4750/Four Corners of the World!

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Four Corners of the World!
Date of Scene: 15 January 2021
Location: Madison Square Garden
Synopsis: The time has finally come! The long-awaited Four Corners of the World professional wrestling event is underway! VIPs enjoy craft services while watching the action and getting to know the talent. Meanwhile, things in the ring heat up! Until something goes horribly, horribly wrong.
Cast of Characters: Katsumi Oshiro, Michael Hannigan, Nessa Donovan, Vivian Vision, Jennifer Walters, Hank Pym

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
Tonight's the night.


The much-vaunted, long-awaited Four Corners of the World professional wrestling extravaganza is about to take place. It promises to be a long, action-filled night featuring four teams made up of two males and two females, representing their respective nations; the United Kingdom, Russia, Japan, and of course, the U.S. of A; all in a tournament-style showdown to determine which nation earns the right to declare itself the highest authority in professional wrestling mastery.

There will be cheers. There will be boos. There will be drama. It's going to be rowdy.

And it's all taking place right here, in Madison Square Garden.

The event has only just began with the opening preamble, and the arena is absolutely packed - standing room only, but that's a fire hazard, so no bueno. The roar of the crowd is deafening, the central squared circle brightly illuminated, and anticipation is thick in the atmosphere. A man in a bright white suit with slick blonde hair stands in the middle of the ring, microphone in hand, and introducing the event. The man, Vincent Delaney, is clearly the one directing the event. He also happens to be the organizer and head promoter. But the job suits him well, having the easy but theatric charisma of a used car salesman mixed with gameshow host.

The backstage area is off-limits to attendees, save for those sporting VIP badges, press, and event workers. Obtaining a VIP badge required either winning it in a promotion, knowing someone in the biz', or perhaps more pertinent, being a celebrity or someone with clout. Say, a superhero? Either way, black-clad security personnel watch the halls closely while workers bustle to make sure FX cues are ready, cameras are in primed, and everyone is organized.

Katsumi Oshiro, the Punk Princess, member of Team Japan, is currently in a dressing room. She's already decked out in her sapphire blue, gold-trimmed gear. She's simply staring at herself in the mirror, gaze deadlocked with her reflection. Or more precisely, the reflection's eyes. No trace of green exists in those irises. Just gem-like pools of perfectly inhuman magenta. She's spent over a month watching the green slowly fade from her eyes. And now, it seems completely absent.

She swallows her heart back down her throat.

Pushing away from the counter, she gives her head a quick shake. Tonight is too important. Everything rides on her performance. Not just what she knew originally, but her very standing in her home federation. So much seems to have happened to sabotage her since coming to America this time. Tonight /has/ to go well. Come Hell or high water, tonight's the night she takes her career to the true blue international level. With a determined nod at her reflection, she steps out into the hall and scans the flowing tide of wrestler-and-worker bodies for people she recognizes.

And somewhere in the distance, under the low-hanging afternoon sun, a freight ship steadily closes in on the Port of New York.

Michael Hannigan has posed:

Wade tends to buy a couple tickets to any event that goes on in Madison Square. Because sometimes important clients want to go. But more often than not, important clients already had the foresight to get their own damn ticket and then Wade spends his time trying to offload the ticket on someone else. And sometimes he waits too long and he's given a choice between giving the ticket away or tossing it. And this is where Nick Drago ends up in the equation.

It seemed innocent enough. Hey Mike. I can't go to the event tonight (again) and I don't want the tickets to go to waste. Will you go? Sure Wade. Same seats as before? You know it. Just go as Nick to represent the studio okay? Yeah sure.

Simple enough.

No it isn't. Since the incident at the She-Hulk/Thing match where Ant-Man went flying into him, it appears the arena employees are being oddly nice to him this time around. ODDLY NICE. And that nice seat he was going to put himself up in? Well. Pshaw. That ended up getting upgraded. Because they're being ODDLY nice.

He's also a celebrity.


Ok fine. They're just being oddly nice. Either way, Nick Drago is backstage with a VIP pass. Smiling and nodding to those who come up to chat with him.

At least they got sandwiches back here.

Nessa Donovan has posed:
Crowds aren't really Nessa's thing. People close together, jostling around, accidental touches--too many variables to keep things from being anything close to comfortable. The VIP are, while also occupied with people, is a bit less chaotic. It's enough that she's not totally on edge... other than concern (and excitement) for her friend.

Nessa's made herself a little nook against a wall. Dressed in a lavender turtleneck, jeans, and black gloves, she seems to be reducing the amount of skin showing as a precaution. Despite the annoying comparisons to ice magic users in pop culture, her blonde hair is braided back in a single braid to keep it out of her face. She's there to watch, but not to hide. Mostly.

She's keeping a sharp eye out on her surroundings, occasionally fiddling with the VIP badge clipped to her shirt. She's out of her element, but that's not what she's focused on. She's there to support her friend, regardless of the outcome.

Vivian Vision has posed:
Vivian Vision is not exactly known for her superheroics, or famous for anything at all really, but it seems that when you make your ticket purchases with a company credit card associated with several Avengers people tend to notice!

Which is how a first time Wrestling event attendee has ended up in the VIP section. A holographic disguise making her appear like a typical teenage Human to anyone with 'normal' Human senses. Although even the most advanced holograph in the world can't make her seem like she knows quite what's going on or what she should be doing. Other than politely decline occasional offers of food or drink.

Supposedly the Humans will engage in a form of, allegedly scripted, combat for the entertainment of a crowd. It's fascinating from an anthropological stand point!

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
They have sandwiches. And chicken fingers. And onion rings. And salad. And lasagna. Rolls, burger sliders, fries - the list goes on. A perk of VIP status is access to the promotion's craft services area, where they can socialize with the wrestlers. And for the most part, everyone is in high spirits. Perhaps bizarrely to those outside the industry, no one seems to be too concerned with how much food they're packing away.

Figuring that's where she'd find Nessa, Katsumi is making her way towards that very room. Conveniently, that's where everyone seems to be gathered.

A couple long tables are arranged in the room, the food set out buffet-style against the wall. In one corner of the room is a monitor with a live feed of the main arena. Some wrestlers, still in street clothes, are presently gorging and chatting it up. It might be harming the mystique, but among them are members of 'rival' teams. Team Russia, fraternizing with Team America! Madness!

Katsumi spots Nessa just aside the entryway. "Ah! You made it!" She didn't doubt that she would, but it's still a much-needed point of comfort to have a friend present. She veritably scampers to the fair-haired ice-mage, noticeably more energetic than - well, any time Nessa has seen her before. She's not bringing up the topic of her eyes, however. Maybe she won't notice! "It'll be a minute before I go out. You hungry? I'm hungry. Come on, math class."

Without waiting for permission, the Punk Princess grabs for Nessa's arm to tug her into the room. "It's all covered!" There are people present she doesn't quite recognize, but that's fine. There usually are.

"Dude," says a remarkably beefy American beside Nick. "You're a musician or something, right? You look familiar. What's your jam, brother?"

On an anthropological note - that is, on-screen - Delaney is vacating the ring and being replaced by a man in a tuxedo. His microphone descends from on high, as he begins to announce the first match of the evening.

Michael Hannigan has posed:
As another pass holder finishes speaking with him, Nick gives a nod and shifts over to the side, looking to the other person's phone as they take a selfie with him. A few moments tick by before the phone lowers, the two guys exchange handshakes and Nick is left on his own again to look around.

Eyes settling on Nessa, he starts to step away from his chosen area to walk towards her, but pauses as another addresses him. He turns his head, looking to the much taller (and wider) man. Most likely part of tonight's showing. "A musician." Nick confirms. "Was on Netflix and a few game shows recently." He adds in, giving the guy more ideas on where he could place him.

Jennifer Walters has posed:
Jennifer has been spending some time in a changing room getting ready for tonight's main event. Gotta make sure she looks good for the crowd, right? Tonight's outfit is a modified referee uniform. Black and white striped cutoff tee to show off her midriff, black and white striped shorts short enough to show off a lot of leg, and a pair of white trainers finish off the look. She takes a moment to inspect herself in the floor length mirror, and nods to herself. It'll be a miracle if people actually watch the match and not her.

She makes her way out to the backstage area to mingle (and perhaps to show off a little bit) and finds herself at the craft table, grabbing a plate of food stuffs. Gotta fuel up before the big event! Looking around, she spies Katsumi, and gives her a big grin and a cheery wave.

Nessa Donovan has posed:
It's becoming pretty obvious that Nessa's also not used to being backstage at /any/ event. While anyone else reaching for her arm would probably have gotten a bit of a cold response, she lets Katsumi drag her along without complaint, her eyes scanning the room. "I didn't know I was allowed to get any free snacks unless I was putting on a costume," she comments. "You okay? I can't imagine being able to actually eat before an event like this."

Her eyes scan the room for awareness purposes, not actually expecting to see any familiar faces other than Kat. "I hope you know I'm going to cheer for you even if I'm not supposed to. The crowd will just have to deal." She does, however, catch a glimps of Nick in her scanning and raises the slightest bit of an eyebrow, but lets her attention go back to Kat. "Do you have an action figure? Because if not you should."

Vivian Vision has posed:
On the one hand Vivian, as an incognito guest, doesn't really want to bother people she knows when they're working. But on the other it would be very rude not to acknowledge Miss Walters and provide moral support for her impending participation in the upcoming events. In the end politeness wins out and she gives the Avenger a shy wave and head over in that direction.

She seems more intent on observing the food choices other people pick than sampling anything for herself. After all this is very good data for her adventures in culinary preparation.

The perks of being a synthezoid mean even when she isn't looking directly at the TV a subpersonality is still free to watch the show. So she won't even miss the action when it kicks off.

Hank Pym has posed:
Hank Pym enters the venue with much less anxiety than usual and a sharp reddish brown suit and black shirt. Personal growth? Meditation? The sweet words of a lovely kitsune Tenko? All of the above. Which is to say, being Hank Pym he loathes the many elbows, shoulders and feet all too close to him. He's never going to be a people person like Nadia. Whatever.

The food is probably good, but the press at the table is unappetizing. But the tall man grabs a sparkling cider off a tray and takes a swallow... that's champagne. He tries to keep his face neutral as he looks for a sink or potted plant, anything really. He was doing... all right off the meds so far, didn't want to screw it up. Reluctantly he swallows and bumps into someone...

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
"Oh yeah, yeah, that's where your face is from," nods the oversized man to Nick. "My girl's got this younger brother, he's way into your style. Rememberin' that now. I'm more of an eighties man, myself. But nah, cool that you're here! Got some of that criss-cross performance action goin' on." He assumes a teasingly critical look. "You best be pullin' for the home team tonight, right?" The wry grin chasing the question likely indicates he's not being entirely serious, but just keeping things light and jokey. But that's Team America - they're the hometown sweethearts.

In fact, Katsumi's gaze lands on a perky blonde still in streetclothes with bright blue eyes in the corner as Nessa mentions cheering for her despite the audience expectations. "You're gonna cheer for me over her?," she asks, nodding to the unawares blonde currently engaged in talking to a massive, scarred bear of a Russian man. "You're gonna get lyyynched." Despite the warning, Nessa is given a small, but genuinely appreciative smile. And then those oddly-colored eyes widen. "Omigod, /yes/. It's a f***ing /nightmare/ when you're a newbie. It took me a few months before I wasn't a knotty ball of nerves! Couldn't even think about eating! But then, it's like comfort food or something. Eating relaxes you. And it doesn't matter what the f*** you eat, 'cuz it's all gonna burn like an incinerator in the ring."

As she chats, she tugs Nessa along towards the buffet. And that's where her eyes meet Jennifer's! And then her attire. She barks a laugh; not derisive, but joyed. "You b****! People are supposed to be watching the /match/, not /you/!," she teases amidst residual giggles. Apparently she's relaxed enough to not be too horrified to poke fun at She-Hulk now. Whereas before... well. Jen knows. She was there. "Nessa, you know Walters? She-Hulk? You two met?"

On-screen, the first two combatants have been declared - two males. One from Team Japan, one from Team America. Their intro music is nothing short of bombastic, ladden with pyro flashes and laserlights. Just from a physical standpoint, they might seem evenly matched. Both are of a lean build, not quite so bulky.

There's a bump! A willowy girl with long brunette hair jostles forward and pivots to regard her jostler. Her smokey gray eyes don't seem to recognize Hank for any posterity he's accomplished, though it's clear she's taking in his considerably nice attire. Is he a worker? A promoter? It may have helped curb her initial knee-jerk response, so score for Hank's wardrobe choice. "Ah- hello, are you- okay?," she asks in halting English. Her accent is clearly Slavic in origin. If those weren't clues enough as to who or what she is, her attire is distinctly non-citizen, wearing athletic dramatic black and pink athletic clothing with boots. That is, if athletic clothing were shiny like patent leather.

Michael Hannigan has posed:
Nick is quiet for a moment before he sees the slight grin. Picking up on the cue, he tilts his head, returning the grin. "I don't know... Been traveling a lot and I kind of like all the corners covered."

Feeling like he was looked at he turns his head, catching Nessa's glance. He lifts up a hand to wave to her before looking back to the large figure before him. "It may just come down to who has the best style."

Jennifer Walters has posed:
Jennifer spies Vivian as she is waved at, and makes her way over to the girl. "Hey, Viv!" she says with an enthusiastic smile. "I didn't know you were a wrestling fan. Excited to watch the show?"

Her attention turns to Katsumi and her admonishment of her attire. She cocks a hip and rests a hand on it and grins. "It's not my fault I'm the best looking one here. The fans wanted a show, so I'll give them a show." She turns to Nessa as they're introduced and holds out her free hand to her. "Nessa," she repeats, "It's a pleasure."

She gestures to introduce Viv, "This is Vivian, the daughter of a good friend of mine"

Nessa Donovan has posed:
Nessa lifts a gloved hand in a bit of a half-wave in Nick's direction, but her attention is drawn rather quickly back to Kat. "I'll take my chances with the lynching. I'd like to see them try. Besides, everyone deserves a cheer every once in a while. Even a heel." ... did she actually look up wrestling terms?!

Her attention turns back to where Kat's directing her and she blinks a few times in Jennifer's direction. "You act like I'm social and know everyone, Kat," she sounds amused. "Math class, remember. I'm not in the cool kids club." The blonde's gaze rests on the hand extended to her before she slowly reaches her own gloved one to shake. "Nice to meet you. Anyone who Katsumi can affectionally call a 'b' is alright by me." There's a bit of a grin there. She offers a polite smile in Vivian's direction as she's introduced as well.

Hank Pym has posed:
Hank Pym swallows the bubbly, hesitates a moment and then says, "Zdrastvuyte... Proshu proshcheniya. Izvinite! Neploho, spasibo(Hello! I'm sorry... Excuse me! I'm okay thank you,) Sorry, My Russian is not as good as your English. May I get you a drink or snack as an apology? I'm Dr. Henry Pym. But I answer to Hank.

Don't let her be a spy, please don't let her be a spy! I want a night off! God... I hope I didn't lock up her dad or something back in the day. Her dad... doing the math... possibly. More like youthful uncle. He extends a hand to the young athlete.

Vivian Vision has posed:
"I would not say I am a fan," Vivian replies thoughtfully. "I am here to observe and form a more informed opinion on the subject. I also thought it would be a benefit to watch people engaging in physical combat in a sporting capacity." She shrugs. "Miss van Dyne was able to arrange for some lessons with her partner but it can't hurt to seek other data sources." Which is probably Viv speak for Janet asked Steve to give her some pointers in the field of pugilism.

"Greetings everyone. I'm Vivian Vision my 'father' is a work colleague of Miss Walters." She glances back to Jen. "Do you think people would be unduly alarmed if I ceased projecting my holograph?" She gestures at the various unusual outfits people are in. "I feel I won't stand out quite as much as I usually would..."

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
"Oh hell no, I might have to see if a folding chair is your kryptonite," chides Katsumi to Jennifer. "Fans are gonna just love~ watchin' me lay out the superhero ref'!" Obviously she won't be doing that. Not that she /could/ do that. But Katsumi is feeling well enough to engage in bravado. That's definitely something.

Her attention snaps to Nessa, and with a gasp, she quickly clasps her right arm around her shoulders while the left hand raises in an effort to place her partially-gloved palm to her lips, eyes darting around the room in playful conspiracy. "Shhh. Normies might hear you." Which, by implication, means Nessa is no longer a normie. Katsumi couldn't be more delighted that her friend is a little more in-the-know on the industry. It means a lot to her that she'd learn! Not that she'd admit that directly. This is her way of acknowledging it, overt and lacking in social finesse as it may be.

"Oh, good!," smiles the large man to Nick. "So you /will/ be pulling for the home team! Knew you were on the right side here! Hey, have a slider on me," he jokes. They're free to VIPs, after all. "I gotta jet to get ready, but you enjoy the show, pal." And with that, he begins making his way out, displaying some excellent physical awareness in weaving his considerable frame through the crowd without complication.

The brunette girl's eyebrows lift in surprise as Russian is tossed back to her. Rather than respond in kind, her chin dips with a coquettishly charmed smile and replies in her own heavily accented English, "You may, doc-tor," she says, being non-specific. "Sofia. Or- Naiad. Call me Naiad. No harm is done, doc-tor." In her mind, he's probably an on-hand physician in case things go sideways. So being on his good side is a net positive for her!

And look at Hank, chatting up a young starlet.

"Oh my god," says Katsumi as she regards Vivian. Unless Nessa has squirmed free of her hushing clasp, she'll now be released and given a sympathetic look. "I don't know if I can call you math class anymore, the way she's talkin'." Though at the mention of a hologram, Katsumi's gaze flits anxiously between Jennifer, Nessa, and Vivian. "Holowha? For serious? Are you a robot?"

On-screen, the match is well underway. The pair has clashed in a series of lightning fast exchanges, rotating armdrags. It only ends with the representative of Team Japan catching Team America in a kneeling armbar, bracing his torso with a knee and hyper-extending the captured left arm. Most of the present wrestlers and VIP guests are watching the monitor intently.

Michael Hannigan has posed:
Nick chuckles as Largo the Large-o (Honestly he has no clue what the guy's name is) lays claim to having the most style. "Alright, will do. Break a leg!" He pauses. Does wrestling use the same phrases that regular stage productions do? The concern does not last long as the mention of sliders does draw his eye back over to the table. How did he miss those earlier?

As people crowd around the TV, Nick backs up towards the newly abandoned table, grabbing a slider before heading back to look to the screen. Hey. Might as well. He takes a bite, pausing two chews in to look to the food item.


Wade's missing out.

Jennifer Walters has posed:
"Synthezoid," Jennifer corrects. Addressing Vivian she says, "I think you'd be safe dropping the hologram around here." She gestures to the brightly colored wrestlers that fill the room, "Like you said, I don't think you'd stand out all that much."

"You can lay into me all you want," she says to Katsumi, "But I don't think you'd get much out of it."

Nessa Donovan has posed:
"... can there please be a ref battle with a chair? I'd watch that," Nessa notes with amusement. "I mean, I'm already watching but that'd certainly make a /show/." The fact that she's considered 'in the know' now gets a small grin from the blonde. "Right, right, don't wanna ruin the, uh... lore." She doesn't quite remember 'kayfabe', but she at least made an effort. The mention of synthezoid gets a raised eyebrow, but she's not about to make any comments about blending in. She's the one in a turtleneck and gloves.

Hank Pym has posed:
Hank Pym smiles. Then plows through the people to get... what should he get? He spies a nice display of donuts and choses a Boston Creme. He only has his daughter to go by and to be fair a donut in the Pym household has a half life of 5 minutes. Wait she's an athlete. Get something healthy... ah screw it, give her a good old American donut. He grabs one and a water bottle before heading back to the new acquaintance. "'Sofia' and 'Naiad' are both pretty names." Yeah, so's 'Nadia'. What are you, a forty year old single parent, doing here exactly with the lovely young athlete.

I dunno but I'm doing okay.

Vivian Vision has posed:
"Before you ask what a synthezoid is I must warn you the explination is both complex and boring," Vivian adds solemnly for the benefit of Nissa and Katsumi. "Personally I also find non-biological intelligence to be acceptable but I don't think it's snappy enough to every catch on." There's a shrug and her holographic system disengages to reveal. That she's basically almost exactly the same except her skin is red and clearly not Human and her eyes glow a golden yellow.

"Does the referee typically engage in armed conflict?" she wonders. "Is that not horribly inconvienient for the athletes who are trying to compete?"

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
"Synthezoid. Now you're just makin' sh** up," sighs Katsumi. "English might not be my first language, but come on. And anyway, the fun's in wearing ya down. Even if that totally sounded like a come-on." She pokes her tongue out at Jennifer. Punk Princess in the ring and out.

Her attention then snaps to Nessa. "Lore? I'm not... bodyslamming f***ing hobbits or something! There's no Gandalf, gonna swoop in on a giant eagle. Don't say it so weird!" She twists her hips to the side to gently bump against Nessa in faux-scold.

Meanwhile, 'Naiad' waits patiently as a donut is delivered to her. How someone can bite into a cream-filled donut seductively is questionable, but between the brunette's half-lidded gaze and those unfairly long eyelashes, there may be a few new believers in the house. She chews and swallows politely before adding, "I'll pass compliment to my mother," playfully. "Naiad I cannot give credit for. It's.. water.. nymph, right?" The words are a little different in Russian, but she's making an effort.

The conversation between the blue-eyed bombshell and giant Russian in the corner seems to have ended. The meatwall Russian is en route to joining Hank and Naiad, while the perky blonde is moving towards the gaggle of females discussing science. She lingers at the edges, however, politely waiting to not interrupt.

When Vivian deactivates the hologram, Katsumi - and the blonde - both recoil in surprise. But only one says something. "Holy sh**!" Her eyes shift briefly to Jennifer, then Nessa. "That a demon? A robot? The f*** is going on?" There's a beat as Vivian's words are processed, and she finally decides for herself: "..Robot. Okay. Hahh.." Her hands lifts to paw silky blueblack hair back from her eyes.

Meanwhile on-screen, Team America has fought through the armbar and gotten them on track again. At this point, it seems to've devolved into a striking contest, which America seems to be winning out. But perhaps distracting from that, a young man seated next to Michael seems to doubletake at him. "Oi," he greets. "Drago, right? Bloody Hell, wasn't expectin' to see you here." Despite the casual roughness to his speech, the blond youth is wearing a bright smile. Seems Mike has fans among the U.K. roster.

Michael Hannigan has posed:
Nick's head turns at the first utterance made by the UK team member. Unfortunately still with a bit of food in the mouth so the question gets answered with a nod and a raised, bitten into slider in explanation for the silent response. To his credit he does not take another bite after he swallows and instead turns his head to more properly answer the young man. "Got to live somewhere when not out touring." He replies, giving a smile, checking his hand for sauce before offering it over to the performer. "How you liking New York?"

Nessa Donovan has posed:
Nessa roles her eyes in Kat's direction. "I mean, you could be. Aren't there wrestlers that do that? Weird themes and stuff. I mean, we all know what I'd be if I were a wrestler." She pauses. "Squished." There's a bit of amusement there, though when her friend freaks out over the synthezoid's appearance. "Trust me, if there was a demon here I probably would have warned you way before now."

She looks between Kat and the others. "So you're gonna win, right? I mean, you'd better. I came all this way."

Vivian Vision has posed:
"The only people who call me a demon are those I beat at online chess. And frankly that is by far one of the nicer things people online use as an offensive term..." Vivian points out with a shrug. "The term robot is rather rude in a way. Like if I were to greet Humans by saying 'Monkey'."

She doesn't seem especially offended however.

"Is the outcome of your match really already pre-determined?" A beats pause. "Or will comments about your impending success be based on your confidence in your abilities relative to your opponent?"

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
The excited young Irish man claps once when given that confirmation. "Feggin' knew it!" The hand is eagerly taken when presented and given a shake. "Bloody brilliant work, my favorite thing on the road. And New York's a fine city, very dense, not a lot of sun. But great place, lovin' it to bits. You came out to cheer for the States, or your boys over sea?" This may be a favored topic among wrestlers when chumming it up with VIPs - nudging their loyalties around. It's like a game! He eyes the slider for a moment, then accuses, "Did those yankee bastards bribe you with food? I'll have you know, Mason Maloney knows where they keep the best stuff, if that's what it takes!"

Katsumi squints those odd eyes of hers at Nessa with a smile. "Don't worry. You'd be the prettiest splatter on the mat."

Vivian's blunt question gets a small, surprised noise from Katsumi, which catches in her throat. The blonde bystander similarly looks mortified. But rather than reply directly to Vivian, Katsumi plants her panicked focus firmly on Nessa. "Of /course/ I'm gonna win! None of these lameasses can keep up with me!" Her head lifts to peer towards the brunette talking to Hank and shouts, "BAD NEWS FOR YOU, NAIAD!"

"Whatever, b****!," Naiad calls back, only raises a hand at her as if to hush her.

"See you're still makin' friends in the locker room," the blonde finally says. Though her voice is clear and demure, it carries a distinct southern drawl.

Katsumi's focus turns to the blonde. "They hate me 'cuz they ain't me. Everyone, this is Sindy Swan. Sindy, this is Nessa and.. Vivian, right?"

The blonde offers a radiant smile. "Nice to meet'cha. And honey, we don't talk about that kind'a 'political' stuff here," she adds to Vivian sweetly. "Just enjoy the show, 'kay?" And then more directly to Katsumi, she asks, "Did'ja find anything for Christmas?"

Magenta eyes shift guiltily and she mumbles something under her breath.

"Huh?" Sindy leans closer. "What was that? Did you say-"

"..air freshener."

"Like what'cha hang on the inside of yer car?"

Katsumi doesn't answer that time. She just bows her head in a sulk.

"Oh, sweetie," sympathizes the blonde.

"American stores are f***ing closed on that holiday, I didn't know what else to get'em! It was your dumb idea..."

"I'm sure the.. thought.. counted," the blonde nods. Then her focus turns to the other two. "So yer VIPs? You must be with a super group, right? Crimefighter?," she asks, pointing to Vivian. "And you..." The fingertip directs to Nessa, uncertain.

Michael Hannigan has posed:
Nick chuckles, as his hand is shaken a bit more strongly than expected. But the arm goes with it. "Oh, well you know I've been traveling a lot. And I got a love for all four corners. For me it's less about where the team's from and more the style they show in the spotlight."

Once his hand is released he leans back. Looking to Mason. "Now, I was told, indirectly by a rather large fellow on the American team that he's the one with the style. I'm guessing you're going to prove him wrong?"

Nessa Donovan has posed:
Nessa's grin widens at the 'locker room' banter between the wrestlers. "You know, this is kind of fun. I like it." She looks down at her clothing when the blonde looks in her direction, then back up. "Charity. I'm dying of skin cancer and this is for good PR." She straightfaces--it's almost hard to tell if it's a joke or if she's serious. Who knows.

"Either way, I'm rooting for Katsumi. She's a badass." When Nessa turns to look at Kat, her gaze lingers for a moment and she squints, as if trying to get a better look before her attention drifts back to the rest of the room.

Vivian Vision has posed:
Vivian Vision nods in agreement when Katsumi asks to confirm her name. "It's a pleasure to meet you." Her head tilts to one side slightly at the mention of superhero teams. "I have occasionally assisted my extended family with some... unusual encounters. Many of which I am unsure if I can discuss for security reasons. I have also been assisting the Titans, although I am not yet counted as a full member. Most recently I joined them on a space expedition. Jupitor looks quite spectacular up close."

"I will wish all competitors well in their endeavors," she decides when Nissa voices her support for Katsumi. "Even if it /is/ pre-planned the physical challenge involved must be quite impressive for baseline Humans!"

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
"Ach, y'mean big bloody chungus o'er 'ere?," asks Mason. "He's big as a semi and half as nimble. He squares off with the likes of Maloney, you'll see'em twisted more than a nun's secret fetish! Frankly, and between you'n me, I doubt he'll be makin' it past his first round. They got'em set to go against a fella from Russia. Not real sure which one. I can't pronounce or read a damn one'a their names, so I can't tell'em apart." He shifts his eyes conspiratorially. "Don't tell'em that. They seem a bit sensitive."

Meanwhile on-screen, the match has progressed rapidly. Limb-entangling submission holds have been switched and exchanged, coming to an abrupt halt with an out-of-nowhere superkick on Team Japan. The man staggers, drops, and Team America is covering for the pin.

The three-count is imminent. And just like that, Team Japan is down one member.

Sindie gasps and delicately covers her lips with her fingers. It seems she's taking Nessa seriously, and she looks downright wounded for her. Those big blue eyes are somehow larger and rounder than before. "Ah- Ah'm so sorry to hear that, it- that sounds so horrible," she flounders.

Katsumi is /staring/ at Nessa. There's a brief flick of her gaze to Sindie, then back to her, as if asking if she's going to just leave her squirming or come clean.

"Um, y-yeah, Katsumi's, um.." Sindie is clearly trying to not upset the person she evidently believes wholesale is dying, but siding with the competition over herself - and what's more, being /so/ complimentary to someone so abrasive and cocky - is a struggle. She's a sweet-natured person, but at a certain point, it becomes challenging. "..she's real confident, yeah, and I'm sure she'll give it'er best.."

The stare Katsumi is giving Nessa falters, however, when she realizes Nessa's staring right back with a different sort of intensity. Suddenly extremely aware of her total and complete eyecolor change, she averts her gaze.

"Naiad. Katsumi," rises a voice from the entrance. "Gorilla positions." And just as quickly, he pops back around the corner.

An escape! Perfect timing! Katsumi shies back a couple steps. "Back in a bit. Gotta go kick some ass." Her voice elevates, "TALKIN' ABOUT YOURS, NAIAD!"

"Screw! You!," Naiad shouts back with a soured expression. But she bids Hank farewell before vanishing after Katsumi into the deeper recesses.

"The girls have /no/ chill," sighs Mason to his new conversation buddy.

Sindie, still lingering with Nessa and Vivian, breathes a quiet, uncomfortable sigh. Thankfully, Vivian has given her a much-needed topic to focus on other than Nessa's terminal condition or sycophancy towards the event's own 'villain'. "You been to /space/?," she marvels. "Oh my god, that's so cool! And Ah just wanna say, Ah really appreciate all the work you people do! Ah dunno what'd happen to everyone if it weren't for people willin' to risk themselves and be so selfless! Now Ah don't mean to be insensitive, but.. how'd ya become.. uh.. how are ya.. what'cha are..?"

And then to Nessa, she clears her throat softly and asks, "How'd you meet that firecracker, anyway?"

Michael Hannigan has posed:
Nick tilts his head towards Mason slightly, tapping the side of his nose to the warning along with a wink. Well, if they're going to give the sell back here, he's going to play along. Mike glances back to the screen, watching as Japan is down one. "So who are you matched up against, then?"

Nessa Donovan has posed:
"She offered me an autograph and I didn't know who she was. So she remedied that," Nessa explains. Not /quite/ the story, but it's still a good part of it. There's an amused expression on her face given the fact that she was taken seriously about the skin cancer and she looks down at her turtleneck. Yeah, possibly /too/ convincing there. She glances between Vivian and Sindie, about to say something, but she instead lets her gaze drift towards the screen.

Vivian Vision has posed:
Vivian Vision blinks a few times. "I've always been like this?" she seems amused by the question. "My Father used his own schematics as a template to create mine from. Some assembly was then required." This is almost certainly dramatically underselling how complicated the process was. "It's a lot less messy and complicated than the 'Where do baby Humans come from' question tends to be."

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
"I've got a Russian of me own to play with," Mason replies breezily. "Not too big a fella, called Vlad, does a vampire thing. But no one's bitin' on Maloney without dinner and a movie first!"

"Oh," says Sindie, unsurprised that their first introductions were made on the pretenses of Katsumi's ego. She doesn't have anything nice to add, so she says naught at all. Southern sensibilities.

Meanwhile on screen, light techno begins to throbe with a strobe. Naiad is introduced, her stats given; as if numbers were needed to see she's just a slip of a thing. But her presence is confident and aloof, sparing a few finger-wiggling waves to the audience en route.

Once settled in, the heavier rock chords of Blue Stahli's "Enemy" begins to fill the arena, the pulsing beat set in rhythmic sync to purple and green lasers. Katsumi's stats are presented - tall for a Japanese girl. Her entrance is more energetic than her opponent's, twirling a clean, full spin to end with a fist thrust in the air. The smile on her face is confident, to be sure - but also predatory. She's looking forward to this. The camera gets a nice shot of her pointing to the Russian in the ring, then pantomiming breaking her in half. Left hand props to her hip as she makes her way to the ring...

"Wait, hang on," Sindie suddenly says, refocusing on Vivian. "Yer father has schematics? Like he's like you? A, um, robot? Sorry to be indelicate, hon'. I don't mean to offend."

Michael Hannigan has posed:
Nick nods as the fighter admits to also being paired off against one of the Russian team. "Well, watch out for the vampire. I don't carry around stakes and I'm fresh out of drumsticks too."

Nessa Donovan has posed:
"I mean, baby humans are just schematics as a template with some assembly required..." Nessa points out, an amused look on her face as she sideways glances at Vivian. She's busy, though, watching the screen. "C'mon Kat, kick her ass. That's what I'm here for."

Vivian Vision has posed:
"And my Grandfather too. My closest Human 'relative' is Doctor Pym who I believe is over there," Vivian says, giving Nessa a nod of agreement and then pointing over at Hank. "He is effectively my Great Great Grandfather. It's... a long story." And not one she's likely to be explaining in any further detail.

Thankfully she doesn't need to turn to watch the show. A portion of her mind is viewing it, possibly from every camera angle depending on how much of the camera footage is being sent wirelessly.

"Do not worry though. The world is unlikely to be overrun with synthezoids any time soon. Although there are plenty of other AI out there. We tend to be discreet however as the Human legal system has no framework in place for us."

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
"If y'think wingin' a drumstick at his melon might help, I think caterin' has some left," Mason jokes with an errant glance back to the table.

Sindie takes a moment to look helplessly at Nessa, mildly put-off by the comparison of humans to machine. She has nothing to add there! Nothing she can supply! And the poor dying woman is on the wrong side of the in-ring conflict! ..Then again, neither Katsumi nor Naiad are particularly 'good' people. So either one of them losing is breaking about even to the audience.

On-screen, the two ladies have squared off. Naiad looks intensely focused. Alternately, Katsumi still wears that wicked smile. The bell sounds, and they're off. From the start, Katsumi is overwhelming her smaller opponent, rushing her into a corner to press a forearm across her neck in a choke! The referee gets involved to break them away, and the punkette seems to comply - only to come back in with a kick to the midsection and carry on with the punishment from there.

"Oh, nonono!," protests Sindie to Vivian. "That's not what Ah meant! Ah ain't worried about that! I'm just so curious about it all! It ain't anything like what I'm used to thinkin' about, it's all just fascinating!"

Michael Hannigan has posed:
Nick glances back to the table as Mason looks back. Wondering for a few moments before looking back to the screen. "Not quite what I meant but that would be kind of funny. And he might be baffled long enough to get an advantage."

Might. Not likely.

Nessa Donovan has posed:
Maybe Nessa's rooting for the 'wrong' team, but she doesn't seem to care about that one way or another. Besides, crowds are way less likely to lynch in the VIP area. Hopefully. She glances to Vivian, then to Sindie. "I imagine a lot of people ask those kinds of questions. People are naturally curious about what they don't understand." She looks back to the screen. "I'm so glad I'm not a wrestler. Holy shit I'd be so bad at this. And in pain all the time."

Vivian Vision has posed:
"Actually no not really," Vivian admits. "Mostly I interact with people in the superhero community who don't give it a second thought. Or regular Humans who can't see through the holographic disguise I use. It's a lost easier than dealing with the more hostile reactions some people have."

She hrms at the show.

"It does not look /that/ challenging? Certainly the physical requirements are not impossible."

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
"I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna bloody feggin' do it." Mason is already grinning ear to ear, brimming with an almost child-like glee. Nick may not be aware of this, but this is absolutely within Mr. Maloney's wheelhouse. And the audience is going to get a kick out of it. Vlad... well, they'll just have to find out, won't they?

"Well, it sure ain't gentle," Sindie notes to Nessa. Oh, this is a topic she can engage with on the poor terminal woman! It's just talking shop. "Whatever else, the Japanese wrestlers hit extra hard. You'll probably see your friend there-"

She pauses, as the screen currently shows Naiad having caught Katsumi in a waistlock and landing a side suplex.

"-..well, a little later probably, kickin' her. It'll look real rough."

Then to Vivian, Sindie smiles. "'Course it ain't impossible, sweetpea. You're seein' people do it right there!"

And in just that small amount of time, Katsumi has wound up on her feet again, looking vulnerable. Naiad grabs her by the shoulder and arm and whips her against the ropes. She readies a clothesline, but surprise! It whiffs over a tumbling Katsumi. And when she turns to retrace her target, Katsumi is already poised and ready for her. Her right leg snaps forward in what looks like a low kick, only to sharply change the angle into a high snap, colliding with the side of Naiad's head. The Russian's arms drop, she wobbles, and collapses back while the announcers rave, referring to the traditionally MMA move - a question mark kick - as "The Heartbreaker".

"See that? That there?," Sindie says, pointing at the monitor. "Sofia's gonna have a heck of a bruise. Just.. real harsh." Finally, back to Vivian, she asks, "Yer really studyin' how this works, ain't'cha?"

Michael Hannigan has posed:
Nick blinks, looking to the change in expression as he glances back to the table. No-

He looks back to Mason's face. Seeing it very much following with the look seen in concert goers after a few beers he knows.

He means it.

Nick starts laughing. "Is that actually all-" He pauses, "...right probably so." If chair hits haven't gotten anyone kicked out... "A Poultry Pummel is probably fair game."

Nessa Donovan has posed:
"I mean, I did a little research on how some of this works, but it's always hard to actually see it in person. I've got... well, no brawling experience. I can imagine the more you get hit the more you get used to it, though?"

While Nessa's having the conversation, she's not turning away from the fight. She's genuinely curious too. She does, however, glance over her shoulder in Nick's direction for a moment as if to check on him.

Vivian Vision has posed:
"I'm paying some degree of attention yes. You never know when you might need to elbow drop someones evil alternate universe doppelganger," Vivian states solemnly. "Which is a real thing that's happening in the world so.. If you ever see yourself please call the authorities and then get to a safe location."

There's no hint that's a joke. But then evil doppelgangers really are invading!

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
"Hahah! And this was totally your idea, y'absolute mad lad!," laughs Mason. "Win or lose, people are gonna be talkin' about the fly-by drummin' heard 'round the world!" It's an unbridled sort of excitement this Irishman has now, as if new life has been injected into his upcoming match.

"Um," says Sindie, blinking slowly at Vivian. "Yes, ma'am." She is absolutely taking her at her word.

Then to Nessa, she nods. "Ya toughen up. But don't worry, we don't try to /really/ injure each other. We gotta learn self-control."

And as she says this, Katsumi is setting up something that doesn't at all look like it's meant to take good care of Naiad. She's carrying the other girl aloft vertically, her left arm around Naiad's neck while her right hand keeps her supported at the waist. Suddenly, Katsumi is pivoting with her in the air, slamming Naiad down on her back while she, herself, lands across her torso. Remaining poised over her fallen form, she hooks a leg and the referee drops in. According to the announcers, that's called the "Nightmare Fuel".

Naiad does not kick out of that pin. The Russians are down one teammate.

Katsumi lets the referee raise her hand while Naiad writhes on the mat. As soon as her arm is free, she brings her fists to her eyes and mockingly 'boo-hoo-hoo's', hips bopping side-to-side with each twist of her wrists.

She slides out of the ring and makes her way back up the ramp, hands raised with palms outturned to either side of the aisle in disinterested acknowledgment to the audience jeering her.

"And that's that," sighs Sindie. "I'll be back in a minute. Gotta get dressed."

The cobalt blue sky steadily darkens as the sun nears the horizon. As it approaches, the freight ship slows. Dock workers already prepare to unload the oncoming cargo.

Michael Hannigan has posed:
"You're more than welcome to take the credit yourself." Nick offers, "I was thinking of the wooden drumsticks... because vampire. But hey, got to make use of what you have available."

And this is how Drago gets blamed for the lack of catering for the next few wrestling shows.

Nessa Donovan has posed:
"I mean, sure, it's not like you guys actually try to beat the shit out of each other. It's just a matter of hitting but not making it as hard as you want it to look. You're taking hits either way..." Nessa's not so fond of taking hits, but she usually doesn't let anyone that close in the first place. She leans in towards the screen a bit as she intently watches, actually pumping a fist in the air when she sees Kat make her way out.

She glances towards Sindie as she heads off, giving her a nod. "Good luck!"

Vivian Vision has posed:
"I was about to say break a leg but I think that is for actors and seems... inauspicious. So instead I will say good luck as well," Vivian says to Sindie as she heads off to get changed. "I don't think some of these moves will turn out to be very practical. Miming tears after you have defeated someone just seems rude..." Her head tilts to one side. "The body slam drop however I could use."

She glances over to Nessa. "Do you attend many of these events? I am curious if the experience is drastically different in the crowd. I would imagine the view is worse but the atmosphere is more.. authentic?"

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
"Necessity!," announces Mason. "It's the blessed mother of invention! Y'don't have t'be so modest! It'll be great!" There is no dissuading the U.K. exemplar from this clearly brilliant idea that Nick absolutely gave him.

Sindie lingers at the doorway, looking at Vivian, then Nessa. "Ah'm gonna hold you to that." She knows what's coming. They don't. With a cagey smile, she dips out of view.

It takes a little bit, but Katsumi strolls into the room with a wide, toothy grin. She pauses at the doorframe to prop her shoulder, arms folding smugly over her modest bust. "Aahhh~?," she drawls, clearly attempting to draw praise. But she doesn't remain there long before bounding up to Nessa and Vivian. Her silky hair is tussled, her body scuffed, and skin slightly aglisten in sweat - even if they hadn't just witnessed the match on screen, it'd be clear she's been in a fight. But Katsumi is positively brimming with energy. "What's up? You guys see? Was it awesome, or was it too badass to handle?" She's bobbing excitedly on her boots, hands clasped together beneath her chin.

In fairness, Katsumi has never actually had a non-fan friend come specifically to see her fight. This is very new for her.

Michael Hannigan has posed:
Nick tilts his head before he gives a nod. Looking to the screen to find one match done and then to the door to see the triumphant wrestler entering in and bouncing over to Nessa. "Hey, who's that?"

Nessa Donovan has posed:
"I've never been to anything like this in my life. My family's Irish, though, so I've seen my fair share of bar brawls, and this all looks so much worse. And I've seen my cousins lose teeth," Nessa notes to Vivian. "The crowd sort of seems to add to it, though. Feels less like you're worrying about someone dying or ruining a family than in a pub. Real sports."

When Kat returns, the ice mage offers a broad grin. "You kicked ass! That's way more entertaining than I even anticipated. How many more do you get to do tonight?" She does take a moment to try and visually assess Kat. "You aren't too worn out from that one, right? I want you to win the whole damn thing. I gotta have something to brag about at work later."

Vivian Vision has posed:
"I hope you are finding it as educational as I am," Viv offers to Nessa with a smile. She gives Katsumi a nod of greeting when she returns. "I am glad you remain uninjured. It seems like a very high risk profession. But I do think I'll be able to replicate at least one of those moves for use in actual combat. So I'd say my trip has been a success so far."

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
"That?," asks Mason, brazenly pointing to Katsumi. "That's Katsumi Oshiro." He leans conspiratorially to Nick and stage-whispers, "Bit of a psychopath. Real piece o' work. Not well-liked by anyone. Even her own team told'er to piss off a month ago. She was havin' mental breakdowns or somethin', and they were worried she'd screw everything up. I wouldn't wanna get in the ring with'er, but not because I couldn't take'er! More because I don't trust'er to not bring in a chainsaw."

Katsumi is pretending to not hear any of that, but it's clearly audible from where they are. The only indication that she's picking up on it is a slight firming of her jaw. She's determined to focus only on the positive tonight, to not lose it and screw this up. Too much rides on it. /Everything/ rides on it. Thankfully, Nessa is providing her with much-needed positive reinforcement. Her smile softens, but only briefly. She's right back to the bravado. "Hell no, I'm not too worn out! It's like I barely got warmed up!"

Not really. Her breathing is a bit labored, and thanks to the scant nature of her attire, is a bit difficult to hide. To Vivian, her magenta eyes widen in shock. "Don't steal my moves! Those are mine!," she fusses. "Bad etiquette!"

As if she's one to talk.

Suddenly, Delaney's head peeks around the corner. "Maloney, you're on gorilla, remember?"

"Aahh!" Maloney jolts to his feet with a start and takes two steps towards the door, only to pause, double back, and race to the buffet table. After a moment of pilfering, he rushes past a confused Delaney.

"The heck are you-" It's too late. Mason is tearing down the hall. Bewildered, Delaney shakes his head. "Oshiro! You're after that."

Katsumi whirls on heel with a blink. "Wuh? But I just-"

Delaney raises one arm into view in an animated shrug. "One of the girls is having some... anxiety issues. She needs a minute, and your match went quick. So you're on deck. You'll be alright!" And before she can protest, he vanishes around the corner again.

Despite the bravado, Katsumi stares dumbfounded. "Uh.. huh. Okay. Guess you guys don't have to wait long to see me fight again."

Michael Hannigan has posed:
Nick's head moves quickly as he watches his new aquaintance mimicking the nature of his prop as he runs one way then back to grab some chicken and head back to the door. "He's actually going to do it..." He murmurs.

He waits a few moments before he looks over to Katsumi, considering what Mason said. Was that also part of the show's theme? Hmm. He gets up, walking over to Nessa and Katsumi. Smiling to the both of them. "Hey Nessa" He greets the one he's actually met before first before looking to the wrestler companion. "Hey, have a good match."

Nessa Donovan has posed:
Nessa's gaze is drawn to the drumstick wielding wrestler as he rushes off, an amused expression on her face. "Maybe a little improv isn't so bad in these things, if you have a partner you trust well enough."

The mention of Katsumi going on again soon has her raising an eyebrow, but she offers a reassuring smile. "Well, you said you were just getting warmed up, maybe it won't be so bad. So long as you've had enough time to catch your breath. You need any water or something? Extra chilled?"

When Nick makes his way over, she offers him a bit of a wave. "Nice to see you. Something isn't about to go catastrophically wrong, is it? I only seem to see you when there's about to be some kind of trouble."

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
Katsumi Oshiro is dazed, taking a moment to process what Nessa says. But when it hits her, she glances back to the fair-haired friend with a soft, genuine smile. She's so ridiculously nice to her for no reason, it continues to take her by surprise. She lifts a hand to lightly set over Nessa's shoulder, a small appreciative gesture. "I'll be alright," she says, her tone a little milder. She glances to Nick, unfortunately not recognizing him from his work, but deciding to excuse herself to get the water to let the two of them talk for a second. Not that she'll be gone for more than a few seconds.

On-screen, the much-anticipated Vlad has made his way to the ring. Long black hair, pale skin, imposing but lean. Next up, Maloney. His stats are given, and the spry Irishman bursts onto the scene, chickenleg in hand. He swaggers down to the ring, but doesn't enter before taking a bite out of the meat. Vlad looks perplexed.

Mason circles the ring and snatches up a microphone from the commentators' table.

"Oi, New York! You got a vampire problem, do ye!?," he calls. He strolls up the steps to the corner of the ring and neatly weaves the ropes. "Well, I hate to tell ye, I been talkin' to my boy backstage! Y'all might know'em! Little musician, goes by Drago!"

A cheer rises up from the audience, Mason pointing the microphone outwards briefly as if to amplify it. He continues, "And he gave me an idea! I may not have a stake to vanquish big blust'ry Dracula o'er there! But I /do/ have a drumstick! And it might just do the trick!"

The camera focuses on Vlad, who looks beyond confused. He raises an index finger to Mason, as if to warn him off from doing anything.


Mason hucks the chickenleg, and it bounces harmlessly off of Vlad's torso. The audience laughs uproariously. And then Vlad is rushing Mason like a maddog, the referee scrambling to ring the bell to begin the match.

Michael Hannigan has posed:
As Nessa asks if something bad is going to happen, he gives an apologetic look. "Depends on how hard Mason throws the chicken, I guess?" The musician replies, voice a bit low as he glances to the doorway. "Ever watch a random comment just snowball into an actual thing?"

The sounds of the next entrance starting draws Nick's attention to the screen. He grows quiet, and upon the mention of his name, he brings a hand up to his face, index finger and middle finger pressed to his lips as the thumb rests under his chin. The remaining fingers curled inwards. Oh boy. By the time the chicken leg bounces off of Vlad, Nick's hand adjusts, cupping the face from the nose on down as he bites back laughter.

Nessa Donovan has posed:
"... I can't believe that just happened."

Nessa's attention had drifted back to the screen to check out the fighters and the chicken drumstick is just... classic. "Yeah, that's the kind of stuff I'd have to pull to manage to stay in a ring for more than two seconds. Clearly I'd be an audience favorite because they'd pity me and find my sarcasm amusing."

She lets her attention turn back towards Kat as the fighting begins. "Well, I'm glad you're doing okay." When Nick mentions the random comment snowball, she grins. "I mean, yes. Apparently I'm here because I'm dying of skin cancer and it's for the PR." She shrugs a shoulder. "And an offhand comment is how the Ladies Book Club started."

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
"Oh my god, you're a f***ing psycho," Katsumi chastises as she returns to Nessa's side. "Like, Sindie's not a /complete/ b****, and I like to screw with'er, but she took you /so/ seriously! She thinks you're dying!"

She cracks the lid on the waterbottle before taking a swig. In the interim, her gaze turns to Nick. "Who're you?," she asks, possibly not quite meaning the question to come across as confrontational as it is. "You the dude Loudmouth McRedheadedStepchild was talking about?" Nevermind that Mason is blond.

Speaking of, in the ring, Mason is not having a great time. He's getting veritably clobbered. But in a sudden turn of events, the Irishman is utilizing the ropes to springboard over Vlad, hit the opposite ropes, and return with a flying punch. The referee closes in to fuss over the closed fist, and Mason pretends to not understand the problem while Vlad wallows in a daze.

Michael Hannigan has posed:
Laugh eventually dying enough to where the mouth can be uncovered Nick is still smiling when Nessa lists off what she did. At the mention of cancer, the smile fades a bit. "...Ok. You win. Short of directly saying that you have cancer I'm not sure how they would have gotten that idea."

As Katsumi inquires to who he is, he looks over to the woman. "If you mean the blonde who brought food into the ring, yeah."

Nessa Donovan has posed:
"Kind of easier to say that than try and explain this," Nessa gestures to her gloved and turtleneck clad form. "I honestly didn't expect to be believed. More realistic than being on a superhero team, though..." There's a tone of amusement in her voice. "I'll apologize to her if I get the chance. She doesn't seem like an awful human being."

Vivian Vision has posed:
Vivian returns, having recently disappeared for a short while to put together a plate of reasonably healthy food for Doctor Pym, leaving a trail of slightly confused VIPs wondering just who the weird non-Human looking girl might be. Still by this point enough of the guests have sampled the free drinks so it doesn't cause too much of a kerfuffle.

"I hope that the performer was certain his opponent was not a vegetarian before throwing poultry like that." She frowns. "And that the ring is properly cleaned between matches."

She gives Nessa a re-assuring smile (Or at least what she thinks would be reassuring) and then notes "I'm sure you could be involved in a superhero team if you really wanted. Many have vital non-combat roles in fields such as administration or law that are just as important to the safety of the world as the villain punching."

Hank Pym has posed:
Hank Pym walks over to Delaney. He finally notices Mike... Nick and gives him a tough guy up nod. Mike might recognize the look in his eyes from the mission he went on. Cold as ice and hard as steel. It does not guarantee a quiet evening. However, when Vivian approaches he speaks and the scientist is almost soft spoken, "Mental problems are nothing to joke about. It's the twenty first century. I don't know Ms. Oshiro but I think Mason might be exaggerating a bit, or engaging in what is it... cheap talk or canned heat? Also not cool. And maybe he should stop."

He eyes the plate of healthy food the young synthezoid brings him and says, "Thank you. I had my dinner. I am snacking on a donut now. Are you finding this event interesting? Making friends?"

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
Delaney has rushed off! He's a busy man with a lot to take care of, running this whole show!

Ringside, Vlad is starting to recover from the superman punch he'd received. And yes, that's actually what it's called. And once he's on his feet, he's pummeled with a series of forearm strikes, keeping him seemingly jostled. With a gleeful YAWP, he races to the opposite side of the ring, rebounds from the ropes, and rushes back in - only to be caught by the throat and stopped flat by Vlad. The audience goes wild as the Russian begins to raise him into the air...

"I don't want anyone thinking I'm going /soft/ or anything, but..." Katsumi giggles and folds her arms neatly over her midsection. "...you probably should. She's like the nicest person at this event. It's gross. But you don't want her dedicating her next match in your memory. You might actually have to change your name and identity after something like that."

Katsumi gives Nick an obvious and uncharitable once-over with her gaze. There's no personal reason for her to be hostile towards him. But something about him being chummy with the guy who said some really hurtful things about her makes her prickly. "And you're like a musician or something, huh?," she asks, her tone approaching but not quite neutral.

Vivian gets a lingering glance as she makes her way to Hank, curious. But a smile returns to her face with what she says, choosing to firmly ignore Hank in favor of avoiding engaging in the topic of Mason's insults. She knows herself. She knows how she'll get. It's tempting, to the point where it feels like her heart is being physically tugged, but she's biting it back and instead focusing on a lighter subject. "If you do the superhero thing, even if you're a lameass clerk, you gotta wear a sexy costume. That's the rule."

On screen, Mason is elevated. The audience is going wild. This could be it! But no! The spry Irishman thumps his feet into Vlad's torso to free himself from the grip, resulting in an acrobatic backflip. He pops into the air, grabs onto Vlad's head, and drops onto his back, pulling Vlad's face down onto his upraised knees. Those in the know might recognize this move as a "codebreaker".

At last, Naiad makes her way back into the room. Her left hand supports an icepack against her temple, and she quietly makes her way to the corner of the room to take a seat.

Michael Hannigan has posed:
Nick looks to the turtleneck and gloves, tilting his head curiously. "You couldn't have said you get cold easily?" He asks, looking to Nessa. "Still technically winter. Some people just have poor circulation."

He looks over to Vivian, "I just met him but, I'm not sure he's the type to think about such things. I got the sense that he was more of an impulsive type. Still, beats being hit by a chair.- " He pauses looking to Katsumi, "Yeah. Entertainer. You guys, REALLY get into character backstage, don't you?"

As Hank comes up, he looks over to the scientist, looking to him curiously. Yes, they picked words already but, how does one just put it into phrases? And how does that work anyways? Is he supposed to state the word HE picked or the one Hank picked? "The catering is pretty good here." He responds, "The sliders kind of remind me of the ones offered at this one cafe...Hmm. What was the name of it?"

Nessa Donovan has posed:
"Yeah, I suppose. Don't really look like I should be back here hobnobbing with the important people," Nessa shrugs a little, her gaze momentarily checking on the screen with the match before back at the others. "Really, most people just sort of avoid mentioning it so I don't have to answer odd questions."

At the mention of sexy clerical worker costumes, she laughs. "I suppose even superhero teams need to eat, right? Don't know if costumes are required for that." There's a look of amusement. "Don't know that I'm much of a team player anyways. Used to kind of being solo."

Vivian Vision has posed:
Vivian Vision shrugs when Hank turns down the food. It was only healthy-ish. So there are plenty of choice finger foods on the plate she can offer to Nessa, Katsumi and Nick.

"I do not think that comment regarding indecent costumes is actually true," she states solemnly. "Some members of the Titans do dress in a manner which is visually pleasing but they do not mandate lewd outfits." She gestures down at her own clothing which while being loud in the colour department, in that it's mostly green and yellow, is pretty modest.

"Of course if you /like/ dressing up a certain way then you should always feel free to do so." She glances back to Hank. "I spoke to Miss Walters earlier and have been 'mingling' since then."

Hank Pym has posed:
Hank Pym takes a moment to respond to Nick looking past him... "We had the sliders in Lalo. You'd just come back from Europe... I don't recall where... when you think of it tell me." He slips around the musician to snag another water bottle and head to the corner where naiad is licking her wounds. Hank Pym, you are almost certainly going to Hell. Then again there is already so much he's going to Hell for. he sits next to the Russian wrestler and offers her the water bottle.

"People do not remember the number of times you are knocked down. They remember the times you get back up."

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
Katsumi Oshiro eyeshifts to Vivian and lifts a pair of fingers to try to set over her lips, rather bold in her lack of social propriety. "Shh-shh, no. It's a rule, Nessa. You're not allowed to break'em. You need to take pride in your work," she teasingly admonishes. She's very aware how her friend is about skimpy attire, particularly where it relates to exposed skin. She's also aware that there's a reason for it outside of shyness. But the Punk Princess can't not weedle and poke fun.

On-screen, Mason seems to be setting up a finish. The crowd is on their feet, and Vlad is very slowly recollecting himself. Mason dashes up the corner post, poised at the ready. And when Vlad is fully upright and facing him, Mason leaps from his roost to impact him knees-first, bearing him back down to the mat. The announcers are wildly declaring the move, otherwise known as a meteora, the "Whiskey Bomb".

Rather than go for the pin, however, Mason rolls to the side and snatches the errant drumstick. He pounces at Vlad, jabbing the end of the chickenleg against his heart. "YAAAHHHH!" Vlad's limbs shoot up, the extremities twitching, before falling limp. The referee gives the easy three-count, Mason Belmont having slain Vlad Dracurussian. The crowd is eating it up.

"/Character/?," asks Katsumi to Nick, affronted by the implication. And the question comes with a dangerous, feminine headweave. You know the one. You know the warning sign.

Before anything can come of it, a young man wearing a headset leans around the corner of the entrance. "Katsumi? You're needed in position."

Still staring at Nick, the diva starts to back away from the grouping. She points at Nick, bobbing the index finger wordlessly. And then she's rushing around the corner, presumably to prepare for the next match.

Meanwhile, the Russian starlet takes the waterbottle. She's clearly not in the best mood anymore, but she puts on an appreciative smile for Hank's benefit. "Yes. That is so," she says, considerably more subdued than she'd been when tossing barbs back and forth with the Punk Princess. She adjusts the icepack against her head. "Thank you."

On-screen, Mason is celebrating his victory with a strut around the ring before hucking the drumstick out into the audience. A section of the house clamors for it as if diving for a foul ball. Behind him, however, Vlad seems to lift effortlessly, mystically, to his full height again in total 'vampiric' fashion, eyes wide and snarl on his face. Mason turns, startles, and flees the ring while Vlad pursues! And so, both wrestlers have left the view of the cameras.

Michael Hannigan has posed:
"Ok, Well, next time you could tell them you won the passes in a contest or charity raffle. Still probably one of the more cost effective way to encourage viewership, listeners, or donations."

As Hank answers his question Nick nods. "Oh yeaaaah. It was after the last show of the UK tour. London, I think."

It's not what Katsumi says that draws his attention back to the wrestler. But the tone does cause for him to look back to her just in time to see the expression. He grows quiet, looking to the finger being wagged at him. When Katsumi disappears from sight he glances over to Nessa. "...Ok, what did I say?"

Nessa Donovan has posed:
Nessa's amused expression carries on. "Sure, but I dress more for convenience than for what I like. It's easier on other people so I go with it. Kat's gotten me to try out something different, though. She's much better with fashion anyway." As she watches the end of the match, she looks curious. "Are /all/ wrestling moves named? And named weird things?"

When Katsumi's called to head out for her match, Nessa smiles brightly. "Kick some ass, take some names. I'll be watching." As she leaves, she looks back to Nick. "You're not supposed to acknowledge that there's any sort of 'staged' bits to it, as far as I know. It's a big secret. Besides, it's not always all a character. I'm not the expert, though, I've pretty much only learned a bit about this stuff because of Katsumi. It's a big part of her life and is important to her."

Vivian Vision has posed:
"A quick online search reveals that many of the 'best' finishers have odd names," Vivian informs helpfully. "Such as 'Sweet Chin Music' Other odd names include the 'Figure-Four Leglock', 'Vertebreaker' and 'Canadian Destroyer'." Sometimes it's rather handy having the internet in your mind.

She hrms at the point about it being rude to bring up how it might be staged. "I see... I was unaware of that cultural convention too. Which may have been obvious from some of my questions... I shall keep that in mind for the future."

Hank Pym has posed:
Hank Pym gives Naiad a smile. "I'll let you rest, if you can. It was nice meeting you. I hope you feel better." He starts to leave figuring on talking more the Nick and Vivian and the young woman in their group. He suddenly feels very forty.

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
Sudden, the sound of boisterous laughter fills the room as Mason and Vlad enter together. "Who was it? Who said do it? Was it this man?," Vlad asks, pointing directly at Nick.

Laughing, Mason nods. He can't even manage to speak yet. He leans back against the wall beside the door, letting Vlad leave him.

"DRAGO!," announces Vlad on approach, broad smile on his sweaty face. "Brilliant and stupid, the best kind of idea! Just what these people need to take edge off!" Like Naiad, his English is heavily accented and a bit broken. But his grasp of it is a little better than hers. "Mason leave looking clever, Vlad leave looking scary. Win win! Good call!" A hand swings in to firmly clap to Nick's back in acknowledgment. "America Hollywood giving you people such ideas, I love it!"

Naiad watches from the corner, slightly mortified with embarrassment for her team. Hank gives her a distraction from this, her gray eyes focusing back on him. "O-oh, yes. It was pleasure."

Finally, Mason joins the group. "We don't usually talk about that kind'a thing, but some people are extra touchy about it. But after a stunt like this, who the feg's gonna care, yeh?" To the ladies, he presents his hand. "Mason Maloney, pleasure 'ta meet'cha lot."

On-screen, the show is taking a brief break while the ring is quickly cleaned off. A chickenleg did a Hell of a lot of rolling around in their last match, and just in case someone has an allergy. In that interim, Katsumi bobs eagerly behind the curtain. She'll be the first out this time, and it's really starting to hit her how energetic she's feeling. She should be at least a /little/ worn down after fighting Naiad, but she feels remarkably well-rested. Enough so that she's bobbing eagerly on her boots. Outside, the sun has begun to sink out of sight, casting a myriad of pastels across the sky. Stars have begun peeking out against the furthest edges of the eastern horizon.

Michael Hannigan has posed:
Nick arches a brow, glancing back to the door. "Oh..." As he's glancing that way the pair that were just fighting on screen enter in, all buddy buddy- which REALLY doesn't support Nessa's explanation. As the wrestler even wider and taller than Mason approaches him, the comparitively small looking musician tilts his head upwards. Momentarily not sure why he's being approached but that is soon explained. His back straigtens a bit at the backclap but he gives a slight smile. Okay. Looks like they won't be blaming the lack of catering at the next few events on Nick after all!

"Well...glad it worked out."

Nessa Donovan has posed:
"I think the names that don't even give you an idea of what it actually looks like are even better. Sounds mysterious," Nessa chuckles lightly. "I don't think anyone minds the questions, so long as you don't make it like a... really obvious show of it. It's kind of like telling someone there's no Santa Claus. But again, just from my research. The internet's a weird place..."

At Mason's offered hand, she slowly accepts it with her own gloved one. "Nessa Donovan. Nice job out there... that was definitely a great bit of show. Not that I'm an expert, but this newbie enjoyed it. Bit more amusing than a bar brawl." She pauses. "Sometimes. I've seen some good ones."

Vivian Vision has posed:
"No-one exploded or was shot by plasma beams. So it was unlike any conflicts I've seen," Vivian admits. "I'm Vivian Vision, also a first time attendee at such an event."

She frowns.

"I wonder if I should ask Thor or Doctor Strange if Santa Claus actually is a myth. It's entirely possible for such an entity to exist but also be a white lie told to children."

Hank Pym has posed:
One of these times, Hank is going to leave and someone... will tell him to stay. Maria did. Janet used to. He walks back to Nick and impulsively grabs a flute of champagne off a tray. People build up an immunity faster than demerol. He nods to Vlad and Mason, raising an eyebrow at the different dynamic. Yes he doesn't do well with most people. He quietly sips champagne.

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
His hand is taken and given a shake, but Mason's eyes have widened at Nessa. "Bloody Hell, did you 'ear that, Vlad?" He looks to the large Russian. "She said there's no Santa Claus."

Vlad recoils, as if taken aback by such a turn of events. "What is this?"

"Jiminy Christmas..."


"Can y'believe that?"

The Russian shakes his head with the sort of consternated disappointment usually only seen from Mr. T anti-drug PSA's.

After they've had their fun teasing Nessa, Mason turns his attention to Vivian with a wry smile. "And a vision y'are, ay?" Casual flirtation from Team UK.

Vlad just goes back to eagerly nodding at Nick. "It will be talked about for quite some time," he assures.

On-screen, it looks like things are starting up again. The heavy strums of "Enemy" by Blue Stahli begins to fill the arena. Katsumi's stats are given again:

"At 5'7", weighing in at 124 lbs.! The Punk Princess herself, back for ROUND TWO! Katsumi! OOOOSHIROOO!"

Like last time, Katsumi dashes into view amidst an array of purple and green laserlights. Arms are raised to either side, her head tipped back, soaking in the- well, boos and jeers of the audience. She does not have support in this crowd. But she doesn't seem to care as she strolls towards the ring, confidently casual, arms girlishly swinging to and fro. Upon reaching the ring's edge, she grabs the middle rope and swings herself up onto the apron. Turning to face the audience, she arches her back over the top rope before smoothly rolling over the cable to land neatly on her boots. She struts the mat from corner to corner, eyes happily shut and cocky smile on her face, before finally settling back into her corner.

Meanwhile, Vlad looks to Hank as he approaches, immediately taking note of his attire. "Oh, who might you be? You look very well today, nice to have you." Oddly polite from the vampiric Russian.

Michael Hannigan has posed:
"Or possibly it's referring to an organization of various gift distributing factions rather than just one person." The musician spitballs, "The real reason why all presents get delivered on time." He grins slightly as he looks to Vlad greeting Hank.

Nick turns looking between the two wrestlers and the Avengers, "Oh Vlad, meet Dr. Hank Pym. Hank, meet Vlad and Mason. They just came in from the previous match."

Nessa Donovan has posed:
Nessa rolls her eyes, but the grin on her face indicates she's not actually annoyed at the good-natured ribbing. "Don't worry, we all know Frosty the Snowman's the real brains behind the Santa operation. Who better to bring the magic of Christmas than with a magic bit of snow," she comments, though her attention slips back to the screen to watch Katsumi, making a face at the boos. "At least they love to hate her..."

She stretches her arms a bit. "I've got to say, I haven't seen her with this much energy in a while. Must be the adrenaline rush. It's good to see, actually." There is, however, the tiniest hint of worry in her tone.

Vivian Vision has posed:
Vivian Vision looks blankly at Mason. "I don't understand what that means," she states. "But I should inform you I am a high school student. Who can throw a bus." Not exactly the warmest response to flirting. But technically accurate information.

Her mental subdivisions are still watching the show for her. Some sections now splitting off to form 'working groups' on how viable various techniques could be for an actual superhero brawl. Given her powerset the answer is larger than you might first assume!

"Doctor Pym is one of my organic family members." She adds to the introduction Nick has given for Hank.

Hank Pym has posed:
Hank Pym offers the big Russian his hand and says, "Spasibo for the compliment and privyet. I'm Hank. I used to be a superhero or something, they tell me." He drains the flute and grabs a stuffed mushroom from a passing server. "It's a pity there wasn't any steak in the buffet. Steak sounds like 'stake' a sharp piece of wood for... you..." Hank mimes stabbing himself in the chest. "And before you start a whole conversation, my Russian is limited to phrasebook Russian... and a couple bad words from someone I was arguing with. I assume they were bad words." Good assumption, he dislocated the man's thumb and saved a busload of Black Widow cadets being held hostage.

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
"Whooaa!," says Mason, leaning back at the mention of Vivian being a highschooler. It's an implicit, if not unabashed, admission of original intent. But at least he knows when to bail! "Y'can stop with the highschooler bit, love, it's plenty enough for respectable guys like meself. Talkin' up how tough ye are only goes in the opposite direction for a crowd like this!"

Vlad nods to Hank as they're introduced. Mason's all busy with the fairer robosex, but Vlad seems to have a bit more of his wherewithal. "Dr. Hank Pym," he repeats. "Name is familiar. Pym. I have heard of this, yes?" A curious look is cast to Mason, who is of no use. Then to Nessa, then Vivian. Vivian's mention of being an 'organic family member' doesn't clear things up for him. But as Hank explains, the eyes widen. "Ohhh, superhero! That is very cool, very big respectable. No, chicken piece is funny, people remember for it not being so obvious. Seem like random humor, yes?" He gives a toothy grin. "It is fine! I speak good English! Make up for it!"

"Oh, she's bloody brilliant at makin' people hate'er," Mason remarks, glancing briefly to the screen. "Y'might even call it 'effortless' for her." Cheeky grin.

On-screen, the lights in the arena have dimmed down. The harmonica notes of "Timber" begin playing, and the next contender's stats are listed. She seems evenly matched with Katsumi - a couple pounds heavier, an inch taller. Oh, and: "SINDIE! SWAAAAN!"

Clad in sparkling white, the American sweetheart emerges with arms raised and radiant smile. Naturally, a stetson rests atop her blonde hair, and as she begins strutting down the ramp, she blows a kiss to the hovering camera. Unlike Katsumi, she drifts from side to side, doling out high-fives and hugs. Needless to say, the audience reaction to her is a night and day difference to the punkette. And when she climbs the ring, pausing to wave to the fans, she settles into her corner to glare /hard/ at Katsumi. Katsumi returns the look.

Michael Hannigan has posed:
Nick looks over to Hank. "They used a chicken drumstick." He explains, putting emphasis on the 'stick' part of the sentence. As the sounds of the match starts up, he glances over to the screen, observing the reponses both on screen and in the commentary provided by Mason, "Not having the home team advantage probably helps a bit in getting that reaction as well."

Nessa Donovan has posed:
"Yeah, well, she's a friend... and a badass regardless of how the crowd likes or dislikes her," Nessa glances at the screen. "They've got good... I dunno, hate chemistry? I imagine the fans are probably loving that." She nods in Nick's direction. "Yeah, I can't imagine there's gonna be a lot of support for her in the crowd."

Vivian Vision has posed:
"But I made no mention of my durability," Vivian points out matter-of-factly. Clearly the concept of 'talking up how tough she is' doesn't compute. "I am also unsure what a bit is. At least in this context. I was simply stating empirical facts."

A shrug.

"I hope no-one will mind but I am going to go try find a spot from which I can directly observe the match. I hope you all have pleasant evenings."

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
"It sure isn't helpin' 'er," Mason says. He then quickly adds, "Heat," to Nick. "We call it 'heat'. When there's a good bit o' DRAMA between two fighters and the audience can eat it up. Makes it excitin'. And those two, there couldn't be more opposites."

At the belltone, the fighters clash with explosive ferocity. Katsumi leads with a side headlock, only for Sindie to twist her arm and unwind it into a standing wristlock. Katsumi winces with the hold, but tilts into a handspring reversal. The arm is redirected behind Sindie's back, transitioning it into a hammerlock. After a moment of flailing, Sindie counters into a hammerlock of her own, tucked in behind Katsumi. The Punk Princess reaches over her shoulder with her free arm to catch Sindie's head and pull, yanking her over her shoulder to land her seated on the mat before her. Her knee presses against the center of her back, and Katsumi pulls back on her arms, hyper-extending them backwards in a surfboard stretch. Each hold and reversal flows and locks together, point to point, with snappy precision.

"She's got a decent technical game, though," Mason offers with a glance to Nessa. He's picked up by now that Nessa is perhaps a little protective. And in fairness, he's not a total jerk. And then to Vivian, he isn't entirely sure what to say. So he just nods blankly.

Michael Hannigan has posed:
"So they provide each other contrast." Nick surmises, continuing to watch the fight.

Nessa Donovan has posed:
Given that Mason's not insulting Katsumi behind her back, Nessa seems content to keep the conversation up as she watches. "Yeah, it seems very natural, practiced. Sharp. I know she's trained a lot, so I imagine that's where it comes from." She nods idly in Nick's direction. "The opposites thing kind of works well in this case. Should definitely keep things interesting." She's paying plenty of attention to the flow of the fight.

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
And flow, the fight certainly is. After suffering in the hold for a number of seconds, Sindie seems to power her way through and work an arm free to fire an elbow back into Katsumi's midsection a few times to leave her stunned. And now begins to hallmark of professional wrestling: slams. Katsumi is hoisted and brought back down to the mat hard in a classic scoop bodyslam, recoiling from the impact.

Mason, by this point, has moves to stand alongside Nessa with his arms folded over his sweaty chest. "It always works best with opposites," he notes candidly. Then he gestures to Vlad, who is flanking Nessa's opposite side. "Just like with me and spooky there. Audiences know exactly what they're gonna get!"

"Is true. Is hard not to laugh," adds Vlad. "Vlad is really big softie, likes Toy Story movie."

"Oversharing," chides Mason.

On-screen, Sindie dashes to the side of the ring, hits the ropes, races back, and promptly drops an elbow against Katsumi's chest. The Japanese girl spasms with the impact before finding herself covered for the pin.

...and she gets a shoulder up at two. No pin yet!

"How long you known'er? I'm guessin' ye aren't from Japan."

"This is racist assumption," monotones Vlad.

"Oi, shaddup."

Nessa Donovan has posed:
"Pairing up people with opposites does give you an expectation. I imagine there are times when you challenge those typical ideas and surprise the audience. Would make for something dramatic, sure. I imagine a match between two really likeable people would be hard for an audience to know who to root for," Nessa looks between Vlad and Mason before nodding at the screen.

"Only since they came over from Japan. I'm not always much of a people person, so I guess it kind of works out that she isn't either." There's a bit of amusement there. "She's been a good friend, though. A really good friend. So I'm here." Nessa grins. "But no, I'm not from Japan. Family's from Ireland, though!"

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
"Bloody Hell, a homegirl!," balks Mason, regarding Nessa with newfound interest. "What're ye doin' cheerin' fer Team Origami!?"

"This is also racist."

"Shaddup, ye big polar bear!"

On-screen, Katsumi is slowly pulling herself onto hands and knees while Sindie is much quicker to recover. She takes the Japanese girl by the head, tucks it beneath her arm, and starts to heft her in a proper suplex. But Katsumi's legs flail, disrupting the balance! Her feet set on the mat again, and she pulls Sindie up instead! Into the air she lifts, and squarely down against the mat she lands. Without releasing Sindie's head, Katsumi turns over onto her stomach and flips forward to land on the toes of her boots, arched above Sindie, and wrenching her neck backwards in a submission hold. The referee is immediately watching for a tapout...

"She's flexible," remarks Mason. He pops an eyebrow repeatedly at Vlad, who eyeshifts awkwardly from the screen to Mason. Apparently he's not so used to chummy objectification of the fairer sex, so he attempts to distract himself with Nessa. "You think she is going to take whole tournament? Honest question," he asks. "She is on second round. If she wins this, is only finals left."

Nessa Donovan has posed:
Nessa offers Mason a grin. "This isn't really my usual thing, Katsumi's just a good friend. I pretty much didn't know much about wrestling, but she's really passionate about doing it." She glances at the screen. "You aren't kidding about the flexibility. I'd probably pull something trying to move like that."

She glances over in Mason's direction. "Honestly? I don't know. Everything from what I've seen is good. I know in terms of determination she's really up there--this means a lot to her. I don't know if she'll win the whole thing, but I /hope/ she does. I think she really needs a real win in her life right now."

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
Vlad nods along with Nessa, right up until she says that last part. He gives her a more considerate look at that, weighing what that might mean. He doesn't press her on it, though. Of the two gentlemen, he's by far the more composed and polite.

Sindie refuses to submit. She manages to break free of the hold, and the two combatants are immediately at it again, locking up and quickly moving to trading blows. Katsumi manages to fight Sindie down to her knees and positions her throat across the middle cable, pulling her head down to choke her over it. The referee is having none of her tomfoolery!

Seeming to catch the idea that Nessa's a good source of gossip about the most hated wrestler in the event, Mason pipes up again. "Ye been spendin' much time with'er? Ye heard about her team wantin' her to keep her distance? All I hear's rumors on it. No one tells ol' Maloney what's goin' on." Hint, hint. Ol' Maloney wants details!

Katsumi is forced to release Sindie, who backs away with arms raised in the classic dindunuffin pose. But she moves right back in to collect her prey and continue the abuse. Ultimately, Sindie winds up flat on her back, with Katsumi practically swirling up the nearest turnbuckle in a remarkable display of agility. Without missing a beat, she launches from her perch and pulls a half rotation midair to land her midsection across Sindie's. The audience is going bananas. The commentators are calling the rounding moonsault the "Total Eclipse". Katsumi remains in place for the pin.



Sindie bucks a shoulder off the mat. No dice!

"Bit of a nailbiter," Mason adds aside. He knows how it's supposed to end. He isn't going to spoil it for Nessa.

Nessa Donovan has posed:
Nessa's attention shifts from the screen briefly at the pry for gossip. "Can't say I know the exact details, but I know things haven't been particularly good between her and the team. She's sort of been a bit of a lone wolf while she's been here, so I'm glad I could be a friend. Can't imagine being in another country and not really having anyone to rely on."

She's not really giving much in the way of details, and she's not looking away from the screen much. She doesn't know the details, certainly, and there's always chance of an injury. "I imagine there'll be some kind of shocking twist. That feels like something that would go over well in this event."

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
Mason studies Nessa for a moment, weighing that response. In the end, that's fair. For whatever impressions he's had from Katsumi, Nessa's certainly not wrong. Being a foreigner and isolated would be difficult. Nevermind if she's the reason she's having a hard time. Nessa just seems like she's trying to be a good friend. He can't, in good conscience, pry further. So he refocuses on the screen, sparing an aside, "A twist would be interestin' 'ere, wouldn't it? Say a handsome bloke from the Emerald Isle walkin' away with the whole shebang."

"She will let you know when she sees one," inputs Vlad.

Mason places a hand to his chest, affecting a wounded look. "You /cut/ me, sir!"

In the ring, it's clear Katsumi is arguing with the referee and insisting he's counting slowly. He's not. She's being a brat. Frustrated, she grabs a fistful of Sindie's hair to drag her back to her feet. Suddenly, it seems Sindie's found a second wind! She begins pummeling the Japanese girl with a series of strikes, ending with her tucking her head beneath her shoulder and dropping back, spiking her head against the mat. A DDT, it's called. Katsumi lies limp on the mat, facedown, while Sindie gets to her feet and raises a fist to signal something to the audience.

Ringside, Katsumi is at a loss for how long they must've been at it. Logically she knows where they are in the match. She's done this long enough to've developed a sense for it. And though she's felt every impact, every hit, nothing has hurt or even ached. Hell, her ascent up the turnbuckle was practically on automatic pilot, moving with a grace she wasn't sure she could pull off at this point. But she's barely even winded, finding herself having to play up the fatigue. When she randomly toughened up, she doesn't know. Or Sindie is an absolute guru at faking hits.

Either way, when Sindie starts hauling her up again, she obediently follows, body sagging, legs buckled, magenta gaze unfocused. She's heft over onto the blonde's right shoulder, her legs draping over her back, her face resting against her torso as she's marched towards the center of the ring.

The audience is chanting, "SWAN SONG! SWAN SONG! SWAN SONG!"

"Not lookin' good~," lilts Mason. He is absolutely one hundred percent attempting to build suspense.

Nessa Donovan has posed:
Nessa's lips curve into a grin at the interaction between Vlad and Mason. "I mean, if there's a sudden twist where you win... I expect the chicken drumsticks need to make a victory lap." Her eyes focus on the fight. "Y'know, even if she doesn't win... I'm glad she's gotten this far. It's neat to see her kicking ass like this. There's no way I'd ever end up somewhere with a crowd like that. Way braver than me."

There's a pause. "I do really want her to win, but I feel like the cards would be stacked against her in something like this, regardless of her technical skill."

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
"Clever girl," conspires Mason with a sidelong squint to Nessa. She may have this figured out yet! Vlad says nossink!

Sindie adjusts Katsumi's figure, supporting her in a tombstone piledriver position. Even those unfamiliar with deeper wrestling lore may be at least familiar with The Undertaker's classic finisher. But what's this! Katsumi comes to life, squirming and wriggling her way down through Sindie's arms and between her legs, escaping just in the nick of time! The surprised Sindie turns to face Katsumi, only to be rocked by a forearm blow to the cheek! Katsumi grabs her arm and whips her to the opposite end of the ring before taking off to the opposite ropes, herself.

Katsumi's back presses into the ropes just as Sindie's does the same on the opposite side. They rebound towards each other.

Sindie has only taken two steps by the time Katsumi has blurred across the ring to meet her. That's the first thing.

Katsumi plants a pair of boots against Sindie's torso. The impact folds the blonde in half, smacking into the ropes - straining them against her back - and snapping them off their hinges as she continues to soar back out over the audience. Before ultimately crashing somewhere in their midst. That's the second thing.

Katsumi sits up, used to the sound of booing and jeering. She's not so used to the sounds of panic and screaming.

A number of the spectators in the catering room are now on their feet, jaws dropped.

"Mother of God...," murmurs Mason.

"Oh no..," Vlad whispers.

Even Naiad is on her feet, agog.

The camera closes in on Katsumi's face; at first confused. And then realization seems to set in, and that confusion turns to horror. On all fours, she rushes to the edge of the ring to search the area between apron and barricade. But that's not where Sindie landed. She's much further out. Medical personnel are already moving down the ramp, urging the crowds to part. But the camera very quickly pans off of them. The referee seems to get a message on earpiece, and quickly snatches Katsumi's wrist to pull her to her feet and hold her arm aloft. The bell rings to announce her the winner. As if just remembering where she is, she forces a smile. It doesn't quite reach her eyes. And those eyes are absolutely betraying her. The moment the referee releases her wrist, she's rushing to the edge of the ring to drop to the floor - but finds herself intercepted by Delaney who motions back up the ramp. It takes a few insistent gestures, but Katsumi reluctantly eases back up the entryway, forcing that smile again...

"Did you know about a stunt..?," asks Vlad without breaking his gaze from the screen.

"Feck no.."

Nessa Donovan has posed:
That's intense. Nessa's blinking a few times at the screen, glancing briefly to the other two. "... that's the sort of thing they'd at least warn the rest of you all about, right...? I mean, I imagine there's a touch of improv but the big twists are all planned?" It's a question offered for reassurance, but she's fairly certain she's not going to get what she's looking for. Her whole posture has tensed up.

"I'm not sure what just happened." It's unorthodox, but she shifts her weight. "... where's the door to meet her at? I need to see that she's okay."

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
There's commotion in the hall outside.

Mason turns a haunted look to Nessa and gives a tight, wordless shake of his head.

"Ah- uh, dressing room, I think," Vlad manages. It's where he'd expect someone in this situation to go.

The moment Katsumi is out of the audience's sight, the smile vanishes. "Oh my god oh my god oh my god," she wheezes. All eyes are on her. Unwelcoming eyes. Angry eyes. Everyone knows how it was supposed to go. It was /not/ supposed to go like that. But screw the script, Katsumi has bigger concerns on her mind. The first familiar face she finds is a Japanese man in a business suit, but he looks no less furious.

"<Changing room, Oshiro. NOW>," he orders in Japanese.

Katsumi opens her mouth to speak, but finds no words. She finds even less comfort in the steely glare from the general manager. Head ducking, she flees for the changing room and shuts the door behind her. Immediately, she moves to the counter and mirror, staring at her own terrified expression.

And those eyes.

Not her eyes.

Her palms lift to cover her face, head bowed.

Nessa Donovan has posed:
Nessa gives a slightly distracted nod towards Mason and Vlad. "Right, thank you. I'm sure... everything will be fine." She's not, but it's hard to think of what to say at the moment. She vaguely remembers where she saw the dressing room, so a half-wave is offered towards the wrestlers before she's darting off towards the dressing room.

Once she's close to the door, she knocks as loudly as a gloved hand might be able to manage. "Kat? It's Nessa. Can I see you? Can I come in? Are you okay?" She's absolutely unable to hide the concern in her voice.

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
There is no answer for a few seconds.

The door swings open, and Katsumi attempts to tug Nessa in by the shoulder to immediately shut the door again.

"I- I- I," she stammers. But she still can't find anything to say. There's no explanation for it. She's done that exact setup dozens of times in the past. She's never moved so fast or hit someone so hard. The words she finally lands on rings back to the mortified question she'd asked Nessa near when they first met:

"What's wrong with me?"

Nessa Donovan has posed:
The perk of a turtleneck and gloves is that most of Nessa's skin is safely out of the way. So when she's pulled into the room, she reaches to pull Kat into a hug as soon as the door's shut again. "Nothing's /wrong/ with you, but something happened. We'll figure it out, okay? Tell me what happened in there. Walk me through it."

She's got the uncomfortable sensation that there was something off before, so she takes a longer chance to try and assess why it is she felt magic in the area.

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
The sun has vanished, casting the sky into the velvety gloom of night. Stars twinkle overhead, the moon shines down over the city of New York, and Nessa's ability to sense things amiss may be finding more tonight than ever before with Katsumi. It's pronounced. It's powerful. It's divine. It churns like a burning, hungry fire.

All contained within a girl who's barely holding herself together. She's tugged into the hug, her arms hanging limply at her sides. "Nothing! N-nothing unusual! I just," she slips into Japanese, seems to catch herself, then tries again, "I was gonna hit, set up a finish, and her counter! Everything was normal, Nessa! Normal! Y-you tell /me/ what happened! One second it's fine, next second the ropes are broken and Sindie-"

Her eyes widen and she attempts to carefully tug away from Nessa's arms. "Sindie! Is she okay!? Oh god, she's okay, isn't she?"

Nessa Donovan has posed:
While Nessa's not entirely used to hugging anyone, she feels the need to try and be there. Comforting isn't exactly her forte, at least not like this. "It was all really fast. Honestly, I don't know what happened. I was watching and it was just like... suddenly you were just way stronger or she wasn't trying or something." She looks at Katsumi seriously.

"I don't know if she's okay, we'll find out, but there's nothing you can do to help right now. But I need you to listen to me for a second, okay? Real talk." She takes a moment to study her friend, especially her eyes. "Kat, remember how I said I'd tell you if there were magic? There's magic. I don't know what it is, I'm not an expert at any of this, but right now you need to know that there's something affecting you. I'm going to be right here and help though, okay? I'm right here."

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
Katsumi Oshiro is only further distressed when Nessa says she doesn't know Sindie's condition. Her chief concern right now is that she didn't kill someone. But things are about to get so much worse.

Katsumi's distress turns into stunned panic at Nessa's explanation. "What?," she asks, her voice a pitchy, breathless, almost more a plea than question. She can't formulate a clearer question, and her words have once again abandoned her.

Suddenly, there's a thumping against the door. The Japanese girl startles with a jump.

"Oshiro! <If you are decent, I am coming in! Answer!>" The voice is masculine and clear. Though Nessa may not speak Japanese, she can likely tell from the tone that this is not an upbeat conversation.

Katsumi is visibly tense. She gives Nessa an apologetic look, and hesitantly tugs the door open. It's practically pushed open the rest of the way as the Japanese man sweeps in, commandeering the door to shut behind him.

Whatever he was going to say first gets derailed when he spots Nessa. He recognizes her from the gym. "Why is the caterer here?"

Nessa Donovan has posed:
Nessa's made a promise and she's going to keep it. Her arms fold over her chest and she remains near Katsumi, her stance firm. Her body language screams that she's not about to leave the room. "I'm her friend and I want to help. I want to see that everything's okay."

There's a brief look in Kat's direction. The bit about magic doesn't have a chance to be elaborated on, and she's not about to talk about that kind of stuff in front of anyone else at this point. "I'm staying unless Katsumi doesn't want me here." There's a stubborn tone in her voice--no isn't an answer.

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
"I don't care," says the frustrated Japanese man.

Katsumi winces. She's braced for what's coming. She knows it's on its way. She'd been dreading something like this since she began having problems in America. Is she going to be fired? Sent packing? Her general manager is furious, and she doesn't even have an explanation.

He moves in closer to Katsumi, his head tilted to look down at her. Her head is bowed, keeping her gaze very far from his. "First the fighting. Then the social outbursts. Then you've changed your image, your eyes. And now, /this/!?"

Katsumi flinches with each point.

The man shoots a brief look at Nessa, then back to Katsumi. He lifts his index finger, bringing the tip close to her face. "<You are out of this event. You will go back to the hotel. You will not go anywhere else. And we are leaving this country as soon as the investigation is cleared.>"

Katsumi suddenly looks up at him "<Investigation?>"

"The Americans might see this as attempted murder." He steps back from her, shaking his head. His parting comment is practically a growl, "Foolish girl."

The door is yanked open, and he leaves.

Katsumi promptly drops to her knees, staring blankly at the door.

Nessa Donovan has posed:
While Nessa's got the misfortune of being unable to understand Japanese, she's still standing firmly nearby. She doesn't say anything, not until after he leaves before she looks to Kat again. "He's upset. I doubt anyone will see it as attempted murder. Even if they did, there's a lot still going on that we don't understand. I'm not joking about the magic thing."

She levels her gaze on Kat, then moves to kneel down next to her so that they're on the same level. "I can feel it. Strong, like it's fire. I don't know what it is, but it's there... on you, in you, something. I can get Luci to help. He'd have a better idea of what kind of magic this is more than I can. I'm sure Sindie will be fine and we're gonna get to the bottom of this."

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
Katsumi Oshiro rests near-catatonic on her knees. By the time Nessa joins her, her eyes are starting to spill over. "I- I hit her /so hard/," she says quietly. A light tremble has entered her voice.

Suddenly, she reaches aside for Nessa's wrist; not to grab it, but to place a hand over it. "Please.." A sniff pauses her train of thought. "..please see if she's okay? I'll be here.."

In truth, Katsumi made this request for two reasons. First, she really needs to know if Sindie is alright. Or at least that she isn't dead. Second, she doesn't want Nessa seeing what she feels coming.

Nessa Donovan has posed:
There's a stubbornness in the way Nessa stands. She doesn't /want/ to leave, but there's something ringing true about the idea of Kat not knowing how things are. She frowns, just slightly, not moving away initially. "I'll go find out how Sindie is, alright? Then I'm coming back here. I'm not leaving you alone in all this." She takes a moment to rest her hand on Katsumi's arm, the gloved hand attempting a soft squeeze before she slowly starts to get to her feet.

The conflict's in her eyes, but she's acquiescing. "I'll be right back." And with that, she's moving for the door again to see who she can find for news on Sindie's condition.

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
Katsumi Oshiro looks up at Nessa as she stands. As she talks, she tugs her bottom lip between her teeth, and nods quickly. She's hoping Nessa doesn't delay too much longer. She isn't sure she can hold on.

The door opens. Nessa exits. The door shuts.

Katsumi sinks again. And the weight of her world breaking apart is finally allowed to bear down on her. Her head bows and she sobs uncontrollably into her hands.

It seems they may have missed Sindie being removed from the premesis. No medical personnel can be found other than the on-site medics on event payroll. But Nessa will manage to catch mention of an ambulance. Vlad and Mason are now standing aside, leaned back against a wall and murmuring back and forth to each other.

Nessa Donovan has posed:
While Nessa's aware that Kat's certainly having a moment to herself and that it's not great, she'll at least give her that minute. The need to find out what happened is one she understands. While she scans around and doesn't find anyone who might have directly interacted, she spots the two wrestlers and makes her way towards them with a small frown.

"Is Sindie alright?" She seems willing to listen to whatever questions might be asked of her regarding Kat, but her tone is firm. She needs that answer first and foremost.

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
"The Hell did that crazy banshee do?," puzzles Mason.

Vlad is a bit more sensitive. "She is... not well. Not dead," he says, trying to be careful with his wording. It's rather difficult with a tertiary language. "They think there is damage. Bones. Maybe more. But alive." He shoots a glance to Mason, then back to Nessa. The Russian leans closer. "What happened? You are close to her, can you tell us?"

Nessa Donovan has posed:
"Not dead, okay, that's good," Nessa murmurs. It might not be the best news, but being able to tell Kat that she didn't kill anyone is at least a positive. She bites on her lower lip for a moment, taking a breath in to focus. "I don't know everything. She's in a lot of shock. It wasn't intentional, though, I can tell you that for certain. I'll do my best to try and figure this out. I'm sorry I can't be of more help here..."

Her gaze goes back towards the dressing room. "If you hear any other news about Sindie, let me know."

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
"But how did she /do/ it?," asks Vlad. He, like most others present, is utterly baffled. The only theories going around is that they set up some kind of elaborate rigging and it went haywire. Among managers, they believe Katsumi was on something. No one has any definite idea of how this mishap occurred.

Nessa ought not fear for Katsumi vanishing, though. The idea of even moving right now is untenable. All she can do right now is remain curled tight against her knees and cry, mind racing.

Nessa Donovan has posed:
Nessa frowns, shrugging her shoulders a bit. "I couldn't tell you. I don't know. I don't know that /she/ knows." She doesn't seem to stick around, though. There's nothing she can do out here, so she doesn't linger. Approaching the dressing room again, she knocks carefully.

"Kat? It's Ness again. Can I come in?"

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
Hearing the knock, Katsumi's head lifts in a panic. She's all at once very aware of her appearance and condition. And she can't stop crying. The dam broke. The tension she'd built for a couple months, the anxiety and fear that something was wrong with her, that she would somehow screw up this career-making show, has all snapped over her. She tries to answer, but no words are given. She caves in on herself again, folding her arms behind her head as she cries against her lap.

The only sound Nessa is going to get in response are those broken sobs.

Nessa Donovan has posed:
While Kat doesn't really answer, Nessa takes that noise as an answer on its own. She carefully opens the door to slip inside, shutting it behind her immediately so there's no chance of anyone peeking or catching a glimpse of Katsumi's condition. There's even a brief moment where she considers blocking the door with a chair. She doesn't, however, and instead moves to the section of the floor where Kat is curled up on.

Without hesitation, she sinks down next to her. She doesn't interrupt, but she sits close, leaving little distance between them. It's purposefully close and creating a physical connection there that's hard to be ignored: it's a silent sign of her presence. She waits a moment or two to try and let her friend compose herself before she finally says something.

"Sindie's injured, but she's not dead. They took her to go be evaluated, maybe some broken bones."

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
Katsumi Oshiro is trying to compose herself. She really is. She's finding it very hard to do, and with Nessa here to witness this profound weakness, it's killing her just a bit more. But it's also motivating her to try to pull it together.

She manages to reign it in to shakey breaths, using the backs of her wrists to wipe at her eyes. She finally brings her inhuman gaze to Nessa, uncharacteristically timid.

"Th-that's good. That she's alive. I don't know- I don't know what I'd do if-.. if she..." She glances down to her knees again. "...my life's over, isn't it?"

Nessa Donovan has posed:
"No," Nessa says firmly, "it's not over. It's going to be hard, sure, and I'm certain a lot of things will change, but it's not over. My life didn't end when I stopped being able to touch people. It was hard and it changed a lot, but it wasn't over and I'm in a pretty good place surrounded by pretty amazing people now so I'd say I won in the long run." She nudges Katsumi with a shoulder.

"You know I'll be here for whatever you need, right?"

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
"Nessa, /this/ is my life!," whines Katsumi. She motions outwards with her arms about the dressing room, but she likely means more the general scope of where they are. "Without this, I-..."

Her shoulders sag when she's nudged. There's a moment of silence, punctuated with a sniff.

"How're you gonna be here for me when I'm shipped back to Japan?"

Nessa Donovan has posed:
"I... don't know," Nessa says after a moment. "But I'll figure something out. Maybe I'll come visit Japan for a while. I could use a vacation." She's quiet for a moment, clearly trying to sort through logistics in her mind. "You know you're more than just this, right? I'm not your friend because of all this, I'm your friend because I like you as a person. I mean, really, if this is all you are then I'm just a boring caterer."

There's a hint of amusement there. "Not even cool enough to be /math class/."

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
Katsumi Oshiro sniffs again, then shakes her head. "I'm not. You're like.. some.. weird.. stupidly nice.. fairy godmother or something, but everyone else knows it. I- I mean, why do you think you're my only friend?'

She turns a sullen look to Nessa again, but it's fleeting. She can't maintain eye contact long without feeling too humiliated. "I gave up so much for this. Did I ever tell you...?"

Nessa Donovan has posed:
"It bugs me that no one else is here for you. So I'm gonna try to do what I can. It'll be okay," Nessa shifts her weight, bumping shoulders again. "What did you give up for this? I don't know that you ever told me. What'd you give up?"

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
"They're the s-smart ones," Katsumi grumbles, fighting with her own quakey voice. She rubs at her eyes with her wrists again, trying to keep herself from tipping over the edge a second time. If she can keep the warm, wet sensation of tears out of her eyes, she may be able to hold out.

"I gave up university. I gave up my family. I gave up having any money. Everything. Cuz this is what I wanted." Her palms press against her eyes.

Nessa Donovan has posed:
Nessa shakes her head. "No, they're idiots. You might look like an abrasive asshole on the surface," here, she grins a little before continuing, "but honestly you're a great person. I relate a lot, being alone and isolated... and you were kind enough to treat me as a good friend and not treat me like I'm some kind of weirdo. I push a lot of people away. Hell, you called the police to make sure I was okay as a bunny. That's not something just anyone would do for me."

She listens quietly for a moment as Kat mentions what she gave up. "What about it is what you wanted? Do you like the fight, the showmanship? Maybe this avenue might be harder or closed off... but you can find a way around it, a way to pursue what you want. All I've really wanted my whole life is to fix all of this. I like being a mage, but I really just want to stop living my life isolating myself because I'm afraid of hurting people. I just need to keep working, keep getting stronger. If I can do it, you can certainly adapt too. You're a /hell/ of a lot stronger than me. You're a badass. I believe in you."

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
Katsumi Oshiro shifts her legs beneath herself uncomfortably as Nessa talks, but her gaze is lured back over. The question is almost answered, but for once, she doesn't want to interrupt. It might actually be the kindest thing anyone's ever said to her, outside of her adoptive parents. She treated Nessa the same way she treats most people. She even freaked out when that magic was revealed. But she did make an effort to be okay with it, to look past the shock of it. She did call the cops to try to help Nessabunny. Her friend was in trouble. She didn't know what else to do.

She shifts her knees again, this time to scooch closer to Nessa. She can already tell she's failing in her efforts to keep herself composed - she can feel that pressure.

"You actually mean that...?," she asks in a small voice.

Nessa Donovan has posed:
"Of course I mean that. I told you about my magic and the whole bunny experience and you honestly think I'd start lying now?" Nessa offers a smile. "Look, I know it's hard to look beyond the situation you're stuck in right now. It's gonna be awful for a little while, but you really are strong. You gave up a lot to be here... and that's nothing to overlook. Being able to keep yourself pursuing a goal? It takes a lot of courage. You've kept your head up pretty well in the midst of all of this so... yeah. I absolutely believe in you."

She bumps shoulders again. "You think I'd let just anyone be a close friend? I like to help people, but I don't usually end up being vulnerable around them. If you weren't someone awesome, I wouldn't have let you be this much of a friend."

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
Katsumi Oshiro blinks a couple times at Nessa, wobbling a little with the shoulderbump. And this time, it's her who takes the initiative and throws her arms around Nessa's shoulders in a tight hug. her face tilts to bury into the shoulder of her turtleneck. Alas, Nessa is going to likely have a damp shoulder now. But at least Katsumi's crying has calmed a little; it's still going, but it isn't the same utterly broken sobs from before.

Of note, her grip on her is a bit tight. Perhaps uncomfortably tight. It isn't threatening injury, but it's for sure tighter than Katsumi realizes.

"I don't get you...," she murmurs against the fabric. "...but thank you." Sniff. "So much."

There's a knock on the door. Katsumi doesn't even react. A voice soon follows:

"Hey, uh, Oshiro? It's Delaney. Need to go over some details!"

Nessa Donovan has posed:
Nessa doesn't seem particularly worried about the damp turtleneck, though the hug catches her off-guard. Not because it happened, but because of just how tight it is. That's /odd/. "You always this strong a hugger? Cause that's quite a hug. Got a lot of energy behind it." While Katsumi doesn't really react to the door, she looks up towards it.

"Keep your head down if you need to, this might be a bit of a hard pill to swallow," she notes, her eyes on Kat for a moment before on the door again. "Come in. Katsumi's having a rough time, but she'll try to answer your questions." While it might be embarrassing to be emotional around people, she hopes she's enough of an assistance to keep Katsumi getting through it all.

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
It's awkward for everyone involved. For as sleazy as Delaney may come across with his slick style and smooth pitch, he's a man of scruples. Scruples and opportunism. But for now, scruples is the relevant factor. The voice that greets him doesn't belong to Katsumi, but seems to be speaking on her behalf. Her lawyer, perhaps? He opens the door and sees the women in the floor, with Katsumi an obvious wreck. "Ah, geeze." He shuts the door behind himself and crouches. Now there are three people in the floor.

Katsumi makes an effort to loosen her grip on Nessa. She doesn't feel like she was hugging too tight. She wasn't making any kind of effort to smush her! But at Nessa's warning, Katsumi does, in fact, swallow - but that's more for the lump in her throat. Her face rubs against her shoulder as she nods. Her head lifts just as Delaney joins them, but she remains latched onto Nessa.

Nessa has become her life raft.

"So it got a little rough out there," says Delaney, with no accusation in his voice. His gaze shifts from Katsumi to Nessa, studying her a moment. This does not appear to be how someone might interact with their lawyer. But he needs to make sure the bases are covered. "Vincent Delaney. Director of this show. And you're Miss...?"

Nessa Donovan has posed:
Nessa seems fine with being the continued support, keeping her own arms around Kat hopefully as a comfort. Delaney is offered a polite smile. "Nessa Donovan. I'm a friend of Kat's, I was watching from the VIP section." The last bit is mostly added so he's aware that she saw the whole situation, even if she wasn't particularly up close and personal to what went down.

"Kat, you feel up to answering some questions?" Her gaze shifts between her friend and the show director. It's an awkward situation, but she's doing her best to facilitate.

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
Somehow someway, Katsumi Oshiro, the Punk Princess of Japan, the ornery, bratty, in-your-face devil-may-care hotheaded three-time women's champion - has been reduced to practically a kid in the principal's office with a parent. It's not lost on Delaney, so he's trying to be delicate.

Katsumi nods quietly to Nessa while remaining bundled close.

"Alright, to start off - Swan's pretty badly hurt. She's going to be in the hospital, probably for a little while. There's internal bruising and they're pretty sure some broken ribs. A couple audience members got some good bumps, too, but they're fine. Just surprised. Her federation hasn't said they're pressing charges or anything, so try not to worry about that right now."

Katsumi's gaze lowers guiltily, but she says nothing.

"I know your general manager's already talked to you a little. He and I hemmed and hawed about how to handle this. You know you were putting Swan over, but that's not what happened. Problem is, we can't put you back in the ring. It's a liability thing. So the finals is gonna go between Trixie and Naiad. Naiad's getting a grace shot."

Katsumi's arms tighten just a hint more around Nessa's shoulders. Her heart twists a little at having been kicked from the show, but that slight flinch in her muscles is all the indication she gives on it. Meekly, she nods again.

"Right now, they're fixing the ring. Everything's fine. So..." Delaney glances to Nessa, then back to Katsumi. He leans a little closer. "What happened? We need to know."

Katsumi swallows hard and shakes her head. "I- I don't know..."

Delaney sighs, then looks to Nessa, as if expecting her to have some insight.

Nessa Donovan has posed:
The blonde gives a nod towards Delaney as he relays the news. It's honestly about what she expected to hear, given what she'd seen. At the very least, while there were consequences... at least there wasn't a legal one. Her gaze goes to Katsumi for a moment, then back over.

"Well, I've been friends with Kat since she arrived, basically. I've seen her fight a bit in training. She's also had some unexplainable health issues she was trying to deal with, a lot of fatigue. Might be stress-induced." While she's not sure that Kat would like her revealing a lot and she's certainly not certain what she let any of those involved know about her condition, there's a plausible explanation she's thinking of.

"So, if I were to wager a guess, I'd guess the adrenaline from the big night sort of countered the fatigue and amped things up unexpectedly. I know for a fact Katsumi wasn't intending to do what happened. I can't say for certain I know what happened otherwise cause I'm not in Katsumi's shoes. It might be a little easier to explain once things have settled a bit more." She glances towards her friend again.

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
Katsumi Oshiro's head snaps to Nessa when she mentions health issues, eyes wide and frightened. She'd begged her not to say anything about that!

The mention of it also has a clear impact on Delaney, though his is more subtle. A hand lifts to rub against his cheek as his eyes travel from Nessa to Katsumi, a little more critical. "Mmkay..." A cellphone is pulled from his pocket, and he's already tapping his thumbs at the screen. "...did you report any health issues to your manager? Any on-site physician?," he asks while not bothering to look up from the screen.

He doesn't need to see her to know she's shaking her head.

"There'll have to be a drug test. Uh, before you leave here tonight. Consider it a formality." Delaney's head lifts with an innocent smile. It's not a formality. She's officially under suspicion of substance abuse. She may also be in trouble for not reporting a health issue.

Katsumi swallows hard. "I'm not on anything," she protests.

"Oh, I know. We just need a paper that says it." A sidelong glance is shot towards Nessa. "Nessa, right? Word outside?" Delaney lifts to his full height and doesn't wait for her to accept the invitation before leaving the room.

Katsumi's breathing has hastened, nearing hyperventilating status. "Oh god.. they think I'm on something.. I- I know I'm /not/, but some foods test positive for things.. god, what did I eat..?"

Nessa Donovan has posed:
"I know, I'm sorry about that. It's the best explanation I've got for now, but you should be fine with a drug test. I highly doubt you've had anything that'd make you test positive," Nessa offers a quick hug. "I'm really sorry for saying something... but honestly at this point I think it'll help you more than it'll hurt you."

She takes a moment, putting her gloved hands on Katsumi's shoulders. "Take some deep breaths. I'm gonna do the best I can to sort this out, but you need to relax and try and keep your cool. We'll figure it out." With a gentle squeeze, she gets to her feet to head outside the room to talk with Delaney.

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
Katsumi Oshiro gives a weak nod to Nessa as she starts to break away, letting her arms fall to her sides again. And naturally, Katsumi is staying right where she is on the floor. She just doesn't have the internal strength to pick herself up. But she tries to keep herself composed, as instructed, busying herself by pawing at her hair.

Outside, Delaney is pacing the hallway. The vibe in the backstage area has changed from tense and excited to fearful and uncertain. And as soon as Nessa emerges, a great many eyes are on her.

"As you were," calls Delaney. Most of them go back to murmuring amongst themselves. He puts his focus on Nessa and closes in with her. "Alright, if there's anything else you know, that maybe you're hiding to try to protect her, you need to tell me. We have to try to get ahead of this thing, and the only advantage we've got is if we're the ones controlling that information. So if you're maybe covering for her? If you know she's taken something?"

He leaves his questions open-ended on purpose.

Nessa Donovan has posed:
Nessa glances around at the gawking before she looks back to Delaney. "No, she hasn't taken anything. Even if she had, you're planning on doing the drug test anyway. I know she didn't report the fatigue because she was worried about getting benched, so she wanted to see if there was something honestly wrong before saying anything." She nods in his direction. "I want to help her, honestly. She went to check with a doctor, but they couldn't find anything to explain why she was fatigued. Clean bill of health. I imagine it ended up just being stress."

After all, it'd be really hard to explain the magic bit... especially given Nessa doesn't know all of the details on that herself. "Honestly, all I want to do is help her in all of this. It means a lot to her. I can't explain exactly what happened, just fill you in with any context I can give."

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
Delaney thins his lips, clearly displeased with the answer. "So that's it? Just stress?" He glances aside briefly, then back to Nessa. "These people aren't stupid. They're in the industry. Oshiro just kicked a girl /twenty feet/ horizontally. /Through/ the ropes. Give me /something/." A glance to the door, then once again, back to Nessa. "Was it a spot gone wrong? Did she and Swan have something worked out, and it just didn't go well? Sometimes these things happen..."

Nessa Donovan has posed:
"I don't know what to tell you. If you want to tell people that's what went wrong, sure. If Sindie wants to go along with it, that is. I know she doesn't hate Sindie, she considers her one of the nicest people here... and I've seen how she is. She wasn't expecting any of this. Not in the slightest," Nessa frowns just a bit.

"I can't explain it, honestly, because sometimes the world is weird and this shit happens. I've seen a lot of weird things myself... so I'm giving you the best guess I can. I know you've got to deal with the fallout of this, so the whole thing gone wrong is the most obvious and does the least damage overall for everyone, I think. This isn't my industry, but it seems the most plausible."

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
"It's the whole 'if Sindie goes along with it' thing that worries me," Delaney says. "Look, I'm a modern man. I know things get weird. I live in New York, for crying out loud. We have giant green men jumping through buildings here. I can make anything fly, if it'll protect the business. But I can't tell someone with a pair of size 7 bootprints on her chest that she got tangled on a zipline. Know what I mean?" His hands raise in a defeated, frustrated shrug.

"If the results come back clean, I'm gonna do everything I can to keep'em from crucifying her. It's the best I can do. But if either of you want my advice?" He glances aside briefly, then refocuses on Nessa. "Invest in a /damn/ good get-well-soon basket." He takes a single step away, then wheels back around to add, "Make that two. The second one goes to Sindie's GM."

And with that, Delaney is leaving Nessa there. He has fires to put out, and drug tests to arrange.

Nessa Donovan has posed:
"I'll do my best to see what I can do," Nessa offers, though she nods a bit. "... I appreciate all of it, thanks." She watches Delaney leave, heaving a bit of a sigh before she turns to slip back into the room to check on Kat.

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
Katsumi Oshiro has, by now, taken to sitting on her rear on the floor. Her arms are looping her shins, her chin resting atop her knees. When the door opens, her head lifts to look up at Nessa.

"Is it bad?," she asks, her voice already sounding defeated.

Nessa Donovan has posed:
Nessa moves to rejoin Katsumi on the floor, getting down on her level once again. "Not as bad as it could be. I know you're not sure exactly what happened. I honestly wish I could explain more, but... you've got a bit of a magic thing going on. I'm not sure how to really pin it down otherwise. But since you didn't actually take anything, the drug test should be just fine and you'll have him on your side. I think he's gonna cover with saying it was a stunt gone wrong, but... you're gonna have to get Sindie to go along with it, obviously."

She shrugs a bit. "I dunno how well you actually get along with her, but he suggested some amazing gift baskets. It'd be hard to explain to her what really happened, especially since you don't know and I certainly don't."

Nessa does offer a small smile. "You'll make it through this okay, though."

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
Katsumi Oshiro winces. "Nessa.. I might've ended her career.." Her arms redouble around her shins. "I wasn't friends with her or anything, but I wouldn't wanna do that..! I wouldn't wanna do that to anyone! What kind of gift basket could make up for something like that?!" Katsumi turns her head to rest her cheek over her knees. "I can't talk to her. I'm used to people hating me, but- but this is different."

It's actually not. She's very rarely sure why someone hates her. She usually only gets it when it's pointed out to her that she said or did something cruel.

"What if I'm shipped off tomorrow?"

There's a firm couple knocks against the door. Without announcement, it opens and the severe Japanese man enters again. He regards the girl on the floor with a newfound level of disdain. "Get up."

Katsumi's body visibly tenses at the command, but she's soon forcing herself to uncurl and push to her feet. A weak look is cast towards Nessa before being redirected to the man.

"It is unsafe for you here. After they test you, you will wait until arena clears. Only then do you leave. With security escort. And you go straight to hotel. Understood?"

Katsumi nods, gluing her eyes to her feet.

"They had better find nothing. If they do..." The man doesn't finish that thought. But it seems the longer he remains in her presence, the more furious he becomes. He's at his limit with her.

Nessa Donovan has posed:
"We'll see how she is. Fingers crossed things will be fine and you won't have to think too much about it," Nessa says. "And if you're shipped off tomorrow, I guess I'll have to see if I can find a Japanese tourist phrasebook." She offers a reassuring smile, though her attention moves quickly towards the door and the smile fades.

When the man enters, she gets to her feet shortly after Katsumi does. In this case she doesn't pipe in--she doubts her input in this part of things would be welcome or even helpful. So instead she stays at her friend's side, just waiting to see what happens.

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
Katsumi Oshiro seems to also dare not speak. She knows she's in trouble. She knows her career is hanging by a thread. Many don't come back from a debacle like this. Her life's work could be over if she says just one wrong word to her superior. That's proper motivation for her snappy natural instincts to be muzzled.

Fortunately, he doesn't complete the threat. He just glowers at them both before leaving back out into the hall.

Katsumi lets out the breath she'd been holding. "You'd really do that..?," she asks. Her head tilts to look towards Nessa. "If they shipped me off, you'd go right to Japan?"

Nessa Donovan has posed:
"Why the hell not? I work too hard anyway. A little time away would be nice," Nessa points out. "I've got nothing better to do, really... and this would be a shitty time for me to bail on being a friend. You were there for me when I was a bunny, the least I can do is take an awesome vacation so you don't have to be alone through a rough patch. So if they ship you off? Just let me know and I'll be right behind you."

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
Katsumi Oshiro sighs again. This time, however, she nudges a fist gently against Nessa's arm when finished. "Thanks.."

Withdrawing slightly, she brushes her wrist against her eyes once more. "..I think I'm all cried out. Just.. numb now." Her head turns to Nessa again. "You, you really don't have to wait here with me. It's gonna be really late before everyone leaves, and I can't-.. shouldn't.. leave this room until then. They probably have a f***ing guard on my door or something."

Nessa Donovan has posed:
Nessa tilts her head to the side to assess Kat a bit better. "You sure you don't need me to stay? Cause I will if you need it. When you get back to your room, though... really try and get some sleep. It's been a crazy day for you." She offers a smile. "I can bring you some kind of baked good tomorrow, if you'd like."

Katsumi Oshiro has posed:
Katsumi Oshiro nods at her. "That'd be good. I'm guessing if they don't put me on the next flight to Tokyo, they'll tell me I'm not allowed to leave the hotel." She reaches to nudge at Nessa again. "I'll be okay." She doesn't sound convinced. But she doesn't want Nessa to suffer needlessly with her. She knows it's going to be a long night.

At last, the freight ship has unloaded and all seems silent. A pair green eyes open in the darkness. Soundless footfalls carry the stowaway across the deck undetected and down the boarding ramp. By the time it's been noticed, it's too late to stop it. An excessively woolly calico cat has escaped into the back alleys of New York City.