Level: 8 - Total EXP: 102/80
Level: 7 (63 -> 70/70)
Location: Edge of the Blue - Kosm’s Beach; Where All Things Must Come
Word Count: 1561 (+6 EXP)
Hats: Sprint, Ice
Success never tasted so bitter. The Orphan took the bait and began rushing towards him, but only after throwing down it's explosive viscera and scattered the heroes surrounding it, including whatever remained of Delsin. The Ace Cadet channeled his frustration into the pull of the bowstring and let fly. The arrow hit it's mark, and though it wasn't able to rip through Galeem's Guardian it momentarily stopped it's approach, giving the monster hunter enough time to stash his bow and get gone. Or try anyway, the Orphan was always right on his heels. Ultimately the chase lasted only a few seconds, but every moment was harrowing as the placental blade smashed down inches from the Cadet with every swing. After it's latest miss the monster paused, giving the hunter another chance to prepare. If he was going to go toe to toe with it again he needed a melee weapon. He caught his breath, reached for the hilt of a blade with intent to go for a punishing draw attack, and opened his mouth. "So close, but—"
Another explosion, this time destroying the rock face he'd been standing on. The eruption spread and sent the Cadet flying into the air, banged up and a little charred by the force. He was dazed too, until he felt someone catch him and blinked himself back into awareness. It was Nadia - well, a hydro mimic of her anyway.
"Heheh, my hero-ooooooo?!"
He was flying again, rapidly toward the ground toward the real Nadia and another mimic, plus a safety net of their innards waiting for him. If it was anyone else that would be very disconcerting. Because it was her, the Cadet let himself fall into the net and flashed her a smile. "Yes ma'am!"
Bounding in a long, low stride, Hat Kid skipped forward onto the hydro-fibrous trampoline, formed and manned by two feral copycats that weren’t prepared for one more passenger, and even less for the sudden addition of weight to the payload that they weren’t expecting to take on in the first place. They would be forced to ready themselves on a second’s notice for the child to suddenly take her Ice form as she fell upon it to make use of the Hat’s weight-triggered ‘springboard’ function to bounce her away after Ace, intently inbound to crash into the Orphan mid-flight.
The Orphan was happy to meet Ace halfway, already soaring in to intercept him. With weapon reared back and readied in both hands to collide with the Monster Hunter for a gruesomely uneven exchange, the staggering impact of blue ice that sailed past the Cadet to meet it first disrupted its attempt as Hat Kid’s dense sculpture form rocketed into and over the fiend, providing the Hunter with a momentary opening.
Though he was initially surprised by the kid-shaped chunk of ice hurtling by him, the Cadet wasn't about to let the opening provided slip by. He used the momentum that Nadia granted him, turning himself into a human spear. The Sharq lance once again made an appearance, and as satisfying as it would have been to skewer right through the monstrosity the weapon couldn't get all the way through. It was a fearsome stab, and then the Cadet dropped down onto his feet and prepared to follow up.
At this point the Orphan was well used to the lance's attack pattern however. It screeched and bent its body to avoid the first follow up, and then swung it's massive blade to parry the lance. The Cadet's eyes widened as his weapon's thrust was thrown off course.
Seeing Ace with the lower hand in a duel with the fearsome fiend spurred Hat Kid into gear, Sprinting around behind the Hunter as his lance blow was deflected backwards. In a spur of the moment, she closed in, lept upward at the weapon’s head, inverting to shoot her feet above her as she passed through its jaws, transmuting herself into her icy form once more, and using the suddenly accumulated momentum to correctively bring their collective weight down base-first in an arc onto the Orphan’s head, driving the creature halfway to the dirt with a mournful moan. Knowing their enemy by now, neither Hunter nor child would have longer than a second to be surprised by or proud of innovating an improvised greathammer into being, however surprisingly satisfactory the results may have been. Though having now realized the possibility by way of happy accident, they were now aware that they could more evenly equip themselves on the fly to contend functional power with the Orphan, provided they continued with care in their approach.
With the lance practically transformed, part of the careful approach was using the right method of wielding it. It was heavier now with Hat Kid attached to the end of it, so the Cadet forgoed the shield to take the weapon's handle in both hands. This way he could maneuver it more easily, and keep it's icy head out of danger whenever possible. It might open him up to some in return, but he'd much rather test the Orphan's strength against his armor than the Kid's ice encased body. The thought of wielding her frozen form against the monster seemed to be at complete odds with the thought of keeping her safe, but if there was anywhere that someone would be safe on this beach it was in the hands of an ally. Literally, in this case.
”Nice save,” he said to his little companion, though he was unsure if she could actually hear him in the state that she was in. Rolling out of the Orphan's range, the hunter popped back up with the weapon held as though it were a Greatsword. At the same time a pink glow emanated from his chest. "Get ready Kid!" As soon as he spotted an opening he moved in, the Crush Shot bursting forth. Then he swung the weapon back over his shoulder and then brought it down heavy onto the Orphan, ice side first. The hit-and-run tactic had been working well for the other Seekers so far, so it was about time to give it a try.
As a side effect of maintaining her Ice form for the sake of weaponizing it, so too did its native effects remain active. The Ace Cadet soon found this out when next he brought the hammerhead sculpture down, and the concussive ice quake launched both him and the Orphan up to their own heights off their feet. If he acted quickly, he could take advantage of the effect and carry his force over into a follow-up blow, fall or reel himself away to retreat from the Orphan’s retaliation, or whatever else he decided to do with it. He now knew that the option was available, and he could mix up as needed. It was a neat trick, and one he would be happy to take advantage of when the time came. The hunter grinned. "Cool move."
At the moment he used the little launch to put some distance between them and the monstrosity again, watching as the others came in for their own melee engagement. It was also the first time he noted that he seemed to fall a little more slowly back down to the sand. There wasn't much time to ponder that though. He moved out of range of the Orphan's wild swings as soon as he was able, making space for other Seekers to move in.
During their break in direct combat, afforded with space and occupying activity by others, Hat Kid popped out of her Ice form to perch upon the nose of Ace’s Sharq Lance for a second’s rest. She couldn’t hold the form indefinitely, after all, but with a split-second default cooldown rate, she didn’t feel as if it was imperative to share as much. Satisfied with the results thus far, even though they were just getting started with it, she winked and smiled Ace’s way as an expression of shared approval for their discovered team combo, then darted her eyes back to the scene of battle in a gestured question of readiness for another round. In response the Cadet tightened his grip and returned the girl's optimistic smile, in spite of the dismal battle they were currently embroiled in. "Snow problems here, ready when you are!" Upon receiving his (obvious) answer, she nodded, ‘snapped’ the Black Mage into being beside them - at which the Cadet startled and actually averted his eyes - to drop another Ice spell on the monster, bolstering her Umbral Ice one level before ‘trust’ falling back into the clamping jaws of the Sharq’s likeness (of all things), reassuming her Ice form and slotting back into place. Feeling the lance's weight increase again the hunter turned his eyes forward, taking some time to shake off the wariness of Hat Kid's summon. With the Orphan's attention divided again he waited as long as he could before getting back into its reach. He focused on ducking and dodging whenever it's blade got close, measuring their distance to each other. Now they just had to find an opening and smash into the thing. If he timed it right he could probably even get it into the air for their street fighter to move in with her aerial combos. Timing, and a lot of luck.