Legion Tryouts: Introducing N'gok of Okeno
Cosmic Boy dragged his gaze away from the angry Thanagarian applicant, leaving in a huff, to examine his datapad for the next applicant.
Squinting at the name, Rokk calls out, "Next up, N'gok, representing Okeno Colony."
From the seating area, the young Sapen hopeful ambles forward, drawing up to her full height and walking confidently forward, her short maroon robe held in place by a golden sash, thick arms hanging at her sides. Her feet and arms remain bare, in the style of her people, although her fur lacks the many tight curls and braids and beads that he has seen among other visitors from the 'New Gorilla City.'
"You honor me with the proper pronunciation of my name, Legion sir." the applicant from Okeno says in an incongruously rich and feminine voice.
"Some may find your name even more difficult to pronounce. Your power is light-manipulation, it says here. Have you chosen a codename?" Rokk urges.
Revealing startlingly oversized canines, the young ape smiles, and just points to the pair of combat drones standing to the side of the exhibition stage. "I am ready," she says simply, and shimmering lights begin to play around her thick fingers, as if her oversized hand was a many-faceted prism, splitting and recombining the light in the room into many rainbow patterns.
The combat robots power up and raise their tase-cannons to discharge stunning streams of electricity in her direction, but before the first can fire, the room dims for an instant as light coalesces at her fingertip and forms a dazzling beam of laser-light that slices into the first robot, leaving it reeling and falling over, a great rent melted into its torso.
N'gok sidesteps and twists as the laser continues to track and strike the second robot, searing and melting its way through the outer carapace to the vital machinery within, but the second robot succeeds in firing off a shot from its tase-cannon before falling, and the arc of electricity grazes the side of the simian applicant. A full-strength charge is enough to drop a man, but the sturdy ape just grunts and staggers for a second before apparently shaking off the effects of the partial current.
The light levels in the room return to normal as the multi-spectral display around her hand fades. She turns to face the Legion observers, touching her hand to her side where the current struck, as she speaks, "Yes, you may call me Laser Ape."
She bows her head, and turns again to face Officer Cusimano and Gim Allon, both dressed in padded sparring armor, and equipped with fighting staves, in preparation for her exhibition of nonlethal combat.
Gigi's eyes narrow as she focuses on the young apes side, clearly still stiff and sore from the tase-charge, and she glances to Gim, only to see him regarding the same vulnerable target. She feels a pang of sympathy for the young applicant, knowing that it would be unfair to both her and the others if she didn't give it her all, and take advantage of this weakness.
"Officer Cusimano, honored Legionnaire, I am prepared for your challenge." Ngok says in that same soft tone, so strange to hear from such a large and muscular example of her species.
Gigi moves to the left, as Gim moves to the right, attempting to flank the applicant, recognizing that her stiffness doesn't change the fact that she is likely quite strong. As the gorilla raises her arms, Gigi begins to turn to the side, fearing a laser-like discharge, but she cannot avoid the dazzling cone of light that streams from each hand, temporarily blinding both herself and her teammate…
Gim steps forward, attempting to fight through the temporary blindness by lashing out with his fighting sticks, but Laser Ape has also stepped forward, so that his sideways stroke lands behind her and she grabs onto his arm at the elbow and shoulder and bodily hurls him across the room in a modified judo throw, using his own momentum against him. There is a loud 'oof!' and a crashing sound from behind her as Gim hits the ground, tumbles and lands in a heap on top of the damaged combat robots.
Barely able to see the towering figure, through a nebula of swirling green and purple spots, Gigi swings her staff low to sweep the feet of the larger figure that seems to appear suddenly in front of her, as she ducks low to avoid the large arms of her attacker. Her sweeping strike connects, and Laser Ape falls backwards, but converts the action of falling into a roll and returns to her feet in a second before Gigi can press the advantage. Recognizing that the officer's eyes are clearing, Laser Ape's own eyes flare with another dazzling strobe, and Gigi curses as she again sees nothing but blinding white glare. Lashing out with her combat staff, attempting to fend off the applicant while she's blinded, she connects with nothing but air as Laser Ape leaps over her attack and lands behind her, grappling her with impossibly strong arms. Biceps as thick around as her waist flex, and Gigi gasps, realizing that struggling to break this hold would be impossible. As she hears Laser Apes soft voice in her ear, "Please surrender, I do not wish to harm you." Gigi lashes out with her foot, attempting to knock the simian applicant off balance, but Laser Ape knows her close-combat training, and has kept her knees angled, to prevent a foe from this very maneuver.
Recognizing that she's beaten, Gigi concedes defeat. "I'm out!"
From across the room, Gim staggers to his feet, tossing down a chunk of robot that had stuck to him when he attempted to rise. "Me too. Medic!"
Gigi nearly falls over from the speed with which Laser Ape releases her. "Honored Legionnaire! Are you injured? I did not mean to cause you harm…"
Gim raises a hand towards the concerned applicant, "Not your fault, trainee. Some of the metal was still molten from your earlier display, and I got a burn. Nothing serious, it just stings like a muh… mmmm… stinging thing," he ends lamely, not wanting to curse in front of the unfailingly polite candidate.
Ayla walks up behind him with a medical kit. "Would you like a bandage for that mouth of yours?" she jokes at his expense, and he smiles, "Please."
Laser Ape looks towards the dias to see that the Legionnaires sitting in review have been obscured by a privacy field, no doubt deliberating already upon her candidacy.
Behind the privacy field, Rokk swivels his seat to face his teammates, having already made his decision. "Thoughts?"
Tinya look like she wants to speak, but Shadow Lass beats her to the punch, "She is stronger, more agile and tougher than a human candidate. But so is Timber Wolf, and by the standards of her own people, these traits are normal. She can produce blinding flashes of light, which is a trick that Sun Boy has long since abandoned, or produce destructive bursts of energy, which a half dozen Legionnaires, or any fool with a blaster, can manage. I am not seeing what unique contribution she brings to the team."
Her voice trails off towards the end of her abrupt statement as Mon-El's hand comes to rest upon her own, and she turns to face him quizzically.
"N'gok has demonstrated skill, power and professionalism." Mon-El begins, also pronouncing her given name without difficulty, "She fought not just with physical strength, but also mental agility and confidence. She lured Gim and Gigi into underestimating her, and focusing on her injured side, so that she would know exactly what they were doing, dictating and controlling the terms of their fight. Even her display with the robots included long-term strategic thinking, as she gave the impression that she was manipulating the light in the room, and was not able to generate light within herself, or as quickly as she did with the blinding flashes she used in the second phase."
Tasmia's face remains composed as she listens to Lar's analysis, and it is unclear whether she agrees or disagrees with any given point, even as he appears to disagree with her basic premise.
He turns to look at her as he concludes, "And her fighting style, blinding another and then moving in to close combat with grace and confidence, reminds me of another Legionnaire who has made many valuable contributions to our team."
Tasmia smiles at the compliment and nods slightly, removing her hand from beneath Lar's to instead rest atop his. "I am persuaded." She says, gripping his hand and turning back to regard the others.
Tinya finally speaks up, having waited more or less patiently to get her say. "Her powers and skill and all that are cool, but I'm really impressed with how *polite* she is. Did you hear that, 'Honored Legionnaire?' 'Officer Cusimano?' I mean, really, how many of these applicants even knew that Gigi had a name, let alone greeted her by name?"
Gim and Ayla step into the privacy field from the exhibition platform, and Gim speaks up first, "She gets my vote. No question."
Ayla puts away the medical kit before adding, "I like her. I think we could use more candidates that *want* to be Legionnaires, and weren't sent here because it's what their planetary government wanted or it's what their family expected."
Rokk nods and says, "Okay then, I think that's settled." He toggles off the privacy screen to see Laser Ape looking attentively towards the dias, touching her side as if trying to gauge if there is any lingering soreness from the early electrical discharge.
He looks down to the rack by the side of his seat, where three Flight Belts and a single Flight Ring wait, and removes one of the Belts.
As he stands, he explains to the viewing candidates, "Traditionally, applicants who are not accepted for Legion membership are awarded a Flight Belt, as you've seen with previous applicants." The belt floats down on magnetic currents to Laser Ape's waiting hand, and while the set of her shoulders reveals a trace of disappointment, she chooses to remain silent, in stark contrast to the previous applicant…
As her oversized hand closes on the Flight Belt, Rokk quickly continues, "But in this case, we apologize to Laser Ape," he holds up the Flight Ring that was to be given to the successful candidate this day so that everyone can see it, "Because we don't have any Flight Rings big enough for her fingers."
Laser Ape rocks back, uncertain if this is some sort of dream, the moment hanging precariously in front of her.
"And so, we ask that our newest Legionnaire wear a Flight Belt until we can get a ring sized for her." he concludes with a smile and a slight bow towards the surprised simian.
He's sure that he can see a tear as she turns and holds her Flight Belt high,
calling out exuberantly, "Long Live the Legion!" as the other applicants
stand and begin clapping.