Neo League 570 - #576: Arika vs Riko

Description: Not just a League Fight, but also...a wager. A bet, a gamble, a flip of the coin, a roll of the dice. Riko has something Arika wants. Trouble is...the opposite is also true. (Winner: Riko)

The Greenwich Fan Museum, devoted to the art of the fan and currently under renovations. Due to the fact that the entire collection of fans and paraphernalia cannot be displayed permanently due to conservation concerns, the museum closes three times a year in order to switch out those that are on display and replace them with other items from the collection.

Despite the closure, some parts of the museum are still open to the public, and are as such, fair game to those willing to pay money to use the structure as a fighting zone. Fan-making classes are still going on, and the reference library (what an interesting subject fans can be, considering the numerous books on the subject) is still open for perusal.

The Japanese-style garden with the fan-shaped parterre, pond and stream is where the cameras have been set up, though. Winter has set in and while the flora is less than what it would be in the warmer months it is still a sight to behold.

It is on the parterre that Arika waits. Feet dangle from the stone edging, her body leaning back slightly in a somewhat seemingly relaxed position. Her hands do not rest upon the wall, however. One is tightening a black leather sheath upon her thigh, while the other adjusts it so that it rests properly, the ring on the pommel of the small weapon within just barely sticking out the top of it.

There is, though, no sign of her opponent.

Minutes pass, the delay stretching longer and longer. By now, the clock is soundly past the scheduled fight time, with no beginning in sight. There's simply no trace of whoever Arika's supposed to fight.

The crowd gathered around the garden is, by now, starting to get restless. The Neo League officials overseeing the match are getting a little anxious too, with one coordinator frantically dialing a cell phone number...but apparently getting absolutely no response. The museum grounds are being searched, but nobody's even -seen- Arika's opponent.

Until the edge of the crowd parts, and a small figure comes in. The short girl rolls doggedly out into the museum courtyard, and into the gardens. She rolls, because she's wearing a pair of in-line skates...but rolls only with difficulty, not because of the uneven terrain, but because she's lugging what appears to be a giant fan behind her, an absolutely massive construct of folded wood and paper. Panting slightly, Riko drags the fan up the path, the trailing edge scraping against the paving stones.

She stops in front of Arika, looking up to where the other fighter sits.

"Hi," Riko says, brightly, "sorry I'm late! Stopped by the souvenir store!"


Time passes, and yet Arika appears to be wholly unconcerned with the fact that her opponent is seemingly a no-show. She twirls the kunai around in the sheath once, then reaches up to tighten the cord about her right hand. The only time she bothers glancing toward the officials is when she sees the cell phone come out. At that, she just smirks and shakes her head.

"It's a bloody ninja... they're -always- late."

Upon spotting the crowd part, she slides off the edging and to her feet. The giant fan gets a very odd look, her head tilting to the side. "I think you're s'posed to do that when you -leave- the buildin', but wotever." Shrug.

"I'm a ninja," Riko responds, glibly, "we don't leave buildings in a manner that complies with health and safety regulations."

She draws the fan up, grounding the thicker end in the grass. Standing upright, the hinged end of the fan reaches Riko's head. It is, in fact, slightly longer than she is tall. It makes for an odd sight - girl in a long yellow raincoat, in-line skates, carrying a big novelty decorative fan from the souvenir shop - one that's supposed to be wall-mounted, in all likelihood, at that. In fact, with that kunai in her hand, Arika looks more the ninja than Riko does, especially in the oh-so-Nippon setting of the ornamental garden.

Not that this concerns Riko, particularly. She just smiles.

As she regards Arika, though, she lets the smile slip a little. In a strangely soft voice, she murmurs, low enough that the microphones have trouble picking it up, "Hope you don't have a grudge, Miss Fade, 'bout the...inconvenience. Dunno if I ever said it, but I do apologize."

What? Arika hold a grudge about anything? Though she's not quite certain what the devil Riko is going on about, so she just raises her shoulders and lets them drop. "People get 'eld up. Bein' late ain't the end of the world."

The response about leaving buildings is noted with a small smirk, however. Something she'll have to keep in mind for the next 'ambush'.

Securing the kunai back in the leg sheath, the diva pulls her arms back behind her and stretches her body, attempting to limber it up fully. "I'm looking for information, Koganei. Doubtful you'll be willin' to 'elp a poor soul like me, but I'm thinkin' if I can manage to defeat you, you'd be willin' to cooperate a lil'."

Truth she seeks, but she doubts even a win will provide her with what she -really- wants to know. Likely wind up in some sort of riddle or around-the-world puzzle search before she comes upon it.

"Let me know when you're ready to begin."

"Saaa," Riko says, a smile on her face, "a wager, then! Beat me, I'll help you..."

She pauses, thinking, before adding a qualifier.

" I can. But if I win, you owe me a favour!"

Riko winks, as she adjusts her grip on the massive fan behind her - not lifting it fully from the ground, but changing the way it leans against her body. She gives Arika a sunny smile.

"Won't be anything tough or illegal or nasty, I promise!"

The girl beams at Arika. Then she lifts her free hand, the one not wrapped around the oversized fan, and holds it towards the British singer, her fingers beckoning in the traditional gesture of challenge.

Battle Start.

COMBATSYS: Riko has started a fight here.

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Riko             0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Arika has joined the fight here.

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Riko             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Arika

Owe a favor?

Arika's eyes narrow to thin little slits as she contemplates. She pops her neck from side to side, allowing the spaces between her vertebrae to make a small popping noise. It doesn't sit too well with her, owing a favor to a ninja - and one that she doesn't really trust (Hi! Can anyone remember a giant rock falling on her head, and being dragged off to some weird place where the girl tried to have a tea party with her and then told her to fight for her life?).


There was nothing saying that the favor would be timed, or that she'd have to put forth an honest effort to get it done.

Turning her expression into one of masked stoicism, the diva focuses on the little ninja as she begins to edge forward. Feet slide along the stones, her right fist clenching tightly against the cord wound about it. The fist juts out to thrust a small jab at Koganei's head, but it doesn't actually strike anything. A distractionary tactic so that no one is paying too much attention when her left hand reaches out to grab the younger girl by the shoulder. Should the grasp find purchase, the punk princess twists her body about and attempts to lob the girl at the large fan she planted in the grass only moments ago.

COMBATSYS: Arika successfully hits Riko with Quick Throw.

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Riko             0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0            Arika

Grabbed. Flung. Riko tumbles, crashing into her own oversized purchase from the souvenir store. Amazingly, the solid wood and laminated paper /doesn't/ break beneath the girl's weight. Apparently the museum's merchandise is more solid than that. It does topple over, however, ending with Riko lying sprawled over the partially open fan on the neatly regimented grass of the garden.

"Ouch," Riko states. It's not a cry of pain, though. Rather, she takes the trouble to clearly pronounce the word, enunciating the syllable.

In a crystal sharp movement, she rolls to the side, sweeping up the fan as she does so. With the way she was dragging it around before, it looked like the thing was too heavy for her to carry. None of that shows now, as she whips the thick end towards Arika's head.

COMBATSYS: Arika blocks Riko's Quick Strike.

[   \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Riko             0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0            Arika

A ninja on a fan? Surely there's someone that would pay a lot of money for artwork depicting that, and soon it'll be plastered all over the internet on fighting sites.

Arika, truthfully, is really just glad that her first attempt at catching Riko off-guard seemed to work so well. The little added 'ouch' causes a small chink in her masked emotions, getting a grin from the diva.

"Come off it, it can't 'ave 'urt all that much."

Good thing she's actually paying attention to the movements though, for as the large fan is swept upward, she's able to make a judgment as to what Riko is intending to do with it. Both arms come together at the wrist, curving upward to keep her head from being bashed in by the souvenir.

"That thing looks a lot 'eavier than it is, I'd wager..."

Hands shift forward to take hold of the thick end of the fan that nearly creamed her skull. Swinging her body around, she attempts to use the prop to fling and/or swat the ninja-girl across the garden and into the extremely frigid pool just below the stone parterre.

COMBATSYS: Riko dodges Arika's Medium Throw.

[   \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Riko             0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0            Arika

Arcing through the wild blue yonder, Riko flies in a parabolic arc towards the garden pond.

But she never hits the surface. She flips round in mid-air, interrupting the ballistic arc. And she drops, straight down, landing at the very edge of the pool, the front wheels of her skates balancing against the gravel. The long tail of the girl's raincoat settles behind her...and that does indeed brush the top of the water.

Such that when Riko blasts forward, the end of her coat whips wildly, spraying icy cold droplets in all directions. She rolls straight towards Arika. The diva's taken control of the makeshift weapon...which /is/ indeed much heavier than it has any right to be, even considering the tough planks of wood that sandwich the folded paper.

Riko doesn't seem concerned, though. She just races for Arika.

Before she reaches the other fighter, though, she veers sharply to the side. Her right arm whirls round, sleeve snapping in its wake. Her fingers open - letting loose a spray of pebbles grabbed from the ornamental pool's edge, stones filling the air like Zen gone wrong.

COMBATSYS: Arika dodges Riko's Medium Fling.

[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Riko             0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0            Arika

Well, see... the thing is... Arika has learned a thing or two about adaptability. She knew before that adapting to her social situations was a very good key to survival - donning a mask and a new identity to hide her true self is really what's kept her going these last several years. There's just been a recent reminder via conversation that adaptability can be the key to winning a fight.

So when an opponent is bringing toys into the fight, she knows it's a good thing to use those 'toys' as though they were her own. Granted, the attempt doesn't see the little ninja taking a dip in the frigid water of the pond, but it's good enough for the diva. The other thing about adaptability is being able to recover quickly when something doesn't go exactly the way you were planning.

Staying as still as humanly possible as the skating ninja races toward her, she waits until she catches the subtle weight shift. As the sleeve snaps, the punk princess drops to the ground and rolls along the cold stones until she finds herself behind Koganei. Kipping up to her feet, she begins to dance to the rhythmic sound of the pebbles hitting the stones like drops of lethal rain. Feet slide, dance and hop with each little plunk. Her body twirls into a perfect three-sixty, and this is when her right knee chambers. As she unfurls from her spin, the foot lashes out with a quick snap toward the younger girl's head. It is a brutal move on Arika's part, perhaps, but then again she's well aware of just how speedy Riko tends to be.

COMBATSYS: Arika successfully hits Riko with Rhythmic Roundhouse.

[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Riko             0/-------/----===|=------\-------\0            Arika

Fast, but at least here, now, not fast enough. Arika's heel impacts soundly with Riko's skull, rocking her head back at the neck so hard that the audience can almost hear muscles and vertabrae straining...over the sound of limb connecting with bone.

Riko tumbles to the ground, a blur of tangled limbs and twisted fabric of her long raincoat. She makes no sound of pain, though...and the fall of her hair hiding her face from view.

She crashes into the earth, smashing through the grass into the frosty winter soil. Flecks of dirt fly into the air as she comes to a halt, staining the slick yellow surface of her coat.

Yet she rises, almost as quickly. Her head's still bent, askew, her eyes still hidden by her too-long bangs. In any case, her face is averted.

But her lips curve into a smile.

"GOOD," Riko yells, at the top of her lungs, her soprano voice rising into a hunting bird's screech.

And Riko explodes into light, then, crackling blue leaping up around her lean form. She blasts from a fallen posture to heading up at a forty-five degree angle, with seemingly no transition between the two positions. One moment she's on the ground, the next she's heading at Arika, one arm thrust forward to guide the corona of lightning surrounding her body on a path towards her opponent.

Off to the side, forgotten by both combatants, ignored by the audience and camera crew...the massive fan Riko dragged to the fight lies on the ground, battered but still largely intact. It's fallen half-open, and the pattern on the paper folds can be seen. There's nothing remarkable about this, for it's recognisable as one of the more popular prints from the souvenir store, a landscape in the Japanese woodcut style. Nobody pays it close heed.

And thus nobody really notices that the lines of the print are blurred slightly.

COMBATSYS: Arika blocks Riko's Light Fantastic.

[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Riko             0/-------/----===|==-----\-------\0            Arika

A smiling ninja, Arika has come to understand, is very rarely a -good- thing.

She's not wrong, either. When Koganei bursts into crackling blue light, the diva visibly cringes. Certain things she knows she can withstand fairly well, but this type of energy isn't one of them. Memories of singed and bubbling skin from the electrification during what she can only construe as her 'Jinchuu Initiation' flit through her mind. Knowing she'll not be able to get out of the way of the girl fast enough, she simply affects a boxing stance and brings both arms up over her head again in an attempt to draw all the energy into that part of her body in order to keep it from doing excessive damage.

Still, it impacts a whole Hell of a lot harder than she was hoping it would.

The fan does go forgotten, but not wholly. The punk princess is aware of where it is, but she's (stupidly) forgetting that it's likely going to explode at her at any given point. One of these days she'll learn to watch for that, but for now she's more concerned with keeping the energy-ball-of-Riko away from her. Thus, her foot snaps up and forward in a striking vertical kick designed to catch her opponent under the jaw.

COMBATSYS: Arika successfully hits Riko with Light Kick.

[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Riko             0/-------/--=====|==-----\-------\0            Arika

And that too smashes home. It's the third solid blow Arika's landed on Riko since the start of this match. The third solid blow. When in comparison, Riko's hardly been able to scratch Arika. She's made /contact/ sure, but she hasn't broken through Arika's guard.

The ninja girl must be aware of that.

She's still smiling, though, as she turns her face to meet Arika. Turning it in mid-flight, from where she was sent spinning into the air with the force of Arika's kick. Riko's hair parts, in the wind, revealing her eyes - gleaming bright.

She lands, some distance away, dropping in a crouch. One knee to the grass and earth, the sole of her skate-clad foot to the hard surface of the garden walkway.

"Gotten better," Riko observes, "since I fought you."

She rises and stomps down all at once, kicking one of the flat paving stones into the air. Riko catches the rectangular slab of black basalt...and then sends it speeding through the air at Arika, fast enough to shatter the stone.

COMBATSYS: Arika dodges Riko's Medium Fling.

[       \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Riko             0/-------/---====|==-----\-------\0            Arika


Arika would argue that she hasn't really gotten better at all. Considering the outcome of her last several fights - in particular, that mess in Hawaii - she's quite certain that the niggling doubts she's been having since setting foot on solid ground are more reality than in her mind.

The compliment nearly gets the better of her though. Her attention is on the words, and not the world around her. But as Riko rises and stops down with all her weight, the diva quickly dives to the side to avoid the basalt assault. As the slab shatters to the right of her, she's already back on her feet.

Rushing across the way, her corded hand is held tightly to her side. A twist of her body as she draws closer to Koganei, and then the fist thrusts forward with a swift, tight jab.

COMBATSYS: Arika successfully hits Riko with Jab Punch.
- Power hit! -

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Riko             0/-------/-======|==-----\-------\0            Arika



Ignore the pain. Ignore the screaming nerves. Ignore the sheer physical force of the knuckles smashing into the body. Ignore the air driven forcefully, involuntarily, from the lungs.


And Riko does.

It comes easily to her. Naturally as breathing.

There is no pain. There is only the moment.

She's still upright. Her eyes are closed, but she doesn't need them to sense her opponent. She doesn't need them to retain a mental picture of her surroundings. The faint sound of water in the pool. The feel of paving stones beneath her feet, as her skates roll over them. The sound of the crowd, cheering and screaming from the museum galleries.

And above it all, the powerful aura of her opponent, a flickering ghost of static to Riko's senses.

Riko moves.

She flicks her wrist. A thin wire unspools from inside her coat sleeve. The line blurs to the side, until the four-pronged barb stops dead, and the wire trembles as it ceases its flight...connected to the fallen fan, the massive block of wood and paper Riko dragged in at the very start of the match.

With a twist of her hand, the wire retracts. Fast.

Pulling the fan along with it. Hauling the heavy weight up into the air, jerking it wildly. Lashing round.

On a trajectory that takes it past Arika.

COMBATSYS: Riko successfully hits Arika with Improvised Tactics.

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Riko             0/-------/=======|=====--\-------\0            Arika

It would seem that the large fan is to be the diva's undoing. This will probably teach her not to ignore the little toys that get cast aside during a fight as being entirely useless once they're out of play, as Koganei proves this to be quite the contrary. Arika is more interested in the barbs at the end of the wire to pay much attention to what the wire is actually doing, and when the wire begins to retract her hands slam into place to stop the barbed end from lashing back out at her face.

And that is precisely when the heavy weight of the fan connects with her body and sends her sprawling back into a pristinely trimmed hedge. Hands grab hold of what little foliage is left, but she barely stops herself from getting tangled up in it. This does, however, keep her somewhat safe from the fan making a comeback attack.

Leaping out of the hedge, not taking the time to pry dry bits of wood and leaves from her hair, the punk princess frowns. That hurt more than she would have figured it to. Pressing forward, she brings both hands together and forms a double fist. Swinging this around and upward she attempts to catch Riko by the chin once more, hoping to angle the girl toward the pond again.

COMBATSYS: Arika successfully hits Riko with Medium Punch.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Riko             1/------=/=======|=====--\-------\0            Arika

The punch hits. Riko flies. Once more.

She's lighter than Arika. And she's on wheels, to boot. Plus that fist of Arika's travels with a significant amount of force. It's simple physics. Nothing to see here, move along.

Except Riko never reaches the pond. She slows, then stops, jerking to a halt.

Planted firmly in the earth, having dug a small trench, is the end of the fan...slammed into the ground as a makeshift brake. Riko breathes, heavily, leaning against the weapon for support. She coughs, then draws air through her throat, lifting her head to face Arika.

Doing her very best to appear casual, Riko says, glibly, "No, really, been working out?"

COMBATSYS: Riko gains composure.

[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Riko             0/-------/=======|=====--\-------\0            Arika


Arika really hasn't been spending as much time training or working out as she might normally. The last few weeks have been pretty hard on her, what with dealing with some really heavy emotional blows. She does not, however, elaborate on any of it since it's really only her business and not something that needs to be shared with the world as of yet.

But she's confused by the fact that the ninja-girl is leaning against the fan, looking as though she's already winded. Briefly, she rubs the back of neck, wondering if this isn't just a tactic employed to make her go a little easier. Deciding that this must be the case, she doesn't let herself pause for long.

Dancing forward once more, her body sways to a song only she can hear. Her head bops right along with it, tilting left or right depending on the sounds she's hearing. Advancing on Riko, she closes her eyes and then suddenly just SLAMS her head forward as hard as she can muster while moving as she is.

COMBATSYS: Riko interrupts Harmonic Headbang from Arika with Dragon Seal Blue EX.

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Riko             1/------=/=======|=======\==-----\1            Arika

Which was what Riko was waiting for.

Truth be told, Arika wasn't entirely right. For Riko genuinely -was- tired. She's taken a whole lot of abuse in the past few seconds, and several of those blows to the head. And yet she's showing few, if any, /effects/ of that damage. A girl of her size and stature shouldn't be able to shrug off punishment like that. Not without some kind of trick...which is precisely what she has. A chi technique, a subtle one, to push aside pain and renforce the integrity of bones and tissue. A technique that Riko's actually developed far beyond the original created by her two seniors, Seishirou and Tora. For in her own way, the little ninja girl is a prodigy...

...but the use of chi, like that, requires a cost.

She rested her weight against the fan because she really /was/ tired.

But Arika wasn't entirely wrong.

Just because something's not a lie...doesn't mean it isn't still a trap.

Riko meets Arika's headbutt with one raised hand.

The crown of Arika's head /smacks/ into Riko's palm. The ninja girl's fingers spasm from the shock, the impact transmitting painfully up Riko's arm - but it doesn't stop her, doesn't still her. Her fingers close around Arika's skull, blazing electric blue.

And chi shapes beneath Riko's command. Another technique adapted from her teacher's principles, turned into something at once the same and yet fundamentally different from his design.

Beneath Riko's hand, chi gathers, chi pools, and forms into the shape of a seal.

Engraved directly into Arika's head, melting beneath her hair, through skin, through bone. Passing harmlessly... first.

Before /release/, as it distorts the air, stripping molecules apart, electrons and protons, ionizing relentlessly in a blazing surge of electricity.

/Straight into Arika's brain./

There is only the tiniest of noises as Riko palms the headbutt. Arika is surprised, but perhaps not entirely so. She may have let a few known facts slide, but she -does- recall that this is Seishirou's student... or whatever Koganei is supposed to be to him. It's when the fingers that are gripping her skull begin to blaze with energy that she curses herself - rather loudly and profanely at that.

She should have been expecting another onslaught of energy. She should have prepared herself for the interruption. Yanking her head backward, she tries to free herself from the girl's grasp, but it's to no avail. The energy seems to pass through her harmlessly, but she doesn't bother relaxing.



The zap to the brain is why she didn't bother to relax. The blast of chi should be enough to seriously fry or liquefy a normal human brain. Not that Arika isn't -normal-, it's just that she has worked with energy in the past and so she's able to withstand the immense amounts of pain a little better.

But not strong enough to not have to stop, as she drops to her knees, and breathe deeply to allow the energy to dissipate before doing anything else. Her body is just wracking with pain, her head throbbing with the abundance of chi that has just flowed through it.

COMBATSYS: Arika gains composure.

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Riko             1/------=/=======|=======\-------\1            Arika

"Sorry," Riko says, simply. That can't have been pleasant, as she's well aware. But her apology isn't all that emphatic, for this /is/ a fight, and the objective is to best one's opponent. Anything short of lethal force, then, is a legitimate weapon - and a fighter takes a lot of punishment to kill.

Wisps of smoke rise from her striking hand, tinged faintly with the scent of ozone. That passes, quickly, in the winter air.

Then Riko lifts her other hand, wrapped round the end of the battle fan. It might have been crafted for decorative reasons, silkscreened and laminated for mounting on a wall. But it's a weapon, now, in Riko's hands. Heavier than it should be, it spins in her grasp, breaking free of the earth, snapping out to catch Arika in the face.

COMBATSYS: Arika blocks Riko's Quick Strike.

[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////            ]
Riko             1/------=/=======|=======\-------\1            Arika

Sorry? Were Arika not in such immense pain, she'd probably laugh at the apology. Eyes are closed, breathing quite labored now as she tries to force her brain to get back into working order. This takes a lot of effort on her part, as that much energy flowing through it has left her feeling like a great big bowl of jelly.

Despite her eyes being closed, and her attention not seemingly on Koganei, when the heavy fan is snapped toward her face her hands come up in unison and slap against the sides of it. Slowing the fan down works well enough to stop it from damaging her face, and she uses it as a leverage device to draw herself back up to her feet.

"You are -not-, so don't bother with the apology," she mutters through clenched teeth as she regains her full height.

With her hands still gripping the fan, she quickly twists her body to the side. She once more tries to fling the skating ninja to the doom of the frigid pool (is there a theme here?), and break the girl's concentration.

COMBATSYS: Arika successfully hits Riko with Quick Throw.

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Riko             1/----===/=======|=======\=------\1            Arika

The splash of water echoes through the museum courtyard. Droplets rain from above, splattering the neatly tended grass of the ornamental garden. Or perhaps not so neatly tended, not any more, given the destruction that's already been wrought by the battle. If Japanese gardens are meant to demonstrate mastery of order, then it's clear chaos has visited this little corner of Zen.

The girl lying in the shallow pool just adds to that, really. There's no tranquility there, as she splutters. Riko rises, water sluicing off her raincoat, dripping from her soaked t-shirt and shorts. It runs in rivulets from her hair, plastered to her scalp.

She eyes the fan in Arika's hands. Once again the singer's turned Riko's own weapon against her.

The ninja girl purses her lips.

"Maybe I'm not," she answers, "but that doesn't mean I should be..."

She pauses, briefly, as if considering her next words.

In the interim, though, she lifts a hand, fingers curling, and -hauls- her arm back.

Earlier in the fight, Riko reeled the fan towards her by means of a thin steel wire.

She never detatched that line.

And unless Arika lets go quick enough...

COMBATSYS: Riko successfully hits Arika with Quick Throw.

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Riko             1/----===/=======|=======\==-----\1            Arika

... she too will find herself in the frigid water.


Arika looks none too pleased about being soaking wet, as she's not got the comfort of a big yellow raincoat to keep her even remotely warm. Lips turn blue almost instantly, and she sputters and struggles her way out of the shallow pool. Eyes narrow upon Koganei, and she just shakes her head, spraying more droplets of water upon the stones surrounding it.

Springing toward Riko, the diva's fist thrust forward as she releases her grip on the fan. Spinning about, she comes to a stop with a palmheel strike angling out at the ninja's stomach, a flare of deep violet chi enveloping her hand as it reaches its full extension.

COMBATSYS: Riko dodges Arika's Diva Allegro.

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Riko             1/----===/=======|=======\==-----\1            Arika

But it doesn't touch Riko.

It looks like it does, for an instant, just a split second. To the crowd clustered around the ornamental garden at the heart of the museum, to the camera crew, to the TV audience the world over, it looks as /if/ the blow lands.

But it doesn't.

It's one of those things that demands slow-motion replay.

Riko moves just enough, just barely enough, such that the strike falls short. By a hair's breadth, no more. The outer edge of the chi aura projected by Arika's hand actually brushes against Riko's t-shirt, stirring the fabric over her abdomen. That's the closest it comes to contact. Close...not close enough.

The oversized fan smacks into Riko's outstretched hand, as the cable reels it all the way back in. With a flick of the wrist, it expands, clicking apart. Struts of wood pull paper and fabric taut. The fan doesn't open to its full span, but enough to make the pattern clear, traditional Japanese art, one of the popular prints of the museum.

Except...wrong, somehow. Smudged. But that's not damage that could have come from this fight. The -fan- never hit the water, it's just the two fighters that did.

No time to reflect on that, though...because Riko snaps the fan at Arika, now.

A fan erupting with energy. Wood, cloth, and paper...shouldn't conduct electricity like that. And Riko's chi is so closely attuned to the lightning element that she can hardly channel it for any other means. Through metal, yes, through the nerves of her body or her opponent's. But not through anything that does not, in some way, /conduct/...

Yet it happens here.

A wave of azure sweeping towards Arika, crackling and hissing.

COMBATSYS: Riko successfully hits Arika with Metamysticparallectrolysis.
- Power hit! -

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////                     ]
Riko             1/-----==/=======|=======\======-\1            Arika

Bloody Hell.

Bad enough that she can tell her punch just whiffed against the material of the t-shirt, and never actually connected to the ninja-girl, but as she twists to the side she notes that the fan is opening. Arika narrows her eyes upon the prop, frowning slightly at the smudged pattern. Now, she never actually perused the fans in the gift shop, so she's not certain if it's supposed to be like that or not. Then again, she's not even certain that fan is -from- the gift shop at this point.

Especially when it erupts with energy.

Hands come up to stop the energy from reaching her body, but she's not lucky enough this time. It hits, it shocks her and it sends her flying over the edge of the parterre. Her body hits the stones with a resounding thud, and she lays there, looking quite like she's not intending to get up at all.

Yet, she does. The flat of her feet plant firmly upon the ground and she springs up into the air. Twisting her body around twice before she lands, her feet lash out with a butterfly kick aimed at Riko's head. Graceful, it's not, but the all the energy that she's been hit with recently have left her feeling tired and quite a bit loopy.

COMBATSYS: Riko interrupts Light Kick from Arika with Chaos Tactics.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////                        ]
Riko             0/-------/----===|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2            Arika

Paper tears, straining against thread and adhesive inadequate to the task. Wood cracks, splintering beneath abuse. But the fan holds together, even after blunting the force of Arika's kick.

It didn't stop it completely - Riko's face shows the faintest hint of pain, and her arms tremble with the effort of bracing the open fan as a shield.

By now the fan is open to its full glory, the slats unfurled, the panels fully spread - save for those ripped by Arika's kick. Light from above, the delicate near-dusk of the winter afternoon, shines through the design, woodcut waves lapping against a shore. But the art is damaged, and not by any act of battle. The ink and dye itself is badly smudged, the colours blurred and running together.

And with the fan fully open, there's also the smell. An undeniably chemical scent, yet laced with something else.


Riko grins.

And then the explosion blows the two fighters apart.

As the smoke clears, Riko lies in a crouch, across the garden.

"The fan," she explains, as much for the cameras as Arika's benefit, "was treated with explosive chemicals...and the key reagent, chi-sensitive inks..."

She tilts her head.

"...I did apologize before, Miss Fade."

"Yes... well..."

Groaning as she forces herself into a seated position, Arika just glares at the ninja. Her body, she knows, can't really take much more of this at all, and she's pushing herself almost beyond her limits in order to speak. Head drooping forward, chin resting against her chest, she inhales deeply. She's trying to gather enough energy to get up. Hands settle onto the stones behind her, and she's finally able to push herself up, though it's through great difficulty and with a vast amount of pain.


The punk princess doesn't like the fact that she's going to wind up owing the ninja a favor.

Fists clench at her sides, feet moving slowly and causing her to stagger about. It's a very haphazard manner that her movements seem to be taking, and yet she's still attempting to work her way around Riko. All the while, her head remains drooped, pressed against her chest.


And even if they -did-, she's not wanting an apology. She's not wanting the pity of the little ninja-brat. What she's wanting is the information she seeks, and while it seems she's -not- going to be getting it, she's already beginning to formulate another plan.

Her right arm swings up, attempting to lock Riko's head up in a tight hold. At the same time, her foot skirts to the front of the other fighter, not with the intention to trip her up but to further lock the hold she's attempting. Should the lock-up succeed, she's got every intention of forming a claw with her left hand and twisting it into her opponent's gut, forcing the girl down to the stones face first.

COMBATSYS: Arika has reached second wind!

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Riko             0/-------/----===|=======\-------\1            Arika

COMBATSYS: Arika successfully hits Riko with Dominant Diva.
- Power hit! -

[                       \\\\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Riko             0/-------/-======|=======\-------\1            Arika

The dark basalt of the paving stone...actually /shatters/ as Riko's face crashes into it, splitting into a dozen spinning shards. They lacerate the girl's face, cutting into her cheek - and earning a muted hiss of breath.

She moves, though - for staying still in a situation like this would be unthinkable. No. All her instincts scream for her to stay in motion, and that's precisely what she does, attempting to wrench free of Arika's grip...and plant one solid skate-clad boot in the other fighter's side for both leverage and retaliation.

"How do -you- know," Riko retorts.

COMBATSYS: Arika dodges Riko's Light Kick.

[                     \\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Riko             0/-------/--=====|=======\-------\1            Arika

Keeping the grip on the girl for as long as possible, the diva sneers.

"I. Just. -Do-."

She actually doesn't know at all. She's not a ninja. She'll likely never become a ninja. She's just wanting her information, and trying to hurt or irritate her opponent enough until she gets it.

Now, there was something that Arika should be remembering about those skates. Blades, or sharp edges... something that cuts. The thought pops into her head just long enough for her brain to scream, 'AHA!', and nudge her into getting out of the way. Thus, the hold is released, and she jumps back away from the roller-skate that was likely going to imbed itself in her side.

She's unrelenting now though, and once out of the way of the skate, she's stomping right back toward the ninja-girl. Thrusting her left foot outward, she attempts to keep Koganei down upon the stones, though she's got no intentions of standing on the girl or lingering closely to her for too long.

COMBATSYS: Riko blocks Arika's Medium Kick.

[                       \\\\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Riko             0/-------/-======|=======\-------\1            Arika

Arika's feet aren't clad as Riko's. They hurt all the same, though. Probably more. It's not surprising that the woman is by far stronger than the girl, her heel smashing into Riko's forearm. Even /blocked/, that hurt...far too much. Her energy's wearing down. Even legendary resilence can only last you so long.

Still, though, Riko's conscious. And she can still move. That means she can fight.

Because, really, there's no such thing as giving up.

Entangled like this, she can't manuever all that much. Arika's right to keep her grounded, to keep her pressed against the stones and soil.

Doesn't mean, though, she doesn't have tricks.

Riko's free arm moves. It's not a strike, not a punch, not a blow. She just twists so her palm and fingers are pointed at Arika.

And the grappling line secured in that sleeve fires -once more-, unreeling from the spool, barbed edge flashing to meet the singer's eyes.

COMBATSYS: Arika blocks Riko's Medium Fling.

[                      \\\\\\\\  < >  ///////                       ]
Riko             0/-------/-======|=======\=------\1            Arika


No way.

Arika is -not- about to let the ninja take her eyes out. She's had her throat sliced multiple times. She's been gutted and an attempt to filet her has even been made. But her face? She'd guard that with her life. She may not be a model, and she may not rely entirely on her looks as a money-maker... however she is quite vain. The moment the arm moves, her arms are blocking her face. Her head tucked neatly against her chest and keeping her beautiful blue-purple eyes protected from the barbs.

They do lash against her arms, causing rivulets of blood to trickle down toward her elbow. She doesn't wince or cry out, but she looks quite perturbed at the fact that she's bleeding.

Yanking the barbed edge from her right arm, she flings it to the stones waiting for it to clatter upon them. Eyes narrow, her jaw sets in a ferocious looking snarl, and her hand lashes forward with a quick swipe to the ninja's face. The palm trying to connect with cheekbone, while the fingers rake along after it.

COMBATSYS: Riko dodges Arika's Medium Punch.

[                      \\\\\\\\  < >  ///////                       ]
Riko             0/-------/-======|=======\=------\1            Arika

A distraction.

That's ultimately what it was. She didn't /intend/ to damage Arika's eyes - Riko was certain the other fighter would intercept the barb before it reached, or deflect it somehow.

But the act of doing so...that gave Riko time to get away, to make some distance between her and Arika. To get to her feet, the wheels of her in-line skates meeting ground and stones. Upright, Riko rolls back one step, then another, gliding away from Arika's feral swipe.

She's lost it, Riko notes, clinically. Maybe it -would- have been best had the dart-line really scarred her. Might have made thing simpler.

The line running up Riko's sleeve breaks off, neatly severed with a twitch of the arm - the spool mechanism slicing through the steel cable, following the tensing of muscles in a specific sequence. It's served its purpose, and Riko doesn't want to go tripping on her own wire now.

The coat settles around Riko as she purses her lips, looking reflective.

Then she snaps one leg out, without warning. She almost doesn't chamber it, so quick is the movement. A heel covered in plastic and metals blasting out at Arika's centre of mass.

COMBATSYS: Arika just-defends Riko's Light Kick!

[                     \\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////                    ]
Riko             0/-------/-======|=======\=------\1            Arika

Lost it? She's angry, that much is certain, but the punk princess seems to be at full mental capacity once more. Her eyes remain thin slits, icily gazing at her opponent, watching for any subtle movements that will clue her in to what she'll have to be dealing with next.

At first, she believes this might come in the form of the twitching arm but she's not wholly convinced. The steel cable thunking against the stones is her proof that she was right to remain wary, and her analyzing look has not shifted an iota.

So, really, it's just luck and mistrust that enable her to catch the quick moving leg snapping out toward her. Hands immediately drop behind her, allowing her body to bridge backward and avoid the heel. It does brush against a belt loop on her cargo pants and causes her to smirk just a tad.

Instead of righting her body, she uses the bridged position to her advantage. Feet kick upward, trying to catch Koganei just under the chin before she flips them up over her head, leaving her in a crouched position watching the ninja.

COMBATSYS: Arika successfully hits Riko with Light Kick.

[                         \\\\\  < >  //////////                    ]
Riko             1/------=/=======|=======\=------\1            Arika

That hurt, Riko reflects, distantly, as she lands, crashing through the grass before her flight is finally arrested by a decorative stone carving. She winces as the shock transmits through the small of her back and spine. She'll feel that in the morning, that she will.

For now, though, she cracks one eyelid, lifting a hand. Her arm trembles as she raises it, resisting the effort. But she brings her arm up all the same, pointing it straight at Arika. Her index finger's extended, her thumb cocked at a ninety degree angle - the classic 'mock gunshot' pose.

"Bang," Riko announces, brightly, even sprawled as she is, on the ground.

The little piece of wire Riko discarded, sliced away from her sleeve...twists, writhing like a snake on the garden stones. The steel line rolls up on itself, forming a circle, then bends and warps until it forms something more reminicent of circuitry.

Before glowing blue.

That's when the lightning bolt hits.

COMBATSYS: Arika blocks Riko's Level 360.

[                         \\\\\  < >  ///////                       ]
Riko             0/-------/-------|=======\===----\1            Arika

Arika is really just a little lightning rod today, isn't she? The electrified energy seems to just enjoy striking her. It's really beginning to get on her nerves, it is. She tries not to show it too much, since the chi actually wears on her more than anything else, but from the twitch her expression makes, it's obvious that it's quite a bit more painful than she's letting on.

Though she's able to block this particular bolt of energy by kicking a stone up to take the majority of the force, little tendrils of static still manage to get past and send her back against a bed of bulbs.

Gripping the edge of the flower bed, she pushes her weight upward until she's standing at the very edge of it. There are no tactics behind what she does, no real thought put into it. She simply leaps off and attempts to crash her body against that of her opponent, trying to keep her sprawled upon the stones.

COMBATSYS: Riko dodges Arika's Medium Throw.

[                         \\\\\  < >  ///////                       ]
Riko             0/-------/-------|=======\===----\1            Arika

It's a good attempt.

By all rights, Riko shouldn't have been able to evade that. Not with the amount of injury she's taken, in this long fight. It's amazing that she's still got the energy to move, still got the mental capacity to focus chi. But move she does.

One moment, Riko's sprawled on the ground, barely able to twitch. She's still there when Arika comes falling at her.

The next, she's behind Arika, blue light crackling off her skin.

The sound of a thunderclap, a split second behind the motion, roars through the air.

Probably not the wisest move, pulling /that/ technique. It draws Riko's reserves to the breaking point. But the near-teleportation speed granted by her version of Seishirou's infamous Kawarimi was quite literally the only way she /could/ move, tightly focused chi giving motive force to her nerves and muscles.

And behind Arika...Riko strikes. The small stone sculpture she fell against is now in her hands, the carved figure flung towards Arika's back.

COMBATSYS: Riko successfully hits Arika with Medium Fling.

[                         \\\\\  < >  ////                          ]
Riko             0/-------/-------|=======\=====--\1            Arika

The first thing Arika does upon noticing that her prey is no longer where she's supposed to be, is tuck herself into a roll so that she doesn't faceplant onto the stones. Remember, she -is- trying to keep her face looking pristine.

She might have been better off damaging herself though, because as she comes up out of the tumble, she goes sprawling forward thanks to the stone sculpture catching her in the back. Hands shoot out to keep her from sprawling on the stones, and she groans. Once more the pain has reached the point of becoming unbearable, but she pushes herself up -anyway-.

Upon her feet once more, she doesn't even bother offering Koganei a glance. She just breathes deeply, attempting to steady herself and will away the pain along her spine. She begins to work her way behind Riko, reaching under her left arm and attempting to lock the girl in a half-nelson hold...

COMBATSYS: Arika can no longer fight.

[                         \\\\\  <
Riko             0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Riko dodges Arika's Punk Rock Breakdown.

[                         \\\\\  <
Riko             0/-------/-------|

Once more, thunder echoes. Thunder, despite the clear sky overhead.

For an instant, there are two Rikos in the garden. One struggling in Arika's grip, fingers clawing against a rigid arm.

And another, watching impassively besides the pond, standing by the shallow waters.

Then the girl in Arika's grasp distorts, swirling like a badly tuned TV signal, rapidly losing colour - before dissolving into an undifferentiated mass of chi particles, not unlike static.

The remaining Riko, the real one, exhales, as she finally powers down her aura, releasing her grip on the technique.

She sinks to her knees, dipping her hands in the cold water of the ornamental pond. Scooping some up, she splashes it against her face - and to her credit, manages not to wince as the water meets the cuts on her left cheek.

Then she lifts her head, water dripping off her chin, to face Arika.

Riko doesn't say anything, but the question in her eyes is clear.

COMBATSYS: Riko has ended the fight here.

Bloody ninjas!

Both seem to have the ability to be there, and not be there. It's very disconcerting, especially when she's expending the remainder of her energy to try crashing Riko's head into the stones. When the girl dissolves, Arika lets out another string of extremely un-ladylike curses, dropping to her knees.

The question is answered just as non-verbally as it's asked, the diva drooping her head to her chest and signalling that she can no longer continue.

The match announcer begins to speak, an enthusiastic voice yelling over the roar of the crowd. The shouts and cheers of the audience rise to a crescendo, echoing from all corners of the museum garden.

Riko ignores them, though. She just rests, half-crouching, by the edge of the pond, as she finishes washing her face. Finally, she stands, brushing stray flecks of water from her hands. Her skates roll over the uneven ground until she stops beside Arika.

"I win. So you owe me," Riko begins.

Then she stops.

It's a moment before she continues.

"One conversation," Riko murmurs, "duration of my choosing. Only over when I say so. Listen to me, mn? Whether you -believe- me or do anything about up to you."

Riko shifts her head, in her habitual thinking pose.

"And you can ask me what you want to know," Riko adds, "though whether -I- do anything..."

She makes a small fluttering motion with her fingers.

A... conversation?

Why does that fill Arika with dread?

Likely because she's envisioning tea parties in hidden dojos, locked far beneath the earth, with the culmination of the conversation ending with her being left in the forest with an envelope full of cash.


The punk princess doesn't move, doesn't get up and doesn't make any other indication that she's going to get up or leave.

"One conversation. After which you leave my team alone." She sincerely doubts that Riko will agree to this, but she's got to attempt it anyhow. She doesn't want her team involved in anything.

"Saaa," Riko replies, "those weren't the terms, Arika-hime..."

She stresses the Japanese honourific, light sarcasm shading her voice."

She brings her arms up, slowly, being careful not to strain the muscles too much...but wincing, all the same, as she rotates the limbs at the shoulders. She laces her fingers together, hands clasped behind her head.

" request is fair enough. I don't intend to force anything. Just a talk. You can even pick the time and place. So long as it's alone, or only with Eva-san."

Riko's eyes narrow.

"But if I wish to talk to her separately, or even Vyril..."

She quite specifically uses Drake's family name, with no honourific.

"...that's my business, ne? And theirs. It's fair. I have already promised to consider this matter of information you need."

A smile, as Riko turns, and makes her way slowly to the border of the gardens. The fact that all of this is still being caught on camera doesn't escape her in the slightest.

"After all, you did -lose-, so your bargaining position isn't that strong..."

Those may not have been the terms, but Arika will see to it that she gets what she wants. Even if she's got to fight Riko again to ensure it.


She says nothing about Eva, since she's not seen the girl since before Christmas. "Find me whenever you want this conversation, but I swear to God if you show up in my room in the middle of the night..."

Whisking the kunai from the sheath, she gets a mean little glint in her eyes.

"I'll find a very creative way to return this to its owner."

"Oh," Riko murmurs, without turning.

By now, she's at the edge of the crowd, about to push through into the audience. But to Arika, she says:

"If you've got it...he wants you to keep it."

With that, and a smile, she slips through the spectators and out into the museum galleries.

Log created on 15:27:56 01/25/2008 by Riko, and last modified on 02:37:56 02/02/2008.