|Fighting for Redemption|
"Y'need to try harder than that...!"
It comes out in a half-breathless rush, as Samantha dives beneath a gout of shadowy energy and hits the ground in an acrobatic tumble. Bouncing easily off a muscular shoulder, she extends her arm and slams a leather-clad palm into the groundswelling mist. Coming into contact with what passes for a floor - in this place betwixt time, apart from space - the catgirl pushes off and launches long legs around, curling inward with the accompanying sweep of her sleekly-furred tail to land in a crouch.
With both feet planted, she draws her arms into a ready guard, remaining low to the ground. Her left hand is open and extended, the right clenched to a fist not too far from her jaw, which is set in spite of the relaxed smile turning full lips upward. Her sapphire gaze is alight, her breath coming fast but even as her heart pounds away at a comfortable dash. The warmth of her body-warmer has been abandoned, just a white and rather sweat-speckled tank top covering her torso.
Somehow, her hair remains in place, lacquered fan holding that uppermost twist in place, the twin ebon sweeps of her bangs drifting to a standstill that's not too unruly; hey, both her parents had great hair, it makes sense that she would too. Genetics go some way to explaining why she's so elated, as closer examination reveals a few nasty marks on her pale flesh; Tabby's got her hits in, it seems, over the course of their training away from the cramped confines of 'time'.
"Now, come at me again!" Samantha demands, eyes narrowing with renewed focus as motes of blue-white chi begin to dance around her sneaker-clad feet. "And remember what I told you; the more you let go, release and relax, the easier it'll come. Don't focus on you, don't focus on me-- just be one with that energy, and it'll guide you surer than your eyes and ears ever could. You'll hit harder, too."
A snort of breath mimics the laughter to which she won't yield entirely, right now. "As if you NEED to." Her closed fist unfolds and beckons her 'sister' onward, "C'mon, c'mon!"
Tabitha is gasping for breath. There's no telling how long they've been here from anyone's point of view. As soon as Samantha started demanding she attack she's been struggling, more so now that she's pulling from reserves she didn't know she had. Somewhere down the line she stopped using the dagger, somehow drawing the darkness without it now, although it only burns off of her hands and feet. Rubbing at her cheek with the edge of her fist the girl shakes her head. "I /was/ focusing on ya... I'm not good at this!"
Somewhere along the way she threw off her jacket and gloves. The neko glances at them briefly pondering how good of a pillow they could make if she tried. Shaking her head she tries to push the image out, looking ahead and reminding herself how little time they might actually have. Somehow that thought is all she needed and quickly she dashes forwards, her hand held back not in a fist but with her nails outward ready to claw at Sammy's stomach. The darkness burning off the tips of her fingers making her nails seem deadly.
Just before she manages to strike she trips over her feet and goes tumbling shoulder-first into the girl and out of control destined to hit the ground and tumble seconds later. Scraping her face against the nothing she goes into a slight roll ending up laying on her back and staring up at the nothingness above them. "...hey?" Pant pant. "You think she'd mind if we snuck out an' went to tha UR?"
"Yer as good as you mean to be, Tabby," comes the quick, rather brusque reply, though the harshness of tone belies the confident belief beneath it; Samantha's not giving up on her student, pushing her every step of the way and only encouraged by what she sees. It's why the excitement is so plain in her eyes, adrenaline pounding through her veins and-- oh, oh crap...
There's no real time to react to the sudden shift as Tabitha rages forth, her strike seemingly telegraphed enough that the powerful speedster before her can prepare herself. If one thing hasn't changed about Samantha's style, it's that she still plans a few steps ahead - she simply makes better choices, as well. Or she usually does. Here and now, she's met with the tumbling form of her shadow-clone, and goes tumbling with her, a surprised 'ack!' coming from her lips as she grapples on and tucks into a halfway-deft backward roll. She comes up with a wild swing of her arms, in a clumsy horse-stance straddling the younger girl. Looking down at her with back arched, she smirks.
"Well, that was, uh, definitely somethin'."
A pause, and then she laughs in truth, hopping forward with a flexion of both strong legs and a tuck of the knees, turning in the air to land at her full height. Drawing a relaxing breath, she reaches down to help Tabitha up, the muscles on her forearm cording with the expulsion of effort. How long have they been training? How long do they have left? Time, literally, stands still.
She's not concerned, but...
"I think she'd mind a lot. On the other hand," her nose wrinkles, and she glances to one side as if checking for a teacher at the back of the classroom, "I-- I kinda miss the place." Snorting, she looks away and back to Tabs, quirking her brows in exaggerated appraisal. "For someone who's s'posed to be redeeming themselves, you're pretty badly-behaved. Tryin' to lead me into bad habits?"
The younger girl laughs as she's pulled to her feet. "Ya caught me." She smiles mischievously. "That was totally my plan all along. Lull you into a false sense of security, kill ya, get you ta come back from tha dead, an' then make you spend th' rest of eternity in tha UR." She nods sagely. "Actually it was Johnny's idea. He totally put me up to it."
She's not panting anymore, seeming to have already caught her breath somehow. Maybe it's this place. She shouldn't be recovering that quickly. Wiping her brow on the back of one arm Tabitha lets out a brief yawn, uncurling her tongue in the process, and once more tries to shake it off. Balling her hands back up into fists the darkness once again swirls around them and she charges forwards, trying to get a punch into Samantha's face without checking to see if she's ready first.
Of course she's not trying to hide the attack either, even going so far as to talk while she strikes, and assuming she can still do so afterwards continue her thought aloud after it's countered. "Assuming ya have ta go back right away. Couldn't ya just stick around awhile? I don't think anyone checked ta see how old you were." It's a little insensitive, but after some of the remarks the departed has already said it's not too macabre.
In one moment, Samantha's lightly grinning, tipping her head to one side and miming an angry fistshake at the mention of the maniac; she misses him, really, she does... but then Tabby's heard all about that in the past hours (days?) of training. There's nobody more precious to her, but he IS a jerk and she WILL be having words! Whether he deserves them or not! So far, so pleasant.
But then, Tabitha's charging. This time her fellow is ready to accept what she sees coming, remaining relaxed - almost nonchalant - as she sways aside and slides one long, toned leg forward. Bracing herself, she keeps her chin up and catches the incoming punch with the back of one hand, redirecting it with split-second timing. Her grin remains, directed at the younger nekojin over her own arm. And the black depth of those surging energies, which seem to be diverting strangely...
"Lesson five thousand, one hundred, and forty two--" Gritting her teeth, Sammy pivots through the parrying motion and springs up out of the mist, spinning into a lashing roundhouse kick across the shoulderblades. It's not a thunderous impact, should it connect; actually, there's hardly any *physical* strike at all, as partway through the spin Tabitha's own energies soar to coat her older brethren's leg and form a solid surface between them. It actually cushions the impact...
Until the shadows curve downward, propelled by the rebounding leg to drag Tabby toward the ground.
"Always be ready for anythin'!" Chirps Samantha as she lands in a fighting stance, a basic kickboxing style this time - rooted but light on her feet, hands gripped to fists. "And *don't* tell a lady she's old." Clapping a hand to her hip, she extends an arm to again help the younger up, though she definitely looks a little wary. That was *close*. The energy's gone, naturally, control relinquished. "Buy the lady a strawberry Italian cream soda, and she'll let you off, though. Might even explain how she just did what she did. 'Bout time you started learning our birthright..."
'Our' birthright, as if she could make it any plainer just how freely she accepts this girl's presence in her life.
Tabitha lets out a cough as she's again pulled to her feet. "Why does everyone a your lessons involve me flat on my back?" There'd be a joke about Dante here but she's not seen that side of him just yet. "An' I wasn't callin' ya old." She lets her arms droop as she shakes her head. "I'm just sayin' who's to say how long you were here before ya go back there? What if it where years later instead of a few hours? Who would know?" It actually does pose an interesting question.
Letting the question hang in the air just long enough that it can't be ignored the girl suddenly smiles mischievously once again. "Actually though. I think I just thought of a way ta buy you that drink." With a flick of her wrist she takes out the Dread Dagger and steps forwards, unintentionally mirroring the moment fated to separate the two of them. She momentarily ponders psyching her out and pretending to stab her, much to Meria's delight, but instead takes the less creepy way of grabbing Samantha's hand and piercing her palm with the tip of the blade.
Assuming she doesn't fight it Tabitha's black energies seem to burrow their way inside Samantha's skin, spreading across her features just like the girl and Johnny before her. A second later even her clothes are turned black and a feeling not unlike a limb being asleep tingles its way across her skin. As soon as it becomes unbearable it stops and Tabitha steps back, still grinning that mischievous grin. "So Caliga made copies of himself an' put tha other me's in them." The elder nekojin will notice her clothes now match the youngers. ...and her height. "So as far as anyone knows we can say I did it too. Meria kept callin' herself the real you, right?" ...and the rest of her body, scratches and all. Even her hair is now Tabitha's shorter style. "So why don't we get that drink, Meria?"