KOF 2016 - KOF: Third Place: Team USA vs Sonic Assault

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Description: The battle for third place in the King of Fighters tournament takes place on Ayers Rock! Not -at- Ayers Rock, but on top of it! It's a photo finish! [Winner: Team USA]

Australia. Land of Barbies, Vegemite, awesome accents, scary animals, and koalas. Well...ok, that's pretty much all Scratch herself actually knows about Australia, considering this is her first time in the southern hemisphere period, and probably only her second or third time in the eastern. It's...probably good that she came here via the Masters Express in a way, because...

"Why is it so cold out here..." ...because she was only reminded on the way here that 1) it's technically winter on this end of the globe, and 2) while Ayer's Rock was plenty warm for what's supposed to be winter, it can get pretty chilly once the night starts to set in. Thankfully, she was able to get a hoodie for herself for the fight...which she scrambled to find after discarding it earlier in the wait while things were being set up.

It kind of understates how all over Scratch's mindset is going into things, not sure where things are supposed to take her after KoF, how her journey is still technically on thanks to the runoff match...not to mention how overwhelming her continued training still is. Either way, she's here, however unfocused, not even sure who from the other team she's supposed to be fighting, outside of being told both members were considered rivals to one Mr. Masters...or rivaling him...she isn't sure which especially considering how groggy she was after that 'tea'. The tea she vowed she'd never drink again, until she found herself unable to sleep again on the way here.

...she's never going to get used to this shit, is she?

Within the confines of a city, the hand of mankind is obvious. Weather is banished outside of a four-walled prison, temperature ceases to be a concern, and even the need to hunt and cook can be bypassed with the use of a microwave.

In the Outback, there are no such creature comforts. The life of a mercenary is the life of one who needs to conserve costs whenever possible.

In this case, that means Fio Germi is stuck riding in a crummy-ass jeep with no hardtop roof. Her short ponytail flutters in the wintry breeze, held in check with only her cap. She would be happy to curl up within a blanket in the arid winter chill, but no -- not only has she been summoned to active duty on the last stand of the Sonic Assault team -- but she's being forced to drive the vehicle too.

Mostly because she hadn't really quailed when they asked her to.
That's beside the point.

A small plume of dust is kicked up as the jeep skids to a halt. The Genoan covers her mouth with a hand as she eyes the rock. Her nose wrinkles in disgust -- not only from the dust, but from the sight presenting itself before her.

"... Where are all the cameras, anyway? I thought this was supposed to be an important match." She climbs out of the jeep, hopping eagerly from one foot to the other. Well, maybe not so much 'eagerly' as 'trying to get circulation back into her legs' She would have chosen warmer attire, but... well. She's used to extremes

Fio pats herself down, making sure all her weapons are in place. Batons? Check. Firearms, loaded with riot ammunition? Check. ... Axe? Check.

Fio spots Scratch standing out all alone in the field. She's had a chance to review the previous fights of Team USA, and she recognizes her opponent.

"Hi! You're, uh... Scratch, right? I'm Fio Germi, it's nice to meet you!"
She rubs the back of her head, taking quiet note that her hair is frizzled as all get out. ... =Weird=. She continues anyway: "It looks like I'm your first opponent!"

Yeah, that's me," Scratch answers rather quickly and brusquely, flipping the hoodie over her head...or at least trying to before her ponytail gets in the way. Scowling, she lets it fall back down, before....

"There you guys are!" Where are all the cameras? Well...that's rather briskly answered when someone wearing a KoF production staff shirt approaches both Scratch and Fio soon as the alternate for Sonic Assault skids up and arrives. "About time you two. Now get up there!" The staffer quickly points to a helicopter waiting about 100 meters from the team's staging grounds. If that doesn't give an indication of where they were to fight, then...

"...oh hell no." That's all Scratch can say as she fights between staring at the staffer, and staring at the giant natural monolith that she assumed they were fighting in FRONT of...

Fio blinks back at Scratch, and resumes shuttling her weight from one side to the other. One might think her a bit... dense for wearing a cutoff t-shirt and shorts out in a wintry chill like this, and maybe she -is-, but soldiering her way through tough assignments is just how the Genoan rolls.

And just when she starts to voice another thought, the helicopter overhead and its staffer make their presence a bit more obvious.

"What's the matter?" Fio asks, already running towards the helicopter. Seems she's got no problem obeying orders, /unlike someone else/. She calls back over her shoulder to Scratch, in good cheer: "You never rode in a helicopter before?"

Scratch just...groans a little, rubbing the bridge of her nose. She gives the production staffer a withering look, one that he ignores as he starts to jog back over to the helicopter. PIcking up her stuff, she pushes herself up from the chair she was waiting on...before giving Fio a look f her own, one of disbelief.

"...the helicopter has nothing to do with it. We're fighting on top of...you know what, nevermind," she says, cutting herself off, and wondering if she's the only one that finds the idea of fighting atop Ayer's Rock absolutely absurd.

...who knows, she might be.

Fio has no trouble scrambling up the ladder. It's something she does all the time, after all! But as she does so, Scratch might get a good view of all of the weapons slung on belts, fastened to her jacket and whatnot.

If there is any hesitation at all about fighting -on top- of a sacred monument and/or world landmark, the mercenary doesn't show it in the helicopter ride. Just a goofy, vapid smile across her face. "You seem really -nervous-, though. Are you sure you're up for this?"

Scratch has a much more...difficult time climbing up, even with her skates hanging from her shoulder rather than on her feet...and she's doing her best not to look down even if the helicopter only hovers until they're both inside.

Sprawling on the floor, Scratch groans a little...and a little louder once the helicopter actually starts to properly ascend. "I'll be better once I get on the damn rock and stop wondering where the hell my life has gone," she grouses, chin on the floor. "Bridges, I'm fine on, flat open ground, yeah, streets, fire escapes rooftops, yeah. How the hell did I get to fighting on monuments?" she openly complains.

It's certain that there are others who find the idea of fighting on Uluru absurd-- but Scratch's teammate isn't among them. The coolness that comes with the evening settling in is refreshment to Ken Masters, already atop that ancient monolith, after the exertion of the day. A ritualized battle and vision quest served as his warmup, the day spent under the outback sun-- which is never particularly gentle this far north, so close to the equator, even in the 'dead of winter'... and then the late afternoon consumed by a grueling climb up a difficult face of the holy site, pinpointed by a skilled guide. It's likely Scratch had some very harsh words for whichever assistant offered this rather unique experience to her as well.

Perhaps it was the blessing to meet in battle atop the ancient mountain that's important to Ken, perhaps the spiritual experience of the trial. Perhaps it's simply the experience, the exercise, the challenge-- or the gorgeous panorama that spreads before him now as he flops to his rear at the precipice and takes a canteen from his pack as he schluffs it off to the elevated ground behind him. Drinking deeply of the refreshing water, in dusty gi and bare feet, it's easier than it usually is to remember that the famous businessman is Ryu's brother in more than battle, his own childhood spent training in the remote mountains of old world Japan.

The Blonde Battler's only half concerned with the helicopter bringing up the fighters, his attention mostly on centering himself-- an interesting test amidst the suddenly intensifying stormclouds, ominous rumbles of thunder reverberating through electrified air, a fierce wind wildly tousling Ken's long golden hair.. and prompting the helicopter pilot to yell something about hurrying up. And getting the hell out of there again.

Fio blinks back at Scratch as she lies sprawled about the floor. "... Uh." Rubbing the back of her head, she looks over to the pilot. She looks... pretty much anywhere but Scratch, really.

"Don't you think it's exciting to fight in momentous places though? I mean, it could be worse. We could be the ones stuck fighting at Stonehenge, right?"

The helicopter ride is mercifully short -- interrupted only by her leaning over to the KOF official and asking if it was okay to use rubber bullets in the fight. (Oddly: yes?!)

Judging from Scratch's hesitation, Fio has absolutely no qualms with being the first one to hop out of the helicopter. She shimmies about halfway down the ladder, before deciding to liven things up a bit by loosening her grip on the ladder and throwing her feet off, -sliding- down the rope ladder to the surface of the rock.

Her boots impact the ground with a loud *whump* and she looks around -- only -then- does she notice that the Team USA representative is already here. "Oh -- hello!" she waves!

COMBATSYS: Fio has started a fight here.

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Fio              0/-------/------=|

COMBATSYS: Scratch has joined the fight here.

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Fio              0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0          Scratch

The Metro Citizen just looked back up at Fio, face scrunched up as if she smelled a fart from the merc's general direction. Any further snark was cut off when the helicopter started to slow, then come to a halt...or at least hover. Hastily doing up her skates, the punk scooted up to the edge of the floor before doing a sit-in...except instead of a vert ramp, she's falling off a helicopter.

She manages to stick the landing, of course. It's not the height that's the problem, or the terrain even. It's just... "I feel like I'm skating atop Mt. Rushmore right now." Which would actually be pretty awesome if not for the feeling of dread she'd have, much the same way she has now.

Noting the skeleton crew, plus the aerial cams, Scratch sighs. Well, no getting out of it this time. Sure, she's fine defacing walls, buildings, water towers, etc. But there's certain things you just DON'T DO... "...when the hell did I get standards?" she whispers under her breath idly before taking a place opposite Fio once the merc lands.

"Hey...." Seeing that the only official is watching from a SEPARATE helicopter, the skate punk groans again. "Lets just get this over with," she mutters...before dashing straight at Fio. No jukes, no tricks, no misdirection, she's just trying to overwhelm the Ikari with speed before trying to slide and drive a skate into bespectacled girl's ankle on the go.

Ken has just enough time to finish a soul-bearing monologue to his gopro before the helicopter finishes its ascent, making the quick dropoff as the storm gathers. As the other fighters arrive, Ken picks himself up from the view and stretches right back out in a few languid motions before digging in his backpack for a sweatshirt, a bright red one. This is pulled on over his gi, and he paces to the borders of the epic natural battlefield, tossing a convivial wave to Fio and Scratch. "Make it a good one, you'll need to to take us on!" Ken encourages, the sentiment only slightly deflated by Scratch's decided lack of enthusiasm-- but he's rather used to it, by now. It may not be the finals match, but in a field like this, even the runner up prizes are noteworthy. One fierce fist pumps in the air with the initiation of battle, a wide grin spreading on the Blonde Battler's face.

COMBATSYS: Fio fails to interrupt Acid Soul Slide from Scratch with Palm Strike.
- Power fail! -

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Fio              0/-------/-----==|>------\-------\0          Scratch

Fio has been through the rocky landscape of Afghanistan, the sweltering jungles of Kampuchea, and the arctic wilds of Norway. The last was just to visit a friend, but the point is, the mercenary is more than used to extreme climate conditions! ... Fighting on places people might have actually seen on a photo postcard, less so. Fio raises a finger to scratch at her ear while she considers that thought. "... Huh. Well, that'd be =weird=, those presidents have like... really wild hair, right?"

The mercenary doesn't seem in any particular rush, just ambling over to take a fighting stance as if the entire world isn't watching. Well, really, why should she feel pressured? There's no crowd, unlike any of Sonic Assault's -previous- fights. The energy is all off, and there's only =two= people to attack. "... Yeah, I'm ready to get this over," she admits with a bit of shyness. "I mean--"

Did the fight start? Fio was used to hearing the corny accent from the announcers. The fact is, the announcer =is= shouting the word to go. "Round wan! -- Fio! Baasas! Scratch!"
He's just shouting it from the helicopter, and sound takes time to travel down that far. Not to mention, there's -nothing- to ensure the sound actually reaches the mercenary's ears.
"-- it doesn't even -feel- like a fight, and -- hey!" Fio's bespectacles eyes go wide at the sudden commencement of the fight, dropping to a low crouch. She aims to bring her palm up, but her opponent's unbelievably fast -- is she -crazy-, using rollerblades on an incline like this?

Fio gets blasted backwards from the sheer momentum, letting loose a shriek as she goes tumbling down the side of the revered monument. It's everything she can do to regain control, gloves hands scrabbling vainly for purchase on the rock face. Finally, luck smiles on her, as she's able to dig her soles into a crag on the rock face and push herself back to standing position.

She pushes her glasses back onto her face, though there's quite a few more scratches on the lenses than before, and no -small- amount of bloody gashes upon her face and arms. Luckily, she has enough padding on her legs to have kept them relatively safe...

"H-hey! Did... oh. I guess you =did= warn me, but gosh, doesn't this seem =strange= to you?"
Yeah, it really didn't bother Fio at all till now.

Despite the uneven terrain of the top of Urulu, Scratch seems to be able to skate and speed along just fine, and the slide is easily followed through with measure. It's probably good that they're at the closest thing to 'flat' at the top of the rock monolith, otherwise Scratch really would be going down at speed even she'd find excessive.

Popping back up to her feet after the slide, she pivots around carefully, finding her orientation again as well as Fio's location after the merc recovers and pulls herself back up. "You're only realizing that NOW?!" she shouts back to Fio before going after her again. It seems like a straight bead...at least until she suddenly springs forward onto her hands right before Fio, legs arching upward before slamming a skate heel down toward the redhead from above, like a scorpion's tail.

COMBATSYS: Fio dodges Scratch's Handplant Hammer.

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Fio              0/-------/-----==|-------\-------\0          Scratch

Fio's been through worse. Really! Live battlegrounds with actual ammunition being expended at her! So this... this is just a minor setback, she convinces herself, slapping herself lightly in the face to make sure that there's still feeling there after the tumble.

"... What?! I just mean down -here-. It was -fine- in the helicopter!" The Italian manages to keep her gaze locked onto Scratch as she gains air -- though, this time, she doesn't attempt to do anything crazy. She just dives out of the way, tucking into a tight tumble. Because that's what you're supposed to do when crazy skaters come scything downward at you, apparently.

The miniaturized assault rifle strapped to her back clatters against the rock as she tumbles, but a moment later the sound of her boots slamming down can be heard. Whirling about, she makes her own charge back at Scratch -- though it's decidedly less committed. She hasn't mastered rollerblades yet. Her attack is two rapid-fire kicks: one aimed at the stomach, the followup aimed at the sternum! "Ya! YAAAA!"

COMBATSYS: Scratch blocks Fio's Light Kick.

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Fio              0/-------/-----==|>------\-------\0          Scratch

"Are you really THAT dense or are you just real good at pretending?!" Scratch manages to get out as that arching kick comes, braking on her hand as Fio manages to roll out of the way from the unorthodox kick.

Springing back onto her fee-er, wheels, the punk is able to ground herself just in time to catch the shots on her arms, the one to her stomach on her elbow, and the follow up on both forearms. She winces, the sting of both making her arms tingle, but not enough to numb them.

Gritting her teeth, she takes a more roundabout way around this time, skating askew from Fio for a bit, before charging in again. This time, she really takes to the air, trying to leap up and almost leap frog Fio, legs spread eagled. Except, if she can get the spring over, she'd just straight up mule kick the merc in the back and roll away with some extra space in her pocket.

COMBATSYS: Fio blocks Scratch's Aggressive Air.

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Fio              0/-------/---====|>>-----\-------\0          Scratch

Once her kicks land, Fio draws back -- she doesn't want to overcommit against someone like Scratch on an incline like -this-. It's a loooong way down.

As Scratch skates away, Fio takes a moment to address the question she was just asked. It actually draws a hurt expression to her face. Dense? -Her?- "... Look. All I'm saying is, on a scale of one to hell, right now, this is like... a soft three?!" She doesn't move out of the way of the blader's next attack pass, though. This time, her battle crouch is an actual success, as she throws her arms over her head defensively. But just when she thinks it's safe, Scratch delivers that follow-up mule kick, forcing the merc back to her feet in an awkward, off-balance run. Windmill her arms to either side for balance, she manages to regain control, but not without a sour look as she reaches for the two batons fastened to her hips.

"Are you this insulting to -everyone?- It's not very nice!"

As it turns out, the batons have knobs on either end -- a fact which becomes relevant as the merc begins whirling them around in a threatening gesture. Fio charges forward, whirling her left hand's tonfa like a horizontal sawblade. And her right hand follows through, swinging a diagonal cut aimed at clobbering the nimble blader before she can get away again!"

COMBATSYS: Fio successfully hits Scratch with Cutting Tonfa.

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Fio              0/-------/--=====|======-\-------\0          Scratch

That's a question that Scratch doesn't bother answering. She's too busy kiping back up from a tumble to her feet properly, trying to get herself into a better position after that slightly stifled kick. Winding around, she gets a bead on Fio, advancing....

Right into the buzzsaw named Fio. The spinning, slicing tonfa catch and cut deep into Scratch, carving through her hoody and stemming off her initial momentum wholesale.

Seething on the ground as she held her arm across one bad cut over her chest, and a hand over the gash on that arm, the skater bites her lip. "Son of a..." Suddenly, the weird atmosphere both becomes more real and more background noise than anything. She's more aware of the electric feeling of ozone surrounding them, but at the same time, she finds herself completely zoning out on the fact that they're still on Ayers Rock.

"Dammit," she curses before rolling in again. There's not as much pop to her step, or smoothness to her glide thanks to her wounds, but she still comes in with enough speed to surprise hopefully, trying to come in angled enough to jam a palm into Fio's ribs. She really doesn't want to have those tonfas stay into play after all.

COMBATSYS: Scratch successfully hits Fio with Medium Punch.

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Fio              1/-------/<<<<<<<|=======\-------\0          Scratch

The Littlest Mercenary That Could hops backwards after her succession tonfa strikes, a wide grin plastered upon her face. Is she surprised it worked? Well, not -entirely-, but she is glad to have been able to catch up with the speedy skater.

But then the environment starts making itself a little more obvious. Fio's auburn hair begins getting progressively more frazzled, with her bangs starting to make crackling noises. Her grin fades, and her eyes begin to cross. "... Hey, that's =weird=," she comments, swatting at her tresses with a hand -- and her hand jerks backwards, suddenly -- shocked from her own hair! "Gah! Whiskey tango foxtrot, over..."

Meanwhile, with Scratch making another pass, Fio stops twirling those tonfas and raises them in a cross pattern. She expects Scratch to aim high -- not to blitz right past her and slam a palm into her ribcage! "Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow..." she laments, staggering off to her side, dropping one of her tonfa in her panic to assess the damage. Was... anything -broken?-

Her left eye screwed shut from the pain, she's forced to track Scratch with her right, carefully taking note of the speedy skater. But then...

Fio's eyes pop wide open again. "Um, um, um..." she stammers, "I got a favor to ask!" The Italian forgets about her pain for a moment, and starts running towards Scratch in a mad panic. She tosses the tonfas aside and reaches for a parcel on the back of her belt. The electricity crackles loudly, her hair frizzing out like there's no tomorrow. And as she runs past Scratch, she aims to slap the package right onto the skater's back -- and then aims her heel right towards the back of the blader's knee, hoping to knock her to the ground!"

What's in the paper-wrapped parcel? Well, it's a small-yield plastic explosive -- powerful enough to leave a mark, but not enough for any -permanent- damage to the Metro Citizen. But it'd be better to have a controlled detonation, than a mishap caused by the freak electrical storm. "Sorry, sorry, sorry!"

COMBATSYS: Fio successfully hits Scratch with K.A.M.I.K.A.Z.E. EX.

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Fio              1/------</<<<<<<<|=======\====---\1          Scratch

Scratch is falling back on the kind of stuff she's been taught more than her own instincts and skating skills. If it was just her style from before, she'd have probably just tried to elbow shove Fio asid, roller derby-style The training seems to be doing SOMETHING.

Unfortunately, training can only do so much to prepare one for the feeling of static all around them, pricking at her skin...and then having something like THAT slapped onto her back.

"Huh..." Doing her best to try and scramble and get whatever was on her back OFF her back, Scratch ends up getting tripped up in her panic...and BOOM.

The explosive doesn't call for the end, but it certainly ends up doing quite a bit to the poor girl's back, face screwed up in pain as her hoodie, the clothes underneath, and the skin itself, are all kind of...well, torn open now. Sure, it's not outright debilitating, but it hurts like hell still.

"The...hell....was that?" she gasps out. She still has some pep in her step, ehough to try and leap into the air. Legs tucked in, one slashes outward in a sweeping arc, the other chambered back by her hand before being unleashed as well, thin arcs of chi coming off her wheels from the backflipping attack.

COMBATSYS: Scratch successfully hits Fio with Method Slicer EX.

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Fio              1/--=====/=======|=======\=====--\1          Scratch

With a look of panic on her face, Fio covers her ears and screws her eyes shut. It wasn't supposed to be a -huge- explosion, she knew it wouldn't do anything like -kill- her opponent, but it was sure going to be better to leave the explosive on Scratch than have it go off when -both- were present.

Once it fires off, though, Fio winces and stands back up. Fumbling around to find the assault rifle strapped to her back, she comments, "... Well... that could've gone worse...?"

And then... Scratch -stands up-. Fio's eyes go wide. And she...
Seems relieved? "Oh, good, I was worried for a moment! I couldn't remember if I swapped to the low yield charge! Ahahaha!"

She hasn't seen Scratch's back yet.

The bespectacled master sergeant pulls out her gun, and stares back at the skate rat. What was that? "... Hey, it was cleared with staff beforehand, don't..."

She's interrupted, though, by Scratch leaping into the air once again. She raises her gun to her face and attempts to leap backwards, but the first arc of chi is enough to knock the gun out of her hand -- mitigated only by the strap coiled around her arm. But the inertia of the attack is enough to spin Fio around again as a perfect setup for the second kick -- which sends Fio tumbling backwards!

"Oof!" she exclaims, wrapping one arm around the top of her chest. That... hurt a bit more than she expected it would! "Hey, it's... it's part of my style!" she protests. "It'd be like asking you to fight without your skates!" Hopping back to her feet, she pulls the gun back to her grip -- and only when she brings her second arm to cradle the assault rifle does the red welt just below her collarbones become obvious.
She's had worse.

But now... now she's determined. "Being a soldier runs in my blood, ma'am!" Fio -could- be upset. But she's not! She just leaps forward, trying to catch up to the nimble skater as soon as she can. And when she's within range, she wheels backwards, whirling a high roundhouse up at her with the intent to blast her skyward.

If it connects, she will then blast her skyward in a more literal sense -- by opening fire with the assault rifle. And for some reason, Fio can't help but add to the *brrrrt* sound made by the semi-automatic with her own sound effects: "Brrrrrt!"
And if that connects too, the last descendant of the Germi line of soldiers reaches back and hurls a tomahawk at the airborne girl as well, because -why not?-

COMBATSYS: Scratch blocks Fio's Fio Fio Time!.

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Fio              0/-------/------=|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2          Scratch

Scratch lands...rather carefully, mind, because the ground is still plenty uneven. Between that uneven landing, and the wounds mounting, it's no wonder that she's still not got quite the same sort of energy from before, even if she's still running off some kind of adrenaline high.

It's that which gives Fio the opening to roundhouse her into the sky. There's little resistence there. But consdering how Scratch lives...just because she's in the air doesn't mean she's helpless.

As she sees the gun chambered and readied, Scratch growls. "Oh hell no..." As the rubber bullet fire comes, Scratch spins...and flips...and spins...and flips...and soon enough, her body is a kinetic ball of extended legs and arcing lines of chi, that deflect what bullets they can, force what can't be outright deflected to hit less then flush, and generally keep her from being a sitting duck.

It doesn't work perfectly, mind. She's going to have dozens of welts that would make one think she nearly got eaten alive by mosquitoes. But that'll be later. This is now, and the now is able to knock aside the finishing tomahawk chucked at her before descending down upon Fio herself, trying to consume her into the almost cartoonish ball of gryoscopic and centrifugal force.

Or to put it in a shorter way Fio would more likely understand...the chopper blade's being thrown at her rather than her at the chopper blade.

COMBATSYS: Scratch successfully hits Fio with McTwister.

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Fio              0/-------/---====|>>>>---\-------\0          Scratch

Fio was in disbelief at the skate rat's ability to not only deflect the bullets, but look completely -badass- in the process. "Wh... what kind of creature -are- you..." she gasps, in the midst of hurling her tomahawk at the nimble blader. But it's only when her flung tomahawk is knocked aside that Fio realizes something else entirely: that Scratch has managed to reverse her direction, and is now heading -for- her.

Fio yelps. And hops backwards. To her credit, she's able to parry the first two or three strikes with the body of her assault rifle, but she can only deal with so much -- the whirling dervish of limbs from Scratch is -not- something she can even fully rationalize, let alone defend against. She'll definitely be feeling the bruises from the impact wounds, and the scrapes from being dashed against the rocks, for the weeks to come...

Mercifully, Fio is ejected from the whirling ball of pain and ouchies, tumbling twice as she is spat onto the rock surface. She laughs, shaking her head despite her scraped, bleeding, and bruised body's testament to the litany of injuries she's sustained. LAUGHS.
And then lists sharply to her left, as her body reminds her that, hey, this hurts lots, thanks...

Through it all, she still has an assault rifle in her hands. She winks back at Scratch. "Not bad, haha! Can you do it -again- though?"

The rifle is brought to bear, and a hailstorm of gunfire erupts outwards. And the mercenary is -laughing-.
It's quite possible that she'd been hit in the head during the scuffle. It's hard to tell.

COMBATSYS: Scratch dodges Fio's Heavy Machine Gun.

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Fio              0/-------/---====|>>>>---\-------\0          Scratch

It's ridiculous, but it works...and somehow, the incline along the top of the rock helps keep Scratch from landing TERRIBLY, still in a roll before finally getting her feet back under her. Groaning as she's reminded that the intense Gs from spinning like that don't do well for wounds like hers, the skater remains in a 3-point position, waiting for Fio.

The laugh is senough to make the Metro Citizen furrow her brow worriedly. The gun is enough to make a lump form in her throat.

But at least that three point position comes in handy, sprinting herself off sideways to avoid the sudden barrage of rubber bullets from that heavy rifile.

"You're fucking crazy, you know that?!" she shouts...not that the cyan-haired girl is much better in the 'crazy' department, but she's never had much worry about that kind of hypocrisy. And she's got more worries anyways, charging in to try and hook her arm around one of Fio's, the one bracing the forestock of her rifile. If she can get it, she'd suddenly hard brake, then hit reverse with a burst of chi from her feet, hoping the sudden change in momentum can give her enough to twist and toss Fio hard and away overhead.

COMBATSYS: Fio dodges Scratch's Rewind Whip.

[                       \\\\\\\  < >  //////////                    ]
Fio              0/-------/---====|====---\-------\0          Scratch

Once Scratch asks her question, the maniacal laughter falls off, the syllables hanging dead in the static-charged air. Crazy? Not just crazy, but -fucking- crazy? Fio cants her head off to one side, mustering a weak reply of: "Th-thanks..."
She prefers to think of herself as 'determined,' but that might just be a matter of perspective.

But she knows better than to waste precious time dealing with her speedy opponent's attacks in any sort of defensive gesture: Miss Germi just throws herself into a combat roll away from Scratch, as that hooking arm whistles past just inches away from her.

Landing on the balls of her feet, she suddenly springs upwards, hurling herself into the air. Her momentum sends her twisting about into an aerial spiral.

Either she's crazy, as charged, or she's totally inspired by the radical and gnarly moves of her opponent. Because when she careens about in mid air, she also -fires her assault rifle- one more time, sending another storm of bullets raining outward in an unpredictable array.

That is, she's shooting them at Ayers Rock, and counting on the bullets to ricochet in such a fashion that they are able to knock the nimble Scratch back out of her groove.

Okay, maybe she is crazy.

COMBATSYS: Fio successfully hits Scratch with Trick Shot.

[                        \\\\\\  < >  /////                         ]
Fio              0/-------/--=====|=======\-------\1          Scratch

While she's able to rewind and drop into reverse quick, Scratch doesn't get a chance to bring Fio with her, and even worse, her adrenaline high seems to fail and leave her, dropping her face first into the ground painfully.

Groaning, she looks up watching as Fio takes her turn in the air. With such a spread, and such volume, dodging is almost completely out of the question...and unfortunately for the skater, trying to take cover on a completely featureless rock means the only cover she really has is her own back...

The back that, earlier, was just about blown open by the small-yield explosive. So it shouldn't be too surprising when attempts at hunkering down only make her a smaller target, not a hardier one. Groaning painfully, the skater looks up...she knows she's probably not going to be able to get back up to her feet. Not after being slashed, shot at, exploded, and crashed (the last admittedly of her own free will). The least she can do is try and dive for Fio. It takes all the strength left in her legs, and even if she reaches her, all she'd amount to doing is disurpting the merc's landing so she has a hard fall too.

But it'll be better than nothing, right?

COMBATSYS: Scratch can no longer fight.

[                        \\\\\\  <
Fio              0/-------/--=====|

COMBATSYS: Fio dodges Scratch's Quick Throw.

[                        \\\\\\  <
Fio              0/-------/--=====|

Fio lands from her forward flip -- because really, aside from the blitz of gunfire, that's -all it was- -- and whirls about to face Scratch again. Part of her feels kind of bad for relying on gunpowder weapons, even if it =is= her preferred combat style, but all things considered, the mercenary is more concerned with exhibiting her skill than actually inflicting damage. Just like her compatriots in Sonic Assault!

So when her bruised and reddened face is turned back towards Scratch, her eyes do show a flicker of remorse. Scratch may have a foul mouth but she's certainly not a foul person, and that counts for a lot for the kind-hearted Genoan.

It counts for a lot until she sees the determined skater leaping back at her. Then that remorse just turns back into panic.

Fio lets the assault rifle hang from its strap as she leaps sideways, windmilling her arms for balance so that she doesn't inadvertently throw herself right off the rock! But, concerned for the health of her opponent, she turns back after a moment, teeth bared in a wincing expression --
Whew! Scratch didn't fall off the rock -herself-. That's a relief! Fio places her gloved hand on her blood-spattered chest, attempting to still her beating heart as she takes a deep breath.

Echoing from the helicopter high above is the cry of the announcer, on time-delay: "KEI! OH!"

Fio snaps her hand upwards into a crisp salute to Scratch. "Thank you! It was a pleasure fighting you, Miss Scratch!" Even if she was called some rather nasty things, Fio still has her family's honorable reputation to uphold.

And with that, Fio turns towards Ken Masters. She's fought so hard -- and yet, the road ahead still seems so difficult! Her legs feel weak, and she collapses to her knees on the rock, a movement dampened only by her hands placed flat on the rock at the last instant.

"Stage one complete!"

COMBATSYS: Fio awaits the next challenger.

[                    \\\\\\\\\\  <
Fio              0/-------/--=====|

Scratch just groans, face falling to the ground...er...rock when she's unable to catch Fio and flip her away. A pained sigh comes, before the skater tries to crawl off to her team's 'side' of the rock. Thankfully, they have the KoF staff ready to pull her back up into a triage copter for treatment.

To Ken's eye, the two young ladies are more or less evenly matched, conducting a frenetic back-and-forth that could go either way right up to the end, even as they exhibit exceptionally divergent fighting styles-- not to mention attitudes. The Blonde Battler takes a final swig from his canteen in those final moments of that first bout, then stashes it in his pack, rising gracefully from that knelt perspective to turn and face Fio as he breathes in the chill breeze that whirls around the ancient monolith beneath his feet.

A practiced hand catches his windblown hair and another deftly secures a crimson band about it, the ponytail whipping wildly in protest against the restraint as he steps into the wind, and towards the battlefield, drawing a deep and steadying breath of that fresh, energy-tinged air. Tightening the bindings of the second padded black sparring glove he pulls over his hands, one of said fists is hammered audibly into the palm of the other hand, and held there long enough to execute a bow somewhere between traditional and flourishing, a wide grin offered as Ken rights himself, and bounces lightly from foot to foot.

"Nice fight-- looks like she put you through the paces." And vice-versa: but then there hasn't been a fight this tournament where Scratch /didn't/ give her opponent a run for their money; more than can be said of Ken, granted. Thankfully, only some of the commentators have said it. "Hope you saved some for me, or this is going to be a quick bout!" Ken promises with some bravado; and some keen grasp of the obvious. Of course, whether it's Charlie or Guile waiting in the wings, Fio putting up a good fight may not be fortuitous for Ken Masters-- which doesn't seem to dull the sentiment in the least.

"Let's find out!" The grin doesn't fade as the second round starts up, the announcer's call lost to the whoosh of air as the Blonde Battler crosses the space between himself and his opponent, sliding gracefully down a slope and somehow transitioning the momentum to a swinging foot as his right anchors beneath him like a pillar, and the left snaps up and axes around and down, a striking heel seeking to relieve Fio of -her- footing accompanied by a fierce kiai.

COMBATSYS: Ken Masters has joined the fight here.

[                    \\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Fio              0/-------/--=====|-------\-------\0      Ken Masters

COMBATSYS: Ken Masters successfully hits Fio with Inazuma Kakato Wari.
Grazing Hit

[                       \\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Fio              1/-------/=======|==-----\-------\0      Ken Masters

Fio did, in fact, save some paces for Ken. While the helicopter was taking the steps necessary to stabilize Scratch after a rather epic run through the riot bullet gauntlet, the Ikari redhead took the brief time allotted to salve and dress her more egregious wounds.

So when Ken Masters tightens the bindings on his sparring gloves, the Fio he faces will only be a -little- more refreshed than the one who found the speed to go toe-to-toe with her rollerblader opponent. Bandages have been applied to her cheek, midriff and forearms; the dark blue bruises would have to wait for another time.

The mercenary, still supporting her assault rifle with her left hand and the shoulder strap, snaps a quick salute with her right. With a bright smile, she adds, "She's got heart, that much is obvious!"

The second round begins. And this time, Germi completely ignores the announcer's call as it is lost to the winds, focusing instead on the US Martial Arts Champion rushing towards her. The merc has already proven herself to be pretty dodgy before, and she starts to throw herself into a side tumble...

Ken Masters' foot is just a bit too fast for her, clipping her in the keister and sending her into a flat spin rather than the tightly-wound tumble she had wanted! Fio grits her teeth as she throws her shoulder into the fall, managing to wrest control over her wayward after a moment of wild flailing.

Springing back to her feet, she lets loose another laugh. "It'll take more than that to keep a Germi down, sir!" She raises her gun with her right hand, as if to fire...

But in actuality, she's reaching for a small bottle clipped to her belt. It could easily have been confused for a brand-name water bottle. And in fact, it =was=, at one point, a brand name water bottle. It's just got a caustic chemical cocktail inside, and Fio just lit the fuse.

"Bombs away!" she cries, just before sidearming the bottle at Ken Masters! If it hits... well, hey, it'll probably light his handsome gi on fire! He seems to like fire... right?!

COMBATSYS: Ken Masters dodges Fio's Fire Bomb EX.

[                        \\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Fio              0/-------/=======|===----\-------\0      Ken Masters

Ken's grin widens when he detects the threat, or perhaps when Fio assures him there is one-- that axing foot is back beneath him in the same flicker of an eye it takes the blow to descend, and rather certain that Ms. Germi is not offering him a refreshing beverage just this moment (and that most fine waters do not include fuses), Masters uses said feet to get the hell out of dodge. He's around the extra-makeshift molotov as it whirls in, as the fires trip off the incindiery compound within, and the fireball fills the space Masters was set to be in-- but barely singes his red sweatshirt, the barefoot Blonde Battler evading sidelong to give the bomb plenty of space.

It does little, truth be told, to delay the charge that subsequently concludes, bringing him in on Fio once more, unwilling to give the mercenary space to breathe, an initiative that probably has much more to do with Ken's instincts, with the flow of this battle, than the fact that Fio just tried to explode him. That's to be expected, after all.

"I'll keep it in mind!" Ken promises, a blur of red-hued motion. The last span between them is covered by Ken's right foot leading with a reaving roundhouse, twisting about his anchoring left foot with all his weight distributed with synergistic, intuitive precision to add substantial force to the blow-- and its partner, this time led by the right heel's return with uncanny force and another sudden twist inverse from the first, reversing all that momentum to add a second fierce kick to the mix, for good measure.

COMBATSYS: Ken Masters successfully hits Fio with Shishi Kudaki.

[                                < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Fio              1/--=====/=======|=====--\-------\0      Ken Masters

The air is thick with electricity. The animals of the outback have the good sense to be lodged away in their burrows, safe from the skies and their impending disaster. And yet, they're probably safe from lightning strikes, thanks to all the metal Fio is carrying while fighting someone at the highest elevation for kilometers in all directions. Probably!

Fio smiles: she had hoped to get the jump on Masters with that mini-molotov explosion, but is pleased to know that his speed wasn't a mere exaggeration! She even laughs at his response -- she's sure he'll forget, after all, why should anyone remember lil' ol' Fio, anyway? Especially someone with as many fawning fans as Ken Masters...

Redness creeps into her cheeks at the thought -- but the mercenaries reflexes are already screaming at her to move. She starts to drop low into a crouch, hoping that she can drop before the roundhouse bowls her over, but it's to no avail -- the foot crashes into her undefended shoulder, tipping her over backwards as a perfect setup for the followup to crack into her ribcage.
And there -is- a crack, though it might be hard to hear over the storm...

But even as her body is whipped around from the powerful strike, as if caught in a miniature tornado of its own, there is one constant -- one goal.
She hasn't let go of that assault rifle yet.

Fio lands, her body practically flat against the rock. But she is still conscious enough to lift her shoulders up and make good on her threat.

"I will hold you to that!" she cries out, squeezing the trigger on her assault rifle. Flames spew out -- and the volleys of bullets that come out seem to be quite a bit more potent this time than before, as they glow with chemically-ignited flames of a brilliant blue.

COMBATSYS: Fio can no longer fight.

[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Ken Masters      1/-------/=======|

And not long after firing -- the bespectacled master sergeant's shoulders and head slump back to the rock. May she slumber in peace after a long-fought battle!

COMBATSYS: Ken Masters blocks Fio's Double Machine Gun.

[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Ken Masters      1/------=/=======|

At the moment, Ken's not so worried about getting struck by lightning-- he's worried about getting struck by a flurry of gunfire. Whether his opponent is a famous, champion martial artist or a relatively obscure merc, Masters gives them the proper respect, keen to test his own dynamic and honed style against all the world has to offer. As Fio falls, caught in the midst of her last-ditch effort to injure him in turn, Ken feels a twinge of regret in Ken that their conflict is cut so short by Scratch's capable fighting.

Masters minimizes his silhouette, crouches tightly around himself, powerful arms protecting his head and neck. The chemical fires of the rounds loosed into and around him flare here and there against the Ansatsuken disciple's own aura, ricocheting across his hardened flesh as if it were brick. Chips may be torn out, gi and sweatshirt may be torn in numerous locations and tinged with blood, but Masters barely seems to notice as he smoothly rises and shakes it off, cracking his neck and stretching the sting out of his arms, smile returning to his face. "Nice try." He congratulates, even as part of him longs for a more thorough trial against Fio's repertoire.

As the WINNAH of this round is declared to be KEN MASTERS, said Blonde Battler pumps one enthusiastic fist in the air and turns a full rotation, striking a pose for every assembled camera in the process. Several fistpumps later, Ken's turned to face the side of Uluru dedicated to dropping the Sonic Assault reinforcements-- and Masters' grin turns more lupine as he awaits that challenge, "Now it all comes down to this fight." For the last time until the next time. It may not be the Finals, but Masters doesn't seem to mind much. One gloved hand extends and beckons defiantly for a new challenger to come on.

COMBATSYS: Ken Masters awaits the next challenger.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Ken Masters      1/------=/=======|

"Hmph." Guile can't exactly fault Fio for falling against Ken Masters; she was already in a fight and Ken is a formidable opponent. Still, he's a little displeased. It shows in the set of his mouth. He's wearing the olive-drab tank top and woodland-pattern BDUs, the heavy, steel-toed combat boots, the whole getup. It shows off what seems like miles of bandages wrapped around his torso. Despite the obvious bandages, however, he is moving with his accustomed leonine grace, his boots kicking up puffs of dust as he stalks onto field.

"Masters," growls Guile, out of the corner of his mouth, whipping out a pair of mirrored aviators and slipping them onto his eyes. The military man rotates his arms around twice each, pumping them around, and, if that wasn't theatrical enough, tilting his head left and right to pop the neck joints there.

Clenching his big, meaty hands into fists, he wastes no time in sidling forward, bringing his fists up to his boxer-style stance. He could start out flashy--but opts for discretion instead, of a sort, abruptly lunging forward to close the distance and firing off a right hook, twisting his whole body around behind the punch.

COMBATSYS: Guile has joined the fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Ken Masters      1/------=/=======|=------\-------\0            Guile

COMBATSYS: Guile successfully hits Ken Masters with Medium Punch.

[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Ken Masters      1/---====/=======|==-----\-------\0            Guile

It's a fortuitous thing (at least for Ken) that the Blonde Battler only needs a few critical moments to gather his breath, center his chi, and ease a painful point of impact or three before battle is rejoined-- because those scant moments are all he gets. Ken doesn't have much time to be disappointed that it's Guile, rather than his (other) eternal rival, Charlie, stepping into the fray-- because the other military-trained warrior proves capable and threatening in short order. The greeting is returned with respect and warmth, a salute with military precision and decidedly non-regulation panache offered to the other fighter, "Lieutenant Guile. Guess it's a waste of breath telling you to make this interesting."

Masters may not have squared off with this particular expert fighter before, but some measure of Guile's reputation precedes him, and Ken doesn't bother to hide his enthusiasm for joining the fray. Bobbing lightly from one foot to the next, riding the high from combat so far, Masters is still a moment behind the timing needed to weave out of the way of that powerful cross, and the Ansatsuken disciple begins this round well and thoroughly clocked in the face, spit and a suddenly bloodied lip accompanying his reeling motion as Ken struggles just to keep his footing. "Heh. Not bad." It's an entirely tangible confirmation that Ken has properly assessed the risk of this meeting-- but then no matter how urgent his other operations may be, Charlie knows what kind of opponent Sonic Assault faces in Ken.

That is to say, it's no surprise to find Guile top notch levels of dangerous. But neither is Ken Masters: the respectful repartee is offered even as Ken lunges back in at Guile, seeking to grab him by that olive singlet and drag him into a punishing flurry of rising knees, keen to be driven time and time again into the Special Forces operative's ribcage, before he would be unceremoniously flunk clear, and into the punishing ground.

COMBATSYS: Guile blocks Ken Masters' Tsukami Nage.

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Ken Masters      1/--=====/=======|====---\-------\0            Guile

Guile's been briefed--and he watches the circuits. He has some idea of what Ken Masters is all about, though of course, facing it is entirely different from *watching* it. He can't say he isn't pumped up--Ken's a formidable fighter, and Guile is looking forward to it. Especially after the beating he took at the hands of the Spetznaz Sergei. It isn't Ken's fault, but Guile wants a little payback.

He stands tall when Ken approaches, letting the blond grab the tunic--it lets him defend against those pounding knees, absorbing the impacts on big-boned forearms. Instead of resisting the toss, Guile flows with it, curling his body underneath him, slamming his legs into the ground to absorb the impact.

It sends a shock up his legs, triggering a spike of pain in his still-abused hip; it shows in the tightening of flesh around his cold blue eyes, and the deepening crease of his frown.

He takes a moment to shake that offended leg out, then stalks forward again, closing again before stepping in once more, twisting around on his left leg, and thrusting his right out in a stamping, hard side kick.

COMBATSYS: Guile dazes Ken Masters with Step Kick!

[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Ken Masters      2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=====--\-------\0            Guile

Truth be told, Guile's skillful defense of the brutal assault was not unexpected-- nor does it do much to forestall Ken. He seems perfectly glad to drill knee after knee into Guile's formidable guard, and twists to face the Special Forces operative's new position fluidly, gracefully, already preparing his own defense. It's a moment that will get replayed no small number of times over the next hours and days, as the Lieutenant comes forward with enough force and precision to smash aside a nearly perfectly executed guard, slipping through Masters' deflecting forearm at just the right moment as the Blonde Battle drops into a crouch, seeking to maintain proximity and absorb that formidable impact.

It's about that instant it all goes horribly wrong for Ken-- the thrusting boot crashes through, and he's put his face clean in its path, taking another solid clocking and hurtling harshly to the ground himself. His back skids several feet before he kicks his feet upwards, backflipping out of the hurtle towards the edge of Uluru and coming up in a sprint. Blood distorts his vision, the ringing in his head hasn't cleared, charging back in full bore might be very unwise-- or just crazy enough to work.

Naturally, Ken goes with crazy enough to work: He's up in a sprint, he's back on Guile in the span of a blink that belies just how hard Ken's been double-tapped, and the last span of distance between himself and Guile is crossed by a positively brutal spin, bringing Ken's entire bodyweight in behind a ferocious forward roundhouse: the first of five.

Should Guile be caught in that onslaught, each kick after the first is only the start of the threat, fire blossoming from the trajectory of that spinning, striking foot, until the last roundhouse would lead seamlessly into a brutal spiral of fire bludgeoning and burning the Lieutenant higher and higher into the sky, Ken's right foot transitioning into a rotorblade, a decided hazard making all variations of the spinning Top o' Doom(tm) unsuitable for children. "SHIPPUUJINRAI KYAKU!!!"

COMBATSYS: Ken Masters successfully hits Guile with Shippuujinrai Kyaku.

[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Ken Masters      0/-------/<<<<<<<|=======\======-\1            Guile

If Guile needed any proof that Ken had the skills to back up the bravado, well... he just got an ample dose. HItting Ken just makes him hit back, as Guile finds out; he braces himself, settling back on his heels a little, bringing his arms up, fully prepared to defend against the man's onslaught. He even absorbs the first two roundhouses--but the third just blows his guard straight open, and it's smooth sailing for Ken from there, the kicks, the fire, all combining to take Guile with Ken up into the air and toss him away as Ken rotates down.

Guile? He lands a little less gracefully, a huge cloud of dust flashing up from around where he lands. An incredible, earth-shaking impact--surely one that signals the end of the fight? But.. no. That it does not--for a moment later, Guile emerges from that cloud, bruised and not quite standing straight--but not bowed either.

He spits a stream of blood into the dirt. "Looks like Charlie was right about you," he says, reaching up to wipe the trickle of blood from the corner of his mouth. And he smiles--but not a friendly smile. "Good. Hate for you to make this too easy." Then Guile bursts into motion, crouching low and launching himself up and forward. He comes down at Ken with a flying kick, a shot to the chest intended to destabilize Ken, then follows up with a right fist to the stomach as he crouches low--and then bursts upwards in a flipping, somersault kick, sudden green-white energy flaring around the extended leg. So powerful is the kick that he flips completely around in less than a few feet, allowing him to perform another of those energy-enhanced somersault kicks--and a third a moment later, this last one with all that stored energy put behind it.

COMBATSYS: Ken Masters just-defends Guile's Somersault Strike EX!

[       \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Ken Masters      1/------</<<<<<<<|=====--\-------\0            Guile

Just crazy enough: it's an equation some would say Ken has become too familiar with over the years, and his myriad bouts, but it's real world math that works for him, objective and scientific. Perhaps more realistically, he gets lucky again this time, just fierce enough to overwhelm Guile's stalwart line in the sand. Masters has too much respect for a fighter of Guile's calibre to fall into the moment of suspense that those watching at home experience: he's keenly aware that the Special Forces operative is not made of sterner stuff than that, but like Ken himself... Guile's coming out kicking.

The grin Masters returns may be warmer than Guile's, but it's also lupine, shining dangerously in his eyes, a primal enthusiasm for this adrenaline-fueled ride that runs as not-so-subtle undertone to the affably sporting nature it also exudes. He doesn't bother to confirm Charlie's assessment outside that grin-- though Ken has rarely known Nash to mis-read another fighter-- instead snapping back into a ready stance as Guile renews his onslaught.

"Wouldn't want to disappoint you." Snark is all about timing, and Ken's snark comes just moments after Guile's crack about an easy fight, in the same breath that Guile descends with that flying foot. Masters knows the devastation that the Lieutenant's booted appendage can wreak, and this time, his precise guard game is -on-. The boot leather smacks loudly against one sparring glove as Ken swats the stroke aside, diverting its angle just enough to give him that breathing space he needs to twist sidelong out of the way.

The other hand slams open-palmed into Guile's fist almost the same instant it begins its trip, absorbing the force with a gently building flex, his arm bending and resisting along that violent motion until the force is bled from the strike. Ken's aura flares blue and red, visible for a moment as Guile flips out of the tumult and into the true potential of his technique: but the blade fails to penetrate, swept aside with a forceful elbow, the impact of chi on centered spirit sending Ken sliding clear of ground zero, and Guile ripping the hell out of the air above the irrepressible Mr. Masters.

Drawing a deep breath, Ken recovers his footing, and turns his fire-glinting dark eyes to follow Guile's landing-- at which point the Blonde Battler is on him again, executing one of the fundamental techniques of his elemental-inspired Ansatsuken. The force of nature in question here is the hurricane, summoned in fiery form by the whirling rotor of Ken's right foot, which carries him aloft in a furious flash and seemingly not only holds his ascent but propels him through a gravity-defying flurry of spinning, punishing flaming kicks, intent on catching Guile as he recovers from the assault and punishing the Special Forces soldier in the midst of that meteoric maelstrom. "TATSUMAKI SENPUUUU KYAKU!!!"

COMBATSYS: Ken Masters successfully hits Guile with Tatsumaki Senpuu Kyaku EX.

[       \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Ken Masters      1/---====/=======|=======\===----\1            Guile

Guile thought he had a chance against Ken Masters. He is quickly being disabused of this notion, as Ken's spinning kick batters him repeatedly before he's flung away from the man. The landing is even harder, and Guile even slower to get up, and he's looking much abused now. Much abused but still not quite down and out. He's breathing hard--real hard. And it looks like it's hard to breathe as well, the way his left arm is covering his ribs.

That casual arrogance is gone from his expression, but the determination is still there... even though he knows he's probably just about to let Charlie down--*again*--that essential part of him that has seen him forge his path through life--won't let him quit.

His body is seething with pain; his skin wants to crawl with it. And Guile won't let it. Gritting his teeth, he focuses, rings of green-yellow power bursting into being around his wrists and hands--and then the power surges even higher as he flings his arms forward, ignoring the pain surging as he moves, and unleashes a spinning sawblade of pure sonic chi, ripping the air with an unholy sound as it reaches for Ken.

COMBATSYS: Guile successfully hits Ken Masters with Sonic Hurricane EX.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Ken Masters      2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|>>>>---\-------\0            Guile

Whether Guile pulls victory from the jaws of defeat or not, Ken Masters has relative certitude of one key fact of this battle: Lieutenant Guile had more than a chance, he had a good shot. Those first blows to the head drove that truth home squarely and soundly into Masters' stubborn skull, even if an understanding and respect for Guile's reputation-- and mentor-- weren't already keenly in place before the two stepped into this gorgeous, natural arena. It's a lesson Guile is about to drive home anew.

An angry, almost otherworldly thunderclap rumbles its way across the vast expanse, reverberating through and around Uluru with an intensity that fuels the heart, that might bring trembles of awe to a body-- one not so committed already to frenetic energy, anyway. The lightning strikes in prelude to another growing rumble, illuminating the fighters in still more luminescent color, complimenting the chi discharge. Ken lands out of the whirling series of punishing kicks much as the last: twisting gracefully to keep his attention on Guile, his defenses ready for the next attack.

When it comes, Ken is into it in a flash, seeking to weather that answering maelstrom, to weather the hurricane Guile summons in reprisal; and this time it's Ken's turn to have his ironclad defenses blown through, ruptured like that wall was never raised. The sonic energy clashes into his braced arms, rips through his focused aura, tears into him like a sawblade and rips a deep horizontal gash in the red sweatshirt and gi beneath it, shredded cloth crimson like the bloodspatter that joins it as Ken is thrown backwards, a trickle of blood leaving his ears as he shakes the ringing from his head, fingertips digging trenches in the gathered dirt and rock.

Gasping to renew the breath blasted from his frame, Ken once more pushes past the painful impact, shoving himself first to one knee, and then back to his feet in short order, the wolfish grin offered across the stirred dust now tinged with blood. He'd offer congratulations, in fact he does, in the form of an all too loud, "Not bad, in fact, that other thing..." -- but as far as Ken can tell, his voice is barely making a sound. He races forward three steps, the fourth used to launch himself into the air, twisting a quick and forceful three-hundred sixty degrees to seek to plant a flaming heel squarely into Guile's pronounced jawline, an explosive eruption accompanying the delivery as Ken pirouettes into a cocktail of grace and power.

COMBATSYS: Guile just-defends Ken Masters' Senpuu Nata Otoshi!

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////                 ]
Ken Masters      1/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|>>>>---\-------\0            Guile

Guile seems to be almost revived--certainly more lively than a minute ago. He put the hurt on Ken, for sure--but he's got a long road to go. And Ken is determined to cut that road short--as he should be. The best competitors -never- give up and never give quarter when it counts. Judging on the past few seconds, Guile is in for a world of hurt if Ken connects with yet another flaming kick--and connect it appears he is going to, until at the last moment, Guile finds a moment of grace--and power.

He stops that heel cold in his beefy left hand, the fire flaring around his hand and then is extinguished as Guile releases the offending limb. "Not yet, Masters," grunts Guile, using that brief grip on the heel to try and pull Ken off-balance, to be able to fire off three right crosses across Ken's strong jaw, and then kick his other leg out from underneath him, to dump him to the ground.

"We're not done yet." Not quite yet at least. But Guile will need all his tactical know-how--and a good dose of old-fashioned American luck--to see him through.

COMBATSYS: Ken Masters interrupts Combo Grapple from Guile with Shinryuu Ken EX+.

[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///                           ]
Ken Masters      0/-------/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2            Guile

That his opponent has fight left in him even after this newest technique isn't something that surprises Ken-- it's something he had counted on, expecting nothing less from the world class special forces soldier. His attack is stymied, intercepted, the momentum seemingly turned against him; but Masters flows with it anyway. He lands on agile footing, twisting about as he drops to a crouch, eating the first punch painfully, weaving low beyond the follow ups, and slamming his own bent leg into Guile's sweep. It might still be enough to take Ken off his feet, if he didn't all but literally explode right then.

The Blonde Battler's right fist lashes upwards, launching Ken like a rocket as he slams the uppercut into Guile's chest and subsequently, into his face. There's fire pouring off the fist once more-- something of a trademark of Ken's style-- but it doesn't end there, doesn't begin there. It's as if Masters' entire being is suffused by that roaring inferno, the dragon's breath erupting from every pore, burning around him in a brilliant, maintained shockwave.

The brilliant, expansive column of flame would not only obscure Ken, but (more painfully) neary envelopes Guile, seeking to consume the military man as he's driven skyward by that pillar of fire, by that punishing fist. Ken spirals tightly about his own axis on the breakneck, perfectly aligned ascent, the plume of fire tailing his reaving right drawing an abstract dragon in the heart of the flame, its serpentine expanse coiled about itself as the legendary Shoryuken's inevitable evolution unfolds.


Once again, Guile is subjected to a firestorm, Ken's rising uppercut combined with his powerful flames conspiring to break his ribs and roast him alive at the same time. His fall to earth is slow, almost graceful, even as he lands squarely on his shoulders, again. He should be down. In truth, he really is. But he's moving on autopilot, the last vestiges of conscious thought and action urging him forward... or in this case, upward.

A sound tears from Guile's throat, a raw sound of pure effort as he explodes upwards in a single, powerful somersault kick, the last of his sonic energy flaring behind his foot as he arcs upwards, aiming to slash right through where Ken is--

and then once more he'll fall, flat onto his back. He's done. He can only hope he acquitted himself well.

COMBATSYS: Guile can no longer fight.

[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Ken Masters      1/----===/=======|

COMBATSYS: Guile successfully hits Ken Masters with Somersault Explosion.

[                         \\\\\  <
Ken Masters      2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|

It's something of a paradox-- Ken puts his all into that massive incarnation of the Rising Dragon, but he doesn't put everything he has into it. -This- time, he won't be surprised if the fight is punched well and thoroughly out of Guile, but Ken still lands preparing for a follow up, ready to weather whatever the Lieutenant has left to offer. In this case, he lands -right- in the firing line for just that final offering, launched skyward once more, far more uncomfortably, by that wheeling chi and rising kick.

As Guile falls to his back, his last vestiges of power unleashed, Masters is similarly blown to a harsh landing some distance away in a cloud of dirt and dust as he rolls to a stop on the rock. As the dust begins to clear, and the officials start to move in to figure out -who- is still half awake to claim victory, Ken slams a palm to the rock, forces his legs back beneath him, and rises, if on subtly wobbly legs, to his feet. He grins despite the injuries, the blood streaming down his face, seeping from his chest, matting several locks of hair that have freed themselves from his ponytail to his face... but rise he does.

And then, with a grin, the Blonde Battler once more pumps his fist into the air, cracking a wide, triumphant grin. "One hell of a fight." He murmurs, not so much for anyone in particular's benefit-- though it does, totally by happenstance, provide the cameras with a punctuating moment of humility and introspection as Ken gathers his bearings. "This should be good for at least Jack of Fighters."

COMBATSYS: Ken Masters takes no action.

[                        \\\\\\  <
Ken Masters      2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|

COMBATSYS: Ken Masters has ended the fight here.

Log created on 20:08:15 07/23/2016 by Fio, and last modified on 14:30:40 08/03/2016.