Description: Several enigmatic sponsors have promoted the Southtown Schools Prom this week, and have set a considerable amount of money into the engagement. While many of the endeavors are quite cheap, some of the costlier ones have been the actual exhibition matches, where many skilled fighters have been paid quite handsomely to appear in semi-private capacities at each school. The super-elite academy Justice High has offered to host one of the highest profile matches on paper: the fast-growing-famous Athena Asamiya battles a relative unknown. A mysterious one-armed swordswoman, who has performed quite well in every match she's had thus far. This battle will be the true test of two rising stars! [Winner: Athena]
Athena Asamiya's name has been circulating in the school aged generation a lot over the last couple of weeks. Already making a splash on the fighting scene, and having also been the talk of a future promising signing and performing career, even students who were not already fond of the girl became sympathetic to her the moment news got out that she had been the target of a violent incursion from a rough gang of marauding Gorin? High School students one night just over a week ago!
It would have been no surprise if she was feeling a little bitter about the whole 'getting punched repeatedly in the face' ordeal and ducked out of the whole ridiculous charade of the schools uniting for a Winter Prom. As if that was going to put a stop to the sore feelings brewing throughout the city's student population.
Yet, when the exihibition matches started getting posted, and Justice High revealed who they would be featuring in the match they would proudly host, there her name was all the same: Athena Asamiya, one of the ideal students of the strict but fair academy, WOULD be participating in the Winter Prom exhibition matches afterall!
And now it's the night of the event. By virtue of money and construction crews paid to work overtime, the Justice High Athletics Field has been cleaned up and rebuilt from the damage inflicted by the heartless, unjust students that raided it the week before. And now she stands ready in the elaborate but austere arena built years ago specifically for the glory of honorable combat between two martial artists.
Floodlights illuminate the arena and while the stands are packed as tight as can be with Justice High students, there is an atmosphere of quiet decorum about the arena. Surely, there are whispers and quiet conversations taking place. But no loud yells, no cries of excitement or urging for the fight to be underway already. The student body, for the most part, simply waits, watching and waiting with quiet aplomb.
Just before the match, once she had the stage and a mic, Athena herself had offered a brief speech, touching on the hostility between the schools and how they, the students of Justice High, must come together to stand above such violence or low minded actions such as retaliation.
"...which is why I hope that we take advantage of the opportunity afforded us this upcoming weekend to stand alongside our fellow students from all walks of life, united in solidarity against those very few individuals who are fomenting all of the ill feelings between us and the other schools. Please... do not use the attack on me as a reason to reciprocate.... We can show them the way by our example. I believe in our ability to do that for this upcoming multi-school event. Thank you."
The applause had been audible but polite. It's really the best one could hope for out of these students taught to be reticent at the threat of punishment from the strictest teachers in the city. Still, there was a sentiment that the girl's message was heard and appeciated by many. Whether some will ignore her pleas all the same remain to be seen!
The girl's outfit is simple enough - long hair draped over her shoulders, held at bay by a red headband. A long Chinese-style fighting top that hangs down to her thighs and is worn over a pair of blue shorts. Red, fingerless gloves are worn over each hand, and red shoes cover both feet. Violet eyes sparkle with anticipation for the match ahead, taking each new fight as an opportunity to learn and apply what she has already been taught.
Baiken, compared to Athena, is much less famous. Her name doesn't circulate in schools or around musical circles. She certainly doesn't show up to the schools on a regular basis, being far too old to attend herself and being nothing even vaguely resembling a teacher. There is just one exception:
Baiken came out of nowhere to start competing - and competing /well/. She isn't a worldwide-known fighter mostly because she hasn't been around for any major tournaments, but she's performed very well in the matches she's had. Well enough that, apparently, they thought the mysterious one-armed swordswoman was a good match for Athena Asamiya in the ring.
It may be a little incongruous to have Baiken of all people show up at Justice High, but she's skilled, and skill matters. And, if she's being honest with herself, Baiken could use the money. Traveling worldwide in search of... whatever she's looking for doesn't come cheap. She can't exactly throw away every high-profile fight offer that comes her way.
Being Baiken, she had absolutely no care for Athena's speech. She waited, quietly, and probably broke some kind of school rule by smoking from a long pipe - a kiseru. She is, of course, overage, and it's not a fully enclosed arena, so there's not a whole lot they can do about it, but for her to do it on school grounds is a faux pas if nothing else. Let Athena get the spotlight. Baiken doesn't seem to mind.
She only steps into the fully lit area when Athena finishes her speech, tucking the kiseru somewhere in the robe she wears. It's an odd one: half-open in front, belted with a thick sash over her waist and almost skirt-like over her legs, with a stylized sunburst pattern both on her back and over each leg. Her left sleeve is neat, her single arm with a fingerless bracer and hand guard; the right sleeve is badly ragged and left to hang at her side rather than being closed up. She has sandals and ankle and shin guards, visible under the skirt.
"You done?" she asks Athena, waving away the microphone when someone ill-advisedly tries to give it to her. She doesn't have to look up at the other girl, which is a change from the majority of her matches; her single right eye is slightly narrowed as she watches.
Athena's turn toward Baiken is every bit as graceful as a dancer. A perfect twirl, a sudden stop, a swish of long, well maintained hair. Her expression is bright, warm, friendly, in spite the blunt greeting offered by the swords woman. Whatever she might think about her opponent, she knows those responsible for arranging these matches felt they were appropriate contenders against each other. There is one thing in the back of her mind, however, as this is the first time she has faced an armed opponent in anything competative. Is her Kung Fu up to the task?
Turning on her opponent as she speaks up, Athena's expression continues to be warm. "Yes," she replies, bowing her head, hands at her sides in small fists, "Forgive the delay."
Looking up again, she lifts her hands, left hand extended out in front of her, palm slightly forward, right hand held back, bent at the elbow, positioned for stronger strikes no doubt.
"It is an honor to face you."
That her opponent is clearly an adult and not a student is not lost on her. How or why this came to be, she can't relaly imagine.
Breathing in, Asamiya closes her eyes briefly, tapping into that incredible fount of power she has been trained to use for the right ways at the times under the strict eye of Chin Genstai. An aura radiates out from her as she does so, even though nothing has visibly changed. She has a presence in the arena in spite her small stature and apparently friendly nature.
Looking up from her moment of preparation, she continues as if she hadn't paused at all. "Our schools as of late have had... tension. It is nothing to worry about though. I am looking forward to our fight together."
Her smile held, she maintains her ready stance, prepared as she can be for the fight to come.
COMBATSYS: Athena has started a fight here.
COMBATSYS: Athena takes no action.
It's not too hard to tell how it happened. Some of the exhibition matches involved foreigners, adults, or other interlopers to the school community. Everyone likes watching a good match. It could be worse: Athena could be Kasumi, scheduled to fight the oldest man in the entire event.
Where Athena has never fought an armed opponent, Baiken has. But she's not today. She knows better than to take Athena lightly because she is young and doesn't seem to have any equipment at all; she's seen people fight with nothing but their body plenty of times in the past. And she can detect that aura as a sensation of power if nothing else.
Baiken's single eye remains focused right on Athena. It's like the rest of the arena doesn't exist for her; there's an audience, but Baiken doesn't play for the audience. They can watch if they'd like; she's certainly not going to stop them.
"That's nice," she says, neutrally, in response to the schools having tension. The impression is given (completely accurately) that Baiken does not care. The trials of children don't really register for her anymore. She's had far too much trouble in her life to worry about it.
Baiken gives a very deliberate, almost overemphasized bow. She doesn't actually bow that /deeply/, but the crisp formality is hard to ignore. Straightening up, Baiken gives Athena a certain measure of time to prepare. One heartbeat, two, three -
Apparently Baiken considers that sufficient, because she immediately starts to /run/ across the arena, like she was charging in with no care but sheer offense. But she's doing it a lot less recklessly than it looks at first, or that some of the big bruisers of the battlefield might be prone to; she is holding her katana point-down, her left arm held across her face in a preemptive defense as she runs.
Baiken breaks the dash when she gets close. She practically skids on one foot for a moment, bringing the other up in a push kick, about waist-high. The skirts of her robe are, apparently, open enough for her to do that; her leg is mostly bare when she strikes, lowering down to the defensive position again a moment later.
COMBATSYS: Baiken has joined the fight here.
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Athena 0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0 Baiken
COMBATSYS: Athena dodges Baiken's Suzuran.
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Athena 0/-------/------=|==-----\-------\0 Baiken
The laconic reply to her words informs Athena about what she needs to understand about the personality of her opponent with regards to reaching out. She isn't offended. Adults probably have thousands of their own problems to deal with without having to worry about what is going wrong in a pack of High Schools in Southtown. Still, the personalities she has seen in the arenas she has stood are varied. Even the Silver-Haired Devil, Lee Chaolan had little to say for most of their fight weeks ago in Metro.
If anything, her focus on the woman shifts now that she has put aside attempts at trying to try and start up any kind of dialogue. She has a vague sense of the steely resolve that flows in her veins. That pure, complete, refined focus on the fight itself. This is what Master Gentsai had been telling her to learn more about. Ignore the audience, the viewers, the ratings and critics. Fight as if none of them existed.
Eyes narrow a little. It helps that this crowd is as subdued as they are, respecting Asamiya's stance though many may not agree. And judging Baiken as an outsider who has already treated their glorious arena with respect. There is not the usual vibrant excitement around her to block out that she is used to from her other appearances. Pretend they aren't even there, she reminds herself. Focus on the fight. It isn't a show, a performance. It is a test.
When Baiken moves across the raised arena against the prepared Athena, the Kung Fu artist responds with fluid motion herself. Her forward foot pushes back, allowing her to slip backward, shifting her center of mass away from Baiken. She can't predict where the attack is coming from - as much as she was expecting a sword swing at first. It's good that she was already moving defensively, however, as even still, she has only an instant to make the final step to the right to slip out of the path of Baiken's foot.
The girl can sense there was power behind that strike and such knowledge sparked a rush of excitement in her. This was truly an opponent to be feared and respected. Already, she was swinging her arms back with the step, a brilliant glow of rose hued energy coursing down her limbs. She didn't have to move far to escape that kick which means her next attack is launched perilously close to the swordswoman.
Echewing her normal practice of calling out her signature techniques out of deference to Chin's recent scolding, Athena swings her arms forward without further warning, smashing the energy there into a sphere of fused power that launches out at Baiken in the form of a brightly glowing sphere of Psycho Power!
COMBATSYS: Athena successfully hits Baiken with Psycho Ball.
- Power hit! -
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Athena 0/-------/--=====|=====--\-------\0 Baiken
Apparently not yelling your attacks is a very effective strategy.
Baiken is very good at shutting out the crowd. They don't matter; the people don't matter. The arena /does/ matter, but mostly as how she can maneuver around it, or use the environment to her advantage; in a cleared space like this, she can do less than she could out in the wild, but 'less' does not mean 'none'.
Athena, from what she can tell, is good. She might not be a master (yet) but she knows what she's doing, which means Baiken has to take her seriously despite her age. Good. Baiken was hoping they weren't going to put her up against novices; beating up rookies that can barely fight back is no way to train.
That said, at the proximity they're in, Baiken doesn't get much time to examine the Psycho Ball, or Athena's style at all. She's seen things like that before, but she hasn't ever fought one of the relatively rare psions; to her it's little more than the chi she can already produce, except faintly different in a way she can't immediately explain.
It is also coming at her very fast from about five feet away, on her blind side.
Baiken whirls, but her defense is late. The impact of the sphere occurs not against her sword but against her remaining arm, and at a bad angle; it jars her arm out of position, momentarily breaking her guard, and causes her to take a staggering step backwards because the ball has just exploded in her face. She is momentarily blind, her eye dazzled by the flash of light and power.
Baiken lets out a rather strangled yell. It's more angry than really pained; that stung, but she's had worse. She whirls, stepping back again, more than a step or two. But she doesn't use the sword - in fact, it's back in its scabbard, resting at her waist.
Instead, she's swinging the empty sleeve around - and it doesn't look that empty, judging by the clanking chain that extends from somewhere deep inside, topped with a three-bladed claw, each 'finger' hooked slightly. She throws it just past Athena and then yanks on the chain with her functional hand, pulling the weapon (and, possibly, Athena, if she's managed to hook her with the claw) towards her with surprising strength. "Come here!"
COMBATSYS: Athena blocks Baiken's Kabari.
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Athena 0/-------/=======|======-\-------\0 Baiken
The blast from her signature technique buys Athena a bit of breathing room. The arena is not large. Certainly not by the standards of Howard Arena or other impressive coliseums of battle around the world. It is so small that having four fighters in it would be uncomfortable, while having two leaves both with limited but available space to maneuver, but only just that. Right now, Athena will take any inch she can get. Hers has always been a high speed, accrobatic style of combat, and that requires at least some move to breath!
Figures, then, that Baiken would try to close that gap between them with her next attack. Having no idea how the woman fights beyond 'Has a sword, and a solid kick'. Evident on her body are the scars of past battles. Her limp sleeve, her scar covered eye... Athena can only guess at the history behind such wounds. That Baiken has learned to use them to her own advantage somehow comes as a bit more of a surprise than perhaps it should have when she swings that 'unoccupied' sleeve out with sudden force.
Violet eyes widen as Athena backs up a step defensively only to have her shoulder impact the clear wall behind her. Realizing she had no room to escape and that she had to fend off the attack, whatever it might be, she reacts swiftly. That it is, in fact, claws on a chain registers in her conscious mind, but it is her reflexes, honed by learning to not get clocked by Chin's sake gourd that saves her here.
Instead of simply trying to turtle against the potentially slashing blades, Asamiya sweeps her left hand out and into the chain as it flies past her and against the wall. The shove is enough to redirect it on its return flight to its owner, causing the claw to carve a shallow marks across her upper arm and slicing over her rich red sleeve in the process. Sucking in her breeth, Athena pauses for only a moment to move her hand up to rest over the cuts. Ow!
But she doesn't say a word. She has to focus. Even as she pulls away her hand with a light stain of red, she is trying to put the mild injury out of mind. The tight confines of the arena don't leave much room for running around on the ground. But while the walls are enclosing the two, the sky above is open, and it is into the air that Athena lunges next. She has a little distance to work with, to reach the apex of her leap, and tuck forward into a ball, diving directly for Baiken, her entire body encased in another surge of that vibrant energy of hers.
The angle is awkward, and possibly hard to defend against. And if the young psychic finds her opening in the swordswoman's guard, she'll finish by shifting out of her sliding landing into a strong kick, pushing off the ground with her hand, to dedicate her whole body to the follow up strike against the woman's stomach!
COMBATSYS: Baiken blocks Athena's Phoenix Arrow.
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Athena 0/-------/=======|=======\-------\0 Baiken
Baiken's injuries look very old. She hasn't had that eye in at least a decade; it's a vertical slash with a little bit more extensive scarring over the eyelid itself, old and weathered rather than new and puckered. It's a little harder to get a look at her arm - she doesn't seem inclined to show it off - but she moves like she's used to the differing weight and balance on that side, with no hesitation or awkwardness. If she lost them in combat (which is a relatively safe assumption; those aren't peaceful injuries), she's been fighting for most of her life.
Baiken yanks the claw back to her and is only slightly disappointed when Athena doesn't come with it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. This time it doesn't, but it still jarred her, took her slightly off-balance. The chain (and claw) vanishes back up Baiken's sleeve with a metallic clinking, and she does something with her free hand around the shoulder. It's hard to make out what through her robe.
More of her attention is on Athena; dealing with her gimmick arm is something so practiced that Baiken no longer has to think about it. She sees Athena tucking into a ball as she leaps, and her eye narrows as she watches the flight path (she's not dazzled anymore, apparently). She's using the open air as an advantage, which is good. It's easier to maneuver in open space, but jumping around leaves you predictable, too - it's hard to change angles in midair, barring some special technique. She's assuming Athena /has/ such a technique, but she hasn't seen it yet - ah, there it is, the angled descent.
Baiken uses her sword in its sheath as a guard - her hand just below the hilt as she swings it in front of her, turning her body to present it more easily. Athena impacts it, but this time Baiken is braced, and her sandals only slide backwards slightly; Baiken only gives up a slight amount of distance to the acrobatic psychic, holding her position rather than letting Athena push her around.
"Never fought a girl quite like you," Baiken admits, speaking for the first time since battle began. She wields the still-sheathed sword as a weapon, using the (rather traditional) wooden scabbard as a narrow rod to strike at Athena's legs. Only then does she give up ground, but not much of it, stepping back so she has room to deploy that sword if she needs it - and not as a club, though she seems fairly effective using it without the blade when she needs to.
COMBATSYS: Athena instinctively dodges Baiken's Medium Strike.
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Athena 0/-------/=======|=======\-------\1 Baiken
The Phoenix Arrow has the advantage of being swift, hard hitting, and challenging to defend against. It has the disadvantage of requiring a moment to recover from. The disorienting rolling dive, the slide, the uncertainty as to whether she can connnect cleanly with the follow up kick or has to immediately abort the attempt - it's a lot to take in an instant, let alone the risk of being caught low against opponents that know how to take advantage of that transition between crouching and rising back up to stand, that instant of immobility.
And it is that instant that Baiken nearly manages to capatalize with that swift swing of her sheathed weapon. Her target only manages to escape it by springing up, legs launching her into the air in a back flip that takes her against the transparent wall for a moment, hands and feet connecting against it, the girl having actually moved a split instant before Baiken even attacked, as if she knew the exact vector of her next technique. Had she been even an instant slower, she would have been struck in the attempt!
She alights against the wall for an instant before shifting her posture and allowing herself to drop to the floor of the confined arena, landing softly on her feet with a light exhale of breath. Raising her hands back to ready, Baiken's words are finally processed. "Thank you," she replies, voice calm, expression friendly. She has taken it as a compliment.
"And you," she shifts, her left shoulder forward now, her arms drawing back rather than held up to defend. The last time she did this, she unleashed that projectile. "I... find myself wishing..." she admits quietly, her voice easily heard within the arena. "... that I knew your story." So much hinted at in her physique, her skills, her unpredictable weapons of choice, her injuries. So many clues, but no answers. The wistful expression that plays briefly across her features suggests that she fully expects that that will simply continue being the case.
And then she's sprinting forward, her arms at her sides, trailing behind her, more of that rose hued energy exploding, bright even beneath the brilliance of the floodlights.
It's risky to hop from a few meters out, but she does so with such incredible forward speed that perhaps she is not so vulnerable afterall! "AAAH!" Her arms swing forward as she is about to land, the violently bright energy she has gathered smashed together in front of her hands, palms forward. If the swordswoman is unable to escape, she will find herself there, nearly completely lost form view of the audience beneath a huge rose colored sphere of potent Psycho Power!
COMBATSYS: Baiken dodges Athena's Round Psycho Reflector.
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Athena 1/-------/=======|=======\-------\1 Baiken
She /is/ fast, Baiken thinks to herself. Baiken isn't exactly slow, of course, but Athena tends to take to the air a little bit more than Baiken has this battle. Perhaps it's time to change that; Baiken isn't exactly helpless in aerial combat. Something to think about.
Either way, Athena perches on the wall for a moment, and Baiken doesn't press her. She does not immediately follow up, preferring to move back toward the central area of the arena, where there's more room for her to move; Baiken's offense does well enough against the wall, but the way Athena is moving, Baiken isn't sure that Athena isn't even better there. In the open, she has all her weapons to play with and enough range to use them.
But then Athena has to go and /speak/ to her.
Before, Baiken was ... well, not entirely calm, but steady. She is never entirely calm; her emotions tend to roil within her even if she has an acceptable stone face to hide them behind. Athena's words remind her of a different time and place, and one she does not want to think about right now.
"No," she says, with a little undercurrent of heat to her voice. "You don't."
So where Baiken was steady in her violence before, now she's on edge, and when Baiken is on edge she tends to react aggressively. Athena charges at her, and the clink of chain suggests that Baiken is going to throw her claw again - and in fact she does. It's just not at Athena.
The claw hooks around one of the poles for the floodlight. When Baiken yanks, it doesn't pull the pole towards her - it pulls her toward the pole. Baiken flies past bare inches ahead of the spherical burst of Psycho Power, unhooking her claw once she has enough momentum. She lands on it feet-first and springs right back off, a practiced triangle jump that sends her downward at Athena's back.
"Oriyaaaa!" Baiken has drawn her sword again, and somehow she's managed to flip in flight - backwards, so that when her slash comes, it's from low to high in midair, starting about waist-high on Athena and rising. She eventually lands with her back to Athena, but a quick step and she's facing the right way again - and this time she hasn't resheathed her sword.
COMBATSYS: Athena interrupts Ouren from Baiken with Psycho Sword EX.
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Athena 1/-======/=======|=======\====---\1 Baiken
She can sense the shift in emotion after her words are spoken. Another sentiment comes to the forefront... The girl realizes that prior to now, it had always been there, just below the surface, being held back or suppressed by sheer willpower. The warning is uttered - this story is not one she is ready to hear. Such burdens should not be placed on the youth that follow behind the swordswoman's path through life. Athena's smile persists even if her eyes hint of a different response.
Even though she cannot know of the woman's violent past, she can still sense her conviction, her focus on the fight. With every passing moment locked in the arena with her, she gains even further undertanding about what Master Gentsai had been warning her about. No showboating. No fancy flair. No crying out her signature techniques for the sake of the viewing audience. This fight was unlike any other public appearance the young psychic had made. This was just two martial artists, getting to know each other by the words spoken by their attacks far better than their words could ever hope to convey.
Her own attack is avoided expertly by the swordswoman as she takes to the air in an incredibly risky yet efficient act. Athena can tell in that instant that no motion is wasted. Everything Baiken does is for a reason. Instincts suggest she is about to be attacked. But from what angle? Pulling her hands back from the incredible sphere of Psycho Power but rather than let all that built up energy fade completely, she draws her right hand back, seizing all of that psychic energy into the palm of her hand. It takes effort to hold it so, preparing to use it in an instant later rather than release it to fade away but she has the will and the resolve to do just that.
When Baiken dives, Asamiya is already starting to turn, left leg bending at the knee, right hand lowered even further. The sword carves into her back but for that instant, she doesn't feel it. Her own movement leaves the slash shallower than it would have been, even though that had not been her intent. Her purpose becomes clear even as the razor sharp edge finishes its ascent up past her shoulder, taking with it several stray lengths of the girl's long, violet hair - in that instant she lunges, swinging her right arm up, fingers extended, as she leaps into the air. The swath of gathered power cleaves a line straight up through Baiken as Athena rises, her single hand leading the way as she slices up through the air.
The psychic assault cuts like a knife yet leaves not even the slightest trace of physical harm as Athena rises into the air, spinning with the ascent, the blade of energy trailing behind her outstretched hand. She comes to land two seconds later, a few meters from where she had attacked. Feet touching down, she staggers forward a couple of steps, only then aware of the agony along her back. Her tunic has been cut throw, a slash angling from waist to shoulder, mostly covered by the rest of her hair falling back into place. Hissing, she tries to bite off showing any further indications of being hurt, cheeks reddened a little from the pain in her back and shoulder.
She'll catch herself by the third step, whirling back around, willing her violet eyes to find her opponent before it grows too late!
She understands, Athena says.
No, you don't, Baiken wants to yell. Of course you don't. How could you? The fact that Athena dares to put it that way almost makes Baiken angrier - but she smothers it. Not here, not now. Not against someone who is barely out of being a child, in front of classmates, in the courtyard of a school.
It's still visible in the set of her jaw, the curl downward of her mouth, a certain tension around her eye. That was, of course, before she jumped and made her powerful attack.
Once she did jump, she's pained for a completely different reason.
Baiken lands badly. The psychic knife may not have done visible damage, but she certainly felt it, and the touch of Athena's hand against her body was enough to push her almost gently off balance. She impacts in a crouch and stays there for a moment until she rises up, certain of her balance again.
"You. Girl," she says, slightly sharply. She rolls her shoulder once to make sure she's not any more badly hurt than she thinks she is; with a psychic knife, it's a little hard to tell. "Where did you learn?" Baiken considers herself an increasing expert on the supernatural - monsters in the night, esoteric energies, the works. She lives it. But she has never dealt with a Psycho Soldier before.
Baiken keeps her sword away for a few seconds. She does not immediately rush back in, because rushing has not been ending all that well the last couple times she's tried it, and even when it worked it often ended in her getting attacked by a strange power regardless. She spends the time moving more carefully, circling, trying to force Athena to move toward the middle of the arena.
Only after several long moments does she actually attack again - and she takes her hand off her sword hilt for a moment to do it. Having been spending the majority of the fight convincing Athena she attacks only with her feet, her sword, or something from her sleeve, it is a slight change when Baiken goes into a short-range punch; it's not really got enough follow-through to be called an uppercut and it comes out with forward momentum as much as up, angled to launch Athena up, away, and towards the empty part of the ring, where she has fewer solid objects to jump off of!
COMBATSYS: Athena dodges Baiken's Random Strike.
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Athena 1/-======/=======|=======\====---\1 Baiken
Facing each other again, the young Kung Fu artist has returned to her ready stance in time to hear Baiken's words. Her ears are ringing partially from the rush of adrenaline coursing through her veins thanks to the intensity of the fight, and no small the pain in the cuts she's received this far. Is she picking up on the emotions her words are provoking in the woman? Is it intentional? Or is she just not very good at communicating with adults - especially ones as laconic as Baiken? The persistent, quiet smile on her lips leaves the answer a mystery for now, as she says nothing further on the subject of the swordswoman's past.
When the question is posed, however, and she takes a moment to process their meaning over the loud noise in her ears, her expression changes. Where, indeed. "Master Gentsai oversees my training." What kind of god among men, what kind of paragon of combat, what kind of exemplar of power could mold a teenage girl into a fighter such as the one Baiken faces tonight?? There is a delicate fondness in her voice. The barely-touched topics between them have shifted off of Baiken for now to a matter that is very dear and personal to the young fighter. "Honoring his teachings means everything to me tonight." Especially after the lecture she got from him after her last fight!!
Her sharp eyes never leave the pink-clad woman as the next attack begins. This time, Athena's defense is her offense. The charging punch, one that would have certainly had her seeing stars if it hit, is stepped around, her body tensing up, her hands snapping out, attempting to lay a finger on Baiken's striking arm. If she gets that touch, the experience that follows might be incredibly unexpected -
A burst of psychokinetic force would threaten to launch the woman from her current place in the arena, flip her right over Athena's shoulder and send her crashing against the arena's transparent wall with decisive force. Of course, she might be able to resist it by sheer willpower... or avoid getting caught by it all together?
COMBATSYS: Athena successfully hits Baiken with Psychic Attack.
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Athena 2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\======-\1 Baiken
Baiken has to think if she knows a Gentsai. It's not a familiar name, at least - and it's something she'll worry about more later, when she's not in the middle of an exhibition battle.
An exhibition battle that, at that, she is losing. And she knows it. That is less than pleasing to Baiken, too - she joined for practice, and she's certainly getting that, but she expected to be doing a little better than she is against some young prodigy. Is this what she trained for? To get thrown around like discarded trash?
Because that's exactly what happens. Baiken was expecting a strike of some sort, and had her arm ready to block her body, protecting herself from an incoming attack. And she does, in fact, interposing her arm between Athena and her torso. But a touch is not the kind of assault she expects to be facing, and when the psychokinesis lifts her up, there's very little she can do except momentarily look undignified; she goes up, flipping over Athena's head.
Baiken manages to regain control of her flight in ... well, mid-flight. Not enough that she can avoid slamming into the wall (because she does that) but enough that she doesn't end up splattered against it; she drops, expecting Athena to be charging right in after her. Her eye is open wide now - she went past taking Athena seriously a while ago, now she's genuinely not sure she's able to keep up with her.
But she's not going to go down easily.
Every time Baiken has initiated the attack, it's gone poorly. Which is why she doesn't, this time; she stands back, watching Athena, waiting for /her/ to take the first move. Her hand remains low, not on her sword but held slightly in front of her, near her torso; her head is slightly low, as if she was going to run forward or dart suddenly to the side, with her body turned to present her left side forward. It, after all, is the one with the hand and the sword.
Come on, her body language practically screams. Try something. I dare you.
COMBATSYS: Baiken focuses on her next action.
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Athena 2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\======-\1 Baiken
For Athena Asamiya, she had learned a powerful lesson of the dangers of losing focus for even an instant when fighting at this tier in her match against Lee Chaolan. It was easy for her to get too confident. Early on, her matches were far too easy, as she faced off against other rookie challengers, new to the professional world of fighting. Those early, effortless victories set her off to an incredible surge through the ranks of fighters. It wasn't until she faced the Silver-Haired Demon head on that she came to realize where her limits lie.
This fight is no different. Every exchange, every attack, every narrow defense, has been accomplished with zero margin for error. One false step and she would be the one in Baiken's position. One poor block, one failed jump. Such are the stakes of fighting against a woman versed in so much combat that it has left its mark forever on her face. Every moment since they began, she has had nothing but Athena's complete and utter attention.
The swordswoman's able recovery saves her from a worse crash against the ground. Asamiya wasn't waiting to see what happened, however, whirling around to face her opponent, already moving to continue her offense: one step, a second step -
Seeing the steely resolve in Baiken's eyes, Athena freezes, her foot slamming against the ground, the girl skidding forward an inch or two before she kicks off into a jump in the opposite direction. Did she realize the threat implied by Baiken's stance? Did she retreat rather than charge headlong into whatever menace she felt pouring off the swordswoman?
Perhaps, a little. No words are said. Not even a cry of excitement, as the girl's airborn escape becomes something else all together: a psychic bombing from above! Tucking herself forward, Athena completely reverses her airborn trajectory, no doubt tapping into that telekinesis demonstrated just now. A surge of bright rose encases her before she dives right back down toward Baiken like she had earlier in their fight!
Only, it isn't her, but a pulse of psychic assault that bears a passing resemblence before it splashes away. Then a second rockets down with incredible force. Finally, the third dive, the girl plummets for real, a psycho power-infused missile aiming to crash down against Baiken and drive her against the arena floor
To attack the woman anything less than her best would not only be disrespectful, it was bound to be down right hazardous!!
COMBATSYS: Baiken interrupts Phoenix Fang Arrow from Athena with Baku.
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Athena 1/-<<<<<</<<<<<<<|======-\-------\0 Baiken
Baiken is learning, too - but her learning is more specific. She's learning about a power she is unfamiliar with, another aspect of strangeness that she doesn't already know. And, of course, she's racking up experience in general, which is never a bad thing - it's at least half of why she volunteered for this in the first place. The margin for error both of them are fighting over is razor-thin at this level of skill.
Try something, Baiken challenged. It's not a subtle change in her posture; she would be astounded if Athena /didn't/ realize the threat. She's not that new, to have never experienced someone giving the body-language equivalent of 'come and get it'. (Being literally psychic probably doesn't hurt either.)
When presented with the challenge, Athena certainly tries something. Baiken will definitely give her that; that was a powerful response, and not one Baiken can immediately respond to in the way she'd like to. She takes a breath and steadies herself, her movements deliberate, precise as the psychic assault occurs before the actual impact.
The first image misses Baiken entirely, avoided by a swaying sidestep. The second does not, impacting against the prepared swordswoman, and the third - the third is not an image at all, but Athena herself, descending in a powerful kick. /That/ is the one Baiken reacts to in her most dramatic way.
Baiken just stomps her forward foot, planting her body in place, and /yells/. A hazy, pink-red-black symbol appears in the air before her, a ripple of binding chi spreading out from it as the Psycho Power-imbued idol-fighter impacts it; it wraps around her, a surge of powerful energy pushing inward, trying to muffle Athena's own powers. It won't last for long, but for a brief few seconds, her power is sluggish, her limbs less quick to respond - even her ability to jump around is reduced from the weakening aura.
It would have been just perfect except for the fact that Baiken was impacted setting it up and still has a descending Athena to deal with; she can't entirely ward Athena off, though she pushes Athena away from herself with her arm once the aura is in place.
It is definitely a night of discovery. With no where to go but down, Athena slams directly into the rune cast chi, allowing it to seize upon her unlike anything she has ever felt before. Her landing thereout is rough, leaving her easy for Baiken's arm to shove her away, sending the girl stumbling backward, violet eyes widened in shock. She's been assaulted by psychic assaults, herself. Comes with the territory of sparing amongst the Psycho Soldiers. But this isn't Psycho Power. And right now, it's draining the energy right out of her.
After a short stumble, she drops to her bare knees against the concrete for a moment, mouth agape, unable to unravel what is being done to her beyond trying to fight back against it with her demonstrably weaker aura. An exhale of breath accompanies renewed determination to get to her feet. She won't be caught off guard if she can help it, even if just standing feels like a Heraclean feat. Her expression twitches as she forces her mouth closed finally, sucking in a breath.
Gritting her teeth, clenching her hands, the girl realizes she has a decision to make. She can stagger around for the next several seconds, being an easy, grounded target, possibly too slow to defend herself.
Or she can put it all on the line and boldly charge the woman for one last incredible combination of attacks.
After all that has happened, it's little wonder she choses the latter.
"Nn," she grunts, perspiration rolling down her cheeks. There is a flash in her eyes, not of visible light, but of undeniable resolve. And then she charges, still fighting against the power suppressing her ability to move as fast as she could at /full/ speed.
To the audience, it seems as if she teleports, exploding forward, a blur of blue and red. Her aim would be a powerful shoulder charge aimed directly for Baiken's center of mass. But if she connected, it would turn into so much more. A palm strike, a spin kick, an elbow, another kick, another shoulder charge, a hopping kick as she reasserts her positioning in tight...
Until she finishes with one more incredible rising blade of Psycho Power just like the last one she had used against Baiken, intent on bringing the woman down more decisivley than her last attack! Of course, if this fails to work... she's definitely putting herself out there in a precarious position for a counter attack!
COMBATSYS: Baiken dodges Athena's Psychic 9 EX.
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Athena 0/-------/-======|======-\-------\0 Baiken
Baiken's power won't hold out forever. It's not her strongest suit in the first place; her swordplay is. Sometimes you just need to even the odds, though - and keeping someone down from their best, even for mere seconds, is a good way to do that.
Honestly, what Baiken's planning is long odds. But they might just be enough - /if/ she can manage to do everything she needs to.
Athena teleports. Baiken doesn't - but that doesn't mean she's not mobile. More, she was expecting Athena to do one of two things: hang back entirely so she can fight it off, or go on the attack as hard as possible. In both cases, Baiken is reasonably well served by reacting as if as Athena would strike; if she didn't, all that means is that Baiken moved to no real loss.
When Athena is moving, Baiken is too - up, in the manner Athena herself did before. Baiken can't fly any more than she can teleport, but an onlooker might be forgiven for making that mistake for a moment; she goes up and forward in a low-ish arc with more speed than most people can manage in a jump, letting Athena pass by just barely under her feet. If she'd done the rising blade first, in fact, she probably would have clipped Baiken's toes.
But she didn't, and Baiken passes overtop, hair and empty sleeve billowing behind her from the speed of her passage before she touches down. Fast as that, she whirls, and this time she /does/ blur as she passes by Athena. There is a metallic hissing noise as she does, but Baiken is moving so fast that it's almost entirely impossible to make out what she's done.
Baiken slows several steps beyond Athena. Her sword is half-out; she pauses, holding it there for a moment. "Garyou Tensei," she says, almost softly, before she does let it slide home with the same sound, and a metallic clink when the hilt touches the top of the scabbard.
Only /then/ will Athena (provided she didn't, oh, get out of the way when Baiken was making her fast blurring movement) suffer the consequences of the incredibly fast slash she delivered as she passed by.
COMBATSYS: Baiken successfully hits Athena with Garyou Tensei.
[ \\\\\ < > //////// ]
Athena 2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|-------\-------\0 Baiken
Her shoulder strikes the clear wall of the arena with thundering strength. There was power behind that charge in spite her stature and the lack of visible energy. That said, the transparent barrier was not her intended target, and the impact alone is enough to stagger the Justice High honor student back a few steps, the girl looking a touch dazed by the unexpectedly sudden stop.
She is in that position when Baiken lands and then, without so much as a pause, moves.
The exchange was impossibly fast. Even faster than Athena's earlier assault. The audience has no clue what transpired. The unseathing, the slashing, and reseathing in a microsecond. Nor could they see the instant defense on the Psycho Soldier's part. Her torso is turned toward the side Baiken passed her by. Her hands are held out in front of her. A shimmering mirror of pink energy hovers between them. Did she achieve a perfect defense against Baiken's strike?
The answer comes a moment later, as the metallic click echoes throughout the arena, and Athena's small defensive energy manifestation shears in half followed by a visible spray of crimson from her side and a soft cry from her lips. Her knee buckles and she nearly falls, reaching out for the arena wall with her palm for support, her other hand pressing hard over the cut in her side.
In the end it was clearly her shield that saved her. But ONLY just barely. Panting for breath, her eyes settle back on Baiken. She grinning in spite the pain, in spite the red stain dripping down her side and along her back. The thrill of the moment. The exhiliration of doing her best. Gritting her teeth, she pushes away from the wall. She will stand on her own or fall trying, she decides without reservation. Breathing in, she clenches her hands at her sides, bowing her head, eyes closed for a moment. A surge of will explodes out about her, blasting through the sealing chi sealing her power to such a significant degree.
Opening her eyes again, the girl leans forward, half-crouching, facing Baiken. There are no words to be spoken out loud now. Actions are the language the two martial artists are communicating in now. A surge of vibrant pink energy rises up over the girl's form as she suddenly springs into the air, the anchors fettering her movement having been broken. Airborn, she flips forward to dive once again. The power coursing over her spreads out, taking on the form of wings extending from the body of a falling Phoenix.
The point of impact is where Baiken now stands will be shrouded in a cloud of sparkly, painful psychic emanations. Whether or not the swordswoman is there to be threatened by it is the most important question.
COMBATSYS: Athena successfully hits Baiken with Super Phoenix Infinity.
[ \\\\\\\ < > ]
Athena 0/-------/-<<<<<<|====---\-------\0 Baiken
Not many people can take Baiken's Garyou Tensei and remain standing. No matter what the result of the battle, Baiken is at least somewhat impressed by that - as she has been for a lot of Athena's talents and skills, honestly, if only she let herself.
Baiken is less upset now. Athena isn't about to ask her questions she does not want to answer, and there's a battle to worry about - a battle that is taking all of her attention, just as she wanted, and teaching her something in the bargain. Good. She won't be able to handle that strange man and his monsters if she rolls over and fails the first time she encounters mysterious energy.
But there's just so /much/ of that mysterious energy when Athena readies what is probably going to be her final blow. Athena rises, and Baiken's response is to shake something out of her empty sleeve, another weapon on a chain. This one is a little different than the last; it's not a claw, but some kind of strange double-headed axe or scythe, bat-shaped and with a spear-like point to it.
Baiken starts to get up some speed with the weapon, spinning the chain with her hand. She had been trying to use the sweep of the chain and the flat of the blade (such as it is) to deflect the blast, but she wasn't expecting the blast to be so /big/; the psychic emanations are too broad for Baiken to deflect, if she could even do it with such a weapon at all.
She flings it regardless even as she starts to fall to her knees. The chained weapon rises into the air as Baiken tries to land one last blow on Athena... but Baiken herself is pitching forward even as the weapon rises, landing face-first on the ground and showing no particular inclination or ability to rise for several long moments. Long enough that she certainly can't be called the victor of this exhibition. She still shifts every so often - she's passing out (though trying not to on sheer willpower), not dead.
About all she can hope for is that the blade strikes home before either Athena dodges it or it fetches up on the end of its chain. She only has so much room up her sleeve, after all.
COMBATSYS: Baiken can no longer fight.
[ \\\\\\\ <
COMBATSYS: Athena dodges Baiken's Youshijin.
[ \\\\\\\ <
Early in the match, the Justice High audience was quiet out of proper decorum. For the last several seconds, however, they have been quiet out of sheer awe at the display, their breaths collectively held. Athena's attack ends with an explosion that hides her from view for several seconds. And, given her own wounded condition, perhaps it is that very thing that allowed her to avoid the dangerous roped blade in the end, as it sweeps through the obscuring bright pink power without seeming to catch on anything or anyone in the process.
When the energy finally fades, Athena is visible just off center of it, apparently having managed to stumble to the side at some point while hidden from view. It appears to have been just enough, stray locks of hair drifting down at her side from where she narrowly avoided that razor's edge. She's on one knee, both hands pressed against the concrete as blood drips into tiny splatters on the arena floor. Gasps for breath are the only sound she makes as her hand stays pressed against that last deep wound to her side, blood trickling through her fingers.
Her fights fight against a weapon user.
Her first fight against one who can seal with the power of chi.
Her head bowed at first, hair framing her face, Athena finally looks up toward Baiken. It will be a while before she can stand. For now she stays upright by sheer willpower.
"Thank you." she whispers, her voice too weak to be heard by those outside the arena. This. Will be a match to remember.
COMBATSYS: Athena has ended the fight here.
Log created on 23:11:14 12/04/2014 by Athena, and last modified on 04:45:48 12/06/2014.