Description: He saw something in that boy. Something worth blood and battle. But will Rock Howard rise to the challenge, or will he be cast into the endless darkness of Hell?
Rock was in the midst of studying for finals when without conscious volition, he found himself stalled on one line at the very top of the second page, having succumbed to apathetic torpor. He would not be able to memorize much else, not tonight, so the broody teen left his papers and notes strewn across the coffee table, informing Terry that he'd be back... At some point. The Howard scion wasn't very specific; what he typically means is 'before midnight', which is why there's never been any calls to the police and missing persons reports. Lucky him.
After his departure, after his booted soles hit the sidewalk, Rock walked, his direction completely random. He actually enjoys walking and going nowhere in particular. It gives him time to think, time to explore. Sometimes he helps people, sometimes he rescues kittens from trees. This may be utter fabrication -- I really have no clue what the guy does when he spends hours away from home meandering around like a hobo, but the point is that Rock likes it otherwise he wouldn't do it. Fair? Fair.
This evening stroll takes him out past the outskirts of Southtown suburbia into the dense surrounding forests with frost-tipped branches. The air is crisp and cool and stings his lungs with each inhalation. Wearing a bomber jacket similar in style to the Legendary Wolf's, he zips the front so that the fleece interior traps his body heat, allowing him to stay warm. Boots crunch brown blades of grass as he carries on, soon arriving at what appears to be a clearing. Rock's crimson-coloured eyes search for a continuation to the path, but find none.
"Che, so much for that."
He clicks his tongue off the backs of his teeth, ruffling his fringe of blonde hair with gloved fingers, adding a sigh of discontent once finished. The teen pivots sharply on the balls of his feet, turning away from the wall of trunks and striking a long stride back the way he came. Perhaps this is actually a blessing in disguise -- a dead-end means it's time to return lest he is assaulted by some uber powerful demon man with tanned skin and a very bad hairdo.
There is a quiver in the earth.
Dark eyes slit open from a deep meditation. They are not the normal eyes one would match to a man--there are no pupils, no iris. Only an uncompromising red, the crimson of the blood spilt by men slaughtered under the bright light of a full moon. His eyes are washed with the sanguine tone until nothing else remains. The lethal haze he stares through is sign of a life crippling to most. But he is not blind. In fact, he has stared further into the hearts of men than most of those who have faced him would give him credit for.
Such as the day he first sensed Geese Howard's presence in the world.
Those who walk the path that he does sense others on that same road. And they are butterfly wings--once sensed, you are changed forever. Everything you have ever touched is changed forever. The master straightens, sinking one fist tightly wrapped with hemp rope into the earth to add strength to his rise, lifting from the full lotus position he sat in only a moment prior until he is at his fullest height. He senses something in the world near to him...
He senses a thing that he has been waiting for for a long time.
When he appears to Rock--filling the space that the man turned back from only a moment prior--he wears no particularly great concessions to the weather, only his dark keikogi, ripped by the rigors of his training and cinched tight with a rope that looks as if it were shorn directly from the lines of a ship. The air doesn't seem as cold as it did only a moment ago, lurid red force trailing from the man as he stares down Howard, trying to make sense of him. There is always martial intent behind everything he does, and if Rock spares the moment, it is easy to tell when another is sizing him up.
"I've spent a long time waiting for this moment..." Akuma starts. He is always incensed, his voice just barely on the edge of rage, worn short and ragged by years of martial force until hearing it was similar to hearing rocks tumbling down a jagged mountainside.
"I smell the blood of Geese," he remarks. "But he does not stand before me. Are you only his dog to be whipped? Speak now... or take your life into your own hands!"
There is a great disturbance in the Force.
Er, the air.
He was alone, and then he is not. This startles the boy; he whirls to face the interloper with his fists raised, the leather of his bomber jacket creaking in protest. It collects in bunches around his elbows, folding in awkwardly. His knees bend as if he were an animal trapped and debating on fight or flight. Wide eyes soon reduce to their original shape, and after a moment, once Rock has taken in the appearance of this man who has appeared so suddenly in the clearing that stood empty one heartbeat ago, still the paranoia of the Howard scion has not abated. It intensifies.
The aura of the master is almost palpable, even to him. If he reached out, Rock is convinced that he would be able to lay a hand upon it and watch as ripples radiate outwards from his fingertips. That is a terrifying thing. Terrifying, but he can't seem to find his fear...
Rock doesn't feel anything at all, like his emotions were siphoned off in totality, leaving him with breath, the steady beat of the drum in his chest and a void. An endless void, from his feet to his head.
In an instant, it comes rushing back, words ringing sharply in his ears. He reels, something stirring within the teen, pleased it has been recognized and crying out in elation. His cursed blood, how do so many people know? How can it be /smelled/? The boy feels anger and shame -- he is a mosaic of varying kinds of disgust and fury. Rows of white teeth gnash together, his jaw aching from the pressure. Rock grinds out, "I'm no one's whipping dog, especially not /HIS/." The rest, it sails long over his mop of blonde hair. What does that mean, take his life into his own hands? Does that mean...
Fists clench tighter, the Southtown native notices that the temperature... is vastly different. Somehow, each intake of air no longer stabs at his lungs like thousands of needles. It is as if the entire climate in the area changed from winter to perhaps something more tropical, stifling. Maybe it's the presence of the man in his ripped keikogi, with his eyes a crimson to match Rock's own, only lacking white and pupils. They're unnerving to look into, but with the swift motion of his head, flicking away flaxen strands and removing them from his sight, the only child of Geese Howard remains determined not to turn away and he doesn't know why.
Akuma attempts to make sense of Rock. Rock, feeling threatened and about to lash out foolishly, is trying to puzzle out the master in turn.
The sky feels cramped.
There is no space around the demon of a man--everything about him is tight, packed into an area two sizes too small to fit. Everything is kinetic and lightning-sewn, a hundred thousand cables, chains, ropes and strings all pulled taut with the faintest impression of the demon's sharp glare. Truthfully, there is no other expression for him, a knife-like stare that he cuts into Rock with. The steel of it is almost tangible, almost enough to draw blood.
The demonic man recognizes that nightmarish energy churning in the youth's breast, the sick, angry thing that it is calling to him. It is a moth attracted to the flame. But it only meets a flat countenance. There is no part of that warrior that wishes for Rock the same as he might wish for Geese. This energy within him is lesser, rendered impotent by a generation's gap and with no time to whet. Instead, it is with a filth and imparity that he regards the riling pup before him.
For a time, there is only silence. Crushing silence, at that.
"Your form has been tainted," the demon comments upon Rock's stance, even the slightest bend of his knees interpreted as if in full combat. "You will not be able to perform at your strongest if you consider retreat in your very bones!"
The demon's words hit like a hammer. It's like a thundercrack. The slightest raise of his voice is enough to carry for a lantern's stretch into the forest. When he raises his fist, it snaps shut, ropes, bones and muscle tightening with an audible creak and a cascade of ominous cracks and snaps. It sounds like a bridge stressed to its breaking point. The sound is piercing. There is something organic about the way he moves in that much, something as fully natural as it is blasphemy. There is no effort wasted between one motion at the next for him; showing Rock his fist without killing him with it is the only respect he will show another warrior's lineage. That fist is a message.
"A whipped dog will insist to the end that hate is his pride. There is only one truth, the one that lay in a warrior's strength. Don't insult the gods of battle by showing me your fists unless you intend to use them!! I will not tell you a second time."
Why is the sky so clear, yet the world is pressing in all around him? The trees march forward, their branches creaking and swaying in menace, or do they? A second glance, it reveals that the sentinels remain as steadfast as they ever were, only with frost warmed away from the last of their foliage. They are not disturbed by wind nor do they move, not while he watches. What? His senses continue to play tricks on his mind the longer he freezes, the master's presence adding to this in a manner he couldn't even begin to fathom. Rock's feet dig into the earth when his stance hardens, muscles pulled taut, ready to spring.
The way out... is to smash through. He has chosen.
A riling pup, a wolf cub, the teen knows that look, it's really the only thing he recognizes. Geese often looked upon him with the same disparity, called him out on his shortcomings, made clear that his son was an inferior product. His inner darkness, dismissed and ignored, howls in rage. It takes umbrage at this offense, clawing to the forefront of his being and attempting to reach past the barrier of his chest... But it cannot. Rock quiets the scream of his boiling blood with a shuddering, steadying breath.
"I... want to run because I'm afraid," He admits, but doesn't elaborate. What he feels isn't crushing terror when faced with Akuma, not anymore. It isn't because to raise his fist means his life could very well be in danger. Rock doesn't like what the demon's presence has awoken, something he has always thought was the result of his festering hatred for the man that he will never acknowledge as his father. The fear is that it will consume him... "But if I run away, I'll never grow stronger." Then hate will be all he has, the Howard scion would become that which he has just denied.
Words of the master crash into him with all the force of a physical blow, staggering the boy, but as he rocks back onto his hind leg, the young wolf surges forwards. He yells to the heavens, to Akuma, "I refuse to live in the shadow of /that man/! I'm going to rise above it, and I won't waste this opportunity!" Win or lose, there is always something to learn from every fight (unless he dies.) The power to overcome the nightmarish energy and triumph. Rock intends to use his fists, or more specifically, his elbow.
Gloved fingers wrap securely around his fist to empower his strike; the teen practically glides across the ground, blades of grass igniting in his wake. He picks up speed, faster and faster, crimson eyes focused and intent. It could be that Rock is upon the demon in an instant, or maybe he misses entirely. If not, the point of his elbow is slammed home into Akuma's sternum, then the American teenager reaches out. Violet chi wreathes the boy's arm, each offshoot of energy combining into one magnificent, brilliant wing of amethyst, rising high into the air at his back and spread wide. "HAAAAAAAAAAAA!" He shouts, a cry to embolden him and steel his resolve. There are no regrets.
COMBATSYS: Rock has started a fight here.
COMBATSYS: Akuma has joined the fight here.
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Rock 0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0 Akuma
COMBATSYS: Akuma auto-guards Rock's Hard Edge.
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Rock 0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0 Akuma
The flame-haired demon is silent, for a time, as Rock speaks, carrying the intensity and tenor of a man rapidly losing patience with words. The force is something altogether different from the impatience of an angry man--though his rage is such that his breath is almost red with blood, it is held fast with will of iron-like chains. There is no danger of Akuma losing control, no risk of saying or doing the wrong thing that might set Akuma off. He is not so puerile. No, it's exactly the opposite.
As Akuma takes one step forward, his stance is undeniably martial, though he makes no move to attack Howard. It is an instinctual bearing he takes on the young boy, recognizing the evil deep in his heart clearly. He is as a lion. The uselessness of words sets in, the sense that all words spoken, perhaps all words ever spoken, to him, have not mattered. Rock can speak forever and it will never mean a thing. If Akuma decides to kill you, it will be by choice, and likely through no fault of your own.
It's just like staring down a hurricane.
"That shadow... is the only thing that interests me," Akuma states, coldly.
"I'll tear you in half to get to it!!"
As Rock leaps into him, Akuma takes a single moment--an instant alone--to marshal all of his fighting will, crushing the air around him into a sheer vaccuum, making it difficult to breathe or move against his pure fighting will. Raising into the balls of his feet, he switches stances, energy crawling off of him. The entire process takes only a split second, and his willpower flattens the grass around him for a eye's sightline all around. Rolling forward to explode off of the ground with his leading leg, he shoots forward to meet Rock on the ground. He braves the flames of the scion's wings, and, instead of blocking, slams his own fist into Rock's elbow.
The thunderclap that ensues is deafening.
"Rise above the darkness?! Impossible!!!" Akuma spits in derision.
"There is no end to the power of darkness! I AM AKUMA! MASTER OF THE FIST!! PREPARE YOURSELF!!"
Leaning forward into the blow, Akuma breaks across Rock's line of advance, trying to interrupt his rhythm, break it fully, allowing him to grip Rock by the front of his jacket, and throw him over his knee. At that point, he will bring the blade of his hand across the flat of the dark angel's back, looking to cut down his flames at their origin, and put Howard to the ground.
COMBATSYS: Akuma successfully hits Rock with Shurettou.
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Rock 0/-------/------=|===----\-------\0 Akuma
Were he a ship and had he sails, the wind is stolen from them. He is spurned, left to the mercy of turbulent waters as his words are rejected and fall to the wayside. They weren't meant for the demon, Rock spoke them for himself, but eventually the rebuke ignites a drive to make himself heard, at the very least. The teen hones in on his target, the rounded point of his elbow paving his way, yet it meets lunging fist. A tremor courses along his arm, numbing it to the tips of his fingers. He draws back and the rush of the energy is pulled from his body, dispelled instantaneously. Deaf in the aftermath of a thunderous clap, the Howard scion sees lips move, and then...
Akuma has him.
Rock's attempts to prepare are instinctual and futile, not due to command. The results are disasterous. Large hands seize the front of his bomber jacket, yanking the boy from his feet. Air exits his lungs in an audiable WOOSH as he's thrown over the horrible man's knee like some badly behaved child about to be punished. Legs twist to turn his lithe frame over, perhaps even roll away, but one cutting strike later, the American jerks the way a fisherman's catch would and hits the ground.
He doesn't move.
He gasps in pain, each breath a shallowing sucking of oxygen as though his lungs had simply quit this shit and packed it in.
It aches, it hurts, his back is one massive contusion, darkest at the epicentre and blackened. The location is between his shoulder blades, and as intended, the wings of an angel are no more. Perhaps they will never be seen again. Perhaps they will.
But Rock won't let it end like this. His determination is so great that the young man drags one arm underneath his chest, followed by the other. The teenager's handsome face lifts from the grass first, some blades that had parted roots with the earth clinging to his skin. Crimson eyes travel to their limits and locate the master still close by. If he doesn't fight, he'll always be weak! "Tear me in half, feh... YOU WANT IT?" His knees pull in towards his chest, boots bent at the toes as they remain against the ground for a springing point, "COME GET SOME!"
Kicking his legs skywards, his entire body is perpendicular to the earth. He pushes off from his wrists, the Howard scion mimicking not one of his father's techniques, but the Hungry Wolf! "RISING TACKLE!" Rock rises as he stated in an impossible corkscrew, arm whipping around. The kid means to capitalize on his opponent's close proximity and send him hurtling through the clearing, place some distance between them, but he's been denied one before. Could this yield more favourable results?
COMBATSYS: Akuma dodges Rock's Rising Tackle EX.
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Rock 1/-------/=======|===----\-------\0 Akuma
The burned angel struggles to stand in the wake of the master of the fist's violent strike. The authority and strength with which he hit Rock Howard was the same that he faces Rock with now. He doesn't stand loose, nor does he turn his back on Rock. There is no arrogance in the way that Akuma fights--his guard is up even as he looks over Rock Howard's broken body, his fists raised in martial readiness, taking up a perfect kokutsu dachi stance. Despite being hit by the mountain itself, his form is loose, fast, and fluid.
"A pup that fights like a wolf... is it your wish to die? Your fury is meaningless!!!!"
His rage carries through the clearing, flecks of spittle flying from dagger-sharp teeth and into the air. He is livid, bringing the pup to task underneath his anger and will. There is no room for discussion or debate. He waits for Rock Howard to stand, somewhat contrary to belief. But it would be a mistake to count it as mercy, for there is nothing merciful about what Akuma does or will do, to Rock or any other who has the misfortune of standing in his path. The hemp binding his hands creaks as Akuma's fists tighten. Something deep within him calls out for blood, but that evil will plays little part in how he moves.
No, the will to destroy is something that you can taste in the air. The red energy crawling from Akuma is nothing short of pure violence.
Akuma narrows his eyes as Rock yells out, attacking him.
"You dare--!!" the Master of the Fist calls out, moving quickly. He is supernaturally fast--his guard near perfect as he deflects the force of the young wolf's screw attack. It allows him to roll to the side, slipping out of the way. Even now, he is slowly beginning to develop an understanding of the young man's style. It is confused, impure. Infuriating. "Your resolve disgusts me!!" Akuma spits. "Only by using the dark power can you stand against me and live!"
"Without it, I'll see you burn on the fires of Hell."
It's a sudden explosion of energy, an endless vortex of force surging within the Master of the Fist. Dark energy crawls around him at every angle. And then he steps into his next blow. He whips his fist around into a cataclysmic attack, timed just as Rock is able to recover from his own attack. Not in mercy--never in mercy. Only because Akuma is aiming the storm of his fist right down the centerline of every one of the man's meridians, right up his chest. A similar attack performed by a weaker user of the Satsui no Hadou took out the God of Muay Thai by almost cutting him open. This is a far more refined version.
"Choke on your own weakness as you taste the other side!! MESSATSU...!!"
The energy storm is concentrated solely into the strength of his fist. There is no wasteful flashes or flares of energy. No. Akuma seeks to strike Rock down before he has a chance to breathe again. No. It's worse. Akuma is trying to force his 'Satsui no Hadou' into Rock directly. To give him just the faintest taste of what it is like to kill a man with your fists alone.
If Rock can even survive it, that nightmare energy inside of him might...!!
COMBATSYS: Rock blocks Akuma's Messatsu Gou Shouryuu.
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Rock 1/----===/=======|-------\-------\0 Akuma
Is that his wish, to die, Rock asks himself the same question. Doubtful an answer is expected of him, and even if he were able to muster protest, would the master have the mind to listen? Or care? Is he so overcome with this rage that is almost tangible? What made such a man? The only son of Geese Howard can only speculate, but he thinks it best if he refrains. Sometimes it is wise to just let sleeping dogs lie and not delve deep into madness for his own good.
He spins and his leading foot finds no purchase, nothing to prevent him from soaring to the apex of his corkscrew kick. No face, no jaw, no Akuma. The broody teen concedes that it was a wasted effort in hindsight; he twists over, then hits the ground with enough force that he crashes down onto his knees. Snapping out a hand, that is what prevents him from pitching forwards into another sprawl. His back erupts with fresh waves of agony, the web of his bruising spreading further, enveloping his shoulders, creeping around his ribs. Rock's limbs are leaden, like useless masts attached to his svelte torso and pelvis. To move is to sweat, the exertion alone feels as though it's killing him.
Sweeping fingers back through fair flaxen bangs, they settle in disarray, the precursor to his unruly mop of hair that plays host to both grass and dirt. The young wolf cub doesn't notice -- he can't feel the grime through the leather of his gloves. He staggers to his feet while the cruel Master of Fist waits, each inhalation rattling around in his chest. It expands with a shudder and leaves him in much the same way. Trembling. "So, that's what you're after," Rock finally understands, even comes to terms, "My cursed blood... My connection to /him/!!"
That's what they want, all of them... It disgusts him on a level that the American teen could puke.
The fist crashes into his guard. If Rock weren't aware of it holding strong, he would think his arms splintered, perhaps the radius and ulna shattered into brittle bits of bone. It is not so. Muscles ripple as they flex. His heels dig into earth as he is pushed back. Lips pull away from white rows of teeth to reveal a snarl. He is forced into a corner, fear and fury blend together into the same emotion.
But he weathers the storm. Poorly, inexpertly. It dissipates, and in its place, Rock Howard stands. Cerulean chi envelopes him. Amethyst energy whips into a horrible, hellish vortex. "Shut your goddamn mouth!!" he yells back in fierce defiance before an explosion takes place. The trees bend in a futile attempt to uproot themselves and escape, the grass vaporized. Cracks rip through the dirt, streaking off to all sides, becoming deep, irrepairable schisms. "RAGING!!" the young man calls upon the dark energy that thirsts for violence, pumping through his veins, "/STOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORM/!"
Rock flies out from the epicentre of the maelstrom as he loses control, a breathless but wordless cry set free from its gilded cage. Perhaps, even though he had shielded himself, Akuma was successful. This may be how his pure soul chose to save him from the taint of 'Satsui no Hadou'. He slams into the trunk of an oak hard enough that it splits in twain, from roots to the branches. Blades erupt from the fissures and charge in all directions like so many mad bulls, driven to the brink of insanity. Crimson eyes cross as the scion starts to lose focus. As the pale lids shutter, the last thing he sees is one of them, coming straight for him...
COMBATSYS: Rock successfully hits himself with Raging Storm+.
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Rock 0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0 Akuma
COMBATSYS: Rock successfully hits Akuma with Raging Storm+.
+ Epic Hit! +
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Rock 0/-------/-======|====---\-------\0 Akuma
"I sense the kill in you, but you bray like an overfed mule."
The ground is sandblasted, scoured to the clay by the force and power of the upswell. Geese's legacy leaves its telltale mark on whatever and wherever it touches, and standing at the foot of Howard's mountain is like standing at the edge of a deep abyss. The trees are bent, some cracked and lurching ominously where they stand, the results of years of growth discarded and laid to utter waste in the expulsion of one infuriatingly unlimited blast. The boy lay at the foot of a splintered oak, he could tell, knocked senseless by the power of his own blast.
But Akuma was not yet sated.
A moment ago, in the corona of the furious tide, all Akuma could think of was the thought of a body capable of withstanding--using--his power. When he almost broke the pup's arms, he was not expecting the blast that would ensue from the core of the young man's being, a direct repulsion of his the demon's might. That blast was something he wished to taste, to see if any black force had gained purchase in a pure soul. He makes no attempt to guard, no attempt to hiding or evade, instead throwing his arms wide and howling as the cataclysmic blast engulfs him at point blank range, fingers like claws spread wide open in welcome of a blast capable of capturing his attention, the atrocious light bleaching his dark features out into nothingness for one soul-splitting moment.
But in the center of the evil hurricane, the demon tastes none of the only darkness he acknowledges.
His already weathered gi is shredded at the fringes, cut through by the lashes of energy, and great cutting arcs tear through to the bloody rags of muscle in the exposed expanse of his dusky skin above his obi. His arms are still spread wide, biceps flayed by the fringes of the coruscating light. The blast could have killed any other man--and probably would have. The strength is impressive. But it is not enough. The master--he stands his ground, his feet planted firmly as if anchored by iron. Hemp-bound hands lower slowly to his side as his grim visage cuts through the curtains of ember, smoke and annihilated soil surrounding him. A row of livid shark-sharp teeth and piercing, glowing red eyes are the only distinct features visible of his face in the post-apocalyptic umbra.
"A warrior who spurns his sword is trash. There is no excuse for you to be alive right now."
Mortally dissatisfied by a powerful attack that does more to kill his opponent than him, the master must only conclude that the boy's so-called purity has addled his brain past usefulness. One tense hand locks onto the other wrist. Slowly, the smoke clears, revealing only a trail of blood from one corner of his lip, the only tell-tale sign that he suffered anything beyond superficial damage at all. Veins bulge in his arm and at the edges of his palm. Slowly, energy begins to well in his fist. Releasing his hand, he raises his arm to the air.
"You still breathe, but there is no longer a reason to fight," the demon states to the dazed young man, his voice worn ragged by the contemplation of ages of war and bloodshed. "This battlefield is dirtied by your blood. I will cleanse it in fire. Flee ignobly before the wrath of the consecrating fist--or be buried by it," Akuma speaks, the mote of strength becoming like a great meteor in his fist.
"You may yet redeem yourself in the afterlife!!"
COMBATSYS: Akuma charges his next attack!
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Rock 0/-------/-======|=======\===----\1 Akuma
The world... is darkness.
He sees nothing.
Rock feels nothing.
Laying at the foot of the oak like a broken doll, still and quiet, maybe the teen hasn't been knocked senseless... Maybe he has achieved what was ultimately the inevitable result for any being foolish enough to cross paths with the demon: Death.
Slumping further forward, his chin rests atop of his sternum. Each breath that comes is shallow and quick. Rock is annoyingly alive, very much so, proving everything that should be is wrong. He attempts to cling to the darkness of unconsciousness, to cover himself with it and rest peacefully, but a sliver of scarlet appears as one lid rolls back. This is soon followed by the other. Staring down, an arm is crossed over his lap. Fingers twitch in a test to see whether or not it is broken...
But his vision blackens a second time, threatening to overwhelm him. Will it be for good?
No. It clears in a minute, maybe three, but he is left disoriented and confused. As he gathers his energy enough to lift his fair head, what greets his eyes is not the clearing as it once was, but something scorched and mangled. The earth abraded by a turbulent maelstrom that did not discriminate between its master and the Master. Trees both obliterated and ruined. Rock finds himself in a whole different world, one in which he created the very moment he lost his ability to hold sway over the rampaging beast inside him. A curse that rejected another, one might think.
Akuma felt the truth, that it was the American teen's very soul, pure and true.
And the mountain condemns him for it.
That's right, now Rock remembers.
His hand finds the split trunk of the oak, using it to lever himself to his feet, gloved fingers slipping into the cleft, ghosting over jagged bits of bark and dislodging them. Rock is forced to stay close, because he cannot stand on his own, not yet. Furious determination works its way into what was otherwise a slackened expression, his attractive features creasing accordingly. "Don't tell me what to do," whispers the Howard scion savagely, wishing he could raise his voice and shout directly in the monster's face.
Even if he hadn't seen the way the Master of Fist gathers his own spirit, Rock can feel it in the air. His hackles rise, the horrible, wide-spread contusion on his back twitches of its own accord. It feels like fear has been shoved down the boy's throat again, and he chokes on it with pupils expanding, eyebrows raised.
He can't stop himself. Before Rock Howard is even aware of his actions, he's bursting through the underbrush, carried by long legs that pump in an adrenaline-fueled run. Branches whip at his cheeks, snag on his bomber jacket and hair, but the only son and heir of Geese does not come to a stop until he can hear the sounds of life. Birds, small animals. Cold creeps back in, his limbs are stiff as he clears a bush in a leap. There's a trio of snow hares that dart away startled into a hole, disappearing. His chest heaves.
Bracing his hands against his knees, it takes time to catch his breath, waiting longer still for his wildly beating heart to slow. "I'm not a coward for running away..." he tells himself, "I'm not..." Rock reiterates in a useless attempt to convince the voice in his mind that says different. He had chosen not to be buried, and thus continues to live...
COMBATSYS: Rock has left the fight here.
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COMBATSYS: Akuma knocks away himself with Empowered Kongou Kokuretsu Zan.
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The coruscating darkness winds its way around his claw, locked so tightly that the hemp squeals against the crushing tide. It is the purest expression of the Hadou -- the only truth the severe titan acknowledges. It churns around his fist, collapsing glacially into tighter and brighter trails. The light is harsh and violet, the sort that glows fiercely but doesn't seem to make the surrounding area any lighter in color, the sort that makes the eyes water to stare directly at it.
Akuma sees the dark-lit youth break away, without even the strength of spirit to yell at him, for his voice to break over the resounding crackle of power above them, whipcracks laying open the eardrums. His spirit falters. Then it breaks. It happens this way as it has for a hundred years. Inevitability is not a thing that many men realize on this visceral level. Only armies in the battlefield, as they realize they are surrounded, and that a hundred swords is no match for a million. Full rout is inevitability in motion.
But rout doesn't slake the warrior's thirst.
"Retreat is a sickness with only one cure.."
To continue to stand with only cuts and scrapes against such potential killing force is beyond an insult. To not be coated in blood and at the edges of his own consciousness, to not get closer to true and total embrace of the only power worth acknowledging in this world. This does not slake him. It enrages him.
"Flee before my fist!!" the master shouts primally after the receding body, eyes glowing a fierce and angry red. "Hide in the warmth of heaven's light, because when you die, HELL DOES NOT FORGIVE!!!"
The power, eye-bending as it is, begins to slack in his hand, its undulations growing weaker as his muscles tense, blood still weeping openly from a thousand flaying wounds inflicted by the boy's storm. That black force thrashes about him with evermore deliberate motion, slowing as if a dying snake crushed by the hawk's talon. Vivid and pure, the energy finally reaches its apex, growing still and cold in Akuma's hand, a feeling deep in the soulless void deep in his flesh. His hand closes fully, making his fist.
"I will reject any battle that is not pure....!!!!!"
Then the master of the fist strikes down Mother Earth herself.
The sound is deafening, the sort of mortal scream that is hard not to attribute to a living set of lungs. When Akuma follows through, his martial form cuts the earth in twain, burying his hand to the wrist in the ground in one blow. When he does, the earth is cleared. Waves of splitting force spread outwards from the epicenter, cutting down the trees and sucking the frost from the air. The curtain of force, backdraft from the earth's rupture, rises high enough in the sky that the clouds change. A hand swept across the tabletop of God, and all is clear, still, and quiet.
The bare earth stripped and cold burns black for some time after.
Log created on 01:06:20 12/02/2014 by Akuma, and last modified on 06:40:49 07/21/2016.