World Warrior 2023 - R1: Shina vs Baiken

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Description: At the Southtown Fish Market, prepare for the blink-and-you'll-miss-it clash of a were-leopard and a wandering samurai!

The place stank of fish. An assault on Shina's senses well before a fight was even going to begin. The World Warrior Tournament certainly picked the best possible locations to throw down their fights, didn't they? A gripe that dug through Shina's nerves as a means for her to avoid considering the other nerves she felt before a fight against these kinds of opponents.

Shina had done her research, looking into past fights, contacting some names she had in the mercenary world. She knew this was going to be one hell of a test of her capabilities. She'd fought a swordsman before, but that was just a kid, someone no older than Shina was herself. This Baiken, that was different. This would easily be a difficult a fight as taking on the Ikari king himself. And this time she didn't have that Librarian girl to help her out.

"Focus, Jeanne," Shina mutters to herself, slapping her cheek and running fingers through her spiked blonde hair. She had a job to do and getting worked up beforehand would not do her any favors. So with a slap of her palm on the side of a great water tank Shina knocks the moment of psychological strife from her mind.

She stalks through the wares, the smell is foul but the cooled air from the ice trays does do a good job of cutting the heat of the day. It'll be a godsend once the match begins, already does Shina feel the leopard part of her panting in the sun after just a short time of combat. It isn't a dignified look, but at least Shina knows her conditioning can keep her heart from just deciding to give up the ghost.

Shina's direction is the ring, marked and set up by coordinators for the purpose of the World Warrior bout. It sits close enough to the market proper that fish can be sold, or thrown, if needed by the fans for a particularly rank bout. Maybe, Shina thinks when she stops to take stock of the grounds, that just losing to Baiken would not be the worst of all fishy fates.

It's been some time since Baiken participated in anything like an official bout. She was here for the last World Warrior tournament, five years ago, but was ultimately eliminated at the halfway point. It had been no skin off her nose, truly; all this show-fighting is useful for exactly two things: drinking money, and collecting information.

Still, there's a part of her that was glad to hear she'd have a second chance at this, and signed up straightaway.

Her garb -- tattered kimono and obi, gakuran draped ungloriously over her shoulders -- makes her stand out completely in the otherwise highly pedestrian fish market. Her saya is thrust into her belt, and her one arm is up toward her shoulder, holding the braided rope tether of a sake gourd, which bounces along with her steps against her back. Despite her prowess, Baiken's notoriety is limited; she's not the kind of fighter that grandstands for glory. This is a job... and more importantly, she's got Things To Accomplish in life that come first.

Her arrival at the arena is well after Shina's; Baiken's in no hurry, and it's not often her travels take her back to her Japanese homeland. As the pink-haired ronin steps up to the side of the arena, she stands tall, letting the sake gourd slip to her side, head tilting 30 degrees to the right as she regards the tanned blonde opposite her with a squint from her non-eyepatch-covered eye. "Nothing about you says 'fishmonger'," Baiken says in a gravelly alto, with a faint smirking laugh. "So I'm guessing you're my opponent?"

The ronin doesn't wait for an answer; the sake gourd is set behind her, before Baiken gets into stance, her one hand hovering over the hilt of her blade... and, if the stories are true, the hanging empty sleeve of her missing arm hanging freely, but with the promise of numerous terrifying weapons within. "Alright, then. Given the smell, let's get this over with," she says, with another inclination of the head. "I like sushi, but not this fresh."

COMBATSYS: Baiken has started a fight here.

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Baiken           0/-------/------=|

Shina has been given time to wait. She spends it limbering up. She's in mid cross arm stretch when Baiken calls out to her. No, Shina doesn't look like a fishmonger in her tank top and belted pants. Then again, Baiken doesn't entirely look the part of a fishmonger herself, Shina thinks after a quick look over the one armed woman. "You guess correctly," Shina says with a cocksure grin. Covering for earlier uncertainty with a clear bravado.

Shina runs her knuckles across her nose, trying to push the scent of the fish carts out of her sinuses while she walks toward the x's taped on the ground in the official ring. However, it seems the coordinators have purposefully left the spot somewhat vague in case things need to get interesting for the audience. "Neither do I," Shina says, "So let me see what you have. I want to see how little your arm slows you down."

Shina's posture shifts toward a ready stance, bouncing on the balls of her feet, one arm in check and the other low and ready. An easy back and forth sway as she looks the ronin over for any approach. A determination of just how she needs to attack an opponent that has experience on her, and a weapon. Though, Shina knows her own body is just as much of one as Baiken's sword and potential arsenal.

Shina kick steps toward Baiken, turning sideways to narrow her profile. A simple, direct movement to plan and pace out her offense while testing her opponent's defense. The snapping motion leading with a short kick before ending in a sharp, tight uppercutting strike for Baiken's chin.

COMBATSYS: Shina has joined the fight here.

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Baiken           0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0            Shina

COMBATSYS: Shina successfully hits Baiken with Task Force Upper.

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Baiken           0/-------/-----==|==-----\-------\0            Shina

'Let's see how little your arm slows you down.'

That comment, even before Shina is on the move, gets a derisive-sounding snort from Baiken. Rolling her shoulder a bit, the ronin waits for her opponent to make a move, but says nothing, betrays nothing; despite what could charitably be called an emotional reaction just now, there is a sort of bored-to-be-here energy that Baiken exudes right now, as if she's simply unconcerned with this entire affair.

Perhaps a little hypocritical, for someone who just showed annoyance the way she did!

As Shina comes in, the swordswoman's hand circles the hilt of her katana slowly for a moment, as if she's considering drawing in response to the incoming combination blow. At the last second, however, she decides against it, and this ends up being a clear error; rather than perform some kind of counterstrike, the ronin simply tries to twist out of the way, but waited too long; as a result, the punch following the kick does connect with the bottom of Baiken's chin, snapping her head up for a moment with a hiss of pain.

But only for a second. The pink-haired head comes right back down, the fighter herself unmoved, and for a second there's a dangerous glint in the ronin's eye. "We'll see who's weighed down by the end of this, ganguro."

Kicking off the ground, Baiken hopes the short distance between herself and her foe works in her favor, the ronin dashing forward low and then, with a backwards grip, drawing her blade diagonally up and across, from waist height to neck height, the katana glowing with rose-pink energy. "ORYA!"

COMBATSYS: Baiken successfully hits Shina with Rokkonsogi.
- Power hit! -

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Baiken           0/-------/--=====|=======\-------\0            Shina

A short hop and Shina's willingness to get close and open with her aggression is shown as the mistake that it is. A shimmering slice hits clean across Shina's front. A barely held clinch was what she could offer as defense. The cut moves Shina along with the flow of the blade. Carrying herself with the cut to keep the pace of the fight. To go against the grain of that blade would've been a terrible mistake.

Her cry ends with her landing back down, rolling over her shoulder, back to her boots. A sharp, hissing spit of "Merde!" on her lips. A brief moment of a flashback to a dark bunker. The hand of an assassin held like a knife. One that stuck deep in her abdomen. But she cannot dwell on that. No so early. "Underestimated," she mutters, and with a wordless cry, she surges forward toward the ronin.

She closes in, moving quick as lightning, more aggressive than before. Around her fist flashes arcs of purple lightning, that crackle and split the air with a momentary scent of ozone. There's a lack of poise to the girls' fighting style. A lot of fury put behind a fist. A lot of pure speed and power and not a great deal of seeming skill or direction. But sometimes speed kills.

COMBATSYS: Shina successfully hits Baiken with Assault Blow.

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Baiken           1/-------/=======|=======\=------\1            Shina

Ferocity can get you far, sometimes. Whether it's a reasonable long term strategy remains to be seen, but it seems to be doing okay for Shina; perhaps it's the aura of lightning to those fists, but Baiken's attempt to interpose her saya in between Shina's fist and her own body and absorb some of the force of those furious blows falls just a little bit short, and this time the pink-haired fighter can't help but be forced back a step or two.

When she recovers her stance, Baiken wipes a hand across her mouth, spitting briefly off to the side, before grinning faintly at Shina. "Got the demon in you, don't you, ganguro?" she says, sizing the tanned fighter up anew. Not just Shina who did some underestimating today, is it? "Might help you out... for now, anyway."

If anyone's got experience dealing with the demon inside, after all, it's revenge-driven Baiken.

With a swirl of white, brown, and pink, the ronin suddenly sweeps her seemingly empty sleeve around to the side of the arena. If that was meant as an attack on Shina, it's entirely the wrong way... until a claw on a chain suddenly slithers out and snakes through the air to the stalls lining the arena. One, two, three crates of fish get snapped up by the whipping tendril of one of Baiken's hidden weapons, sending a series of catch-of-the-days to hopefully catch-of-the-face her opponent. Fighting dirty? A little bit, but that's how Baiken rolls -- civility rules have no place in a fight.

COMBATSYS: Shina dodges Baiken's Large Thrown Object.

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Baiken           1/-------/=======|=======\=------\1            Shina

A demon inside? Maybe some people might think so. Shina finds that the leopard part of her is just that, part of her. It's always the part that people look at. The beast, even if she was a weapon made to fight those things. Those things that were probably more like her than most people are. Present company included.

But that side of her, the one kept hidden like a weapon, or a claw, to be unsheathed when she needs it, is still a part of her. It's there when her pupils dialate and take in the surroundings. It's there when she feels the air currents shift and the crates suddenly take to the sky. Crashing and splintering, flying to scatter over at Shina. She flows with liquid grace, the feline in her slipping through the spaces offered by probability and physics. Twisting in the air, a horizontal pirouette. Turning, tight, opening to slow and scuff the ground with a boot. Once, twice, third time to slow her corkscrewing down to a pace able to be landed at.

"Demons?" Shina scoffs. "I don't think I know what you mean." Her words are playful, taunting, she's feeling the flow of the fight. It's taking her to the runner's high of a moment.

Once more she moves in. Flowing smoothly, slipping toward Baiken with more focus and control. But with no less ferocity as she hones in with a rolling wheel kick aiming to crown Baiken at her good eye.

COMBATSYS: Baiken blocks Shina's Fierce Strike.

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Baiken           1/------=/=======|=======\=------\1            Shina

"Pretty sure you do, kid."

There's a loud *CLANG!* as Shina's kick smacks into the lacquered wood of Baiken's saya, the scabbard for a samurai's katana; the impact is jarring, but not quite as bad as taking a kick to the face would be, that's for sure. For someone with only one arm, the ronin has some strength in it, that's for sure; the saya rattles as Baiken pushes back, shoving Shina's foot out and away and letting her own back foot circle around somewhat in the process, so the pink-haired fighter's facing the other woman sidelong. Curiously enough, this means her left, blind eye -- complete with goggle-like eyepatch -- is the one that's "staring" at Shina.

Baiken wastes no time, considering how Shina's been fighting to this point: she takes a single step out of her own guard with one waraji-clad foot, and attempts to jab the end of her saya into Shina's stomach to disorient her and create an opening, before literally getting go of the thing, snatching out one hand at snakebite speed, snatching the katana out of the saya and cutting through the air horizontally as her opponent before yanking the sword back, resheathing it, and settling the entire affair back in her belt.

COMBATSYS: Shina counters Medium Strike from Baiken with Trap Leg Through.

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Baiken           1/----===/=======|=======\=------\1            Shina

There's the rush! There's the moment that the blood pulses in Shina's ears and the thrill of the competition arcs like the lightning in her fist. The solid resistance of Baiken's saya brings a grunt from Shina's gut. A good sound, one approving and happy with the pace of things. Shina's rolled back, pushed to be stared at with the blind eye.

Shina's eyes are wide and a happy, stretched grin shows her teeth. "C'mon!" she taunts, punching her palm. "Is that all you got for me?"

Baiken's quickness is met with Shina's. An inhalation. Shina slips in toward Baiken's step. Boot meets waraji. Side meets side. Baiken's jab meets the air. And the dance begins. The step back is matched with Shina's own quick feet. Slipping under and around Baiken's guard when the swordswoman slashes outward.

That's the moment.

Shina takes the exposed arm and mantles Baiken like, well, a cat. She scrambles up toward Baiken's shoulders, settling her thighs around the woman's neck before Shina grasps for Baiken's wrist. One full body twist and the two crash down to the pavement in a tight lock punctuated with a cry of success from Shina.

"Got you!"

I'm not trapped in here with you...

Despite the blinding speed of her draw, Shina does indeed get the better of Baiken for the moment, the resulting takedown sending them both down to the ground. Shina seems pretty pleased with herself, all told, and considering how the fight is going, there's probably fair enough reason for that to be the case, especially considering Baiken's select (if not exactly widely-known) reputation.

"Do you?"

The right thing to do would have been to roll away, create some distance. Get out of the path of incoming retribution. Grappling 101, really; if someone gets you in a hold and wants to keep you there, the right thing to do is to get out of said hold and get your freedom of movement back.

Conventional wisdom does NOT suggest doing what the ronin actually does: turning to her opponent and, one hand extended in a mudra -- thumb, index, and middle fingers extended, ring and pinky turned inward -- creates a sudden burst of overwhelming energy between the two fighters. Should it connect, Shina should be able to feel it immediately: whatever that was, it must be a form of curse... perhaps Baiken's own inimitable way of commenting on the 'demon within'.

COMBATSYS: Baiken successfully hits Shina with Baku.

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Baiken           0/-------/------=|=======\==-----\1            Shina

The realm of curses, mudra, and spiritualism is not one that Shina is familiar with. She honestly has little knowledge of what to do when the ronin begins to make hand symbols so close in contact with her. However, she is not stupid and just about anything done by a fighter in the midst of combat is going to be something that needs attending toward.

Only Shina's hands and legs are busy. She tries to tense, to roll free and break away in the moment. But she doesn't want to relinquish the hold. So she tries to tuck, to shunt whatever it is to come away from her. It doesn't work. The blast of energy is sundering. Strength and energy pulls from Shina's frame, locked away from her limbs. She wants to pull back, to retreat. But her joints ache and throb as badly as her head. A tunnel vision brings things into a skewed, false focus.

A curse spills, unintelligible, from her mouth. She can only see what's before her. Her opponent still close in and in the thick of things. She opens up with the rushing fury of a beast in need of distance from a dire threat.

She twists the whole of her body. Lurching her grip, trying to leverage herself hard enough to wrench Baiken back off the ground and to hurl her bodily away. To give Shina distance and safety.

The pulse in her heart goads her forward. For a moment lightning sparks around Shina's ankles and she surges forward once again. Sallying forth in a leaping strike. Pouncing forward for Baiken with two legs pistoning out square for Baiken's chest.

COMBATSYS: Shina blitzes into action and acts again!

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Baiken           0/-------/------=|=======\===----\1            Shina

COMBATSYS: Shina successfully hits Baiken with Strong Throw.
- Power hit! -

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Baiken           0/-------/---====|=======\=====--\1            Shina

COMBATSYS: Baiken interrupts Double Leg Missile from Shina with Sakura.

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Baiken           0/-------/--=====|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2            Shina

Staying in close may have helped her land a hit, but that's a strategy that comes with a cost -- whatever bloodlust suddenly takes over Shina, there isn't much (or really any) time for Baiken to get out of the way; she finds her kimono grabbed, feels the wind as she lands rather unelegantly amidst a brace of shipping crates... thankfully, crates without any fish stored in them, otherwise this probably would get very ugly, very fast. Baiken's got an even keel but the woman has LIMITS.

Shina's not done yet, though; as the ronin rights herself and gets back into stance, she has perhaps a split second to get focused, work out a plan, retaliate or defend herself or do SOMETHING.

But for someone thoroughly in touch with the 'demon' inside, a split second is all that's required.

As Shina's feet are about to connect with Baiken's chest -- which, given certain qualities of said chest, is almost certainly going to sting -- the ronin does something that must seem completely insane: she steps INTO THE KICKS, one hand going down to her side, the hilt of her katana. Gritting her teeth, the rose-haired ronin braces herself against the pain, shunting some of it away through sheer willpower alone just enough to enable one perfect moment in which to handle things.

To an outside observer, there is a genuine second where it seems as if post-impact Shina is literally suspended in midair, unable to fall... and it is in that second that Baiken strikes, turning just enough so that for a moment, she's almost facing away from the soon-to-be-claimed-by-gravity Shina, and her katana is drawn with blinding swiftness, stabbing backwards into the tan woman just as she begins to fall, the blade wreathed once again in that rose-colored chi of Baiken's.

As Shina finishes her fall, the ronin turns back around, katana slipping back into the saya with a loud, audible *CLICK* sound.

Success and failure. Failure and success. The wiles of a beast, or the prodigious instinct of a woman born in the fight. A foundling by Alan Gado. Raised to fight. A 'Marvel' as she was called for that instinct. It does serve her well. But it is not fool-proof. She is reminded of that here. Struck away, cut down, dashed aside.

Red runs on the pavement, Shina lies on the ground, curled where she landed. Breath and heartbeat pounding in her ears. She looks through fading vision to the red on the ground. Her lay in front of her. She feels distant from it. Far from her. Alien. Disconnected.

Disconnected until she sees the thin dark claws press from her fingertips. A sucking breath as a pelt of gold and rosettes coats her frame. Her body, still curled, jerks and snaps over into a roll. Her humanity escaping to a bestial form of claw and fang. The leopard frees itself, frees herself. And she rises to a hunched posture. The red mark of Baiken's cut still visible straight along her front.

The Zoanthrope reveals herself for what she is and with a cracking snap of violent lightning also reveals her fury toward the swordswoman. Pouncing, her aim is fighting with pure animalistic instinct now. A flash of speed, bearing down upon Baiken.

Claws and fangs out, she goes for a razor handed grappling pounce. Should she manage, she will unleash hell with a kick to send Baiken into the air, exposing Baiken for a furious tornado of lashing, dervish strikes. Left and right, cutting and searing in equal measure.

All before a final pounce to roll with with Baiken, take her by the throat and pummel the woman into the ground with the rage and fury of a wounded predator.

COMBATSYS: Shina successfully hits Baiken with Tornado Blast.
- Power hit! -
~ Cruel hit! ~

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Baiken           1/-----==/=======|>>>>>>-\-------\0            Shina

The demon that Baiken had mentioned... well. It was psychological, and in the final reckoning she stands by that analysis, but when Shina literally changes her form into something... not monstrous, but certainly not factory default human, the ronin can't help but raise an eyebrow at the situation. A lycanthrope, or something like it, an animal-human hybrid. Not even remotely close to the weirdest thing Baiken's ever seen -- she was in Mortal Kombat and that's got Weird written all over it -- but this is up there.

Maybe it's the surprise factor of seeing someone change shape that does it. Maybe Shina is just that fast. Either way, *something* gets in the way of the ronin's defensive attempt, and the result seems pretty gruesome from the outside; when the two fighters emerge from whatever that was, Baiken is bloodied and breathing very, very heavily.

But she's grinning.

"Not a bad fight," the rose-haired swordswoman admits, as genuinely as she can, all things considered. "Suppose you have some reason for that cocky attitude." And then, well: Baiken grips her blade's hilt and, despite her fatigue, rushes Shina at a speed so abrupt the ronin is literally, briefly, not even visible; when she can be seen again, she heaves out a wet-sounding cough, and replaces katana in saya with an audible *CLICK* once again.

What happened in that invisible second? Perhaps Shina avoided the single, blinding flash of Baiken's blade that took place in that shadow moment. But if she did not, the *click!* of sword in sheath presages that cut happening all at once, almost as if on time delay.

Regardless of the outcome, however, Baiken drops into a cross-legged seated position, sword upright against her shoulder. She's conscious... but there's no more fighting to be done from her, today.

COMBATSYS: Baiken can no longer fight.

[                       \\\\\\\  <
Shina            0/-------/-<<<<<<|

COMBATSYS: Shina parries Baiken's Tate Shunmaku!

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Shina            0/-------/<<<<<<<|

The iron tang of blood on tooth and claw. The smell and flavor of a fight gone to the limits. A swordswoman brought her tools, the leopard brought hers. Shina lands in her post rage assault in a ready posture. She may be hunched, each movement may be with the coiled tension of a predatory cat, but her position, and her balance suggest the trained fighter that she truly is. Even beyond some of her earlier shock and awe assaults. She was trained by her father, after all.

And for all her appearances, she is no victim of a curse or of mindless ferality. While Baiken is correct, objectively the young woman has demons of doubt and concern plaguing her outside of the clarity of the ring, the leopard seems almost naturalistic. A twitch of an ear, a flick of a whisker. A low thrum of a growl. Baiken's blade cuts through air with flashes of light, splitting a moment. And Shina slips low.

High speed film will show it later, the beast slipping low, cracks of violet lightning at the heel of her paw. A blade clearing her back. Tail out and balanced, every muscle rippling to slip around behind the ronin, under the very arm that slashes outward. Claws marking the ground, the woman rounding up behind Baiken, rising with a claw raised to the sky, ready for a crushing and cutting swipe.

And then she stills. And her frame melts back down into the young woman again. Clothes tattered from sword and shifting, Shina breaks out into a relief filled laugh. She isn't Heidern. She had a moment, but she had her victory. "You weren't bad yourself," she tells Baiken through heavy, panting breaths. "That trick, with the carts. Wow."

She laughs again, running her hand through her hair. Stepping backwards and staggering before realizing that she had indeed won. And only then does she whoop and throw her fist up to the sky in triumph.

COMBATSYS: Shina has ended the fight here.

Log created on 15:57:34 09/07/2023 by Baiken, and last modified on 10:08:28 09/10/2023.