner, she would have succeeded in rendering Little Death perfectly unconscious. However, as often as they had been used, she had been made privy to them as an increasingly prevalent idea in her foes.
For this, there was developed an experimental defense mechanism in the form of a trained automatic reflex. In the moments that Ivana's bloodbending took hold, the vessels themselves destabilized and violently erupted within Shiho's brain, while simultaneously a channel of volatile energy sent into the ground resulted in an explosion immediately beneath, launching her small body into the air even as her consciousness dimmed momentarily, snapped back by compensatory energies unleashed and internal recovery rapidly stimulated.
By then her armor had suffered over a number of battles, without the help of Kratesis or Amaranth in repair. Weakened by previous conflicts and continuous high-energy exposure, major portions of the armor were destroyed in the blast, unearthing her body and the many scars gained over her lifetime, through experiments at the Japanese facility and through subsequent conflicts, to now another in a select few people to witness them and live.
Faced with disorientation in both mind and space, she hadn't gotten to witness the effects of her own attack on Ivana. But while airborne, a decision was made. Based on her understanding of the outcome of the match, particularly with regard to the attack she had suffered, Shiho yet recognized herself as the more powerful of the two without question, but on that day, in that move, Twenty-Three had shown herself the smarter and efficient combatant with what more limited resources she had. It was that cunning maneuver that would inspire Kratesis' favored disciple to personally undertake learning the bloodbending art. This, and more, she intended to undertake under a new master.
Forgoing concern for either of their condition, and momentarily, the scars which brought her much shame, she landed gently on her bare feet with a soft patter, and she sought Ivana.
Ivana had had awe-inspiring combat ability and perseverance, even within the metahuman-filled Court of Arcani, and it shined through her reactions. Most avoided seeking the current Impero, unless by sheer ignorance of her capabilities, and those tended to quickly realize their mistake and turn tail, or they died quickly, still realizing. Ivana was neither completely ignorant, nor had she been spared much in the contest's opening moments. No regeneration to rely on, nor even a vial of rejuvenated waters as the Myrmidon forcefully fell back on. Most would commend her on her bravery or berate her foolishness. Haraguni Shiho did neither.
Internally as well as externally, Shiho's reaction to the effects of her attack on Ivana was perfectly minimalistic. There was no emotional judgement, personal acknowledgement of partial success or failure, simply what was. She stood perfectly in place as the woman evaded parts of the assault but yet felt her sting. Only in the glare did she find reactance. A tinge of reflective admiration glimmered in her eyes as she read Ivana's expression, slightly reminiscent of a fond one.
That look said a million things to the diminutive death dealer.
She was then faced with two options: continue to engage from afar, or indulge Ivana in her ploy. If Twenty-Three was to have the title, she would earn it. But whatever unknown impressions lie between them, among the limited existing dichotomy in the Impero's mind, the contest became likened more to training with one of her preferred superiors than a mission whose object is eternal end.
The air destabilized slightly in the immediate space surrounding her body, but showed no immediate effect.
Her eye glazed as it was, Ivana's binocular sense of depth and judgement of distance, and thus ability to regulate cadence, was likely to suffer, the advantage not as large as it might have been with any other opponent, but its potential would not go unexplored.
Shiho plowed through the distance at barely superhuman speeds, closing the short gap in no time at all. Quick shuffling steps preceded her direct, simple attack, and once within assumed range, she made as if to load her hips into a roundhouse, though quickly transitioned to a full side-facing stance and launching a parallel right side kick into her opponent's stomach, her leg itself shooting forth as a sledgehammer launched from a cannon at 750 miles per hour, additional bracing in the ground provided by her Earth Yoso.
The role of Impero was not one Shiho relished, and in fact she hated it more often than anything. Others acted, she followed. It was not her place to lead, and placed at the head of what some, Ishin included - and herself by following, considered a dying clan had caused her more trouble than it was worth. She couldn't fathom why anyone would willingly seek it.
Shrugging, she nodded affirmatively and let out a sigh, almost smiling herself.
"Shikata ga nai."
A throwing knife was visible in her right hand, one that wasn't there before. The other was balled into a fist. Assuming a stance, her grip tightened around the blade stretched in front of her.
But she did not open engagement with martial maneuver; instead, she began with a multi-faceted energy assault. In an instant, the mountain's rocky innards boiled beneath the surface and erupted in a pillar of lava, unleashing Hell itself directly at Twenty-Three's back. Simultaneously, the Impero's lively emerald eyes shone, for a fraction of a second before discharging an equally intense thermal outpour where her eyes gazed: unexcitedly into Ivana's own, aiming to boil vitreous humor and blind her in an acute paroxysm of pain.
Her body remained unmoved.