Description: The match intensity of World Warrior continues to escalate into the Winners Quarter Finals as world famous Athena Asamiya faces off against the unsung hero, Jubei!
She never knew how far she would make it when she accepted the invitation delivered at sword point by Krauser's emissary. All she knew was that she had to try. The first World Warrior tournament, humble by comparison to this grandiose affair, had kick started the world wide fighting phenomenon. Before then, fighters kept mostly to their own disciplines, proving themselves as the best within a specific art or fighting style, but never going beyond that. It took Sagat's desire to be proven the ultimate martial artist to bring such a sweeping cultural shift to the world.
She had been young when Ryu climbed the ranks and delivered the uppercut felt around the world. And now here she is, a participant in the phenomenon defining tournament, bringing everything she could to each fight. The sting of having to cancel her concerts and set aside that side of her life to focus on this fight would never fade entirely, but it would dull as long as she finished each of her matches without any regrets. Her fans will understand then, she felt, why she had to do this.
Making it into the top sixteen was a thrill, her right to be among the bracketed tournament fighters put to the test by one Adelheid Bernstein. And now she finds herself facing the daunting challenge of trying to make her way through the quarter finals.
%r Just do your best, she tells herself. This journey was never about becoming the last one standing. Not when there were monsters like Abigail, Akuma, and Azrael among the combatants. This tournament was for her own growth, discovering her current limits, and, if possible, achieving the mastery necessary to push past them. Leave the title of grand champion to others to fight over. Her own victory would be measured by her own growth.
She stands in the Exhibition Yard of Strolheim Castle. The morning had been a brisk, chill storm, and though the rains have passed, the cold lingers. Here again, so soon, she looks over the courtyard and moments of her bout against the skilled young man in the previous round comes to mind. Of his speed, his mastery of chi, and, the aspect most difficult to forget, his... transformation when faced with defeat. Elegance gave way to crazed animosity, politeness to aggression.
Is everyone who numbers among the world's strongest harboring such a nature? Abigail had proven to not be as monstrous as his gargantuan stature initially lead her to believe. But that killer she faced next? And of course she has never forgotten her battle against the devil at the pass, Akuma. It has to be possible to be strong enough to face people like that without becoming like them, doesn't it? Breathing in deeply, the young fighter clenches her right fist, violet eyes closing as she rests her hand just below the base of her neck, head bowing slightly in thought.
The Kung Fu artist is dressed accordingly, pink, loose pants that end in crimson wraps below her knees, feet covered red shoes. She has on a long sleeved blouse of matching pink, worn beneath a crimson sleeveless tunic that falls to mid thigh. Her long, dark purple hair is kept in check only by a red hair clip worn behind her bangs bearing a golden star on the right side.
Even within the walled-in yard, the mountain wind blows steadily, swaying her hair and the bottom of her tunic. As with all of her opponent except for Zach, she has no idea what to expect of the upcoming match. With Adelheid, she had been optimistic in finding someone not entirely unlike herself, even in light of his parentage. Now, she finds herself wondering what monster she must face in trial by combat next, what darkness fuels her next opponent's power?
The great darkness lurking within Athena's next opponent exhibits itself in only the most literal of senses -- and even then, it is concealed by a colorful facade and utterly overwhelmed by the light.
The itinerant samurai cat has been no stranger to Strolheim as of late. His twin tails lash about, a signal of eager curiosity as he strides into the exhibition yard. The wind tugs at his hood, and flutters his whiskers as he turns his crimson eye towards Athena Asamiya. His eye glimmers with curiosity and recognition, easily identifying the young star from the numerous concert posters he'd seen during his travels.
His bicolor fur bristles, where not defended by his bright orange jacket. Said jacket tells the tales of countless battles, its numerous tears stitched back together with golden thread in the samurai's own nod to 'kintsugi.' And, of course, the mechanical paws tucked within the jacket's volumnious sleeves extend his reach by a foot, affording Jubei and his ilk a fighting chance against the taller humans.
The cat knows about the young woman's undeniable allure on the concert stage, having been close enough to hear her amplified voice on one of his travels. He knows of her repute as a champion of the King of Fighters tournament a year prior. But he lacks a robust understanding of her fighting career, having paid little heed to her numerous trials both within and without Strolheim.
The old master prefers action to words, experience to hearsay.
He will test Athena in his own way.
The ancient cat smiles, an expression mirrored even in the folds of his eye as he bows his head in greeting.
"Athena Asamiya!" is his introduction, voiced in a gravelly Kyoto accent the Psycho Soldier should have no trouble understanding. If one were only to hear the voice, one would think that it came from an old man, rather than a black and white cat standing 1.3 meters tall.
The cat's large paws press against his side.
He bows, formally, in greeting.
"Name's Jubei. It's an honor t' meet one of the brightest stars on the planet."
As Jubei saunters into the center of the arena, his paws sag into a casual swagger by his side. His tails flick attentively behind him, occasionally brushing across the overly large scabbard hanging from his right shoulder. The old cat seems relaxed, as if he's ready to start a casual conversation rather than a tournament fight.
"Most people go on vacation to relax. I dare say you came here for pretty much th' exact opposite."
But the Psycho Solder would know how active the ancient samurai's mind is actually working -- assessing each minute feature of the battleground, cross-referencing every detail against a matrix of risk and reward. The truth is, the One-Eyed Twin Lotus is just as dangerous now as in the heat of battle, ready to strike at a moment's notice.
"We each have an opportunity to learn somethin' today, mm? So let's make the most of it, then."
The old samurai's right paw raises, pads up.
And then it curls, in a beckoning gesture.
"Whenever you're ready, Miss."
COMBATSYS: Jubei has wandered into a fight here.
When the hooded figure first strides into the Exhibition Yard, Asamiya finds herself beset by a flurry of conflicting senses. Her eyes tell her that a young child, dwarfed even by Momoko, is stepping into the walled-in enclosure. There is no way that could possibly be her opponent, right? Yet the well worn attire easily identifies the individual as clearly not belonging to House Strolheim, which begs the question of what a vagabond youth is doing here.
But the same time Athena's eyes are telling her one thing, her mind is trying to parse another puzzle. The gait is off. The figure is not walking like a child in the slightest. Nor like an adult. Her brow furrows slightly, as the third piece of the puzzle is that truly throws her. This 'child' is timeless, lacking the naivety of youth and inexperience. The person beneath the hood is no spring chicken, possessing a certain aura of timelessness not unlike that presence she finds in Master Gentasi... But she cannot dismiss the figure as simply being a very old man, either - he doesn't walk with the stooped slouch her sensei does.
It's when he speaks, and her eyes finally settle on the furred face beneath the hood, that the young woman's eyes widen slightly. For all of her fighting experience, for all her exposure to the darker elements of the world, she had never really stood face to face with what society has come to term as Darkstalkers.
Her mouth opens as the bipedal feline not only speaks but addresses her by name and for a moment she briefly questions if she is truly awake or suffering some kind of stress dream brought on by the pressures of this tournament.
Considering the number of public appearances she's made, and her natural charismatic ability to interact with complete strangers on a daily basis, being caught this off guard is certainly a rare occasion for the young rising star.
"I-" she stammers at first as the old cat bows. In facing Abigail, she stood before a moving Mountain of Muscle, the largest fighter in the world by a considerable amount. And now? Now she finds herself looking at the opposite end of the spectrum, struggling to reconcile this sight against the dawning realization that this cat is indeed her opponent, and that like her, he has earned the distinction of being present at World Warrior.
He introduces himself but she is briefly too flabbergasted to reply, the fist at the base of her neck flattening to a pressed palm. The expressions going through her mind are easily read on her face. Surprise, confusion, uncertainty, and, growing little by little, awe. The veteran of thousands of battles makes a comment on her unorthodox idea of 'getting away to relax' finally registers in her mind, the moment of levity seeming to break through the cloud of bewilderment. Immediately, she looks ashamed, her mouth closing, cheeks blossoming a faint hint of red.
Standing up straight, the hand at her throat shifts to resting near the lobe of her right ear as she smiles sheepishly. "Forgive me, Mister Jubei." Talking to a cat isn't unusual. Who doesn't do that? It's when the cat opens its mouth to talk to you that things explode into the surreal, that you begin to question your grip on reality.
But acceptance of this situation comes fast, her moment of abashment giving way to wonder. She had been appreciative that Abigail had taken her seriously as a fighter, even though one of his legs was larger than she was on its own. Should she not hold herself to the same standard in respect to this unexpected opponent?
In the presence of such a sharp mind, composed and observant, it would be wrong to start making mental comparisons to try and decide who is more adorable between Momoko or him, but... can one blame her? Athena swallows, sucking in her breath, eyes sparkling with an inner energy, an excitement to even encounter someone like this fighting cat.
Pressing her palm over her fist, she bows her head, eyes closing briefly. "The honor, is mine sir." When the violet-haired youth lifts her head, eyes opening, a change comes over the girl. Like an unseen dam breaking loose, the Exhibition Yard becomes filled with a presence larger than life as she extends her senses out, opening her awareness to a state of combat readiness. "I- I would be surprised if there was anything I could teach you."
The astonishment at her opponent doesn't entirely go away, but now it is tempered with something else - respect, and somber resolve to once more do her best. He beckons as she lifts her arms, sliding one foot forward, adopting a relaxed, practiced Kung Fu stance of her own.
She wants to know so much more about him, questions burning her mind, but she suppresses them aggressively, exercising willpower to not be distracted. She had come to know each of her previous opponents in battle.
This will be no different.
"Here I go!" she exclaims, arms sweeping back as she finally taps into that wellspring of energy only hinted at within her soul, rose hued energy surging down toward her limbs. her lungs feel with air as she breathes in then cries out, announcing her signature technique loud and clear. Even though the audience is forced to view remotely, she can't help but put on a show all the same.
A step forward is taken, arms swinging forward, smashing the energy together into a large sphere of churning energy that hurtles toward Jubei with incredible speed.
COMBATSYS: Athena has joined the fight here.
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Athena 0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0 Jubei
COMBATSYS: Jubei instinctively blocks Athena's Psycho Ball.
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Athena 0/-------/-----==|-------\-------\0 Jubei
Jubei has found that the simplest way to become accepted by humans is to act as they do: when in Rome, act as the Romans do. If it bothered the cat, it's not obvious on his face -- indeed, it doesn't seem like much fazes the One-Eyed Twin Lotus. After all, Athena's alarmed reaction is far from the first he's received in this day alone; if he were to take offense at every look of surprise, he'd find himself in quite a sad state.
Instead, the cat finds himself smiling in amusement at the multi-platinum pop star's state of embarassment. Not in a condescending way, though: more of a silent apology for the circumstances of the situation. Introductions ought to be more graceful than a mere prelude to combat.
"It's said that the greatest texts in history may've been written by the old -- yet the greatest, most pivotal advances are brought about by the young. To learn nothin' from an opponent's like turning yer back to their knife."
The cat pauses to punctuate that with a smile.
"Might'a read that somewhere. I forget."
The cat bows his head. He may not be psychic -- but he can tell that he won't have to give the Psycho Soldier an extended pep talk to eke the best performance out of her. Especially once he sees the young woman put on a concert-worthy lightshow in drawing out her unique abilities.
The Psycho Ball flares into existence -- and Jubei finds his crimson eye widening, and his smile falling. Normally he can not only -see- the upswell of energy, but feel it too, as a sixth sense. But the sphere of energy barely makes a ripple in the invisible pools of miasmic energy permeating the air around him -- existing independently of any powers the cat might decide to lay claim to.
Jubei thrusts his shoulder into the burst, his twin tails sticking straight outward as he plows into the blast of energy. The impact is enough to knock the hood right off his head, exposing the cat's wild mane of ebony and bone-colored fur to the unseen audience. And the cat hisses under his breath -- a conscious focus of his mind against the infiltrating energy that sears at his nerves.
His voice becomes a bit more strained, as he pauses to flick his head to the side, as if the ancient cat were doused by a water bottle.
"Miss Asamiya, I can assure you, there's -plenty- for you to teach me here today."
Another brief smile is given.
And then the cat's shoulders surge forward -- driven onward by long, loping strides.
The gap is closed within three heartbeats. And in the next, Jubei's left paw swings around in a low arc -- a paw tipped with three razor-sharp claws, fanned out wide. Despite the bladed threat, his aim is to smack Athena on the hip. Not a love tap -- so much as a prelude to grabbing hold of her with those claws. If he makes contact, Athena would find out the cat is -much- stronger than one might expect -- strong enough for that swing to hurl Athena into the air for a short distance.
The wily cat would not end there though -- his spinning momentum would continue until his other shoulder faces her, at which point he'd vault upwards to chase his prey. The claws would take another swing at the violet-haired star -- this time aimed at raking along her back and slamming her back down to the ground! "Hrrrrr!"
COMBATSYS: Athena blocks Jubei's Rising Phoenix.
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Athena 0/-------/---====|=------\-------\0 Jubei
Already in the opening moments of the bout, his keen hearing would detect the rapid beat of her heart, the quickening of her breath. It isn't a fear response, but rather anticipation, elation. Those who have attended the pop star's concerts in person would often marvel at the relentless energy she brought to her shows, as if the sheer act of performing invigorated her rather than tired her out, mind and body acting in unison to put everything she has into every important action.
That same energy is on display here as Asamiya unleashes the swift projectile Jubei's way, hands sweeping past each other. As he takes it on the shoulder, she's recovering, drawing back from her forward lean, arms snapping into ready positions, left hand extended, right arm raised slightly, bent at the elbow.
"I think you and my sensei must have read the same book," she answers back with a grin to the comment made right before she sent the sphere of Psycho Power hurtling his way. There's plenty for her to teach him, the heavily accented feline declares and she pauses for a moment, the comment clearly seeming to make her think.
Learning. That's what this journey has been about, hasn't it? But learning isn't a passive process... she has to focus to take anything away from this. Of course, just meeting someone like the old samurai is an eye opening experience all its own.
Just how much of the world has she yet to discover in her pilgrimage through life? Never shy, never afraid to engage socially, she meets so many people from all manner of backgrounds. Yet she had never met anyone exactly like Abigail, Zach, Jubei, or Adelheid. Or anything quite as terrifying as the Mad Dog... what is there to take from each encounter? What IS she learning along the way?
Sucking in her breath, her distinctive purple eyes focus on the one-eyed cat. There is no doubt by the look on her face that she is treating this engagement with the utmost solemnity. She may not be aware of the old master's track record, but so much of his history is written on his face, and in the countless tiny tears and cuts in that battleworn jacket. And now, as he makes his move, she gets to see what his experiences have wrought.
When she moves in response to his aggression, it is with remarkable speed - not quite rivaling his own, but not falling behind by a significant amount. Her right foot braces into the ground as she leans aggressively into the incoming paw, rooting her center of gravity such that while she is dislodged by a solid meter, she isn't taken off her feet.
It's just enough such that when he takes to the air, she turns, fast enough to keep up, if barely, thrusting her left forearm thrusting into his swing to intercept his wrist rather than risk contact with the claws extending from the sleeve itself.
However, in spite her speed being remarkable, the gulf between their physical prowess is demonstrable in this exchange, the young woman almost driven to the ground by the sheer effort of fending off the attack, a soft grunt hissing through her teeth.
But she catches herself, rather than being dropped to a knee, pushing back with her shoulder and leg strength before risking a bolder course in this intensely close quarters exchange. Her guard drops as she sweeps her hands up over her head, another surge of the enigmatic power bursting along her limbs, this time even larger than in her last technique.
She would slam her arms forward in an instant, unleashing a massive, point sphere of energy point blank, a rose-hued ball of Psycho Power that dwarfs not only the diminutive stature of her opponent, but also the girl creating it. Her arms outstretched, palms forward, she leans into the psionic phenomenon, channeling it for an extended duration until her will can sustain it no further.
To be caught in it would be to experience first hand just how it is that Asamiya has climbed so far in the world of fighters at a young age. The potency of the attack is beyond the measure of all but the few living legends to be found around the globe. Of course, to escape it would find the young woman vulnerable, committing to the attack, holding nothing back, her cry echoing against the walls, her long hair whipping behind her back as she forges her willpower into the giant sphere.
This ball is definitely not for playing around with. Jubei will have to resist.
COMBATSYS: Jubei dodges Athena's Round Psycho Reflector EX.
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Athena 0/-------/-----==|=------\-------\0 Jubei
"Perhaps," agrees Jubei, "... but it's not exactly light reading."
The old cat realizes that he would probably get along great with Athena's sensei, if the two were ever to cross paths. But as the nimble Asamiya proves, the diminutive samurai warrior has plenty to focus on in the here and now. The teenager's formidable defense stands up to Jubei's attacks, proving that she is as worthy of the appelation of World Warrior as anyone else he has fought in the tournament.
Jubei, rebuffed by the defender, whirls about in mid-air to recover. His tails trail behind the whirling motion, his feline body arching about gracefully, his fluttering jacket and scabbard tugged along for the ride. And just as he is about to land, his violet-haired opponent brings another considerably powerful strike to bear...
Jubei grits his teeth, bringing both paws up into the air as his toes stretch down to the ground. The blossoming energy reflects in his eye, a hypnotic reminder of the razor-thin margin he has walked between life and death. The cat's toes dig into the ground, his heavy paws compressing downward, coiling like a spring.
And in an explosive rush upwards, the feline warrior uncoils, leaping into the air once again. A roiling maelstrom of Psycho Power rushes beneath him -- and if his shoulders were connected to his spine like a human's were, he wouldn't be flexible enough to arch like he does, keeping those feet just barely out of reach. The fur at his knees and toes bristles as he continues pitching forward into a somersault -- he knows just how -close- he was to tasting oblivion.
And then a metal keening pierces the air.
The sound of two blades of seithr-forged steel sliding out of their twin scabbard.
The swords each claim infinitely sharp blades as their own.
The swipes of the sword seem random, unpredictable -- arcs of glistening steel emerging from a whirling mass that was a clearly identifiable cat just moment earlier. But each swing of the Dream Blades has a purpose. In the hands of a murderer, the arcs carved from the whirling cat would be deadly. But the paws of the master samurai swing only to raze the flesh, to injure the body. To lay down a network of crisp cuts with the goal of invigorating combat -- to emphasize the beauty of lethality, rather than herald the call of the void.
No -- he resisted playing with that ball. His flurry of attacks brooks much less indecision.
COMBATSYS: Jubei successfully hits Athena with Form Three - Ranjishi EX.
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Athena 1/-------/=======|==-----\-------\0 Jubei
The drawbacks of her massive sphere of manifested Psycho Power become self-evident the moment the agile feline makes it up and over it, his nimble form taking to the air like it was born there, twisting just out of the danger zone encompassed by the discharge of energy so vibrant, it sets the courtyard a glow in shades of pink. Going all in on a big attack like that leaves her blind to the battlefield for a brief moment. Her eyes can't see past the giant sphere of light, and the corona of Psycho Power blinds her other senses to what lies beyond.
The threat from above only becomes abundantly clear when it is already being delivered, swords drawn and swung with precision in the very act of evasion. There is one clue of the impending peril, however - she can tell when her energy has struck another, and even as the forged psionic manifestation in front of her is released, she intuits the likely vector of attack and, in the same instant, knows full well she can't escape it.
She's in the process of turning when the steel sings through the air, cutting into her shoulder, left upper arm, and along her back, sending stray near-black purple hair flying in the wind. The pain is instant, shallow as the strikes might have been, and Asamiya cries out, almost dropping to one knee as she sinks down slightly. The entire exchange was fast enough that she barely made out what happened - all she knows was that the warrior cat spun over and past her and, like some kind of furred buzz saw, executed a bladed attack too fast for her to even perceive.
But there is no time for alarm, no time for shirking back. This is the caliber of fighter she knew she would face here. She can sense that much, can sense that unlike the monsters she's fought, this individual that many would /consider/ a monster is far from it. She can also tell that when it comes to outright skill, she's quite outmatched. She's been there before, faced similar challenges, but trusting in her own power has seen her through time and time again. There is no time to be lost with even taking a breath-
Athena sees him land, his jacket settling in after him, and in that moment, lunges out of her half crouch, right hand extending, fingers splayed...
If she can but touch him, it would be enough to infuse the unsung hero with an pulse of her power that would render him susceptible to being pulled by crushing telekinetic force heralded only by tiny pink sparkles of energy near her finger tips. If the contact is made, she'll pull him right back and then up and over her head, flinging him upside down into the adjacent stone wall and try to pin him there entirely with the power of weaponized thought!
COMBATSYS: Athena successfully hits Jubei with Psychic Bit.
- Power hit! -
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Athena 1/------=/=======|=====--\-------\0 Jubei
It is common for younger martial artists to engage in conversation throughout their battles -- some offer words of encouragement to their opponents, others can't fight without toxic infusions of trash talk. The One-Eyed Twin Lotus, though, needs no such stimulation. The currents of chi, sweeping in and around the battlefield, are company enough for the itinerant warrior -- the second language he learned, and one he has attained complete fluency with. He does not judge others for relying on the reassurance of words to keep a steady pace, no more than he feels a starting musician may require the comforting tick-tock of a metronome.
So while he certainly had -started- combat with levity, he feels there is little to be gained at this point -- Athena will either walk off the wounds inflicted by his sword, or she will not. There is no -less- lethal way for the samurai to work his craft -- a blunted sword would prove just as fatal in a chance head wound. And to give this promising superstar any less than his best would be a grave insult.
Jubei's swords settle back into their scabbard an instant before his splayed toes land on the ground, claws digging in for purchase. He draws his paw away, raising it in preparation for warding off a physical followup -- one that never arrives.
His eye widens at the rising storm of energy.
The tacit samurai is used to fighting opponents who can elude him.
But even -they- leave ripples in the pools of chi.
Jubei's paws lift forward, baring his claws as if they would have effect on the blossom of psychokinetic force.
They do -- in some small fashion.
Just not enough to stop himself from being lifted off the ground, whipped around in a long parabolic arc over Athena's head. And not enough to break his feline body loose from the mystic force, not enough to leverage his considerable agility into lessening the damage. His body crumples against the wall, the mechanical claws clanging as they knock loose chunks of brick and mortar.
Jubei struggles against bonds known only through their pressure and orbiting motes of light. He grits his teeth against the pressure, teeth bared in a feral growl.
And yet -- this resistance is only natural for a creature of the wilderness. His face is sure to communicate hostility - but with conscious will he can fight back the urges, can steer the tides into his favor.
Whorls of jet black and milky white seep forth from the cat. At first they might look like blood -- but as the translucent fluids spill forth, they seem to take on a presence of their own, whirling about each other in miniature whirlpools. The cat stares back at Athena, focusing intently, with anticipation. He may be trapped... but from the forces he commands are formidable -- enough to ripple the air around himself.
The true battle has not yet been won.
It has barely begun.
COMBATSYS: Jubei gathers his will.
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Athena 1/-----==/=======|>>>>>>>\>------\1 Jubei
To the remote viewing audience, it may have seemed as if Athena was only able to grab and hurl the even smaller fighter because of the feline's comparatively light weight. But Jubei would know the truth of it - the force that dislodged him from the ground had nothing at all do with Asamiya's arm strength - in actuality, she had no hold on him at all, her fingers barely making contact. The force that moved him through the air into the wall was something else entirely and definitely not one easily contested by solely physical effort.
Only after she sends him toward the solid surface does she gasp for breath, taking in air after having not had any chance to do so from the moment she got slashed. She doesn't mind the quiet exchanges between them, she doesn't even really notice. Her whole focus is on trying to keep up with the swordscat, every ounce of her conscious thought funneled into her fighting potential.
The energy keeping Jubei in place will not last indefinitely. As immense the bursts of Athena's psionic projections can be, they take their toll on the young fighter. Pacing may not be her strong suit, though considering the wellspring of power within her soul, perhaps she's never had cause to even really learn it?
But she isn't going to wait for the telekinetic pressure to fade. Her good fortune to connect with the attack leaves her a chance - one she is definitely going to take. Bracing, as if ready to sprint at a moment's notice, Asamiya extends her right arm out to her side and slightly behind, fingers outstretched like a knife. More of that vibrant energy surges down her arm, completely enveloping the limb as raw, pulsing potential.
Is by her will that she forges that power into a usable form, causing it to stretch out from beyond the reach of her hand like an elongated blade, shimmering, ethereal, and only real so far as it can be imagined. The youthful fighter has never complained when facing others who bear arms against her such as when Wolfgang's emissary challenged her over a month ago. After all, she fights with her own weapon, such as that blade of Psycho Power at her side.
One more quick intake of much needed breath, and then she bursts forward out of her stance, as if charging to clash swords in an ancient duel. Only, in this case, her opponent is dealing with the last vestiges of her previous telekinetic projection rather than standing on the ground facing off with her, his hand (or tails) at his swords.
Though the first meter is crossed by the press of her feet against the dirt, the next two meters are spanned in an instant, the gifted fighter's form blurring briefly, snapping back into solid reality right as she swings her right arm from below and behind, slashing at an upward angle across the front of the jacketed warrior. She isn't close enough to actually make physical contact, but that blade of ideal made manifest can reach him.
As with her previous attacks, it strikes like nothing else out there. Not like fire, or ice, or the charged lightning some fighters can bring to bear. Instead, it is cognition that slashes through him, willpower that threatens to slam into his own. It won't slice flesh or cloth like a real blade, but that doesn't mean it won't hurt, that it won't cut deep as any steel.
Unless prevented, she would slide to a stop a few meters past Jubei in a forward lean as she starts to counter the momentum and shift to a more rooted stance, her right and clamping down on her left bicep where her pink sleeve is stained red, the fabric shorn, revealing a gash from earlier slashes bleeding profusely. If there is hope of victory for her, it will have to come fast, before the toll of Jubei's precision cuts remove her capacity to fight altogether.
COMBATSYS: Jubei blocks Athena's Psycho Sword EX.
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Athena 1/-----==/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>----\1 Jubei
Jubei grunts with exertion as the psychic pressure begins to waver. Not to say that the -pain- goes away, but as the unseen force binding him in place fades, he begins to feel the blood pumping through his arteries and veins again. And with it -- the calming biorhythms that allow him to re-enter the trance of the Empty Mind.
He slumps forward, the new crater visible in the wall behind him as his tails resume their flick from side to side.
The translucent whorls of ebony and ivory begin to gravitate towards the released Jubei. His nostrils flare, disturbing the flow ever so slightly, as the flow of chi around his two sleeved paws becomes more clearly resolved.
The respite is short-lived. And his eye narrows in anticipation as Athena blitzes forward.
The whorls of chi grow sharp, zebra stripes whirling into his paws.
He steps -forward-, meeting the charge head-on.
And as Athena swings her sword low, Jubei reaches back with his left paw.
The zebra stripes wrap around the scabbard of his sword -- forming a literal cocoon around it, as he raises the sheathed blades to bear. The seithr-forged edges of the Dream Blades will not be the weapon to bear the brunt of Athena's Psycho Sword -- but it will provide a convenient focus for him as he twists to Athena's right.
If it were a traditional sword, the vortices of chi would have ripped it from her grasp.
As it is borne of her own mind -- it will lance clear through the legendary weapons, the psychic blade biting deep through Jubei's right paw, digging right through the sleeve. It's enough to not only hurt, but to make his entire right arm -numb-...
He reassures himself, in the trance of the Empty Mind, that even this is acceptable.
The cat continues to whirl about, compartmentalizing the pain as he readies himself.
And then in the next eyeblink, it is his turn to defy spatial physics.
Allowing the scabbard to sink back into position onto his back, the cat surges forward in a headlong charge. His hind paws leave the ground, as he swings his claws in a downward diagonal swipe. As his left paw swings, the right will follow it in a perpendicular fashion -- and the pattern will repeat. The three-tined blades are targeted to sweep up Athena into their grip before she can sufficiently escape.
For a human -- this would be a foolishly overcommitted attack.
But the one-eyed cat is minding his momentum, keeping his unseen eye fixed upon the next exchange.
COMBATSYS: Athena blocks Jubei's Fissuring Slash.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ////////////////////// ]
Athena 1/---====/=======|>>>>>>>\>>-----\1 Jubei
It never even occurs to Athena that she has almost forgotten that she is fighting a bipedal cat. The absurdity of the idea that had caught her by surprise prior to the start of the match has been completely replaced with an intense concentration that abides not distractions such as the fact that her opponent isn't a human being. He is a warrior, through and through, and to cross swords with him, real or otherwise, is exactly the kind of test she had hoped to experience in World Warrior. So many other details surrounding the encounter have melted away as not being of equal importance.
That Jubei has prepared himself for it is not surprising to her. She sees the energy swirling, answering his call, a curious blend of shadow and light - what it will do, precisely, she can't anticipate as she's never seen anything quite like it before. Had she a moment to appreciate it, she would marvel at the beauty of such energy manipulation, a display of chi control unlike anything else. All she does know is that she must strike with everything she has, holding nothing back, and to that end, her arm swings, Psycho Sword slashing out, silent but for the faint buzz of crackling energy.
The old cat's defense spares him the meat of the attack, even if glancing contact with Asamiya's weapon is not without is consequences. She slides to a stop as intended, right hand clamping down on her left bicep as she hisses in pain, whirling to face Jubei, long hair catching up a split second later.
Once more her own defenses are put to the test, reflexes bordering on lightning sped responsible for being able to answer the storm of clawed paws with barely sufficient guard. Her left and right forearms slam out, intercepting the feline's swipes without risking contact with the bladed extensions of his paws. But by the time she's managed guarding the first two strikes, the strength of her arms is shot. Leaning back on her left foot, she snaps her right leg up, catching the One-Eyed Lotus's third swipe with the bottom of her foot impacting the center of his paw.
But by then, Asamiya's forth slash hits clean, raking deep against the front of her shoulder, provoking another gasp of pain as she recoils back another step. Fearing that he will maintain the momentum, that he will keep the pressure up to take advantage of her shattered guard, the psychic fighter answers with everything she has. He would likely sense it, even if the energy itself the young woman manipulates is foreign to his expertise. The veteran fighter would see it in her eyes, the way her body tenses, that fierce fire of determination to find a way to protect herself igniting.
A storm of Psycho Power well beyond her earlier displays explodes up around the resolute youth, her hands clenching at her sides, her eyes closed in fierce concentration. Like floodgates being opened to full capacity, brilliant rose hued energy surges around the girl, making any further approach at all highly risky.
In that moment, it is possible to gain a better understanding of just how much power seems to be available for the Psycho Soldier to draw upon. Yet if all that was all it was - if the extent of her ability was simply to explode in a fiery maelstrom of power, that alone would prove to be no threat to an opponent of Jubei's caliber, nor would it be terribly impressive as an accomplishment, leaning so heavily on a natural gift with no effort to do more than burn fuel aimlessly until she finally exhausts herself. It would be the equivalent to a massive brute relying simply on his large stature to dominate his fights, putting no effort into training or improvement.
The true test of Asamiya's potential comes in her ability to bend that fount of power to her will. A test demonstrable in how a significant portion of that burning aura is collected into two near-black violet spheres of focused psionic power swirling into twin helix orbits around Asamiya. The currents around her surge, whipping at her hair and tunic.
The living beacon of energy lifts her right hand over head, drawing the two hyper compressed balls of Psycho Power up, combining them into a singular, even more compressed bit of destruction. All of that potential means nothing if she can't hit her opponent with it. Her aim must be true.
Her eyes open, finding Jubei in an instant, her right hand swinging out, unleashing the newly forged missile of Psycho Power toward him with the speed of a rifle round. The dark violet bolt hurtles toward him, tearing a groove through the Exhibition Yard dirt ground as it flies overhead, and drawing the rest of Asamiya's aura long with it as a wake of swirling pink!
COMBATSYS: Jubei interrupts Shining Crystal Bit+ from Athena with Shiranui.
[ \\\\\ < > /////////////// ]
Athena 1/-------/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>---\1 Jubei
Every battle has a rhythm which must be observed and understood. Each attack necessitates a reaction -- and that reaction dictates the pace of the next strike. And yet, the melody cannot be static, fully predictable. The musician must know when to break the metronome's lockstep beat.
Jubei expects a rebuttal. He does not need to know how it hurts; simply that it will. And he does not need to know how the wielder is able to harness the power; simply the circumstances that cause her to.
An enemy believing herself cornered will attack with irrational, unstoppable fury. Athena Asamiya is not there yet, he feels -- and yet he can see the signs: the pain in her arm. And as the trio of blades rakes across her arm, she steps closer to the state of panic.
And then the rose-hued energy blossoms.
And Jubei's hesitation to commit to a full onslaught allows him to backflip away to safety. To the old master, momentum is a renewable resource.
The master's jacket settles. His right hand curls towards the sword hilt dangling by his left hip. Pain is still shooting its way throughout his body -- but he has a more important goal in mind to distract him. His eye focuses on the plumes of rose-colored energy, rising upwards from the Psycho Soldier. Nostrils constrict, as he draws in his breath. The brilliant light marks Athena as the beacon -- and as such, the image is seared as an indelible mark within the sanctum of the Empty Mind. The bright light will be the anchor from which he determines his next moves.
He looks past Athena's right shoulder.
He looks towards her left foot.
He looks to a lower spot on her right, about waist-level.
He looks past her left shoulder.
The black stripes in his aura become thinner.
And those four identified spots begin to fill with black ink. Four indentations, filling into perfect hexagons.
Jubei turns his eye back to Athena, his attention not on the rapidly spinning orbs, but on her face.
Her intention is direct, even if the attack is shown to be less so.
Her eyes open.
And Jubei launches into action.
The dark violet bolt ripples out towards him. He knows he cannot avoid it, because Athena -wishes- for it to hit him. It will act as a heat-seeking missile, seeking his motion unerringly. And he knows that she -expects- him to strike her directly.
He unsheathes his blade, his form blurring as he bends the laws of physics, streaking out towards his first black sigil. And yet, despite committing to the strike with his upper body, he pulls his left hip upward, doubling up his leg.
The violet bolt strikes him hard, just south of his knee -- forcing the samurai to begin tipping forward. The old master chose to accept a grazing blow in order to take advantage of his decades of discipline. The momentum of his strike will carry him unerringly towards the first sigil -- the point aimed to graze across Athena's right shoulder.
The cat growls with agony.
But he slams into the sigil with his right leg -- as solid as the ground itself -- shifting direction abruptly towards the second sigil.
The second Dream Blade is drawn from his right shoulder. And, accounting for his earlier impact, he will aim to spin her clockwise with the second grazing strike -- this one along her back.
Reversing direction sharply upon contact with the third sigil, he will thunder past her with nearly twice the speed -- a low slash from his right-hand sword, dragged across her nearest thigh, just above the knee.
But when he springs off the fourth, the swords are sheathed.
The cat will impact a spinning Athena with his shoulder, aimed at bashing her out of the spin with his own shoulder -- a heavy strike that will give a more tangible spike of feedback to himself to chase away the irrational energy flooding through him. He will choose the demon he knows rather than the one he does not.
Rebounding backwards, the cat drops low to the ground, finally releasing the remainder of the breath he was holding, with a ragged hiss. On all fours, he becomes much easier to identify as a cat -- particularly with his twin tails rising up as antenna aerials. Jubei's eye closes -- and the hiss is drawn out. The Empty Mind will take care of sequestering the pain away, but only with this meditative pause in the conflict. The next move is Athena's -- and by the time she strikes, he feels he will be adequately prepared.
She sees him move the moment her arm begins to drop, finger extended, drawing the incredibly dense sphere of Psycho Power along with the motion. He's going to do what no other opponent has done before now - try to directly take on her oft-times fight deciding attack. For most, seeing that storm of power surrounding her get pulled into a singular point is a clear warning to leave well enough alone. Others are cowed by the formidable speed of the lancing dark sphere.
But this old cat has faced down legends in his days - he will not be shut down by the danger Asamiya's attack represents.
She can't predict how he will try to face her technique, only that he clearly will. She can't correct for it now, her commitment was etched in stone the moment she released the maelstrom and bent it to her will.
He makes it past, if narrowly, striking in the split second before she can possibly hope to recover, her arm still extended, feet braced, hair still billowing out behind her from the backlash of currents in play.
In an instant, he moves through the air, striking from angles most would think impossible, altering course through a technique that was likely thousands of hours in the mastering. She tries to turn into him after the first slash to her shoulder, but as if anticipating the effort, his slash against her back more than counters her momentum, sending Athena turning the other way, feet dancing quickly in the dirt as she tries to stay upright.
The slash to her leg denies any further desperate attempt at stability, her arms flying up then, flailing in vain to avoid a collapse, but his shoulder slam puts an end to the hope, sending Asamiya tumbling to the ground for meters before coming to rest in the dirt.
She pushes up with her left arm braced against the ground, eyes finding Jubei as he recovers from the storm of chi and blades. She still isn't even fully cognizant of what just happened, only vaguely aware of being cut and then bashed away, the disorienting daze of the last stunning impact leaving her thoughts hazy for the moment. One thing she knows beyond any doubt, however, is that she wants to get back into the fray. Adrenaline and shock combined dull the acute pain enough that she really has no idea what her capacity to continue even is, only that she desires to.
Her legs shift, pressure applied, eager to launch back to her feet and charge- only the moment she tries, she is made immediately aware of the cut to her leg, pain flaring up, bright, vibrant, and mirrored by the flush that rushes into her cheeks, a cry escaping her lips as she drops back to the dirt for a moment, head bowed briefly in consternation, teeth grit. He got her good, she's just then starting to realize. He's stolen her speed from her.
But as she's demonstrated, she has more than one way to attack. She tries again, sucking in her breath, jaw clenched, forcing her way to her feet so that she can free up her arms. She's less sure on her feet and won't be running any marathons right now, but she can stand at least, freeing up her arms so that she can swing them back. There is a palpable pulse, another unseen shockwave as she taps even deeper into that seemingly infinite furnace of energy that burns in her soul. Energy surges along them as she powers up a new attack, not entirely unlike her opening strike.
Only this time, the magnitude is so much greater. Not quite rivaling the storm she unleashed at Jubei, but clearly more than the massive sphere she tried to smash him in earlier. Her arms swing forward, discharging the assault into a giant projectile. The energy is only loosely contained, leaving it large and sloppy compared to the sniper's bullet she had just thrown his way moments before, but that doesn't mean it isn't dangerous.
Unleashing such a massive projectile sends her flying back slightly, landing on her feet with a pained wince a half-meter back, while the irresponsibly large Psycho Ball flies Jubei's way!
COMBATSYS: Jubei dodges Athena's Psycho Ball Revolution.
[ \\\\\ < > /////////////// ]
Athena 0/-------/---====|>>>>>>>\>>>>---\1 Jubei
The proportion of black chi slowly returns to parity with the white. And by the time the overlapping whirls have equalized, Jubei has opened his crimson eye, and starts to draw back to a bipedal stance.
The Empty Mind is about patience, about relying on trained discipline and instinct. Emotions are flighty and ephemeral; relying upon them as a font of power is a difficult concept to justify.
And yet -- here stands Athena Asamiya, the counterpoint to the rule -- rising back to her feet. She may not have the experience of Jubei -- but she certainly has the heart. Were it not for the trance of the Empty Mind, the old cat might have some insight to share in that regard -- as it is, he only allows himself to focus on the young woman's actions. It's easy for the samurai to read the telltale signs -- that Athena's injuries may be -necessitating- the use of her psychokinetic talents.
%tAnd as the magnitude of said talents peaks to a new high -- Jubei falls back the newest piece of information received from their very last exchange.
That is to say, he doesn't want to get hit by that truck.
The cat lowers himself back to all fours.
His fur raises.
His tail peaks.
And the center of the black-white vortex whips around him, taking on the form of an funnel cone.
An instant later, a shockwave slams into the ground, as the cat is slammed upwards. The funnel dramatically turns itself inside out, with the center of the cone rising -- and catapulting Jubei into the air with it. One brief instant later, the zebra-striped funnel is torn asunder, riotous black-white winds ripped into shreds of amorphous mass.
But still, Jubei is hurtling through the air, his jacket flapping about in the high-speed winds, his voluminous sleeves trailing along behind him. The feline missile streaks in a high parabolic arc -- what goes up must come down. And for all intents and purposes, it looks like the airborne cat intends to barrel into Athena at high speed.
And once he reaches terminal velocity...
... the cat spreads his paws out, windmilling around. Black pools at his right paw, and white pools at his left -- and as he spins, they mix into a spiral-shaped mass.
He twists about sharply in mid-air, blending the chi into a sphere. Its form ignites into bright blue flame -- and even begins to take on the appearance of a curled-up cat.
And then he does something which one should never do to a curled-up cat.
He flips about -- and slams both of his hind paws into it, imparting the remainder of his parabolic momentum into the attack!
The blue-white orb of chi rockets downward towards the ground right before Athena. If it were head-on, that'd be one thing -- but the old master has a pretty good idea of the diagonal path of his blazing ball of cat-shaped chi.
He intends to bounce it off the ground, as his slowed fight allows him to take a more leisurely trip down.
And if all happens as planned, the bouncing orb will slam into Athena's sternum at point-blank range - a concussive impact demonstrating that the old samurai has his own bag of metaphysical tricks. And if it manages to land, the flames themselves will feel like a hot brand placed against her.
COMBATSYS: Athena reflects Rising Justice from Jubei with Shield Psycho Reflector.
- Power hit! -
[ \\\\ < > /////////////// ]
Athena 0/-------/--=====|>>>>>>>\>------\1 Jubei
The impact with the lingering chi left by the agile feline causes the oversized Psycho Ball to careen off course with Asamiya no longer focused on trying to wrest it under her waning control. The end result is a brilliant splash against one of the walls of the Exhibition Yard. Curiously, for as large the explosion of energy ends up being, it causes no structural harm to the wall itself, dissipating energy fading shortly thereafter.
Athena has another much more pressing issue, however, as Jubei has taken to the air once more. Normally that is a place she is able to control with her own high jumping agility. But against this opponent, she has to cede control over the skies, forced to reckon with whatever comes her way from above.
Having escaped the large attack she put so much effort into, he clearly has her dead to rights. With her injured leg, she isn't able to dart to the side like she would want to. And she's barely even recovered from hurling the massive projectile his way, arms lifting wearily, feet planted though favoring the uninjured leg. Bur for the starkness of her circumstances, she looks as resolved as she ever has, violet eyes alive with determination. The match isn't over yet. There's still one last technique in her arsenal she has yet to deploy for the old cat to see.
Her mind is already made up before the swirl of white and dark is woven into a sphere of pale blue fire in his paws. Already, she's extending her arms, left arm lowered, right arm, throbbing shoulder be damned, raised. If she had hesitated, if she had waited to see what was coming next, it would have been too late. All she can do is continue to give it her all.
It's harder to pull that power from within now - perhaps there are limits after all, but sucking in her breath, she goes through with it all the same. Her cry echoes out against the walls, mouth blurting out the kiai of exertion as she creates a shimmering rose hued mirror of energy before herself appearing between her extended arms.
In the end, this proves to be the only chance she had. If she had tried to move out of the way of the azure flame catball, she would have failed to anticipate its trajectory all together. Seriously, since when has fire bounced like so much rubber!?
There is a fierce clashing of energy - the samurai's deceptive bouncing fireball and Athena's defensive barrier. Her feet slide back through the dirt as she leans into her makeshift barricade, the cry dying on her lips as with her last iota of strength, she presses back. Not as a physical effort, but with her mind.
She's not finished yet!
Her shield bursts out away from her, encircling the fireball as thin rings of Psycho Power as Athena sends the mass of energy hurtling back away from her. That it is on a collision course for the leisurely descending cat is more happenstance than design, but that doesn't make the threat any less real!
COMBATSYS: Jubei blocks Athena's Reflected Rising Justice.
[ \\\\ < > ///////////// ]
Athena 0/-------/--=====|>>>>>>>\>------\1 Jubei
Jubei already came to grips with the inevitability of property damage. The way he sees it, if Krauser had thought preserving the rich history of the castle was a worthy ideal, then maybe he wouldn't have invited the most powerful fighters on the world to come trash the place. Or, the other way to look at it: History means little when you have the means of rebuilding the world to your likeness.
Jubei really will have to give Athena credit for persevering through his blistering assaults -- pluck and determination is allowing her to make the most of a dire situation. The One-Eyed Twin Lotus' slowed freefall hasn't even returned him to the ground yet -- and already a mindforged repulsion shield has returned his earlier attack with a gift-wrapping of Psycho Power. Jubei finds himself in the crosshairs, lacking the time to rechannel the pale vortex of black and white chi around him into anything useful. He swallows a gulp of air, staring hard at the attack -- and focusing his Empty Mind into examining the nature of the attack.
The falling cat is struck backwards a good two meters, the fiery brand of his own attack searing a black ring into his jacket, as the rings of Psycho Power continue onward to send a searing sensation rippling through his body. As Jubei's hind paws dig into the dirt, he drops to all fours again -- a brief tremor running through his feline bones.
And, finally, he exhales that breath, only to replace it with another gulp of air. The Psycho Soldier may think herself less experienced than he... but youth and determination count for a lot. That, he understands, is why you always respect the potential of youth...
Jubei rises -- but not entirely. The black and white vortex becomes slightly more visible -- having faded during his prior attacks. His right paw rocks back to his left hip. And the tacit samurai gives Athena a brief nod -- the only conversation permitted by the trance of the Empty Mind.
The sword is unsheathed, as the blade sings outward. The aim is not towards Athena, but skyward.
The ground beneath him shudders with a shockwave as he takes flight again, black and white ribbons drawn in his wake. The tremors themselves have been enough to cow the weak-willed into submission -- it is a testament to Athena's determination that she can remain fighting at all, against a veritable force of nature like the samurai cat!
Jubei's change in direction is heralded by a seemingly meaningless flick of his twin tails -- a necessary redirection of his hips and shoulders to bend him into the correct vector. His right-paw sword is snapped sideways. And his left paw withdraws the second Dream Blade from its scabbard.
With a burst of lightning, the cat streaks downwards with a diagonal sweep of his left blade. Ebony and ivory scars are carved into the very air before his sword -- a powerful thunderclap of concussive force, shockwaves at supersonic speed.
The right sword swings overhand in a perpendicular angle, zagging across the zig of the first scar.
And then a third strike, and a fourth -- Jubei carves his way through the air in a staggered pattern, compounding each zebra-stained shockwave with the next.
A powerful, relentless blow, intended to press Athena's indomitable will to the breaking point and beyond, should she choose to leverage even more of her indomitable will towards facing it head on.
COMBATSYS: Athena fails to interrupt Twin Guardians - Mourning Shore from Jubei with Super Phoenix Infinity.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\ <
COMBATSYS: Athena can no longer fight.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\ <
Her shield already spent, devoted to the twin-energy projectile Jubei is left to handle, Athena staggers forward a step, leaning to the side slightly, hand clamping over the cut on her leg. The pink fabric of her Kung Fu trousers is stained crimson near the cut while the cuts on her back and shoulder are less obvious due to the dark red nature of her tunic. The injuries, while not life threatening, are taking their toll, sapping her strength, limiting her movement, and forcing her to adapt how she fights to answer the veteran warrior's relentless assaults.
Panting for breath, she keeps her head lifted, eyes focused. She saw him weather the returned attack, already knowing full well that it wouldn't be enough alone to bring him to his knees - she finds herself wondering what a cat kneel would even look like for a moment, before driving away the stray thought to resume her focus. Maybe the blood loss is getting to her worse than she realized!
His nod is answered with a tacit acknowledgment, the famous rising star nodding her head back. She knew he would be coming to her next. She could feel it in the unseen ebb and tide of unseen tides that encircle the fight, the rhythm that governs the solemn dance between warriors.
He would come to her now. It wouldn't be his way to simply hang back and watch her collapse under the mounting weight of her injuries. And it wasn't going to be her way to not answer in turn, no matter the pain.
She takes in a breath as he vanishes into the air, steadying herself amid the tremor that shakes the ground, against the blastwave of the old warrior's surging energy and formidable presence. She had come to Strolheim to seek opponents that would test her limits in every way and in facing this most unexpected participant, she has no cause to feel her journey wasted.
A sonic boom of displaced air heralds the arrival of the unknown hero overhead. Already, Asamiya is bending her legs, another pulse as she mentally drills even deep into that fount of energy that answers to her thoughts, that divine source that seems willing to continue feeding it to her for as long as she can stand. Her hands clench, her arms lowered at her sides. The burning agony in her injured leg is impossible to ignore, but for now the wounded limb will cooperative if but for a little longer. The energy has become a brilliant pink gown of sparkling motes blanketing over the girl, illuminating the courtyard even beneath the daylight.
Sucking in her breath, she launches herself skyward even as the swordsman plunges from above, blades drawn. As she raises her arms, the shroud of Psycho Power coursing over her limbs trails behind, almost taking on the image of wings of vibrant pink. She seeks to contest his rule of the air one last time, to slam her shoulder into the diving cat and unleash one last storm into his torso to see if that might at last slow him down.
It's the zigzagging nature of the samurai cat's dive that catches her entirely off guard, however. Perhaps that was why such a technique was honed in the first place. While her ascent is direct, swift, and accurate, it would only be a threat if he had simply dropped from above. Instead, he is exactly where she didn't expect him to be, and while her path takes her close, it is his blades she meets rather than his jacket covered body.
Chi and seithr forged steel ring true, cutting into the starlet's side before she reaches the apex of her own ascent. The force behind the slashes are enough to reverse her trajectory, sending her plummeting back down to land hard against the Exhibition Yard soil, tumbling a few times before coming to rest on her side, her arm draped over her stomach, violet eyes closed.
In a fight, one must avoid predictability. It's certainly true that Jubei had fallen into a pattern of attacking from an aerial vector; it works well against most opponents. Attacking in the same flight path as before, though, would have left him vulnerable to attack -- either by another empowered rush of Psycho Power, or by a more traditional attack.
Jubei departed from the pattern in two means. The first, of course, is the zig-zagging direction of his fall. And the second -- overwhelming force, as the black and white strands lash out, boosting the presence of the legendary blades in four compounding strikes.
The waves crash upon Athena, crumpling those nascent wings of Psycho Power before they can fully unfurl. And a split-second after the waves concuss into her, the infinitely sharp edge of a seithr-forged blade adds one more line of crimson to a staggering array of wounds.
Athena tumbles to the ground -- and a moment later, the tip-tap of Jubei's paws come afterwards. The feline's eye falls upon Athena, watching the ribcage of the Psycho Soldier rise and fall -- a sign of life, if not necessarily full consciousness. Each Dream Blade is angled in turn, spattering a spray of crimson onto the ground, and replaced into its scabbard with a hollow clack.
Jubei lifts one paw to brush through the unruly mane of black fur atop his head -- and only then do the translucent vortices of black and white begin to flow back into the invisible font from which they came. The sight of Athena's fallen body takes him out of his trance, igniting a fresh sense of concern in the One-Eyed Twin Lotus. Without an announcer, there is no one to call the fight in his favor. But more importantly in his mind, without an audience there will be no first aid for several minutes.
Jubei draws in a breath, his eye wincing shut. Without the meditative aid of the trance, he now feels the psychokinetic wounds as if for the first time. The young woman pushed him much harder than he may have let on -- and as he looks down onto his charred robes, he looks down to notice a slight shudder in one of his legs. The price of an invigorating battle, he can only conclude.
With a faint smile, he spends another moment collecting himself before kneeling beside Athena, to render aid as it may be needed. For anyone who fought as fiercely and honorably as she certainly deserves the itinerant warrior's concern.
"You fought admirably, Miss Asamiya."
The old cat chuckles, at an afterthought.
"I do hope your fans can forgive me."
COMBATSYS: Jubei wanders on to find the next challenge.
Log created on 23:28:17 03/07/2018 by Athena, and last modified on 18:13:16 03/12/2018.