Description: The spiritualist Rose ventures into the frozen mountains and valleys of Japan, to see if her Soul Power can overcome Akuma's fists.
Say what you will about the Manji Valley, but it is certainly cold, especially now as December reaches up to grip at a world made slippery by everyone's car exhaust - yet Old Man Winter's claws sink deeper than many expect.
Among the flapping crimson banners set here and there is one that is more classically yellow. Somewhere there are no doubt camera crews watching, but the overall tone of the frozen river's battlespace is stark - empty - solitary.
Rose is the big standout point. She comes in all the primary colors. The yellow for her scarf; red for her head-wrap and the wool coat she is wearing over her classical dress, in deference to the fact that it is colder than the proverbial witch's teat, and blue for the decoration on the belt that she wears, slung over the coat like a garish privateer's prize.
The fighting space is loosely outlined by six braziers, put into place, no doubt, by the SNF crew. Looking round, Rose satisfies herself that the boundaries are fair, presses on the ice with her foot to confirm that it is not likely to break accidentally...
She unfastens the clasp of the Blue belt and lets it fall to the ice round her feet. The clasp and the clatter of metal echo off the canyon walls.
Rose steps out of that loop of the prize, and into the designated space, one hand on her hip. She sparkles, faintly, beneath the coat, drawing lightly on the wellspring of power within her to fend off the chill.
Some rely on the trappings of civilization to shield them against the elements. Clothing, personal heating devices, and the like. Others use special powers, like Rose, or are simply not human and aren't as susceptible to such trivialities.
A rare few have transcended humanity through extraordinary methods, or obsessive dedication to honing their fighting arts. The weather simply doesn't matter to such rare individuals.
The snow crunches beneath bare feet as one such being emerges from the shadows. Standing upon an icy precipice high above, arms folded, is a red-haired being who is human only in name, and even then has closer similarities to some mountain oni out of legend than the species he originated from. Akuma looks down from just outside the entrance to one of the various natural caves, but does not remain there for long.
He vaults into the air, somersaulting, and landing just outside the circle of braziers in a crouch, snow blasting outwards from the impact of his fist and feet with the ground. Rising, Akuma advances towards Rose. "I have training to return to," he growls, a flash of inhumanly sharp canines visible in the dim light as his lip curls. "I pray that you are worth the interruption."
COMBATSYS: Rose has started a fight here.
COMBATSYS: Akuma has joined the fight here.
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Rose 0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0 Akuma
Rose smiles a little, though it's a sardonic kind of smile. "Oh, do excuse me," she says, before taking a deep breath of the cold air and raising one hand to her forehead, fingers curling. Her scarf unfurls from round her neck, expanding to hug her shoulders and upper arms.
"May I ask what you are working on? Your form seems impeccable," Rose says -
- and she does not mention the sense of almost-but-marginally-not-quite inhumanity she can feel from the man; the sharpening of his fangs, the distortion (purification?) of his nature, to say nothing of his reputation -
- instead she says, "SOUL SPARK" as if it were a semicolon, lashing her scarf forwards and letting the power rise, streak forwards, and form a slightly wave-pathed sphere of prismatic pastels. She steps further into the ring, towards the center, as she does: moving away from the vector of her strike.
"Spacious out here, isn't it?" Rose calls out. "Don't slip!"
She's wearing heels, she shouldn't push it.
COMBATSYS: Akuma overcomes Soul Spark from Rose with Shakunetsu Hadouken.
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Rose 0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0 Akuma
Akuma has superhuman senses of his own, though the power Rose wields is different from his. The exact depths of her strength can not be measured in this manner alone. Instead, he will have to test her the old-fashioned way, with his fists. That's his preferred method anyway. A crimson aura rises from Akuma as Rose propels her attack. He quickly cups his hands together and then hurls a fiery mass of chi towards the incoming projectile, negating it in a conflagration that dangerously adds significant heat to the frozen ground. At least the Chi will vanish after it is expended, unlike true flame.
"I hone myself upon the only path worth pursuing: perfecting the power of the Satsui no Hado." He turns, squaring his shoulders and walking parallel to Rose to keep them in the same 'lane' to each other. Like a jungle cat circling another predator, looking for an opening.
COMBATSYS: Rose reflects Shakunetsu Hadouken from Akuma with Soul Reflect.
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Rose 0/-------/--=====|=------\-------\0 Akuma
That sheer burst of fiery energy smashes through the Soul Power. It dissipates, yielding like a plume of water abruptly smashed against. The light sprays out, sparkling over the ice. The heat of that flame arcs towards Rose, the ice glistening fresh-forged behind it.
Rose is, silently, extremely glad that she has distance and no visual distractions, because it is obvious to her that his level of intensity and force is not something she can take lightly. She yields a step back - raises her arm in guarding pose - and
The sparkle of light is trebled, the flame touching it, inverting, looping round in a torus and flying back towards the great man, the demon. It is still flame, but it is now much lighter. It has a synaesthetic note of white musk, a pleasing sort of scent.
"The only path worth pursuing," Rose muses.
"That's a far bolder assertion than most. It's far bolder than claiming to be the strongest in the world. 'Only' is a very sharp blade, you know."
COMBATSYS: Rose successfully hits Akuma with Reflected Shakunetsu Hadouken.
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Rose 0/-------/=======|==-----\-------\0 Akuma
The attack comes swirling back at Akuma, after he thought the two would either negate each other, or it would pass through the space Rose had evacuated right after she attacked initially. The even more powerful projectile returns, and Akuma trails shadowy afterimages as he boosts his reaction speed to raise his arms up defensively. When the attack first touches his forearms and he notes that his blocking attempt isn't going to succeed, he adjusts the angle in the split-second before it fully impacts him, and allowing him to bleed off a large portion of the energy.
A combined mass of fiery Chi and Psycho Power washes over Akuma, and scouring and pitting his iron-like flesh, but not doing half as much damage as it could have to someone with less experience, who had simply tried to tank it with their face.
Still, there is no way this fighter is going to take Rose lightly. If anything, he seems to be more enthusiastic about it, now that he is facing someone challenging. "The only path I will follow, then. How you pursue power is of no importance to me, as long as you can satisfy my fists."
He vaults into the air, somersaulting as he did when he descended earlier, trying to close the distance with Rose. He kicks downards at a steep angle as he falls, already seeing that a battle of projectiles might go poorly.
COMBATSYS: Akuma successfully hits Rose with Hyakki Shuu.
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Rose 1/------=/=======|==-----\-------\0 Akuma
"Does this frustrate you?" Rose says, thoughtfully. Dreamily almost. She looks up towards the snowy sky. "I would prefer, on a personal level, that you did not pursue a killing intent, but I suspect we're both too old to be convinced by a passionate speech--"
He is upon her. Twisting closer, Rose sweeps towards the side and she makes herself throw a guarded arm up. The strikes of a foot from such horridly muscled flesh versus a relatively slim arm guarded primarily by 'a coat' and 'a scarf' have the expected result, smashing Rose into the ice hard enough to make it shudder slightly. A cratered space appears, though the ice itself is not yet breached. Forced down, Rose is not prone to continue her previous remark, in fact she would rather not be prone at all.
She twists to the side and vaults herself upwards, asking something as she throws her arm round in a swift jab towards Akuma's core:
"Why do other people exist?"
COMBATSYS: Rose successfully hits Akuma with Medium Punch.
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Rose 1/-----==/=======|====---\-------\0 Akuma
Caught unexpectedly by the punch to his midsection, Akuma grunts as he is pushed back along the slick surface beneath his feet. He doesn't answer the question asked, apparently through philosophizing, and instead moves into an iron horse stance. One foot slams down into the thick sheets of ice, sending cracks spiderwebbing outwards from the impact point. Red Chi rises up from Akuma as a low growl builds in tone and intensity deep in his throat while he builds his power.
It seems he is preparing himself for something significant. His eyes, already glowing red against a background of black at the best of times, become increasingly piercing, like twin lanterns, seen from afar, or distant torches standing as markers at the entrance to Hell.
"So that I might one day find a rival worthy of my full strength." he finally answers, limned in blood-hued energies.
COMBATSYS: Akuma enters the iron horse stance, red chi rising from him...!!!
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Rose 1/-----==/=======|======-\-------\0 Akuma
Rose spins away. "You know," she says, "I am pleased you answered it so directly." She exhales as she reaches a space beyond the reach of Akuma's leg, a space where an approach would take a moment. Perhaps she works better there. Maybe she wants to talk more.
"Usually when I ask questions like that, it baffles people," Rose continues, even as he gathers himself. His eyes turn towards her own. Rose meets the devil's eyes and continues on:
"But you have a purpose. Already you are above the average. But this purpose... If you were alone, you would certainly be the strongest. Is it the relative position that you crave, to be the top of the heap?"
"Or do you look above the heap," Rose asks, as she puts her hands on her hips and the wind picks up, the snow flying into a space above her. It is a helpful medium because each snowflake is like a tiny crystalline magnifier, amplifying subtle currents of Soul Power which rise above her like the lines of force around a magnet.
Quite high, too; high enough to rise like a ghostly butterfly. Down, too, into the frozen river. Pretty but distracting! Probably.
COMBATSYS: Rose gathers her will.
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Rose 1/-======/=======|======-\-------\0 Akuma
As Rose prepares herself, Akuma watches her carefully. Each is preparing in their own way, and Akuma has to be ready for an attack to try to stop him, just as Rose has to consider whether she's going to risk that or fortify her defenses. It seems she chose the latter.
The Master of the Fist's growing Chi reaches its height, or at least the level he considers acceptable at this moment, and his feet leave the ground. One leg is extended as he goes spiralling through the air, dark Chi and black winds swirling around him in a veritable tornado of shadow and malice that sends shredding walls of ice spraying from where the winds touch the ground. However, the bulk of the energies travel upwards and outwards as Akuma rotates his way towards Rose, preparing to deliver what may be a quite brutal blow if it hits... Though Rose has already shown herself to have abilities of her own that could defend her or turn this in her favor.
COMBATSYS: Rose blocks Akuma's Empowered Tatsumaki Zankuu Kyaku.
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Rose 2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\-------\0 Akuma
Here he comes. Like the whirlwind itself! The gossamer aura that Rose threw into the high reaches of the snow flurries dissipates at the merest occasion of Akuma's spiralling approach. The ice shreds and rises up, sharp and jagged instead of soft and blanketing. Rose crosses her arms before her as the blow falls upon her and
And, well: The usual thing here would be to roll with it, to fall away. Rose actually leaps up and a little forwards, and so it is that Akuma would find his kick strikes her arm hard enough to make a snap and make her face blanch, as if perhaps she's fractured a bone.
But then she sticks.
The spiralling storm of Akuma's technique whips her around hard enough that her hair wrap is sucked off into the storm. Rose herself grits her teeth and grips onto Akuma's leg for a moment, and it is a critical point - the burning intention of his Satsui no Hado may be as teflon to her grasp. But her intention is to flip up -
For as he rotates, he's staying in one place. His spine, in a sense, is an axis around which the foot that brings death revolves. Rose aims to rise and place her hands on either side of his head and then touch his very soul, oh so terribly lightly.
This produces an arc of synaesthetic power that Rose has always found invigorating at the best of times.
What will it do, to touch the soul of this pure-hearted killer?
Rose may not have thought this through every step of the way.
COMBATSYS: Rose successfully hits Akuma with Soul Drain.
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Rose 0/-------/<<<<<<<|=======\==-----\1 Akuma
The dark chi and psychic power being emitted from the two fighters meet and clash, but in the ensuing tumult, it is Akuma who is sent flying, careening into the frozen river and digging a gouge along its surface, lined on either side with pulverized ice. He is slow to rise, either due to injury or because he is taking his time to evaluate the technique used.
Remaining a crouch for several seconds, he eventually stands and says, "You are well-trained. I deem you worthy enough to face one of my greater techniques." He turns away, raising his hand towards the sky. The darkness around him, previously dispersed by the combination of his attack being halted and Rose's psychic energies, rises once again in a furious aura. A bolt of lightning streaks down from the sky, called down from nothing. He grabs the lightning the instant it touches his palm, turns around to face his foe once again, and then slams it into the ground, producing a vortex of energy that then blasts a shockwave outwards, clearing ice fragments, snow, and the top several layers of the river, from the battleground, and sending the flames of the braziers whipping violently about, in danger of going out and casting the battle site into true darkness.
COMBATSYS: Rose deflects Kongou Kokuretsu Zan from Akuma with Soul Deflect.
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Rose 0/-------/----===|=======\-------\1 Akuma
Rose lands and breathes in deep of the cold air, her heels sparkling for a moment as she turns to face Akuma again. She is too old, as they say, to be a fool on the scale of keeping her back turned to an enemy such as this. It would be the simplest thing, Rose reasons, for him to decide that such a detail was a sign of disrespect, and though her faith in Soul Power is strong, her faith in 'successfully enduring being hoisted up by both legs and split like a turkey wishbone' is significantly lighter.
"Hm," Rose says, smiling in reply.
"I do the training, most of the time. You've got tremendous technique. I wish my art was nearly half so developed, but perhaps it is best that these techniques don't progress too far, for now. Though -"
Darkness rises. So does Akuma's hand. The lightning crashes downwards as he smashes downwards and Rose realizes in an instant that the rivertop is about to give way! And so she stamps her own foot down, letting out a 'haaaahh' of effort as she pours herself downwards, sparkling light coruscating down her spine and along her extended leg into the ice.
Which in a sense works out. The braziers flutter and go out, plunging the space they define into a single sort of near-night time darkness. You can still see, but it is definitely time to put your lights on.
And it makes something else much clearer.
There is a crack in the center of the ring now, a place where the ice rose up and, beneath the tidal surging rumble of Akuma's force, melted slightly; enough to be washed up by the river that has not yet iced over, forming space and structure where there was before a mere blank and slippery field.
And the ice itself is glittering with the reflective pastel light of Soul Power.
"It's getting dark," Rose calls into the wind. "Should we relight the braziers?" She says it with a smile in her voice, as if she already knows the answer.
The ability to see freely redirect attacks is not one that Akuma encounters frequently. On those grounds alone, this fight has been worth it for the insight it has provided in how to better hone his fighting strategies and techniques. But he is not quite done.
Even as his shockwave is turned back on him, buffeting him with the great forces he himself unleashed, the increasingly hazardous terrain proves to be a matter of simple footwork to avoid a mishap. He walks barefoot across the globe. Even if he were to fall into the water, it is unlikely it would do more than inconvenience him.
As for the darkness...
Akuma vanishes, teleporting. Then he comes careening down towards Rose from above, one hand raised, and bringing it down in a powerful chopping motion that threatens to cleave the river in half. He apparently really isn't concerned with the destruction of the terrain. "I can fight in darkness perfectly well." he snarls.
COMBATSYS: Rose dodges Akuma's Misogi EX.
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Rose 0/-------/----===|-------\-------\0 Akuma
The chop is coming towards Rose and she answers Akuma quite simply before she is immediately struck with enough force that she seems to simply BURST in a star-shaded aurora display of motes of Soul Power.
The strike carries through her, breaching the river again. The second cut is the easier one, even if the first cut is the deepest.
Now what did Rose say?
"So can I."
Rose backflips off of one of the pieces of shattered ice, which perhaps was shining in resonance with her scarf. It is, of course, garish and aerial, but perhaps she is playing to the cameras (are they able to still see any of this?) Or perhaps she has reasons of her own -
Which she proceeds to articulate. If the words seem to take a long time, too long to come between the moments between a leap and a strike - well, maybe that is magic too.
"The problem is what we will do when we fight in light. There is so much in this world that we do not understand. I do not know if there is such a thing as limitations anywhere, if even bounds such as gravitation and light could not be breached with the proper application of technique. Sometimes I worry that such thought is a distraction, a nuisance, a weakening element... the part of me that flinches away from that-which-must-be-done.
"Ahh, but you're wondering, probably, something along the lines of 'why is this woman prating at me about her self doubts'? I'll tell you why: Because for all of the vaunted power of this energy that shines within me, and some few others, no doubt some of whom you have met...
"It is almost nothing, compared to the force you command. Like water against stone. Except, of course, in the long view, which prevails? For in time, water will become air and fly into space, and stone will remain, merely transformed... it all depends on your point of view."
Did Rose say all that stuff?
Or did she say
"SOUL THROW" as she lunges in to sweep her arm round, pivoting in midair with another implausible sparkle. Her scarf swirls round her arm, guardian and transmission medium simultaneously as she aims to strike Akuma in the gut - a classical arm bar, enough that even if they were mere figures in their respective shapes and builds, Akuma would have to worry about it.
There is the bursting, synaesthetic grinding sparkle-smash-burst of Soul Power. This Akuma has had cause to encounter before. At least it doesn't feel too bad in large doses. Kind of numbing.
And then there is the third factor...
Where exactly HAS the water been exposed to the cold December sky?
COMBATSYS: Rose successfully hits Akuma with Aura Soul Throw ES.
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Rose 0/-------/-------|====---\-------\0 Akuma
Thrown by Rose's scarf, Akuma tears through the ice and water, his movement accelerated by the Soul Power she wields. For a time, the Master of the Fist seems to have finally sunk beneath the dark, frigif waters in the wake of that powerful blow. Perhaps too numbed, in a way that the cold seems incapable of, to even come back to the surface.
Eventually, however, when he has been under a bit too long, the water, and any ice in his path, explode upwards as Akuma rises from below, trying to land an attack on the opponent that has shown him new applications of techniques of deflection, and redirection of force. There are many martial arts that deal with such maneuvers, of course, but very few even come close to being as effective at the power Rose wields.
He attempts to seize Rose by her shoulder (a dangerous move given her ability to channel Soul Power seemingly from anywhere), swing her behind him, and then kick backwards. Success or no, he isn't going to be doing any more fighting this day. He has had a satisfying battle, and regardless of the outcome, he has gained insight he wouldn't have had otherwise. Even if soaking wet and bruised, this is enough for now.
"The cycle you speak of is not unknown to me. But the stone, the earth, the air, and the flame, all come from destruction. Eventually, they too will be destroyed." he responds in the aftermath of whatever comes next. "The very fighting arts I have devoted myself to, came from, embody, and cause destruction. The honing of the body requires it be destroyed and remade in order to become stronger. And to fuel that growth, beasts and plants are destroyed to serve as nourishment."
Akuma turns his fiery gaze on Rose. "In the end, all things will lead to nothing, because nothing can be created without destroying. The greatest power of all, is the power to destroy. Nothing else will remain when this universe is cold, dead, and still."
While Rose sees a cycle of growth, change, and transitioning, Akuma sees the end result, the inevitable loss during the process, as entropy accumulates. He doesn't see promise or renewal, just the nihilistic terminus to all things. It's a rather bleak view, but a coherent one. If nothing matters, then choosing what matters to him personally, overwhelming strength, and finding a worthy challenger, is just as good as any other goal.
COMBATSYS: Akuma can no longer fight.
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COMBATSYS: Akuma successfully hits Rose with Shuretsuzan.
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When Akuma rises, he rises directly beneath Rose.
Rose has stood there and remained in one place. It is not hard to see her. She is fairly brightly colored and it is clear she sparkles faintly now that she is fighting somewhere that is nearly full dark. She might, in some lights, be seen as acting disrespectfully - especially when she leaps back, a little too slow, and is struck in the leg by his rising.
Akuma grasps her shoulder. Well muscled though it is, it is the shoulder of a woman approaching middle age. Thrown backwards, she rolls; kicked, she topples. She skids out on the ice, letting out a gasp of mostly pain.
As it settles down, Rose pushes herself upright. "I see you've thought this through," she says, dusting slush off her stockings. As she neatens up her coat, she says, "That, I suppose, is what makes you -"
"Dangerous," Rose says, perhaps to empty air. She cannot feel his presence any more.
Rose closes her eyes and then meditates silently for a few seconds. Perhaps she is polite. Then she brings out her phone.
Six rings later, the producer picks up. "Turn on the lights!" A beat or two passes. "I won, yes. - He departed, if you must know." Her hand goes on her hip as her voice rises slightly. "Do you doubt me? He's already left! It wasn't easy, either! Come on, then: I hope you got your footage."
The snow and ice got in the way, but the aftermath is mutely examined. A great thing happened here, even if, like all things, the evidence will one day fade.
COMBATSYS: Rose has ended the fight here.
Log created on 18:14:12 12/10/2018 by Akuma, and last modified on 16:28:37 12/28/2018.