Well Intentioned Hazing
Chapter 4: Storm Brewing
Timeline: Day 2
Carol hated having obligations. As such, she avoided them as much as possible, instead doing whatever she felt like as long as it wasn’t what was expected of her. If work was being avoided it was a win in her book. Yet in order to preserve her current occupation of ‘Kill Things, Lounge Around, Somehow Get Payed’ it was sometimes unavoidable to have to actually do something. This was one of those times. They had picked up a new member for her ‘Squad’ (Although Carol would be the first to say that she could handle anything alone) and she had, until now, neglected to inspect this recruit. Though she could easily get away with a couple weeks delay of her duties eventually the hammer would be brought down, and Carol didn’t hate most of the crew enough to kill them. At least not yet.
And so Carol had planted herself down on a makeshift throne (Though it was less a seat and more a stack of barrels) and roped the nearest cabin boy into fetching the newest team member. Even if she couldn’t avoid doing actual work forever she could at least prevent herself from having to run around the entire ship. She hoped she could at least half ass the actual inspection as much as possible. The last recruit, Wren, had barely received much more than a brief berating from Carol. Perhaps she could get away with less this time; A brief look up and down, perhaps with a nod or two, might suffice. Maybe she could even avoid pulling a knife like with that one cat.
Lorelei had thus far enjoyed her short time on the ship, namely because she had pretty much done nothing worthy of note, and in managing to escape scrutiny, could cruise through the day and literally perform her way through chores. Not that she was particularly lazy, merely an oppertunist, and would play the anonymous card for as long as it suited her. But such peace never does last on a ship, for everybody eventually gets to know everybody else, at least by name, being so close in quarter as they were. Still, for such a big woman, Lorelei was surprisingly good at keeping herself quiet and in the shadows. With no rank to pull, and no allies or friends aboard, she had a sense of caution. She did not know these people. They were just employers.
When the cabin boy tentatively approached her with the request, or more, command, to be seen, Lorelei shrugged and silently made her way to wherever Carol happened to be. She thought about possibly trying to make herself look decent, but somehow she doubted that it mattered. Being dirty and smelly came with being a pirate, in her opinion. Unless you were anal enough to waste money on perfume and soap. And Lorelei wasn't anal about anything except maybe what music she was being pushed into listening to. So when she did turn up for inspection, she looked as rough as ever, although she did try to wipe the bored and vacant look from her face, in an attempt to look attentive and... focused. She hadn't had much of a chance to size Carol up, so she wasn't at all sure what to expect. In respect of that, Lorelei gave a simple greeting, merely nodding her head and saying, "You called for me?"
Carol looked the woman over briefly. If nothing else she looked hardier than the last recruit, although Carol still doubted how useful anyone would really be. “Yeah, I guess I did.” Carol said as she begrudgingly stood from her reclining position. She stretched her back a few times, groaning slightly as she did. Stacked barrels were hardly the most comfortable of seats but on a ship you took what you could get.
Carol circled behind Lorelei, rubbing her chin and looking her up and down as she did. One could easily get the impression she was inspecting the quality of a piece of meat rather than a person. An odd tension grew briefly, broken only by the sound of Carol’s sword being drawn.
Lorelei remained impassive while Carol animated herself, merely raising a brow at her first comment then returning to a stony expression as the woman decided to circle and size her up. It wasn't unusual behavior, Lorelei came from a mercenary background and was well acustomed to being treated like merchandise. When it came to it, that is exactly what she was. What kept Lorelei from feeling any bitterness from this was the knowledge that Carol was, as is anyone aboard a ship, just so. You were being paid for. When it came down to it, you were as disposable and replacable as any. All people are. Superiority and control are merely illusions.
“Prefer swords, eh?” Carol muttered, tapping the scabbard of one of Lorelei’s blades with her own. Far from it for Carol to feel some sort of kinship with a fellow blade user in this day and age, rather she felt mocked that someone else would attempt to emulate her skills. She marched back around the front of her recruit, the flat of her sword resting on her shoulder. “A lass like you’d be better off with a gun, yeah?” Carol snorted and spat over the railing of the ship. “You ain’t need any skill to use a gun.”
"Indeed." Lorelei bluntly replied, although remained fairly unresponsive in expression, staying poised. As Carol continued, she barely held in a sigh and her eyes rolled as Carol spat over the railing, still not sure what Carol really wanted. If the woman couldn't recognise a sword arm why bother asking to see her at all? And what made it even more laughable was the gun comment. Lorelei's vision went blurry the further in distance things became, and while she could hit a target she rarely hit the bullseye. Not that Carol could possibly know that, unless she had observed Lorelei squinting at some point. "If it's all the same to you, I prefer swords and fists to bullets. I know where my skills lie. I did not get this body by shooting."
Carol frowned in reply. It wasn’t much fun taunting someone without getting a rise out of them. Making the first move was rarely interesting and it was far too simple. Reaction was easier than action, and more fun to boot. She sheathed her sword and planted herself back down on her barrel, propping her feet high on one next to it like a makeshift recliner. “Right then, I ‘spose you’ll do, ‘least ‘till we find someone better.” Carol waved her hand and shut her eyes, a clear signal that she was done with the conversation. “Better watch your back.” she muttered under her breath. It was obvious her implications ran just as much towards Lorelei’s crewmates as much as with her foes.
Inwardly enjoying the frown, Lorelei relaxed as Carol withdrew. The woman had been inches from drawing out her temper and Lorelei didn't feel like she had much of a leg to stand on currently. She didn't know anyone aboard this ship. And she wasn't all too good at making new friends, being a suspicious and guarded person. On top of that, despite her cool exterior, Lorelei had a pretty short temper, and it was all she could do to throw of the insults as casually as she did. Self-discipline did not come naturally, it had to be heavily impressed. She knocked her right arm sword hilt slightly out of the sheath at the last mutter, almost ready to pull it out, her face set grimly as she replied as casually and cooly as possible, "If you doubt me so, you won't object to proving your own worth, no?" The challenge was made, and Lorelei exuded confidence with it. In this moment, from Lore's point of view, she was assessing Carol. Could this apparently hardened seabitch actually meet her words with swords?
Carol glared back at Lorelei, her eyes full of fire, yet on her lips spread a hideous grin. The entire time on the ship had been almost completely quiet, nothing significant having occurred since the jailbreak on Mypos. With so little action, the chance to dominate a new opponent filled her with glee. Without warning a flash of silver shone through the air, and the sword tip brushed Lorelei's chest, though she reacted quickly and side-stepped so it did not rest there. Her expression was unimpressed. Carol’s hand rested on her sword, though still she reclined on her barrel.
“I ‘spose I can take you up on your offer...” Carol mumbled, looking down at her sword and finally rising to her feet. “But I ain’t gonna promise that your head’ll stay on.”
Lorelei shrugged and pulled her own sword from it's sheath, choosing the long and well-worn blade used in her right hand. The show of power Carol had displayed only put Lorelei on an instant defense.
Carol drew her sword as she rose, resting the flat of the blade on her shoulder. There was a long silence between the two of them, neither seeming to want to make the first move. This wasn't abnormal between experienced swordsmen, as making the first move laid you open. Lorelei was cautious when fighting an unknown opponent. She gripped her sword with both hands, using it like a two-handed weapon for stability. Slowly Carol began to tap her finger against the hilt. “If you ain’t gonna make a move than I will!” she shouted suddenly, bringing her free hand to grip the handle of her weapon. Instantly she stepped forward towards Lorelei, flipping her sword off her shoulder and bringing it down in an ungainly arc towards Lorelei’s head. What the attack lacked in grace it made up for in speed and power. Lorelei twisted her own blade upwards and lept further left, having anticipated the obvious initial swing that would be made, and did not pause for even a second as she followed through and attempted to slash at Carol's wrist.
No mere practice swing, Carol was out for blood from the get go. If Lorelei was too weak to survive this than there would be little use for her, in Carol’s eyes. Not that she expected much from anyone to begin with. Lore's counterstrike was not simply defensive, and certainly not that of a spar partner. This would be a real fight or nothing. Carol twisted her sword sharply mid-swing to avoid the steel heading towards her wrist. However, the odd movement unbalanced her swing and sent her sword hurtling into the deck, cracking several floorboards and lodging itself in the wood in the process. It looked like someone was going to have their work cut out for them later, as Carol certainly wasn’t about to offer to fix it. Lorelei barely gave herself time to blink as Carol's swing cracked the deck - this woman was clearly a hell of a lot stronger then she looked - she twisted and pushed forward now holding her long blade in only her right hand and made a move to slice at Carol's sword arm, hoping to distract the woman in countering, while her left hand swiftly drew forth her shorter blade and attempted to ram it in Carol's side.
Carol smirked as the dual attack head for her. Lorelei’s quick strikes gave her little time to pull her sword from the deck but Carol gave no hesitation in releasing her grip on her weapon, retracting her arm in order to avoid a cut. At the same time Carol shifted her weight to right while knocking the short blade away with the back of her bracer. It was clear Carol didn’t need a weapon in her hand to defend, and she intended to prove she didn’t need one to damage her opponent either. Lorelei reacted smoothly, not missing a beat, side-stepping and sliding forward again, to try and take Carol from a side angle so that she could swing her long blade upwards and attempted to stab Carol in her sword arm armpit. Using the surprise gained from her willingness to release her weapon Carol launched her sword arm forward in a vicious, bonebreaking strike towards Lorelei’s face, her arm having already pulled back to swing in the act of releasing her sword. She expected some kind of dagger to appear in Carol's hand and anticipated such a move by flowing through the countered short sword blow and pushed upwards to defend herself, admittedly shocked by the fact Carol was just simply trying to punch her, although the position of her long blade would mean that such a move would risk impalement unless Carol reacted quickly enough.
As the long blade raced towards the inside of Carol’s arm the barehanded warrior ducked down sharply, dropping her body below the oncoming blade. Twisting her arm upwards she quickly switched her heavy roundhouse to a sharp uppercut, aiming for a knockout blow against Lorelei’s chin. As Carol dropped down, Lorelei took the opportunity to ram the blade downwards with as much force as possible, sending her weight into the motion as she did, her short sword blade swerved forward to counter her punch. At the same time, with exceptional coordination, Carol snatched one of the daggers from her sash using her left hand. As she drew the small blade the berserker made a sharp slash, turning the drawing motion into a wide swing towards Lorelei’s gut. Carol would either force her opponent backwards or deliver a deadly double attack. Luckily for Lore, she always wears strong leather, and Carol's swing was off by just enough to simply rip through her armor instead of flesh. Shit. But even the slash proved Carol's strength - normally a dagger would need to be stabbed not slashed to get through leather.
Carol’s fist connected heavily with the short blade used to block it. The blade sunk deep into her fist, only stopped from removing her hand a finger by the weapon bouncing against her bracer. Despite the now heavily bleeding slice across her fingers Carol gave a wicked grin. Her teeth almost seemed like points as a demonic aura began to exude from the woman’s body. At the same instant Carol’s other hand dropped the knife and shot upwards, performing an almost identical maneuver against the longer blade. Catching the sword in her left hand Carol took a wicked gash across the palm, once again only saved from a more permanent injury from her bracer preventing the weapon from traveling further.
Carol disengaged from the current skirmish, hopping backwards several meters and leaving her dropped weapons next to Lorelei. The grin on her face seemed to spread wider, and Carol’s eye gave a sickening glow. She gave a hearty, yet terrifyingly bestial, laugh. An intense, palpable pressure could be felt from her body, even at the distance between them. Despite the growing stream of blood dripping from her gashed palms Carol seemed elated. She clenched her hands into tight balls, her nails digging further into the already damaged flesh.
“I gone easy on ya, girl!” Carol shouted, her voice lower than usual a warped to what could only be described a demonic tone. “But I’m through holdin’ back. I’ll beat ya to death with my own blood!” Lorelei barely smiled and shrugged, "I'm pissing my pants, honestly...", and with a final shout Carol launched forward, far faster than before. Her approach came so fast the streams of blood draining from her hands left crimson ribbons in her wake, attached to the gashes on her palms. Lorelei realized now that Carol was definitely unnatural. Maybe inhuman. Tainted? Touched? She didn't have time to think.
In moments Carol was back in front of Lorelei, her blood soaked hands flashing forwards in a flurry of strikes and blows directed all across her body. Something had definitely changed in Carol. It was almost as if she’d taken the wounds on her hands intentionally, and instead of being weakened she instead grew stronger. Regardless of the reasons, she was definitely stronger and faster than she had been in the preceding skirmish. And if nothing else her mood had lightened, as Carol had begun a bought of sadistic laughter the moment she rushed forward to attack. As Carol grew faster it was all Lorelei could do to block her blow, leaving superficial wounds on her opponents hands and arms where fist met blade. Blades trumped fists, but Carol's speed meant no counterattack could be made, and every blow Carol landed nearly knocked Lorelei off her feet. Only years of fighting learning how to fight against multiple enemies gave her any edge at all. Her grace in dodging and tumbling was now keeping her alive, and she was badly bruised.
The growing number of slices and gashes did little to cause the crazed berserker to relent her assault. Indeed her insane laughter only seemed to grow with each new spray of blood, apparently caring little for whose it actually was. It was almost as if she cared for nothing beyond the destruction over her foe, and the growing sores and bruises on Lorelei’s body only fueled her further. Her strikes contained no grace, no fluidity, and no finesse, instead backed by nothing but raw power. Lorelei was practically dancing, but it was too much. The speed with which she moved pushed her body and mind to the limit. She rarely tired in a fight, but this was no normal fight - Lorelei realized she simply could not beat this opponent. It happened sometimes. No matter how strong or talented you are, there is always someone better then you. Accepting this was hard, but time to do so was clearly now.
Carol’s relentless pummeling suddenly ceased as she stepped back unexpectedly. Lorelei took the mere seconds to judge her opponent swiftly, and anticipated the next strike. Almost as soon as she broke off she rushed forward once more. No longer putting out a stream of quick blows, instead her right arm pulled back in preparation to unleash a powerful strike directly to Lorelei’s gut. With the force of a charge as well as her own muscle behind her this strike was sure to hurt. Lorelei tried to dodge, knowing that even her own punches could rupture an organ let alone Carol's, although the punch caught her full pelt in the side, sending her crashing and forcing her to drop her long blade. She didn't even have time to roll, though she managed to keep hold of her shorter blade.
Before Lorelei could even finish hitting the deck Carol was already upon her once more. With the same wicked smile she sent a sharp kick towards the downed warrior. If she was going to fall Carol would have to kick her back up; it was far too soon for the fun to end. Lorelei quickly twisted onto her side and thrust her short sword at Carol's foot, to take the force of the kick as much as possible. At the same time she tried to steady herself and get ready to move with as much speed as possible.
Lorelei’s blade sunk deep into Carol’s foot, the force behind her kick causing it to pierce through her boot and all the way to the hilt of the blade. Yet, despite an undoubtedly horrible wound, Carol’s attack kept coming. The power behind her kick wrenched the handle free of Lorelei’s grasp and having little outward effect beyond adding additional mass to the blow to her hip, nearly causing the hard bone to crack and Lore to gasp and yelp in pain, though Lorelei's well-timed roll helped to prevent the would-be crippling injury. But the damage was done. She wouldn't be able to walk properly after that, let alone dodge any more blows. Her breathing seethed as she dealt with the pain, and adrenaline rushed through her body.
Finally, with a sword in her foot, Carol dropped to know knee. It was obvious from the way she carried herself that she had dropped less from her wounds themselves and more from the fact it was difficult to walk with a hunk of metal in your foot. With that in mind she grabbed the hilt of Lorelei’s sword and yanked it out of her body, forcing another gout of blood to splatter across herself and the deck. Lorelei's eyes widened with suprise at Carol's apparent inability to feel pain. How was anyone meant to fight a creature like that? But she did not look afraid. On the contrary, she looked exhilirated.
Carol brought herself back to her feet slowly, pointing Lorelei’s own weapon at the prone fighter. The demonic aura from before had faded, and it seemed that the respite from fighting needed to pull the blade from her foot had given her time to calm down somewhat. It became apparent that some of her unnatural toughness had left her as well as Carol’s stance shifted noticeably to her unwounded foot. Even so she seemed ready to continue, wounded or not.
“Oi, you wanna keep goin’ without your sword? Or you want I should get the doc’ to get us patched up?” Even without the unnatural energy coming off of her, Carol’s demonic grin had yet to fade. It was apparent she was hoping for the fight to continue regardless of how bad the new recruit was already bloodied. “Last chance for mercy. I ain’t takin’ it easy on ya’ if ya’ wanna go another round.”
"You fucked my leg," She growled, though more from pain then displeasure, "I ain't no fucking fool, live to fight another day, right?" She managed to pull herself back into a standing position, making it look far more easy then it was, though pain clearly etched her face, and she couldn't rest on the damaged hip's leg.
Though Carol’s grin was still obvious it was clear she was somewhat displeased with the news. It was as if she enjoyed the thought of slicing up her teammates. Nevertheless Carol turned her back, marching (though not without an ever so slight limp) to her dropped knife and sword still stuck in the deck, returning them to their proper positions on her person. In mimcry, Lorelei collected her dropped long blade.
“You managed to give me a little nick here and there...” Carol said, completely serious in her implication that gashed up arms and a stabbed foot constituted ‘little nicks’ to her. “... So I ‘spose we can call it even. “ Her tone, however, made it clear she knew she’d won.
"Fuck that." Came her tart reply, and she shoved her long sword back into it's frog. Whether conceding to the loss or merely assuring Carol that this was not the end, well, that was left vague. Carol turned back to face Lorelei with her horrible, toothy grin as wide as ever. Tossing Lorelei’s sword back towards her feet, Carol gave one final remark.
“Welcome to the War Dogs.”