2015-02-12 - Fishing Contest

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Title: Fishing Contest

An inter-school event - a fishing contest, to see who can catch the most (and biggest) trout! But a nemesis lurks within...the legendary monster trout, STEELJAW.
Amazingly, a real trout.


Lera Camry, Kuniko Saito, Fuu Hououji, Mai Tokiha, Mikoto Minagi


Tama River

OOC - IC Date:

24 May 2014 - 02/12/2015

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

The Sister Schools fishing contest is on!

The contest is being held somewhere suitable, of course, rather than at one of the campuses. The river could easily be seen as the perfect location, and so it is. One sunny afternoon after school, a group of children of all ages have taken to one bank of the river. Trees rising over the river offer a lot of shade, and students can stand on the banks; many of the younger ones do. Some of the more adventurous older students have waders and boots, though, and they stand in the river themselves.

Just away from the banks are tables with buckets, which contain bait of every kind; there are simple mashed up balls for the less squeamish, but various worms are in some buckets, waiting to be speared on a waiting hook! Some other tables have chaperones, be they teachers or the brave, who are ready to clean and prepare fish caught for storage.

Most fish, though, will be thrown back.

There are also tables arranged with snacks: some cookies, chips, drinks, and other goodies are ready to go! The grill has also been fired up, and some of today's catch might be cooked on the spot. For some, this is a simple day out, something fun to do!

For aspiring anglers, though, there is a catch of legendary proportions to be made: STEELJAW, the infamous river trout. It is said to be nearly a meter long; it is said to swallow fishing poles whole. No one has ever seen it, of course, but people swear it's there. And didn't someone from Juuban (or was it Infinity?) have their pole pulled right out of their hands last year? Maybe, today, someone will catch the infamous STEELJAW.

(STEELJAW insists that his name be capitalized. Or so Yamazaki-kun claims.)

The lines have not yet been cast, though. The students standing on the shore -- or in the water -- have to hold their lines, so they can all be cast as once. The latecomers are hurrying up; the early birds are waiting, impatiently. A student there skewers a worm on his hook; a student here beams proudly as she checks her goby ball one last time.

The teacher in charge, too, looks at his watch impatiently. The occasional passerby has thought nothing of the fact that he is a housecat wearing a fine suit; such is the power of Recognition Inhibition. He is, of course, very serious today. For Mr. Cat, this isn't about ballet (for once). Nor is this about finding STEELJAW. No, he is not an angler. It isn't entirely about making sure his students have fun. For Mr. Cat, this is about getting a delicious dinner.

He calls out, loudly: "We cast our lines in one minute!" Then, a beat, and: "And whoever catches the fewest fish... HAS TO MARRY ME--wait, no, that wouldn't be desirable in the slightest, carry on."

You have invited Mikoto Minagi to +join or +summon you. Mikoto Minagi has arrived.

<Pose Tracker> Kuniko Saito [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Kuniko has a plan for STEELJAW. It involves pilaf.

Of course, STEELJAW also is likely chock-full of Terroir, and having such fine fish would lead to an astonishing dish. The sorcerous storage of Mise-en-place would also ensure no risk of spoilage - to say nothing of the possibility of magically extending his delicious fillets to feed dozens. Just like Jesus!

Wow, that's kind of creepy to think about, Kuniko thinks as she stands on the shore. She is wearing blue jeans and a loose shirt with long sleeves (rolled up) and a high collar (left alone). She is affixing the fragrant bit of catfish-friendly dough that Chef Trussardi insisted she haul along for exactly this purpose. He is proud of the power of his Naples-style prepared bait. Dangerously proud.

"Everyone make sure to fan out a little when you cast," she tells the cluster of people around her. "Otherwise our lines are gonna get all tangled up, like nylon linguini."

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

One might think that Lera Camry has never fished before. She claims she has, because she is an American, and what American hasn't cast their line like Lewis and Clark, in the great wilds of the middle of the country? Maybe that is why.

But, in truth, she has fished many times. It is the hobby she shared with her mother. Something both of them could do, that they both loved, and there was nothing to complain about. And thus, when she shows up, she is equipped for the job. She has waders on -- heavy short pants, leggings under them, and then big rubber boots. She has a snug-fitting, button-up cotton shirt and suspenders. She has The Hat, which is brimmed, with a feather off the side, and a pin stuck against it.

Lera walks out, and then she jumps down to land in the water, and she looks towards Kuniko. She nods, very seriously. "Right! That happened to me when I fished in the Hudson River once!"

...well, she tries to be American...

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Hopefully somebody is here to give fishing lessons as well; otherwise, Fuu's going to be trying to cast her line as if she were shooting an arrow from her fishing pole. Or something.

But that hasn't stopped her from coming out; for one thing, the Tama River isn't all that far from her home, and for another, any excuse to hang out with friends and strangers from the Sister Schools is an opportunity she welcomes to mingle with them. "I imagine nylon linguini wouldn't taste nearly as good as real linguini does," she smiles at Kuniko.

And apart from socializing, Fuu seems like she's content to let the experts get started, see what she can pick up from watching the experienced fishers cast their lines, and then - if anyone brought spare rods - try taking a stab at it herself, with someone's help. If there are no extra rods, she's perfectly happy to be a cheering section ... or an extra pair of arms if somebody hooks STEELJAW-san.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Some of the more adventurous students wear waders and boots, and...

Mikoto Minagi wears a swimsuit. Of course, she has a shirt on over that swimsuit -- it wouldn't do for her to get sunburn -- and since it's a size or so too large for her, it's not too difficult to believe that perhaps it's just concealing the rst of her clothes. This is, of course, a ruse, though certainly not one which Mikoto would have set up on purpose.

A lot of the students have fishing poles, but Mikoto's is curiously absent. Perhaps she's hiding it in the golf-club bag slung over her back? It certainly seems like one could fit in there, one of those ones which folds up for easy carrying.

But if it exists, it certainly isn't coming out, not yet. Mikoto hovers around Mai, as she always does, watching the fishers with wide eyes and waiting for the event to begin.

She'd told Mai that they should come to this to catch fish, after all. She'd catch Mai the /biggest/ fish, and then they could eat the fish. It's an eminently practical suggestion, really. That it gets Mai outside and doing something is a bonus.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

There's a few reasons to go to this contest, but the biggest ones for Mai are 'she needed to get out of the dorm' and 'Mikoto dragged her along'. It's been a few days since the...incident at the hospital, and there's still the hint of a shadow under Mai's eyes. She might not have been sleeping all too well.

Mikoto's enthusiasm is hard for Mai to match, and she doesn't seem fully inclined to try - following the girl more sedately, checking the tables along the way. She is not, for once, in her school uniform - in deference to the warm weather and watery environment, she's got a yellow swimsuit on under a baggy long-sleeved hooded shirt. A ballcap to protect against the sun's glare, and a small duffel bag for supplies just in case complete her ensemble.

The rumours of STEELJAW - legendary scourge of the river - she's largely dismissed as just that. She doesn't have quite the enthusiasm Mikoto does, but she's taken up a pole and bucket of bait (chosen largely at random). It's the grill that catches her interest, and for the first time since arriving brings a spark of something back to her eye. Well, then. She turns to her roommate with a grin. "Hey, Mikoto - how many days' dinner should we go for?"

Speaking of dinner - she approaches Kuniko and Lera, recognizing one from work and the other from the cooking exhibition the other day. "I'll try to find a spot, I just wanted to say hi - and ask if either of you have any plans for what to make with today's catch. I don't know much about American recipes, and that cooking exhibition the other week was incredible..."

...wait, what did the teacher say? Marriage?! Mai's eyes go wide, and she starts looking around to see if anyone else heard that.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Lera waves when she sees Mikoto and Mai approach. She grins at them both, before she turns her head, and considers for a moment. Then she looks back at Mikoto -- there is a look of consternation. Perhaps, recognition inhibition has failed. Perhaps, she remembers the girl who caught her in the crossfire when the World Tree incident occurred. Or...

"Don't forget your fishing pole!" she says, cheerfully. Then she looks at Mai, and considers for a moment; she doesn't know what to make, exactly. Kuniko is the expert here (literally). "Maybe I'll fry them!"

Then she looks at Fuu, smiles, and waves. Before she can say anything, though, Mr. Cat's shrill voice cuts across the park:


"Here we go!" Lera says, pushing her worm on the hook (gew!) and then she throws her line out with a mighty snap! It hits the water and... bobs.

There isn't much action in fishing.

<Pose Tracker> Kuniko Saito [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Kuniko squints at Lera for a moment. Then she remembers the mythical land of terror, tragedy and Canadian influence that Chef had mentioned. The land known only as 'upstate'. Oh yeah, she thinks, that makes sense.

"Not without a real good sauce," she tells Fuu.

Mai's words make her face color a little. "Oh, well," she tells Fuu. "I'm not quite sure what to - Oh hold on --"

The dough ball hits the hook. And then, fwish!

Out into the river. Kuniko has pretty good upper body strength so it makes a good ways out. Her little bobber has a tiny chef's hat on it.

"So anyway," she says, once things have calmed down. "You were saying, uh... Tokiha, am I right?"

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mr. Cat, the perfectly normal Infinity instructor, is a distraction due to his words of m...m...matrimony. So it is that Mai utterly misses Lera's troubled expression - turning back at Lera's reminder. "Ah, right..." She has hers. And Mikoto has...

Mai glances to Mikoto, and eyes the case she holds. "We're armed for the competition, yeah. And that sounds good. Sort of like that tempura-filet thing that was on special at work the other week?" She's ready to continue when Mr. Cat's announcement goes out - and she's far from ready. She takes a bit longer to fidget with her rod and bait, needing a couple of tries to get the hook prepared. Clearly, at this, she's an amateur. Eventually, though - a full minute after the initial salvo - she gets her line cast into the water. The little floater bobs lopsidedly, the bait unevenly placed - will she manage to catch something?

With the initial panic out of the way, she turns back to Kuniko. "Sorry - I have the worst timing. But I was there for the exhibition at Infinity - though I didn't get to see how that challenge went. I can't believe the Infinity Cooking club has to deal with that kind of thing..." She shakes her head in disbelief. "Anyway, I was impressed. So if you have any suggestions besides roasted over a fire, I'm all ears."

...is she keeping an eye on Mikoto at the moment?

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

It probably says something that Fuu only seems to latch onto the threat of marriage when Mai draws attention to it; Fuu pauses to look towards Cat-sensei, then looks at Mai again with a shrug and a smile. "Didn't he retract it almost as quickly? And anyway, most of us are too young to be married without parental consent, I think ..."

She would have to check, really, but spotting the 'loaner' poles over by the bait table forestalls her from pulling out her smartphone and searching for the relevant laws online or anything. She thinks she got a decent sense of how to cast a line from watching Kuniko in particular, so she picks out a pole and a bucket of bait, and picks out a good spot on the riverbank - hopefully within conversational distance of the girls she knows.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"Three!", Mikoto answers, grinning, quite self-assured in the fact that she can totally catch three days' worth of fish. Lera looks at Mikoto, and Mikoto looks back, golden eyes staring into her; she decides, immediately, that this girl is Suspicious, even though she's definitely never seen her before. Mai speaks with her, and another girl, about how to cook the fish, and Mikoto looks back and forth at them; the Suspicious Girl doesn't seem to be taking any other Suspicious Actions, so she suspends any further investigation for the moment.

After all, it's time to fish. The perfectly normal teacher said so.

Mikoto still doesn't have a line when the order goes out; but if anyone looks over to Mai's side, they'll notice a distinctly Mikoto-shaped hole where the girl ought to be. And a little upstream of the fishergirls, there's a splash as something enters the water.

Maybe it's a really big fish. Maybe it's STEELJAW!

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"I'm definitely not marrying a cat," Lera says, her teeth gritting together. "My love life's not that pathetic." Then she sighs, and hangs her head with the thought; she appends onto that statement a rather somber, "Yet."

She keeps her hands on the pole. Her bait bobs, peacefully. Then she pauses a moment, as she looks to the side; she realizes that Mikoto is gone. Her eyes widen a for a moment, before she looks at Mai. "Where did your friend go, anywa--"


She turns her head to look at it. Then she hears someone on the other side of her yelp; the student's pole drops to the water with another splash, as something drags it down! She squints, blinking. "Is that... is that STEELJAW? But I thought I heard a splash over there--"

A few people, incidentally, begin getting far more modest nibbles.

<Pose Tracker> Kuniko Saito [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Kuniko answers Mai after a little thought. "Well, actually roasting over a fire is a really solid idea. The question is seasoning, because that can make a lot of difference. As I'm sure you know, of course, but like... a little salt, salt and pepper, salt and spice, sugar and salt... all really different."

Kuniko then cranes her head when someone loses their rod. "Oh wow," she says, "is STEELHEAD real? I thought that was kind of an exaggeration..." Or she's covering, either way she continues, "Well, that's amazing!"

A moment passes.

"I have no idea if we can do anything about him," she admits to Mai. She didn't notice Mikoto's absence, even if something fishy's goin' on out there.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

It's like there's a blinking, beeping signal of the Mikoto-shaped void at Mai's side. As if signalled by some imperceptible alert, Mai turns slowly to regard this utter absence.

Not as distantly as there should be, there's a splash. Slowly, Mai turns to regard this, as well.

She really should do something about this. She could. But...she's not hurting anyone, right? And Mai's well-prepared if there is a problem...so she just calls upriver. "Be careful!" And then, back to the discussion of culinary battles and dating prospects.

"I've run into that a bit - I tend to fall back on a few staples, and I'd honestly default to a bit of soy. I tend to cook for someone who can't handle her spice, so that's out - I might have to try the sugar and salt. Not sure if that's up to your impressive standards, though~" She grins at the Infinity student. "No culinary secrets you're hiding from us?"

The rumors of STEELJAW...well, there's at least one steel-toothed creature in the water. Mai glances to make sure her meager little bobber is still doing all right, and answers Lera. "Mikoto? She's doing her own thing, as usual. It should be fine, she knows I won't cook if she causes trouble..." And Mikoto's trustworthy. More than she can say aloud. "And yeah, there's plenty of other good options to-"

'Hey, Tokiha, I....wow, they're really...'

Mai pauses mid-sentence, thinking of some of Ohtori's notable men. "There are some good-"

'Ice cream mochi is of the utmost importance.'

Another pause. "There are a few-"

'You smell like bacon!'

Mai glances back to the teacher, smile utterly gone. "...actually, don't write him off entirely. Wow. Just...wow."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Under the water, and having made at least a small effort to avoid the section of river teeming with fishing hooks, Mikoto prowls for her prey. She heard Mai yelling at her to be careful, just as she was diving in -- well, she /thinks/ that's what Mai said, anyway, and it sounds like something she'd say.

But there's no time to be careful when you're catching dinner! This is the most important responsibility of all and Mikoto certainly won't falter. As she's first getting used to the water, she just /sees/ the fish darting away from her, but once she gets into her element...

Yes, Mikoto is definitely just going to try and grab the fish. At least she left her golf clubs on the shore, so she doesn't have that dragging her down. At least she didn't take Miroku into the river and start stabbing the fish.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Fuu finally gets her hook baited and has a decent spot picked out ... and for a moment, she stands there, eyes closed, fishing rod pointing straight up, her left hand holding the hook so it won't sway around or get caught on anything. "A proper stance ..." She adjusts her footing as if she were about to shoot in an archery meet.

"Proper form ..." She tilts the rod back, letting go of the hook and grasping the rod's grip with both hands.

"... and a correct cast!" The rod swings forward, timed so that the hook's sway is as far back as it'll go, and the rod snapping forward carries the hook on an upwards-curving path, flying over and forward and out into the river.

For a first-timer, Fuu seems to have the mechanics of casting down pat already. Her hook is baited with one of the mashed balls for now - she'll try some of the 'live' bait later if she feels it'll improve her chances. But she's done all she can until some fish or other decides her bait is worth nibbling at. That's where the similarities between archery and fishing come to an abrupt halt.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"He's as real as can be!" Lera says, with a certainty in her voice. Even if she only heard of legends. She rubs her chin once, thoughtfully, and looks back at her pole. Nothing bites quite yet. She tilts her head, a moment, while watching it -- and glancing at where Mikoto was. Then she nods at Mai. "I guess that makes sense..."

Maybe she's just independent? Or she went to get her rod?

And then she makes a face. The dating world can't be so limited that a cat is really a good option, can it? Her shoulders sag. And then she shoots up bolt straight, as a fish bites onto her hook. She begins to reel in quickly--

--and meanwhile, the very same fish that Mikoto grabs at bites into a worm. And a hook. It is suddenly surging up out of the water, unless she grabs it quickly!?

"Great cast, Fuu!" Lera calls out, as her rod bends forward. "I-I think I have something...!"

<Pose Tracker> Kuniko Saito [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

The fact that there's a conversation about marrying Mr. Cat is making Kuniko slightly weirded out. That said, Kuniko likes big quiet strong dudes with big jawlines, so she is probably not dating in this ecology or at all.

Mostly at all.

"Good cast!" she calls to Fuu.

"You know," she says to Mai then, turning her head away from the water since it seems Signor Trussardi's delicious naples bait isn't actually attracting any catfish, "Freshwater fish really has this delicacy to it a lot of the time. You know what it goes well with? Watermelon."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

The problem about fishing without bait is that fish really, really like bait. Perhaps it's for that reason that Mikoto gradually gravitates downstream, stalking her prey in a manner which is really harder than it looks because she has to use her limbs to swim as well as grab.

Herf course, there's still one option left open to her.

A fish bites onto Kuniko's hook, and Mikoto bites onto that fish's tail, and she's quite pleased with herself until the fish starts being tugged away from her. Reaching up to grab it, she instead finds INVISIBLE STRING, and grabs a hold of it to try and reclaim her fish. With the grip she has... she may well end up being pulled out of the water alongside that contested fish.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Proper stands. Proper form. Correct cast. Mai can't help but let out a low whistle at Fuu's demonstration - and look with dismay at her own bobbing hook. Success seems a long way off...if she's perfectly honest, she might have to rely on Mikoto here, too.

...she's sure Mikoto will find something, but even so... Mai glances at her bait bucket - she went with the doughy mash because it seemed easier to handle, but there's a handful of worms in there. Maybe she should have gone for something a bit more...fish-appealing?

She gives Lera a sympathetic wince. "Look, it's not that bad. Probably. I've just met a few guys who'd make a dog seem like a better lifelong companion." And then Lera's got a bite, and Mai starts reeling in her line to switch baits. The chef's advice is met with an impressed nod of her own. "That's a good point - I've mostly cooked with ocean fish. A fruit and fish meal, hm- oh! You've got something!"

...wait, hang on, is that....

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Fuu smiles, nodding hanks to Lera and Kuniko - and then her floater bobs sharply in the water, just briefly. Fuu quickly reels her line back in ...

With an empty hook. The bait either got nibbled off without a strike, or it just came loose in the river. Fuu sighs faintly, and re-baits her hook before casting again. "Apparently the fish in this river aren't as impressed by my skills as you are," she comments with a smile to her friends.

And then she does a doubletake. "Hm? This river does have some unusual fish, that one looks just like Mikoto-san ..."

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"That bad?" Lera asks, with a sympathetic look at Mai. She almost forgets the bite on her line, but not for long. She quickly begins reeling the fish in, yanking up with her arms, until the fish comes popping out of the water! It is, as it happens, only an average-sized trout. Such a thing will still make a nice dinner, though, and Lera grabs it with a gloved hand.

She yanks it off the hook with a careful twist, and then throws it with an underhanded toss into one of the waiting buckets. She beams for a moment.

"I'm sure the right person's out there, though! Just... they have to show up," she says, with a sigh. "Like fishing! You have to be patieeeeeeeennh?"

She stares at Fuu. "There's a fish that looks like a person!? Is--is that possible...?"

<Pose Tracker> Kuniko Saito [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Kuniko sees her bobber go down out of the side of her vision and turns around, saying with sudden gusto, "I gotta strike! Hold on everyone!" And she starts reeling it inwards.

From her angle, Kuniko can't see the fish itself. "I know, it's huge, isn't it? It's STEELJAW, I just bet it is," she says when she sees Mai's expression. When Fuu speaks up, she laughs cheerfully. "Nah, STEELJAW. Su Ti E Ru Ja Ru. I mean I guess a fish COULD have a face like uh, Mikoto-san?"

She can't remember if she ever met Mikoto. However, she does whip her rod around to the side, reeling in steadily - letting the fish wear itself out before she tries to land it! "I mean there are the Heike crabs, but that's kind of an unusual --"

Hoist!! "Case--"

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Up comes the line, /rather/ more heavy than any fish ought to be. It HAS to be STEELJAW--

Except it isn't. It's a girl who's bitten into a perfectly normal fish with no steel at all, and who is now scrabbling at the fishing line, like a cat dangling from a piece of string. Either that's the most bizarre fish anyone has ever seen, or...

Or it's just Mikoto. Of course. How long did it take for her to get in trouble this time?

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mai returns Lera's concerned look - and then just watches as she lands a fish. The Ohtori girl's shoulders slump slightly - still no nibbles, she's got the hook rewound for re-baiting, but... "Well, I'm sure there are decent guys who aren't taken and aren't absolute dorks. I've just yet to meet one. At all. Congrats, by the way - and..."

The water stirs, roils - and Mai releases one hand from her fishing rod, letting the tip dip. She needs that hand, it seems, to pinch the bridge of her nose as she answers Fuu. "As a rule, if it gets into hijinks like a Mikoto...and you're still better at this than me."

And here it is. Admittedly earlier than Mai was expecting it to happen, but if she's actually being honest with herself...she and Mikoto both knew this was bound to happen sooner or later. Part of her is embarrassed, cheeks burning at this latest spotlight, but part...

There's a warm smile on her face, and she calls out an admonishment without any real heat. "Mikoto, behave. Someone else caught that one, you'll have to try again." She raises her free hand to adjust her hat against the sun's glare. "Did you want to try using a rod, instead of going after the fish yourself?"

It's alarmingly easy to put Mr. Cat out of mind, with such a superior example of 'cat' in plain view of everyone.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

"I guess Mikoto-san was trying to think like the fish to raise her chances of success?" Fuu suggests with a friendly, good-natured smile. "I'm not sure if anyone brought towels, but you might want to dry off, Mikoto-san," she adds - addressing Mikoto directly this time.

She also seems content not to talk about guys ... which might be a little odd.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

While Mai takes everything in stride when Kuniko reels in Mikoto, Lera turns and looks at Kuniko's catch -- and shrieks loudly, jumping backward. She nearly drops her rod; it's only a quick motion that prevents her from doing just that. She shakes her head quickly, before she stares at Mikoto. "W-Were you swimming down there to catch fish!?"

Is that weird? Or awesome? She can't decide. She takes a couple of deep breaths; the boy troubles of a moment before are briefly out of her mind.

After a moment, something else bites -- but this time, on Fuu's rod! At first, there is a tug on the bait. But a moment later, suddenly, /something/ is yanking on it hard enough to bend her rod into a U-shape and threaten to drag it right out of her hands!

STEELJAW approaches!

<Pose Tracker> Kuniko Saito [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Here comes the fish -- It's huge, Kuniko thinks as she reels in --

She stops, her long fishing pole held outwards as Mikoto dangles from the fish, balanced perfectly and dripping. Kuniko grimaces. "I guess that means we can't cook her," she asides to Fuu, perhaps to take the edge off, before turning around carefully to lower her to her feet.

At this point, Fuu's rod starts looking more like a U-bend. "Whoa!" is Kuniko's reply to this new development.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"Gnnarmmmrraaa," Mikoto says, because her mouth is full of fish.

Mai tells her that someone else caught that fish, and now she's sort of out of the water, Mikoto can see that the fishing line leads to a fishing pole leads to Kuniko. Mikoto frowns, her cheeks puffing up, but Mai's right, really--

So she solves the problem of 'what on earth are we going to do with a hooked Mikoto' by letting go of the fish and dropping down into the water. Sploosh. She surfaces afterwards, at least, to call out to Mai: "This way's better!"

And perhaps it is, because Mikoto feels a fish darting out of the way, right by her feet. She blinks the water out of her eyes before diving right back underneath to see where it went, but instead...

Instead, she sees what the little fish was darting away from.

But it's on someone else's rod, so it's someone else's fish. :(

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"Something like that, anyway..." Mai lays down her rod, and roots around in the duffel. She's not absolutely prepared for every conceivable situation, no - but 'someone falls in the water' was an obvious possibility. She has a towel, and starts to approach Kuniko with it in hand. "Here you go, Miko-"

STEELJAW APPROACHES. Mai stares at Fuu's rod, then looks to make sure that Mikoto isn't somehow dangling from that one too...but nope. "Looks like a big one - good luck!" Then back to Kuniko and Mikoto. "No, I think she'd rather do the cooking. Or the eating, at least - I'm really sorry about the trouble."

Mostly sorry. This is kind of amusing, honestly. And honestly, what she kind of needed. Mikoto's parting comment before diving again brings an actual laugh - and Mai returns to her fishing supplies, this time trying a live worm. "We'll see about that - and who catches supper first!" She doesn't quite mimic Fuu's previous (extremely successful) stance, but...there's a clear spot, and a brief lull while the battle takes the spotlight.

Fuu can probably handle this herself - she mastered the cast, after all.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

"Eeep!!" Fuu digs her heels into the ground, adjusting her stance, and draws back on the rod. "I'm guessing that means I've got something ... ?!"

And that's about as much as she can afford to say at the moment, as Fuu puts her full attention into trying to reel the fish in. Peculiarly, THIS is a part she thinks she knows a few things about, thanks to the fishing minigames in a handful of video games she's played - including a couple of the more recent Legend of Zelda titles. For instance, you have to let the line play out some as the fish tries to get away, and then 'steer' it so it doesn't ENTIRELY escape ...

Okay, to be fair, it's been a while since Fuu played any of those games. On the flip side, her experience with a sword is showing a bit from how she grips the rod with both hands, and how she tries to hold it so the bending isn't QUITE so nervewracking ...

You know, she might do a little better if she had a hand free to work on reeling the line in at the right moment.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"But there's no rod," Lera says, looking at Mikoto. "Reeling the fish in--"

She initially misses how Fuu's rod is bending, and the way everyone turns to look at her. Lera raises a finger, eyelids half-lowering, and pontificates while the scene plays out behind her. "--is half the fun! Struggling to pull it up, working the wheel quickly, and using your hands to pull in the catch! There's nothing--"

And then she hears Fuu move, and watches Mai go back to her line. Her eyes widen, and she turns her head quickly at Fuu. She yelps. "--aahh, you have it!"

But, STEELJAW is wily. He begins yanking back -- and Fuu's rod goes ramrod straight, as he tries to yank it (or maybe her) deep into the river. There is a brief moment where he crests the water.

He is, in fact, a meter long.

"IT'S A RIVER MONSTER!" Lera yells.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mikoto stares at the fish. It doesn't /smell/ like an Orphan, and it doesn't /sound/ like an Orphan, so it must just be a really big fish, right? It would /definitely/ feed them for three days. But it's someone else's catch, so...

Still, even /with/ that, it seems to be giving whoever caught it a run for their money. Mikoto surfaces, briefly, to look from where the fish is to where the line links it to who is catching it -- it's Fuu, and she doesn't seem to be having the easiest time.

An IDEA surfaces in Mikoto's head.

"Heey!" Mikoto calls out, before ducking under the water and swimming a few lengths to the side to avoid the thrashing fish. "Hey, if I help, can I have some?!"

She seems remarkably unphased by the fact that they're struggling with a river monster. She sounds positively cheerful about it, in fact.

<Pose Tracker> Kuniko Saito [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"Holy Carp," Kuniko intones, her rod dropping from her hands in shock.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mai's technique here is somewhere between 'non-existent' and 'accidental'. For all her practice in the kitchen and restaurant, she doesn't really have her footing here - exacerbated by her frequent distractions. Lera's commentary, Fuu's escalating battle, Kuniko's groan-inducing pun, the revelation that STEELJAW exists...

By chance, Mai's rod dips and bobs as her attention wanders - and the bait at the end of the hook dances in tune. Dancing, twirling, enticing...

She retorts to Lera after straightening back up after that stinker of a joke. "Well, I'd say she's using her hands for the catch..." She turns to call out to Mikoto, but whether encouragement or admonishment may never be known. Now, it seems is the moment that some daring fish takes an interest in Mai's bait. "-oh!"

Nearly lost her grip - reeling this in will take her full attention for the moment. Hopefully, Fuu won't need extra weight to keep her from getting dragged in, because as soon as Mai wins this battle she's got something for supper!

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Fuu grunts in effort as STEELJAW yanks her line and her rod straight out; only the fact that she *is* holding onto it with all of both hand keeps the rod from being yanked straight out of her grasp. "I think," she calls out to Mikoto, "I can use all the help you can spare ... !"

She slides her left foot back, then shifts her weight onto it as she pulls her fishing rod up and back with her - very much as if she were raising a sword in preparation for an attack. (Which would be ridiculous ... to anyone who doesn't know Fuu's other identity.)

Ironically, it's the act of raising her rod and drawing it back by her shoulder that makes her think of what she *should* be doing - trying to reel the monster trout in. And ... there's a piece of Fuu which isn't sure if she should 'win'; STEELJAW is truly a legend on this river, after all, and it's not like she cares for the fame that -

"ACK!!" Another powerful yank on her line derails Fuu's train of thought, and nearly derails her face into the riverbank along with the rest of her. She manages to thumb the release switch that lets some more line play out, although that's at least one-third accidentally - and may be the only thing that keeps her rod from being added to STEELJAW's trophy shelf.

"All right, STEELJAW-san ... !" Fuu starts pitting her wits and her wiles against the legendary fish's might and mass, beginning to reel her line in a little bit at a time, letting STEELJAW fight back without actually giving the fish any extra ground. Protip: bonus bosses of fish should not issue a challenge like that to a gamer of Fuu's experience.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"I-It's coming up!" Lera says, staring at Fuu.

Indeed, Fuu's reeling is slow and steady, but fooling STEELJAW for the moment. The fish is used to surprising people; they panic, lose their grip, and try to reel in too fast. Then he uses their momentum against them to come out of the water and flip back down. But, here, he has to pull back incrementally. However, he did not become the king of the river for nothing!

And thus, he fights back slow and steady -- yanking hard on the line, and swaying side to side to test Fuu's defenses, and see if he can yank her rod away that way.

Mikoto's help may be necessary.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

STEELJAW is surely a formidable opponent, with fish-years of experience in fooling anglers.

But Mikoto Minagi is not an angler.

Fuu signals that her help is requested, which means that Mikoto has a stake in the fish, which means that Mikoto can /actually/ catch this one. Down she goes, again, with a big gulp of air, and swims towards STEELJAW in his own element... And spins down to tackle him underwater, both hands wrapping around his big, scaly fish midsection.

She's helping!

<Pose Tracker> Kuniko Saito [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Stepping forwards, nearer to the banks, Kuniko says aloud, "She's struggling against it... ugh, is the rod gonna snap!?"

But! "Ohh-- she's playing him out! She's going to wear out STEELJAW!" And then he leaps once more.

Kuniko gazes with awe on that vast silvery side. Part of her is now on STEELJAW's side.

"Oh -- A double sided jump!? I don't know if spearfishing's legal, but I guess that's not the kind of spear they meant!"

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mai sets her jaw and her feet. Sneakers dig into the earth as she takes the direct approach to hauling the fish out. One step back, then another, pulling and pulling against the fish's mighty swimming strength. It might be nothing compared to Fuu's nemesis, but it's challenge enough for her...

Fuu grids out a plea for help, and Mai's eyes - if nothing else - flick to the side to take in that ongoing battle. With Mikoto jumping in with 'spearfishing'...well. With everyone looking on in awe, it feels like there's a murmur of support for the legendary fish going around.

Part of Mai wants to cook it, out of sheer spite.

"Go for it, Mikoto! Don't let some swimming- augh!" That wavering attention took its toll - a surge of strength from Mai's trout pulls her forward, right into the water with a splash!...and yet, somehow, she doesn't go down completely. Dripping with river water, knuckles tight around the rod's handle, Mai lets out a shout as she wars with the smaller of the potential meals.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Fuu's lips curve upwards as STEELJAW starts that side-to-side maneuvering; she recognizes *that* from Zelda fishing minigames, and she knows how to deal with it - angling her rod with the great fish's zigs, giving back a bit of her line, then reeling a little more in when STEELJAW zags the other way, and so on. In essence, she's trying to time her moves so that the mighty king of the Tama River is helping her reduce the length of line between them, even as he(?) tries to outplay her and escape. Hopefully Mikoto's tackle will make things easier for her ... somehow ...

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Mikoto's grip on STEELJAW begins to weigh him down! He drags down towards the bottom of the river. This may work against Fuu, but it also threatens to tie him out, and the line begins to pull in. He appears to be in a pickle, and some splashing from underwater sends a few high sprays up.

Lera stares -- until she hears another splash. Her eyes widen, and she looks sideways at Mai, and grins. "Hey! You got one!" she says, then she does a quick fistpump. "All right! Good job, Tokiha-san!"

She claps her hands.

And, below the river's currents, STEELJAW knows that he must use his ultimate technique. He uses his body to slid, just a little, in Mikoto's grip. And then, suddenly, he spins. Rapidly, he swings his tail fins at Mikoto's face, breaking free with an expert movement, as he swipes at her with his tail, so fast that...

...it becomes a blur. These slaps are not wild, either, but are instead a perfectly executed:


The fish then suddenly shoots high into the air, cresting out of the water. He may drag Mikoto with him, if she gets a grip, as he rises up, and up, and up. By a good twenty feet, dragging at Fuu's line the entire way.

STEELJAW has a black belt in karate.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mikoto wrasslin' with the fish works okay, for a few moments. But...

But then, STEELJAW uses his limit break. The first slap, Mikoto can take. The second is just offensive.

The next seventy proceed to knock the air out of her and daze her terribly, swirls replacing her eyes. It's only years of training which keep her latched onto the fish as he surges out into the sky -- lucky for her, because it lets her take a breath. And another breath, because STEELJAW is really flying. By the third, Mikoto's gotten her bearings again, and she wraps around the fish, both holding on for dear life and trying to get a good hold on his head. Do fishes have necks? Can fish even BE strangled? It looks like she's trying. Or maybe that's just because she's twenty feet in the air.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

With one last warcry, Mai Tokiha heaves on the fishing rod with all her might - a single mighty pull to bring her back to dry land, to haul the non-legendary trout out of the water entirely. In the process, she overbalances, landing on the grass edging with a thud. The fish, for its part, soars through the air...

...and comes to a landing on her face.

As it flops, the would-be angler reaches up to grab it tightly. She lost her grip on the rod somewhere in that commotion - something to find in a minute - and if she's to be honest...

She's dripping wet and more than a little chilly, her sneakers are soaked right through, she's sitting in the mud, and a live fish just hit her in the face. By any reasonable standard, a miserable situation.

And yet. It's still better than earlier this week, and than her mood for the last few days. And here, she can at least claim victory. "Right, that's one-"

...STEELJAW has a black belt in karate.


The sheer shock, a comfortable place to stay, is discarded in favour of worry for Mikoto's sake. What - is this some kind of monster, some magical invader from some strange mystic realm? Can Mikoto beat it?

Next to the duffel bag, apparently some golf clubs in a case lie. A dark case with a presence of its own, promising darkness and destruction and death. And sashimi, with the right mindset.

Mai's gaze passes from Miroku's case to look up to where its wielder soars. "Mikoto! You're - be careful! And stop holding back - take it down!"

She has her team to root for here. Obsidian blade versus steel jaw - the answer is obvious!

In her tightening grip, her vanquished foe squirms one last time.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Now that is a violent fish. Also an extremely athletic one, given how fast STEELJAW is tailslapping Mikoto on the way up -

She lets more of her line play out, her eyes lighting up behind her glasses as she realizes *exactly* what the King of Tama River just did wrong. "Mikoto-san, brace yourself for the landing!" she shouts ... because this is a mistake she can capitalize on *hard*.

The best boss fights, regardless of genre, always have something that a savvy player can exploit. And STEELJAW's Limit Break comes at a severe cost; in a tabletop game, it might well be described as 'Fish Out of Water'. Because the giant fish *IS* out of the water ...

Meaning that all of the voluntary application of physics is with the humans now. Mikoto's grappling and melee skills, and Fuu's grip on her rod and line - those are the keys to victory now. But Fuu can't do a whole lot to spare Mikoto from the inevitable landing, particularly when that landing needs to be her final weapon against STEELJAW.

As the massive fish nears the peak of its leap, Fuu stops letting her line unwind and starts reeling it back in as fast as she can, dashing away from the river's edge. "Everybody, please watch your heads so it doesn't land on top of you!" she calls out an additional warning, this time to all of her fellow anglers, amateur or not.

Intended outcome of this maneuver: bring STEELJAW down *on dry land* instead of letting it splash back into the water.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Mikoto keeps her grip on STEELJAW, at the very least. Fuu's pole-work proves decisive -- because she nmanages to make it come crashing down, shooting towards the ground below. The result is that STEELJAW hits the riverbank -- and scrapes along it, shooting dirt up across it, digging a massive rut in the riverbank. The meter-long fish comes to a stop, and that lets people get a good look.

It is a huge, scaley thing. Its fins stretch out proudly; its eyes are massive and proud. It does not flop. And its jaw, its namesake, has a lovely...

...bronze color?

Lera tilts her head at that, before she looks back at Mai -- and winces, she just took a fish to the face -- before she says. "I don't know if that's quite right, it might--"

From further out in the river, it rises! Nearly ten feet long, with a lower jaw somehow made of solid steel, and huge black eyes. The true STEELJAW stares at them... and sinks below the river.

Bronzejaw, finally, starts flopping.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

The look on Fuu's face as she looks from her catch (and Mikoto's, credit where it's due after all), to the momentarily-visible of the *actual* STEELJAW, and then back to 'Bronzejaw,' is best described as a combination of 'what on Earth, I thought THIS one was hard' plus 'there is no way I'm doing THAT again' combined with '... without some SERIOUS grinding on my Fishing skills'.

She clears her throat softly, then takes a deep breath. "Cat-sensei? I think we only caught one fish, but do we get credit for how big it is?" she asks, starting to reel her line in a bit more - mostly so that Bronzejaw won't somehow manage to flop back into the river.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mikoto crashes down, down, and in her experience she at least manages to angle STEELJAW down so it will hit the ground first. Mikoto isn't exactly heavy, but when you're falling from that velocity, even a little weight can really hurt. Even as it calms down, and all she has to worry about is the flopping, Mikoto refuses to let go. "Fish! Fish! Mai! I caught one!"

The fact that Mikoto didn't catch it as much as piledrive it into the ground with Fuu's assistance is a small detail, and one Mikoto chooses to ignore. Nothing else in this festival can possibly top... well... not STEELJAW, but Bronzejaw.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Mr. Cat looks down at Bronzejaw. Then he looks at where STEELJAW went. "I suppose... I'll have to wait for my fancy feast."