Chapter 057: Nooks and crannies

Mirise sent a wave of all her water in front of Allen. It cut through the cloud, striking Cabiru on the other side, extinguishing her torches. Mirise jumped off Allen as he leaped at Cabiru, knocking her to the ground and getting some slashes in with his claws. She, however, quickly regained her bearings, held on to her torches, and pushed Allen off of her with her feet, sending him back behind Mirise. She made sure the cloud of fire wasn't going to stay, and sent another splash of water at the still burning torch embedded in the ground, putting it out as well.

"There! Now you've got no fire left!"
"Is that what you think, little girl?" Cabiru said and stood up, reigniting her torches.
"I'll... I'll just put them out again!"
"So you can put out some fires, big deal... but let's see how you deal with a living fire!" Cabiru exclaimed.
"A living fire? What does that mean?" Mirise asked.
"No clue, but it can't be good," Allen said as they watched Cabiru bring her torches in closer, touching them to herself—setting her jacket, shorts, and braid on fire. "...oh."
"...doesn't that hurt her?"
"I don't think she even can feel any heat anymore," Allen replied as Cabiru started charging at them. "Watch it!"
"Whoa!" Mirise stumbled backwards trying to dodge the incoming attack, starting to fall. Cabiru directed a punch towards her, one that left a visible crack in the ground and would have done a real number on Mirise if Allen, in hyena form, had not managed to catch her and pull her out of the way. "Th-thanks!"
"Don't mention it, just be careful!" Allen said while Cabiru continued her assault. Her clothes appeared to not be the only thing burning, as while she hadn't relied a lot on strategy even before, now she appeared to have gone entirely into a berserker rage. But with her strength and speed, plus the fire, chances were good that that was going to be enough for her. She certainly didn't leave any openings for Mirise and Allen to exploit. "Can't you put her out again?"
"Most of my water turned to steam when we broke through the fire, and I can't change it back quickly!"
"But you said-"
"I have enough water for a torch or two, not for... that!"
"Okay, then... any other ideas?"
"Not right- watch out!" Mirise exclaimed as Cagizo came rolling back towards them. She came in fast, and managed to hit Allen just as he was trying to avoid one of Cabiru's attacks, sending him tumbling away in the same direction Cagizo was rolling. "Allen!"
"That'll be it for you!" Cabiru shouted and kept swinging at Mirise, who still managed to keep away, but she knew she couldn't just keep dodging. At the same time, she didn't have any good way to attack. As she kept dodging her burning opponent, Rink's words went through her head.

"Someone who knows every nook and cranny of Avasine by heart."

She was, of course, absolutely right... nobody knew Avasine as well as Mirise did. Not even those who had been involved in building the city. She might not be anywhere near as seasoned a fighter as her opponent, but she had the clear advantage of battlefield. Even if she had never done any serious fighting here—the most she had been involved in was rebuking advances from mostly drunk people—it was the one thing she absolutely had over the enemy.

She didn't even have to look around to realize what her best bet was. She just had to get Cabiru to the right place, and with her going berserk, leading her there was probably not going to take too much effort... as long as Mirise could avoid her attacks. Even without the fire, Cabiru was putting a lot of her weight behind every strike, and Mirise wasn't nearly as sturdy as Allen. A clean hit from Cabiru could easily put her out of commission for the rest of the fight, which would leave Allen having to take on both Cabiru and Cagizo—not a promising prospect.

Mirise kept on dodging deliberately, every move serving to lead Cabiru towards the one spot where there was a chance she could turn the tide of the battle. Cabiru managed to get a bit too close for Mirise's comfort on a couple of occasions, and even singed her clothes a bit, but Mirise largely managed to stay just out of reach and only stopped moving when she found herself with a wall behind her... the wall that Cagizo had rolled into earlier. As Cabiru went for another strike, Mirise ducked and deftly slid between Cabiru's legs. Cabiru hit the wall, damaging it further, before quickly turning around to see Mirise heading towards her at high speed.

Mirise charged at Cabiru, sending the little water she had left into her face to hopefully disorient her for a critical second. Mirise leaped at her burning opponent, wrapping her arms around Cabiru's torso and forcefully pushing her into the wall behind her. Mirise knew that wall was thinner than it looked, so with their combined weight, they broke through it. Mirise held on even as Cabiru landed several punches on her, the impact from crashing through the wall seemingly not giving her any pause at all. However, rather than landing on a floor where Cabiru could bend Mirise off of her, they kept falling, and splashed Cabiru-first into the waters underneath Avasine. But even with Mirise's affinity for the water, Cabiru's physical strength was still several levels above hers, and she managed to pull Mirise away and get up to the surface. But her fires had gone out, and her torches wouldn't work here. Cabiru looked up to see the hole they had fallen through and tried to get back up it, but with her now wet clothes weighing her down plus Mirise's swimming speed, she was unable to reach it before getting pushed away and down. She tore off her jacket and got her head above the surface again, looking at Mirise.

"Ugh! How did we fall down here?"
"We went through a service hatch!" Mirise replied with a sly grin on her face. "They can be found here and there... and I know where every single one of them is! To access the foundation of the city for repairs and such... for escaping in case of a serious fire... or in this case, for dragging the fire down into the sea!"
"You cheating little minx..."
"I'm a pirate! That means I don't have to follow your rules... I think!" Mirise said as she reached up, pulling down a rope that was hanging next to the hatch.
"It means that I'm going to crush all of your bones when I get my hands on you!"
"Good luck with that," Mirise said as she started swimming circles around Cabiru. She tried to get a hold of Mirise again, but the blonde girl was much too fast in the water. Mirise went underwater, shot towards Cabiru, and grabbed onto her legs. She pulled her entirely underwater before letting go, causing Cabiru to gasp for air. Mirise knew she had to maintain her advantage, and keeping Cabiru winded was going to be the main way to ensure that. She darted around, attacking Cabiru from different angles, ultimately driving her towards the main pillar under the market square. Cabiru soon found herself bumping into it, prompting Mirise to make her next move. She went for Cabiru's legs, quickly wrapping the rope around her ankles and circling around the pillar a few times, tying it up with a knot before Cabiru had fully realized what was going on. She was struggling and trying to break free, but with only her head and shoulders above the water, she didn't have much room to maneuver. Mirise surfaced in front of her, outside of Cabiru's reach, with a big grin.
"Let me go this instant!" Cabiru demanded.
"I think you need to stay here and cool down for a bit," Mirise replied. "I gotta go help Allen now!"
"Don't you dare leave me here!"
"Toodles!" Mirise said with a giggle as she swam away, diving down to grab the two torches Cabiru had dropped while they fell on the way.

She listened to what was going on above her, and staying under the market square, made her way to where Allen and Cagizo were currently fighting. Cagizo was rolling back and forth, launching water projectiles between rolls, keeping her distance and giving Allen no chance to catch her. There weren't any favourable positions he could trick her into, and trying to run away even as a feint was going to be a good way to ensure getting hit in the back. He was managing to avoid her attacks for the time being, but was definitely not at an advantage here and one lucky hit from Cagizo would make the situation turn sour rather quickly. While he tried to think of some kind of plan, he heard something... and it seemed to come from below him.

"Huh?" Allen looked down, noting that he was standing on a grate—and noting that underneath it was Mirise. "What are you... where's Cabiru?"
"I've dealt with her! But I have an idea! Make her roll over here!"
"I don't think you'll have to wait long!" Allen said and backed away, as Cagizo was coming for him again. When she came rolling above Mirise, she thrust the pointy back ends of the torches up through the grate as hard as she could. It wasn't much of an obstacle, but at the speed Cagizo was moving, it didn't take much to disrupt her balance. She stumbled out of her roll, and before she could reorient herself, Allen tackled her to the ground, weighing her down and pushing down her arms with his knees to make sure she couldn't fight back.
"What the... what the hell happened?"
"You forgot about my partner."
"But... where..."
"Below us," Allen said with a smirk. "I don't know exactly what she did, but she dragged your sister down into the water... or did you forget how Avasine is built?"
"I should have expected that you wouldn't play fair..."
"You're one to talk. But this is starting to feel like a familiar scenario., isn't it?"
"Just rub it in, won't you? At least finish it so I won't have to listen to you any longer."
"Oh, I'm not gonna kill you... because I want you to live with the knowledge that you can't beat me. But I am gonna make sure you won't be spitting on anyone for a while."
"You're not going to get away with this."
"Maybe I will, maybe I won't," Allen said and brought his fists down on Cagizo's jaw, over and over. One punch, two punches, three punches, until he was certain that it was broken. Blood was flowing from her mouth, and several of her teeth were gone or cracked. She was very dazed, but still conscious. "That's three-one to me. And just in case..." Allen stated and started removing her armour, leaving her in only the blue leather unitard she had on underneath. Meanwhile, Mirise had climbed back up the maintenance hatch, and had seen the final punches from Allen. She walked up to them, looking at the bleeding woman.

"Did you... is she..."
"Don't worry. She'll spend a lot of time laid up, but she'll live. That girl can take ridiculous amounts of punishment."
"So what about Cabiru? I'm guessing you didn't leave her to drown."
"I just made sure her fires were out and tied her up," Mirise said and held up Cabiru's torches. "She can breathe and they'll be able to get her out, but as soaked as she is, she won't be setting any more fires here."
"Now what? We've... won, right? So we can leave?"
"You'll have to learn that as a pirate, winning just means you've survived until the next battle... and that can come sooner than you think," Allen said.
"I'm pretty sure we're about to get some more company... and I don't mean just her," Allen said and nodded towards the approaching Muse—while several other Marine soldiers started approaching from other side streets as well...