|Let me ask you a favor (part 2)|
This may be an incident of her design, but Samantha has no idea what to expect as she makes this fantastic journey. Already weary, head clouded from the effort of creating the tear - and stinging from the wound at her breast, she is caught offguard by the surprise landing. She drops forward as they emerge, just barely able to react fast enough to tuck a shoulder in and come up from a roll upon one knee. She gasps, touching her injury as she glances around. "Somethin' tells me we're not in Kansas any more, Toto," she murmurs, glancing back to Johnny with a strained smirk. Pushing herself to her feet, tail trailing in the dirt below, she pushes a stray bang from her eyes and glances about the panorama once more. "Not that I know /where/ we are. Doesn't look familiar... or even feel familiar. If I'm right, though, we should've come to wherever you wanted to be." She pauses, rubbing at her chest, and frowns, "Dunno if 'wanted' would be the right word, but I'm working on feel an' theory here. Any ideas?"
Johnny sweatdrops, "Wait. What?!? What'cha mean where I 'wanted' to go? Jeeze! With my screwed up head? You made a portal based on something from my fucked up psychie? That might be the stupidest thing I've ever heard you say!" He looks around, trying in vain to figure out if anything looks remotely familar. "...and no. I have no idea where we are. It's too fuckin' dark. Shit. How the fuck do we get back? FUCK! I hope we aren't in something my mind created. I'm NOT in the mood for doughboys and floating bunny heads at the moment." He turns and glares at his friend, looking ready to smack her. "Or worse. What if this is where Christabella came from? I'm not walking around with one of those pyramid helmet things again!" His eyes cast lazily to the side as he remembers. "Ooooh, but another Great Knife maybe...
Listening to Johnny's exasperated response with an arched eyebrow, Samantha keeps a surprisingly neutral expression. Beyond her somewhat laboured breath and dripping chest-wound, the catgirl does not appear perturbed, and when her friend trails off she merely nods, quietly. Turning away, she takes a couple of steps down the road, and stops, keeping one hand upon her breast and lifting the other in the air. She murmurs something to herself - too softly to be made out, and a second later twin ripples of energy run down either arm. Her left, the raised hand, is ignited with a sudden stream of fire, which gathers at the fingertips before scattering into the air nearby. The fire does not fade, rather it coalesces into a rough circle, floating and twisting in the night. A rudimentary light; a magic torch. The right meanwhile pulses with a power familiar to the maniac... the power lent to Sammy by Cassandra, sacred and fierce. It floods her injury, soothing and healing the aggravated spot in the time it takes for the young woman to turn back around. "Got a confession to make," she says, lifting her shoulders in a shrug, and giving a sheepish smile, "I did this hoping you'd think of somebody else. Because of me. Because you had to hurt me to do it. I... have no idea if it worked, but d'you remember what ya thought about as you hit me? I think it's important."
Johnny blinks at the question. "What I... thought about...?" His eyebrows furrow as he strains to think back. "Fuck. I dunno. I just kinda focused everything I could and lashed out. I thought that's what you wanted." Johnny runs his hand through the hair on the back of his head and sighs. "Great. Spiritual journey bullshit. It's gonna be just like when I got this damn dagger, ain't it?" To emphasis, NNY takes out his dagger with his free hand and starts to twirl it when he realizes somethings off. Holding it before his face he stares as a black, inky, smoke pours off it. "...haven't seen it do that in awhile." Between the trees along the road a pair of eyes reflect the light cast by Samantha's flames. A pair of eyes which narrow at the sight of the two newcomers.
Samantha's eyes are transfixed upon the dagger as it starts to emit that ichorous energy. They narrow slightly, becoming ethereal blue slits as she breathes in deep and slow through the nose. "No," she murmurs in response to Johnny, "That could be a bad sign. It's- when you say a spiritual journey, that's literally what this is. I took your strike and absorbed it, using my own abilities to counter... I mean, I didn't attack you directly, but it was a counter hit all the same. The difference was, I tried to focus back down the line - from me, to you, to the source of your power. So there's a three-way connection. That's why I think your intent has somethin' to do with where we end up." Snapping her gaze from the dagger, she meets Johnny's eyes questioningly - as if to ask, 'did that make sense?' There's some doubt visible in her look. She's winging it; unaware of how right she is in her assumptions. Unaware that she has discovered the true depth of her prodigious nature. She breaks eye contact after a moment and glances toward her conjured fire, bringing it closer with a flick of her wrist. "We'll stand out with this, but I figure that's the best way of finding out where we are. I'm not in the mood for stealth. Either we've come to our own funeral, or... well..." She doesn't say what she hopes for, feeling a weight in her heart as she makes the decision. She simply turns and starts to walk down the track, beginning to attune her senses to anything around them. A shame she's not telepathic, but she may be able to detect an attack before it happens. With a little luck. Or a lot of luck. "Let's get movin', Johnny. Keep an eye on your dagger."
Johnny sighs, "Yes... because it's so easy when it's black smoke coming from a black dagger in a fucking starless black night, right?" He hurries to catch up to her and the light fading away as she walks away from him. "Alright, so... thinking logically we're in the middle of nowhere. A member of the Hell Council and a psudo-dead cat-girl who can rip open holes in space. Explain to me again why we're being cautious? You say you don't want to be stealthy.. but c'mon. As far as anyone knows we're the most evil sons-of-bitches this world has ever seen. Why not use that to our advantage? Make a huge commotion, see who pops up, and demand to know where we are. What are they gonna do? Kill us and send us to Hell?" Johnny waves his fingers like a comical villain. "Oooooh. So scary!" Following along as quietly as possible, the pair of eyes in the woods keeps just out of sight of the two as they walk on. Taking a sharp breath, the figure draws it's dagger and readies it to defend themselves. In a single bound it leaps up onto a low hanging tree branch and walks from branch to branch trying to shorten the distance between them. While Johnny won't hear anything, Samantha might notice the occasional cracking stems as the figure strides along.
"Lemme get this straight," Samantha shoots back over her shoulder, the circle of flames travelling alongside billowing as she speaks, "You think we might be up against any one of the innumerable horrors from your past, and yer suggestin' we make as much noise as possible? I knew there was a reason I didn't take you into the Badlands all that much..." She laughs softly, glancing about into the darkness. Able to see a little better than her friend, thanks to certain racial advantages, she isn't quite capable of seeing their watcher. However, a twitch of her ears betrays another kind of awareness as a crackle sounds in the depths of the gloom. She almost doesn't register the noise beyond this, but her step does falter momentarily, and then with a smooth motion she reaches up to the back of her head. Silky black strands sweep freely out and down around her shoulders as she draws forth the lacquered fan she keeps there. The end clanks gently against the mithril bracer upon her wrist as she lowers it to her hip, keeping her wrist cocked. Despite the call to action, her eyes continue to flick this way and that. Her hearing isn't so good that the night can't obscure the direction of the sound. On picking up a second rustle, she drifts to a halt and holds up her other hand toward Johnny, behind her. Her voice drops to a whisper. "Somethin's nearby. Small. Maybe an animal."
Only the sound of a high pitched growl sends further warning before a small figure leaps out of the trees, dagger held in it's teeth, it's hands held forth like claws as it aims itself for Samantha's throat. Likely if given the chance she'll try to strangle the woman, but a lack of skill will make her fairly easy to toss off. Johnny clutches his dagger tightly but relaxes once he recognizes the shape trying to strangle his friend. "Oooooh right. That's what went through my mind when I stabbed you!" Why does he have to say that so happily? "Long time no see, Tab-!" His words are cut off by the small girl's high pitched scream, "YOU FUCKING JACK-ASS!!! DID YOU STOP FOR A GODDAMNED SECOND TO SEE WHERE THE FUCK YOU THREW ME WHEN YOU DROP KICKED ME OFF OF TWISTED?!? YOU FUCKING SON OF A WHORE!!!!" While her words are directed at Johnny, the girl takes the opportunity to lash out at Samantha again, this time with the dagger formerly held in her teeth. Exactly like Johnny's, the dagger leaves trails of black smoke with each movement. It won't be hard for Samantha to recognize the other half of the set in her hands as she tries in vain to plunge it in approximately the same place the maniac had attacked her before.
The original catgirl is already prepared for /something/, and the movement made in Tabitha's hell-for-leather approach is predictable enough that the nature of the beast does not matter. Sammy twists at the hip and whips her wrist around, using the weapon in her grasp to rather brutally slap the incoming hand away. It is almost instantly followed by an outside crescent kick, a sneaker whipping through the air to strike the clone with a grazing blow that keeps her at distance long enough for a good look to be had. "You didn't do a bad job," Samantha notes to Johnny, a breathless edge in her tone as she sinks her stance deep. Her blood is pounding in her veins already - she can't deny that the appearance of Tabitha is alarming in the extreme. The voice, even moreso, no matter how much they may have grown apart. "Though uh, I see where she got her manners from." There's not time to do much more but wisecrack, because that dread dagger plunges toward the ragged hole in her shirt. But grown apart they have, and the blow is negated with another brisk motion of the fan. It meets the blade with a snapping hiss as it unfolds, revealing an arc of corrugated metal. The darkness lashes at the surface, but is quickly negated as a burst of divine energy pulses from the Shiranui ninja's fingertips. Meeting her clone's gaze over the clash of iron and hellish steel, she gives a soft nod, and speaks with neither rancour nor love. She's not sure what to feel; but she knows who this is. How could she not? "Hello, Tabby."
Tabitha speaks as if spitting venem, "Yeah, well, hello to th' great an' wonderful real-me. Tha one everyone is so fuckin' in love with. Glad ta see ya found yer girlfriend. Congrats." Johnny can't do much more than blush a little as his gaze falls to the ground, his voice quieting to a mumble. "Um... well... She was older when I made her. I'm not sure why she-" Once again Johnny is cut off as the girl fills in the blanks for him. "Because I got tired of tryin' ta fill her shoes!" The young girl stomps her foot childishly, "I don't wanna be you! I don't wanna be this pussy-whipped little former maniac's disgustin' little tribute to ya, nor do I wanna be Sun's fuck-buddy!" Tears seem to be falling from her eyes as the emotion overwhlems her. "I wanted a life! A family! Instead I get thrown away an' left to rot in this fuckin' nightmare world 'cause the great an' powerful Johnny-fuckin'-C never thinks about the conclusions to his actions!!" Johnny stares blankly as the girl rants. He had a feeling it'd be like this. That's why he never went looking for her. "I'm... sorry?" Tabitha screams, "SORRY!?!?"
Samantha keeps her weapon raised, the end of the tessen twitching slightly as her muscles betray the thrill of activity. But she makes no move to attack, listening and watching with an ever-deepening frown as the 'creature' and its creator trade words. She scans Tabitha carefully, bright blue eyes taking in every detail, looking beyond the uncomfortably bizarre nature of this situation - past her own qualms, her own misgivings, and her memory of the last clone she came face to face with. She keeps her composure perfectly... up until the girl begins to cry. This isn't a creation. It's not a thing. As Sammy suspected - even knew, in her heart, what has happened here is wrong beyond words. Any sentient being possesses emotion, no matter their origin. They can all hurt, cry, and inwardly scream at the horrors of their existence; and some have more horrors to deal with than others. A tremor runs the length of the nekojin's spine, causes her shoulders to quake briefly, and she slowly drops her weapon, folding the fan with subtle ease and letting it drop with a definite *thump* to the dirt road. "He's sorry," Samantha breathes, keeping her attention solely upon the youngster before her. Denying her adrenaline, she smiles a calm, sad smile, and holds up her hands to either side. "An' so am I. Nobody deserves to be me. The real deal ain't exactly a barrel o' laughs, but tryin' ta fill in for the pain and the heartache I've caused... you were always gonna lose out. Johnny's an idiot, but he's an idiot I /hurt/. He's as much a victim as you are. And me?" She tosses her head, reaching up to brush her hair behind her ears. "I'm the biggest idiot of all, but I came to help you." She frowns, and adds, "Whatever that takes."
Tabitha wipes her eyes on the back of one of her sweater's sleaves. "Shut up. I don't need ya ta start appoligizing. I've been in his head. I know what he knows and what he knows of ya. I just... don't know much else. Sunchan tried ta teach me, but..." The girl trails off, pointing her blade at Johnny as the words escape her. Johnny groans. "Alright. Well. That's GREAT. I'm glad we had this chance to chat. Can we avoid the whole emo-pitty-party and-" Tabitha growls behind tear soaked eyes. "SHUT UP! All this time? All the BULLSHIT ya put me through an' yer gonna just ignore me walk off?" She clutches her dagger tightly, her body turning as black as the starless sky above. Her eyes begin to glow with a reddish hue. Johnny clutches his own dagger, his body instinctively tensing up at the girl's transformation. "NO, actually I was trying to do us all a goddamned favor by getting us the fuck out of here since SOMEONE isn't even sure she can fucking open the doorway again!!" Tabitha blinks. "...oh." Johnny glares, "Damn right, oh."
The mention of her - their - former partner garners a faint cringe from Samantha, though the continuing, shattered-souled breakdown of the clone does nothing to strengthen her emotionally. It's difficult to watch; effectively seeing her own juvenile self tormented by everything she has become. "Stop it," she murmurs a moment into the exchange between Tabitha and the maniac, before she impulsively, unwisely starts to clench a fist. An aggravated glance is flung sidelong toward Johnny, only for her attention to be drawn back by the same transformation that worries him. She's seen /that/ before. As if in response to the glow of Tabitha's, her own eyes blaze with that old inner fire. With a hiss between barely parted teeth, she interposes herself between the bickering pair. "I said stop it." "Johnny, I told you I'm not sure; and that's what I meant. But if there's one thing life's taught me it's that /everything/ is possible, with enough resolve an' all the will in the world. Tabby," She extends a hand, unsure of the wisdom in her action as she goes to place her palm, firmly but gently, upon the shadowed girl's shoulder. "You wanna learn more than just how to be reflection of me? Then stop, and think. Don't feel, don't let your emotions take control. /Think/. D'you have a life in this place? Do ya have friends, family, or a future? Because you can find those things if you don't." She pauses, shakes her head, gesturing back toward Johnny, "He made you what you are, and he owes you for that. But not thinking isn't the only mistake I ever made. I also struck freely; I killed where I should've empathised. You wanna be better than I ever was? Then calm down, back up, and let's work somethin' out. Because I owe you too, and I'll get you to a place where you can find everything you've ever wanted. I promise."
Tabitha simply puts away her dagger, her form instantly shifting back to her usual self. "I know all that 'sis'. You wanna help me find a place in this world? Let's get off of this one." Thinking a moment she strolls over to Johnny, kicking him in the shins. "Why tha fuck did ya make me talk with this stupid drawl all th' time?" Johnny winces in pain and hops back. "Th' fuck was that for?" After taking a second to calm down he looks at the girl and up to his friend. "Um... well.. she used to talk like that. I swear." Tabitha glances up at Samantha and sighs. "Jeeze. Ya suck, NNY..." Johnny sighs, "Alright well let's try this will thing. This place is creeping me out." Tabitha sagenods in agreement. "How do ya think I feel?
Samantha cannot prevent another frown, placed on the back foot by Tabitha's assertion. But then the reality of the situation gently nudges her innermost; her 'sister's' actions can be forgiven. That she has accepted this at all shows that she must have thought, she must have grown. It feels wrong to be proud, but somehow that's the feeling that results. The one and only, original Sammy nods slowly, looking between NNY and Tabitha as they again duel verbally. It would almost be sweet, if not... Some thoughts are better left unstated. There is something to be done. "He's right, by the way," Samantha points out with a quirk of the lips as she takes a step back from the group, a little lopsided grin that drips with nostalgia, "I used to be pretty sloppy with my words. Though, uh," she wrinkles her nose, "Not /quite/ so bad. I guess y'didn't miss me enough to remember me all that well, Johnny. She's right; you do suck. Now let's do this." Speaking the last rather more quietly than the rest, she is already starting to fall into deep focus. Her hands lift to her punctured chest, meeting just in front of it and twining together, the fingertips forming a sign in the air. There is a momentary flare around the catgirl, as though her aura were reacting to a sudden pressure from within, and several feet away there now stands another - a perfect clone, in an identical pose. The clone lowers her hands and turns to the original, bowing her head in a brief show of respect before dropping into a fighting stance. It's the one she used a long time ago; flashy, somewhat impractical, but pleasing to the eye. The two share a smile, and a beat later the second crosses the distance between them in a rapid burst. Twisting at heel and hip, she pivots fully around and lashes out with a blisteringly fast palmstrike toward the chest. It stops six inches short, and with a cry a blaze of blue-white chi is unleashed. "HISHOUKEN!" The orb of power bursts against Samantha's fore, driving her back even as her arms cross over her chest to absorb the impact. A twin furrow is ripped into the dirt as he heels dig in. With an answering cry she sets her stance deep and replies with a double-barrelled thrust, both hands thundering forward to strike the air like thunder. An off-colour, indistinct ripple runs through the night, bisecting the energy-clone - who disappears in an imploding puff of blueish smoke. The tear runs fully a dozen feet before a flap of existence lifts at each edge, falling away to leave another opening like the last; but longer and even thinner. A crack carely enough to step into. Samantha breathes out slowly, shuddering and closing her eyes. "It's done."
Johnny and Tabitha watch with intrest at the flashy show. The young clone actually clapping once the senior decalres it over with. Before anyone makes a step towards the portal, the maniac shows his frustration in the earlier statement. "...You did -totally- talk like that, Sammy." Tabitha sighs at the statement. "Ya can't even remember if ya killed yer girlfriend once or twice. Drop it, NNY." Johnny turns and glares at the child. "DON'T FUCKING TELL ME WHAT TO DO!! I know what I'm talking about!! And STOP CALLING HER MY GIRLFRIEND!" Trying his damndest not to strike the clone, he turns to Samantha and scowls through clinched teeth, "...can we go now...?" Tabitha giggles and begins to rock back and forth on her heels, her tail swishing happily behind her. "Johnny an' Sammy sittin' in a tree..." Johnny adds with emphasis, "PLEASE?!? ...maybe leave her here or something?"
As her eyes rolls upward in playful denial of Johnny's assertion, it suddenly dawns on Samantha that it doesn't get easier, this traversing worlds. Not this way. Her body screams out from its very core, her entire being feels like it is about to expand and erupt into particles. It would be agonising, but at the same time there is numbing sensation in her brain. All motor functions react as expected, and momentarily cease their roles, dropping her like a sack of potatoes as the clone and her creator bicker nearby. Sammy manages to rise in time for Johnny to turn around, taking one knee as her head swims. She does not gasp or cry out; the residual pain is not like that. It's impossible to describe. After a few seconds, staring vacantly and unblinking, she sorts through the jumble of broken thoughts, and gains some control. Her eyes widen perceptibly. "No." She says quite definitely, finding her voice as she has found her mind. Looking from Johnny to the portal, she suddenly seems very small, and very frail. As though awed by what she is perceiving. "We can't go, because that... that doesn't go back to Twisted. I shouldn't be sure, I shouldn't know, but somehow I know this more than I've ever known anything before. There's... there's another way, but before we do... I need'ta know. Tabby," she hesitates as she looks up at her clone, sucking her lower lip in as she fights an internal battle, "What do you want from life? Through there is a world that will accept you, one way or another, if you let it. If you share yourself, if you be yourself, there's people there that'll give you all the love and kindness you need. I think y'could be happy. But... I'm not going with you." Once more she pauses, then suddenly shakes her head, her vision blurring as she does so. "I /can't/ go with you. If you wanna make things up with with NNY, or spend time with me, then wait, and come with us. Otherwise, please. Go. Be happy. And try to forgive the life we made you live this far."
Johnny angrily interjects himself, "Wait. No. You're going back. Ain't no way I'm gonna leave you here. What the hell would you want to stay here for? You said we came for some reason, and we found Tabitha. Great. Let's go back. This place doesn't feel right and I know a certain shop that's got some burritos waiting for us. I'll carry you if I have to-" Tabitha rolls her eyes, "Shut up, Johnny. She's talkin' ta me." The young girl walks towards her 'mold' and looks down at her as she kneels. "...what do I want? I don't know. But it ain't here. There's nothin' here. No people. No life. Just this darkness as far as you c'n see. Ya can't leave me here. Ya just can't. I don't know what I want in life, but it ain't this. Please. Can we just go already?"
Samantha appears conflicted at the answer, darting her eyes somewhat frantically between her friend, her 'sister' and the waiting portal. She opens her mouth, looks at Tabitha as if she is about to address her, and promptly closes it with a faint gasp. "Okay," she concedes a moment later, bowing her head and closing her eyes. Something shifts in the air, and the rend begins to close, gradually searing together until only a seam remains. This fades soon after, and as it does a single tear oozes from the catgirl's right eye, dribbling forlornly down her cheek. "Then," she opens her eyes with what seems a fair effort, and starts to ease her legs out before her, dropping from her knees to her rear. Her face is long now, and slightly paler than before - as though she had been bereaved. Nodding, she glances again between the two. "I need to try something else. You might wanna take a seat; I don't know how long this'll take. But I think it's possible. I... think my pop did it, once." She nods again, this time more firmly - but it is a firmness of desperation, and now there's no hiding the moisture in her gaze. Just where did that portal go? Either way, she seems ill inclined to talk more, shutting her eyes and starting to breathe slowly, rythmically. Focusing. Meditating. The next thing she will do, is carry them home.