SLAMFEST 2020 - SLAMFEST 2020 R3 - Honoka Inoue/Kasumi vs ???

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Description: Honoka finds herself facing a difficult uphill battle against the legendary Armor King. But the Mugen Tenshin exile, Kasumi, is there to provide some interference, so maybe it will work out all right? Actually, it goes from wrong to most wrong as the two find themselves fighting for survival against an unexpected foe!

SLAMFEST is winding to its inevitable climax: the grand match of Victor Ortega versus a whole bunch of people. The last matches around that final event are just as exciting to the audience, with old favourites and new challengers taking the stage in equal measure.

And what does Honoka Inoue think about this? Well...

"...oh my *gosh*," Honoka says to herself, inaudible over the crowd as she looks up into the ring for her last match. This is her very first tournament; she had no idea what to expect, but she certainly did not expect to do this well and she is trying not to mentally panic, to stay focused. "Ohmygosh..."

It's sort of working. Kind of. A little bit.

As the noise of the crowd rises, someone nudges Honoka from behind to remind her to actually get in the ring - and once prodded, she actually does, vaulting up with a wave toward the absolutely nobody she knows in the crowd. She's in her now-familiar outfit: yoga pants with bright stars and web-like patterns, a belly-baring crop top, one elbow brace. It's done her well so far.

She still looks overawed, though. That's not going to change until SLAMFEST is over and done with.

There was something wrong in SLAMFEST.

Everything was going as it was. Wrestling plots, big fights, big matches. The chance for wrestlers to bring their full force to the big ring, and for regular fighters to dip their beak in the exotic and showy styles of Pro Wrestling. When the card calls for a fight between Honoka and Armor King, there was hushed whispers and worried. Kasumi, the Red Belt Champion, was the one who was going to be a matchmaker of the fight. She was supposed to keep it unbiased, and fair. But after the violent Sven vs Hotaru match that ended up with Sven tearing into the Iron Mystic, there was a sense of dread, that the masked wrestler was aiming to slam right into the ninja with righteous vengeance.

But it was even more concerning, when the wrestler arrived.

The towering heel was clad in his signature black armor, the spikes protruding from the ornate shoulder pauldrons. Every step came with the brutal steps of ironclad feet. And upon his head, was the speckled mask of the Jaguar King, darker than it's heroic counterpart, with a single glowing eye of red. It was the infamous Armor King. Striding down to the center ring, he rolls under the ropes, and stands tall. Arms in the air, he turns to the audience, roaring, snarling, two arms and two fingers in the air, buidling into the terror. And then, he turns towards the tiny girl. The target. He gives a strange... twist of his neck, his head. Something twisted about him, something unnatural about his movements, as his mouth seems to stare at him. And then, the growl comes out, as he seems to outright -loom- before Honoka, as he snarls out to her, for all the audience to hear.

["I'm going to be tearing you a new one!"]

COMBATSYS: Honoka Inoue enters the arena, to the roar of the crowd!

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Honoka Inoue     0/-------/------=|

COMBATSYS: Honoka Inoue has joined the fight here on the left meter side.

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Honoka Inoue     0/-------/------=|

COMBATSYS: Armor King enters the arena, to the roar of the crowd!

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Honoka Inoue     0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0       Armor King

Roughly equal distance between Honoka and Armor King, offset by few feet from ring center, a swirling column of sakura petals whirls out of seemingly no where. A half second later, the sound of displaced air rushing back into place, and a young woman appears in the center of the blossoms, the gust of her arrival scattering them up around her.

As she rises from a one-knee crouch to standing, the drifting debris of countless florets falling gently around her, Kasumi, once of the Mugen Tenshin takes in the two opponents pitched to face off against each other with soft looking, caramel brown eyes set beneath copper-colored bangs. Her long pony tail, tied off by a thin blue ribbon near the base of her head, rests against her shoulder briefly as the young woman's blue forearm-guard covered hand lifts to brush the length of hair behind her.

Her focus lands first on Honoka Inoue, a fighter she has no familiarity with nor recalls any mention of in the prior events she's stepped out of seclusion to participate in. The look of nervous excitement is easy to read in the pink-haired girl's expression. New to this then? The Mugen Tenshin exile smiles softly, expression bringing the corners of her lips up slightly, but also reflected with sincerity in her eyes. The two young women may not be far apart in age, but Kasumi had been trained for battle since her earliest memories, heir to generations worth of Ninjutsu legacy. One look at Honoka's bearing is enough to tell her that the same is simply not the case for the shortest combatant in the ring.

The shinobi in her well-recognized azure kunoichi dress and thigh high white stockings turns her attention next to Armor King, any traces of a smile fading away. To see his crimson glaring eye she has to lift her face and overcome the height difference between them. This was an opponent she had faced once before. Unlike the uncertainties surrounding Honoka's combat prowess, she know all too well what this one was capable of. Strong, fast, skilled, and ruthless in pursuit of victory. She could not think of a more inappropriate opponent to send a promising amateur against than the armored cat seeming to occupy more than his fair share of the ring simply by standing there.

Kasumi frowns slightly, glancing back and forth between the two opponents slated to duke it out. Trying to make this battle a fair match will absolutely be a test of her own combat skills, she muses to herself. But just not in the traditional sense. She pushes aside her concerns, her expression becoming one of focus. Without closing her eyes, she nods briefly to both.


When she fought in the original SLAMFEST, she had used an alias, hoping to keep those after her off her trail a little. But no more. Her KOF appearances had garnered too much attention and renown for there to be any point but to be honest in who she was.

"Of the Mugen Tenshin."

Well, mostly honest. There is a ghost of a grin at the corner of the nukenin's lips. If Ayane is watching, hearing the exiled ninja princess still claim the clan as family must vex her something fierce.

"Let's have a clean fight."

The last is said with her eyes flicked toward Armor King, an uneasy feeling going through her. While she knew him to be a ruthless fighter, it had been in pursuit of victory, not for any sadistic motivations. But the way he growled out toward Honoka just now? Something feels off...

COMBATSYS: [Yin Yang Twins - Dangerous] "WOO HOO HERE SHE COME / Watch out boys, she'll chew you up... / She's dangerous... / DANGEROUS!" It's a stone groove that echoes over the overheads when the kunoichi steps up. KASUMI is ready to SLAM!

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Honoka Inoue     0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0       Armor King
                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kasumi           0|-------|-------

Honoka was worried about her match, too, but her worry was a totally different sort. She worried that she wouldn't put up a good match, that she'd embarrass herself, or that things wouldn't go as planned.

She *hadn't* been worried about getting splattered all over the ring, because that wasn't what SLAMFEST was about. They were here to have some good sport and some real matches, sure, but she doesn't really have a vicious bone in her body, and her first match with Hotaru confirmed that.

And now she has Armor King - who she knows from watching far too much wrestling - threatening to do something that she wouldn't repeat anywhere her grandmother might hear her.

Honoka pales slightly, taking a half step back. The sudden arrival of someone else - a ninja, granted, but someone who has the same idea as Honoka does - does a bit to put some firmness in her spine.

"Mmm hmm! Let's have a good match, okay...?" She's still nervous. It shows in her voice, and in the stiffness of her polite bow toward the other people in the ring.

But it doesn't show in her actions beyond that, because as soon as Honoka rises from her bow, the starting bell rings - and she's off! As far as Honoka can see, she has no choice but to start strong, because she's pretty sure Armor King can throw her out of the ring. With one hand. She's light.

Which means she has to get some early hits in, or she's doomed! And that's why Honoka goes in with a sudden lunging knee toward Armor King's shin, dropping lower to turn the follow-up kick into a scything sweep kick to try to take him off his feet. Honoka may be an amateur - and she still looks like one - but she must have practiced those moves to get them just right.

COMBATSYS: Honoka Inoue successfully hits Armor King with Tropical Storm.

[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Honoka Inoue     0/-------/-----==|=------\-------\0       Armor King
                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kasumi           0|-------|-------

The arrival of Kasumi actually doesn't seem to make an effect on Armor King.

Oh, he looks when the voice comes. A passing glance, the wrestler leaning back to look at the ninja. A strange head tilt again. And Armor King just grunted. Just a grunt. The honorable ninja, who faced him in the tower, who satisified the intense requirements for championship. Just a grunt. Was it resentment? Dismissal? It was a casual level of disrespect, no matter how you cut it. And a lack of... theater for it. No growls, no chest bumping anger, only to shift over to Honoka. No, the maw of the wrestler was faced at Honoka. Still focused on her, only on her.

["Oh, you think you're tough!?"]

The distorted Jaguar Noises come out. He wasn't even pantomiming his arms, not even raising them up to milk the invisible cow, for the people in the nosebleed seats. He did, at least, point at Honoka as he slips down, grabbing his shin as it he hits hard. Knocked off his feet, the follow up kick nails him on the armor, giving a pained grunt. Steadily, he rises back up, almost stumbling over from the weight.

["You won't do any pain to me!"]

And he lurches forward, hands out, attempting to grab Honoka. Should he get a grip? Would he give one of his legendary Armor King attacks? The Armor King Driver? A shot of poison mist right into the fast? Or maybe even the terrifying Hades Drop? But no, no. He would just grab her, scoop her straight up with two hands, and chuck her -straight- at Kasumi's direction. No form. No finesse. Just raw power.

All with a low hiss, deep within the mask.

["Not unless you use some of those fancy energy moves!"]

COMBATSYS: Honoka Inoue blocks Armor King's Rebound Throw.

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Honoka Inoue     0/-------/---====|=------\-------\0       Armor King
                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kasumi           0|-------|-------

With one foot forward, hands raised and open, palms approximately toward each other with a slight offset, Kasumi is ready. The description of her role in this match suggests that she needs to focus largely on attacking, but the battlefield is no place to let down one's guard regardless the variables in play. Honoka's trepidation notwithstanding, the other girl looks ready to bring her best no matter how imposing the armored wrestler across from her is.

Once more, Kasumi's gaze flicks back to Armor King. His response to her arrival falls just past barely constituting acknowledgment and far shy of recognition for one who shared an intense battle for the Red Champion's belt in a brutal but fair match. But it was the focused seething for the other girl - an opponent the Azure Shinobi had every confidence he had never faced before - that bothered her the most. He focused on Honoka, threatened her, and not with the performance artistry of a veteran professional wrestler, but as someone bearing almost a grudge for her very existence.

Was it personal, some how?

As the copper-haired young ninja keeps watch on the two, the prodigy makes her move, charging Armor King with the kind of grit it would take to even slightly threaten a man like him. The execution of her takedown technique is fluid and successful in spite the huge gulf in their statures. But the wrestler's retaliation comes swiftly.

"Hmn," Kasumi sighs between breaths. What a strange match to be a part of. But she understands her role here - and for now, her own win condition requires that she help Honoka out a bit to try and even the odds.

As the pink-haired fighter is grabbed and forced in her direction, Kasumi extends her left hand, open palm, using it to guide along Honoka's shoulder, steadying the other girl while also slipping around her with the ease of the wind. "Together then," she murmurs to the smaller fighter as she surges toward Armor King directly, a blur of colors as she closes distance with the wrestler with fearless speed.

"For now."

Her attack starts low, Kasumi bending her knees and leaning forward, executing a back handed strike toward Armor King's knee. Potentially a distraction, or destabilization, the real attack comes immediately after as the ninja launches into a rising knee strike with her left leg, targeting the larger man's stomach. And finally, her right leg follows, a second knee strike, even higher than the first, threatening to take him under the chin of the Jaguar mask!

Does Honoka think she's tough?

Well, she's been tough enough to get this far, but she didn't mean to brag or boast in front of Armor King. She's not that kind of person! But she does want to have a good match, and this is supposed to be wrestling, right? She should be brave!

Honoka straightens to her full height (four foot eleven) after delivering her kicks. She's got to be brave, and being brave apparently means attacking Armor King right off the bat. When Armor King rises, she looks like she's going to follow up her strikes with another -

But then he grabs her. It's simple, it's direct, and it's effective; Honoka is tiny compared to him, he can scoop her up with little problem. Except she's fast, too, and hard to keep ahold of; entirely on reflex, she twists, slipping from his grasp.

The heave still takes her off-balance, stumbling back wildly until Kasumi steadies her. Honoka wasn't expecting that (isn't the chaos agent supposed to be against both of them?) but she realizes she must have decided Honoka is the easier of the two targets.

Honoka sets her jaw. She'll show them! Hopefully!

But though Armored King calls out for energy, Honoka... doesn't use it. It tends to come when it wants to, and it takes time to build; instead, with a sudden if squeaky kiai, she takes a half-step back forward, rotating her body and kicking behind her, with the heel of her rear foot.

...Actually, it looks a whole lot like one of Chun-Li's stances, except performed by someone with much shorter legs and with less power behind it. But she's got the movement down, at least, which is more than most people of her skill level could manage!

COMBATSYS: Armor King blocks Kasumi's Reppu Renkyaku.

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Honoka Inoue     0/-------/---====|==-----\-------\0       Armor King
                 [ ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kasumi           0|-------|-------

COMBATSYS: Armor King endures Honoka Inoue's Short Kick.

[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Honoka Inoue     0/-------/--=====|====---\-------\0       Armor King
                 [ ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kasumi           0|-------|-------

The perception of wrongness was not only inside the ring.

Armor King was world famous as one of the most brutal heels in all of wrestling. Due in part to his willingness and eagerness to take part in venues outside of wrestling; there were fans in the stands right now who only knew of wrestling because of an Armor King match in the world of competitive fighting, and saw the raw power. Right now, the legend of wrestler was in a ring with the KOF champion and rival, and a brand new face in the crowd. They were expecting lightning.

But there wasn't even a spark.

Even when Kasumi comes in at the flanks after Armor King's assault, the reaction seemed stilted, uneven. When the blow comes low to the knee, it almost startles him. He should be turning into the ninja, and giving a defiant snarl as he deflects the follow up strikes it with his gauntlet. Or maybe one of his legendary suplexes. Instead, the reaction is surprisingly utilitarian. He just... guarded against it, with both hands. Letting most of the impact of the first knee to come into his chest... his legitimately, armored chest. Not simply a costume, it seems. And yet, his body language finally comes out when Kasumi comes in so swiftly to the chin. Almost looking -afraid- of Kasumi's attack, in its speed and precision. Or maybe, where it was aiming. Both hands doing whatever it can to catch the powerful blow, to prevent a hit to the head. A hiss comes out from underneath the mask, followed by that distorted growl.

["No- please, let her use it!"]

Please, from the stoic, unflappable Armor King.

There was a grumble rising from the audience, as the cheers go cold. THere was a heat building now, oh yes. But it was the kind that every professional wrestler in the world loathed. Where it wasn't against the character, but against the man under the mask. Armor King leans in hard against the assault from Honoka. Pained grunts erupt, as the kick connects hard with the wrestler's back. Less armored, it seemed, than the front. But not enough to stop his movement. Staggering and stumbling at Honoka, another distorted growl comes out from beneath the mask.

["You need to unleash that energy, or else I will...!"]

And he attacks.

A driving kick to the head.

Not even the renowned Satellite Drop Kick, where he does the incredible flying dropkick. Not even the Dark Inferno, where he takes to the air for a spinning, bone crushing roundhouse. Just a kick to the head. Hard hitting, of course, but sloppy. Unprofessional. Unbecoming. And above all? Unsatisfying. The Armor King gives the customary jaguar snarls and growls, all through a distorted filter.

Enough to give rise a round of boos from the audience.

Kasumi's knee is caught by Armor King's hands. A defense she is hardly surprised by, even if it is rather mundane for someone of the wrestler's caliber of showmanship. She continues upward out of her lunge, pulling her right leg up, aiming to deliver a truly stunning blow to her opponent's chin with her other knee.

And that was the moment she noticed it for certain - her instincts told her something was off about the man before, but the briefly panicked defense that keeps her from slamming into him with strength one might anticipate from the much smaller combatant was unlike anything she had anticipated from him.

The Shinobi in Blue lands out of her attack, both feet touching down lightly. She is close to Armor King now. Close enough to be in range were he to reach for her. Close enough that she should be turning to either deftly defend herself or swiftly attack him before he had the chance to recover. That is what the audience would likely be expecting from the heated exchange they hoped to see.

But instead as she lands, she pauses, facing the opposite direction as Armor King, near his right side, his plea repeating in her mind. Pleading? From the Jaguar Masked warrior in armor, spikes, and towering over the two young women in the ring with him?

For a moment, Kasumi ignores the fight, eyes glancing over the arena quickly, old instincts kicking in fast, telling her that a threat lies elsewhere, that she is being deceived by what is presented a little too plainly before her. The moment she takes gives her time to realize the shifting temperament of the seated audience. The mood was changing, turning fast, an undercurrent of dissatisfaction bleeding through the crowd like a disease.

The man behind her - the one weathering Honoka's attack with a grunt - was committing career suicide before her eyes. With such a lackluster performance, he was doing more than disappointing his fans or those who loved to hate his in ring persona, he was shattering the very illusion of Armor King. With his mundane kick toward Honoka's head, he was figuratively letting the audience see through the mask, through the kayfabe, and the damage would be lasting indeed.

Turning around, her own movements slowed down significantly from the blistering speed she had exhibited at the start of the bout, Kasumi briefly studies Honoka. There was something about this girl that the man was driven to bring out. Her energy? What could be worth this? What threat loomed over him that he would break so?

Gritting her teeth, the kunoichi closes in on Armor King from behind. Both hands seek his powerful arm, far too late to interfere with his attack on Honoka. If she gets her grip, she would pull back hard, attempting to jostle his balance, before launching herself up into a flip over his arm, maintaining her grip, and attempting to use her own momentum to shoulder flip the man over her shoulder as she landed, to drop him to the mat on his back.

It was only in close that she spoke, her own voice reserved for just him.

"Are you being threatened?"

COMBATSYS: Honoka Inoue fails to counter Big Boot from Armor King with Heishin-Geki.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Honoka Inoue     1/-======/=======|=====--\-------\0       Armor King
                 [ ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kasumi           0|-------|-------

Armor King wants something from her, and he's not getting it - at least not yet. Honoka isn't sure *why* he is acting the way he is; it doesn't seem right. She's seen dozens of matches with Armor King, both wrestling and mixed combat, and she can't think of a single time he's been demanding, just like this.

He must have a plan. But Honoka has no idea what it is!

So Honoka focuses, for a moment, on reacting. Her body is on automatic as the boot comes on. She sees *that* so simply; he has to put his weight just so, drive his foot forward, get a good solid impact - just like that, in fact -

Honoka had moved, instinctively, to duck low, to get under the foot and lift his leg up, possibly going so far as to flip Armor King over her head (she's not sure she can do it to someone that large even by turning his momentum against him). Except it didn't quite come out that way, and Armor King's costumed heel connects solidly with Honoka's shoulder just before Kasumi gets to him to ask her question.

She finds herself flung along the entire length of the ring - literally. She doesn't touch down for about ten feet, where her back slams into the mat and she skids a bit further, tumbling right out of the ring...

Not quite. She caught herself with one leg, which is tangled with the lowest rope. Honoka flops around, mostly dazed but also trying to free herself from the ropes and end up back *inside* the ring. Everything hurts, but she can feel it - the driving energy starting to build inside of her.

This fight isn't over yet. It can't be.

COMBATSYS: Kasumi successfully hits Armor King with Tie-up Lock.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////           ]
Honoka Inoue     1/-======/=======|=======\-------\0       Armor King
                 [ ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kasumi           0|-------|------=

As the boot drives in, there is a pathetic apology.

["You left me no choice! I am sorry!"]

The crowd was turning, as the boos continue. Armor King's prestige was wasting away by the second. Kasumi herself could see it, the audience was all in at the cusp of a riot. Almost all. Except in the front rows, some faces broken the sea of angst. Calm faces, almost amused. Armor King himself seems flatfooted, caught from behind. The boos ceaes a bit, cheers coming out for Kasumi and Honoka. The wrestler's resistance collapses after a brief struggle, the defense yielding into the mat. He growls under the pin, under the question.

["Stay out of this! Please! He must- must see her power! I'm free, when he sees her power-"]

Suddenly, there is a snarl of pain.

Armor King jolts, as if something was driving hot nails in him. Something shakes the mask once. He convulses, writhing. And the masked wrestler struggles up, trying to rise with his grips on Kasumi, trying to reverse the hold. Should he manage it, the attention will shift from Honoka for a moment, straight into the Shinobi. Should the towering wrestler manage to get the hold reversed, he would scoop up the smaller Ninja and lift her high up overhead, staggering broad legged for a moment. Before deftly -slamming- himself and her straight into the mat. Exposed to a counter attack from Honoka.

All while the pained growls continue, the man's body jerking in agony.

COMBATSYS: Kasumi blocks Armor King's Brutal Powerbomb.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////           ]
Honoka Inoue     1/-======/=======|======-\-------\0       Armor King
                 [   ||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kasumi           0|-------|----===

In-between the moment she poses her question and the panicked wrestler answers, Kasumi lifts her face to scan across the ring. She had caught a glimpse of the impact Honoka weathered from Armor King's crushingly strong if dead basic kick... it was possible that this entire scenario had come to an end, the other girl ejected from the Ring of Destruction in a single, brutal hit.

Her eyes spy Honoka's last second save, however, hooking her leg into the rope and preventing herself from falling off the lip of the ring. In the moment, Kasumi wasn't sure whether to be relieved or upset that the bizarre battle wasn't at an end.

Precious little time is afforded to think about it, however, as the man she had shoulder-thrown onto his back answers her. The Azure Ninja's attention is back on the masked wrestler then as he pleads once more that she let him fulfill the objective he feels compelled - no, threatened into completing. Still holding his arm in her grip, Kasumi looks up again across the ring toward Honoka. Her power? What is it about the young woman that there would be such interest? Enough that someone would apply the kind of leverage it would take to bend Armor King to their demands?

She sucks in a breath at the sudden spasm that racks the wrestler's body, her fingers losing their grip as the copper-haired young woman starts to stand up straight. She needs a moment to think this through, a chance to process- He reaches for her then, securing a sure grip on her forearms before she can fully disengage. It seemed for certain that he was going to land a stunning slam on the kunoichi, pulling her easily into his hold, folding her up and hefting her with ease.

But she proves trickier to keep a hold on than most might, twisting in his grip as he starts to drop toward the mat, prying herself free to push from his shoulder, landing on her side adjacent to Armor King with only a fraction of the intended impact against the mat. A quick scramble to the side, pushing with her feet and launching herself with a palm strike against the surface of the ring, brings Kasumi back to her feet a split second later, eyes fixed on Armor King as she hesitates.

What could be the harm in letting him comply with whatever demands had been placed on him? She takes a moment to glance over the audience, acting like she was scanning the crowd as a whole when in truth, her interest were those individuals in the front row, attempting to take in their dissonant demeanor and appearance a second time without being obvious about it. It wasn't her job, exactly, to protect Honoka from harm's way all together, but Kasumi couldn't help but worry that the man might go too far without her interference... and besides, preventing him from accomplishing his task would potentially spite whoever put him up to it.

No, she can't ease off yet.
"Let his anger be directed at me then," she murmurs.

The Mugen Tenshin exile vaults into a forward flip, right leg kicking out as she aims to drop onto Armor King with a splits kick- only she would vanish before quite hitting the ground. A rush of wind, a blur of motion, and she would be attacking him an instant later from another side, right hand slamming out in a single handled palm strike with all her momentum behind it!

It takes Honoka less time than she expected to free herself from the ropes, but it's harder than she might like to recover from the blow to her head. She's dizzy as she rises, more pulling herself up by the ropes than standing under her own power.

But once she is up, she starts to move again. Honoka is unsteady for the first step or two, but by the time she's made up half the distance to the still-fighting pair, she's steady again - or as steady as she ever is, anyway, given she tends to weave back and forth all the time when she's fighting.

Always Be Moving. It wins matches.

Perhaps unfortunately, Honoka can't hear any of the conversation between Armor King and Kasumi. She doesn't know what they're planning; she can barely tell that they *are* planning, and so Kasumi's attempt to keep her out of it - to keep Honoka from doing exactly what Armor King is looking for - is unnoticed.

Honoka shifts her forward lunge into a lunging double punch, her body low as she strikes out with both fists at once, following it up by a rising one-handed strike to ensure Armor King is off-balance; she may not know what Kasumi is doing, but she can take advantage of the more experienced fighter's skill.

But her other fist - her left fist - is drawing backwards. Honoka can't hold it back anymore; the power burning within her wants to be released. It demands it. And so Honoka's fist ripples with deep red energy, swirling around her knuckles.


With a shout, Honoka drives her fist forward, impacting (hopefully) with a billowing cloud of sparks and a pulse of deep, deep red, almost blood-red in its depths. If she's hit solidly enough, Armor King finds *himself* propelled back nearly as far as Honoka went, despite the disparity in size not being in her favour.

Honoka returns to a more neutral guard, the energy starting to fade away from her fist as she does. She shakes it, and the rest disperses like a cloud of smoke as she turns her gaze, momentarily, toward Kasumi; she looks almost nervous. Maybe she's expecting to be the ninja's new target - well, it would make sense, given the chaos match!

COMBATSYS: Armor King blocks Kasumi's Tenrai Kyaku Chifu.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////            ]
Honoka Inoue     0/-------/-----==|=======\-------\0       Armor King
                 [    |||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kasumi           0|-------|----===

COMBATSYS: Honoka Inoue successfully hits Armor King with Annihilation Stance.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Honoka Inoue     0/-------/-----==|=======\==-----\1       Armor King
                 [    |||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kasumi           0|-------|----===

What were they.

The watchers were never seen before; were they just a set of new faces? And yet, every glimpse their way reveled their serenity. Their knowing. Their waiting. What was worse, is every time Kasumi gave her glimpse, they were looking at her more. Tilting their heads. Acting as if they -know-. But they were so young, not any older than her? It was almost as distracting as what was taking place inside the ring.

While Armor King continues to snarls in pain.

The flash of motion comes, and Kasumi descends on him. In his jerking, wild anger, he seemed to be in agony before even she makes her move. Armor King was in pain. A wild swing to block nothing but air. The kick never comes. A feint? But in the flailing correction, he catches her brutally on the reappear, using his armor and raw strength to correct. It nearly knocks him off his feet, as a crack comes out from his elbow. He was shuddering, shivering. Always be moving. It does win matches. And then, the air of the arena changes.

When Honoka brings her energy forward.

The wrestler's back is exposed. With the unstoppable pressure and momentum of Kasumi, directed straight into him, the little girl had her opening. What she did with it, gets an explosion of cheers from the crowds as Armor King is -fired- straight out of his close quarters scramble with the ninja. He is blasted straight into the corner post, smashing into it shoulder first. The entire structure nearly gives way from the sheer power of the shot. And the wrestler is stunned, as he rises up. What was he going to do next? Launch off for the finisher? Now, he looks at the energy from Honoka... and throws his arms up, his hands up in agony.

["Done! Done! I yield!  I yield- You have your demonstration, she did it! Let me go!"]

Armor King hands rip from before him to his head, as grabs his mask, struggling with it. Was he... was he about to unmask himself, to end his career for good?


The final cry of pain comes, as the Armor King begins to claw at his mask in agony, twisting at it struggling at it. A murmur builds in the audience, confusion. Fear? Was something wrong? Armor King stumbles, seemingly blind. Where was the ref? ... Where was the ref? When was there a ref here? The wrestler turns towards Kasumi, the mask twisted in that endless visage of ferocity. And then, a scream pierces the arena.

As a snake erupts from the crimson eye of the jaguar mask.

The full fanged, grey viper explodes from the mask, as blood oozes out from around the socket. Armor King's cries of pain stop. His jerking, writhing jolts stop, as his body looks all too loose. And then, with a thump, he falls forward. The viper hisses, and begins to turn, slithering towards the other socket of the Jaguar mask. For a brief moment, those serene folks at the front row rise. One of them seems to be talking into a mouthpiece.

And the lights go out.

The arena goes dark. The audience breaks into a rumbling shouting, as the lights of hundreds of cell phones turn on. There is a chill now, as the hiss of ventilators begin to blow. In the dim lights of the audience, the mist could be seen, spreading across the whole arena. Within the clouds, there is movement now, scratching. The chill spreads, a cloying presence.

"... By the Power of Kali..."

The voice comes out like a death rattle. There is a flash out of the arena, as pyrotechnics burst up. In the brief flash of light, it was clear to everyone that Armor King was gone. Well, at least the parts that matter. Only the mask, and his armored plate remained. It almost seemed impossible that he just disappeared, but... was that him slipping under the ropes, under the mat? It was so hard to focus on little things like that.

When dozens of vipers were slithering up into the arena, winding straight to the armor.

The lights fade, but there were grey vipers in the ring. Moving, slithering, all to the same point. In a moment, it's gone, but the sound continues. And from where Armor King once was, a shadow rises. The forms and shapes of snakes, coiling and piling into the shape of a man. And once again, in the mist, the voice comes out again. "You have been found worthy, of the gift of the Manasa" Comes the death rattle, the figure lifting up the split remains of the Jaguar Mask. It places it on his head. "I take on the mantle now. His mortal form has been found wanting. Judgement, has been made. And now, I have come to finish this. Armor King is no more. There is only..." And in a burst, the lights turn on, cast deep in filters of red. The sickly form of the wrestler stands tall now, clad in tattered rags, looming down over both girls as his clawed fingers curl. A hood mingles with the broken mask of the Jaguar, as only the rotten, crooked teeth sneer out from the scaly green and yellowed visage of -something- just concealed by it. And it croaks out, as takes a stilted, stiff step forward.

"...The Wraith...

COMBATSYS: Armor King has left the fight here.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Honoka Inoue     0/-------/-----==|
                 [    |||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kasumi           0|-------|----===

COMBATSYS: [Boondox - They Pray With Snakes] The mist clears, and before you stands the corpse-like form of the greatest Wrestler that has come rise from the depths of India. By The Will Of Kali! The Wraith is ready to SLAM!

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Honoka Inoue     0/-------/-----==|-------\-------\0       The Wraith
                 [    |||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kasumi           0|-------|----===

Even guarded against, Kasumi's dash in strike packs no small amount of threat. Seeing the Shinobi in Blue in action for any length of time, one would easily observe the way she was able to leverage surges of momentum to augment her considerable striking power. A flip into a dropping split kick becomes an attack from a side vector, her palm smashing against the guarding elbow of the large wrestler.

She wasn't sure who was threatening him. Who the mysterious spectators were. Or why anyone would be obsessed with Honoka's energy strikes. But none of that mattered - it was in the ninja's nature to disrupt the powerful, the shadowy conspirators, the megacorps driven by greed and ambition... whatever their drive might be, she would be a disruptive element anytime she found the chance.

The young woman is pulling her hand back when Honoka moves in for the strike that triggers everything that follows. Kasumi senses the build up, the wellspring of potential surging within the pink-haired fighter. But it isn't the hidden magnitude that causes her to hesitate mid-step. It isn't the way Armor King is suddenly sent flying, tumbling along the mat toward the edge of the ring amid a loud crashing explosion of energy...

Attentive eyes take in the sight of the sanguine bloom that rocked the mighty wrestler from behind as Kasumi stands up straight, right arm raised in front of her chest, her left arm resting against her side. When Honoka looks toward Kasumi, anticipating that the swift ninja is coming for her next, she'll find the copper-haired fighter just staring at her, mouth slightly open, eyes wide in quiet confusion.

"You..." she starts, eyes blinking as she seems to snap out of whatever distraction had occupied her thoughts upon seeing Honoka's attack in action. "Who /are/ you?" It can't be - this girl doing her best to fight against the likes of Armor King couldn't possibly have any connection to /that man/. Kasumi's blood runs chill as she shakes her head. What is going on in this match? A mis-matched battle, a man driven to panicked desperation, and a girl blasting that distinctive dark crimson chi from her fist.

Suddenly wary, Kasumi whirls around to check on Armor King. The once proud wrestler was grabbing frantically at his mask, declaring that he yielded, that he would take no more of this fight, that his part was finished. Kasumi backs up as the armored man begins to stagger around. She's about to scan her surroundings for where the true threat is coming from when suddenly a viper explodes out of the eye of the mask to land in the ring.

Moving, Kasumi places herself between the serpent and Honoka, any indications of her previous confusion or hesitation now completely replaced by a young warrior returning to combat readiness. "Stay behind me!" she encourages the other young woman as she watches the reptile. Eyes flick toward the sidelines, the movement of the spectators caught by her heightened, alert senses, but in that instant the arena is lost to darkness.

All throughout the seating, thousands of small lights of various colors begin to illuminate the Ring of Destruction just enough for the Mugen Tenshin exile to see by. Shadows moved all around the two young women in the ring and Kasumi held her breath, body tense, ready to respond to defend herself and Honoka if necessary. By the time she realizes that the slithering movement was all surging toward the discarded mask and armor of Armor King the arena lights had come back up just enough to see by.

There was a man there now. Kasumi's right hand reaches behind her back to where her sword would normally be sheathed. But she had left it, a bladed weapon having no place in the hallowed halls of Wrestling.

"Get out while you can," Kasumi urges Honoka. This is no longer a sporting venue but something else entirely. The mysterious spectators were gone, Armor King was gone, now there was only the Wraith, her, and Honoka. Any thoughts that this could be simply a part of the show never crossed her mind. "I'll keep it distracted." she assures the pink-haired girl.

And then she's surging forward, a blur of blue and white as she closes in on The Wraith. Leaping forward, the agile fighter attempts to flip into a handstand on the tall opponent's shoulders before pushing off him to fly down behind him and slam her feet into his lower back, targeting his spine. Any hints of her playful participation in SLAMFEST's more showy style of combat have been replaced with deadly effectiveness.

After slowly rising from her powerful blow, Honoka looks ... slightly confused, honestly. Not at what she did but at Armor King's reactions. She expected him to revert to his usual attitude, to go all-in once he got what he wanted.

But he's not. He's screaming. If this is part of the show, Honoka isn't sure she likes it. Maybe this wasn't a good idea after all...

Honoka lets out a startled shriek as the snake erupts and the lights go out. She can't help herself. When the lights return, dim as they are, she's pressed up against the far rope - hopping up on the rope lower when the vipers come so they don't touch her, with another yelp.

Everything about this is bad. If this is a show, she *definitely* doesn't like it. And if it's not a show, then...

Kasumi tells her to run. Honoka almost does. This is not what she signed up for, really. But something about that seems wrong. Something tells her that she shouldn't abandon the match, or Kasumi, however you want to look at it.

Honoka hesitates. Her fighting instincts might be unexpectedly good. But in a situation like this, she doesn't know what to do; unlike Kasumi, she has no killer instinct, no experience with truly dangerous situations, and she looks like the college-age student she is. As if on automatic, she climbs up onto one of the corner posts, half-crouching there - she doesn't know whether she's going to jump in or out but she's definitely positioned to do one of those.

COMBATSYS: Honoka Inoue focuses on her next action.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Honoka Inoue     0/-------/-----==|-------\-------\0       The Wraith
                 [    |||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kasumi           0|-------|-----==

COMBATSYS: The Wraith blocks Kasumi's Audacious Slam.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Honoka Inoue     0/-------/-----==|-------\-------\0       The Wraith
                 [    |||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kasumi           0|-------|----===

The Wraith's slit eyes almost glow, as a forked tongue dances over those horrific fangs.

Every step was unnatural, jerking as if the possessing spirit was jostling it to life. The tattered remains of the Armor King mask was shivering, slipping from side to side with every step. It's head was lolling side to side, as it approached Honoka. Only to stop, as the ninja, the Matchmaker, the so called Chaos Agent was choosing sides. It rolls its claws, it's lips peeling back in a mockery of a grin. He gives one last piercing, hungry gaze at the college girl with the dark powers.

Before turning his attention to the blur already moving towards him.

"You've seen her power... yessssss.... you understand it, don't you!" He watches her as she makes for the handplant. Was he simply going to endure it? Already, his hands were moving... arms moving. He was moving, but holding still. The intuition of motion was there, as Kasumi successfully targets the spine... as it is. Up close, the ninja can feel how utterly alien the physiology is. The bones are too thin, too... many. They were twisting, moving constantly. Writhing? His back is still to Kasumi as she comes swinging down off his shoulders, to deliver the full kick to his back.

And he's facing her.

Head twisted around, the features distort, The Wraith's horrible visage was transfixed on her, the flesh stretches and pulls. He looks utterly in -agony- in the twist. Because as his back keeps at his feet. But his limbs, his arms, were twisted -behind- him, catching her by her ankles. It's not enough to stop the full force. But it's enough to mitigate it. "Yessss... yessss.... distract me! She will run, and flee, and pretend away this awful nightmare... or will her poor heart ache, when she ssssseessssss your body contorted in agony!" Popping sound is heard, as the horrific wrestler's elbows and knees dislocate and reconnect, the creature tumbling backwards as he struggles his grip to lock on to Kasumi's ankles. Should he succeed? He would use the ninja's impact on the mat as a fulcrum point to flip back into a forward facing position, and bring all four limbs into a hideous pin on her back, with the young girl face down as his massive, snaky arms crush her downwards. His monstrous visage twisted into a hungry sneer over her. He wouldn't even give his attention back to Honoka now. The horrific cruelty was now all focused on Honoka's so-called savior. Her sacrifice to the monster. It's like facing the countless monsters, demons, and worse; Ryu Hayabusa would not be intimidated by this. No one from the Mugen Tenshin would be out of their element in dispatching this abomination in the center ring. It was just like that. With only one distinction, one difference.

The roar of the crowd in delight, at the horrible monster attacking these poor girls.

COMBATSYS: The Wraith successfully hits Kasumi with Tie-up Lock.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Honoka Inoue     0/-------/-----==|-------\-------\0       The Wraith
                 [       ||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kasumi           0|-------|---====

The Azure Ninja had no time to check if Honoka had heeded her call to retreat from the ring. Whatever was going on, the talented but still fresh-eyed fighter had no business being caught up in this, Kasumi thought to herself. Something was going horribly wrong here and there was something about the pink-haired young woman's energy that clearly captivated whoever was behind this orchestrated horror show every bit as much as she, herself, felt alarmed by it.

But for now, she had engaged The Wraith head on, attempting to overcome him with speed and aggression, to strike hard, to leave a potentially stunning blow against his lower back... It was when she made contact that she realized her assumptions about her opponent's physiology were not accurate. That her acute knowledge of the critically vulnerable points in human anatomy would have no place against this inhuman creature.

Her blue shin-guard clad feet slam toward what should have been his back, but somewhere between the moment she initiated her attack and when she vaulted down behind him, his arms had managed to do the impossible - to contort and intercept her strike just as easily as if she had attacked him straight on. Had she delivered her attack as intended, she would have easily kicked off, giving herself enough clearance to flip to her feet with a graceful, safe landing.

Instead, not only is the kunoichi's strike dampened by his defense, she finds herself caught by the ankles, leaving her falling backward, hitting the mat with the back of her neck while her legs remain held by the serpentine assailant's grip. Not pausing for an instant, she immediately attempts to kick her way free, bending one knee and then slamming out with her foot, before trying the same thing with her other leg. Teeth grit, she struggles briefly, bearing uncomfortably close witness to the impossible, bone-cracking reconfiguration undergone by The Wraith as he maintains his hold on her legs.

When suddenly she finds herself flipped up and over, slammed hard, face down against the mat on the other side. A short instant later and the weight of the apparition crushes down on her back, pinning the Mugen Tenshin exile in place.

All of her combat instincts told her how precarious her position was - vulnerable to dangerous strikes while positioned in such a way as to make it difficult to retaliate or even fight her way free. Sucking in her breath, Kasumi struggles to get her knees beneath her, to force herself up just a little against the weight of the otherwordly threat. At the same time, she tries to wrap one arm around the arm of The Wraith and use it as leverage to twist herself onto her side, giving her a chance to wrap her other arm around as well.

"Leave that girl alone," she hisses as she writhes beneath the hold.

For all his strength, she felt that strange give to the far-too-many bones just beneath the surface. Using arm and torso strength, she attempts to wrench one of the arms holding her back, to create an opening for her to escape and scramble to her feet. Maybe she can apply enough force to crack those fragile seeming bones, maybe it will be enough to break free!

It would be the smart safe thing for Honoka to just leave. She has a high point on the corner of the ring; she could jump out and it is not likely that the Wraith would be able to catch up to her. The monstrous being is a terror, but the one thing Honoka can not imagine him doing is running.

And he's fighting Kasumi, of course. He slams down on her, and Honoka lets out another startled squeak in sympathy with the impact. And honestly that's when she makes up her mind. She finds herself climbing up - *all* the way up, balancing on the highest rope. It sways and flexes under her weight.

But... what does he mean? Her power? She knows she has chi, but that's not that unusual, is it? And she knows she learns fast, but... surely that isn't what he means. How would he even know? She hesitates a moment more, tensing on the top rope -

"Get off of her!"

Honoka leaps high, boosted by the tension in the ropes as she hops off the very highest rope. She probably makes it ten feet up before she starts her descent, aiming to slam onto the back of the Wraith's neck. If he was standing, her impact and momentum might have slammed him to the ground; as is, she's coming in at an angle, and she pivots her body as she lands, twisting to try to launch him into the air with her legs, freeing Kasumi from being caught beneath him.

"I'm sorry! But - I can't run! I'm here to fight, too!" She may not have the skill or experience Kasumi does, but she's not going to leave it all to her. He wants *her*, Honoka - she can't force someone else to take her place!

COMBATSYS: Kasumi successfully hits The Wraith with Resting Hold.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Honoka Inoue     0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0       The Wraith
                 [       ||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kasumi           0|-------|--=====

COMBATSYS: Honoka Inoue successfully hits The Wraith with Calf Branding.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////      ]
Honoka Inoue     0/-------/-----==|===----\-------\0       The Wraith
                 [       ||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kasumi           0|-------|--=====

The audience either didn't believe it was real, or they didn't care.

The energy of SLAMFEST returned, as the audience devoured the horror before them as pure entertainment. DId Armor King really get killed? Why was The Wraith manipulating things behind the scenes? What judgement was he going to pass against these two? There was a theater here, yes. But was it the truth behind it? Or was it merely a facade concealing a sinister motivation? As The Wraith makes his pin on the beautiful ninja, dark energy was flowing.

But from the crowd, not within the ring.

As Kasumi grips his arm, he almost rolls with the effort. All to keep close. The creature was slowly building up the counter-attack. The pinpoint snaps, however, break bones within. The creature groans in agony, enough pain. It could feel pain. The momentum was interrupted. Blood oozes from his teeth. No. It's not blood, not proper blood. It's too thick, too... organic? A foul energy sits behind it. The creature jerks, as something under his exposed skin seems to shift. Kasumi gets the other arm, and for a split second, there is an escape. And there is the smell of ozone, as something crackles in his mouth. Electricity? His head dips underneath the broken mask of the Armor king for a moment. When it comes out again, it was... splitting. Falling apart? His entire body spasms, as the creature retches. No, decapitates himself? His head was gone. And in its place?


Six thick black vipers erupt point blank towards Kasumi. Almost point blank. Honoka's timely intervention knocks the abomination clean off Kasumi. As Honoka slams down hard on the creature's back, it breaks the clinch free, The Wraith launching into the air. BUt it's too late, as the vipers escape. Five of the vipers all surge through the air towards Kasumi, blood oozing from their long fangs, electricity crackling over their body. The surge of vipers would bite, bite with spiteful hatred on anything they could latch on. Injecting their evil through their fangs. Before fleeing away, scattering across the mat. Well, except for one. One was dead.

Body crushed, from the ninja's fingertips.

The abomination collapses in a heap away from Kasumi, spasming as the scent of ozone lingers in the air. Slowly, he rises up, as if he was pulled up by invisible strings. Claws hanging before him, the broken mask droops down over his headless neck. And then, the shape of his visage fills up, lifting up as the head reforms. His slits for eyes stare, reptilian gaze transfixed at Honoka. "Good, good, yessssss... Come forth, chosen child..."

"And ressssscieve your gift!"

COMBATSYS: The Wraith successfully hits Kasumi with Snake Wave.
Grazing Hit

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Honoka Inoue     0/-------/-----==|=======\==-----\1       The Wraith
                 [         ||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kasumi           0|-------|--=====

Trapped beneath the heavy grip of The Wraith, Kasumi is only dimly aware of the motion of another within the ring. Someone not fleeing, not running away from the serpent-filled horror gripping her, but rather running /toward/ the danger.

Ryu Hayabusa? The legendary ninja seemed to be lurking nearby whenever she was in peril. Somehow, he always seemed to know, to see things playing out well in advance of what she could predict on her own.

The assistance of the Dragon Ninja would be a welcome relief...

'Get off her!'

The voice echoing from somewhere above and off to the side, while bold and determined, was definitely not the scion of the Hayabusa ninja clan...

The Shinobi in Blue plies her strength against the arm holding her down, but alone it isn't enough. She can feel the give of thin bones beneath her grip, the reaction of pain from her twist, but still she finds herself held fast as viscus, sanguine fluid drips against the back of her vivid blue dress, marring the golden glyph of her name centered there with droplets of blood-red. She senses more than sees the next attack coming, the shift of intent felt through the hold The Wraith has on her-

But then the pink-haired teenage comet slams into the creature with her hook-armed leap and the pinned kunochi actually manages to break free, surging to the side, pushing herself upward while twisting evasively all at once!

Her help may not be in the form of a living arsenal of artifact weapons, but in that instant, Kasumi can't deny a sense of relief that she isn't facing the apparition alone.

She moves as blue lightning as vipers explode out from what used to be a vaguely human shaped head. The extra space bought by Honoka's intervention is the only reason she has any hope of reacting at all, as elite speed and highly honed reflexes kick in to avoid the venom-fanged projectiles. Two of the vipers miss entirely, their target moving swiftly to weave to the lower left the instant she has her footing. Her right hand chops out horizontally, knocking another aside, while her left hand raises to block, the oozing fangs of the fourth piercing into the azure arm guard worn by the young woman.

But when the flurry of motion ends, Kasumi staggers back, a soft gasp of alarm forced from her. On her right thigh hangs the fifth of the flying vipers, its needle-sharp teeth puncturing clean through her white stocking and into the flesh beneath. Already, crimson begins to stain the fabric around the point of impact - whether her blood, the fluid from the viper, or both anyone's guess.

Teeth grit, her right hand snaps down, gripping the snake behind the head, twisting it up and backward in such a way as to rip out the fangs with minimal damage before she hurls it to the ground, foot stomping a split second later to crack bone. Next, her hand rips the other viper out of her left armguard, violently whipping it to her side into the nearby turnbuckle.

The young woman looks up, eyes coming to rest on The Wraith as he rises, his abomination of a hooded head refilling with whatever writhes beneath to face Honoka. Taking in a breath then exhaling, Kasumi hesitates a moment. The burning in her leg conveys without a doubt the fear she had - she's been poisoned. Her time to fight might be limited. But she can't leave Honoka alone. She might not know the girl, she might be suspicious of the exact impressions she got of her chi, but for now, she had helped her, and she seemed an innocent in need of protection. There could be no retreat without securing her safety.

A ghost of a smile works its way into Kasumi's otherwise intense expression at Honoka's declaration that she's here to fight too. Whatever monstrosity they face, they'll face it together.

"Together then," Kasumi states, echoing her encouragement to Honoka from the start of this insane bout. "As one."

The young woman lunges forward, closing distance in a blink, engaging The Wraith from his side as hands snap out to wrest his arm up and away from his side, leaving his torso vulnerable to a devastating elbow strike as the Mugen Tenshin exile blasts into and past him with movement too fast to capture on film. He- it- they-? could be damaged, could be stopped, could be killed!

Having vaulted the Wraith into the air, Honoka stays on her back for a moment, trying to catch her breath. That might have been a big, big mistake...

But she's not going to leave it at that. Honoka does a sudden sit-up, the motion of her upper body almost violent as she rises that far, then gets the rest of the way up with a quick hop. These snakes... she doesn't want to stay on the ground around them!

Especially with them biting Kasumi. Honoka finds herself wincing in sympathy. She doesn't need to know the woman to be empathic for a wound like that. Snakes frighten her, though not to the point of a phobia. She just doesn't really want to touch them if she can help it.

But she's going to have to, isn't she? The Wraith is *looking* at her. She shudders, not quite paralyzed but definitely slow on her response for the moment. It takes something - Kasumi's words - to shock her into action.

She still really doesn't want to touch him again...

Honoka's hesitation leaves her with limited options, for a moment. She's not sure what she wants to do and she almost misses the opportunity to do any of it. But there's still one thing that she can do, suddenly spurred into action - she suddenly yells, a high-pitched shout that doesn't quite have panic but does have some discomfort behind it.

Accompanying her shout is a sudden lunge forward, an almost stomping kick aimed at the Wraith's side, down at his leg. It's a more dangerous move than the ones she's used before; it can cause real damage, and it leaves her more open than she has been. But she considers the possibility of ending it quickly worth it.

COMBATSYS: The Wraith endures Kasumi's Oboro Gake EX.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////           ]
Honoka Inoue     0/-------/------=|=======\====---\1       The Wraith
                 [          |||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kasumi           0|-------|--=====

The abomination was drooling now.

Blood was boiling from his maw, his fangs. He was not immortal here. But his venom was now in the Ninja. She would slow down soon. And then, stop. But he overestimates his affects of terror, as he focuses too long on his true prize. He takes his staggering walk towards Honoka.

And the Azure Ninja is upon him.

For all the alien horror the creature had, it was a harrowing comfort that he was not unstoppable. He only seemed that way. The theater of the ring gave that illusion. But the moment she is upon his arm, there is a jovial hissing cackle as that limb is wrenched around in impossible angles. That laughter stops cold as exposed defenses are literally torn open by the pinpoint piercing precision of Kasumi's elbow. The sound of bones snapping underneath was audible. The abomination sways, staggering as he is directed towards Honoka's driving boot-

Kasumi wasn't the one guiding.

The stunned look of agony fades in an instant, as the The Wraith's entire body locks towards Honoka. In a flash, he was lashing his claws out, seizing the leg. And his defenses were... Gone. He lets himself become exposed to Kasumi, as he grips that leg with both hands.

And there, he opens wide, jaw unhinging, as he sinks his fangs into the girl's calf.

It would be easy if the horror was as simple as a snake bite, as venom entering a limb. It would even be easier if he was only drawing the succulent blood out from the open wound, drinking deep of it. But the worst was how he bit. It wasn't deep in the muscle. It was surgical, avoiding the crippling wounds, focusing more on the skin. This wasn't simple hunger. He was trying to draw this out, as he releases the girl's limb, forked tongue licking his face as he grips his shattered, swollen side, only just turning back to Kasumi.

"The gift is yours to keep."

COMBATSYS: The Wraith interrupts Big Boot from Honoka Inoue with Bloodsuck.

[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Honoka Inoue     0/-------/---====|>>>>>>-\-------\0       The Wraith
                 [          |||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kasumi           0|-------|--=====

Kasumi slides past The Wraith, having executed her crushing strike with such blistering speed normal viewers were left wondering what had even transpired in the shinobi's passing. Sliding along the mat, twisting into her momentum to regain control and spin out of her aggressive attack, she whirls just in time to see the creature gripping Honoka by her leg, biting into her calf with those sickeningly coated needle-sharp fangs jutting out of its mouth.

The young woman releases a gasp of alarm, eyes widening. It's likely Honoka got a much stronger injection of the venom straight from the source than she got from the singular viper that slipped through her own defenses. The spreading burning pain in her thigh was reminder enough of the danger inherent there and the thought that the pink-haired prodigy was suffering something even worse now was a distressing consideration.

No time to hesitate, no time to second guess, Kasumi was already surging forward to intercept, to try and break the abomination's hold on Honoka's leg when it lets go of its own free will and turns toward the Azure Kunochi.

There's no time as it faces her, Kasumi has already tensed her body, feet slamming off the mat as she twists, launching herself toward the Wraith bodily. From beneath her bold blue right wrist guard, a small blade slides into view silently, extending out over the back of Kasumi's hand just past the end of her now closed fist.

Just because she didn't have her sword didn't mean the young Mugen Tenshin exile was completely unarmed. The blade slashes out for the Wraith's arm, the same arm it had used to hold Honoka, striking out with stabbing force in an attempt to deliver a deep gash.

If it connected, the blade would break off in the wound easily enough that it must clearly be part of its design, and unless prevented, Kasumi would fly past The Wraith, landing between it and Honoka, turning to face it again, arms already raised to defend herself!

Honoka feels her mistake as soon as she's made it. Instincts - unpracticed instincts - have served her well in a lot of her brawls to date, but this one has a different tenor and feel to it, and she's misread it.

She feels herself pulled off-balance, her leg held by the Wraith in his grip. Honoka hops on one foot, trying to brace herself well enough to pull her leg back, but he's stronger than she is and it shows. She can't get enough leverage to actually free herself. And then she realizes what he is going to do...

Honoka does scream when she feels the bite - and she panics. She thrashes, which does not stop the Wraith from biting - if anything it makes it worse, because she won't hold her leg still, won't let him choose exactly where and how to bite. She feels the wound tear a little as the Wraith finally releases her.

Honoka's leg is burning. It hurts worse than any other injury she's had in combat and she's not sure how long she can keep going. But that almost makes her more determined to stay up, and she can feel the power burn within her, a counterpoint to the more physical burning in her leg.

Reaching out, snake-fast, Honoka tries to grab the Wraith by the face with her gloved hand. The same energy aches to be let out, and she lets it; her fingertips trail faint sparks of deep red, and if she manages to grab the Wraith, she holds him for a moment, feeling the power blaze through her shoulder, her arm, her hand -

An *explosion* of crimson chi erupts from Honoka's palm, blasting the Wraith away from her whether she's still grabbing him or not, momentarily shrouding her entire arm with a halo of red. It leaves Honoka weakened afterwards, gasping for air (though that might also be the injury)... and it's like she almost forgot about Kasumi for a moment, though now she's remembered. Where did that knife come from?

She staggers backwards, barely staying up and mostly balancing on one foot. Off-balance, but she still might be able to put up a defense, at least for a few more moments.

COMBATSYS: The Wraith blocks Kasumi's Illegal Weapon.

[                     \\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////           ]
Honoka Inoue     0/-------/-------|>>>>>>>\-------\0       The Wraith
                 [          |||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kasumi           0|-------|-======

COMBATSYS: Honoka Inoue successfully hits The Wraith with Big Bang.

[                     \\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Honoka Inoue     0/-------/-------|>>>>>>>\>------\1       The Wraith
                 [          |||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kasumi           0|-------|-======

He didn't even believe Honoka would stand.

Staring into Kasumi, he actually hisses a sinister chuckle, as the sleight of hand snaps out. Bemused, as if a knife could stop what was taking place. But now, he was well distracted away from Honoka. He was already speaking, as he catches the knife into his forearm. "Do you not underssssstand? I have fulfilled the wissssshes for Kali! Do you think you can sssssstop what has begun?" He rips the knife free, letting the blood rush out as he flicks his tongue. He was almost ready to lunge at Kasumi.

But Honoka's spirit proved stronger than any snake's venom.

When she comes to grab him, the abomination seems only aware at the last second. When the towering creature sways, he almost seems dismissive- dismissing the very power he was lauding before- focusing too much in the Azure Ninja. His limber swaying, to wrench free of the grip, is cut short by the explosion: the blast of chi sends him howling in agony. The body hurls into the corner post. Stunned, he collapses into a heap for a moment.
%And now, it truly seems the tide is turning. % he Wraith was still his horrible form, yes. Yes, he was rising, that dark energy still clinging to him. But now, it was clear the walking corpse was struggling to remain intact. Every jerking step stumbles, his swaying head comes dangerously close to falling off, and every blink comes with the shape of his entire body collapsing into serpents upon the mat. But he was strong still. Slow, yes. Any one of the girls would be struggling for their lives against the doom of SLAMFEST 2020. But together?

Hope reigned eternal.

Danger was still evident, as the creature suddenly tumbles forward. A surge of power and force, the abomination chooses to ignore Honoka once again, and come straight for Kasumi. The lack of fear... He could taste the fear, but the spirit of Kasumi had to be broken before he could come to Honoka. In that burst, the snake man lashes those ropey arms, jaw extending wide, as he reaches for her neck. What horrible move would he do next? Sink those bloodied fangs into her neck? Devour her whole? Explode into vipers?

Well actually he would spin around in the headlock, and smash her face first into the mat, with jawbreaking force.

They all don't have to be horror moves.

COMBATSYS: Kasumi dodges The Wraith's Flying Bulldog.

[                     \\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////               ]
Honoka Inoue     0/-------/-------|>>>>>>>\>------\1       The Wraith
                 [          |||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kasumi           0|-------|-======

Kasumi slashes into the arm of The Wraith, sliding to a stop past him, whirling around, ready to whatever might come next. But she hadn't missed what it said, its almost indifference to her attempts damage it now. Everything about its demeanor suggested that its purpose had been fulfilled, that it no longer felt as driven by purpose as when it first lurched into existence within the fated Ring of Destruction. It was as if, in its mind, this was already over.

The poison? Kasumi glances down for a split second at the wound in her leg. The throb of something foreign fighting against her own aura persisted still, but was that single bite alone cause for the lethargic confidence that she felt radiating out from the apparition? This wasn't like it was the first time she had ever been poisoned. What's a little toxin between fighters, anyway?

She looks toward Honoka then, worry filling her expression for a moment. Her focus strays down to the wound near the bottom of the young prodigy's leg then back up at her eyes.

"Don't worry, we'll get you care, just as soon as-"

It seemed like she might be distracted with her concern for the other girl. But she was ready, prepared when the inhuman amalgamation surges toward her, face turning in an instant, sharp eyes and honed combat reflexes combined to try and anticipate the proper defense.

She follows the movement, the reach of its arms, the opening of its mouth. She couldn't predict it, not like a normal person, how exactly he would attack. But she could ply her speed all the same, take a chance on the limits of its reach, the extent of its threat radius.

When it lunges, she surges in toward it, ducking low, slipping beneath the grasp, coming up behind.

But her evasion is also positioning for an attack, leaping for its back, attempting to tackle it from behind, folding her arms and attempting to slam them into its upper back. Her knees driving into the back of its legs, all in a bid to tackle it to the ground, face down, with her landing on top of its back. It isn't entirely unlike how it ended up entrapping her near the start if she's successful.

But the real strike comes only if she succeeds in the rough body slamming to the mat as she winds up her right hand across the front of her, then swings it into a powerful backhand strike right where the mangled mask of Armor King meets the shoulder of The Wraith, going for a spine-rattling, crushing blow that could take the fight out of even the strongest of opponents.

"Whatever you think you've done will be stopped - just like you will be now!"

Between her injury and increasing exhaustion, Honoka is struggling. Her breath comes heavier than it did before, and she's moving more slowly. She's trying - and she's done an admirable job in keeping up - but she's coming to the end of her limits and she knows it.

That doesn't mean she should give up. But it does mean that she'd better do whatever she intends to sooner rather than later.

Kasumi's words come to her at a bit of a distance, but they do sink in. And she appreciates it - they might have started this match as enemies, but they're going to end it as impromptu allies against whatever monstrous being is standing before them. She gives a very slight nod, and even manages a smile despite the situation. "R - right!"

But she's not, immediately, in the melee. She stays back a step, hampered by her injury and because Kasumi is in the way. Kasumi tries to drive the Wraith down, and Honoka sees immediately what she's doing; a flicker of insight, a moment of understanding.

Honoka joins in. She almost falls forward when she takes a step, and has to balance mostly on one foot rather than putting most of her weight on her bad leg, but she does force herself to take that step, pivoting her body - much of the movement is in her hips and shoulders so she can plant her foot, but that just adds impact.

Her arm sweeps around in an impromptu lariat to assist Kasumi in bowling the Wraith to the ground. Committed to the follow-through, Honoka finishes her step, wincing with her movement - but if she can make sure Kasumi takes out the Wraith, it's enough despite the pain!

COMBATSYS: The Wraith endures Honoka Inoue's Medium Lariat.

[                      \\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////                   ]
Honoka Inoue     0/-------/------=|>>>>>>>\>>>----\1       The Wraith
                 [           ||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kasumi           0|-------|---====

COMBATSYS: The Wraith interrupts Byakko EX from Kasumi with Enraged Rolling Dead.
+=+=!= Power Slam! =!=+=+

[                      \\\\\\\\  < >  /////////                     ]
Honoka Inoue     0/-------/------=|=======\-------\0       The Wraith
                 [                   ||||||||||| ]
                 Kasumi           1|-------|=======

In an endless chain of things that were going wrong, it was going wrong again.

The Wraith's uneven lunge catches nothing, the staggering gait of the wrestler crippled by the combined efforts of both girls. Steadying out, sweeping his hands around, he looks aside Honoka, his slits narrowing. Hesitation? Already, he was forced to turn as Kasumi was surging for his back. As she makes a grapple on his back, he is jerked back, exposed to Honoka's counter-attack. But something was wrong.

Something was always wrong.

His knotted limbs were stiffening. His pallor? Going from that green to... pink? A rosy healthy pink. The only green was the energy that was flooding over him. As Honoka comes slamming in, it gives Kasumi the leverage for her final strike... as The Wraith begins to tumble backwards... It all happens so fast. The last warning came when movement comes on the mat. The once crushed viper, dead at Kasumi's hand? Jerks to life, flopping on the mat. The Wraith groans a death rattle, and when Kasumi strikes out at the tattered remains of the mask? As she brings upon the full force on the bald head of the abomination?

It bites her.

Not the Wraith, no. The mask itself, surging with strange green energy, jerked to life. Twisting around in instinctual terror, fangs snap tight on her wrist, as up close, it's clear that the mask had -healed- into The Wraith's skin. No lungs to snarl, only the continued crushed pain of its existence, it was alive and moving. The Wraith himself was writhing as he twists backwards, the jaguar mask ripping free agonizingly from his flesh. Blood boils out, but is quickly sealed by the surge of green energy. And the tumble continues.

As he -fires- straight back into Kasumi.

Green energy cascades off him, surging with energy. It was different, very different from the venom. Tumbling backwards, the legs lead in first to drive -hard- into the center of Kasumi. Before, of course, the whole body of the wrestler slams like raw deadweight afterwards, barreling like a cannonball into Kasumi's gut, claws passing like the wind across the exposed opening from unnatural angles. Wounds that... scar and seal over almost instantly. The Jaguar Mask continues to latch on, while it's mauling... before just as quickly, it stops, the life escaping the mask. The Wraith steadies on his feet. He should have enjoyed that attack; the surprise, the suffering, the raw bloodwork. And yet, all he had on his twisted face was and expression of shock. He touches his head, looking at his hands. The pink was just beginning to fade.

"By Kali... what is happening?"

She thought for a moment that she had it - that if her tackle alone wasn't enough to pin the creature long enough for her to deliver a sense-disabling blow to The Wraith's neck, the additional power behind Honoka's own desperate lunging strike would be enough to buy her the critical opening.

The shock that overcomes her when her back-swing knife hand gets caught by the /living jaws/ of the Jaguar Mask instead is readily apparent on the young woman's face, eyes widening, mouth agape. Shock is quickly replaced by pain as teeth chomp down on her hand and wrist, drawing blood. Immediately, the Shinobi in Blue tries to yank her hand back from the inexplicably animated, mangled jaguar mask. Every time she thought she had a general idea of what she was facing, something else happened to defy all expectations and leave her reeling to adjust.

And right now, the only adjustment that makes any kind of sense is to get away, to put distance between her and the erratically fighting abomination. But attempting to disengage proves futile, even as the power behind her attempt ends up assisting The Wraith in tearing the mask apart from his own pallid skin, leaving the confused ninja with the mask clamped down on her arm, its teeth piercing flesh.

Kasumi starts to reach over with her other hand, intending to try and wrest her limb free a second time, when the serpentine amalgamation rebounds into an immediate attack when there is no hope on her part of mustering a defense. A cry of alarm is cut short as the huge figure's legs smash into her middle, followed by the full momentum of his launched body slamming into her stomach, folding her over. A sickened gasp is forced from her body as her assailant's clawed hands slash into her side, splashing blood to the mat in crimson ribbons.

The Mugen Tenshin exile flies into the ropes, body arching backward against them before she flops defenselessly off of them to land on her side on the mat. The mask gnaws her hand a few more times before becoming limp, lifeless as it should have always been. Hissing as she fights back against the pain, Kasumi pushes herself up to one knee, looking at her bleeding hand now freed from the predatory mask's teeth. Her other hand moves to rest against her side, where shredded blue fabric reveals skin unmarred by the claw marks that had passed over it only a moment before. The pain was still there, the blood on the mat evidence that the strike actually did happen, and the throb of injury lingering as a fresh reminder of the event, yet no outward sign she had ever been cut by The Wraith's clawed hands remained.

It was enough for her to begin questioning her own grip on reality. Was any of this seemingly impossible scenario even happening? Was she really fighting a flesh bag full of living snakes in the Ring of Destruction? Had she really seen a girl her age unleashing a blast of sanguine hued chi that bore every signature of the man she had killed in a battle to the death?

Sucking in her breath then releasing it as she pants for crucial oxygen, Kasumi rises, eyes blinking as she checks on Honoka's whereabouts. She tries clenching her wounded hand but it barely complies. Forcing a smile toward the pink-haired combatant that might come across more as a grimace at this point, the young woman nods quickly, "You will make it through this." She raises her good hand, shifting back to facing the seemingly baffled monstrosity. "We both will."

Already, Kasumi is moving again, surging forward with resolved speed and no sign of hesitation. "Do your best-" She leads with an elbow with her injured arm, still able to spin in to snap the bend of the limb into the Wraith's guard, intentionally hoping that he will focus on defending himself against the blisteringly fast assault that follows. "And I will see to the rest."

Twisting to the other side, her uninjured hand slams out with a knife-handed strike into any opening in his guard she can find before she launches herself into a mid-level spinning kick, slamming her foot out with so much force it was as if she was attempting to kick /through/ the creature.

Kasumi would vanish before she hit the ground, a swirl of blossoms left in the wake of her disappearance. Behind The Wraith, she would appear again in an instant, blitzing into him, injured arm leading, aiming to slip beneath one of his arms and force it up while she closed in, attempting to land a second elbow strike, this one twice as crushingly strong as the first.

Each blow delivered with bone crushing force, each strike attempting to batter, to destroy the threat like she would any other monster!

Honoka is conscious, but for how much longer? She's wavering, only barely still on her feet. The burning in her leg has been replaced with an uncomfortable chill. Part of her wants to shiver while the rest of her is too hot.

Even Kasumi's promise isn't enough to fully rouse her. She blinks, bleary-eyed, as she realizes Kasumi is talking to her, and it takes a moment after that to sink in. Do your best? Well...

Honoka has been doing her best all along. She's not sure it's enough. She just wants to rest. Whatever chi she was using before is long gone, faded away as if it had never been.

The horror of the Wraith is keeping her up and moving, though. The sudden flash of blood, the green energy - she wants to believe it's fake, part of the show, but she can't convince herself of it. The fact that the Wraith - the mask - tried to *bite* Kasumi is certainly real enough. And it's worse than that. She doesn't know what he is anymore. She doesn't want to think about it. She just wants things to be normal again, like her last match, or the one before it.

"What are you...?"

Honoka is moving again before she entirely realizes it. Unthinking, she acts on reflex, and Honoka's reflexes - for all her inexperience, her innocence - are cued toward violence.

She attempts to grab the Wraith, literally heft him up off the ground when Kasumi is done with him and deliver a series of punches with her free hand. Honoka half drops, half throws him afterwards, flinging him away like a tossed rat to slide across the ground as she wobbles on her feet. If she wasn't about to collapse before, she certainly is now.

COMBATSYS: Kasumi successfully hits The Wraith with Renzuki Toki Hoshin.

[                        \\\\\\  < >  ///                           ]
Honoka Inoue     0/-------/------=|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2       The Wraith
                 [                    |||||||||| ]
                 Kasumi           0|-------|------=

COMBATSYS: Honoka Inoue successfully hits The Wraith with Rekka.

[                        \\\\\\  < >                                ]
Honoka Inoue     0/-------/-----==|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2       The Wraith
                 [                    |||||||||| ]
                 Kasumi           0|-------|------=

Just wanted things to be normal again.

That's what SLAMFEST was supposed to be. Good natured fun, theatrical fights. Never anything serious. And yet, Honoka finds all eyes on her, on her strange power, strange monsters appearing to draw out the nature of it. SLAMFEST was not supposed to be the place where those inner instincts of darkness and violence would be drawn out and fostered into reality. SLAMFEST was not supposed to be the home of the throbbing nightmare that was in the ring. And yet, as The Wraith grips his head, caught within the nightmare of his own making, even he seems unable to control or command this horror.

And The Wraith howls.

Blood cascades over his body, as vipers boil from his body, slithering in and out. The poison, the power, was all building to a climax. The first strike comes from Kasumi, and the wrestler seizes it, deflecting it. For a moment, it seemed too late for the two girls.

But it was too late for the abomination.

The kick comes too strong, ripping through the attempt of a guard for The Wraith. It practically -does- kick through him, his body distending on the impact. When Kasumi reappears on the other side for the follow, there is a hiss of pain as his body cracks. Before he even has a moment to recover, Honoka was there, hurtling into the monster. The titan is lifted up, and Honoka hits him again, again, every blow shuddering snapping bones underneath. And finally, he is tossed away like a rag-doll, the abomination hitting the mat. He writhes weakly, unable to rise. He lifts his head up, staring across first at Honoka... and then Kasumi. "I have fulfilled... my duty... Kali..." The creature grips himself, claws digging deep into his skin. "Usssssssse your giftssss well..."

And he explodes.

Explode is a generous description. The Wraith collapses into a heap of vipers, his form scattering and spreading across the mat. The explosion of vipers were not uncontrolled, unfortunately. A wave erupts out of hissing monstrosities surges once again towards Kasumi, another wave of hissing, snapping serpents, a dozen of them. A parting shot, as the rest of the vipers slither away, the form of The Wraith finally gone. The crowd roars in applause, roars for Honoka and Kasumi. Almost like the last two fights, almost normal. The Wraith was gone. Leaving only the torn, blood-soaked rags behind.

And the mangled mask of Armor King, limp on the mat.

COMBATSYS: The Wraith can no longer fight.

[                        \\\\\\  <
Honoka Inoue     0/-------/-----==|
                 [                    |||||||||| ]
                 Kasumi           0|-------|------=

COMBATSYS: Kasumi blocks The Wraith's Enraged Snake Wave.

[                        \\\\\\  <
Honoka Inoue     0/-------/-----==|
                 [                        |||||| ]
                 Kasumi           0|-------|----===

In unison, the two young women strike out at the apparition, combining their efforts to take it down before it or its venomous assaults wear them down. Even as she moved in to execute a precision combination of hard hitting strikes, it was clear that The Wraith was at war with itself, against some power surging up within it, destabilizing it. It was affording Honoka and her an opportunity she wasn't going to pass up.

The Shinobu in Blue slides to a stop in a low crouch somewhere past the viper-filled attacker, one knee just slightly above the mat, hair and ribbons coming to rest as her momentum bleeds out of her. Sucking in her breath, she rises, whirling around to face the felled creature, expression hard, without remorse for the violence she enacted upon the invader. It utters its parting words before whatever foul energies kept it in tact finally betray it. Serpents explode out across the mat, a particularly concentrated of them surging toward the Azure Kunoichi, but Kasumi is ready. In spite the exertion of battle, in spite the ache in her leg or throb in her stomach from the crushing blow delivered moments prior, she was still alert, still every bit as fast, nimble, and dangerous.

She attacks into the flying wave of teeth and scales, arms snapping into position to deflect some of them across her blood-stained wrist guards, legs kicking up to catch others on her shin guards, their fangs piercing into the hardened material. Some still graze her, scratch marks sliced along the unprotected flesh of her upper arms or cutting into her legs or side, but the majority of the threat is defeated.

When she comes to rest again, knocking the last dead serpent off of her wrist guard, the young ninja glances toward all that remains of the monstrosity, bloodied rags and a mangled mask. She waits for a moment, watching, half expecting more movement to come. But when nothing happens, she quickly shifts her attention over to Honoka, rushing to the other girl, reaching out with her uninjured hand to rest it on the pink-haired brawler's shoulder.

In spite it all, Kasumi musters a supportive smile, leaning her head to the side slightly, taking in the condition of the other fighter. In her caramel-brown eyes, concern would be reflected, but beneath it, a hint of curiosity as well? "You fought bravely." She hesitates, brow creased by a faint furrow of worry. She glances away for a moment, eyes coming to rest on an empty row of seats in the front row where the mysterious spectators had watched with impassive, smug amusement.

Looking back at Honoka, Kasumi withdraws a step, her hand moving to rest against the base of her own neck, smile lingering. "Thank you, Honoka. For staying. I-" She thinks for a moment, taking in a breath and exhaling before continuing, "I could not have handled it alone." She wants to ask if she's okay, if she'll be all right, physically and otherwise, but her mind is also racing at the strangers in the audience who had to be behind this. She needed to see if she could find their trail.

Kasumi takes another step back. "I hope that we can meet again." She dips her head, arms at her sides, "Under better circumstances." She starts to turn away, sucking in her breath, steeling her resolve. She was aching all over, she wanted to find a safe, quiet place to simply rest, but she had to keep moving. "Until then-"

She turns fully away, eyes toward the exit she saw the observers depart through. "Stay strong."

She moves like the wind, slipping over the top rope with a one handed vault to land on the ground outside the Ring of Destruction, sprinting on without missing a step as she rushes off before there is any chance of being swept up in any post-match pomp and circumstance.

COMBATSYS: Kasumi has left the fight here.

[                        \\\\\\  <
Honoka Inoue     0/-------/-----==|

The explosion of snakes catches Honoka off guard, despite everything she's seen today. She recoils from the dispersing Wraith; none of the snakes actually get close enough to touch her, but she kicks at them anyway, nearly falling from her numb leg being unable to keep her up. She only remains standing because she's leaning against the ropes.

And then... it's over. It's actually over. The Wraith is gone; the crowd is cheering. And Honoka...

Somehow, she's won. If that counts as winning. She's not even sure right now.

Kasumi rests her hand on her shoulder, and Honoka doesn't brush it away. She tries to smile, though it turns into a wince as she stops leaning quite so hard on the ropes and puts more weight on her pained leg. "...thanks," she says, though her eyes don't actually move away from the broken mask. Is he really gone?

"You saved me, you know... so maybe we can." Honoka's smile comes back, more authentic this time. "Sometime." She might have said something else - but Kasumi is far faster than she is, and she breaks away, leaving Honoka looking slightly shocked at the speed of her disappearance.

And then, Honoka is alone in the ring - alone, with a loud, loud crowd watching her every movement. She seems more confused than anything else for a moment, but very slowly raises one fist, in victory, as the crowd cheers even louder.

She's not sure how to handle what happened today. Maybe if she just doesn't think about it very hard, she won't have to...

Log created on 14:34:39 02/22/2020 by Kasumi, and last modified on 14:41:41 03/14/2020.