Description: The mysterious miko is matched against the nimble ninjette, but maybe, just maybe... they don't want to play by the Rumble Committee's rules tonight. Could this be the end of the HitBit tournament?! (Spoiler: probably not)
The Chikko region of Minato Ward is practically an island of its own, with its own elementary and junior high schools, two hospitals, its own subway station, and a great number of family-friendly tourist destinations. It's a great place to be on a nice summer day, but right now, it's the dead of winter. The ferris wheel on the north end of the island is lit as always, but no one's braving the chill breeze of winter to be up there.
Besides, the western end of the island is where it's at. One street north of Kaigan Avenue is where the Rumble app has been directing people, and the wharf overlooking Osaka Bay has become flooded with visitors hoping for a peek at two of the most interesting fighters in the Rumble In The Streets tournament. In the bay itself, a handful of yachts and cargo ships can be seen (and in some cases, heard) gliding through the glasslike water, their crews giving only passing notice to the goings-on of the people onshore.
Long, hollow boxes suspend rectangular floodlights above the concrete terrace overlooking the wharf. The cobalt blues and ruddy reds of the postmodern Osaka Aquarium Kaiykan's north facade both read as shades of purple in the dim light; halogen lightboxes placed at periodic intervals don't seem to help much, their intense light smearing the muted colors into dense ellipsoid blobs of light. Benches hug the building, though they're currently occupied by dozens of Osakans wearing heavy coats, glued to the displays of their phones as they wait for the combatants to arrive. Even more onlookers crowd around the small planter that breaks up what would otherwise be an uninterrupted expanse of brickwork from the benches to the steps that lead down to the wharf level on the west. As rectilinear and formally structured as the Aquarium complex is now, the ochre Port of Osaka building stands to the north as a stolid and staid reminder of how much more boring the Kaiyukan -could- have been.
One of the competitors has already left her mark on the site, despite the incredibly short five-minute notification to arrive on site. The only sign of her early arrival is a four-foot tall post, bearing a small yellow poncho and a paper plate "face" nailed to the top. On the plate is a crude drawing of a figure with circular-lensed glasses, winking while sticking its tongue out to the left. Oddly -- no one seems to notice the post -- most likely because everyone's looking for -fighters- and not crude facsimiles of such.
Cold-weather training was just one of countless facets comprising Ayame's regimen. Monsters could not be counted on to only strike on balmy, Midsummer days afterall. She had to be prepared not just to fight in all sorts of weather, but to also stalk, hunt, and wait in extreme temperatures. Between a certain range of conditions, it was simply a matter of willpower to resist the influence of the heat and cold - and that was something the Ichijo scion was convinced she had in abundance.
But she isn't also about to be rushed just because some beeping device tells her she needs to be somewhere in five minutes. Thus far, the fighter has cooperated with the designs of the event, but it is easy to get the impression that the girl with the icy disposition is always on the verge of walking away from it if the requirements became too inane for her standards. The audience gathered in the short five minutes will have a couple minutes to wait yet before the second fighter forces her way through the crowd.
Too short to be seen over many, her presence becomes clear where people begin to part to one side or the other, getting out of the way of the decorated priestess. The top portion of her rune-carved staff is visible over the heads of others as the girl uses the weapon to wedge her way through the rows of Rumble fight fans to finally step out into the open concrete, a figure in crimson and white. Her attire matches the forum of the familiar shine priestess but the extra trappings, ribbons, and markings suggest a certain prestige - earned or self-awarded - that stands out from what most would associate with the humble role.
A middle-aged man murmurs something beneath his breath as he reaches out to touch the fabric of the girl's sleeve as she steps out past the crowd only to have his arm swatted aside as Ayame twists her staff nonchalantly without even pausing to take notice. Brown eyes are already locked on the coat-clad post. Her mouth is already curled into a hint of a frown - an expression that seems to come natural to her features. Her patience for being toyed with is non-existant, to say the least.
Coming to a stop several meters away, she stares at the post for a moment, but doesn't approach it any further. Planting her staff against the cool brickwork courtyard, her right hand lifts to brush a lock of hair back behind her ear as she starts to look around. Her stance almost seems relaxed, but close scrutiny would reveal her to be studying her surroundings with a wary eye.
That her opponent got here fast enough to set up the ridiculous facsimile means that either she had foreknowledge of the venue or she is exceptionally fast and confident enough in her speed to waste time with shenanigans.
Either explanation warrants caution.
COMBATSYS: Nagase has started a fight here.
COMBATSYS: Ayame has joined the fight here.
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////////////////////]
Nagase 0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0 Ayame
Ayame was right to exercise caution regarding her opponent's tricks -- her opponent has already established a certain reputation amongst the devout followers of the Rumble tournament. It's the internet viewers who would have the scoop on where Nagase is hiding: the quadrotors overhead make her bright, bumblebee-yellow tunic stand out in stark relief to the coarse roofing surface. It's clear that she doesn't need her own eyes to take in everything Ayame is doing -- the tech-ninja is casually flipping between the displays on the various quadrotors' cameras to get the best angle for the fight, with the aid of an inexpensive consumer tablet. Not her -favored- device, if her subsequent approach is any indication.
For when Ayame stops at the post, Nagase does one final check on her intelligence assets. She knows a referee is in position -- even though he's lost in the hubbub of the crowd, the black and white stripes make it an obvious nod. And she knows that the start time of the fight has long since passed.
In other words: no, she does not want to waste time with shenanigans.
Nagase casually pushes herself to her feet; if Ayame were to look up at that moment, she'd see the distinctive shock of flame orange hair peek over the edge down at her. But that look lasts only long enough to get a simple gauge of distance, before the ninja vaults over the edge, feet-first.
The tablet is chucked airborne in what might seem like an afterthought -- until the distinctive sound of a ninjato sliding out of its scabbard can be heard. One instant later, the tablet is bisected diagonally, each half now a precision-cut triangle. And as the tablet halves fall, Nagase twists into a forward somersault, snap-kicking both of the triangle-shaped halves down at Ayame at high speed.
"Hey, folks! Did you know National-brand tablets are half-off down in Den-Den town?!"
Okay, maybe -some- shenanigans.
She knows there's bystanders. But they'll scatter, won't they? If not... well, maybe Nagase will land on someone; her mischievous smile suggests she's fine with whatever outcome occurs.
COMBATSYS: Ayame fails to slow Large Thrown Object from Nagase with Fall of the Mourning Star.
- Power fail! -
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ///////////////////////// ]
Nagase 0/-------/-------|==-----\-------\0 Ayame
Nagase is noted the moment she stands up - Ayame pivoting halfway while taking a step back such that she can still see the decorated post out of the corner of her eye. It makes sense to anticipate an airborn attack now, given her opponent's position and probable vectors of attack. But she isn't ruling anything out.
For a moment, she realizes an inclination to go up after the flamboyantly attired ninja - it might not occur to her opponent that she could do that. But such airborn acrobatics have not been a core facet of her own style for some time - now might not be the best time to test what she retained from before.
Oh boy. Another talker. Wasn't the witch enough?
Her target is the now rapidly descending Nagase. Slipping her right foot forward, her left hand clenches over her staff. Crimson hued energy surges along the length of the weapon as she narrows her eyes at the nimble target. Inhale, exhale, concentrating on her aim - she'll knock the girl out of the air with one clean chi-shot.
Her timing precise, Ayame whips the end of her staff upward toward Nagase and, twisting her body to the left, sweeps her right hand along the length of the weapon at just the precise moment necessary to launch a bolt of chi into Nagase's torso from a distance-
That she hadn't even noticed the tablet fragments in the slightest becomes abundantly clear when she gets pegged in the side of the head, forced down into a crouch, her right hand lifting to press against her temple just in front of her right ear.
"Tch." Seeing stars for a few seconds, she twists her staff out in front of her, now gripping it with both hands, a smear of red painting the ends of her right hand's fingers from where she had rubbed the cut on the side of her head.
How did she miss the projectile all together, she wonders to herself. Is she too focused on the girl and the post?
Nagase's impish smile grows larger when she sees the small blotch of red paint the sky for a moment before settling onto her opponent's temple. In the ninja's mind, there's no point in taking the initiative if you can't score a juicy hit -- and that definitely qualifies to her.
For many of the bystanders, Nagase's warning was seen as a distraction and not a signal that maybe they should clear the area. For some of those, the two halves of the tablet clack down onto the pavement sounds a bigger warning. But the deer-in-the-headlights principle stands for still others -- something that works to Nagase's advantage as she twists about in midair, landing in the dead space left between three people awestruck by the sudden appearance of crimson on Ayame's staff. The ninja's shoes make almost no sound as she alights, the disarmingly bright yellow of her tunic a mere blur as she pirouettes through the crowd, delighting in the effect she's impressed upon them.
"Aww, c'mon, try to keep up!" chirps the ninjette as she flits through the crowd, taking full advantage of the confusion. The bystanders aren't able to make heads or tails of the kunoichi herself, but they eventually put two and two together and give Ayame a wide berth. She's the one with the HitBit headband, after all -- the one who -isn't- moving as much.
"The whole world is watching us!"
As the sea of bystanders parts, there's only one loose end left to clear up -- and it's Nagase, who's charging in at Ayame from behind. She rushes in hard enough to check the shrine priestess hard on the shoulder, spinning her around -- and if she manages to land the hit, she'd attempt to follow up by clasping her arms about Ayame's waist.
It won't be for a dance, or any sort of romantic entanglement, though: Nagase would then spring high into the air, bringing both herself and Ayame along for a twisting, spinning ride high into the air. At the peak of flight, some 10 feet or so into the air, the Iga-ryu ninja would kick hard to the side, twisting the pair around so that Ayame's head and shoulders can have the honor of planting into the ground first.
COMBATSYS: Ayame just-defends Nagase's Nagase Spiral!
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > /////////////////////////// ]
Nagase 0/-------/-------|==-----\-------\0 Ayame
Head still ringing, Ayame pushes herself back up to standing, having bunkered down behind her staff while trying to collect her wits. She should not have gotten caught like that. She's lucky it was only - a glance to the side where the 'weapon' has landed - half a tablet? Well. She can definitely cite that as a first. Whirling around, she's already facing with Nagase finally lands, right hand slipping off her staff as she shifts the weapon to her side, adopting a fluid though rooted stance.
While the ninja is a bolt of lightning, zipping from her landing to the offense, the priestess seems content to wait and see. The mysterious girl has not made frequent appearances for public matches - but on the rare occasion she has shown up, she's performed frighteningly well - her successes combined with her motif has undoubtedly garnered her a following but she has never shown any indication that she's interested in catering to fans. If anything, she seems to regard even the audience present as a throng of distractions or 'bonus challenges' to be dealt with - such as how they make it hard to see Nagase for a moment, the technoninja slipping through them with ease.
The window of time to defend herself will be precariously brief. Standard defenses will not suffice. But there is another trick she has been saving. Even those who have studied the girl's few public fights would not be prepared for this one. If anything, the miko has proven to be one of the most difficult to predict for those playing along with their Hitbit apps, as nothing about her fighting style seems to get repeated much.
Approximating the angle Nagase will have to come in from, the girl slips her right hand into her left sleeve, withdrawing in an instant a cotten-candy pink talisman with black glyphs. The timing will have to be perfect, she reminds herself, bracing for the moment after which her opponent will be fully committed...
And then the moment arrives. The spiritual warrior sweeps her right hand out, palm forward, talisman held in place by air pressure and nothing more. There is a pink flash and then Nagase's shoulder would connect solidly. The force is more than enough to spin her target around and leave her vulnerable to being grabbed solidly. When she launches, however, something would be clearly amiss as the brief chi clone of Ayame explodes into countless pink motes of ambient energy that slips harmlessly through her fingers.
The real thing has already whirled around, smirking as her ephemeral decoy collapses, having served its purpose well. "I do not care who is watching this spectacle. But..." the girl states, her tone calm, almost imperious. A right step forward leads into her sweeping her staff from low to high in an almost uppercutting like fashion before she twists her body, pivoting into a fierce, two handed swing intended to smash Nagase clean out of the air.
"You should be careful what you ask for!"
COMBATSYS: Nagase dodges Ayame's Fierce Strike.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > /////////////////////////// ]
Nagase 0/-------/-------|==-----\-------\0 Ayame
%gAs Nagase's shoulder connects, she relaxes somewhat, allowing her practiced efforts to come to fruition. Spinning the body around, taking hold, and launching into the air are all automatic processes to the Iga-ryu ninja, as she lets muscle memory do the bulk of the work.
It's with mild surprise that she realizes the discontinuous picture on her eyewear. Prior to the actual fight, Nagase had taken the liberty of hacking her way into the Rumble Committee's local server, the one that takes data from the combatants' HitBit devices and streams it to the rest of the world. In a nutshell -- she has a picture-in-picture window in her eyeglasses of the exact view Ayame should be seeing.
And it's not spinning, like Nagase herself is. "You sneaky little--"
Nagase wastes no time. Even before the chi doppleganger disintegrates into motes of light, Nagase's kicking away from it, using the facsimile as a surface from which to handspring backwards.
It's a good thing she spotted the deception so soon, as becomes patently clear to her when she sees the staff splitting the air just a few centimeters in front of her face. She continues her backwards momentum, sweat beading on her forehead at the close call as she snaps into a backflip.
And by the time she touches down on the ground -- first with two fingers, then one foot, then the knee of her other leg -- the flame-haired ninjette is smirking again. "So if it's not for the crowds, then that means it's for the money?"
The nimble kunoichi is already in motion again, taking careful measure of the shrine priestess' staff. Ayame's long staff comes with the downside that it can also be used against her - and that's just what Nagase aims to do, as she drives in close, aiming to pin one end of the staff under her arm. Should she manage that, Nagase would kick herself -over- the staff, hoping to use it as a lever to snap Ayame off her feet and send her crashing to the ground.
COMBATSYS: Nagase successfully hits Ayame with Power Throw.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ///////////////////////// ]
Nagase 0/-------/------=|===----\-------\0 Ayame
Unaware of how Nagase discovered the decoy so quickly, Ayame can only be begrudgingly impressed with the alacrity with which she escaped the subsequent strike, allowing a faint quirk of her eyebrow as she whips her lengthy weapon back into position while the pesky ninja touches down with a far cleaner landing than Ayame had in mind for her.
The answer to her question comes in the form of a short, mirthless laugh as if the proud miko couldn't even deign to respond to an idea that preposterous. "No. I have put my mind to that pursuit before." Her versatile weapon is gripped with both hands now, twisting into position to defend or strike. "It rarely ends well," she finishes, her tone is different, as if she wasn't speaking to Nagase directly for that brief moment.
Her attention is demanded almost instantly as the Iga prodigy keeps the pressure on, navigating her lithe form to nearly point-blank range against the armed priestess - a distance that long weapon should prove disadvantageous. The approach is valid, to be certain, and one the girl has seen attempted countless times in her battles. She steps into a strike as Nagase moves, but she manages to slip in close enough to blunt the strike, securing the hold she sought against the wooden staff.
A fleeting twitch of amusement crosses young Ichijo's features as she responds by yanking the weapon upward and pushing her body into her end of the staff at the same time Nagase valuts it. It's enough to negate most of the leverage, leaving her on her feet with only a hidden bruise on her side as evidence of the exchange.
It also means she knows right about where her opponent is about to land - a detail she intends to take advantage of. Already, her right hand has slipped from her staff, leaving it gripped only in her left, her fingers slipping into her left sleeve to retrieve another slip of carefully prepared paper - white, with black glyphs, its pale white glow is almost imperceptible in the Winter afternoon.
"Your techniques are not simply for the stage either." Ayame observes, snapping her right hand out. The talisman moves faster than paper should - and this range, the opportunity to respond will be precariously limited.
Should the talisman connect, Nagase would find herself contending with a small explosion of tenacious, pale white chains of energy, designed to constrict, restrain, and slow down her relentless assault. It's no surprise Ayame is aiming to cripple the girl's ridiculous speed after the displays she's seen thus far.
COMBATSYS: Nagase blocks Ayame's Binding of the Condemned Soul.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////////////// ]
Nagase 0/-------/-----==|====---\-------\0 Ayame
So Nagase's opponent is not fighting for fame, and she's not fighting for money. These are points the Iga ninja considers as her redirecting attack fails. The spot Ayame predicts for her to land is one dictated by the needs of efficiency -- there's only one or two places one can fall when the staff they were swinging on decides to stop swinging. Gritting her teeth, she lands at medium range, though her right hand snaps to one of the panda heads bobbing just about her hip...
Light is sheared into a crescent, as one of the ninjato is brought to bear with a reversed grip. The panda head on the pommel of the blade is practically staring Ayame in the eye as the blade's keen edge cleaves the talisman in two.
But perhaps it was too late, as the violent rupture that had unleashed the chains had already begun to take place. As the two cleaved sheets of paper flutter to the brickwork, the spectral chains lash out and coil around the ninja's leading leg. Hints of alarm creep into a facade which has remained confident and collected, up until this point.
Not for the stage -- an understated assessment of the assassins' arts. And yet, Nagase struggles with a witty comeback as she's never before had to deal with phantasmic chains erupting forth from a simple sheet of paper. Irritably, she lowers her sword arm, and whispers under her breath, as flames spill down onto the surface of her blade. A quick twist of the wrist later, and the blade carves another crescent through the air, cleaving the energy chains in two.
Raising two fingers to her nose, Nagase hops backwards... at a bystander who had gotten a little too close.
But she never hits him, leaving a confused look on his face. His nose twitches at the smell of the small plume of smoke left where Nagase had been just an instant earlier.
When Nagase's voice rings out again, it's from a planter behind Ayame. Her ninjato is replaced in its scabbard with an audible 'clink'. "Not -simply-, no," she concedes, as some hint of her earlier smirk returns.
But as she moves to tap her two fingers against her eyewear, the ninjette's expression transitions into exasperation.
"... server's -gone?-" She blinks, staring cross-eyed at her custom augmented eyewear for a moment, before her irises focus instead upon the miko.
She taps her HitBit headband, as she watches Ayame warily from her hunched-over crouch upon the planter. "... Y'ever feel like you're just being -messed- with?"
It's not clear whether she's attempting to be honest or not, considering.
COMBATSYS: Nagase calculates her next move.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////////////// ]
Nagase 0/-------/-----==|====---\-------\0 Ayame
That brief moment in which the Iga assassin has to contend with even a portion of Ayame's attack is just the chance the miko was clearly aiming to create. She hesitates for an instant at the expert ninjato defense until she is certain of the weapon's size and angle in Nagase's grip... and then she surges forward, a swish of cloth and woosh of staff.
It is a crushing, overhead swing that Nagase escapes, leaving Ayame's weapon to slice through smoke and shatter one of the courtyard bricks upon impact, sending a thunderous noise across the harbor corner. The bystander gets by with nothing worse than being pelted by small bits of rubble from the broken brick, but that close scrape with both of the fighters was probably lesson enough to get back to the rest of the crowd as quickly as his trembling limbs can afford.
Ayame doesn't even seem to notice him, sparing never a glance for the bystander as she is already whirling around with intent to discover her opponent before she finds herself ambushed again. Her stance leaves very few vectors for attacks, her staff in her left hand guarding her left flank yet also positioned to easily pivot to her back or front as needed. Her right hand is raised, oversized sleeve draping over her bent elbow, fingers upright, prepared to defend from the right front or side. The only vulnerable angle would be her right flank, and even that is questionable, with how fast she can turn on her feet, long hair and crimson ribbons trailing behind her motions by a second.
She comes to rest facing Nagase with a soft exhale. The girl is elusive, to be certain... this will not be a contest she could finish as quickly as she was usually able. If she wanted to succeed, she would need to outlast her nimble opponent. Is she getting a gimplse of what it was like to fight herself before? The speed, the sharp blades produced on demand... The echo of a memory provokes a soft snort at a hidden joke.
With no attack immediately pressing, the girl begins to execute her longer game, right hand reaching up to the neckline of her white vestment to withdraw a soft, green talisman that she holds upright in front of her face, gripped between thumb and two fingers.
In two words, Nagase reveals much. That her eyeware is more than just sun protection or a fashion statement... undoubtedly it connects to something via an uplink to something remote. The tap at her HitBit headband implies a correlation to the remark about the server... Did she have some kind of connection to it? Initial suspicions that the Iga ninja is somehow involved with the event itself are not exactly allayed by the conclusions the shrine maiden is making at first.
"Only every time I have ventured to participate in these things." she answers with a soft grunt. There was no doubt in her mind that someone in the PFW was trying to get her face smashed in putting her up against the formidable Mike Bison in a casino. That someone must have been quite disappointed at the outcome. And Elise's interests, demeanor, and motivations were also highly suspect - let alone the makeup of the attending audience.
"For me, the real question is whether you are an instigator or a target of the same antics."
Her right thumb slips over her talisman, applying just the right frequency of chi to break the seal stored in one of the intricate lines of ink painted onto it...
Nagase sure is glad she didn't have to contend with the brick-smashing attack that has the bystander brushing his coat off in a panic -- though her attention is admittedly divided at the moment. With her right palm down, and middle finger and ring pressed together, she taps down with her index and drags it to the right.
It's not a ninjutsu technique. It's a click and drag gesture, and the tint of the lines reflected faintly upon her face shifts from emerald to amber.
"Eh, you can put me in the 'target' column. These jokers can't code their way out of a Happy Meal box."
Nagase reaches up to scrub the side of her finger across her nose. The simple gestures Ayame steps through have not escaped her notice, even with the seemingly frustrating distractions; she considers her next move carefully.
Then she leaps forward. She favors the side of Ayame that doesn't have the staff at first, making a direct charge. About ten feet out, she makes a sudden leap as if to strike...
Only to revise that attack in mid-leap, in anticipation of a strike from the staff. Her leap lands short, but her momentum continues in a forward charge as Nagase targets Ayame's side with her shoulder...
COMBATSYS: Ayame successfully aids herself with Amnesty for the Hidden Wound.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////////////////// ]
Nagase 0/-------/-----==|====---\-------\0 Ayame
COMBATSYS: Ayame fails to counter Hunting Peach from Nagase with The Sunrise of Broken Dreams.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ////////////////////// ]
Nagase 0/-------/---====|=======\-------\0 Ayame
Once she connects, the nimble ninjette would roll right around Ayame's side, flipping herself to straddle the miko's back, forcing her down with the weight of her substantial suite of electronics gear. The weight alone wouldn't hurt, but it would disadvantage the miko long enough to open up for the followup, as Nagase leverages the force behind her heavy armored gauntlets, raining a flurry of repeated strikes down onto her priestess opponent's backside. Ayame might not care who's watching, but the mischievous ninjette seems to be pleased at the audience response.
The last strike, with both hands, would be a rather committed one, strong enough to catapult Nagase forward with an irritatingly smug grin upon her face. "Though, I really must say, I -am- here for the fun of it!"
The seal broken, Ayame presses the talisman to the side of her head, just over her temple in front of her right ear. The trickle of blood was a minor annoyance but it was the lingering ache of that early head trauma she felt would be best to address during the brief lapse in Nagase's relentless aggression. She can't help but feel her curiosity piqued at the technology at her opponent's disposal. That her eyewear is providing some kind of information is a forgone conclusion and the fact that she doesn't seem to find that distracting at all suggests this is how she normally fights.
Her reply is short and vague, carrying some weight of skepticism but also some allowance of credence for what the technoninja is claiming.
Pivoting to keep Nagase in front of her, Ayame turns toward the right. While her staff is on her left, it can be moved into position in an instant. That she intends to intercept becomes clear when the rune-carved weapon flashes to life with a thin sheen of crimson light. Lifting her right up arm out of the way, she twists the wooden shaft forward from her left side to crossing over in front of her. Only then does her righthand grip alongside her left, the girl ready to bring the weapon snapping back with smashing force right for Nagase's center of mass-
It is the the mid-step adjustment into a more direct tackle that spares her the rod this time as Ayame swings again, weapon swishing over the top of Nagase's head. "Tch-"
As Nagase rolls up onto her back, Ayame slips her left foot forward, expecting to brace easily against the kunoichi's anticipated weight. But this is the first time she's felt the actual magnitude of Nagase's accoutrements and though she tries to correct by twisting her staff down to provide extra support, the adjustment comes too late and the miko only just barely manages to catch her fall with her hands as her knees hit stone and her staff clatters against the ground.
The storm of strikes her behind is targeted by are every bit as painful as they are humiliating. For someone possessing as little humor as she does for battleground antics, the disrespect is potentially even more damaging than the admittedly powerful strikes. Even mid-assault, she's trying to push herself up, hellbent on turning this around, but before she manages, the final strike lands, vaulting Nagase away and sending Ayame flying forward along the courtyard floor a few meters before she comes to rest face down against the ground.
With a teeth-gritting growl, she lunges to her feet and whirls around, swirling her staff around swiftly, no doubt hoping to catch Nagase in the side of the head should the ninja have tried to catch her before she was on her feet again. Her cheeks flushed, the chi on her weapon flares vibrantly as if a living flame that somehow fails to consume the wood it surrounds.
"How is it that everyone in this ridiculous event is just in it to have fun!!" she exclaims with a rare flash of visible temper, planting her feet, pivoting her staff forward. That she has full intents to clobber Nagase with that angry looking weapon is hardly something the audience needs speculate on - the question is if the irrate miko can actually land a blow against her tricky foe!
Nagase cups a hand to her ear, as if she's straining to hear Ayame over the cheers and jeers of the crowd. Some are appalled, of course, that the ninja would choose to exact such... unprofessional tactics in the middle of a public forum like this. The leering expressions of others suggest the exact opposite of disdain for the tactic. The Iga ninja, though, wears an expression of absolute smugness as she crosses her arms behind her back.
"Hey, just look on the bright side: you'll be Internet-famous tonight!"
Nagase glances pointedly over towards the facsimile of herself she'd left behind at the start of the fight. It hasn't been touched yet, one would note, though she seems dismissive of that fact when she suddenly leaps into motion again. This time, she lands close to Ayame, wheeling a high roundhouse kick at the young priestess in what might be a fairly telegraphed attack...
In truth, though, it's just an opener, as the intent is to follow up with a series of follow-up strikes. The first would be a palm strike, the second a knee bash to the midsection. But should all -those- land, she'd make her chi-channeling abilities known as she sets her foot on fire and delivers a powerful flaming kick at mid-level. It's as if to say: she's not -all- smoke and mirrors, the girl can hold her own in straight martial combat too.
COMBATSYS: Ayame dodges Nagase's Strong Kick.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ////////////////////// ]
Nagase 0/-------/---====|=======\-------\0 Ayame
The Iga ninja's taunt seems to succeed in incensing her opponent further as the normally controlled priestess glowers, fingers tightening and untightening at the middle of her staff. HitBit appsters may likely be concluding that the undefeated shrine priestess may have finally met her match but Ayame has just begun to dig into her repertoire of techniques and prepared contigencies. Her anger doesn't seem to be a mask for uncertainty or faltering confidence. She fully expects to get the upper hand against this foxy opponent.
"If that is to be the case," she leans forward. She should try to quell her temper, her conscious mind keeps reminding her. While many fighters find their greatest strength in moments of intense rage, the calculating demon hunter had spent every ounce of her training pouring all of her intensity into fighting cool-headed, controlled, and always thinking. Calming down is the right thing to do. Since when has she cared about the opinions of the common masses anyway?
On the other hand, fighting angry feels... pretty damn good!
"I will be determining how the video ends-"
She weaves around the roundhouse, telegraphed as it is. But when Nagase closes to deliver the follow up strikes, she'll find Ayame lunging in at her, her staff held across the front of her. Twisting around the first palm strike, she swings her staff backhandedly, aiming to crash it into the ninja's ribcage. "With your loss!"
But it is her right hand that bears the true threat, a crimson talisman cupped in her palm as she raises her arm and attempts to slam her hand into a tight grip against Nagase's face. Now that she knows the sheer amount of mass the girl is carrying, she attempts to use it against her, hoping that her forward momentum is enough to topple the clever assassin to her back, hand still gripping the front of her face.
If she succeeds in her strangely brutish assault, the talisman itself would detonate with concussive force.
If she trying to wreck Nagase's styling locs?!
COMBATSYS: Nagase interrupts Charged Combo from Ayame with Hyperdrive Nagase Spiral.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ///////////////// ]
Nagase 0/-------/=======|=======\==-----\1 Ayame
The kunoichi keeps Ayame's words in mind as she follows through with her roundhouse kick. Momentum is a crucial element of her attack style, and at this point in the motion, she's a bit too committed to her plan of attack to back down now. She attempts to follow through with her palm strike, but she staggers backwards from the staff that suddenly finds itself imposed against her ribcage
"Nngh!" spits out Nagase, backpedaling a half-step. Her eyewear indicates exactly how much that hurt, and suggests with 88% certainty that two ribs were cracked in the process. But the ninja's not obsessing over the details; even though her whirling attack combination has been stopped, she's already working on the next. The first step of that, though, is slipping her hand in the path of Ayame's arm. The miko's wrist will instead slam down onto the metal of her unusually heavy gauntlet, preventing both the talisman and Ayame's hand from the satisfaction of smooshing into Nagase's smirking face.
"Now -that's- the kind of trash talk I'm used to..." comments Nagase, taking full advantage of the opportunity to get close and personal with Ayame. With one eye winced shut from the pain wracking her ribcage, Nagase keeps her wits about her as she grasps hold of the front of Ayame's wide-sleeved shirt. And holds on tight as she uses Ayame's forward momentum against her.
Which is to say, Nagase leaps backwards off the ground, taking the shrine maiden along for the ride. Twisting about in midair, Ayame will have plenty of opportunity to see the smug, mirthful grin she missed wiping off Nagase's face -- because the rest of the world will be smeared into a vortex as the pair spins around in mid-air.
The ride will end, though, with Ayame being slammed into the pavement, Nagase avoiding the fate by breaking free at the last crucial moment.
The nimble ninjette flips herself back to her feet afterwards, prodding at her ribs tentatively with a finger. "Some guys really go for that angry look," she notes, tapping her HitBit headband and its all-seeing camera. It's already getting some laughs from the audience members who have been head-down in their tablets and phones with the live stream from Nagase's viewpoint -- a treat they were robbed of in her last fight.
The way that exchange was supposed to play out certainly seemed way more satisfying to her mind's eye than what actually transpired. When the dust settles, Ayame finds herself sprawled on her back, staring at the clouds above through rather distracting flashes of stars and lights. She had managed to keep her hand clenched on her staff throughout the ordeal, the weapon parallel to her sprawled body as she takes in a number of breaths.
Grimacing, the miko presses herself up to seated, then pushes to one knee. There is a hint of dizziness about the way she moves, as if she's still not 100% certain which way is up after being spun around like so. What a vexing girl, she thinks to herself, using her staff as a lever to finish getting to her feet. Her once pristine kimono top is dirty and torn in the back from the last landing, and even her red pleated dress is ripped open over the right knee from the fall earlier.
Gritting her teeth, she swings her staff back up into a readied position. For all the abuse she has suffered, the girl has proven to be remarkably sturdy and still seems to be in prime fighting condition provided her rising temper doesn't thwart her efforts to execute on her techniques.
She always knew she was taking a risk venturing into these kinds of events. But so sure she was of her ability to directly contend against all but the strongest monsters in the world, she hadn't expected to be so completely flustered as the nimble ninja is proving to be. She specifically avoids glancing toward the audience then, jaw set, not sure how she would respond to the bemused expressions she expects she would find. They're not the problem, after all. That kunoichi is!
Jutting her left arm out, her staff surges to life once again, crimson energy churning over its surface, "And I suppose you are counting on attracting the hardcore melittologists out there with that getup!" A life of seclusion has not done Ayame's trash talking skills any favors.
She hasn't time to reflect on that, however, already on the offense again, hellbent on smashing Nagase into the ground as she leaps into an angled, two handed staff strike from left to right that could land near the head or shoulders if not dealt with. She'd spin into a second, horizontal smashing, chi-infused blow upon landing, only to whip her weapon up into a third, overhead, smashing strike with all the physical prowess she can bring to bear.
The three strike combination flows from one step to the next, though she didn't usually execute it with the kind of vehemence in action right now!
COMBATSYS: Ayame successfully hits Nagase with Requiem For Fallen Blossoms.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ///////////////// ]
Nagase 1/-----==/=======|=======\===----\1 Ayame
In all honesty, Nagase likes fighting these stronger competitors as well. Her ninja village failed to provide much challenge to her, and her line of work means that even the best challenges tend to only provide one or two fights at best. So if she can get Ayame -truly- enraged, well... it -is- fun. And she can tell that Ayame's performance seems to be improving for it, to boot.
Nagase seems pleased at the miko's disorientation -- she even shapes her hands into two 'L' brackets as if she's framing a shot for the HitBit camera upon her forehead. As if it wasn't... already a camera... yeah, don't think too hard on it. "Yeah, they really seem to dig the 'get back up' look too. Oooh, right, show me that glower. Yeah, -juuuust- like that." More anger... better show, right?
But one thought -does- give the Iga-ryu prodigy pause. "... Define: Melittologist" she repeats, though her impulsive hand gesture suggests that she wasn't talking to Ayame at all.
The pop-up result for 'Melittologist' was superimposed directly over the staff, though. So while Nagase might have been able to dodge out of the way, her vision is flooded with an excess of stars as the staff strikes down hard upon her temple.
The bystanders tuned into Nagase's live view shudder as well. They don't see what's on Nagase's screen, but they do share in her agony. One even drops his phone.
Nagase staggers off to the side, one hand snapping up to her head. It didn't break the skin, but it will likely bruise -- at any rate, Nagase couldn't care less what that word means now. She tries to step back, but the reach of the staff is enough to catch her upon the side of her ribcage. More damage indications in red flash across Nagase's eyewear as the lithe ninjette is bashed sideways.
She's left completely unaware for the third strike, which does a fair job of squashing her into the brickwork with a satisfying cacophony of plastic, metal, and bone impacts.
Suffice to say, she felt that. The tech-ninja writhes about for a moment, gritting her teeth as she confirms for herself exactly how battered she is now. "Out of curiosity, has anyone called you a cheater for using that stick?" Her tone suggests no value judgment is being made -- perhaps it's a legitimately honest question.
Or perhaps it's just a distraction, as the diminutive ninja plants one hand on the ground, and twists her hips around towards her. The goal: to deliver a low sweeping kick at Ayame's feet with her right leg.
It looks simple at first, but then again, -most- of the sneaky Iga prodigy's attacks have begun as such. But if it hits, Ayame might get another reminder of the kunoichi's duplicity, as she aims to scissor her legs around Ayame's lower half, twisting her down to the ground in a debilitating leg lock. Her ninjutsu training was quite comprehensive, it seems.
COMBATSYS: Ayame instinctively blocks Nagase's Medium Kick.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > /////////////// ]
Nagase 1/------=/=======|=======\===----\1 Ayame
The three-swing attack has been a staple of Ayame's style since the first time she fought someone for real with a staff - of course, it was metal back then... With each blow there is an accompanying smash of chi to add force to the strikes. With her weapon rebounding from the last hit, she steps back, allowing the reverse momentum to be dissipated in the process. In the same motion, the chi that had coursed along her weapon shakes free, forming a thousand dimming motes of sakura-pink that drift down around the girl in a showy swirl.
For someone who prides herself on pragmatic efficiency and claims no interest in her audience's concerns, some of her techniques do seem to have a lot of extraneous details to them that don't seem to serve any immediate purpose. Of course, no one in the audience would understand the calming effect the technique, signature move of her talented father, has on the riled up miko. She's still tense, cheeks red, and not just from the chilly seabreeze, but she might be thinking clearer now too in spite Nagase's impossible nature.
"Surprisingly," she allows, moving to answer Nagase's kick with a pivot of her staff - a tricky maneuver given that she's doing it with just her left hand which would probably lack the strength to stop the attack by itself. Her tone is actually calmer now - either the tri-bashing she just delivered was much needed catharsis, or Nagase's question touched upon something Ayame has at least thought about before now since she responds without hesitation.
Slamming the base of her staff against the brickwork gives her the leverage she needs in order to block with just one hand, weapon shuddering under the impact as Ayame twists to the left. Her right hand is slamming in fast, another talisman palmed just prior to the defense - this one a grim grey. Nagase's eyesight would be swift enough to see the smokey tendrils rising from off it as Ayame attempts to land it right on the chest of her close-quarters opponent.
"Blades seem to get a much stronger reation." she states with certainty, speaking as if from experience.
If her talisman connects, the energy stored in its glyphs would be unleashed and the gifted Iga might find herself subject of another untoward attack, as tenrils of ebony energy would seek to twist down her form and spear into the ground below. If chains won't bind her, maybe this will do the trick in slowing the swift girl down!
COMBATSYS: Ayame successfully hits Nagase with Anchor Through the Endless Dark.
[ \\\\\\\\\\ < > /////////////// ]
Nagase 1/---====/=======|=======\=====--\1 Ayame
Nagase smiles faintly. The pair might be on opposing sides in this conflict, but after the period of irritation, she seems to be a bit friendlier. She can respect the shrine maiden on her own merits now, at the least -- the fight being a good one to learn from.
A lot of this has to do with her lightly armored shin cracking against a firmly-rooted staff instead of Ayame's legs. And, well, the sound thrashing. The kunoichi frowns as she draws back, aborting her attempt to grab the young woman's legs and pushing herself back to a low crouch.
Nagase sees the hand coming for her. She has a perfect plan in mind. All she has to do is---
Double over in pain?! For a moment it looks like she'd wanted to jump, but her muscles seem to fire in a completely opposite direction. Confusion wrenches itself into her features as Ayame's right hand rockets towards her breastbone. Her hands start to move into position to ward off the strike, but a sudden expression of pain -precedes- Ayame's hand planting down onto her chest. "AGCK... " she howls, as the ebon tendrils insinuate themselves about her form, securing her down to the ground in most effective manner -- rooting her wholly in place.
Tears well up in the corners of Nagase's eyes at the constrictive tendrils. Her arms forced down to her sides by the tendrils, she nonetheless tries to wriggle her way into some less painful position.
"Okay, yeah, blades..." she stammers; it seems even imprisonment isn't enough to keep her from flapping her yap. "Sharp. Possible loss of limbs. I can see it."
Her wrists flick back suddenly, and the fingers of both hands clasp down onto a small item. With a hard thrust, she cuts herself free -- and the objects appear to be shuriken.
But as the remnants of the neatly-shorn tendrils fall to the floor and Nagase leaps back, she chooses not to press her advantage.
With one more flick of her wrist, she slices the HitBit headband off her head in a shower of sparks, and a small spurt of blood. And yet, she doesn't seem concerned -- and actually seems relieved as the electronics fall to the floor.
"Free advice: This stuff's bad for your health."
With almost casual dismissiveness, Nagase juggles the stars into the same hand, and with two quick hand gestures, sends the stars on express trips at Ayame's shoulders.
COMBATSYS: Ayame dodges Nagase's Large Thrown Object.
[ \\\\\\\\\\ < > /////////////// ]
Nagase 1/---====/=======|=======\=====--\1 Ayame
It seems for every trick she has, Nagase is equipped with a tool to deal with it. Little by little, Ayame is coming to realize that she is up against the bladed, technological opposite of herself. The ninja has escaped or negated nearly every tactic of war the miko's staff and talismans have unleahsed. She did decide to participate in this event to gain experience, did she not? A loath as she would be to admit it, she should be grateful for the challenge the Iga genius is offering her. But such rational thoughts can hard to hear over the still simmering desire to deliver a decisive, final hit to pay the fox-haired girl back for her audacity.
But there is something else more pressing in the shrine guardian's thoughts - those winces of pain right before her attack struck. Nagase had seen her movements, she knew for certain, and undoubtedly read the general intent even if the specific details of the talisman's mechanics might have been impossible to divine... But it wasn't that she was too slow to respond. She was /prevented/.
The girl recalls her prior strikes. None of them should have kept the agile ninja from taking to the air as she intended... none of her strikes have gone for her legs. It might have been a pre-existing injury... who knows what brawls the sharp witted, sass-talking foxface got herself into prior to the match, right?
But as the HitBit band is sliced free, Ayame arcs an eyebrow slightly, standing up straight. Even from the distance, she didn't miss the splurt of blood accompanying the removal of the advanced electronics, followed by Nagase's remark.
"I see..." she murmurs, twisting the end of her staff up to press against the base of the camera affixed to her own forehead, knocking the band up and off with one deft motion. "I should have known." She pivots her right shoulder forward, dark brown eyes following the spinning, bladed trajectories flying her way. "But I wonder who is pushing the buttons."
She tilts her staff, about to intersect one of the shurikens, only to seem to change her mind and twist the rest of the way so that they fly past, clipping stray tendrils of strawberry blonde hair, but otherwise leaving her unscathed. Who knows. They could have been explosive afterall.
Echoes of disappointment come from the gathered crowd as they lose their two fighter's-perspective streams but as usual, Ayame pays them no heed.
"Thank you," she replies calmly, shifting her stance as she readies her next attack, crimson energy swirling about the lower hem of her dress, whipping the pleated cloth as it builds in strength. "You could have waited to see if it affected me the same." Her right foot slips forward, her staff held at her left side, angled forward, gripped by both hands. Anyone can tell she is about to charge. Those who have seen her in action are confident she is going to unleash her signature technique - an intense dance of wood and chi that has never failed to secure her victory in the past. "I would not have blamed you for withholding what you knew, hoping it would yield an advantage."
She pauses, the gathering energy seeming to dampen slightly. The miko glances to the side slightly, expression troubled, a frown forming at her lips. "I think... it is... what I would have done."
Exhaling, half closing her eyes, Ayame shakes her head, suddenly standing up straight. The aura of energy she had been building for an all-in attack fades and the girl lowers her staff to her side.
"My last attack would not have landed had events not been manipulated against you by those who have not put their blood on the line by being in this fight. I have no interest winning a battle won under such circumstances."
The priestess inhales then exhales, the words come hard, but her tone is defiant.
"I will withdraw."
COMBATSYS: Ayame seems to take no action.
[ \\\\\\\\\\ < > /////////////// ]
Nagase 1/---====/=======|=======\=====--\1 Ayame
The audience had been pretty into the fight before, watching every move made by the two expert fighters. But now, with their fight feeds terminated, some of them are angry. Some simply switch over to the view of the quadcopters overhead. And still others mutter and grouse amongst themselves. "Don't be so pissed, dumbass, she blocked our whole stream, -last- time..."
Nagase, for her part, seems... surprised at Ayame. Her shuriken whizz off, clattering against the brickwork before they can embed themselves in any hapless bystanders. Even -that- sound seems to disappoint her, as she stands up as straight as she can, considering the pain in her ribcage. She flashes a hopeful smile at Ayame, though it only lasts a moment or so.
The black-and-white striped official starts to run out into the open, waving his hands to show his neutrality. He approaches Nagase first, anger in his eyes. The Iga-ryu mercenary calmly slips the HitBit devices from her wrists and ankles, leaving them right where she stands with unparalleled nonchalance. This only seems to tick off the official more, and he makes a hand motion to the riot-gear-equipped Rumble Committe guards at the periphery of the battle arena.
The Iga-ryu assassin glances over to Ayame with a smirk, completely disinterested in the loud tone of voice she's being addressed with. "Yeah, yeah, dude, whatever. /I forfeit./"
And with that, she makes a quick handseal. The official starts to protest, but after a second, there's no one to protest -to-, as Nagase has disappeared in a wispy cloud of smoke.
With Nagase gone, the official motions to the guards to keep their distance. He steps over to Ayame, speaking quietly so as not to be heard: "As you have not destroyed your HitBit equipment, we are allowing you to proceed to the next round."
The crowds are -really- getting irascible, at this point.
COMBATSYS: Nagase has left the fight here.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ <
Even with her guard lowered, the shrine maiden waits to see the outcome of her decision. She had never withdrawn from a fight before on /principles/ before. But now she ha, whether it is because of her own form of honor, or pride at having the fight manipulated without her knowledge ahead of time, she has stated her intent clearly and unambiguously. Though she can't deny to herself that she would have tested her ultimate technique on the wily ninja. Purely for... scientific reasons, of course.
The official works his way into the open and the strawberry blonde watches him imperiously as if she considered him at fault for denying her a satisfying victory, but his attention seems to be on the Ika scion first and the miko is left to wait. "I have no doubt, we will have an opportunity to settle this another time." she states between frantic exclamations from the poor ref and increasingly unhappy crowd.
Nagase's answer to the hassling from the man is heard and her smirk answered with a thin smile from the injured priestess. And then she's gone.
The offer from the ref is heard and considered as Ayame unstraps the wrist and ankle bands calmly. She could continue in the event... but what to do about the devices? With the end of her staff, she lifts the discarded headband up into her hand in one motion, letting it dangle over her palm as she glances from it to the official.
"Very well." comes Ayame's short, curt answer. "I will see what the next round has to offer." A quiet glance is cast over toward the post Nagase had waiting for her when she first arrived. She never did get to figure out what that was about. A faint smirk traces its way across her lips... That will be a surprise for next time, she supposes.
COMBATSYS: Ayame has ended the fight here.
Log created on 00:01:17 02/13/2016 by Nagase, and last modified on 21:25:18 02/14/2016.