Description: The qualifying rounds for King of Fighters begin with some good old fashioned southern (in)hospitality, as Team Canada's rock princess Alexis and Home Depot ninja Howard Rust Jr. take on the Twilight Star Circus's resident fortuneteller Elise and the mysterious 'Rhydderch' in a no-holds-barred match at the Brutal Wrestling Arena. <Winner: Twilight Star>
Nobody had told her, when Elise agreed to be part of the Twilight Star Circus's fielded King of Fighters team, that it would involve... 'honkeytonk'.
From the first second she got off the plane in Nashville, the Scottish witch knew that she wasn't going to like it. While thankfully she's one of those Europeans that doesn't necessarily look down on Americans -- Elise is rather fond of the rowdy, rude, big spender colonials, herself -- she absolutely was not interested in what *she* perceives as an utterly provincial part of said nation. Give her a charming mid-Atlantic bed and breakfast or a whimsically stupid Pacific northwest cafe any day. This?
She endured the cab ride to her hotel in stony silence, forestalling any attempt on the part of, according to his name tag, "Garth"'s attempt to ask about what a pretty filly like her is doin' in the You Ess of Ay, and all. As if, by sheer bad luck, she managed to find the most stereotypically southern people in all of Kentucky purely by accident.
That night she went through an entire bottle of good wine in that hotel room.
But now the day has come to actually get involved in the fighting itself, and so here she is, at this... whatever it is. She'd watched footage of previous KoFs, to prepare, and had found some of the international locales absolutely stunning. Fighters on the streets while Brasil's Carnival dancers paraded by in the background. Fighters on a bridge over the canals of Venice while gondoleers punted their boats on past. And this?
As she steps up to the ring, carrying her hat in one hand, her hair streaming out behind her, Elise can probably be seen -- if not heard -- muttering imprecations on Honoka's name, followed by the ominous "you _owe_ me, lass."
Slipping between the ropes, the witch puts her regulation pointy hat on and pins it into place, before looking around at the venue. "Lovely. I'll just have a nice battle with this young woman and then if I need to put my auto up on blocks so I can change a tire, I won't have to travel far."
The young woman apparently indebted to Elise is already here in the Brute Force Wrestling Arena, seated within the crisp white, lavender, and persian blue banners marking off the exclusive seating area of the Twilight Star team. The circus' star juggler, dressed in a breezy jacket of a similarly bright shade of lilac, appears to be as ill-suited for the Nashville demographic as her Scottish confidante. However, this isn't the first time she's been to the States, or even Tennessee in particular; she tends to pull down pretty good ratings in the country twang demographic, perhaps due to her rural upbringing.
At any rate, the ambience clearly doesn't bother her as much as it does Elise: she's eagerly swaying to the house music. Her long locks of raven and rose bob about with each note; an ebullient smile upon her face would really give the impression that she couldn't be more at home than right here in Nashville.
Naturally, her entire team would know that it's all part of the act: a yo-yo is held firmly against her right palm by two fingers. If it weren't for the comprehensive, overlapping coverage of cameras from all vectors, the yo-yo would probably be dancing up its own storm by now.
"Wow, this is some crowd!" gushes Honoka, to no one in particular...
"It really is," murmurs the man standing just behind her, and a little to her left. He's not moving to the music at all; country is not his thing either. The man is wearing loose fitting pants that are tight at the waist, a close-fitting vest that almost (but not quite) covers a pair of scars on his trunk, and a mask that covers the top half of his face. His reddish-blonde hair is brushed up and away from the mask, and the whole of his outfit is that mix of colors matching the banners, if perhaps a shade or two darker. A single cutlass hangs from his left hip.
He's not smiling. He's not frowning, either. Aside from Honoka, the people around him likely are probably having a hard time reading this 'Rhydderch' fellow. The garb fits the rest of the team, as do certain elements of drama, but one might get the impression that he's either new to the circus... or something else entirely. Honoka, on the other hand, knows that the man is most definitely excited and ready to fight.
For Alexis Lovell, the best part of going on tour - whether it be as a musical entity or, as is the case this time, a member of a self-appointed national fighting team - is the opportunity to visit new places and meet people from different cultures. Already she's fought in front of a Sicilian cathedral, toured Japan, and even almost caused permanent damage to the Golden Rock in Myanmar. While Killasaurus Lex hasn't always been welcome in exotic international locales, she has always welcomed the chance to visit them.
"Oh my God, I am tilting so hard," Alexis whines plaintively from behind the curtain leading to the backstage area assigned to Team Canada. She turns her eyes away from the rows of fans sporting cowboy and cowgirl hats that line the rows of seats around the ring to the other members of her band. "This sucks. I'm pretty sure that Nashville is the sequel to Dante's Inferno."
"I never watched that show," a pink-haired, cowgirl-hat-sporting Kim Steele, the band's bassist, comments idly as she plays away on some mobile game.
"It's a show about Nashville, like the title says. A bunch of sell-outs selling out so they can sell out shows or whatever," Alexis mutters bitterly, before adding, "...Presumably. I was talking about the city we're in, though."
"Oh, no, I meant the other one," Kim replies in a nonchalant chirp.
Slapping her forehead, Alexis exhales a deep sigh before running her hands over her blouse, making sure it's tied securely at the bottom, then smoothing out her skirt. "Alright. How do I look?"
"Well, you look Catholic, but also like a stripper, and you're not wearing a cowgirl hat," mohawked drummer Matt "Toothhead" Barker remarks evenly. "So I'm pretty sure you're going to offend basically everyone here."
"Perfect," Alexis shoots back sincerely, offering the drummer a double thumbs up. "Make sure Steve has my entrance music ready, guys."
"I'll text him," Kim assures Alexis.
"He's sitting right over there," Alexis says with a bemused look, gesturing toward a goatee-sporting fellow teen sitting at a sound board with headphones on some twenty feet away.
"I know," Kim says with a shrug.
Shaking her head, Alexis rubs her temples for a moment before making her way past the curtain. With Elise already in the ring, the cue comes for Alexis to start making her way down. She bounces on her heels for a few seconds, preparing for the rehearsed timing before she breaks into a run toward the ring to match the high-octane tempo of her song of choice, Killasaurus Orphanage track "F.T.U.S.A.," which stands for pretty much what you would expect and is intended as a bird flip to the venue in which the battle between Team Canada and Team Twilight is about to take place. It's a wrestling venue, after all - she could always claim the choice of song to be part of playing the heel.
However, instead of the sound of high-tempo distorted guitars and the deep and thought-provoking refrain in "F*** America!," the sound that comes out of the speakers is an acoustic strum, accompanied by the words:
BABY YOU A SONG, YOU MAKE ME WANNA ROLL MY WINDOWS DOWN AND CRUISE o/~
"Oh, for f***'s sake," Alexis groans, slowing as the crowd breaks into cheers. Already she can see the terrible logic of the situation: a simple musical mistake transforms the snotty anti-American teen in a too-tight outfit into a country-loving Daisy Duke-esque crowdpleaser in the eyes of the audience. It is perhaps Alexis' worst nightmare come to life.
Realising that the slow, slouchy saunter she's adopted on her way to the ring actually suits the soundtrack, Alexis quickly resumes a faster stride, but the damage is already done. The wrestling fans of Nashville like her. She nearly trips as she makes her way between the ropes a little too hastily and her ankle catches on the lower ring rope. Bending down to make sure her boot is still secure on her foot draws another cheer from the crowd, who are wrestling fans, after all.
"Oh my God, stop cheering," Alexis pleads under her breath before straightening up, smiling, waving, and flipping everybody in the audience off with both fingers. It doesn't change the cheering situation; they are, after all, still mostly Brute Force Wrestling fans.
"F*** it," Alexis huffs as she walks over to where her wireless red electric guitar has been set against the turnbuckles, more or less blending in with the assortment of standard wrestling weaponry scattered around the ring environs. She flick the power on and hits a single open D chord experimentally as the music level drops in preparation for the coming fight. When the distorted chord rings out around the ring, she gives herself a nod of approval, flips the power again and slings the guitar over her shoulder by the strap.
"If you're gonna knock me out, do me a favour and make it quick, eh?" Alexis calls over to Elise as she adopts a loose brawler's fighting posture, hands held low with her fingers curled, but not quite clenched into fists.
COMBATSYS: Alexis has started a fight here.
Somewhere in the crowd, right up in the front among the fold-out chairs, are three children of varying ages - the children of one Howard Rust, Jr., who no doubt got free tickets to all the venues Team Canada may yet partake in.
Jao, the eldest, a younger teenager of Thai descent, slowly sinks in his seat as he nervously clutches an overpriced water bottle while the noise level reaches heights that probably should be more regulated in this day and age. "I don't see dad. Where is he?"
Trevor, a grade schooler with short black hair and a slightly heavy build, holds an overpriced french fry like one might a cigarette when a smoker may want to talk. There's ketchup on the wrong end and everything. "Doing up his hair out back."
A stout but yet proportionally ginormous figure of white fur stands next to the man of the following hour, scratching their head in bewilderment.
"It's very important," so says the one and only Rust Jr., standing before a large, wide mirror as he sifts through an assortment of hair styling accessories. He's only just barely out of the shower, his red-and-white recolored attaire all folded on a nearby chair as he seems to regard the matter of his hair with a certain uncharacteristic urgency, "can't go out with my head looking like that with."
The white-furred figure rests their hands upon the towel-headed man's shoulders, almost like some sort of sympathetic gesture of sorts.
"Don't worry about it," Jr. says as he turns his head over his shoulder, "I've done this for years! I'm a practiced hand at this sort of thing, eh?"
"GOOD LUCK!" He calls to Alexis and company as they move out towards to the arena, as the towel starts to slip from his head - it's time to get to work...
The large-bodied, big-footed figure recoils and takes a few steps back, one big hand over their mouth.
"Very certain." The young Trevor replies, sticking the end of the french fry back in his mouth, with the ketchup-dipped end out in the open, relaxed when surrounded in an unfamiliar, loud, brutish environment. "That's why we have three bathrooms in the house."
"The other room's a bathroom?!" Jao exclaims, as though this were complete news to him.
Natalie, a girl who is a number of years younger than even Trevor and probably should be under adult supervision, emotionlessly just sits there and stares. By her age's standards, this means she's probably content to watch and listen while Alexis uncomfortably takes her place to music she did not select.
"That's very rude," Jao gets it, "what does dad see in her?"
Trevor simply shrugs, taking another long drag of low-quality salt off the fry in his mouth.
So that happened.
Elise watches the sort of ongoing disaster of Alexis's entrance with an expression hovering between horrified fascination and undisguised amusement. Right up until the song happens, though, at which point she just groans, loudly, putting a hand to her face, fingertips curling toward her forehead as if her face were a fragile mask she needs to delicately hold in place... something that actually isn't that far from the truth, if you think about it. The witch could ALMOST endure this, ALMOST, if it were not for the glimpse of what feels like genuine anguish on Alexis's face over it, which is confirmed entirely by the Canadian rocker's request upon entering the ring, which gets a raised eyebrow from Elise.
"Just a moment, eh, hen?" the Twilight Star fighter says, letting more brogue and less Received Pronounciation slip into her voice, holding up a finger before... turning to leave the ring? Is she giving up?
The idea that she's conceding the fight before it even starts is certainly on everyone's mind, the audience's eyes tracking the sultry witch as she slowly sashays over to where the sound board has been set up and, coming to a stop, leans over it to look at the sound engineer, her breasts all but resting on the equipment as she looks him in the eye.
And, in one swift movement, rams a knife directly into the equipment, which shorts out with a dramatic *SQUAWK* from the loudspeakers before they go silent.
"LORD," Elise says, exasperated, before snatching the knife out of the board and walking back toward the ring as if she had done nothing more impactful than powdering her nose. The crowd SHOULD be angry -- and probably will be shortly -- but for the moment the entire affair was so flabbergastingly unexpected that nobody has said or done anything until she's well safe inside the actual ring itself.
"Well!" Elise says to Alexis with a smile. "I certainly feel better. And before the fisticuffs proceed I just want to say, the whole..." She gestures vaguely with one hand, moving it in lazy circles once or twice, "...St. Agnes School for Wayward Girls meets Alistair Crowley look works for you. Well done."
Over Alexis's shoulder, however, the Scot spies a KoF organizer giving her a meaningful look, one that simultaneously says 'you might have to pay for that mixer' and 'could you get on with it already because now we can't announce you to the crowd'. Chuckling, she shakes her head. "Well, it would appear they want us to get on with it, hen, so I suppose I'll do just that. Good luck to you, and remember..."
With a practiced stage magician's flick of the wrist, a silver dagger is suddenly in Elise's outstretched hand. "Our queen is on your money," she says with a smile, before simply tossing the knife at Alexis.
COMBATSYS: Elise has joined the fight here.
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Elise 0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0 Alexis
COMBATSYS: Elise successfully hits Alexis with Medium Fling.
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Elise 0/-------/------=|====---\-------\0 Alexis
The way that Elise turns her back on Alexis draws a slightly irritated quirk of an eyebrow from the Canadian teenager. Everything inside her wants this thing to be over fast. The sooner the match is over, the sooner that she can escape from this musical melting pot of country, western, dubstep, hip-hop, and whatever else it is that they're flooding the industry with these days.
And then the Florida-Georgia Line song is murdered in cold blood. At least now the day isn't a total loss, Alexis thinks, raising her guard again carefully as Elise returns her attention to the ring.
"Yeah, well, I guess if I had that costume I might not wait for Halloween like everyone else, either, eh?" Alexis remarks with a nod toward Elise's outfit as she brings her hands up into fists. Though she's on the defensive, the remark regarding currency distracts her for a moment - not long enough to keep her from trying to twist out of the way of the flying blade, but possibly contributing to her inability to perform the maneuver with adequate haste. The knife's edge slices along the side of Alexis' bare midsection, leaving a bloody wound that the Canadian instinctively clasps a hand over. She inhales sharply through clenched teeth before pulling her fingers away. Not even a glance is needed to confirm that she's been cut; she keeps her eyes on Elise as she starts to circle to one side.
"Yeah, well, so are beavers, bears and birds, eh?" she snaps. "What can I say? We're big on animals."
As her rapid circling pattern brings her near to the ring ropes, Alexis hops up onto them, using their springiness to launch herself into a flying cross-body aimed to collide with the Twilight Star witch. Should she manage to connect the move, she would use her legs to swing herself around and loop an arm around Elise's neck before dropping back and driving her hat-first into the mat with a move known to the wrestling fans in the audience as a Tornado DDT. Any impacts involved would be accompanied by distorted guitar-like sounds, not from Alexis' guitar, but from energy in the air being focused into an offensive force.
COMBATSYS: Elise dodges Alexis' Stage Dive.
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Elise 0/-------/------=|===----\-------\0 Alexis
Well then. Wrestling technique isn't precisely what Elise herself expected, but somewhat thankfully for her, the moment Alexis spends dealing with the pain and shock of the knife throw is one more second Elise can spend thinking about how to handle whatever will come next. What this means is that she's already started taking a step or two backwards before the Canadian rock star has even started for the ropes. It turns out that this momentary extra step is entirely necessary; when the SS Alexis is mere seconds from making landfall on the Elise Islands, the witch turns her final step into a backwards hop. Downside, it puts her closer to the ropes on her end than she'd like. Upside, it means Alexis slams to the mat harmlessly rather than hammering Elise into it.
Despite the sass, though, the Scot retains that smile that's got just enough sweetness in it to feel sour, the pleasantness feeling a bit of a put-on rather than genuine. "I don't know that I'd say that QUITE so loud, sweetness," she stage-whispers to Alexis in a conspiratorial tone. "That's how rumors about incautiously randy people and elk get started."
Staying where she is now isn't a good strategic move on Elise's part. As it is, there's not much room to maneuver if Alexis's assault continues to be a close quarters sort of scenario, which given her personality, is almost certainly likely. This doesn't necessarily leave her with a lot of options, however, especially considering she's in high heels. So, instead, she tries a somewhat different approach.
"As for the Halloween costume joke... I'm sure you can do better, hen, but you know. Good on you for trying." Crossing her arms over her chest for a moment, she suddenly flicks her closed fingers, and between the knuckles of each hand, yet more knives make an appearance... only this time, they start to thrum with a violet-silver haze of power. Whipping both arms outward as she uncrosses them, with a flash, the knives sweep out into the air!
And don't come anywhere near to hitting Alexis, instead sweeping off to the sides. However, the clever may notice: they're still glowing, and once they reach a certain distance, they *stop moving* until, like a symphony conductor, Elise sweeps both hands in with a gesture, snapping her hands closed into fists... and on cue, the two sets of floating daggers fly *inward*, looking to shred Alexis from both sides.
COMBATSYS: Alexis blocks Elise's Fragarach.
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Elise 0/-------/----===|=======\-------\0 Alexis
Fortunately for Alexis, she has enough experience with wrestling and poor audience reception to know how to land a missed dive without injuring herself -too- badly. Nonetheless, generally such landings aren't preceded by slash wounds to the stomach. She sucks in another pained breath as the canvas reverbates with the released energy. Grabbing at one of the middle ropes, she hauls herself up to her feet while Elise taunts her, pulling herself upright in time to see the blades in the air come to a stop.
"Shit," she breathes. She hasn't seen something like this in a fight before, but she's pretty sure that she has an idea of where it's going. But what the hell do you /do/ about -
There's no time for Alexis to consider the question as the daggers swoop toward her from either side. Making a snap judgment, she brings both hands up on either side of her before slapping at the blades as they thrust toward her sides, trying actively not to consider the potential consequences of failing such a maneuver.
The defense pays off - as intended, the knives are redirected with a faint musical *ping* to the ring floor. It's not until after she's breathed a quick sigh of relief that Alexis becomes aware of the burning in the fingers of her left hand where her gloves failed to fully protect her from the knife's bite.
Clenching a fist to suppress the bleeding and its associated sensation, Alexis steps toward Elise with a cool glare in her eyes. "Well, you know what they about rocks and those who live in gingerbread houses," she says as she dips forward into a spinning motion, a high-pitched hum following in a sonic trail behind her foot as she aims a spinning heel kick toward Elise's upper body.
COMBATSYS: Elise reflects Medium Kick from Alexis with Gram.
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Elise 0/-------/--=====|=======\==-----\1 Alexis
"The way the knives move," Jao murmurs, sinking further into his seat. The positioning of one of sets of knives would, in theory, be pointing in his direction were Alexis not there in the middle, mentally substituting himself in Alexis' position in projecting his anxieties of simply being, "I don't like this.."
Trevor gets a new fry after having slowly consumed the previous, tapping it gently with his finger to shake off the pepper grains - he asked specifically for the pepper to be held! - like one might ashes.
"You're watching the knives, and not the girls?" He dabs the outer tip in ketchup and renews his strange method of junk food consumption. "Aren't you a teenager?"
Jao has no comeback.
Natalie leans forward where she sits as she watches knives fly, with the same suggestion of hypnotism one might see of a young child in front of a television as the exchanges continue as they will.
Normally, against a brawler type, Elise is at a considerable disadvantage. She's not exactly Amazon Woman, here; she's wearing heels and a witch hat, so, you know. Use your basic D&D knowledge. However, the ever-vibrant Alexis's sonic abilities mean the fortuneteller is in slightly more comfortable territory... though to hear Honoka tell the tale, the price of failure falling from said cliff is very, very high indeed.
Ironically enough, if it hadn't been for the Canadian's creative defense against the cloud of daggers she just deflected, Elise might not have noticed in time to save herself, but for a split second, she becomes aware of how effortless the deflection was... and what was likely behind it. And thus, her plan takes shape. One free hand goes behind her back, and the audience who can see from the angle can notice the fingers of said hand, out of sight, making a few complicated, rapid gestures, before the Scot's hand starts to glow violet-silver.
When Alexis attempts to slam her heel into Elise's poor, delicate, sexy body, said hand whips forward in the blink of an eye. There's a loud crackle of energy as force meets force: for a moment, Alexis's sonic-empowered heel is 'stuck' on what appears to be a circular sigil, a magic circle conjured into being... but looking closely, it is in fact the aura of humming power that's really caught.
"I am glad to say that I have no idea what they say in such a situation, lass," Elise says calmly, before snapping the fingers of the hand maintaining the seal. With a sudden burst of force, Alexis's foot is pushed away... while the seal itself shatters, becoming sharp-looking shards of light that follow, too quickly to be avoided, pummeling the rock star in retribution. Apparently she's got more than just physical knives at her disposal.
What do they say about rocks and people who live in gingerbread houses? One may never know, as Alexis is not wont to elucidate further - especially after her attempt to put her stamp on Elise's person is punished by the retaliatory fan of light shards, causing the Canadian to stagger backwards in pain. She catches herself against the ropes in the corner, steadies herself with a deep breath, then hops up onto the middle turnbuckles. She's getting blown out and she knows it; desperate times call for desperate measures. And for Alexis, appealing to the Nashville masses is truly the most desperate of measures.
Raising a fist to the crowd, she opens her mouth and shouts, "Hey, Nashville!" Amplified by her control over sonic energy, her words actually carry fairly well into the stands. However, in the next moment, they are drowned out as two technical issues are solved in tandem.
The first is that the sound system comes back on.
The second is that Alexis' intended entrance theme finally makes it onto the soundtrack for the evening. Thus, Alexis' appeal to the audience is accompanied by the resounding and repeating words:
"F*** AMERICA! F*** AMERICA!"
The message may be mixed, but the audience finally seems to catch on to the fact that Alexis isn't really some country-lovin' Canadian gal. Boos rise like a tidal wave, washing over the ring. While this was what Alexis was expecting when she arrived, she can't help but have somewhat mixed feelings about it now.
"Eh. Whatever," she mutters as she turns to face Elise. The audience's ire is, at least, still sufficient for her needs; she doesn't need them happy, she just wants them loud.
Basking in the hatred of the Nashville fight fans, Alexis draws in a deep breath and focuses on the sound humming all around her, allowing it to drown out the pain of her injuries...
COMBATSYS: Alexis surges with the power of rock!
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Elise 0/-------/--=====|=======\=======\1 Alexis
Oh good. They fixed the loudsp--
In perhaps the least impressive tactical maneuver ever, Elise just kinda... stares at Alexis for the duration of whatever the hell it is she's doing. There's a sort of grim fascination with watching a public relations nightmare happen in real time, right before you eyes. The witch's head tilts to one side, auburn hair shifting slightly on her shoulder as she tries to figure out what Alexis's POINT is here. At least the growing flow of power eventually makes that relatively clear.
Eventually, she finds it in herself to speak, although she opens her mouth, about to speak, before shutting them again, pursing her lips in thought. Really, banter is about keeping your opponent off-balance, but it CURRENTLY appears as if Alexis is, like a top, not just off-balance but spinning wildly through the moment because of said lack of balance.
"If I were going to... 'eff' America," Elise says carefully, "I am relatively certain I wouldn't start HERE."
Deciding that she would rather not have All Chaos Emeralds Alexis coming at her, Elise brings out yet more knives... or rather, just one. This time, she doesn't try to hide the imbuement of power into the blade, letting it spark with that faerie fire-like glow before she just sort of... casually tosses it at Alexis.
If it hits at all, the knife doesn't break skin. If anything, it just sorta bounces off and falls to the ground. However, contact makes that violet glow transfer from the knife to the rock star... and if that occurs, Elise makes a sudden sweep with her hand, swiping it off to stage right. The problem is, with Elise's gesture, that power that seeps into Alexis's body suddenly makes HER jerk through the air in the same direction!
COMBATSYS: Alexis endures Elise's Hrunting.
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Elise 0/-------/-======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 Alexis
While the noise from the crowd is intense, the pulsating hum in Alexis' vicinity has taken on a fully tangible quality, causing the ropes and mat beside the girl to vibrate with the sound. The air is so thick with it that one might even question whether the flying blade could even penetrate it. Alexis herself even seems to think so, judging by the fact that she doesn't even move out of the way, instead steeling herself as she leans forward before breaking into a run headlong toward Elise and the intervening weapon.
It turns out, the knife is perfectly capable of penetrating the wall of sound, though at first it would seem otherwise as the blade deflects off of Alexis' chest. The violet glow does, however, cling to Alexis' top, causing her to tilt her head downward slightly to try and get a better look at what's going on there.
And then, of course, she's pulled violently blouse-first sideways into the ring ropes. The result is that she's left bent over, suspended by her midriff over the top rope, the wind driven out of her. She clenches her teeth as the impact aggravates the wound on her side, as does her steadying grasp on the rope to the fingers of her left hand.
The crowd are cheering now; the offensive schoolgirl (if in style only) is being appropriately punished for her prior antics. Not to mention that it leaves Alexis in a rather enticingly vulnerable position, bouncing on the ropes with her body doubled over as she is...
The pose isn't maintained for long, though, as Alexis wills her body to action, extending her arms to push herself up off of the rope and swinging her feet up in one motion. Catching the wildly bouncing upper rope with her feet, she pushes herself up, then launches herself backward off of the grey cord into a backflip toward Elise. Two high-pitched harmonic tones accompany the motion as Alexis aligns the soles of her boots with Elise before kicking out - as does another rise in the noise level from certain members of the crowd as Alexis' skirt succumbs logically to gravity.
"She doesn't like it here?" Jao seems puzzled by Alexis' profane screams. The jeers and not-cheers nearly drown out such idle musing.
"My friend Alex has an older brother in college," Travis muses as he takes in a deep... drag? Off the fry. How long can you leave a fry in one's mouth before you dissolve any sense of taste or texture in that thing? Trevor tests the limits of this concept, apparently, "he says it's really popular and mainstream to hate your place of living."
"But she's from Canada?" Jao asks.
Now Trevor is without answers. To be fair, maybe there's some level of morbid, bloody fascination over watching Alexis fly about, noise versus poise.
Natalie's eyes perk up, sitting up straighter as the intensity grows ever greater. Seriously, who thought it was a good idea to let such young children sit in such a raw environment? (Dad did, one would guess!)
"Stay there!" She says, as though demanding, raising a hand as she brings it down against thin air.
COMBATSYS: Alexis successfully hits Elise with The Windmill.
~~ Alluring Hit! ~~
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Elise 1/----===/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 Alexis
In this instance, the same sonic energy that helped Elise before turns against her now; apparently made forgetful by the Canadian rocker's antics, the key detail -- that the sonic field extends beyond the literal reach of Alexis's striking limbs -- escapes her. Or perhaps she's now been so deafened by the screaming goings on that the knowledge was quite literally blasted out of her head. THAT'S HOW YOU GET TINNITUS. Either way, Elise's attempt to fade backward from the backflipping kick does not account for the extra reach, meaning the sonic field catches her first, halts her attempt at evasion, and gives Alexis the opening she needs to land the remainder of the attack, which sends the fortuneteller reeling backwards into the ropes... thankfully, because the kick delivered enough momentum that, had Elise not had them to stop her, she would have been doing some inadvertent crowd surfing right now.
Pushing herself to her feet, the Scot frowns for a moment, brushing off her shoulders... and trying not to put her hand to her chest, where the attack actually struck. "Well," she says carefully. "I'm glad we've passed the scintillating repartee portion of our show, hey?" There's a trace of genuine humor in it, but maybe a voice popped up in Elise's head that this is actually KoF, and perhaps she should actually think carefully about what her next move would be. There are so many different options to consider...
Bringing a hand up, Elise does another magician-like snapping motion of the wrist, revealing a knife in her hand once more. Where the hell are all these coming from, anyway? Staring Alexis down, she does finally bring a genuine smile to her face, though it is still her typically wry expression. "For what it's worth, hen, this crowd doesn't deserve a tenth of the performance you're giving them, so well done, that."
And with that, she chucks the knife.
The crowd seems confused. Was she hoping the Canadian rock star would jump the gun and dive INTO the knife? Is her hair in her eyes? What's the point of throwing a knife and MISSING before your opponent does anything?
But the keenly observant will notice that after a certain distance, the knife slams into a small round sigil in the air, much like the earlier seal Elise made. The impact sends the knife ricocheting off in another direction, where it meets ANOTHER seal... then another... then another... until finally, after a series of dizzying ricochets, the knife is now heading back at Alexis, having accelerated considerably. From BEHIND her.
COMBATSYS: Elise successfully hits Alexis with Carnwennan.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////// ]
Elise 0/-------/----===|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 Alexis
There is a certain disadvantage to Alexis Lovell's fighting style - or, more specifically, to her ability to manipulate sonic energy. While she may be more accustomed to the general loudness that she creates and feeds off of than the average person, she is also nearly as incapable of hearing the quieter aural indicators that are overwhelmed by the cacophony of noise generated in the heat of battle. In effect, this means that trying to follow the aerial movements of the weapon to the rear of her field of vision requires a decision to take her eyes off of her opponent.
In the end, Alexis decides to keep her focus on Elise herself. She unslings her guitar from her back, brandishing it low like a zweihander, and starts to advance. She has only a moment's warning as the knife whistles toward her back. She turns, shoulder scrunching to try and catch or deflect the brunt of the attack - but it's too late, as the weapon embeds itself in her back. Her eyes widen as pain shoots through her body, causing her to stiffen and straighten.
"Oh... shit," Alexis wheezes, her grip on her instrument almost going slack as her posture starts to sink toward the canvas. Defiantly, she tightens her fingers around the neck of her guitar, blood trickling down from her fingers to stain the strings.
It would be rather shaming - not that she's unused to such things - for Alexis to fall in the first round while having failed to make an impact. And so, if she's going to do one, she resolves to do the other as well - and aims to make that impact to the side of Elise's head. Charging forward like a berserker, the Canadian punk rocker swings her 'axe' in an arc, twisting and throwing her full weight into the spiral motion as if she doesn't intend to stop!
Should the weapon find any purchase, the payout accompanying it will be in the form of a shockwave fit to reverberate through the ring. Whether or not it does, the followthrough momentum will almost surely carry her to the mat...
COMBATSYS: Alexis can no longer fight.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ <
COMBATSYS: Elise blocks Alexis' Tribute to Townshend.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ <
There is a loud *WHAM!* as the swinging guitar slams into Elise's hastily-upraised arms with whatever 100x 'bruising force' is. Elise actually *slides across the mat* on her flat feet for a short distance, just from the impact, and she BLOCKED it. Alexis may be pleased to see the Scot's eyes widen in genuine surprise at that. There's a brief second when she seems about to say something, and her mouth opens--
Elise had let her guard down, assuming the attack was done. It was not. For the second time, she's slammed into the ropes by the sheer force of the sonic shockwave, smacking into them and immediately rebounding forward into awkward, stumbling steps that take her just past the trajectory of Alexis's followthrough, like a drunk trying to stumble in the door at 2am. After a moment of two she manages to plant one foot heavily and keep from going any farther, and a few moments more to collect herself (and hope the ringing in her ears goes away sometime befoe 2075). She turns to her opponent, hoping to God that the attack just now was her swan song.
When Elise confirms that to be the case, more or less, she lets out a long, heavy breath. The crowd cheers... sort of. They may have been mad at Alexis's lyrics, but Elise seems like a snobby Brit and they don't really like her, either.
Deciding to be a decent human being for once, she steps forward toward Alexis, speaking in a voice she hopes is enough solely for the Canadian to hear, "Well fought, hen, aye? Let's do it again sometime for an audience more receptive than a crowd of piss-drunk Yanks."
COMBATSYS: Elise awaits the next challenger.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ <
The King of Fighters tournament broadcast isn't -just- limited to the two people duking it out on stage, of course. At regular intervals throughout the fight, the Brutron(tm) big screen has been switched to the video feeds of the auxiliary cameras: the ones for Team Canada and Twilight Star.
Honoka Kawamoto is well used to the attention. At venues like this, the camera trained upon her could go live at any moment, so she's been ebullient and cheerful throughout, despite the... capricious changes of music.
It helps that she kinda -likes- Killasaurus Orphanage's musical edge, of course. Any ill will directed towards the land of Lightning Spangles and Donald Trump is just a bonus.
Honoka had tensed up somewhat whenever the Canadian landed her attacks, but her enthusiastic smile had remained intact. Elise is a big girl, she can handle herself, after all. Honoka's trust in the Scot is shown by the mischievous twinkle in her eye whenever the knife is flung in an interesting direction. She reacts even before the attack lands -- that's how well she knows her teammate's style.
Even while cheering, the juggler has, from time to time, been talking with the other members of the Twilight Star entourage. Of all those in the tent, only two weren't official members of the Twilight Star Circus proper. One was the masked man with the fearsome presence -- Honoka may have leaned towards him from time to time, but if there was any conversation at all, it wasn't carried out verbally. Though he may be a newcomer, it's pretty clear that the man isn't a -stranger-, per se.
The other, though, is a fashionable Korean woman with streaks of white hair who seems a bit taken with the glitz and glamour of the showy, crowd-pleasing exchanges between Elise and Alexis. Each solid impact draws a nervous expression from the Korean woman -- it's clear she's -seen- fights before, but the King of Fighters stage is a level beyond anything she's seen before.
Amidst a chorus of cheers from the audience, Honoka thrusts her fist into the air to join in Elise's triumph. It's especially sweet, for as she'd told her team (probably WAY too many times), she knows exactly how damaging the Canadian rocker's sonic attacks could hit under the right circumstances. If she'd gotten her song cued correctly, Twilight Star's fate may have turned out very different indeed.
And then... Howard Rust Jr appears. The man who could have easily won the Majigen Series, if only he had stuck through it. The crazy person behind the Hit-Bot persona who had won the hearts of thousands in the Rumble. The man with... that rusty ol' pipe.
Honoka's smile chooses that moment to falter. Is he... licensed to use that here? Honoka and her masked companion might be able to mend wounds of the body, but she relies on Miss Harkness's keen intellect far too much to be complacent when a lead pipe is involved.
The broad grin returns after just a moment though; the charismatic juggler knows that confidence is a force multiplier. "Go get 'im, Elise!" she cries out, eager to see the fight continue into the next round. This will be the juggler's first time seeing Rust Jr fight in person, and she suspects she won't be disappointed.
A pair of beady red eyes peek out from the wrestler's entrance as Alexis is likely helped off and away from the ring. It's easy to miss those eyes. The owner of said eyes seems to be very good at staying out of the public eye - the camera never catches clean sight of him. A jaw unhinges wide enough, with such force that the doorframe shudders behind it.
Meanwhile, one of the designated referees has found a workaround for that whole sound system issue by getting a handheld microphone with sound quality more in line with what might be expected from, say, the early nineties.
"Elise! WON!" The voice pronounces 'won' a little strangely, like they're not comfortable saying the word. It might be someone still learning English, there. The Scot is afforded her moment of rest.
"(Did you even see what happened out there?)" Speaks the stout creature that Alexis and her crew befriended upon a recent venture. "(It's snowballing right out of control...)"
A beat passes in silence.
"(Are you still not done with your hair?!)"
"Be right there!" Calls Jr.'s voice.
Having managed to learn fighting tournament decorum in such a notably short timeframe, the stout creature of big feet reaches right into the dressing room, lifts the pipe-wielding ponce up over his head in one hand...
"That's my cue?" As if he really ought to be asking, one hand still firmly over his head - he's dressed up now, thankfully.
"(Out into the cold!)"
To the greater fighting public... Howard Rust, Jr., the current reigning World Champion, is hurled comically a great distance from the wrestler's entrance, all the way across the ramp, just to get himself tangled in the ropes. There's no real time to appreciate the red and white coloration of his outfit, or the red and white pyrotechnic streamers that were to come out at his entrance, or do anything but maybe have a laugh at how the last standing bastion of the red and white is currently tangled in grey and yellow.
"(Sorry!)" Comes that odd, rumbling voice from backstage.
Untangling himself with little in the way of grace, he's moments away from being helped out of his predicament by officials when he actually gets upright, one hand against the upper back of his head. The fingers of his right hand go up against the upper back of one of those buns, for whatever reason.
"Give it up for Howard Rust... Junioooorrrr!" Another microphone holder tries to salvage the botched dramatic timing of it all. Someone else taps their wristwatch with visible irritation.
"Dad's going up against her...?" Jao brings his hands up closer to his mouth. "Against all those knives? Can he really stand a chance? That schoolgirl already looked frightening..."
"Maybe." Trevor seems a little too chill about all this as he's on his third french fry - shouldn't kids normally be cheering for their parents in big, public, celebratory situations such as these, giving into the usual illusions of deification of their caretakers? "Got us out of school about a week early, didn't it?" ...Close enough?
"Stay there!" Repeats Natalie, swinging a hand downward again against the air violently. She might take someone's leg off with that. She starts to smile.
One could feel the love of their children...
Without even calling his name out, Jr. takes a moment to wave his right hand up into the crowd where his kids are sitting - magical dad senses? - and turns back once again to Elise as he draws the length of pipe out of the toolbelt with a smooth movement of his left hand.
"Howard, versus, Elise!" The referee says these three words in a very stilted, uncomfortable manner, like he's stitching together three single statements made at separate points in time into the believable illusion that it's all being spoken at once. Rust Jr. raises his free hand into the air, shouldering the pipe as he rolls a number of construction bits between his fingers - nails, washers, bolts - his mouth flaps as if saying something but it's lost to the stilted announcements as the whole lot of what he has in his right hand disappears into nowhere important to note.
"FIGHT!" As if on vocal cue, the words come up on the Brutron in a bold, thick font. The colors are likened to flame, all superimposed atop a clear and clean camera view of the ring - darker red up top, yellow at the bottom, where the word burns away into nothingness as the battle begins anew.
"--n't see any of it," looks like Elise is now getting the latter part of a statement that got lost to the announcement, "but it's all good, eh?"
Outwardly, he seems almost night and day compared to the predecessor of the team line-up. Reasonably pleasant and affable in demeanor, as according to stereotype. He's not exactly unknown on the world scale - middling career when he was younger, son of a famous father with a very adventurous childhood, a few serious conversations at the UN about barring him from meaningfully interacting with certain elements of the periodic table ever again, that sort of thing.
The affable demeanor seems almost completely at odds with the way he approaches, leaping through the air with a vaguely frog-like lunge, swinging the pipe down...
Too short? Nope, he hits the tip of a crowbar that flips itself into the air, snatched handily in his right hand as he rotates into a low swing around leg level, using the curved head to simultaneously strike around the shin and possibly destabilize her balance from poentially hooking her leg.
By his standards, it seems a competent and confident sequence even in light of his... less than embarrassing and error-filled entrance.
COMBATSYS: Rust has joined the fight here.
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ////////////////////// ]
Rust 0/-------/-------|=======\-------\0 Elise
COMBATSYS: Elise dodges Rust's Random Weapon.
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ////////////////////// ]
Rust 0/-------/-------|=======\-------\0 Elise
Even though Elise is beyond grateful for a second or two to catch her breath, by the time Rust Jr. human cannonballs into the ring at the speed of comedy, the witch's hearing is STILL a bit... let's use the word 'fuzzy'. There's a reason the 'deafness' condition hurts your skill checks in D&D, friends. She vaguely gets the sense that she her name, kinda sorta, and thus had turned to look into the audience for Honoka and company, resulting in a brief, kinescope-like slideshow of:
1.) Elise turns to her left
2.) Rust flies by her, shearing past by mere inches.
3.) The wave-and-acknowledge Elise intended for Honoka, whose gaze she has just met, is now buried under about six layers of 'what the hell have you gotten me into.'
"Oh, Canada," Elise says quietly, as Rust disentangles himself from the ropes. "As thy arm hath wielded the sword, so has it borne the cross."
Eventually, the man stands up, and in taking his measure, Elise's expression undisguisedly seems to radiate surprise at how this person in front of her, and the hardcore rock type she just fought, managed to become a team... and vaguely wondering who ELSE is on that roster. But perhaps MOST interesting is his aura, which -- to her second sight -- is... complicated, to say the least, seemingly made of contradictory patterns and colors. Verging on the confusing, rather unlike most people.
It's wrapped her up enough that the most she has said, before the announcer cuts through the fog, is an inelegant: "Huh."
But then the announcer does indeed call out the fight, and the Scot looks directly at her opponent with a tilted head. "I thought your name was Rust? Or is it Howard?" After all, the announcer said 'Elise' and not 'Harkness.' "Either way, let's give them a good show, hey?" And then he's airborne and... falling... short?
It's Honoka's influence that keeps Elise from making a fatal mistake: underestimating her opponent. It made a difference with Alexis, and it makes one now: Rust lands too short for his attack to be an attack, so there are two options. One, he's incompetent, or two, he has a plan. Thus when the rather clever crowbar ploy makes its appearance, Elise is more prepared for it. Dipping in to her own native culture (as it were), the fortuneteller's beheeled shoes do a fancy little step dance around the crowbar, neatly evading the stroke. With a grin and a clap of the hands, she takes the opportunity to immediately strike back, by trying to stomp a foot onto Rust's outstretched attacking arm.
COMBATSYS: Elise successfully hits Rust with Light Kick.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > /////////////////////// ]
Rust 0/-------/-----==|=======\-------\1 Elise
Rust Jr.'s forearm ends up pinned under the heel of the woman of the hour. He puts on yet another comical face, something that should be a simple cringe, but the way his eyes roll and his jaw suddenly favors shifting to the left side, it's... weird. It's like she might have pinched a nerve harder than she might first think.
"Howard Rust, Jr., ha, ah, aaaactuallyyyy," it trails off to a pathetic breathy noise as his posture is brought uncomfortably low - pretty easy to see as submissive! - as the crowbar slides out of his grasp and past the ropes, to be forgotten. "Any one of them's... okayyy..."
"You!" Natalie calls out, miming that same arm swinging motion seen prior. Trevor, without even turning to look, folds a leg up and away as the french fry in his mouth bobs up and down. Jao continues to express worry about it all.
Giving up more ground, he twists his body to his right and goes further prone on his back, turning his arm under the heel with an awful cramping feeling as he stares up from below - quite a view, as far as most men would be concerned.
"Ah, can I have my arm back...? If... if it's not much trouble," he asks.
Without waiting for an answer, he swings the pipe up and outward at a low arc, a similar overall angle to the initial crowbar blow, now swinging with his dominant hand. He angles his shoulder within the limits of believability of human joint flexibility, turning his upper body as he's able to give more reach to the swing to try and get both the legs, already clipping the leg of a nearby table in the process with the pipe.
COMBATSYS: Elise interrupts Foundation Layer from Rust with Hauteclere.
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Rust 0/-------/--=====|=======\==-----\1 Elise
The truth is, no matter what a legion of vanilla-as-hell middle aged white dudes say, getting stepped on with a high heel is actually going to hurt like hell because it's an AWFUL lot of pressure/weight compressed down to a relatively small point. It's not like, oh-yes-my-queen hurt, it's "ow that's a nerve bundle you're piledriving" hurt. That said, never before in her fighting career has Elise Harkness ever been *politely asked* to remove herself from an opponent, and definitely not BY said opponent. The confusing nature of this may be why she actually does it, without thinking, stepping backwards as soon as Rust makes the request of her.
Of course, the fact that she acquiesced without thinking then seems to hit her on a vague time delay of approximately 3-4 seconds, which usefully snaps her back into awareness of what's going on, forcing her to look down and see... well, the man's swinging a bloody rusty pipe at her, that's what's happening. It's rather too late to get out of the way, so rather than try for some last ditch miracle save, she decides to try and salvage the situation as much as possible.
The slow-mo instant replay on the Brutron™ once the moment passes is quite instructive. The pipe slams into Elise's right calf, sending her stumbling backwards, but AT THE SAME TIME the mat under Rust, from which he is unlikely to be able to escape thanks to the angle of his attack, glows with the barely-visible violet-silver of one of the witch's mystic sigils. In point of fact, BECAUSE it's under Rust's body, the visual result is quite interesting: his body covers the sigil, but not the LIGHT, so what occurs is a very... horror movie-esque glow escaping from under his body for a fraction of a second before it becomes a brief vertical column of blasting light, streaking upwards.
The force of Elise's retaliatory strike thankfully knocks the REST of Rust's pipe blow out of alignment, preventing the Scot from feeling its full force, but even the bit that gets through is enough to make her wince in pain, especially after the force of Alexis's assault earlier. "Hawd with the aim at my legs, eh, man?" the fortuneteller says aloud, a combination of exhaustion and pain dropping her normally proper way of speaking into a slightly more colloquial brogue. "A lass'll think you've got designs on her virtue, hey?"
"Gkkkflblrltkpf!" It's a brush with eldritch tongues - for all we know, a curse word this man picked up God knows where - and might not be just another well-intentioned attempt at inscribing the weird utterances that come out of this man's throat.
The pipe-wielding ninja of questionable qualification to such a title pops upwards into the air by the blasting light, spinning and spiraling and otherwise being reintroduced back into the ring by a folding ladder that just happens to be where he lands, rolling him back down and depositing him into the ring face-first.
"Ah, believe me," his voice is muffled, given he's facing down against the mat, "took a lot to get my wife to be okay with all this," there's a bit of laughter? Laughing at just how paintful that fall is, as he gets up and rubs at the back of his head with his freed right hand, then shaking out that once-pinned arm.
"Right," he says, staggering closer to the center, clearing his throat as the jovial nature transitions to something maybe a little more reasonable for the circumstances at hand, before an audience who probably doesn't care too much for either of their places of birth, "thanks for helping me up. Now, that whole dropping the gloves bit, yep."
For a choice of words that seem to say 'I'm serious now,' he doesn't seem to look the part in terms of facial expression or body language - like there's just something, on some level, simply joyous about being, relatively free of the pressures he should by all rights be feeling. He got a major title under circumstances that weren't terribly convincing to hardcore fight analysts. Surely, a man of his advancing age, grasping so readily at glory, would be desperate to prove something...?
His right hand moves almost as a blur, cleanly withdrawing a handful of screwdrivers between each knuckle, flinging them forth in a consistent path among them in spite of the minute differences in their origin points of his grip. He steps forward, a second time, and with another blur of his right hand, tosses a second identical handful, his right side facing forward with his arm raised as if to leave his midsection bare.
It's either arrogance, or maybe he didn't pay that much attention to the first bout (we all know the answer to that, shh) to have acknowledged where he may be playing into one of Elise's specialties and how it overturned one of Alexis' offensives.
"See? Totally busy with his hair," Trevor points out.
COMBATSYS: Elise dodges Rust's Tools For The Job.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > /////////////////// ]
Rust 0/-------/--=====|=======\==-----\1 Elise
Okay. Rust is confusing and strange, if... pleasant?... but once he attempts to steal Elise's knives-from-nowhere schtick, all bets are off. One well-contoured eyebrow actually goes up in the universal sign for 'oh no he didn't' once the splayed-knuckle projectile reveal happens. If Elise had gloves, they too would be dropped as of this moment (as if Alexis hadn't forced her into seriousness well before now). "I'd be chary if I were you, my lad," she says, flexing her fingers in preparation. "You can't trick a trickster with her own trick, aye?"
She had indeed considered attempting to throw the damn things right back in his face, but at the last second, she changes her mind. Letting her right hand fall to the side -- still flickering with the violet light of her powers -- Elise rushes forward instead, realizing that Rust's uncanny accuracy is actually this attack's biggest weakness: if you can avoid one screwdriver-shuriken that's flying in a straight line, you can in fact avoid ALL of the screwdriver-shuriken that are travelling in the SAME line. Instead of 4-6 different trajectories, she only REALLY has to worry about 2-3, and with a series of bobbing and weaving movements, the impromptu workman's kunai fly right past her... though a few shear close as she bends low to avoid the final set.
Or does she? Rising, Elise brings up her glowing hand, which in a sparkle of lights seems to be holding... a shortbow? Made entirely of violet energy. Her left hand comes up holding a single dagger, and in a quick exchange, she's left drawing the 'pull' of her phantasmal weapon back with her right arm, aiming square at Rust. "Cheers for ingenuity, though," she says with a wicked smile, before loosing her arrow, the momentum-altering properties of her abilities accelerating the single dagger to... considerable speed.
COMBATSYS: Rust avoids Elise's Almace.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ////////////////// ]
Rust 0/-------/--=====|=======\==-----\1 Elise
The aging, overweight Canadian man's raised right hand folds a few fingers inward, leaving his index and middle finger upright and outstretched as Elise boldly closes a bit of the distance between them as a fairly worded warning is given to the latest of his choices of action.
The empowered, hastened dagger flies, and the man... moves. It's movement in a way that seems like a man of his character should not be capable of, raising a leg and standing precariously upon the very narrow tip of the sandal of the foot that would otherwise be grounded. He rotates and moves with a grace, a purpose! The speedy dagger barely brushes up against the patriotic red cloth of his half-a-mechanic's jumpsuit...
Jao crouches as though anticipating the knife were coming towards him. Natalie starts cackling in that way very young children are prone to. Trevor doesn't seem to think much of any of it, too chill with the french fry.
Smoothly, he crouches down so low as to once again test the available range of his joints (there's a hiss from his lips - seems like he's pushing it, somewhere), pipe swinging arm still held back and away as he leans ever forward, his right hand grabbing... something... spherical?
Moments within a moment later, a measuring tape's raised end flicks out for Elise's throat like a viper, a motion that seems like it ought to be one meant to kill someone were it not a blunted end. It'd still sting like the dickens, though, if it made purchase.
"You bet," is his sole, almost cheerful, compact verbal response to Elise's observations about a trickster, putting on a goofy, dumb, tooth-bearing smile that sparkles.
COMBATSYS: Rust successfully hits Elise with Small Random Weapon.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > /////////////// ]
Rust 0/-------/-======|=======\====---\1 Elise
So to be clear, what happens is that Rust flicks out a... measuring tape (presumably the hard plastic kind you use in construction, because a tailor's tape, while entertaining, probably wouldn't be that painful). And Elise, who not only doesn't but in fact is not capable of taking that attack seriously, makes maybe a half-hearted attempt to get out of the way and in the process takes a measuring tape to the throat.
The whole room is briefly silent in a did-that-just-happen? way.
Elise shatters said silence by coughing, since she just got HIT IN THE NECK with something. A hand comes to her throat, the Scot's eyes squinting shut for a moment as she swallows once or twice. There is not a lot of skin on that part of your body? Getting hit in the throat bloody well hurts.
Leveling her blue-eyed gaze at Rust, in a low tone of voice, "You're either a secret genius or a bloody fool and I'm not sure I ken which yet, aye."
In a perhaps deliberate callback to a few moments ago, the witch whips out her hand, three knives fanning out between her knuckles. "You've got some cheek though, I'll give you that. Good on you for it."
The knives burst into violet faerie fire as they're thrown, 1-2-3 in quick succession... and she remembers to alter their trajectories so that she's not a damned hypocrite, either.
COMBATSYS: Rust fails to reflect Dyrnwyn from Elise with Exacting Measurement.
- Power fail! -
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ////////////// ]
Rust 1/-------/=======|=======\=====--\1 Elise
It is that hard, plastic kind. That he did so to begin with such sincerity and confidence suggests that's not the first time he's done so. Who knows. Maybe he once slit someone's throat with that thing... but it's Jr. we're talking about, that giant goofball. Would he be capable of straight-up assassinating someone like that, even knowing his craft?
Maybe it's better the world doesn't quite know what finger to put on this man, as the tape snaps back into the vaguely circular metal casing it were flicked from, taking that moment of silence to stand straight back up with another hiss-like sound and the bending of a knee with a lifted leg as if to flex out some ache or another.
"I'm just a man who loves adventure, discovery, his kids..."
This should be an 'aww, yay dad, go dad' moment among his three children, but they are too absorbed in their neuroses, apathy, and innocence to perhaps appreciate this nuance in full.
"science, a good coffee," he continues to explain himself as Elise is already transitioning to her response to this heightened ante between them, bringing the pipe of his up to bear as he rears back. He holds his right forearm out in front of him, holding the long length of pipe as though he were to stab something with it, balancing it against the forearm.
1-2-3 in quick succession...
"My wife, a gray sky," one eye shuts, as if a wink...
He thrusts the tip outwards into that formation, one two three. Their trajectories differ, but he only thrusts the once. At that single, exacting point.
The tap of the pipe is aimed as such that two of them clash and bounce off against it, to litter the floor with some other dangerous objects that have been left about. There's even a whole box of open thumbtacks nearby - shame if someone tripped and fell atop that.
The third pops way up in a spin highlighted by the energy that empowers it.
"You know. Just life, the world, all that with," he says, as he moves in forward rearing back a pipe for a lunging strike as he steps ever closer into Elise's business...!
That third knife bounces off his head, earning a bent-over head as his free hand rushes to clutch where it beans him with an urgency that does not appear warranted.
The knife continues its free-fall until it sinks blade-first into his foot, through his foot, and pins said foot to the canvas.
His voice trails off to some letter vocalization arguably not typically on the human tongue as his eyes bulge wide and his teeth clench into another smile, his lower jaw sliding to the left as his tongue fights to press through the narrow opening this lack of alignment makes. It damn near pushes a tooth right out of his mouth, a long hiss until it all boils down to a single, all-encompassing word.
"FATHER!" Jao shouts from his seat, as though this were a life-threatening thing. Now even Trevor's leaning forward. Natalie continues to laugh.
For what feels like the first time in a very long time, Elise is actually kinda speechless. Outright laughter seems unnecessarily cruel and spiteful; active concern, perhaps not in the spirit of the event; dispassionate silence, a bit too much like being a cold, unfeeling bitch. But to be utterly clear, Rust somehow just managed to snatch (partial) defeat from the very jaws of victory in a way that would make Charlie Chaplin leap to a standing ovation... while Elise, watching it unfold with horrified fascination, didn't so much as move.
Eventually, as the carnage winds to a conclusion, and Howard Rust Jr. is attempting to unstick himself from the floor, the Scot clears her throat and takes as close to a middle-of-the-road response to everything that's just happened as she can without compromising anything or anyone. "Do you, ah, need a second?" she asks, conversationally, as if it was totally normal to find a man with his foot pinned by a silver dagger to the floor of a professional wrestling mat. Like he just woke up this way.
After saying that she takes a step back and just... doesn't attack. It would feel really, really weird to do so right in that moment, to her view. Plus for whatever reason, her sixth sense is picking up an interesting emotional reaction from the crowd -- or somewhere in the crowd -- every time Rust does something, one quite different from the sort of bloodthirsty excitement you'd expect from a fighting sports crowd. Mind working quickly, Elise processes that in Rust's long list of poetic life interests he said 'my wife' and 'his kids' and with a horrified expression just sort of stares at him.
Did he bring his FAMILY here?!
COMBATSYS: Elise gains composure.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ///////////////// ]
Rust 1/-------/=======|=======\====---\1 Elise
Rhydderch has been largely unreactive to the fight, to the visible eye. Elise is... confused isn't the right word. He leans over to whisper into Honoka's ear. He can't communicate with Elise over the din, and certainly not at this distance. Maybe Honoka could?
"She's faltering," he whispers, barely audible. Honoka, though, can hear it clearly between the words and the thoughts that the masked fight sends to the team captain.
Some wonder if they should call it here, for his health. This sort of result seems more in line with what the audiences here might expect from a regular bout (gone wrong) between the grungy, brutal wrestlers that normally populate this hall.
"Nnnnnnyyyyynnnnnnmmmmmmrrrrrrrgggggggg," there's no telling what some of those words might've been, what answers might be cycling through the man of the impaled foot's mind. Or what passes for a mind, in his case, as he daintily wiggles his fingers and reaches down with his free right hand atop the handle of it.
"Ahhh... don't worry about it," he says, all too forgiving about any number of instances where one thing going wrong could result in permanent injury or, at the very least, the possible real threat of bleeding o-- oh holy hell he just pulled that thing right out.
It doesn't seem like it goes through the usual medical problem of aggravating the wound even worse - it appears a clear, quick, decisive withdrawal on his part. This can't be the first time it happened.
With the moment of pause afforded, he even dares to stain the red fabric of his outfit with... more red? He even cleanly wipes it off in the quiet that now passes as a matter of human concern, cutting off a length of the cloth of his shirt with the pipe now held under his arm as to free up both for his work. The knife finds a new purpose in helping create a makeshift bandage, before being discarded on the ground and being nudged along back towards Elise by the injured foot. An invitation to pick that back up?
"Sorry about that," He'S apologizing for getting stabbed?! His injured foot lifted, it's a subtle detail that's easy to miss - he seems to have fashioned a perfectly-sized piece of fabric to make into a temporary bandage. Perfect, except for a lack of--
Oh, he's going to use duct tape, isn't he?
As murmurs happen in the audience about a faltering of will, Jr. makes a mostly convincing temporary bandage in the short time that might yet pass between now and when real, actual, professional medical staff come to tend to it after it's all over. He hops on his healthier foot to get a little distance between them, but it's likely out of politeness.
"Happens more than you'd think at, eh?" He works up a smile through the screaming pain shooting through his nerves as he starts to lower his wrapped-up foot back down, eyes away from Elise as he waves to the kids in the audience again - yep, he totally did bring his family there, if Elise's eyes follow where he seems to be looking - as if to say 'I'm okay!'
"Can't we do something?" Jao asks among his siblings as the man looks back.
"Stay there!" Natalie thrusts her arm down again.
Trevor's guard dropped over the stabbing, and the french fry flips into the air as he howls in pain over his thigh.
The drama between children seems a footnote in the ceasefire that passes...
"Right! Thank you," Jr. says as he claps his hands together. The seeming difficulty he has in keeping that foot level, to trust what weight he puts on it - his legs do seem awful skinny for his body type - might yet earn further concerns on all fronts. "Back to dropping the gloves, then."
COMBATSYS: Rust gains composure.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ///////////////// ]
Rust 0/-------/=======|=======\=====--\1 Elise
Honoka has been watching the fight with rapt interest. By this point in the battle, she's traded her yo-yo for a small purple flag -- if she's not going to perform a trick with the toy, there's no point in keeping a white-knuckled grip upon it, after all.
Honoka does not turn towards Rhydderch -- she doesn't need to, as her quiet words should be echoing in his mind as well.
"Elise is on her second consecutive battle, in front of an audience an order of magnitude larger than our last circus performance. She's doing remarkably well, considering."
As an afterthought, the juggler chuckles softly, waving her flag around in a fashion incongruent with her words. "Or are you telling me that you're scared to fight him next?"
"Physically fine, sure," Rydderch agrees, in a flat tone devoid of any emotion. "But that was not what I was talking about. She's lost her rhythm. I'll finish what she started if it comes to that."
For a while now, Elise has been wondering about Rust. She knows better than anyone that the best way to keep being a dangerous person hidden is to appear as utterly harmless as possible, right up to the second that you actually need to INFLICT harm. Then you deploy it with swift and brutal efficiency so that the element of surprise makes it all the harder to resist. And let's be real, her opponent just stapled himself to the floor mid-match, so if this is a disguise, Rust is absolutely committing to the bit and then some.
Regardless of what her teammates might be saying about her right now, in Elise's mind, this caution is warranted until she can make some sort of final determination. That being said... her current evaluation of the situation is that Rust is, very likely, probably not some master puppeteer setting Elise up for the right moment and is, instead, a very goofy, if physically powerful, family man from... America? Canada?
IS Rust Canadian? He's certainly polite enough to be Canadian.
Deciding that she's going to do one last test before fully throwing herself into mortal combat with this foe, she keeps her eye on Rust, but folds both hands behind her back in a somewhat innocent-seeming, inquisitive stance. "Well, you just let me know if you need a break, hey? I know I've got the mien of a ruthless killer, aye, but honestly..."
With a flick of the wrist behind her back, there's a flash of violet light. On cue, there's a burst of force from underneath the aforementioned box of thumbtacks, which JUST SO HAPPENS to angle the resulting spray of tiny sharp projectiles so that they're all heading for Rust's current position.
"...I'm a big softie at heart."
COMBATSYS: Elise successfully hits Rust with Sudden Fling.
- Power hit! -
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ///////////////// ]
Rust 1/------=/=======|=======\=====--\1 Elise
The birth certificate places the second Howard's birth in Red Deer, Alberta. Certainly, much of his life has been spent being all over the place - but it is true that at present, he currently lives in America. There was something of a small uproar among the more hardcore nationalists that the lead fighter representing them was someone who presently does not live or raise a family within their borders - but not enough to stop the proceedings from going on ahead.
Little may suggest more than him being a giant goof who, in spite of age, seems to continue to grasp onto some level of innocence many have already lost. Some, far too young. What could have happened to mold this man in such a way, that he takes continued interests in these little contests in spite of being (mostly) retired from the ring - that title of World Champion notwithstanding! - that this enigmatic ninja of unlikely mixes of disciplines just... is?
He's already leaping towards Elise at her mention of being a big softie at heart with yet another smile on his face - ostensibly, probably to try position to beat her to a bloody pulp in the name of good sporting competition. The thumbtacks' collective weight and 'push' is as such that the injuries he suffers in the next few seconds has a little less to do with having a whole lot of little pins in his leg...
So much that it throws off his balance and sees him dive against the mat instead of the smooth landing that would have followed, in a tumble that hardly seems smooth given some of the little feats of agility already shown.
Jao leaves his seat outright and makes a beeline towards... somewhere. Trevor is too busy nursing an injury that has been inflicted by a tiny girl to notice, while the tiny girl described prior says, "you!"
Whatever those words mean, they're kind of a toy to her?
His recovery is not swift. There's a goodly pause that allows Elise precious seconds to work out her next plan of attack as he appears to compensate the weaker leg by using the pipe to pull himself up, and...
Not just pull himself up! He balances upon it expertly given the shaking and swaying of the mat, swinging out with one wide kick with one leg, and the other, more injured leg thrusting forward as such that even if it doesn't land, it somehow just... pushes him backwards.
If not picked out of the move outright, he clumsily loses his balance and proceeds to land his hip against the pipe he himself wields, which may bring forth a new understanding about his character:
He could also just be incredibly stupid, careless, and short-sighted, while the universe has yet to see it fit to properly call him on much of these counts.
COMBATSYS: Elise interrupts Girder Sway from Rust with Claimh Solais.
[ \\\\\ < > ////////////// ]
Rust 2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|====---\-------\0 Elise
There's the aura again. Confusing, shifting. This man is dangerous; he's hit her twice now, and with what Elise can tell is absolutely not his full strength. It would be a fool who says 'who uses measuring tape as a weapon' instead of 'he actually made measuring tape as a weapon WORK', after all. But there should be a sense that this utterly cheerful veneer is nothing but an act, if that's the case, and there really isn't. And yet... and yet?
Does a killer's resolve burn under that smiling face?
Deciding that this is the make or break moment -- you'll notice that despite taking a box of thumbtacks to the leg that he more or less powered right on through them -- in her determination on if Rust is really The Chosen One or not, Elise decides to face this incoming pipe-assisted double kick head-on. This seems like a huge mistake, since the relatively light witch is hardly the meat wall this situation calls for. But she needs to KNOW.
The first kick smacks into her side, with the good leg; the second, however, she *catches* with her bare hands, holding it in place and leaving Rust, unless he lets go of the pipe, suspended briefly in tableau with his opponent.
Her entire form suddenly blooms with silver-violet faerie fire, the Scot giving the Dual Citizenship Ninja a wicked smile. "You're an intriguing man, aye," she says carefully. "Consider this a token of my esteem."
Letting go of the leg, Elise makes a set of arcane hand gestures with remarkable swiftness... and Rust is suddenly enclosed entirely in a spherical barrier, a 3D version of the typically round and flat sigils she creates. Stepping over to it with a bit of a sashay in her step, the witch places her hand palm-down on one edge of the sphere. From her palm, a burst of violet light pulses into the orb, arcing off in a direction, and then reflecting off the side back into the sphere. Each bounce accelerates the burst, and every other bounce creates a second burst as well, until finally the entire cage of mystic force is a rebounding laser show of epic proportions that, at max density, simply explodes in a haze of violet sparks, taking Rust with it.
Honoka's expression grows somber for a moment as she casts her full attention upon the fight. The measuring tape is an... unconventional weapon, to say the least. She's not entirely sure if that tape is what's got Elise concerned, but the fact remains that a marked lull in the action came to pass.
Rhythm. Tempo. The most important tools of the circus performer, with regards to keeping a solid grip on the audience's attention span.
Honoka's eyes shift focus to the audience. The cheering has faded somewhat. The viewers are skeptical, questioning exactly what's about to happen next. The thrill is still there, but any premature applause may upset the delicate balance of power between the ringmaster and the craftsman. The anxiety is palpable, the mood... tense, at best.
Honoka can sense Rhydderch's concern for Elise, as clearly as the tolling of a midnight bell.
"The show must go on," responds the Twilight Star juggler, with an enigmatic grin and an encouraging wave of her flag.
"Huh," he finds a moment to muse as his leg is caught and he's left shakily holding himself up on that pipe in one arm, "come to think of it, I know a few cultures that use that colour to represent gratitude," THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO WAX PHILOSOPHICAL ON WHAT WORLDLINESS HAS SOMEHOW PENETRATED HIS THICK STUPID SKULL but here we are anyway.
A certain young teenage Thai boy searches his way through the dressing rooms for someone as violet lights flash in the distance.
"Is someone here? Anyone? Please! This has to st--" He stops as he runs head-first into a large white-furred creature with little beady red eyes. The creature stands frozen, unmoved by the impact.
Jao looks up agape, horrified, backing away.
The creature doesn't move.
Jao darts past, covering his face as he finds himself coming right down the fighters' entrance, back into the light of what passes for day within the repurposed warehouse.
The large creature exhales a cloud of freezing mist. "(Whew, he surprised me so much I froze solid... he looked so intense... I don't think Leader understands what chilling things these humans are capable of!)"
BACK TO THE MURDE-- FIGHT!
A young boy breaches grounds unseen and uncaught by security to this point - none other than Jao! - running down the wrestler's entrance just in time to watch Rust Jr. at the tail end of being bludgeoned and burnt (burngeoned?), writhing about in the cave until he is forcefully ejected with such velocity that...
He ends up hopelessly tangled in the same ropes he was introduced to today's audience with once more, his head upside down as he sees Jao run towards him.
"Call it off! Someone! Please! Call it off," Jao shouts out there. "I don't want to lose another dad..."
"Jao! Hi there." Somehow, smoking, battered, and winded, this man finds it in himself to just say hello to his child. "Ahh, take it easy... scraping knees is just part of life."
"Just stop it!!" Jao's tear-filled eyes say all. "These people are dangerous! They'll hurt you! They're hurting you! I saw your foot--"
"Shh." Dad reaches out to put a hand on his head as blood runs down the side of his cheek. "There's a lot of dangerous things out there, eh? It's all right. You... you don't need me to say to you what it'd be like then."
This is around the time security realizes they're going to be sacked, but feel they have a shot at at least being fired without being sued, and restrain the poor, delirious kid. One says to be gentle to the other, perhaps owing to some idea they don't want to anger dear old dad over there, the World Champion in name.
He untangles himself not very convincingly. It seems unlikely he's going to stay upright for another good four or five walking steps.
"Sorry, that was my kid, Jao," he says, balancing against the pipe, "right. Now... I suppose I ought to say thanks for the fun too, right?"
He takes a few cursory steps forward, followed by one great big step back into Elise's personal space. Maybe this is time to be worried. What could he be thinking, what could he possibly do--
It comes in a flash. Zero preparation. It just happens.
Among the audience... a certain someone recognizes it.
The way the arm tenses, when raised. It's vertical, not horizontal, but it's... so much alike. The very preparation, all the subtle details. It's so much alike, as if to suggest it were the very same person that... like so long ago, a time before time!
Here in the present, for the rest... what happens?
The entire wrestling mat violently shudders. Elise, who would be damned near ground zero if she stays where she is, catches a glimpse of that man slamming the butt of the pipe down into the ground. Things fall over and violently bounce around the mat. The table. That fold-out ladder. A sledgehammer, all barely visible to a giant cloud of dust that has formed from whatever seismic shock this venture has just suffered.
Any particle matter that could have built up within this warehouse, ever, is loosened within this one, violent, almost earth-shattering strike, to flit around the air, get into eyes, lungs, pretty much anything - all a side effect of just one single strike.
Rust Jr.'s vague outline is nearly lost. Something sprays outward from his silhouette - his hair, undone by the force of the blow? - and given the other objects clattering around, his movements are hard to truly discern.
Jao, turning over his shoulder, grows silent. It's easy for him to watch becaue the security guys escorting him are just as awestruck as anyone else there.
COMBATSYS: Rust successfully hits Elise with Complete Renovation.
[ \\\\\ < > // ]
Rust 0/-------/---<<<<|=======\======-\1 Elise
It's over in an instant.
For a brief second there really is nothing; the lights don't ACTUALLY go out but it sure does seem like they did. And then when everything is plenty visible again, there's the clatter of things falling to the mat around the point of impact. Knives, thumbtacks, tables, chairs, 20% of a former ladder. To the naked eye from the audience, no discernible pattern. And Elise, having been driven to one knee, blood trickling down the side of one temple, the witch hat having been finally knocked free of her head (meaning Rust's strike somehow shook the hatpins loose... no small feat, considering).
From above, the debris makes an interesting pattern. Technically, two interesting patterns. One is a complete circle around Rust and Elise. The other is a distinct and probability-defying hemisphere AWAY from the corner of the ring closest to Jao, though the lad was in no real danger from falling debris.
Her breathing is heavy, labored; the Scot clearly does not have it in her to get back up RIGHT this second. But she does look up at Rust with a wolfish grin... and it is a *dark* expression on her face. One that, if Honoka were to see it, the other circus performer would recognize as (to put it one way) Elise's "hunter" face. The one she inherited from a clan history of Dark Hunters, used to fighting the darkness.
The face she never wears.
Voice hoarse with effort, she says to Rust: "I was right about you."
What that means is anyone's guess.
With the last of her strength, the woman reaches out and attempts to grab, likely, the pipe, as it is probably closest... but an arm, a leg, whatever will do. If she gets a grip, violet faerie fire flows from her touch to Rust's body, and which point Elise merely says: "Farewell, aye?"
With a flick of the wrist, she flings the imbued power -- and the body holding it -- away, before collapsing to the mat.
COMBATSYS: Elise can no longer fight.
[ \\\\\ <
COMBATSYS: Rust dodges Elise's Dainslef.
[ \\\\\ <
With his foot in the condition it is, and the dangerous and uneven terrain, it stands to reason - for what extent it can regularly be applied - Jr. wouldn't go far. Maybe he couldn't. For a lack of a visible breeze, his hair takes a long time to settle down and let gravity calm its jitters. It casts something of a veil of inky purplish-black around his upper back.
More clearly, Elise could see tinges of red from the back of his head. A wound - did that knife scrape him there en route to stabbing his foot? He doesn't face her directly - though the corner of his eye is not confirmed oblivious - his attention seeming more in the direction of his kids as he stands within an arena rocked by powers of might and magic alike as Elise renders the results of her careful estimations.
His lips move. He's saying something in response?
It's not picked up by any of the ringside microphones. To be fair, it's been all arrayed into complete and utter chaos. Things are likely Broken with a capital B, but for a singular, intense burst of power, this is the sort of finish to a fight that people are looking for in King of Fighters... isn't it?
Elise grabs a hold of the pipe. He holds his right hand up, arcing his fingers the same way as seen when he deftly moved about that shot dagger while crossing it towards the other shoulder, and lifts his left hand up as if to assist in the launch as he stands up straighter - maybe coaxing it upwards rather than away, as evidenced when there's a loud collision in the ceiling.
"Take it easy," he says, far more audibly as the pipe comes rocketing back down into the toolbelt pocket it belongs, an artful and effortless catch.
It also undoes the buckle on the right half of his suspenders and causes his shorts to droop and eventually fall off, revealing blue diamond-print boxers.
He doesn't seem to notice.
Jao can scarcely bring himself to open his eyes after all that dust, to watch a singular example of such frightening power - the likes he himself seems incapable and unwilling to associate with.
"Dad?" He utters. It's hard to tell if he's scared or relieved, as he is gently escored back towards his seat with his siblings.
Dad gives a weak, bloodied smile.
Trevor, still nursing his thigh, swallows a fry whole, and nods.
Natalie goes quiet.
"Howard! WON!" The announcer with odd diction speaks again, finally finding it in him to speak anew, ready to get the atmosphere back to its original intentions.
COMBATSYS: Rust awaits the next challenger.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\ <
Honoka grips the safety railing in front of her as the very foundation of the Brute Force Wrestling Arena is shaken by the impressive attack. Like Elise, the juggler had harbored thoughts of Rust's hidden talents all throughout the fight -- indeed, she knows that one doesn't get to be the World Champion without an impressive amount of skill.
But she feels it. The palpable, noticeable shift in Elise's demeanor. She was nervous about the arena shaking. She was anxious about her friend's health when pitted against the lead pipe. But this...
It's a far cry from sharing beauty tips from the latest magazine, or chatting with the Korean fashion designer standing immediately behind her, to say the least.
As the dust settles, Honoka realizes several things.
One, that Elise is collapsing to the mat.
Two, that Rust is -not-.
Three, that her teeth hurt from clenching them so tightly.
Honoka draws in her breath. It takes a few moments for her racing heartbeat to slow back to a light trot.
Her right hand raises, and lightly thwaps Rhydderch in the lapel.
Her lips settle into a thin line, her face a mask devoid of emotion. "Go get 'im, tiger."
Honoka draws in her breath, forcing herself to breathe on a regular interval, lest she inadvertently voice the thoughts she'd rather keep to herself.
Rhydderch does not react much to the exchange between Rust and Elise. He does not know Miss Harkness very well. One exchange of banter, that was about it. Honoka sends him in anyway. "Of course, ma'am," the man replies as he starts to walk toward the ring.
The walk is a slow one as the masked fighter rolls his shoulders before slowly drawing the cutlass free from its sheath. He climbs up the steps and onto the apron before simply vaulting the ropes and landing lightly on slippered feet. He bows once to Howard Rust, sweeping the weapon behind him. "That was well fought," the man says in an even tone. He straightens up and pins Rust under a cool stare. "Show me more."
A second after the referee announces the restart of the fight, the swordsman hurls himself at Rust, the cutlass carving wide crescent as the weapon follows the spin of its wielder. Golden lightning slides along the blade to add to the impact of the strike!
COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn has joined the fight here.
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > /////////// ]
Zach Glenn 0/-------/-------|====---\-------\0 Rust
COMBATSYS: Rust easily escapes Zach Glenn's Dragon's Tail!
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > /////////// ]
Zach Glenn 0/-------/-------|====---\-------\0 Rust
There are serious discussions about postponing the next round for a fair bit longer than regulations, given the damages sustained to the arena. There is also concern that, given the foot injury, they should call it here and pass the Twilight Circus into the next round. There is no chance given for the announcer to clumsily string together names. The Brutron(tm), leaning dangerously on one side, doesn't even get to designated 'FIGHT!'
No, something about this announcer... realizes, there is something deeper at play, and simply says "Fight!"
Through the wreckage, Rhydderch takes their place, says their piece, and literally catches the one Howard Rust, Jr. with his pants down.
Because he hasn't pulled them back up since 'catching' the pipe. (The end result justifies the air quotes.) In fact, he doesn't even move. The lightning-like shapes of golden energy simply fail to find purchase - millimetres short. Nerves of steel? Obliviousness? Just, who or what is this man, and what is he cap--
"Oh! Hello, sorry about that." His gaze seems unfocused, the smile weak. His right hand is resting up against the back of his head as he turns his back to his children. He wobbles visibly - he really should not be standing on that foot.
It's a familiar sight. A middle-aged man, worn by injuries to the point many could and should quit, but, something keeps them there. What is it?
"You bet." There's a cheer that does not hide the fatigue and tiredness, of the great discomfort of the air against burnt flesh and battered bodies, as he moves to draw... thin air.
NOW he notices the dropped shorts. He still hasn't removed his hand from his scalp, for whatever reason. This could be quickly fixed with two hands...
"Ah. I think I got a bit too into that last one," he laughs jovially in the face of someone with a keen interest of something beyond pleasantries and humor.
True to form, the next challenger gets it, as Rust Jr. steps forward to lead with the bent elbow of his left arm in a powerful leading strike, going down into a lower crouch that puts visible stress on his injured foot as he then chooses to draw the pipe again from that clumsy, not-at-all-enviable position in an upwards angular draw to try and push Zach back, while maintaining a low profile as one of his knees brush up painfully against a large chunk of debris.
His right hand's still on the back of his head...?
COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn dodges Rust's Random Strike.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////// ]
Zach Glenn 0/-------/-------|====---\-------\0 Rust
Rydderch's movements take him past the older fighter, and continues his lithe spin. The masked fighter frowns; that was not luck that allowed Rust to dodge that strike. Not completely. The swordsman circles Rust, taking half a moment to size the man up.
The psion takes another deep breath, before quickly stepping in to drive a swift strike with the hilt of the cutlass to stagger the man, hopefully allowing Rhydderch to grab Rust by the front of the shirt and haul Rust in a brutal arc before loosing a brief torrent of golden energy upon Rust!
COMBATSYS: Rust blocks Zach Glenn's Charged Combo.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ///////// ]
Zach Glenn 0/-------/-------|======-\-------\0 Rust
Rhydderch's movements are a beauty in their economy. What technique he has honed, expressed, and mastered are all put in display as a monument to their simplicity in form, their wealth in function.
Jr. visibly struggles to keep up, but whether that's on account of mounting injuries or simply being completely out of his depth remains to be seen. That he now has a heavy pile of tools and loose cloth around his ankles does not help things in the least. The hilt strike is reasonably handled with his left forearm, but that gives him an alternate and easy enough target to grab as he is taken off his feet and into the air.
In the air, golden bursts of energy. On the ground, way more things than just the mat. It is far, far too dangerous for anyone to be fighting when they can land upon--
Somehow, he manages it, bracing himself to land between the halves of an overturned fold-out ladder and missing the bursts of power. The true loser - the injured foot, which has to touch down on a lumpy piece of concrete. Lips press together tightly enough that the lower lip threatens to overtake his nose.
Disadvantaged in both positioning and status, Rhydderch has himself plenty of time to measure up the man's next set of actions - the entire warehouse is silent, as though there were something grave, something greater going on between these men.
"Hup!" He hops up without so much grace, right hand still on the back of his head. His fingers start to fiddle about - something of a feat of dexterity as he laces strands of hair between his fingers with all the expected mastery of a long-time hairdresser, not... this... guy.
His best recourse he has, pipe-wielding arm be damned, is to try and bring his elbow atop Rhydderch's head and direct it downwards in a hard shove against the hostile elements that decorate the entire ring - forceful contact with any of these elements would more than make up for the weakened force of that familiar face-planting slam in his arsenal from using an elbow instead of a full-on hand, hair flipping and being tied with his right while he does so, struggling to keep the weight on the less injured foot.
The growing intensity has moved beyond fever pitch.
COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn fails to interrupt Brick Stacker from Rust with Swift Blade EX.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////// ]
Zach Glenn 0/-------/-----==|======-\-------\0 Rust
The masked fighter whirls, and scythes a crescent of pure energy... just over Rust's head. The elbow strikes true, directly atop the mask, and drives the swordsman into a ladder. The ladder gives way under the man, and Rydderch goes to the mat.
The psion rolls away from Rust, quickly getting back to his feet. That was stupid of him. The frustration is tightly held, but still there, as the masked fighter slowly circles Rust, in an attempt to force the wounded man onto his injured foot.
Even averted, the crescent energy's near miss is a cause for some sort of instinctual level of self-preservation. For all the little mistakes and obvious idiotic things he's said, done, or failed to notice, on some primal level even someone like Jr. heeds it as he bends his knees a little more to crouch to avoid something already safely going overhead.
Trevor has nothing to say. His mouth is devoid of fries, or sarcastic commentary completely inappropriate and even unthinkable for a kid his age.
Jao feels such incredible, overwhelming dread that he cannot speak. He is unsettled beyond words.
Natalie has tears in her eyes.
That big furry white creature briefly pops into vision from just inside the wrestler's entrance, picking at their teeth with humongous hands. They seem intrigued.
Jr. gives the mysterious masked swordsman adequate space, among what space can be given on this floor. The pacing circles outpace Jr.'s own ability to do the same, owing to that foot. They're waiting. They're watching...
The second Howard's pipe gets into the handle of a huge, hefty toolbox, flinging it up vertically with a heavy grunt of exertion and a hearty chuckle after the fact.
That might be his undoing - there's no more blatant of a tell that he could well be nervous. It's hard to see sweat where there's dust, dirt, and even some blood here and there among burns. He has little confidence in that toolbox toss.
That's because he's chancing his hurt foot to lift up and punt three quarters of a table at the masked swordsman of golden lightning with surprisingly appreciable force instead - the toolbox was, by all appearances, a ruse.
COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn overcomes Large Thrown Object from Rust with Quick Shot.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////// ]
Zach Glenn 0/-------/-----==|======-\-------\0 Rust
Rhydderch's eyes narrow behind the mask as Rust makes his move. He tracks the toolbox for half a second, giving the World Champion enough time to fling the table at him. The psion pivots and raises his empty left hand towards the incoming projectile. The open hand glows briefly with accumulating energy.
The swordsman lets out a yell as he blasts the table into harmless debris. More of that golden energy, however, continues towards Rust Junior!
Rust Jr.'s posture staggers given the range of movement available between ankles that are nursing dropped shorts with a heavy set of tools, and he finds himself back down onto a knee just as he is to be showered with large splinters that are mostly harmless in the scope of what damages he's already suffered.
His right hand finally flips a sizable length of hair over another finger, and leaves the safety(?) of his scalp, for whatever good there was in keeping his hair that long, to fiddle with it as such. His right hand, the currently patriotically white glove caked in wet blood, thrusts forward into the yellow blast of energy with an equal yell of his own.
There is no return blast of energy on his part, as his wrist goes to a ninety degree angle with his forearm. His fingers are tightly put together, as if a gesture to say 'hi,' thrusting it forth into the mass with enough momentum that he can't help but lean forward and come damned close to just falling over on his face...
COMBATSYS: Rust reflects Quick Shot from Zach Glenn with Drywall Palm.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > /////// ]
Zach Glenn 0/-------/-----==|=====--\-------\0 Rust
COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn blocks Rust's Reflected Quick Shot.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > /////// ]
Zach Glenn 0/-------/----===|=====--\-------\0 Rust
Rhydderch whirls the cutlass around, catching the returned blast squarely. The man smirks a bit. "You continue to surprise me," he announces, bringing the weapon down to rest against his leg. "Let us see how well you continue to fare."
He realizes that his memories of another man are interfering with his fight. These are moves he would use against a different Howard Rust. Time to fix that. And with that, Rhydderch is in close, bringing the sword in with a swift stab, augmented by that same golden power he has been wielding so easily. Hit or miss, the swordsman spins away, sweeping the cutlass to one side like a samurai clearing blood from a blade. Only this time, that golden energy slides off of the weapon, with none returning to clad the blade.
COMBATSYS: Rust dodges Zach Glenn's Medium Strike.
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Zach Glenn 0/-------/----===|=====--\-------\0 Rust
When first contact is made with that blast on Jr.'s end, very little of it ever actually returns. Most of it warps around the Canadian ninja's hand, dispersing around his forearm and face as misshapen flickers while his palm holds strong in technique and, by seeming fact, force of will.
To even divert such power alone may be seen in some circles as an achievement in ignorance, dipping with his fingertips at the very watery surface of a discipline and form of being he can never truly grasp.
He is tickled by a spine-tingling feeling not unlike... a meeting with someone, long ago, in the middle of a technology demonstration gone haywire. Not exact. There's a touch of likeness to it.
One of his legs - it's not the one with the injured leg, interestingly! - starts to shudder. An odd tic of... that man.
There's a tired smile at the observation about surprising, maybe even a shrug of his shoulder - but how much of that cheer really is cheer, other than just a playful reflex from other, similar situations in the past? Down on one knee, growing more winded and light-headed by any passing moment...
Rhydderch rushes in, and the middle-aged man puts forth that hand movement once again as he willingly goes prone to avoid the stab that leaves a tear at the undershirt.
His left hand grips the pipe a bit more firmly. The material starts to squeal under the strength of his grip as he boots a sledgehammer to get up to a kneel as Rhydderch leaves an opening.
His left hand - his dominant, a clear difference against a measure most here would not immediately recognize - starts to spin the pipe Rust Jr. rises up with a smile.
Joy? Hope? Simply enjoying himself at the god damn brink of maybe passing out from blood loss? Too beaten around the head to truly realize the weight of meaning between their duel, should there be one universally recognized between the two?
It's a bit slow going - maybe he didn't need to lean back as far as he did - but he reaffirms his grip. The end of the pipe scrapes against the mat to produce real sparks as it's swung upwards in an all too familiar advancing uppercut swing, gliding forward on sandal-clad feet into the masked swordsman.
This technique, there's no mistaking it.
This can't be that man, but some deeper fates may yet be entertwined, and this maneuver - hampered by coming out of a prone position - could be the words of fate itself.
That, or he's just desperate to pop the masked guy in the chin...
COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn dodges Rust's Intercepting Strike.
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Zach Glenn 0/-------/----===|====---\-------\0 Rust
Rhydderch leans back ever-so-slightly, allowing the pipe to pass in front of his face. The masked fighter sways back in before Rust can get back up to his feet, a faint smile on his face. "More," he encourages. "Show us more."
Right before he tries to slam the hilt of the cutlass under Rust's chin. The speed of the closing movement is enough to carry the Twilight Star Fighter just past Rust, putting him in position to follow up the hilt strike with a short chop with the flat of the weapon aimed at the base of Rust's skull to drive him to the concrete!
COMBATSYS: Rust blocks Zach Glenn's Random Strike.
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Zach Glenn 0/-------/----===|=====--\-------\0 Rust
Jr.'s body arches violently as he's hit against the chin, forced to a stagger where more weight is to be placed up against his weaker foot. The officials want to call it right then and there on that hit, owing to the multiple small streams of blood going down his legs from the thumbtacks of earlier, or just how often he's stepped on that foot of his. The letter 'k' is in the formative stages as Rhydderch rushes behind him...
His right hand, still adopting that increaasingly goofy two-fingers-extended pose, halts the blade clean as he turns his head ever slowly to face the masterful swordsman behind him.
A deep exhale goes between them as he holds it there for a vulnerable, costly second. This is not a man who seems to be built as much on incredible physical conditioning - just look at that gut of his! - or just how his legs just don't seem terribly thick.
It is an undercurrent of genuine technique over nearly unstoppable brute force.
"You bet," he adds with a smile and a nod as he risks cutting his right hand against the blade as he dares to OUTRIGHT GRAB IT, to yank it with such strength to try and throw the masked swordsman off-balance and back into the wide array of garbage and random weapon assortments laid out for the enjoyment of... the audience.
This style of tripping throw, it's... markedly just like...
COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn blocks Rust's Medium Throw.
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Zach Glenn 0/-------/---====|=====--\-------\0 Rust
The masked fighter sets his weight, keeping his balance and footing against the attempted throw. His eyes narrow behind the mask. Rust won't stop. Can't stop, despite the odds and the risks arrayed against him. The psion pivots as he yanks the blade free from Rust's grip, seemingly unconcerned if the blade slices flesh on its way free.
He uses the force of the pivot to spin-step in closer before planting his feet. There is still a need, almost an urge, to use one punch. One technique. Something he really had no place learning, given that he had never had a boxing lesson in his entire life.
Well, /this/ life, anyway.
Rhydderch takes an astride stance, and throws a single left-handed punch aimed at Rust's jaw. As it follows its path, not quite a hook and not quite an uppercut, a haze of golden lightning slides across the fist. If it connects, the force behind the strike detonates in a fierce blast that will easily send Rust into some of the random instruments of doom that litter the arena!
COMBATSYS: Rust dodges Zach Glenn's Explosive Strike.
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Zach Glenn 0/-------/--=====|=====--\-------\0 Rust
With a moment of space to breathe, the hand is brought closer, level his head bowing down slightly in some serious look of inner focus.
To those that have watched, to those in the know, what they see here seems more like the Howard Rust, Jr. of a good decade or so ago when he was that much more active in organized fighting. Still smiles, still a touch goofy, a bit unhinged, but... more together.
Whatever loosened him, perhaps something has tightened him back up... or he could be running on fumes that are doing funny things to his injury-addled head.
He leaps again, frog-like with confidence in the bending of his feet as he just clears the oncoming fist that displaces so much air that those behind the barrier in front of where people sit see and hear the rush of displaced air.
Twisting and turning in his leap, he swings the pipe haphazardly downward. It might hit the Rhydderch in the shoulder or some such, but not with as much force as it could from the awkward angle and their close proximity.
He arcs his legs in as he just passes above the masked swordsman, where the real, true purpose of the maneuver is made plain as much as how close a masked face might have to make content with novelty boxers.
The toolbelt and its burdens that weigh around his ankles are, in this strange instance, outright weaponized, as he tries to wrap them around the head of the strange masked man and twist them down into the ground with him.
He hits the mat and its assorted detritus hard with a loud groan of pain, but will that be the only utterance of pain within these passing moments as a certain conclusion dares to draw ever nearer?
COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn dodges Rust's Armed Combo.
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Zach Glenn 0/-------/--=====|====---\-------\0 Rust
The masked man slips away from the pipe swing, then steps away from the Canadian. His eyes narrow in concentration as he plays closer attention to the way this Rust is moving, trying to banish the image of that other Rust from his mind.
He hops back several steps, the sword low and at his hip with the empty hand aimed generally in Rust's direction. Rhydderch takes one deep breath, and then another, calming his mind as he readies himself for the next exchange.
COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn focuses on his next action.
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Zach Glenn 0/-------/--=====|====---\-------\0 Rust
As Elise was ushered offstage by the medical team, Honoka was quick to rush to her side. The diabolo mistress has decided that cheering can momentarily take a backseat to visiting her longtime friend.
"That was quite the performance out there, Elise -- you really pulled out all the stops!" Honoka is able to keep her composure, despite the elevated heartbeat from the tumultuous turn of events. Sure enough, one of the cameras from the opposite side of the field moves to follow the young Twilight Star juggler, but there's always one trained on the two Korean members of the Twilight Star entourage left up in the tent. The young woman with white highlights in her hair, for one, is enthusiastic in her support of the mysterious masked Rhydderch. Like many in the arena of questionable stability, she seems to be more interested in the definitive conclusion of the fight than her own personal safety.
Honoka's eyes glance back at the Brutron, even as off-kilter as it is. Her attention, though, is divided between that of her friend Elise, and Rhydderch up in the ring above. When he takes a calming breath, she finds herself nodding with quiet approval.
The moment's rest that his opponent's take is a true grace in allowing this man to... cradle the back of his head as he hits the mat.
He laughs, even pained.
"Quite a day this has been!" Tension, stress, fear, a lot of it starts to melt away. It seems a desperate pitch, a bid for that one, final, decisive hit. (Maybe even for this guy to just flop against the mat and hit his head again.) He wobbles along back up, using the pipe to help himself to his feet.
He still doesn't pull up his shorts. Maybe there just isn't time.
From there, he goes to one of the corners with all the speed of a cautious newcomer uncertain of the weight and give of where they're about to stand - unusual for him, when he's prone to doing all sorts of silly things off of silly ideas.
He balances upon the top of the turnbuckles, balancing upon the tip of a sandal that by all rights should give out and dump him onto the floor to give an anticlimactic close to the long-lasting brawl between a fresh face, and a man who was taken to the ropes by the preceding fighter.
Among whatever light fixtures there are that may still yet survive, the outline turns to darkness. One knee is slightly raised as he cruises across the air, the pipe-wielding arm pointing it backwards, away from where he's leaping. This outline... this movement...
Another likeness, among many. One may wonder, what runs through his mind in dealing with this mysterious challenger? Anything? Is there some otherworldy pull that dictates his movements and actions, or is this all a long string of ironies set forth by a man that is the son of that man?
As he closes in with that posture, he suddenly flips in mid-air.
Life is a cycle. Birth, growth, reproduction, and eventual death. Knowledge is passed from generation to generation, and it is generally understood that every generation that passes stands to grow stronger, to move ever forward.
The cycle of life, the theories of evolution, the gut instinct, the conspiracy theory...
None have any solid answers as to why, right then, he flips with his back facing the ground, pointing his pipe-holding hand downward in that strange punching motion as it rests in the center of the pipe. His free hand clenches, save for his pinky. One leg forward, one leg backwards as one leg frees itself of the shackles of the weighted mass of cloth and accompanying tools that... continue to not make a sound even now, somehow.
The mighty, swift, resolute, dangerous, and exotic Rhydderch is met with possibly the greatest challenge that they have yet faced against this man, as that awkwardly-posed punch grows ever closer while the entire weight of that man threatens to come crashing down upon them.
The stout white-furred red-eyed creature cowers and covers their eyes, watching from the mostly-obscured safety of the wrestler's entrance.
"Stupid!" Shouts Natalie.
Trevor has all the fries in his mouth.
Jao is huddling under his seat.
The moment of truth arrives.
COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn interrupts Deep Strike from Rust with Soaring Dragon EX.
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Zach Glenn 0/-------/-======|=======\-------\0 Rust
The punch, as awkward as it is, catches Rhydderch in the left shoulder, even as the man is turning to bring the cutlass whirling in a low arc. The masked fighter leaps directly skyway, bringing the weapon to slam into Rust's chin. The Brutron shows that the blade twists in time so that it is the flat strikes instead of the blade.
The masked man lands lightly on the balls of his feet, turning to look to Rust. The blade spins in Rhydderch's hand to rest at his side. The fighter is still focused on Rust, knowing that the fight has not been called just yet.
The world feels like it flashes, rapidly - but not too rapidly - between red and white as the flat of the blade negotiates around his body to nail him in the chin. There is a big, blood-filled spittle spray that decorates the ring ever more with more ruin and decay.
The world fades. The faces of the man's children from their place in the audience. The strange creature that has been watching from the wings. The faces of Alexis' bandmates, and her herself. Of Elise, and the man that he stood and danced around with before that one, final clash.
The world goes white, and he is its only occupant. Rust Jr. wouldn't be aware of where, exactly, he's flying, where he's going. Only the sinking feeling of falling somewhere, body laid out horizontally in the air with his back facing downward, as a prolonged yelp of pain sees him eventually strike hard against the featureless white by his perception. The disappearing consciousness only recognizes that they bounce twice to a heavy echo, followed by a musical sting... and the sight of the winners obscuring the defeated - the thoughts, opinions, fears, and hopes become, for the time being, irrelevant to make a step aside for the winners.
COMBATSYS: Rust takes no action.
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Zach Glenn 0/-------/-======|
COMBATSYS: Rust can no longer fight.
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Zach Glenn 0/-------/-======|
Rhydderch sheathes his blade only after the fight is called, nodding his head toward Rust in acknowledgement of his performance before making his way towards where the rest of his team is seated. He stops in front of Honoka, as if awaiting her assesment of the fight.
There might be a faint grin on his face.
COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn has ended the fight here.
Never one to miss a dramatic moment, Honoka pats Elise on the shoulder by way of apology. "Sorry. I have to do this."
A moment later, a diabolo is tossed out towards Rhydderch -- easily caught. And a second diabolo spins into the air, not far behind it -- only to get yoked into a tight control orbit by the expert manipulation of the Twilight Star Circus' star juggler.
With all the cameras angled towards the victors of the battle, the nimble Honoka bounds onto the stage. Diabolos spin around her with the greatest of ease as the young woman cries out: "Thanks, Nashville, you've been great! But this is only the start of our world tour -- the Twilight Star Circus may be coming soon to a town near you!"
Log created on 16:07:58 06/04/2016 by Elise, and last modified on 13:59:34 06/10/2016.