The Bell Tolls - TBT Act 3 - Parting Shot

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Description: Maki has tracked the vessel full of captives to Southtown Harbor, but to save them she must must stop this shipment before it departs. Unfortunately for her, Shadaloo has no time for delays, and the masked assassin Balrog intends to make sure the shipment leaves on time.

What happened in Southtown stays in Southtown... at least that's what Maki will tell you in regards to her latest situation with Zeku. She could tell you about the limerick she wrote in response to him, but that's for another time and another place with extra tapioca being offered. That's all part of the past now. What's important is what's been going on right here and right now. And that's the reason Maki's here in Southtown. She's here because she knows Shadaloo is up to no good and it's up to her to stop them, no matter what the risk!

Unfortunately, Shadaloo's taken innocent people hostage and is intent on taking them for whatever cruel and unusual intentions they might have. And it seems that Shadaloo is intent on transporting them away via ship tonight. Fortunately, though, Shadaloo might be capable of capturing people, but there's only one harbor in Southtown that they can use. And thanks to inside intelligence she's received, she's aware of what the ship looks like and which pier they're departing from.

Even better is the fact that Maki herself is an elite ninja, so stealth comes to her naturally. While the patrols might be sweeping the overall area for intruders, Maki is using the rooftops and crates to stay out of sight. She runs with such speed that a parkour artist looks like an amateur acrobat. She occasionally glances behind her to make sure no one's following her somehow, before she gets to the pier where the ship is, and she scowls.

"You guys never cease to find reasons to piss me off!" Maki mutters to herself as she drops to the pier, trying to keep out of sight of anyone who might be nearby, and then presses herself against a nearby storage container to try to analyze the situation from a safe spot. Or at least what she believes to be safe spot, since as luck would have it, something gets into her nose. Despite her attempts to block her nose with her finger, it's no use and Maki sneezes into her arm, then darts her eyes around, hoping nobody heard her sneeze...

The manifest claims that a shipful of wagyu is scheduled to depart for California tonight. As far as Shadaloo is concerned, this is only /just/ a lie:

Psychic children and kidnapped fighters tend, on average, to be /much/ less thoroughly marbled.

That cargo so precious seems to lack defenders beyond a few groups of rank and file thugs might strike some as strange. Maki, however - no stranger to deception, surely - may well recognize this curious absence for the tell that it is: with nary a Buffalo, Tiger, or FANG in sight, the ship must be guarded by someone capable - even invested - in keeping themselves from being seen until it's too late, making the ship a prize and a deathtrap in one. Somewhere in the shadows surrounding the pier lurks a Doll or worse, waiting for the worst possible moment to make themselves known.

Here and there as she adroitly dances through those very same shadows, Maki might catch notes of rose petals, the copper tang of blood, and crushed grapes, a curious cologne fit for an aesthete or a madman. Shortly after she picks a storage container to scout from, it intensfies, growing ever more pungent-- until--



"Good instincts," an aesthete or a madman purrs from above. Crouched atop the container - drawn by a sneeze that couldn't be denied after picking up and losing her trail through the shadows several times over - Balrog lowers himself to sit-- then lounge along the container, stretching his wiry form across cold metal as if it's a plush sofa. "But then, I wouldn't dare expect anything less from so fair a creature~. Not quite good /enough/, but good..." Long fingers stroke along ribbed metal.

"/These/ won't be going anywhere at all, I'm afraid. /Someone/ has to maintain a certain level of... /quality/ while Vega chases his obsessions, and as always, it falls to me."

Blood, more than anything else, seems to dominate the air, the more the Spaniard speaks.

"The others won't be going anywhere with /you/ either, of course... but that doesn't mean that you and /I/ can't get a little better acquainted before duty calls me away, does it~?"

"You may call me Balrog, darling." A beat. "Ms. Genryuusai." A wink, easily heard even if it isn't seen.


As soon as Maki hears the sound of someone purring in such a unique manner, she turns to look in the direction from where the voice came from, and as soon as she spots the wiry man approaching in such a unique, almost arrogant, manner, she steps back a little, gripping her tonfa tightly. Her mouth opens like she wants to say something, but nothing comes out, since it seems she's truly shocked to be greeted by someone like this instead of the typical grunts that she's had to deal with in Shadaloo. But then something triggers within her memory, and as soon as the man states his name, it all comes back to her.

"Balrog," Maki echoes with very noticeable sarcasm, before scoffing. "Quite an ironic name if you ask me." A pause. "And yes, I've heard about you. How I've heard about you is irrelevant, however." Her eyes narrow as she takes in everything Balrog has to say, complete with the way he's casually lounging around while he's greeting Maki. He's just like Maki's heard through the grapevine about him. Speaking in a delicate manner, lounging around in a casual style, and the blood... it's very noticeable.

"I don't care WHAT Vega is obsessed with. All I know is that Shadaloo is never up to any good, and from what I've heard, you mooks have some contraband going onto your ship!" Maki grits her teeth a little. "I will say I'm impressed that you're willing to take me on one-on-one, and from the way you came to greet me, I'm definitely not going to be underestimating you either."

Suddenly, her mouth curves into a slight smirk. "I will say, though, that you're quite a charmer. It seems my information about you was quite accurate!" Her smirk grows a little bigger. "And the way you're moving so swiftly and efficiently, I think I'm going to enjoy this challenge!" Maki rubs her tonfa with her free hand.

COMBATSYS: Maki has started a fight here.

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Maki             0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Balrog has joined the fight here.

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Maki             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Balrog

"All good things, I hope~."

Mockery drips from his words in proportion to Maki's sarcasm, but there's the air of something casual rather than retributive to it. The fingers so tenderly caressing over metal ribs find their way to immaculately sculpted pecs, tracing beyond them over the hard-won ridges of his abs while blue eyes roam over his fellow blonde ninja. She speaks, gets herself worked up, and he-- stares, mostly, letting her outrage waft over him like an autumn breeze. Not a word of it actually penetrates until she throws a compliment his way-- not the one about his perceived courage, the other one. It's more than enough time to conclude that for all her beauty, Maki clearly has /one/ flaw in dire need of correcting before she's perfect.

One small, soft, easy torn out flaw.

"I aim to please, Ms. Genryuusai. I would be a poor host indeed if I didn't show a guest as lovely as yourself the respect she's due." His gradually descending hand reaches his hip, slides back--

"But wherever did you get your invitation, I wonder? I know you won't tell me know, and that's alright; I'll be able to pick it out just fine from the screams~."

-- and then the mad aesthete's trying to bury a claw in her gut. Unthinkably sudden to the untrained eye, even Maki might have a tough time tracking him after he transitions from prone to upright; from there, he bounds to the ground at her side, a blur of blue, gold, and swirling red as he pivots to-- well.

Bury a claw in her gut.

COMBATSYS: Balrog successfully hits Maki with Power Strike.
Grazing Hit

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Maki             0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0           Balrog

"Good? That depends on how you interpret what I'm planning." She closes her eyes briefly and runs her hand over her tonfa as if slightly mocking Balrog. Then she opens her eyes again and her smile vanishes. "But unless you're a sadomasochist, I don't think you're gonna like what I've got in mind!" She gets into her fighting stance, awaiting the Spanish ninja's first move. From the way he moves and how he wields that claw, Maki knows she's in for a bit of a challenge here. In fact, she may have bitten off more than she can chew as soon as Balrog moves to attack her, albeit with a bit of acrobatic maneuvering on his part. And did he say her screams?

Yeah, this guy's definitely a loony.

"Do what you want to me!" Maki screams. "I ain't telling you anything!" Then there's another scream, albeit one of pain as the claw goes into her stomach. Fortunately, it doesn't go as deep as it could thanks to Maki's agility giving her the instinct to jump back slightly, but it does draw some blood and cause a bit of a burning pain in the ninja's stomach.

Her free hand drops to her stomach and comes away quickly as she feels the sting from the wound, her hand stained with a little blood. It's obvious that Balrog intends to inflict a lot of pain on Maki, but it won't be as easy as it might be for his other victims.

"Not bad," Maki says sarcastically, gasping for air. "But I'm a capable fighter too! And if you think you're gonna make me confess, you've got another thing coming!" The last part is emphasized with her tonfa swinging directly at Balrog's stomach.

COMBATSYS: Balrog blocks Maki's Medium Strike.

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Maki             0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0           Balrog

"'Do what I want'...?"

A low chortle leaks through the mask as Balrog draws himself into a graceful, faintly serpentine stance, claw up and at the ready.

"Remember that you /asked/, darling; /I/ certainly will~."

Snapping his right hand down, he catches the tonfa against his claw and pays for it when Maki jams his arm back anyway, firing a jolt of pain from his wrist all the way up the length of the limb. He bats the weapon aside with a low grunt, draws back to adopt a briefly upright posture, then wrenches himself around into another direct, thrusting assault, this time angling to rake his blades straight across her body like a jungle cat.

"Beauty and grace, strength and conviction-- your talents are WASTED, Ms. Genryuusai. Risking yourself for strange children? For morons too weak to protect themselves from capture...? You're trading your blood for people who'd die sad, pointless deaths with or without you, I'm afraid!"

COMBATSYS: Balrog successfully hits Maki with Matador Turn.

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Maki             0/-------/=======|====---\-------\0           Balrog

"Uh, I wasn't asking you," Maki says as she grabs a nearby piece of tarp that has somehow come free and uses it to wipe the blood from her stomach. "I was telling you!" The cut is somewhat deep, but has somehow started to clot already. Maki will say it's her chi at work if you ask her. But there's far more at stake here than just explaining her healing powers.

As Maki's attack is deflected back, she is somewhat off-balance from the deflection, and finds herself in the path of Balrog's claw. This time, there's far more than just a blade to deal with, but literally the effect of being clawed by an angry lion or something of a similar nature. Her attempt to evade fails and she finds herself getting clawed rapidly, causing her to let out more cries of pain. When the Spanish ninja shifts away, Maki looks at herself and sees that she's got quite a few claw wounds on her body. She's bleeding noticeably, but despite that, her adrenaline is flowing through her like lightning in a thunderstorm, helping her block out the pain.

"Your words are well-crafted, but they mean NOTHING to me!" Maki says, gritting her teeth almost like she's focusing on blocking out the nonexistent pain. "Even if I fail to stop you, I'll still be sending my message that Shadaloo's antics aren't going to be unopposed!" She takes a couple of deep breaths and blows them out, then jumps onto a nearby storage crate. "I'm only getting started! Now let's see what you think of THIS!" With that, Maki leaps off of the crate and literally flies with her leg outstretched at Balrog.

COMBATSYS: Maki successfully hits Balrog with Hassou Kyaku.
- Power hit! -

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Maki             1/-------/=======|======-\-------\0           Balrog

The two ninja fly backwards for several feet before the one who just had his breath taken away tumbles free. He bounces several more times afterwards until his body finally smacks against another container. After he peels himself free, his bare, bruised chest softly smacks against the ground, then he props himself up on his bare hand.

"Ask, tell-- nnh--" he gasps out while picking himself up. "-- all that /really/ matters, my dear, is that you've been heard. And seen..." His chin and eyes tilt down, "... and /felt/," and between breaths, a shot of venom hits his voice.

"On, and on, and on. Justice and righteousness, bravado and sacrifice..."

Lunging forward, he tucks when he hits the ground and rolls... and rolls... and /rolls/, tumbling at Maki with increasing velocity until he's close enough to unfurl himself and drive his claw forward for another attempt at skewering her midsection. "Your words mean nothing-- they're empty cliches to justify the suffering to come!" he snaps. If Maki were to look, the rage beginning to permeate his own words would be far more readily appearent just past his eye holes. "Such a waste /indeed/; you're MUCH better seen, Ms. Genryuusai!"

COMBATSYS: Balrog successfully hits Maki with Rolling Crystal Flash.

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Maki             1/---====/=======|=======\=------\1           Balrog

Maki jumps backwards after connecting with Balrog, which is kind of made easier since the impact gives her a little extra rebound. She lands in a crouch and skids backwards, slipping a little on her blood staining the pier. Nevertheless, she regains her stance and grips her tonfa, spinning it a little. "If I'm heard that's fine, but you want to FEEL me?" She shakes her head. "You're even more disgusting than I thought!" She only shakes her head even more when he starts spewing those words from his mouth, and then tenses up as Balrog comes at her again. And again she's too slow to deal with this guy. She finds herself getting skewered and bleeding even more profusely than before. Yes, there are more cries, but they're more of frustration than just pain.

"Well..." Maki struggles to get up a little, having lost a bit of blood already, "If you... want to see me..." She grits her teeth and narrows her eyes, trying to get a little closer to Balrog. "Then I'll give you a close-up! A REAL CLOSE-UP!!"

In spite of all the pain that she is in, and all the blood that she has lost, Maki has a burst of strength that gives her the power to drop onto the ground, but she's not just lying there, as she's planting her tonfa on the ground as she goes down.

Then suddenly, Maki begins to use her tonfa a way to keep her in the air as she begins to spin around with her leg outstretched. Spinning like a human whirlwind, the blonde-haired kunoichi attempts to strike Balrog with her signature attack. "SEE THIS?! TAKE THIS!!"

COMBATSYS: Balrog blocks Maki's Bushin Senpuu Kyaku.

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Maki             1/--=====/=======|=======\==-----\1           Balrog

The bruise spreads rapidly from the point where Maki's foot struck his body, marring lightly tanned, chiseled perfection with unsightly discloration.

The pain still radiating through his body serves as a lingering reminder of just how dangerous the spirited woman before him is and how much lovelier she is for it.

Caught between urges, he lets out a gasp when he realizes that she isn't /just/ lying there bleeding and being so, so brave. The claw comes up in time to give him a buffer against the attack but once again, he feels every last metal-rattling blow surging through muscle and bone until the storm finally subsides, giving him a beat to stagger backwards.

"Wonderful," he whispers, somehow awed and angry in the same breath. His arms rise-- pause with a hidden grimace-- then fully extend, baring his bruised chest and belly. The mask cants to one side and blue eyes once again roam in a way that featureless porcelain only /just/ hides.

"Inheritor of Bushin-ryuu. Scourge of Mad Gear, champion of the poor, the meek, the sick, the hideous..." His tongue clucks beneath the mask, chiding. "Give me /more/-- show me the DEPTHS of your style, sweet creature--! Let me feel the next generation of Bushin-ryuu before I carve it into a memorial to its own beauty!"

As if to encourage her, he then /throws/ himself at her-- past her?

At the crate?

Tumbling through the air, he plants his feet against the crate long enough to gather himself into a small, disturbed package before he /explodes/ into an arc descending towards her. If he manages to make it close to her, he'll snap his arms out to either side in the moments before impact, intent on raking across her upper body on the way down.

COMBATSYS: Balrog issues a challenge!!

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Maki             1/--=====/=======|=======\==-----\1           Balrog

COMBATSYS: Maki dodges Balrog's Flying Barcelona Attack.

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Maki             1/--=====/=======|=======\===----\1           Balrog

"You're quite insightful," Maki says as she grits her teeth more, letting her adrenaline act as an improvised painkiller for how she's feeling right now. "You know a bit about me. But if you think you're going to turn this whole thing into a memorial, THINK AGAIN!" Her uniform is ripped (not uncommon given the crap she's dealt with in the fighting arenas and on the streets,) and she's still bleeding, but Maki has only now fully warmed up it seems. Because as Balrog goes into the air, Maki watches him carefully, attempting to analyze his movements and what he's planning on doing next. "Come on," She whispers, gritting her teeth still.

The moment he touches the crate, Maki immediately recognizes it as a method of quickly rebounding off of the surface he's touching. Between his agility and the fact she recognizes what he's doing (she's a ninja after all,) Maki grits her teeth through the pain that still isn't being blocked out by her adrenaline and rolls forwards, getting away from where she once was and leaving Balrog slashing at nothing but air. Once she recovers from her roll, Maki growls a little as the pain surges through her body again, but it seems more like an annoyance than anything.

"I have to say that this whole thing is quite a challenge I never anticipated. It's better than anything my old master could teach me." Despite this comment, Maki is not smiling at all. "But don't think I have any respect for you. In fact, I don't even respect Master Zeku that much either! That guy is in a world of his own!" Stepping towards Balrog, Maki swings her tonfa hard at Balrog with a loud cry.

COMBATSYS: Balrog blocks Maki's Genkou.

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Maki             1/-======/=======|=======\=====--\1           Balrog

Lunging forward, Balrog catches the incoming tonfa against his claw and groans through the pain searing through his arm as he /keeps/ pressing insistently until the mask is mere inches away.

"Why on Earth would I possibly care about your respect, darling...? A piece of a pretty thing's heart-- a place in her soul that burns forevermore with the memory of me-- that's all I'll need from you once I've had my fill of your strength~."

After shifting half a step back, the Spaniard drops to a crouch and launches into a brisk slide. A long, slender leg thrusts forward in search of the kunoichi's shin, intent on bringing her down to his level with vicious authority.

"You really /should/ have stayed in Metro City, mi querida, but I suppose I shouldn't complain about a gift who presents herself with such /vigor/, should I~?"

COMBATSYS: Maki dodges Balrog's Strong Kick.

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Maki             1/-======/=======|=======\=====--\1           Balrog

Despite the fact she's still in a bit of pain and the bleeding is still noticeable, Maki's starting to get more annoyed about this whole way Balrog is treating her instead of the injuries she's sustained. She's starting to feel like she's dealing with Don Juan acting as a ninja instead of a real assassin. But the injuries she's sustained indicate that this guy is like two personalities in one, and definitely not someone to be taken lightly. In fact, an average person might wonder how Maki can remain so quick on her feet in spite of her injury. It's a case of mind over matter, she'll tell them.

"Stay in Metro City?" Maki asks as she's leaping into the air to avoid Balrog's kick. "Absolutely not! I'm a Bushin-ryuu ninja and I'm dedicated to using my skill to take out garbage like the Mad Gears and anyone else who's into causing trouble!" She lands in a crouched position, grimacing as the pain goes through her again. "Especially Shadaloo!"

A twirl of her tonfa. "And vigor comes to me naturally. I'm sure it's natural for someone like you as well." She then sticks out a leg of her own at Balrog. "En garde!"

COMBATSYS: Maki successfully hits Balrog with Light Kick.

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Maki             1/-======/=======|=======\=======\1           Balrog

Maki's kick finds him faster than he can avoid it and lands dead center amidst the bruises. Balrog staggers a step back, as surprised by her unmitigated gall as he is hurt. The pain is not insignificant, especially placed as it is... but he /knows/ she's capable of more; it may as well have been a taunt. A tremble rolls through him as delicate fingers gently caress the aching blooms spreading across his chest and his breath begins to quicken.

"Metro City is the universe's landfill-- is it any wonder that it ravaged by Jedah Dohma?" he hisses between breaths. Sneering as his hand curls into a fist, he tacks on, "Like attracts like, after all~."

After a stutter-step forward, he fakes towards either side, then tries to weave around Maki's guard so he's crouched behind her. Predator that he is, he'll pounce and throw his arms around her waist if he makes it that far, intent on hurling the ninja towards the shipping crate where they first met.

"Ignorant, /prattling/ virago--" he snarls upon drawing near.

COMBATSYS: Balrog successfully hits Maki with Stardust Shot.
Grazing Hit

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Maki             2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2           Balrog

As soon as Maki leaves his arms, Vega darts towards the crate himself-- and beats her to it, planting his feet against its ridges for a split-second before darting on a trajectory towards her.

The second time they meet-- the second time he seizes her-- the contact is similarly brief, only this time it's broken with downward-thrusting kick. He lands heavily afterwards, clutching his chest and breathing hard as he pushes up from a three point stance.

"It was only a landfill because of the Mad Gears trashing it!" Maki screams. "The place was awesome until they came along. And Jedah Dohma? I've heard of that bastard, and he doesn't scare me in the least bit!" She grits her teeth again. "Even if he'd beat me in battle, I still would take him on without batting an eye!" A brief lapse in adrenaline causes her to feel some pain again, and she gasps loudly. Unfortunately, this gasp gives Maki the lapse of time to give Balrog a chance to grab her and slam her into the crate.

Once Maki recovers, she rubs at her back where she hurt herself pretty badly. Even though it feels like she might have sprained a few muscles in her back, Maki's still not going down that easily. "Pretty good, I'll give you that." She grunts a little as the adrenaline struggles to flow into her body again. "But I haven't shown you what I'm truly capable of yet!"

Now that her body is finally adapting to the pain she's feeling and it's starting to dull a little, Maki jumps onto another crate nearby and stares at Balrog. "Do you want to dance?" She now smirks a little. "Because I prefer to be the one to lead!" She then leaps into the air, intending to grab Balrog in the air and, if successful, slam him onto the ground of the pier. Who knew Maki was into slam-dancing?

COMBATSYS: Balrog dodges Maki's Tengu Daoshi.

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Maki             2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2           Balrog


Briefly, pain and breathlessness are banished as Balrog's spine goes estoque straight. Bare hand curled behind his back, right foot sliding forward, he favors his crate-occupying opposite with a deep bow, then snaps to action in time with her. Leaping in a sharply rising arc towards her crate, Balrog's poised for another pounce until Maki follows through by leaping after him.

"I thought you'd never ask, Ms. Genryuusai~!"

The mad aesthete's left hand blurs from behind his back and a heartbeat later, Maki's clutching rose petals instead of insufferable Spaniard. Where Balrog once was, a fragrant red cloud now spirals out on the night air; the man himself, meanwhile, has tucked into a sharply descending ball that takes him towards the edge of the crate Maki just left. Cackling gleefully, he launches /back/ into the rose cloud a beat later. Moonlight reflects from wicked metal as he draws back, intent on burying it deep into Maki, only to wrench free when he pushes off to return to Earth.

"You champion a dumping ground for monsters and low-lives, but I'm a kind man; I couldn't bear to deny even a flawed beauty the rapture of a dance with perfection!"

COMBATSYS: Balrog successfully hits Maki with Bloody Kiss.

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Maki             2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2           Balrog

"Actually," Maki says with sarcasm in her voice, "I just say that when I attempt to utilize that attack on my opponents." Unfortunately, Maki seems to have missed and all she's got is a rose in her hand, perhaps a gift from Balrog, but who knows? Grumbling in frustration, the ninja tosses the rose aside. "How romantic," She says with extra sarcasm in her voice, but unfortunately that sarcasm could easily be leading to karma for Maki. Because before she even has a chance to get down onto the ground, there's another case of metal going deep into her flesh. This brings out more blood from Maki and another cry of pain. Apparently, Balrog intends to utilize her as a way of pushing off again, and Maki is powerless against this.

By the time Maki's on the ground again, she's landed in a seated position with her legs splayed to the side, which makes her look more like a child or someone out of it. The loss of blood is what's making her do that. Nevertheless, Maki still pushes herself back onto her feet and glares at Balrog, albeit scratched and dirtied up as a result of this fierce fight. "Your words... don't faze me..." Maki says weakly as she stares at Balrog. "You can say what you like... I don't give a damn!"

Despite the injuries she's sustained, Maki still maintains her swiftness and still manages to keep an eye on Balrog, attempting to look for an opening hopefully. When she thinks she sees it (and it could be her vision is a little damaged from her injuries) she attempts to rush in and grab Balrog before delivering a swift over-the-shoulder throw. That is, if she can catch him...

COMBATSYS: Balrog blocks Maki's Quick Throw.

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Maki             2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2           Balrog

Maki's quick enough to catch Balrog, as she's proven several times over. Hitting the ground drives the air from his lungs, but the Spaniard manages to roll through the very worst of the impact, leaving him crouched a foot or two from Maki with his back to the woman.

"That's just it, though," he gasps out between deep, needful breaths. "Can't you feel it...? I already see it, and I certainly /hear/ it, mi querida:"

Lightning reflexes and long limbs combine as he abruptly straightens, pivots, and /lunges/, intent on swiping the claw across Maki's body in an upward arc that'll leave his chest wide open.

"/I/ faze you, darling," he hisses, dragging delicate fingers over his bruised pecs on his way towards holding /both/ arms out to the side so he's properly presented in all his (marred, natch) glory. "And there's no shame in it: you're neither the first nor last lovely thing to find herself helpless when faced with perfection. Embracing the inevitable will make it so much /easier/ for you."

COMBATSYS: Maki dodges Balrog's Medium Strike.

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Maki             2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2           Balrog

"I dunno WHAT you're talking about," Maki says as she grits her teeth through the pain of her newest injuries. "But honestly, it matters not to me." Maki just wants to finish this battle, and even if it's a losing battle, she won't give up without a fight. "Whether or not you faze me is irrelevant!" The only relevance about things Maki's really focused on is avoiding yet another attack from Balrog. And this time, Maki seems to be on her game once again. Despite the speed of the incoming swipe, Maki leaps backwards, meaning the claw hits nothing but air. But Maki's not done just yet. In the midst of the jump, she's mentally planning her next course of action.

What's her next course of action, you might ask? She's gathering her inner power into her body, attempting to power herself for a special surprise for Balrog. He's got his specialties, and Maki has hers too. Of course, what Balrog might not realize is that Maki's next action is launching when she hits the ground.

The moment her foot touches the pier, Maki suddenly launches at Balrog with her leg outstretched like she's driving to drive her sneaker-clad foot into him, but that's not all. The force of her forward launch intends to drive her across the pier, and hopefully Balrog with her too!

COMBATSYS: Maki successfully hits Balrog with Tesshin Hou.

[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////                    ]
Maki             1/-------/<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2           Balrog

Balrog does indeed miss the signs of Maki's incoming blow until it's too late to prevent himself from flying across the pier with her. Together, the two ninja manage to punch clean through an empty container before the Spaniard's back finally slams into another nearly a dozen feet beyond it, leaving a deep and slender dent for him to crumple out of once Maki's free of him. Near their starting point, a porcelain mask with a stylized 'V' and a fresh crack from chin to brow lies face down upon the pier.

There's /nothing/ to hide the apoplectic aesthete's bared, clenched teeth and wild eyes from the world when he props himself up on all fours and /glares/ at her; at least his head dips after a beat.

"Y-you dare...?" the trembling ninja whispers. "Y--"

A harsh cough briefly replaces indignation with a spatter of blood across the pier.

"Babbling, naive, self-righteous /irritant/-- you DARE call me IRRELEVANT?! YOU?!"

There were moments of anger before, but nothing like the howling rage that erupts when he pushes through dwindling air and starry vision to HURL himself at her, claw first. An avid climber, he possesses a fairly impressive degree of upper body strength despite his lithe build, and if he manages to drive the claw into her stomach as he intends, he'll put every bit of it on display, along with a significant degree of control despite-- everything-- by flinging his arm straight up to launch her a few feet above his head.

An avid murderer, he also possesses a rather more readily apparent talent for savagery; if Maki winds up airborne, he'll demonstrate /it/, too, through rapid, razor-edged strokes across her falling body.

COMBATSYS: Maki blocks Balrog's Red Impact.

[                       \\\\\\\  < >  /////////                     ]
Maki             1/----<<</<<<<<<<|>>>>---\-------\0           Balrog

Sometimes, you aren't able to avoid an incoming attack no matter what you do. In that case, the best thing to do is try to protect yourself against this attack. And this time, it looks like Maki's finally pissed off Balrog, although she doesn't smile about it. "And you're the one... who says I'm fazed by words?" She scoffs, albeit very weakly. "Please..." When the claw comes at Maki, she doesn't try to avoid it this time. Instead, with her tonfa raised to assist her, Maki uses her forearms to try to protect herself against what's coming at her. Of course, Balrog wants to throw her into the air, and Maki finds herself going into the air without any way to protect herself at first.

When she regains her focus, she tightens herself up and puts her hands down to try to actually protect herself this time around. The claw rakes against her forearms, but it doesn't hurt as bad as it could have. She grits her teeth as she lands, weaker than ever, but still retaining her fighting spirit, while her chi closes some more of her wounds. "Unngh..." She groans.

"Not... over... yet..." Maki's definitely feeling like she wants to drop to the pier and pass out, but she doesn't know what Balrog is capable of doing to an unconscious woman. "No... won't lose... so easily..." Maki runs towards Balrog with a weak gait to her step and attempts to raise her tonfa to hit him, before attempting to duck away to avoid a potential counterattack.

COMBATSYS: Maki has reached second wind!

[                      \\\\\\\\  < >  /////////                     ]
Maki             1/----===/=======|>>>>---\-------\0           Balrog

COMBATSYS: Balrog blocks Maki's Evasive Strike.

[                      \\\\\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Maki             1/---====/=======|>>>>---\-------\0           Balrog

And then, almost like a miracle of some kind, Maki's fighting spirit seems to really kick in. She gets back into a stronger fighting stance and seems to be unfazed by her wounds for the time being. She grips her tonfa tightly and looks at Balrog. "Never underestimate a woman like me! You never know when she'll come back for more!"

Some mysteries really are better left unsolved.

"By-- rrrgh-- all /means/--" Balrog growls through the pain of a tonfa meeting his already overworked guard, "-- /fight/ while you've still got the strength for it. Deny me while you /can/, sow; give me every. Last. /Drop/. Of what you've got; I will GLADLY take my fill and then some!"

He darts towards her, then his body goes briefly, sharply upright on his way towards exploding into a backflip powerful enough to bring his feet slamming towards Maki's chin with crushing force. The arc of it's meant to leave some distance between them after he lands... and collapses into an immediate crouch from which to clutch his badly abused chest with his free hand.

"We're going to have /such/ a lovely time, once you've been taught your proper place-- once that worthless, flapping, pink THING has been ripped from your skull!"

COMBATSYS: Maki parries Balrog's Scarlet Terror!

[                      \\\\\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Maki             1/---====/=======|====---\-------\0           Balrog

With a new fighting spirit within her body and mind, Maki's reflexes are on high alert as well. Her tonfa is ready for anything and everything that will come her way. Even if it's Balrog's claw coming at her. She effortlessly knocks the attack away with a little effort, but otherwise her attempt is successful. Balrog is deflected away and Maki is unscathed. "OK, enough of this nonsense!" She points to her mouth with her free hand. "You wanna call this a 'pink thing?' You're really strange."

Maki runs a hand through her hair and sighs. "This has gone on long enough. I think it's time we finished this once and for all!" With that, Maki summons all of her power into her body, then suddenly rushes at Balrog. If she's successful in landing her first strike, which is a simple tonfa strike, Maki will throw a couple more tonfa attacks, followed by a swift launched flying kick, then finally finish it off with a vertical jumping kick! It appears Maki's pulling out all the stops now!

COMBATSYS: Balrog narrowly escapes Maki's Bushin Gou Rai Ha EX!

[                       \\\\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Maki             0/-------/------=|====---\-------\0           Balrog

"Oh, yes. By all means."

Similar to their initial meeting, Balrog moves at speeds that Maki's training makes her particularly qualified to track when the sneaker-clad kunoichi comes for him. One moment, he's there, sneering, ready to be clubbed and kicked into submission. The next, he's crouching behind her with violence glinting in his eye, the two positions bridged by a twisting blur. It may not /quite/ be an ambush to an expert in Bushin-ryu, but the thrust to her spine - a brisk, brutal thing meant to be punctuated with a vicious twist - comes from an abrupt and awkward angle just the same.

"Let's finish getting to know one another so we can move on to what REALLY matters!"

COMBATSYS: Maki dodges Balrog's Crushing Strike.

[                       \\\\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Maki             0/-------/------=|====---\-------\0           Balrog

An ambush? Not quite.

Even though Balrog may think he has the upper-hand, the reality is that he's not quite as agile as he might think. The blonde-haired woman manages to avoid the thrust aimed at her spine, which is a good thing too as that could not only hurt like hell, but also could leave her paralyzed if she's even more unlucky. She spins around, trying to avoid Balrog, and is successful. But Maki's not about to rest on her laurels having avoided what could've been a career-ending injury. She's going to go on the offensive once again!

Maki dashes at Balrog and attempts to grab him. If successful, she'll strike him with her knee before smashing him with her tonfa. Quite a painful combination!

COMBATSYS: Balrog full-parries Maki's Kneestrike Hold!!

[                        \\\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Maki             0/-------/------=|======-\-------\0           Balrog

A quick palm strike meets one of Maki's grasping hands and the flat side of his claw meets her other forearm, pushing it aside.

Afterwards, he lingers just long enough to show her a razor-edged smile before darting towards her flank and angling to once more get behind her. His empty hand snaps out along the way, intent on hooking around her waist so that by the time he's in position, all he has to do is cinch his other arm around her and wrench backwards to SLAM the kunoichi's skull into the pier... provided that the burst of momentum granted by his decisive countermeasure is enough to outpace her, that is.

COMBATSYS: Maki parries Balrog's Rainbow Suplex EX!

[                        \\\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Maki             0/-------/------=|======-\-------\0           Balrog

Weakened as her body might be, her fighting spirit has kept her mind focused on the fight at hand. And even if Balrog thinks he's going to suplex Maki, the kunoichi isn't going to have it! She deflects Balrog away with her tonfa once again, although she's starting to feel some sweat on her face, as if her body is trying to remind her that she's running out of steam here. She knows she has to finish this fight somehow.

"Unngh... gonna finish this!" Maki grunts as she lifts her tonfa with a little more effort than usual, then steps towards Balrog and attempts to hit him with her tonfa extra hard.

COMBATSYS: Balrog interrupts Genkou EX from Maki with Sky High Claw.

[                          \\\\  < >  ////                          ]
Maki             0/-------/---====|=======\==-----\1           Balrog

Balrog knows that the fight needs to end too, which is why, upon being forced away from Maki, he /immediately/ leaps over her shoulder to mount that dented container. There aren't anymore taunts, threats, or come-ons because he has a wild-eyed glare and sneer-bared teeth to say whatever he needs to.

And a claw, glinting in the moonlight when he launches towards her like a torpedo. The tonfa slams /directly/ into his face, spraying the pier with more of his blood... and a beat afterwards, snarling like the wounded animal he is, he buries the claw as deeply as he can before planting his feet against her and pushing off, leaving him crumpled and heavily panting on the ground.

Maki's attack was countered. She's bleeding even more once again, and her fighting spirit is shifting to try to keep her from thinking about the pain in her body. Which leaves her to tough out the pain for the most part. But with sweat rolling down her forehead and her body starting to hunch over, it's plain to see that Balrog might truly have the upper hand once again. Of course, even in her wounded state, Maki is too determined (determined, not stubborn!) to give up now. She's come this far and she's going to finish it, win or lose.

Once Maki regains her stance and finds where Balrog is, she approaches him slowly, due to the wounds on her body, attempting to size him up. Then she drops onto the ground once again and begins to spin around once again. Although if one looks closely, they'll see her body is looking a little limp...

COMBATSYS: Balrog fails to interrupt Bushin Senpuu Kyaku from Maki with Backslash.

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

COMBATSYS: Balrog can no longer fight.

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

Already familiar with Maki's technique, Balrog arrogantly lunges /into/ it, looking to punish her with an extended claw and a spinning strike meant to stop her assault short by opening her leg up.

Instead, he just, well, gets kicked in the face and body repeatedly when it turns out that even a tired, flagging Maki is too quick to be taken lightly.

Half a dozen or more blows later, the Spaniard stumbles out of the Bushin-ryu storm, staggers on his feet for another beat or two longer, then collapses in a heap, finally beaten.

Once Maki finishes with her storm kick, she stumbles to a nearby crate and uses it to steady herself as she catches her breath. She is bloodied and bruised, but she can't believe that she defeated Balrog. What happens from here depends on how much energy Maki can regain before that boat leaves. Will she successfully get onboard and free the prisoners? Or will she leave having left a message for Shadaloo?

That depends on how well she can recover...

COMBATSYS: Maki has ended the fight here.

Log created on 19:46:00 10/11/2018 by Balrog, and last modified on 23:26:23 10/15/2018.