Inkspell - Pole

Inga's arms burned. The sun above burned. But still, she gritted her teeth, hefted her polearm once more, and faced the wooden dummy. One, two, three, she struck, aiming low to sweep imaginary feet, higher to gut, higher still with the butt of the spear to smash against a head, aiming to concuss. She leapt back, exhaled, spun to dodge an imaginary blow, wheeling with the spear to deliver an upward thrust before leaping to the side…and landing badly on her ankle, making her gasp, and stumble, and catch herself with the butt of the spear before she landed on her face…which was, unfortunately, an improvement from last time, when she definitely did. Inga pushed herself to her feet and growled her frustration before moving back in front of the dummy and hefting the spear once more. One, two, three…

Leo looked on from a snowbank overlooking the field, his eyes narrowed to thin slits against the sun. Eiran stood next to him, arms crossed, a light frown on his face. "...She's gotten better," Leo said, "But training with a dummy can only get you so far."

Eiran looked over at him, his frown only deepening at Leo's words. "I'm glad to hear, but…has she taken a break? At all?"

He nodded, though Eiran didn't feel very soothed by it. Especially when, after a beat of silence, the tabaxi chuckled to himself. "...I have an idea. A dummy can't get her to where she wants to be, but I bet I can." Though he couldn't see it behind the mask covering the lower half of his face, Eiran could hear the sharp grin in Leo's voice. "Mind helping her? You already got your tools, and I'm doing this either way."

Eiran's eyes widened. "Wait-" he started, but before he could even get a sentence out, Leo had already dropped to all fours and darted off. He sighed and shook his head. Leo was just as dangerous and unpredictable as his squad leader was, even if he leaned a little more towards the rules than she did. No wonder Six liked the guy.

Well, there was nothing he could do now. He widened his stance a little and then reached up to a large reddish-orange gem attached to the lighter gray leather that covered the center of his chest, stroking it lightly with one finger. At his touch, the gem shivered, twitched, and rose up, standing on three pairs of delicate legs in the same brass that the gem was set into. A small brass head and pair of delicate wire antennae unfolded from the gem as well, and after another shiver, the little ladybug construct climbed across his chest, down his arm, and into his outstretched palm, where it looked up at him expectantly.

Eiran paid little attention to it, instead looking down at his other hand, where he was pressing some levers down at his wrist and counting the marble-like pills of dried reagents that slid down from where they were stored on the forearm area of his alchemy gauntlets to their exit via a small tube just under the levers he was pressing. Three sets of medicinal herbs would probably be enough…but after a moment, he pursed his lips and reconsidered, pressing a different lever once. A slightly larger reagent pill fell into his palm as well, one that was an ugly yellow-brown. He nodded to himself, tipped the lot of them into his other hand, where the ladybug dutifully sucked them into itself, and then flipped his free hand over and pressed his nose into one of the vials of solvent stored just above his wrist. With a small click as the mechanism holding it on there was released, the vial rose up a little, and he retrieved it carefully with his teeth, leaving his hand free once again to grab it, thumb the cork off, and empty the whole thing into a hole at the top of the ladybug's head. There. Hopefully that would be enough.

And none too soon. He was too focused to look behind him, but the growing murmurs of surprise he heard were enough to tell him that whatever Leo had planned was on its way, and fast. He clicked his tongue at his servo and the port on top of its head slid shut, as the two halves of the gem split on some hidden seam to allow a pair of delicate filigree wings to unfold and start beating. He angled the hand with the ladybug towards Inga, and with another click of his tongue, the servo whizzed off, darting to land on her shoulder just as she was moving onto her next set of exercises, startling her just enough that he saw her jump and look around.

Just in time. A line of flame shot across the training field, and Inga just barely jumped out of the way of it with a yelp. "What in the-?"

Then came Leo, cackling atop some wheeled monstrosity, one with sweeping claws and jets of flame that Eiran recognized as one of Ooniemme's old prototypes. She was not going to be pleased. He wielded a pole of his own, not his usual bo staff, but some sort of metal rod that he twirled and angled in a wild dance that also seemed to be controlling his mount…somehow. It was hard to tell exactly how, considering his movements, but he seemed to know exactly what he was doing - as Eiran watched, it shot another line of fire, and Inga cried out once again, this time in pain, as she flubbed her dodge just enough to get singed, the ladybug already scuttling down her arm and shaking itself like a dog to disperse a dose of the healing mist he'd loaded it with. Eiran still scowled at the sight. Leo was a fool if he thought she was ready for this. His scowl turned into a full grimace as he watched her crumple to the ground, and apparently Leo had realized his folly, too. His dance stopped, and so did the machine, as he shouted down something that sounded concerned to Inga.

…Or, maybe he was no fool after all. Eiran startled when he saw Inga, standing, melt from the landscape several feet to the metal beast's flank and run full-tilt at the machine, just as her illusion of herself faded from view. With a scream of rage, she bounded into the air with her spear drawn, and Eiran's heart leapt into his throat, this time for Leo's safety...that is, until the tabaxi whirled, his reflexes much faster than hers, with a smile back on his face and his pole already spinning, to knock her attack swiftly aside and give her several body blows for her trouble.

And so it continued, a swift and brutal tug of war, with neither side giving up ground for long. His anxiety could hardly take it, especially as time wore on and he saw the telltale green mist from his servo burst into view again, and a third time, still with neither Inga nor Leo showing any signs of victory. He watched Inga now carefully, his brows furrowed, seeing the way her strength was flagging, the way her chest heaved, the way the tip of her spear quivered, even at the distance he was at. He frowned. This had gone on long enough.

When Inga drew a little closer to the machine, intending on another assault, the ladybug hopped off her shoulder to the torn up grass and earth below. Deft as could be, it hung just outside Leo's range as it followed Inga's attempt to flank him, and just as she started her approach, just as Leo turned, already anticipating it, Eiran held his hands up and clapped them once.

A deafening boom came from between them, and both Leo and Inga's shouts went unheard as both were sent flying. The machine, meanwhile, heavy enough to resist the concussive force of the sonic blast, still sustained enough damage that the headlights in its front were shattered entirely. With its master's stick flung from his hands, it collapsed, and fell silent.

Eiran slid down the snowbank, and at the bottom, already waiting for him, was Inga and Leo both, furious at him for ruining their fun. He bore their anger and their claims that they were this close to getting it and that of course she wasn't going to get actually hurt with a smile on his face, knowing both of them were lying through their teeth. He'd have to make some serious, costly repairs to his poor ladybug, but when it came down to the safety of his friends, he would gladly pay the price twice over.

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