Description: Interpol has a lot of questions for Duke Burkoff. An international art dealer with shady connections to the Southtown underworld, Chun-Li is sent to challenge him for one of his most public ventures: One of the prestigious belt titles. But to Chun-Li's surprise, Duke answers her challenge not in Southtown, but across the ocean to Sunshine City. As to why Duke is at the Trainyard of Sunshine City, well, that's none of Chun-Li's business. She should just learn to keep her head down, her mouth shut, and focus on just fighting. Too many questions, and she might find herself and Interpol caught within a war spanning the Pacific.
Duke Burkoff shouldn't be in Sunshine City.
The place wasn't normal Syndicate activity. Duke was known to operate in two cities. The first, of course, was the Southtown Syndicate, where his holdings were backed by the Japanese government, away from the clutches of Interpol. The second? Metro City, where he owned an Opera House in one of the safest parts of the city. Naturally, it became one of the safest parts the moment he took up residence in the Opera House. But there, he commands most of his face business: art dealership. Duke's day job, for tax purposes and identification, was the purchase and sale of rare art pieces, and the transportation of it between the two cities. Why was he in Sunshine City, then?
Maybe it was simply legitimate business.
The challenge comes as Duke is overseeing the shipment of a series of priceless Native American art pieces. His buyer was a museum in Southtown. The business was important; it was well known by Interpol channels that Duke was in the midst of a terrible financial situation. Chun-Li wanted to make a play for his belt! And Duke is happy to receive the challenge. The response would be for her to come to Sunshine City. It wasn't his territory, it wasn't his turf.
And it wasn't trustworthy in the least.
The crime boss is dressed in a suit of black and red; a cotton suit over his more fancy materials. Fighting was expensive on his wardrobe. Besides, this was part of the set that Nagase recommended. But it was still better than the dilapidated conditions of the trainyard. The place was a cesspool of poverty, with only one good rail line going in and out of the city. The rest? A graveyard of subway cars, where the homeless take shelter. Transients were lurking around every corner, ready to make an attempt to palm off anything that might fall out of the back. It was just the regular order of business at this dismal place within Sunshine City..
But none would dare approach Duke and his men.
Duke was watching as the crates were being unloaded, the teamster process unfolding. Narrowing his yellow eyes, his rubs his salt and pepper beard, before moving his palm to the scar around his neck. His belt was here, though he refused to wear it for the fight. And a camera crew and judge was there.... as well as his own personal cameraman. His attention wasn't on the fight now.
But on the flow of teamsters, unloading the crates to and fro.
"I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes: Duke Burkoff, slumming it in Sunshine City during a crime wave."
A swift approach via dilapidated rooftops left Chun-Li perched atop one of the those rusted out skeletons, peering at the procession of goods from (way) over Duke's shoulder. The woman from Interpol has her head cocked and brows arched as she gives voice to that dryly voiced observation. Both arms are folded across her violet qipao. Slim fingers drum against taut biceps and her feet remain perfectly still.
Duke Burkoff /shouldn't/ be in Sunshine City. It certainly wasn't what Chun-Li /expected/ when she decided she was going to skip working through the middle-men and just question one of the Syndicate's major players about the war brewing between it and the Akatsuki-gumi; far be it from her to complain when an opportunity is dropped in her lap, though.
"You really /should/ have them stop. You've got good taste; it'd be a shame if any of that priceless, no doubt legally acquired art was damaged because some teamster couldn't get out of the way fast enough."
The investigator flashes a taut smile, then a step forward and a sudden twitch brings her into a graceful descent. She knows the drill; she lands a few yards opposite Duke, even gives him a formal wave before beginning to ease into her fighting stance.
"How's it going, Duke? Appreciate the title shot! I know you're a busy man and all, what with all that Legitimate Business you do-- and /here/, even! Risking life and limb to pick up a shipment /personally/. It's no wonder you've been champion for so long, huh...?"
COMBATSYS: Chun-Li has started a fight here.
COMBATSYS: Duke has joined the fight here.
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Duke 0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0 Chun-Li
She was here.
Duke forces a smile on his lips, as the qipao clad Interpol officer comes upon the top of the car. Looking up, he brings his arms behind his back. He was going to play nice. And yet, he can't help but have just a shade of contempt when an officer of the law comes. The teamsters stop their work, uncertain of the police's arrival. But Duke gives just one look, before they return to work. She makes pleasantries, veiled implications, innuendo. Duke doesn't let his smirk fade.
But his eyes only smolder hate.
"The only business I have in Southtown, officer, is my art sales." The measured response was a blatant lie. But Duke's cruel smirk made it clear. Challenge him on it, Chun-Li. Call him out. It did not matter. The faux affable nature was only a thin excuse to arrogantly hold over the martial artist. "I do appreciate your concern about the work. Do not worry, though, It is all insured. It would be a shame if Interpol had to put money in my pocket again." Again. A threat? A warning? Duke motions at the crates. "And you know that all transactions are personally inspected by customs. I wouldn't want to avoid any fees and charges. That is why I am recording it; just to make sure there is no paperwork trouble. But you are not here to follow my accounting." The smirk fades.
"You are here for a fight."
Duke snaps his fingers, and a suited man steps forward, holding the Legendary Belt up. "You've come from my belt, and a fight. Then you will earn it. I must warn you, I do not hold back, not even against a woman. And you..." Duke rumbles, as he brings his arms before him, raising them up into a brawling stance. A crude one at that; a martial artist like Chun-Li could see his guard wide open. It was an arrogant, reckless stance. And it only made the pressure more damning. "Come, then. It is only fair if I let you make the first move..." There is a suddenly blast of heat, as violet-red energy bursts over Duke's form, the yellow eyes burning as he transfixes them. The stench of brimstone rises up.
"Unless you are ready to turn back now!"
"You aren't going to scare me /away/, Duke."
Still, the investigator's smile vanished the moment Duke's brimstone hit her nostrils. Eyes narrowed upon the art dealer, she flattens her hands into perfectly flat edges pointed towards him and brings her breaths into a slow, steady rhythm. Blue sparks flicker from the tips of her fingers, teased to the surface by the sheer presence of Duke's burning aura-- held in check from flaring up and boiling over entirely by nothing more than honed willpower. She notices the holes in his guard instantly, cast in stark relief against the power seething around him, and can't help but groan.
He's fucking with her-- of course. But it's only fair: what is this match between a stylish patron of the arts/Syndicate enforcer and a sassy, glory-seeking challenger/sassy, justice-seeking Interpol officer but a contest between two people nigh-on dutybound to fuck with each other?
"Or treat me like-- oh. Ooooooooooh--" Widening brown eyes slide towards the nearest camera, linger for a tick, then return to Duke. She manages to summon another smile, smaller than before and honed to a taunting edge. "/Right/!" she gasps, touching a finger to her lip as she has her 'revelation', then curling the rest of her hand around her mouth while she leans forward and stage-whispers: "You /have/ to feed me that crap, because if you /didn't/..."
She sucks her teeth a bit, winces, and shakes her head.
"Bad news for /you/, I'd wager. Alright! Let's do this--"
The smile melts with her next breath and every inch of her tenses. A twitch of rippling thighs is the only other warning Duke gets before yards become inches and still feet become a rending hurricane swirling with blue chi. Her projection lacks the sheer intensity of Duke's showy output, but it's focused-- summoned and bent towards no purpose beyond scouring across-- /though/-- the mighty enforcer's body.
"-- and instead of Southtown-- why don't we just talk about why you're /here/-- /now/?!"
COMBATSYS: Duke barely endures Chun-Li's Hyakuretsu Kyaku.
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Duke 0/-------/-----==|==-----\-------\0 Chun-Li
"I told you, officer."
Duke's tone is even, and ever arrogant. Chun-Li's taunting was actually drawing an ire from the crime boss, already on edge with the presence of police. As to why he was here? Well, he had one more deliver he was expecting. And he had to make sure he didn't have any problems with the postage. As she hams it up for the camera, Duke's lips curl into a furious sneer. He was struggling to keep his tone. That even wording. He wasn't going to lose his temper just yet.
And yet, that gentle air is blown away the moment Chun Li slips past that non-guard.
The opening attack comes like a gunshot; Duke barely has time to even think about his reaction, as he moves into the charging woman. Bad move. The assault is already =ripping- across his body. The stench of brimstone builds, as the laceration... cuts through flesh and bone. A normal opponent at this level would defend it, draw it away. But the reaction that Duke has... The smell of sulfur intensifies sharply as the fire boils over him. Blood oozes heavily from both sides of his body, the impact enough to stun him for a moment.
For a moment.
"Is this an interrogation?" Duke snarls, tightening his fists so much that you can -hear- the bones snap and crack. Duke lifts his leg, holding it up for a second. "Or Should I ask for my- LAWYER!?" Duke -slams- his foot down. And the train cars jump. The teamsters shout, fighting to keep their footing with the crates. The seismic activity might be the least of Chun-Li's worries: A massive wave of fire explodes around the epicenter, as pure chi -boils- from the crime boss. Blazing out in a hemisphere, he dares to send Chun Li flying into an abandoned subway car. And should he knock her away? He would begin his march, to close that distance. Blood oozing on both sides of his body. Chest heaving. Inevitable.
COMBATSYS: Chun-Li blocks Duke's Seismic Impact ES.
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Duke 1/-------/=======|===----\-------\0 Chun-Li
"Of course not," Chun-Li evenly says while dropping her leg and bringing her hands back up. "You're just an art dealer; this is just a title match. What would I have to interrogate /you/ about?"
She draws a fist back for a follow-up but Duke brings his foot down first and forces her to hop and skip on undulating earth to keep her footing. She's lucky enough to be grounded when fire explodes around him-- lucky in that, while she's sent rocketing towards that abandoned car without any trouble, she had enough time to brace and pull her arms up defensively before it happens. This makes the difference between slamming into rusted metal and tumbling free to pick her battered body up from the distressed earth; and being able to twist into planting her feet against the car, then back-flip /towards/ the inevitable enforcer.
"How'd you manage to keep a shipment of expensive artwork from going completely unmolested by ruthless, disgusting, no-good criminals," the woman wonders as ribbons flutter and a final turn leaves her sliding to a stop a few feet from Duke's left, "in the middle of this crime wave, Duke? You're a /champion/ and all, sure, but how would anyone looking for a quick score /know/ that before they tried it?" The Interpol agent steals a quick, deep breath and tries to shake some of the fire coursing through her nerves.
"You're a lucky man, Mr. Burkoff."
The investigator's approach is easier to track this time as she breaks into a sprint towards the burning enforcer. With the dip in speed, she tries to throw his guard off by cartwheeling past him when she initially gets within arm's length, landing in a low crouch, then uncoiling like a violet-scaled viper to drive a fist into Duke's gut.
"I wonder how many /other/ people could get away with trafficking-- oop, sorry-- /moving/ expensive goods here, /now/?"
COMBATSYS: Duke interrupts Strong Punch from Chun-Li with Swivel Gun EX.
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Duke 1/-----==/=======|=======\-------\0 Chun-Li
"What's stopping them, officer?"
Duke asks the question as his ponderous advance closes in on Chun-Li, his withering gaze burning into Chun Li. The man's body was framed by the fire, and every step comes with the deep rooted thundering in the very earth. The whole of the abandoned car was shuddering, as the boom, boom, boom of Duke's advance comes roaring in. "A very simple fact." Was his answer. And as Chun-Li flashes again, he gives a wind-up. Dragging his leg back, he readies an attack, all while she easily slips past his guard again.
And he unleashes the kick.
The problem wasn't Chun-Li's speed; she hits the gut, driving deep in within Duke's body. The problem wasn't power; the blow connects so cleanly, that she could -feel- the organs rupture. But rather than a slow death from septic shock, it's clear what the mistake was: Chun-Li wasn't dealing with a normal fighter. A normal fighter would turn even an attack like that into a partial defense. Redirect it away at the last minute. Tensing up, to minimize the pain. Even the man's guard demonstrated a reckless and careless defense. Chun-Li was ripping through him, the injuries were real and enduring. None of those were the problem.
The problem was it wasn't slowing Duke down.
The moment the blow connects, Duke is already in the middle of his counter-attack. There is the sound of metal slicing through the air as he -cleaves- his leg hard into Chun-Li, knocking her up in the air with a fiery-kick. Both rise up, as the sound comes again. Duke slices his leg across, launching Chun-Li away, slice through the wall of the car in the process with the razor sharp chi.
"They know their place, officer." Duke rumbles, landing on both feet. And their place is to work for me, or stay out of my way. A lesson you could take to heart. Besides. You are misinformed, officer." He reaches down, touching the blood, on his chest, as he begins his stride once again after Chun Li. "My operations are quite legal, and above the board. We are simply moving goods across the ocean to Southtown." He gives a sneer, before coughing, blood boiling up from deep within.
"Are you a little worried about how weak and helpless Interpol is in this new world?"
Meanwhile, blood just gushes from the fresh gash running up Chun-Li's belly, the investigator flying-- then crashing-- then rolling, rocks and glass and worse digging itself into her arms and legs.
"And-- hhn--" she groans, pushing herself up on trembling arms and tossing part of an unraveling bun out of her eyes so she can look up at Duke. "-- how-- many cartel gangsters would you say you have working for you? In your quite legal operations?"
His last jab keeps her from capping her own off with a smirk; Duke gets something more akin to a snarl, but it still serves to give him a peek at the fresh blood staining her teeth. Bubbling through their cracks-- sluicing out to begin a slow, steady crawl down her chin.
Dangerous as his slashing chi may have been, the furious strength behind the kick itself was enough to take a rib and remind her of how narrow the edge she's dancing on with the furnace of might looming over her.
She being who she is, of course, it's a reminder that can only be answered in one way.
"Anyway-- nnh-- shouldn't /you/ be worried...?" she wonders while retaking her feet and pressing her fingers together in front of her chest. "You're just a legitimate businessman-- one with gangsters on the payroll, or too afraid of your completely legal retribution to fuck with you, sure..." A deep breath summons crackling chi into the space between her hands, a golden core of compressed violence with blue lightning arcing off to dance between her fingers. Fire surges through her body and screams for her to stop as she straightens--
"...but if /anyone/ should be worried about Interpol's strength..."
-- then /thrusts/ that two-toned mass of burning energy towards the advancing enforcer's chest.
"... it's YOU!"
A low, darting charge leaves her just a few feet from Duke's side while the projection's still en route. Blue and gold swirl up her wrists and arms for a split-second, vanishing as she seemingly goes for another feinting cartwheel, only to just-- stop mid-motion.
And /spin/ with her legs extended.
Blue and gold flare around the investigator's feet, arcing towards the incoming projectile-- threatening to draw the scintillating mass into the woman-made tempest she's generating and magnify its detonation. Violently twisted currents whip out from her with each revolution, threatening to pull anything - any/one/ - that isn't sufficiently braced into her burning gale of justice.
COMBATSYS: Chun-Li blitzes into action and acts again!
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Duke 1/-----==/=======|======-\-------\0 Chun-Li
COMBATSYS: Duke blocks Chun-Li's Kikouken.
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Duke 1/----===/=======|=====--\-------\0 Chun-Li
COMBATSYS: Duke endures Chun-Li's Spinning Bird Kick EX.
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Duke 1/=======/=======|=======\-------\0 Chun-Li
Duke's anger was building.
He wanted the officer to stand down. The arrogance wasn't really gone. But the crime boss's legendary temper was building. AS she comes back at him defiant, there was only a bloody scowl on his face. His yellow eyes were burning through Chun Li, as she declares that he should be worried? "There are -no- cartels working here, Chun-Li." Duke rumbles, sounding more and more irate. The stench of hellfire only builds, as he strides towards the woman. "A little private matter, just between you and me, Chun-Li?" Duke snarls. He throws up his arm as the -blast- of chi comes hurling out, threatening to stun him, slow him down. The blast come, and he -slams- his arm into it.
And it rips through.
The blast of chi rips through the bone, pulverizing the arm. Duke's eyes widen in pain, as he drops the limb to his side. The damage was not to his chest. but it was bad, the fracture nearly bending. Staggering, Duke snarls wordlessly as he juts his chest out to the barrage of kicks. And there, she might see the wound she began with. The blood was dried. The suit, mangled. But the blood was dried. The damage... reversed. Recovering.
Reforming. The crime boss was regenerating. Every attack, every blow, was healing. Slowly, but quickly, the great oxymoron. So as Chun Li's offense follows through, the hammer barrage of kicks, crushing his chest, the bones, the ribs, the body. Chun Li was ripping him to pieces. By the time the kick comes to an end, he doesn't hesitate. He swings his arm wordlessly, silently, eyes wide. It's not clear at first.
He doesn't have the lungs to roar.
Lips turning blue, as blood pours over his mouth, the still living Duke flares alive with an unquenchable flame. Rage, pure rage was fueling as he slams his good arm at Chun-Li with a body blow, fires pouring from him. A second body blow comes, with his broken arm, before a third comes with his good arm again. By then, his lungs are recovered just enough for a fresh rush of air, choking on his own blood. He gags out, weakly, as he hurls out an uppercut.
"We had nothing to do with those missing stolen children, you understand?"
"What we have is -just business-" Duke growls weakly, throwing out a straight kick at Chun Li, attempting to stomp on her. "And the sooner I am done with business here, the sooner I can -leave!-" And Duke finishes the assault with a bone-shattering drop-kick, knocking himself to the ground. He was breaking, Chun Li's strength overwhelming him. He was strong.
But she was relentless.
COMBATSYS: Chun-Li blocks Duke's Hell Bomber.
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Duke 0/-------/=======|=======\=------\1 Chun-Li
There's a part of Chun-Li that feels relief when she notices Duke knitting himself back together. The wounds were more grievous than she'd intended: the goal was to pressure him, to remind him that she wouldn't stand for being played with-- treated like a fool, flagrantly lied to by someone who /knows/ she knows she's being lied to. She needed him to respect her-- to /fear/ her more than he feared the consequences of dropping the charade; it was the only way to make today's pain and violence /mean/ anything.
Because this isn't a title-match between two world-class competitors any more than a beautiful, vivacious Queen who hops on stage to vogue through Psycho Soldier when she isn't serving shots is Athena Asamiya.
And it isn't an interrogation, either: interrogations mean lawyers and observation; the reading and respecting of rights.
Today is an inquisition, pure and simple.
So there's a part of Chun-Li that feels pure relief welling up as her quarry proves capable of weathering the onslaught, a part of her that skipped a breath when his chest caved beneath her feet because she /knew/ she was letting her pride and relentless committment to the job flare to an astonishingly violent degree--
-- and then there's the /rest/ of her, equal parts elated, wrathful, and scared, eclipsing the circumspect lawgiver beneath the burning totality of an avenger with uncountable miles left to go on her quest for satisfaction.
Winding through an infernal miasma, she encounters rage too explosive to be held in check by broken bones and ruptured lungs, and her fear is justifid. The first blue lands solidly against her wrists and forearms, shearing a few spikes from her bracelets-- and then she very nearly makes the critical error of dropping that guard, reasoning that despite his stance suggesting a potential follow-up... Duke /has/ to fall back after hitting her /that/ hard. He's healing yes-- but his arm is /broken/. /Useless/.
She has to jerk a knee into place when that broken, useless thing threatens to crash through her relaxed guard and force her pre-fight meal to the ground. She staggers a step back afterwards, but doesn't dare do anything more than tuck her arms in tightly for the third body blow, then shift her guard upwards to blunt the uppercut and straight kick. The final drop-kick lands forcefully enough to send her stumbling back a few feet then wobble unsteadily as her arms fall limp to her sides.
And then, for just a moment, the /rest/ of her feels relief, too.
"Tell me about the children, Duke," is forced out after a few deep breaths. Her voice has fallen to a lower register, one with no room for engaging in the back-and-forth play of challenger and champion, officer and suspect. Brown eyes narrow upon the infernal enforcer as her hands rise. "We both know that you and your bosses... you're no /strangers/ to kidnapping. To stealing lives as easily as you take anything /else/ you decide is yours. Tell me about the children--"
There's no cunning behind the sprint that follows because she isn't a challenger right now, no last-moment shifts or feints to trick his guard; just the speed and fury of a woman possessed. Despite the effort made to show him a functional stance, her arms are far too sore to bear a punch, which is just as well: an inquisitor ought to use her most effective tools if she wants answers.
"-- and I'll THINK about stopping with your belt!" she roars while pivoting out of the sprint to lash out with a sweeping kick aimed slamming her shin into the downed man's upper body, "Tell me!"
"Tell me, Duke!"
and /again/ until something gives.
COMBATSYS: Duke dodges Chun-Li's Fierce Combo.
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Duke 0/-------/=======|=======\-------\1 Chun-Li
The fact she was still standing spoke volumes about her skill.
Duke had -broken- countless fighters under the withering assaults of these techniques. The volcanic outpour of his combination assaults could wither even the World Warriors. Even as Duke ripped himself apart, he would just come back together. Time was Chun-Li's enemy just as much as these blows. She had to force pressure against him, AND prevent him from retaliated with volcanic rage. So when Duke unleashes the final drop-kick, his arm now even worse than before, he had hoped she would be stunned. When she descends on him, rattling with question, he doesn't even have time to stand up, to smash through the attack. The pressure comes upon him.
And Duke blinks.
The momentum shifts, as the crime boss yields to the anger, yields to the wrath. THe unstoppable juggernaut stumbles, the pressure withdrawing for only a moment. He breathes hard, the suppression of rage finally allowing all those injuries pile up again. But in that moment, the crime boss reveals a terrible secret.
He could avoid being hit.
Duke's guard solidifies to the best it can with a broken arm. He couldn't block, wouldn't block. And instead, he escapes. His yellow eyes break from Chun-Li's own, and focuses on her attacks, her movements. This was like fighting an actual martial artist, not a unstoppable force of fire and flesh. The kicks are met with a deft roll, Duke rolling to the side into a low crouch. The second kick comes, and he is forced into a second roll. By the time the third kick comes, he is able to reach a stand. And there, it was deft adjustments, a nearly perfect read of her movements as he side steps. The strength that unleashes earthquake-shattering kicks is used to force the crime boss to keep moving. The pops are heard as the power is forced into speed, as fatigue and exhaustion crawl over him. It didn't seem real that he could move to avoid hits, but the reality was clear: Chun-Li was kicking so hard that Duke couldn't sustain an offense. She had intimidated him.
And Duke was not pleased.
"Tell me, Chun-Li." Duke rumbles, as he continues to turn. There, Duke unleashes a full-force thrust kick, attempting to -smash- it right into Chun-Li's center, to send her stunned backwards, to try and carve out some more space. "Off the record, of course. I'm businessman, and I know who conducts business here. Tell me."
"Who would be interested in a busload of psychic children?"
COMBATSYS: Duke successfully hits Chun-Li with Medium Kick.
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Duke 1/------=/=======|=======\===----\1 Chun-Li
Chun-Li's brows shoot up the first time her leg rends air instead of flesh but she doesn't let the surprise keep her from her pursuit. When he finally darts entirely out of her reach, she sets her striking leg forward and readopts her stance while panting.
For someone she was so sure she knew from dossiers, pinboards, and his raging, inevitable fighting spirit, Duke was proving to be /full/ of surprises. The kick he throws while he rumbles isn't one of them: she expected a counter, is already going low and twisting herself away from it.
The raw speed with which the juggernaut's foot crashes against her chest is another matter, but at least her flight away from him gives her a second to process the horrible blend of brute strength and skillfully applied speed. Blood sprays from her lips and leaves a sparse trail on the ground between Duke and a distant train car. Forgotten metal whines, shudders, and twists around her body as she finds herself wedged into the trains wall rather than tumbling off of it or flying clean through. This means /more/ blood as trembling hands seek purchase to make an escape and jagged metal bites through violet fabric to keep the investigator trapped in its maw: wrenching free doesn't take her more than a couple of seconds, and she pays for each one in dripping gouges running up her limbs and along her sides.
"Sh--" she softly shudders from all fours. Brown eyes manage to grow even wider. "Shadaloo..."
Ragged breaths summon blue fire from the depths of her soul as she says the name that's been shadowing her thoughts since those missing children hit the Interpol docket. Motes of gold bubble up all around her, seemingly conjured from the air itself; a careful observer might notice the soft, golden glow suffusing patches of weeds, scraggly grass, and stubborn flowers all straining to thrive as best as they can despite unforgiving soil.
A less careful eye might catch the way dismal foliage shoots straight up when the relentless investigator finally forces herself to her feet-- not only around her, but across /all/ of the trainyard. She meets his gaze through wrathful slits and gives him another glimpse of the inquisitor, all fire and iron.
She disappears for an instant after those venomous syllables. Those plants make tracking her relatively easy even for the viewers at home, however, when those motes compress into golden ribbons bending towards and coiling around the seething investigator's sprinting form. If Duke has the talent for it, he can easily sense her enormous build-up of spiritual energies as she makes her approach. There's no attempt at hiding it, nor would there be much of a point in trying.
Why bother when she's just going to plant herself right. In front of. Duke?
When all she wants to do is draw the bonfire conjured from within and without back into the depths of her self with a sharp inhale, so it can be unleashed with a /shout/?
Chun-Li can't keep her lips from forming a tight, humorless smile of recognition in the moment where the energies of a micro-ecology thriving in spite of the odds touch her own. There's no trace of when she thrusts her palms towards Duke and azure explodes from her body. Shot through with crackling arcs of gold, a vast blue sphere of unleashed chi threatens to consume Duke as it rips through the ground and pulverizes abandoned metal in its wake. Ribbons, loosed hair, and rent fabric flutter wildly upon the currents of a storm that'll last for just a handful of seconds before it can't be sustained any longer, leaving the investigator staggering back to take a knee.
COMBATSYS: Duke endures Chun-Li's Kikoushou EX.
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Duke 1/---====/=======|=------\-------\0 Chun-Li
"No, not Vega." Duke rumbles.
"Vega is -dead-. Disposed of, in a Mortal Kombat tournament. And yet, Shadaloo would do anything to bring him back. Even sacrifice children." Duke was... in the dark about how far along Shadaloo was. But he was eager to have them crippled, especially by Interpol. "Our business is more specific." Our business. As much as Shadaloo was there... why was Duke here? Why was he having everything recorded? What was his play? ANd how was he so aware of Shadaloo.
Was that his business here?
The counter attack comes before Duke could even finish recovering from the kick. As the chi floods over Chun-Li, Duke tenses up, digging his heels in. The full blast of chi rips through him, over him. His suit is shredded to tatters, leaving on the torn slacks as his naked, scarred torso is revealed. Oozing with blood, he groans, his rib-cage shattered once more. His body was taking incomprehensible pain and damage; his arm was still not recovering, still mangled and twisted. Another assault like that, and even the immortal Duke would tumble. And yet, he does not give any ground, he does not fall.
And he already is moving, bringing about another kick.
He was already sweeping his leg, driving in another kick. Whether it connects or not, he would follow up with a second sweeping kick, swinging it high overhead into an axe drop. "Now if that is settled, I have business to take care of." When the second kick comes, it -thunders- with a massive impact, another seismic burst running deep in the earth as he craters the ground. And Chun-Li too, if she is caught in the path.
"And it sounds like you do to, Officer."
COMBATSYS: Chun-Li blocks Duke's Hellfire Hammer.
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Duke 1/-------/=======|==-----\-------\0 Chun-Li
It /isn't/ settled.
Chun-Li surges to her feet with her arms up to intercept the first kick and is crushed right back to her knees. To her credit, she's already coming back up to her feet while his legs swings up, over, and down--
To his, the impact leaves her crumpled and kneeling with an arm that now hangs uselessly at her side. It was bound to happen: channeling all that energy /after/ repeatedly letting Duke pulverize her arms, then letting him do it /again/ was a surefire recipe for broken bones, but she couldn't afford to risk another burst of unexpected speed leaving her unconscious or worse.
Blood and broken bones are a small price to pay for information about Shadaloo. The cartel's been on the decline since Vega's death. Like the behemoth of sin and vice it is, it has continued to twitch as its headless bulk slowly settles into the inevitable, continued to threaten the world with its last, destructive spasms. Interpol--
-- well. /Chun-Li/ has chased the odd, foolishly brazen remnant or shaky clue pointing to the cartel's continued operations since then and come away with next to nothing. The missing bus was the closest she'd come to a genuine lead, but the ITF's formation and the unprecedented outbreak of violence in Sunshine Ciy and Southtown alike didn't leave much room for pursuing it.
Until now, anyway.
"Y-your business..." she wheezes while slowly rising, "... is with /me/, Burkoff. And mine... mine is with /you/. You don't think-- nngh-- that telling me about Shadaloo... is going to make me forget about /you/... do you? You're here - /here/, /now/ - for a REASON, /Duke/-- is the Syndicate hoping to pick the bones of Sunshine City?!"
%Powerful hips twist and Chun-Li's agonized rise becomes a swirling, angled ascent led by a series of slicing kicks aimed at the enforcer's chest. There's enough force behind the blows to carry her - and /him/, if she connects - into the air for a few feet, but after three or four, she'll come back down to her knees hard.
COMBATSYS: Duke fails to interrupt Tenshou Kyaku from Chun-Li with Minefield.
[ \\\\\\\\ < > /////// ]
Duke 0/-------/=======|==-----\-------\0 Chun-Li
Duke's patience was wearing thin.
"This conversation is over, Chun-Li." Duke states arrogantly, that smug smirk spreading on his bloodied lips. Already, the violet-red flames were cascading over him, empowering him. The incredible pressure was building, as his leer spreads over his visage. Duke crosses his arms, as the kick comes. The first blow connects, and for a moment, Chun-Li could have felt the eruption of fire. It was about to detonate, as the second kick comes, the third; the barrage of kicks suppressing the timing as Duke is knocked off balanced-
And it misfires.
The crime boss throws backwards, the finishing kick knocking him back. "Impossible!" There, without the pressure, he finally -explodes- into a flash of fire. Without a Chun-Li connecting, however, Duke merely keeps his momentum to the ground. He wasn't down yet. He was so close, with broken bones and gore; his body now just ragged open wounds. But his roar comes with the deepest baritone. "Stay out of my way, Chun-Li." Duke rumbles, as he slowly, so slowly, forces into a stand. Gasping for air, he was... he was unstable. But his rage was building, overwhelming fury. His yellow eyes were penetrating, as he finally reaches his feet.
"You don't want your business to be my business, young lady."
"No," Chun-Li softly agrees. "I don't-- not /really/."
She slowly takes her feet after the explosion and once again feels relief that can't be set aside. Her injuries aren't as immediately, viscerally shocking as his: those train-inflicted gashes are smaller than the horrible wounds covering his body and while her arm hangs heavy and still at her side, it does so at the correct angle.
It's an illusion-- the result of two different schools of combat and nothing more. Every breath sends fire screaming through her body as damaged ribs make their displeasure plain, and she needs so /many/ of them now. Duke's terrible power and refusal to stay down have forced her to exert herself to the utmost just to guarantee that whatever hits she lands /matter/-- that the evidence of them won't simply vanish at his earliest convenience. If, by some miracle, she manages to avoid his next /several/ attacks, she'll /still/ be ready to collapse into a spent heap. If.
Duke has only grown /more/ dangerous as horrid wounds and broken bones mounted. No sane person /would/ want his business to be theirs.
"But we both have jobs to do, don't we?"
A forward flip cuts through the space between them in a blink. When she comes out of her roll, tank-shredding legs extend and her right foot flickers with pale blue chi forced to the surface by a searing breath. Duke's been leading with his chest most of the fight, so rather than his head, she aims to bring her scything heel right into his body on the way down, then roll out of a split-legged posture and into a crouch nearby.
"And MINE is keeping YOURS from crushing innocent lives in the name of greed!"
COMBATSYS: Duke blocks Chun-Li's Hazanshu.
[ \\\\\\ < > ////// ]
Duke 1/-------/=======|==-----\-------\0 Chun-Li
He has become more dangerous.
Every wound was an act of retribution against Chun-Li. Every kick was greater force in greater measure. Duke lived to be torn apart, only to incite into a berserker rage into the aggressor. As he reaches a stand, she is already upon him. Already descended at him, already tearing at him. With a pained roar, he brings his right arm up, forcing forward at the young officer. The aggression of the impact is all that carries him forward, as he -stops- the blow cold. Growling in agony as the bone cracks, he holds it fast, as she rolls away in a crouch. There is a pain, as he twists his fingers, clenching them tightly... keeping his hand high in the air. Was it disabled? No.
"Crushing innocent lives?"
Duke's laughter rises up, deep and sinister. The man that hell spat out, the devilish Syndicate offer was dropping all veneer of affability. Giving a ruthless smirk, his presence builds, as he brings up a fist. A surge of chi runs up his naked flesh, twisting and distorting it like moles burrowing under his skin. All going to his raised right hand. His other arm was still limp. But the sound of snapping is heard again, as the flesh around Chun-Li's impact point erupts in a geyser of flame. His arm trembles, as he looks coldly at Chun-Li, taking only a few steps. His voice is suddenly cool, calm, as he rumbles at her. "Tell me, officer." He asks, opening his palm.
"How innocent do you think you are?"
And the waves of energy burst forth in an orb. Metal bends, earth crushes, and emptied train cars are knocked aside as the full forth of gravity is unleashed. The chi is crushing, crushing all around. Chun-Li had to guard against it, or escape, or... or she would be crushed along the earth, pushed along to the outside with endless pressure. Until finally, the orb of pure energy would cease to be.
As Duke's hand is snapped at the wrist, from the sheer force of the power.
COMBATSYS: Chun-Li dodges Duke's Gravitational Wave.
[ \\\\\\\ < > ////// ]
Duke 0/-------/------=|==-----\-------\0 Chun-Li
The Syndicate Fiend's rumbling laughter sends shivers down Chun-Li's spine. Slowly, the young officer cranes her head. Every instinct tells her not to look-- to just get up and keep fighting, to focus-- to push through the pain and look for a decisive blow--
-- to avoid dwelling on the titanic pressure that warns of what she knows will happen if she doesn't land that blow /soon/--
-- but it's as inevitable as /he/ is. Brown eyes rise, widen, and waver. Ragged breaths catch in her chest, stopping the flow of chi through her body cold.
Having come this far, she can't help herself: her eyes /keep/ rising until they're transfixed by his, all-- the way-- up there. Beyond the badgering taunts and ruthless aggression, the righteous indignation-- towering above the trainyard and the city swimming with blood, she /sees/ Duke Burkhoff for the first time. She sees him, and she remembers why she committed to flying out for this inquisition/title match and worrying about filling her superiors in later:
The odds that even one of them would see harrassing the man into a fight as anything more than a shortcut to destruction and bad press were vanishing at /best/.
She swallows and clenches her jaw after the first question, because even if she can't keep herself from shuddering, at least she can keep him from /hearing/ it. Her eyes falter and frantically track the swells of power beneath his skin until she can't focus on anything but that clenched right hand. There's no blocking whatever it portends, she can /feel/ it; he could flatten the 'yard and everyone in it if he wanted, and getting him to this point cost her so, so much in sweat and blood.
His palm opens.
Fundamental force warps the world around him and the Interpol agent finally listens, after a fashion: she hurls herself /closer/. Punishing waves of gravity flow from the man's right hand while she drops back into a crouch on his left, no more than a foot or two away and risking dismemberment if she lets herself slip much farther than that in the wrong direction. A few lingering flickers of chi rush to the surface afterwards and swirl around her body as Duke's crushing might buffets her with its sheer proximity.
"-- I'm not-- I'm /not/ innocent," she gasps, "but I still-- have a duty-- to anyone who is-- to EVERYONE who you, the Syndicate-- Shadaloo, /ALL/ of you treat as cattle-- as numbers in a budget-- as fodder for your egos and RUNGS to climb towards your own ambitions!" Her chi briefly brightens with that last declaration - a candle before the roaring inferno of Duke's - and dances, launching her into his body at sharply rising angle. Her good elbow leads this effort to aggressively leap past him, and if she makes it, she'll try to follow it up with a stomping kick before coming back down into her crouch.
COMBATSYS: Duke interrupts Rankyaku from Chun-Li with Dive Bomber EX.
[ \\\\\\\\\ < > / ]
Duke 0/-------/-----==|===----\-------\0 Chun-Li
Duke recoils his hand, as both limbs are crippled.
The full force of the power had not crushed Chun-Li. But it has driven her back, suppressed her. He could crush the entire trainyard. He could destroy it so deeply, it would be only suited for a parking lot. He was a human demolition crew, and ready to crush anything. Even himself, as it was clear. He could survive. He could recover. "No." Duke snarls, as Chun-Li takes to the air. "No!"
And Duke leaps in tandem with Chun-Li.
Chun-Li's agility has been honed by years of training, built upon a foundation of incredible natural talent. Duke? Duke had more experience, but that was irrelevant to the augmentations he bore. His foot rises up and up, until the sole is above Chun-Lin's head. The elbow connects between the legs. But it's like a bear-trap; the foot comes -smashing- down, spiking straight down to a final crater, driving the officer straight down into a cloud of dust. "Your only duty now, officer."
"Is to stay down."
Chun-Li is still new to Interpol, still a rookie when it comes to doing her duty as her superiors define it over doing what she feels is right-- doing what she /must/ do.
Duke gives her a direct order punctuated with a violent spike; of course her first instinct is to refuse it.
There's a congregation of towering monsters spreading out and blurring together when Chun-Li lifts her head and shows off a broken nose and black eye. A congregation of monsters wrapped in a black veil that won't stop falling, no matter how much she wills it. Pushing up on trembling limbs, she's got little more than the feel of him and a final, irresistable urge to throw herself into the fire in the hopes of snatching a little bit of satisfaction from its infernal depths before the veil settles and she collapses.
"C-coward..." she spits in a venomous whisper, followed by a mouthful of blood. "Hiding behind your art, your suits, these cameras-- dressing up like a man, because you're scared of what would happen... if people realized they don't just have a monster for a /CHAMPION/, a /FINALIST/... if they knew that Duke BURKOFF was the reason their father overdosed instead of seeing them graduate... if they knew that YOU were why their children came to Southtown on vacation and VANISHED!" Her eye meets his, hot with the last embers of her consciousness. Straightening on shaky legs and cradling her bad arm with her slightly better one, she flashes clenched, blood-stained teeth in a snarl.
"I don't take ORDERS from COWARDS, Duke!"
That last, defiant roar is paired with a forward flip towards - over - Duke's shoulder. If she /makes/ it over him, she'll pull her knees to her chest for a split-second before thrusting them powerfully towards the enforcer's back. Earlier, a move like that, delivered with legs like hers might have catapulted her backwards a few feet into a safe and stylish landing if it connected, but now... now, she'll be lucky to do an under-rotated flip and land on her face, unconscious despite her protests.
COMBATSYS: Chun-Li can no longer fight.
[ \\\\\\\\\ <
COMBATSYS: Duke blocks Chun-Li's Kaku Kyaku Raku.
[ \\\\\\\ <
Down she goes.
Duke actually keeps his foot on Chun-Li for a moment, letting it sink in just how far under she was. As she sputters out, it actually elects a chortle from the crime boss, as he lets the pressure off his foot. It's a mistake. She explodes out, describing the weight of the crimes he has on society, on children, on people. And Duke can only scoff. "Children should learn to mind their own business." Is all he says, he turns, the woman coming at his back. He makes a -strained- block, letting the kicks come to his shoulders, not his back. It's hardly an improvement, as a sickening crack is heard. The crime boss stumbles over, as she leaps away. And yet, he steadily rises again. Chun-Li is down, truly down. And he strides over to her, standing high over her. He can't even cross his arms.
But his rumbling growl pierces even through dreams.
"You should learn to take orders from your betters, Officer. Know your place." Duke turns his back on Chun-Li, ready to limp back to the train, to ensure the last of the shipments are completed. He actually pauses in mid-step, halting. Slowly, he turns back around to the unconscious woman, just in case she could hear. "And try to stay out of trouble. This place can be very dangerous, you know." He looks up at the passenger cars, waiting idly to head north for Seattle. Ready to pick up prisoners for transportation.
"Sometimes it's even more dangerous in the daytime than at night."
COMBATSYS: Duke has ended the fight here.
Log created on 15:29:44 06/29/2018 by Duke, and last modified on 14:15:06 07/02/2018.