"So tell me, doctor," Scofflaw said. "How do I look naked?"
"Cold, shrivelled, and all-around nasty," replied a voice from behind him. It was a new voice, one he hadn't heard before, but he had a fairly good guess who it was.
Tor had barely made it two steps from the bottom of the ladder before a small moon crashed down and opened a chasm in the floor across the room and destabilized parts of the rest. While Dr. Noyka was being picked up by a spatula, other areas of the ground decided that some jobs would require a more direct approach, simply opening up below Tor and swallowing him whole.
It took the Telpori-Hal a moment to register what had happened- he'd gone from a room full of Chaotic madness to rushing water and windy blackness, and it wasn't until a dimly-glowing blue blur whizzed past that he realized quite what was going on.
It was a water-slide. A dortul-doshamri human water-slide. Telpori-Han, in general, weren't fans of water. Maybe it was something to do with their avian ancestry, the number of aquatic natural predators, or simply the natural opposition of fire and water, but whatever the cause, the Telpori-Han were never terribly happy when wet.
Tor was completely typical in that respect, but he was nonetheless relieved to have his extremely-wet journey come to an end in a body of yet more water.
Unfortunately for him, that body of water was suspended telekinetically around a cybernetically-enhanced Leviath.
Tengeri, focused on determining what that flash of light that had just happened was, only registered the approaching phoenid humanoid and its accompanying rush of water a split second before they crashed directly into her.
Fortunately for both of them, Tengeri had been perpendicular to the slide's exid, so they didn't collide head on. Instead, the Telpori-Hal simply slammed into her side and sent the pair of them tumbling into the opposite wall. It took a moment for them to realize what had happened and get themselves oriented again, but they were both back to normal soon enough. They were sore, certainly, and neither one was particularly high in the dignity department, but they were alive.
"Sorry," Tor said, doing his best to dry himself off as much as possible, "I didn't really have much of a choice in how that went. You alright?"
Tengeri just stared at him for a moment, frowning, before she formed the words "kajan? you've changed" before her.
Tor held back a sigh, running his hands through his short, bristly hair and giving the same short, clipped explanation he'd given a multitude of times before. "Yes, yes. As the Fool said, my species bursts into flame on a regular basis, resulting in a changed appearance. Same hal, different ganel. It happens roughly once every 45 minutes, and we've got our own ways of telling each other apart. Any questions?"
If she had any, Tengeri didn't get a chance to ask them before Scofflaw appeared in midair between her and Tor, fell to the floor, and stood up again, offering greetings and badmouthing Murdoch as he did.
"So tell me, doctor," he said. "How do I look naked?"
"Cold, shrivelled, and all-around nasty," Tor responded. The villain looked casually over his shoulder, confirming his suspicions about who it was.
Tor glared back at him, arms crossed. The Telpori-Hal looked much different, of course- his face was wider, flatter, with more chin and less nose, and while he was an inch or so shorter, he was also a good deal wider and much more densely-packed that he'd been last time. Water was beading and running down the metal-mesh fabrics of his clothes, and he didn't look very amused by the other man's sudden appearance.
"But of course, you meant a different sort of naked, and I don't think anyone here wants to see that." Unfolding his arms, Tor took a less-than-friendly step towards the Saint. He may have gotten shorter, but he was still tall enough to look down at the villain. "But let's cut to the point. You are, at best, a danger to the survival of the rest of us. If you were to die here, it would mean nothing but good things for everyone. Why, then, should we let you just wander around and endanger us all?" He hadn't planned to come out swinging threats around, but he wasn't in the best of moods and Scofflaw just got under his skin. He wasn't exaggerating, either- Scofflaw, he remembered, had been a terribly dangerous person in his prime. Granted, Tor still couldn't remember just when that had been, and it was starting to bug him even more, but he could remember quite clearly that several of Scofflaw's plans had come quite close to succeeding.
"Please," the Saint scoffed, "do you really expect me believe that, if it came down to it, anyone here could actually do the deed? Businessman, academic, sworn pacifist- of all of you, the one most likely to pull the trigger is that cube, and even he probably wants to gang up on the Fool and get out together! Do you honestly think you could kill me just because I'm an obstacle to your own freedom?"
As far as tools went, the monologue was one of the more useful ones. A novice might simply use it as a tool to intimidate or demonstrate power- "I'm so confident that I'll succeed that I can tell you my whole plan without worrying that you'll disrupt it." The expert, though, uses it both in that manner and in others- as a means of planting false information, as a stalling tactic, or as a way to conceal him going for the ceramic knife he hadn't handed over earlier. (After all, Tengeri hadn't been there at the time to check, so why not hang on to one or two things?)
"I mean really, not one member of this paltry assortment of interstellar do-gooders would even-" He lunged forward, taking advantage of the step forward Tor had taken and bringing the knife slicing across him before either of the others knew what was happening.
Tor leaned in rather than moving back and got a painful slash on the shoulder instead of a chest or neck wound, and when the slash jolted through him, he hurled himself forward even more, shoving himself into Scofflaw's chest and slamming him into the cave's wall.
He may have been out of luck with his right arm, but a punch didn't take much coordination or subtlety- a fist to the gut just required basic motor skills and some decent strength, both of which Tor could manage with his off hand just fine.
Scofflaw didn't give him a second chance, though, bringing the knife slashing around and across the other man's leg. A reflexive kick knocked it out of the villain's hand, and after that, the two simply started exchanges punches once more. Tor's current advantage of size was evenly balanced out by the two slashes across shoulder and thigh, and the two entered once more into a typical fistfight.
Tengeri, meanwhile, decided to take her leave. Unable to speak, she couldn't exactly talk the two down, and she had no wish to get between them at the moment. Her manipulators may have been good for dextrous work, but they were hardly suited for pulling apart two brawling humanoids. Besides, she was more concerned by the seismic readings and reaching GB-002 than watching Tor and Scofflaw scuffle- she was pretty sure Tor would be able to hold his own in a fair fight, and if Scofflaw tried to pull something, there wouldn't be much she could do. She could hardly warn Tor fast enough, and anything she did to try to interfere would be as likely to hit Tor as Scofflaw.
Really, she decided, she'd be better off elsewhere. If they were going to beat each other up like a pair of idiots, she'd just leave them to it.
Turning away, she headed off once more in the direction she'd been going before.
Tor and Scofflaw didn't keep up their fight for very much longer- Tor backed away a ways, the wounds on his leg and shoulder hurting quite a lot, and Scofflaw let him go.
It seemed after a few breaths like they'd move back in for a round three, but they both froze in place when another tremor shook the caves, rattling the walls around them. With a nasty glare, both decided that somewhere else would be a much better place to be than where they were. Slowly, they headed off, taking opposite directions in the hopes of finding a way up to the surface. (Or a less-unsteady cavern, at least.)