A Hero Falls
Kayden and Jumbo each pulled themselves out of the broken ground and destroyed buildings, which littered the area, for the umpteenth time. They were moving slower now as each was on their last leg. Kayden was bleeding heavily from his face, bruises were starting to form, and his knuckles were also starting to feel the pain from the repeated impacts with his opponent's metal body while Jumbo's joints had begun creaking from the prolonged ordeal and Kayden's powerful blows had dented the reinforced steel that constituted a majority of the monstrous being.
Shoving the debris aside, each fighter stood up once again and approached the other ready to resume their brawl once more; Jumbo's programming (along with what was left of his pride) pushed him to continue fighting despite the damage he'd sustained while Kayden, still driven by the anger wrought from Qundra's attempted attack on his little brother, moved forward with rock solid conviction. As a result, his punches were fiercer and sharper in the enraged state; they shone with a new grit and determination previously lacking. Once within range, Kayden stepped in and let loose a devastating body blow that lifted the giant off the ground. The punch sunk in and it was clear the mechanized monstrosity felt it, but Jumbo withstood the pain and countered with a powerful hammer fist to his upper back. The strike shook Kayden, but the stone powerhouse refused to yield and rose up with a bone crunching uppercut to the jaw which momentarily staggered the large cyborg.
Jumbo teetered for a moment before planting his foot and sending a straight barreling for Kayden from above. The punch landed squarely, but Jumbo wasn't going to let Kayden get off that easily. He grabbed the strap around Kayden's chest and pulled the rock man closer, into a hail storm of inhuman punches. After three or four thunderous shots directly to the head, Kayden was out on his feet and sent flying with one final haymaker as the strap finally gave way and broke. Kayden's body was sent careening into one of the few ruined buildings that had yet to completely crumble amidst their brutal melee, and he was buried underneath the rubble, defeated.
"How!? That cut landed squarely; your arm should be gone. How can you even move that arm, and why is there so little blood?" Julius harped as Andreas gripped one of the spare blades and prepared to continue.
"That's Haki!... It's not as strong as Master Ming's, and I don't think he's even aware he's using it, but I recognize this feeling." Bo's eyes shot open at the realization that someone this early in the Grand Line was able to utilize Haki, even if only unconsciously.
"What are you muttering about now? Stop making light of me; I'll finish you, and deliver your head to the Boss!" Jecht declared as he lunged up the wall after Bo.
Bo moved to avoid the strike, but found himself constrained by an unknown tug on his ankle. He glanced down and saw a shocking sight: one of the vines had moved and wrapped itself tightly around his leg without him even noticing. That momentary lapse in concentration, though, almost proved fatal as upon looking back towards his opponent, Bo was met with a sly smirk before the cold steel of Jecht's bladed tonfa flashed before his eyes, missing his skull by only the slightest of margins before being buried in the wall just next to his head. Jecht moved swiftly and slashed in with his other blade, but Bo reacted with equal quickness, using the bladed tip of his staff to cut the vine, which was tougher than he'd expected, in order to regain his mobility before ripping his leg free and slipping away from the vicious swing. He was unable to get away unscathed, though, as Jecht unhesitatingly followed through, swinging dangerously close underneath his own arm in order to carve a deep gash onto Bo. Bo winced in pain from the swipe, but knew he needed to keep moving. Pushing Jecht into the stone wall and elbowing his lower back for good measure, Bo launched himself off the ledge, away from his foe and the dangerous vines covering the ruins, and into the center of the colosseum once again, all the while still mulling over recent developments. 'There's something with this island; a mysterious man who can run in the air and now an old man capable of Haki. Add in that the guards looked more like pirate thugs than actual soldiers, and it seemed like Mage was hiding something, and there's definitely more to this island than meets the eye.' Bo had to jump back to avoid a lunge from an angered Jecht as he finished his thoughts, but quickly rebounded and moved forward with an attack of his own.
Bo aimed a low thrust at his opponent, but Jecht showed impressive agility and mobility in narrowly dodging the attack and using his tonfa to flip his body in the air and set up a blind side leg drop from above.
Shockingly, Bo, whom had been a step ahead of almost all of Jecht's attacks, was unable to completely dodge and suffered a stunning blow because of it as Jecht's heel slammed into his shoulder while he tried sliding out of the way. In the split second available to him after jumping back and regaining his composure from the flash of pain he felt, Bo noticed he couldn't move his right arm and immediately deduced that it had been dislocated by that last blow, but there was no time to do anything about it before Jecht attempted to take his head off with a swipe from the bladed tonfa.
"You're pushing well beyond your limits, but your leg strength is truly something else. I never intended to expend myself this much in defense of a doomed revolt. Well, since you won't stand down, I'll just have to show you the futility of your efforts." Bo stated, a stern expression donning on his face as he clenched his staff tightly and prepared to move forward. At that moment, a huge tremor engulfed almost the entire island and shook the area so violently that the tops of the aged colosseum walls surrounding Bo and Jecht began to crumble and fall down upon them. "Damn, there's no more time to waste."
Though Bo said that, the two combatants were already at the end of their ropes anyway. Jecht had long since pushed his arms past their limits and the rest of his body was about to give out on him as well, though he continued to power forward on willpower alone, while Bo was down to one arm, and even that arm had a bullet wound right through the shoulder, there was no way for him to put any power in his staff techniques now. The two rushed each other and Bo was immediately put on the defensive as Jecht led with a kick. Jecht's legs had sustained little damage and the muscles, toned and trained for speed, were equally adept at delivering bone jarring kicks; to Bo, they were by far the most dangerous weapons Jecht possessed at that moment.
While dodging Jecht's barrage of attacks and parrying any blade strikes that got close, Bo realized that the way the fight was now going, it would drag out far too long. Jecht was working far more kicks into his combinations than before, and what they lacked in form and crispness, they more than made up for with raw destructive power. Bo didn't have the strength left to block them without opening himself to other attacks. In order to end this quickly like he wanted to, he would have to do something extremely reckless.
After avoiding a high kick to the body from the left, Bo followed Jecht's leg as he pulled it back, hoping to beat the blade striking out from the right. Bo knew it was improbable to get by unscathed, and instead roared out in determination as the katana blade of Jecht's tonfa dug into his flesh, sawing even deeper as Bo continued forward with all his might.
Whether by design or merely coincidence the slash sliced into the exact same spot as the gash from earlier. As a result, when he finally tore himself off the blade, the lower part of his arm was simply left hanging by tiny fibers of muscles and skin, threatening to fall off the chipped bone at any time. Jecht was intent on taking advantage of the situation and cutting straight through Bo with one final swing. But, with Bo so close, he'd already been trapped in the young but experienced fighter's grasp.
When Jecht swung in with his other blade, Bo used his staff to parry the strike down and out of the way, simultaneously encroaching even more into Jecht's space by sliding his staff along the sheen blade until he was close enough to wrap his remaining left arm around Jecht's right, staff in hand. From there, Bo had full control over that arm and stabbed the staff through the wrist/forearm area of the other, still exposed, arm in order to immobilize it as well. With his foe at his mercy, Bo delivered a hard knee to Jecht's unguarded midsection to prevent any kick attempts at such close range. Then, with a twist of his arm, he jerked the enemy into an upright position and simultaneously performed a headbutt, dead center on Jecht's face, accompanied by a leg sweep that sent Jecht slamming into the ground.
Groggy from his head hitting the ground, Jecht tried lifting his head only to have it punted with enough force to snap his neck (had it not simply sent his skull crashing into the solid ground and jagged gravel again).
With a tinge of regret, Bo unflinchingly turned himself around and prepared to plunge one end of his staff directly into Jecht's heart. He'd already choked up his grip on the head of his staff in order to have a greater degree of control with only one arm, and, with a full body twist, he dropped his knee onto Jecht's face and used the force of his entire body to drive the small blade right between Jecht's ribs.
However, Jecht had released a powerful wave of energy, of such intensity that it even caused Bo to tense up, just before the blade pierced his heart, pushing Bo's aim off by the slightest of margins, but enough that the blade chipped one of his ribs, sending pieces of bone into his heart before having the blade tear into the left ventricle turning what was meant to be a painless death into a slow crawl towards the afterlife.
"For you to release such a powerful energy just before your death, it's a shame your life must end here. But, if you wish to cling to life so strongly, I will let you enjoy your final moments." Bo lamented as he withdrew his staff and turned to leave the colosseum. Leaving the site of his fallen foe, Bo felt the shivers still running through his body as well as the light cold sweat that had formed on his brow. 'To end the life of a one in a million talent is not something I wish to ever do again.'
Jecht, though, refused to simply give in. With the last sliver of strength he could muster, he struggled to lift the short end of one tonfa, his arm shaking heavily as he strained to aim. Looking to Bo, he released a single shot before dropping the tonfa to the ground, silence filling the arena in the wake of the lone gunshot.
"Gwaaah!" Blood spurted from Julius' mouth as the sheer power behind Andreas swings broke yet another of his ribs. 'Damn! That's the third one and he hasn't even actually landed a strike yet.'
With all four swords back in his possession, Andreas rabidly pursued Julius in an attempt to finish the fight as quickly as possible. Still, though, maintaining a constant rate of breathing while exerting himself to the fullest was an extremely difficult task and he was forced to relent on his attack in order to compose himself.
Julius also took this opportunity to catch a breather. 'Ugh, at the very least his injured arm has slowed down a bit, but this makes no sense. I'm no match for him at all in terms of speed or power; how the hell am I supposed to win?... No, I can do this; all I have to do is last another two minutes, and it's my win.' Julius' face was etched with the frustration he felt, but he was determined to defeat the man in front of him and prove his strength.
Andreas didn't have the luxury of wasting too much time controlling his breathing. Accordingly, he rushed Julius as soon as he was capable of it. However, Julius refused to retreat and met him head on instead. Julius held back nothing as the two men clashed, the combined force caving in the ground beneath them and releasing a massive pressure all around them that cracked the ground and punched in the walls of some surrounding buildings.
Shockingly, the two were nearly even in terms of power. However, even though Andreas' inflated arm muscles prevented massive blood loss from the wound Julius had given him, they couldn't prevent the pain it caused. His injured arm slowly gave way to Julius' astounding might until ultimately Andreas' back leg began to buckle and he was forced to retreat.
Only, Julius wouldn't let him off that easy. Against the odds, he'd gained the upper hand and was intent on taking advantage of it. Andreas wasn't blind to that, though, and as Julius closed the distance between them, the former Captain of the Guard threw a sword at him to force him to halt, but, even at such close distance, Julius couldn't be caught by something that simple. He dropped his head down and to the left to seamlessly avoid the pointed tip without breaking stride. It was then that he saw it; hidden in the shadow of the first sword, out of Julius' sight line, was a second blade, now mere inches from Julius' face. In a flash, he stopped his advance and simultaneously brought his sword up to deflect the second thrown sword. But, due to the already close range, he was only able to divert its path by a fraction, though he was thankful for even that as he felt the tempered steel of the blade slice along his temple and tear through the top of his ear, leaving a jagged scar and moderate bleeding.
Julius didn't have time to think about it though as Andreas, covered by the looming blades he'd thrown, had already rebounded and was aiming for his foe's throat. Before Julius could further react, Andreas had struck out and traced a bloody line along Julius' forearm, slicing clean through the metal bracer that protected it. There was no delay as he fiercely moved forward with attack after attack, each one with deadly intent.
While it was true that, despite all the protections, the arm injury had taken its toll, it still took everything Julius had just to block the relentless string of attacks Andreas pressured him with, all the while having to grit his teeth through the pain of the numerous additional cuts being inflicted on his arms and any other exposed body part Andreas could strike. Andreas continued to drive Julius into a corner with his relentless pursuit until finally Julius' guard had been blown open and he was helpless to what was to come. In complete desperation, he swung out his axe in defense only to have his arm severed by a swift strike from Andreas. Julius roared in a mix of pain, anger, and frustration as he brought his sword down with his remaining arm, every ounce of emotion culminating together and expressing itself through a torrent of raw power that even managed to blast Andreas away, though it left him panting heavily as sweat poured down his brow and blood pooled beneath his severed arm.
The former Captain of the Guard knew that was all Julius had left; he needed only move in and deliver the finishing strike, but a prey with nothing else to lose is the most dangerous to approach carelessly and Andreas knew this lesson all too well. Instead of rushing in to cut Julius down, he took his time, gathering his strewn blades and readying himself for a calculated execution. He began by moving into position to Julius' right and launching one of his swords as a trained projectile before immediately appearing behind his foe and throwing the second sword to pin him in his position.
With his body in such a decrepit state, Julius was incapable of properly defending himself and each blade whizzed by strategically marking him in order to isolate his movements. The first scratched across his abdomen followed by the second skimming a line along the right side of his neck, each drawing a small trail of blood in the process. Andreas then aimed a sword from the newly drawn pair. This one traced the same path across Julius' torso as the first one thrown, cutting deeper into his midsection as Andreas appeared in front of him, final sword in hand. The three thrown swords all stuck in the ground around Julius and formed a perimeter.
Against obvious logic, Andreas threw the final blade in his possession high into the air in an arcing path aimed for Julius' head. At the same time, he continued the clockwise pattern around his target only to break it off going from the left to the right and back to the front, grabbing and striking Julius with the sword from each position in turn, releasing them upon contact with significant resistance; Julius blocked each one as well as he could, but in his current condition, he was unable to nullify Andreas' powerful strikes with each one leaving a significant scar.
Just as the final blade began its awaited descent, Andreas picked up the sword at his feet and proceeded to deliver the finishing blow. He charged forward, sword held back with both hands, ready to put his all into one final swing.
Julius was already reminiscent of the walking dead as his gashed body stood in a puddle of its own blood with only a stump where his right arm was. Still, though, Julius held his sword in defense, awaiting this one last clash with his rival.
Each of the seasoned warriors released a booming shout as their swords rang out in fierce jubilee. A slicing sound was clearly heard as the two passed by one another. At the same time, a powerful shockwave crossed the battlefield and the entire island. The culmination of all these occurrences was a large dust cloud rising onto the stage and surrounding these two exhausted fighters. As the dust settled, the two rivals stood with their backs to each other, chest rising with each heavy breath amidst the overwhelming silence filling the air. The backdrop was painted scarlet when blood spurted like a fountain, blasting forth from a massive gash. Julius' sword, blade cracked through the middle, fell from his grasp as he dropped to one knee, clinging to life as blood continued to steadily flow from the numerous wounds, including the most recent life threatening blow.
While Julius just barely hung on, behind the Shadows' leader, Andreas dropped his weapon, falling to the ground motionless and unconscious.