There were many different expectations for an event like this, when it came to the fighters who would come and try their hand at the prize. Hulking men in metal suits, covered in steel and bearing thews most heroic, seeking to overwhelm their foes with main strength and heroic resolve. Wiry men in darkened leather with slender daggers and shifty eyes, tricksy rogues who eliminated their targets with the quiet whisper of an unseen blade. Hides-clad woodsmen with bows in their hands and wildlands predators at their side, wizened old men with beards down to their knees and eyes crackling with power. Occasionally even great bear-like champions in nothing but a set of shorts and a pair of padded gloves, the promise of a world of pain in their eyes for anyone who underestimated their ability with the empty hand.
One expectation that was not common, however, was tall, teal-skinned, point-eared women with old-fashioned bolt-action rifles. And yet that was exactly what stepped off the arrival pad in the lobby mere moments after a confused mountain man, papers held loosely in one hand.
The woman’s name was Ryoko Nocity, a mercenary of some repute back in her home regions. Her registration papers called her out as a ‘Wild Elf’ and she certainly looked the part. Bright, energetic teal skin, impossible to miss at any distance. Blue-tinged white hair, trailing in a loose tail down to her waist. Beguiling violet eyes that regarded the room their owner found herself in coolly, frankly, and very judgmentally from behind a natural mask of stark white skin stretching over her face; the band of color encompassed her eyes, the bridge of her nose, and her long, sharply pointed sylvan ears, like a robber’s cloth strip or a set of overlong eyeshades.
She was beautiful, but she was also unmistakably a warrior; over six feet tall, with the toned and sculpted musculature of someone who knew the precise balance between strength, agility, and endurance required of a soldier and strove to maintain that balance. Her skin bore its fair share of scars, old wounds from old jobs. Her right arm bore intricate, spiraling tribalesque tattoos, covering it from the back of her hand all the way to and over the shoulder, flaring out into a web of markings over her shoulderblade.
She was dressed in an outfit that did not at all jive with the usual tone of such events. A black leather halter top preserved her feminine modesty without restricting the motion of her arms at all, bearing the entirety of her back and shoulders to the world. A wide, heavily tooled and reinforced belt circled her waist with a handful of pouches and packs hung off of it, including the holster for a snubby pistol peeking out from the small of her back, hung for left-handed draw. Below the belt, a set of loose, beat-up dark grey denim pants, worn through in spots and clearly past their prime. The legs had been cut short, hems stopping just below the top of a pair of very metal boots. Heavy black leather, reinforced with enough plates, buckles, and studded straps to count as light armor in its own right, the boots bore a set of spiked studs over both their toes and along their heels, promising swift regret for anyone who gave the mercenary riflewoman cause to give them the boot.
Her hands were partially encased in a set of fingerless shooting gloves, studded over the knuckles with short, drill-shaped spikes akin to the ones on her boots. Wristbands of the same material hooked up to the gloves, liberally festooned with a triple row of similar spikes. More drill spikes hung from her ears, a single pair of earrings decorating her head, while a handful of other decorative charms dangled from the occasional clip or buckle on her belt and boots.
Before one noticed any of that though, they would notice the monumental rifle slung over the woman’s shoulder. Almost as long as Ryoko herself was tall, the weapon was built on the long-obsolete bolt action pattern, positively archaic in its construction. Hardwood and steel throughout, with a permanently fixed bayonet making up over a foot of its length past its muzzle. There were some people out there who wouldn’t have even recognized the antique thing as a rifle at all, but Ryoko doubted anyone invited here today would make that mistake. As delicious as it might have been.
“Nocity, Ryoko. Preregistered. Here,” she said, tossing the packet of papers she’d been carrying on the receptionist’s desk as she sauntered past, ignoring the rather dazed-looking individual who’d gotten there just in front of her.
“Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to wait until – “ the woman started, only to be met with a faintly annoyed wave of the still-moving mercenary’s hand.
“Meehhh. You’re the official, figure it out,” Ryoko tossed off as she wandered past the reception desk and into the lobby area proper. The letter she’d received from some poor sorry depressed fucker named El Chappo was tucked in her hip pack, but she’d already committed the map attached to it to memory. A quick glance around showed that she seemed to be the second actual tournament fighter here, or perhaps the third. A succubus-looking thing in a business suit was hanging around while Captain Confusion dealt with the receptionist; she wouldn’t be the first individual RYoko’d encountered who fought in a business suit, nor honestly the first succubus-type thing that had tried to start shit with Ryoko…but the riflewoman just didn’t get that sense of edge from her. Not yet, anyways.
Disappointing. She was supposed to be learning shit in this part but fuck if she was gonna learn shit without anybody here. She wasn’t about to stand there and ogle someone doing their paperwork looking for deep secrets of their fighting style; until people actually showed up for real she basically had the run of the joint. Oh well. She could already smell the food courts from here, and where there was gnosh to be had on somebody else’s dime, Ryoko would be there. She changed course, sauntering with slightly more purpose in the direction of the eating areas. She was going to order the shit out of some of that Mexican, because fuck off if some dickless weenie in a letter was going to tell her what to eat or not.
“Time to get me some burritos. Woman can’t fight without a burrito or six in her,” Ryoko muttered to herself, caring not a whit for the innuendo or the inevitable sneakycams recording the whole thing. That was just part of the job this time, and Ryoko intended to get herself paid today.