It was hard for Vocado to think in more... Flexible ways. He'd been so attached to his cause that simply playing multiple sides to see what worked best hadn't occurred to him. Not in the way she offered, anyways. Helping one faction out didn't mean disavowing another. In the same vein, leaving a Queen to her own devices didn't imply betrayal, either.
"Could do us good to keep limber, though. Just because we're waiting for chaos to unfold doesn't mean we can't relax a bit. Blow off some steam?" He raised his hand, and an energy ball erupted from his palm. It danced up and down, waiting to be tossed straight at Cato's face if she accepted his challenge.
"Y'know. If you want to, that is. Might be unfair, since I just woke up and all."
A goading tactic, of course.
"Besides, you never did complete your initiation into the Shredder Corp. Position's still open if you want it."
He could only imagine how exactly she'd respond. Given her Saiyan blood, he certainly assumed she'd consider the offer. Vocado himself was certainly itching to release the tension. Running off like that had given him a serious adrenaline rush, and he hadn't fought a damn thing in months!
Cato's eyes locked on the energy ball, before flicking back to Vocado's expression. He was powerful, far more than she was -- that much was patently obvious. But at the same time, he had just woken up from a sleep long enough that she half-expected he might have died in that medical chamber.
It seemed like a bad idea, but she found it far too difficult to resist an offer like that.
"Alright, then," she replied, hopping into the air and touching down at the far end of the building's roof. "Let's see if being a palace decoration for so long has slowed your reflexes."
She fell into her usual, practiced fighting stance: keeping her shoulders squared with her feet, one hand held out before her to guard, with the other drawn back in a curled fist. It was simple, a style taught to her by aliens so used to overpowering their foes they hadn't needed the intricacies of martial arts you saw on planets like Plant or Earth.
But it was just a starting point. She hoped the simple pose would lure Vocado into underestimating her. That might be her best chance to score a real hit on him.
"Whenever you're ready. Just don't blame me if you end the night needing to marinate in the palace for another week."
Tossing the ball up in the air, he raised his hand as if he was about to serve it like a tennis ball. Instead though, the ball fizzled out before it reached his fingers, and the Saiyan's body was half-transparent. With a shimmering blur, Vocado was gone, and in the next moment, he was on her. Leaping through the air, he launched both feet forward, aiming to dropkick her in the chest and send her flying hundreds of miles. Far, far beyond the reaches of the city, and into the fringes between civilization and the beginnings of the Borgos Bluffs.
Success or no, the expulsion of Ki to move so rapidly would invite a surge of adrenaline. Muscles moved with practiced perfection; motions so natural that even his atrophy was of no issue. Like riding a bike.
The Shredder Corp Captain summoned a pair of energy orbs, one in each palm, and slapped them together, loosing a volley of bullets from the center of the combined balls. He soared through the air as the bullets hissed in the cold night air, aiming to slam into Cato's chest and send her even further into the wastes beyond.
"Don't go easy on me now, Kiddo!"
KP: 6/6 MP: 1/6 HP: 0/250
Resources: Sparking, Burning Ki, Self-Sacrifice, Sage's Staff, Arm Blaster, Dyno Capsule Effects: N/A Spent Resources: N/A
Cato glanced up, thrown off by the ki orb momentarily. By the time she realized he had changed his mind, Vocado had launched himself forward. The kick landed clean, before she could even hope to adjust her guard, and she was sent hurdling backwards through the air. She crashed clean through the railing of the roof they were on, and well over most of Sadala. By the time she got some semblance of control back, she opted to just let herself glide the rest of the way under her momentum, and twisted her body to stick a near landing just ahead of the Bluffs.
She let out an uneasy breath when she landed, and spotted Vocado soaring towards her moments after. The power gap between them was greater than she had expected, especially given his long slumber, and she could do little more than cross her arms in a tight guard as ki bullets ripped through the air and slammed into her arms. She dug her heels in, but found herself being pushed back, inch by inch by the sheer firepower on display.
She knew she would have to play this carefully to even have a hope of winning.
At risk of being blasted right out into the wastes, Cato suddenly turned around to bear her back to Vocado. The ki bullets tore at her armour as they pelted her back, sending pain ringing through her body -- but it freed up her hand. She summoned an orb of yellow ki, hovering just above her palm. It was hasty, and it was weak, but it was all she could do to stem the assault.
"Knock it off!" she yelled, suddenly twisting back around. She dove off to the side, hoping to escape that hail of ki for just a moment, before hurling the orb straight for Vocado's chest.
Cato fires her Mortar Shell (20% DMG || 1 KP) at Vocado! 7,000 damage is incoming to buy her time to recover from the assault.
PL: 35,000 KP: 5/6 (-1) MP: 2/6 (+2) HP: 0/270
Resources: Sparking, Burning Ki, Vampiric, Avenger
Chaos in the air. Dazzling lights and crackling Ki erupted from explosion after explosion. A common sight in the Bluffs, surely, but perhaps not so late in the evening. Saiyans didn't often go out to settle scores this far into the wastes this late, unless there was a full moon on the forecast. Even so, the countless scars of battles old and new dotted the landscape. Craters and valleys carved by warrior's without names.
Vocado brought his arms up as his momentum carried him forwards, a sting shooting between his wrists as energy pulsed across his person. Cato's strike, though weak, sent a shock through his system. It awoke his battle instinct ever further, and forced a chuckle forward.
The Saiyan commander ripped across the skyline, twirling away from the smoke cloud his foe's attack had inadvertently created. Palm outstretched, he felt Ki surge across the length of his body, but grunted when the energy doubled in power. What was intended to be a simple yet effective sweeping blast had expounded; forced to embolden by the lack of Ki control Vocado had.
The massive wave of Ki erupted outward, painting the expanse a deep and foreboding crimson as it swallowed boulders in its travel toward the girl. With any luck, she'd be able to evade, but there was always the chance that he secured himself an accidental victory.
"Heh! Guess I don't know my own strength!"
Due to being out of practice, Vocado accidentally fires [Medium] Shotgun Salvo! 70% Power = 53,928 Damage headed for Cato!
took full damage from Mortar Shell (10%)
KP: 2/6 MP: 3/6 HP: 10/250
Resources: Sparking, Burning Ki, Self-Sacrifice, Sage's Staff, Arm Blaster, Dyno Capsule Effects: N/A Spent Resources: N/A
Cato's attack worked to buy herself a little time, but the power imbalance between them was getting more obvious by the second. By the time she was ready to prepare her next attack, a massive wave of ki had erupted from her opponent, crimson energy that threatened to overwhelm her even as it drowned out everything else in sight. She knew she couldn't get around it, not as she was--and if she risked a Power Ball, it would turn Vocado into a monster she wouldn't be able to handle.
Standing her ground was the only option.
She crossed her arms, letting out a cry of defiance as she let her ki flood forward, racing through her body. Energy pumped through her veins until her forearms began to glow a dull white. Then, the blast ripped into her, causing a jolt of horrible pain to rip through her entire body as her gauntlets were torn away and deep gashes appeared over her arms.
By the time the crimson energy faded, Cato was a mess: bloodied, bruised, and gasping for air. But, by some small miracle, she was still standing. It would take more than that to bring her down. Maybe not much more, she thought bitterly to herself.
"Damn it," she cussed to herself, willing herself to move. Everything hurt.
"You're stronger than me, but that doesn't mean I'm going to keel over!" she suddenly shouted, gesturing at Vocado. "Why don't you try that again!"
Cato stands her ground and uses her Light Defensive || Bitter Loser (2KP/20%/Shield). Vocado's attack wins easily, but Cato's shield shears 7,000 PL Damage off of it, leaving it at 46,928 damage. As Cato is within 60% of this number, the attack is reduced by 30% from her Shield. This reduces it by another 14,078 damage, leaving it at a total of 32,850 damage taken (94%).
If nothing else, this misfire proved one of two things. Either Vocado had really fallen behind, or Cato had some immense potential. Last they'd met, she was barely a blip on the radar, but now? Well, she'd definitely surpassed that.
Funny, if you thought about it. Just a few months back most everyone was floating around the lower thousands, but even those lowest on the rung could output much higher powers than before. That crackpot theory he had about Super Saiyans-- maybe it wasn't as far-fetched as Kalabas had led him to believe.
"I can't say I'm not impressed." His voice boomed over the distance between them, a smirk tugging at the edges of his lips between words. "But I don't wanna end this too quickly. Why don't we slow things down a bit?"
A hiss of steam and Ki came from his wrist, and the attached weapon crackled to life. Using a device like this would allow him to regulate his output just a bit.
Keeping the pace high, the Saiyan Commander loosed bullet after bullet. The string of attacks would be of little consequence on their own, but if she let too many hit, she'd certainly feel the consequences.
"Stay light on your feet, Kiddo!"
Used [ITEM] Arm Blaster! 20% power = 15,408 damage headed to you!
KP: 4/6 MP: 4/6 HP: 10/250
Resources: Sparking, Burning Ki, Self-Sacrifice, Sage's Staff, Dyno Capsule Effects: N/A Spent Resources: Arm Blaster
Cato couldn't believe how much damage that singular attack had done to her. Even as Vocado moved to launch his new attack, it felt like her entire body was burning beneath her. To her surprise, his next move came with the assistance of a weapon. She had asked him about it earlier, but she had hardly expected a warrior of his stature would deem it worth using one.
She cussed harshly under her breath again, as a string of ki bullets rained towards her again. She knew full well that using a weapon like that would help Vocado conserve his energy, and she couldn't afford to be running on empty against an opponent this much stronger than her.
Ultimately, she did the only thing she could think of--she stood her ground again, letting the bullets slam into her body as she tried to shut her eyes and focus her thoughts inward.
Each bullet tore into her with full force, leaving new gashes and bruises across her figure. Her boots began to slide back in the ground beneath her, leaving tracks in the dirt as she was steadily pushed back. But she didn't fight back, or even manifest her ki. She focused. She drew her power inward.
She took the pain, and through it, she prepared. She steadied herself.
By the time she opened her eyes, she found herself dizzy, bleeding, and in even worse condition for battle than she was mere moments ago. But the pain was like a beacon, and she felt her power begin to surge through her veins. She knew it wasn't the smartest strategy, but against a foe like this, she would need something more than clever tricks.
"Tch," she scoffed. "Is that what I need to stay light on my feet from? That peashooter?"
Cato takes an additional 44% damage from Vocado's attack, but makes a show of being unfazed. Despite the show, she's rather obviously taken a lot of punishment from the attack.
Cato was ferocious. Durable, determined. The perfect example of a Saiyan.
There was a part of him that wanted to finish this. To tear her down and be done with it. To show her what true Saiyan might really was. He was still holding back, technically speaking. Unleashing his true power on her would surely decimate the area, and leave her in a tank for a week or two.
But maybe there was more to be learned from letting her continue fighting. There was strength in failure. Saiyans were especially good at bouncing back from a loss, if nothing else. Vocado was stellar proof of that if his myriad of scars was anything to go by.
"You need to work on your bluff game." He cracked his knuckles. "For one, being able to withstand the 'peashooter' would certainly help."
Energy hissed from his weapon, and he slotted another cartridge into the cylinder before firing off another barrage. Simple and annoying. The perfect thing to keep her on her toes, and aggravate her. He wanted to see how she'd approach. Forcing her to approach was the best way to see that.
"Give me a reason to stop using this damn thing, Kiddo!"
Used [Item] Dyno Capsule to refresh Arm Blaster!
Used [ITEM] Arm Blaster! 20% power = 15,408 damage headed to you!
KP: 6/6 MP: 5/6 HP: 10/250
Resources: Sparking, Burning Ki, Self-Sacrifice, Sage's Staff Effects: N/A Spent Resources: Arm Blaster, Dyno Capsule
Cato let out a sudden howl of defiance as her power soared all around her. Blazing purple ki began to course all around her, shaking the very ground beneath her as she forced her power to a level higher than it wanted to go. She pushed as much energy out as she good, forcing it on and on until she couldn't push it anymore.
It wasn't enough, she knew. She couldn't match Vocado, even like this.
But she still had to try. She kicked off from the ground as his blaster fired off another barrage, this time thrusting her fist into the oncoming energy. The blasts exploded against her knuckles, cracking the skin and leaving her visibly bloodied. But she had picked up her momentum already.
She raced in close to Vocado and curled herself backwards, pivoting her hips around to try to slam him with a ferocious kick. It was meant to knock him back, as much as she could manage, to leave him open for what was to come. Not moments after she had aimed the kick did her hands light up with yellow orbs of ki, familiar and simple -- yet brimming with all the power of her sudden assault.
"How's this for a reason!"
She began thrusting her hands forward in a flurry of short, sharp motions to fire off orb after orb of explosive yellow ki. Individually, the blasts might have been weak enough to have come from her before her sudden storm of power: but together, they were a furious torrent. She just kept on firing, blast after blast, desperate to inflict what damage she could on her superior foe.
By the time she ran out of steam, the swelling ki around her began to wisp away, as quickly as it had appeared.
Cato uses 4 MP to boost her transformation (base form) by +x1! This puts her at 70,000 PL for one post.
This means she takes 22% damage from the Arm Blaster as she launches forward and blasts Vocado with a Mortar Barrage (4KP/70% Medium). This is booted by 10% for Saiyan Pride!
In a stunning display, Cato had seemingly pushed past her limits. A sharp explosion of Ki shot her battle power far above its normal level-- doubling at least! Vocado was taken aback by the sudden shift in strength. He knew neither of them were going all out in this spar, but for her to be able to summon such intense power at a moments notice? She was far from the girl he met in that crater.
The kick landed clean on his chest, sending him twirling end over end across the expanse, his body scraping above the dirt and jagged rocks by mere inches. He groaned, transitioning the forced momentum into a somersault to eventually halt his explosive motion entirely.
By the time he'd stopped himself, the first of many blasts had reached him, impacting him in the same place the kick had mere moments before. Smoke plumed from the explosion, growing with each subsequent bullet that came forth. Vocado vanished within the fog, lost to the attack.
It took some time for the girl's assault to end, though when it finally did the wasteland looked more like a particularly smog-infested sauna. Thick, crisp-smelling smoke infested the valley they'd ended up in.
"Keh... Damn! That's one way to wake somebody up."
His hand cut across the smoke, clearing a swath of it with a pulse of Ki.
He was a wreck much like Cato. Blood found its way down his arm, splitting into twin rivers across the crook of his elbow. His armor, which had been refurbished just hours ago, was already in tatters. She'd done a solid number on him.
"We'll call this a successful audition. Consider yourself part of the Shredder Corps. If you want, of course."
Despite the pain he felt, he knew this wasn't going to be the end of the fight. He had to send it off with a bang. Something loud and flashy would do. Something he hadn't used in a while.
Ki crackled around him, pops of electric fury dancing across the wounded skin. A smirk played on his lips, and he took slow, deliberate steps forward to close the distance.
"And... You can consider this some extra credit. All you've gotta do is keep on your feet after this one and you'll receive a prize!"
His fists clenched, and he picked up the pace, leaping into the air as the energy in his body began to overflow, releasing itself in a bubble around his body. It swirled and bubbled, begging to be released.
"This is... Supposed to be used... Against a squadron! BUT! I guess you'll have to... DO!"
The words barely escaped him as the energy expanded outward. An explosion, with him as the epicenter. The wave of Ki ballooned in every direction, vaporizing hills and toppling plateaus. It was impossible to evade, not with Cato's remaining stamina.
Vocado howled furiously, and if you listened hard enough, it was uncannily similar to that of an Oozaru.
Vocado takes FULL damage from Mortar Barrage! (72%)
Used [SPARKING] Total Meltdown! 110% Power = 84,744 headed for Cato! This has the Quake Variant! No other thread entrants are around, so it does not activate...
KP: 0/6 MP: 0/6 HP: 82/250
Resources: Burning Ki, Self-Sacrifice, Sage's Staff Effects: N/A Spent Resources: Arm Blaster, Dyno Capsule, Sparking
Cato felt herself drift back to the ground as the last of her energy left her, and she gasped for air. It was no good now. Her stamina was gone, and her ki felt as if it had been sucked out of her body. The fact that her barrage hadn't managed to slow Vocado down to her level meant that the fight as over, and no matter how much she tried to defy that fact, she knew he could end the fight in an instant if he wanted.
She had drawn blood. That would have to be her own personal victory.
She had half a mind to try something new, some new trick, some way to clench victory from the jaws of defeat. She thought about a power ball, to unleash the might of the Oozaru--but to do so now would feel almost dishonorable. She would fight back, futile though it may be, under the strength she had left to bear.
"Invitation accepted, then..." she murmured. "But I'm not going to let you take this win without a struggle."
As Vocado released a massive way of ki in her direction, she gritted her teeth. She could just make out hills and plateaus vaporize before her eyes, and she didn't have near the energy to put on a burst of speed to get out of the way. Even if she had, she doubted she could escape all of its effects. It seemed to lay waste to the entire region, not unlike her own Railway Gun.
The only thing left was to stand her ground. Her arms were still scorched and bloodied from before--and there was little strength left in them. All she had left was her legs, and nobody had ever done much guarding like that. But she had to try.
She willed what little ki she had left to conjure into the lower half of her body, and just as the ki was set to envelope her, she thrust her boot forward in a stiff kick. The heel of her boot connected with the wave of energy and began to part the energy to either sides of her. But it was too overwhelming. Even as she struggled with it, fresh cuts opened up across her exposed skin, and she felt herself tumble backwards, overwhelmed with the heat of the attack.
Moments later, everything was in pain. Cato was on her knees.
Slowly, she pushed herself up onto two feet, flashing a defiant look towards Vocado.
"Now it's m-my... t-turn..." she began, before her legs gave out beneath her.
Everything went black.
Cato uses Burning Ki to regenerate 1 KP, enough to use her Light Offensive | Superkick! 40%, boosted to 50% by Saiyan Pride, for 17,500 PL damage to clash with Total Meltdown! Vocado's attack wins, dealing 67,244 PL damage. This deals 192% damage to her, and though she gets in some last words, she goes down like a rock.
Fight over! She's KO'd.
PL: 35,000 KP: MP: HP: 350/270 -- Not just KO'd, but Turbo KO'd.
Wind howled as the power finally subsided. Smoldering rubble, the shifting of rock as the dust settled. Vocado panted in the air, his own skin reddened by the effort he'd put in. As strong as that attack was, he knew there was a way to improve it. If he could shorten the startup time, or enhance its potency with smaller crowds, then maybe he--
Wait, Cato was still up?
Vocado cocked his brow, sitting up straighter as he tried to steady his breathing. Was this really about to continue? He clenched a fist, but sighed in relief when near-instantly Cato fell back to the ground. A rather harsh fall, all things considered, but she'd been through worse.
It took him a handful of moments to catch his breath, but when he did, he took off toward the girl, scooping her up carefully before finding the coordinates for the nearest budget medbay.
The waste, surprisingly, did have a few clinics this far in the wastes. Despite it being an odd strategy on most worlds, the frequency at which Saiyans battle one another to settle scores in the wastes was so high that opening a facility out this far was actually fairly lucrative.
Unfortunately for Vocado, they weren't the cheapest place near, but it was either that or lug Cato across the wastes while he was half-conscious himself.
Sighing, he took off for the wasteland medbay, tapping at his Scouter to unlock his credit card...