SNF 2014.10 - SNF: Enemies United

Description: Sagat and an unlikely ally-- Sakura Kasugano, dressed as Ryu! -- square off against another pair of unlikely allies: pop princess Athena Asamiya and the enigmatic K'. Much violence ensues. (Winners: Athena and K'. But mostly Athena, because ouch).

The city of Southtown is abuzz with excitement tonight, as Halloween festitives are in full effect. The holiday has only been recently integrated into annual tradition in the island nation - an adaption made all the faster due to the prevalence of Western influences in the hub of activity that is Southtown. This year promises to be a special occasion indeed thanks to the efforts of the concentrated efforts of the Professional Fighting Worldwide Group.
A large, unpopulated area North of Southtown has been converted into a large carnival with shows going on each hour for attendees to witness and fighters to show off their abilities. With the clamor of excitement, the laughter of costumed children and adults alike, and the steady announcements of the neat or scary things to see and do throughout the festival, it seems few if any are still mindful of the supposed eerie history of the dark forest that surrounds the grounds.
Fighters who have volunteered their skills to be put on display for this large event have been getting their opportunities to fight throughout the day. The energy generated by each venue is palpable. Even as the afternoon grows late and the air becomes crisp with the lengthening shadows, spirits remain high. Afterall, even those most paranoid in attendance know that the real threats won't come out until after dark, right?
Such comforting thoughts might be soon dispelled when people get a look at the fighters on display in the next venue to be announced, loud speakers encouraging people to crowd around the cordoned off area, jostling each other for prime viewing angles. The sun is still up, there will be no need for flood lighting at first... but with the way it begins to dip down along the tops of the tall trees the West, the need for illumination could change depending on how long the bout ends up going. The moment the names of the participating fighters are announced, a loud murmur ripples across those gathered around. The reputation of at least one of this event's participants is legendary, to say the least, and the others might also not be complete unknowns!
When the time comes, the first combatant is announced. A spherical flash of rose colored energy burns bright and out of its center twirls a young, up and coming fighter herself, Athena Asamiya. Dressed in golden, skirted armor reminiscent of her divine namesake's common portrayal, she has a prop sword in one hand, and what is no doubt a prop buckler on her left arm. Her expression beams radiance and excitement, her left hand waving as she turns around slowly a few times to greet the audience with nothing shy of sheer, unmitigated exuberance.
Though her public fight record is not particularly long, those who stay informed on such things know that her performance has been beyond exceptional in even the few bouts she's appeared. Where the young prodigy comes from and how she's capable of the impressive victories she has accomplished remains somewhat of a mystery. Her martial arts have proven to be respectable but not exceptional - but of particular note is the level of energy she brings to her matches, the magnitude of her powerful energy, and the aura that can't be missed by any who have seen her fight in person.
"Thank you, everyone!" she exclaims, voice projected by help of the mic, though there's a certain sense that she might not even need its help. A bow is offered in each of the four directions around the reserved area before she stands up straight, swings her sword a few times for show, then quickly sheaths it before it gets in the way of /actually/ being able to fight!

She hadn't been intending to fight, really. Sakura'd thrown on her costume--her best Ryu, of course, though she keeps her headband (that she got from him so it counts), and she's kept her own style somewhat--instead of the worn-out, ragged karate dogi pants, she's got on knee-length bike shorts. And, of course, she's got her traditional red Converse on, because she might idolize and seek to emulate Ryu but her feet aren't covered in what amounts to half-inch thick leather. Her tootsies are still quite tender, thank you very much. But anyways.

She didn't come here expressly to fight--she came to have a good time with her friends Natsu, Hinata, Kei--the whole gang's here, of course, having a grand old time. and while most of them (save Kei) are at least partakers in the fighting spirit if not exactly formally trained, none of them are as eager to fight as Sakura. To observe fights, to study fighters--once Sakura found the stage upon which she'd eventually be fighting, she only left to get snacks, between fights--eventually the other girls just left her there, to her own devices.

Sakura didn't mind. She knew the girls didn't do it out of malice--rather, they wanted her to be able to indulge herself without feeling bad about trapping them there. So it's pure coincidence and happenstance that Sakura's discovered there. But when offered a chance to fight--even alongside Sagat--Sakura jumped at the chance. Almost literally. She knows, of course, that there's some beef between Sagat and Ryu. But she thinks it's the kind of professional beef that fighters have... she doesn't know the true depth of it. She isn't aware.

If she were, she might think twice about wearing the Ryu costume--nah! She's gonna rep her idol no matter what. Of course she's heard of Athena Asamiya, too--who hasn't?!? I mean, pop idol, right? Sakura wasn't really aware of her as a fighter but she's really interested to find out what fighting the pop star is like. And getting an autograph. That'll make Kei super-jealous. Of course she'll get one for her too, to surprise her with later--anyways. Athena makes her entrance to, of course, massive cheers and whistling. Sakura's entrance is somewhat less celebrated--though she does her best to get into the spirit of the thing. When she's announced, she literally runs on stage, past Athena, skidding to a halt comically, then turning and bowing to Athena. She has a huge grin on her face, of course, 'cause she's just happy to be here.

Great. K' watches Athena's flashy entrance with a degree of bewilderment, features twisted somewhere between shock and disdain for much of the introduction. He's dressed against the weather in biker leathers and denim, his head and features half-concealed under a gunmetal grey hoodie, behind dark, sleek sunglasses in crimson-trimmed black frames. If it goes after nightfall, he'll just have to cope. Alongside the week or three worth of stubble the prototype nurtures, it does a good job of obfuscating his age or identity behind a mask of tough guy indifference; truth be told, it's not even a costume. Not that the half-bored dipshit who signed him up for this crazy floor show had any problem finding a spot for badass biker hobos: especially not ones that, if buzz backstage is to be believed, somewhat casually destroyed some of the equipment meant to test and place the unknown fighter.

It doesn't do the renegade bioweapon any favors: now K' is looking down the barrel of a Muay Thai god that they're taunting with a cosplaying Ryu fangirl, and he's got... shit man, K' doesn't even know how to process Asamiya, and it shows on that gaping face even with /all/ the efforts taken to look sullen, stoic, and impossible to read in the first place. It's a good thing almost everyone is watching the psychic girl make a spectacle of herself until he gets it wiped off his face in turn, really. Sadly, the cameras notice-- and cutscene editors are already busy misinterpreting it as a far fonder gape. "Right." They're the ones who get to corral trololol'ed Sagat. Something about it leaves a sour taste in K''s mouth; maybe it's the sudden, paranoid suspicion that the producer who rushed him into -this- fight was trying to get them all mauled.

One of K-Prime's fists clenches at his side, covered in a complex, subtly armored glove, its construction actually a complex chi modulator-- a priceless piece of military hardware gripping another such tool. He's registered, announced simply as 'Dash'. Not too subtle, in the longview; but then that's half the damn point. His entrance is a bit more subdued than Athena's: he uses the flames that seem to dance along his fingertips to light a cigarette, calm in his disregard for the sanctity of the holy weapon he wields-- but then he -is- a heathen. Eyes burning ochre behind the shades, K' pauses and makes himself focus, eyeball Sagat as he enjoys his cigarette, take the measure of the formidable Tiger with the wary apprehension of another predator who knows exactly what he's up against-- too well, for a boy of his years.

It would be a lie to say Sagat couldn't find fear in the rogue's eyes, if he had a better view-- or in his edgy stance. The line drawn by that fear is decisively more 'fight' than 'flight', however-- instinct tells him to be wary, but paychecks for stepping into a clusterfuck like this don't come along every day. Offstage, the fight producer with the creepy fixation on Athena's lovelife is already updating to upsell K' as some kind of biker Kusanagi. If K' gets his ass kicked, it's best to go down as a crappy Kyo cosplayer, right? Silver linings.

The promise of fighting interests Sagat a whole lot more than an opportunity to mingle and listen to zombie rock. He has a score to settle, an injustice to right; even if /he/ ends up declining to wander in and join the proceedings, the chance to observe a variety of fighters both young and old is too valuable to pass up. Plus, he has just about recovered from his ordeal at the hands of Heihachi Mishima, at least to the point of being able to compete in exhibition fights without unnecessarily compromising himself; it would be good to stretch his legs again. To remind the world that, Emperor or not, he is still /Sagat/--and that that name means every bit as much as the title that was stolen from him.

The Invincible Tiger is not too focused on redeeming his reputation to give the theme of the day a nod of respect, though, which is why he arrived in a dark suit with a salmon-colored shirt, matching Kangol hat and loafers, as well as a couple pieces of chunky gold jewelry to pay homage to /another/ Ruler: Slick Rick, whose music didn't quite find its way to his corner of Thailand until the 90s. There are still enough lingering memories from his adolescent days of endless sparring set to blasting music that he was willing to forego his usual attire in honor of brighter times, just for a night.

He probably should have been more suspicious when the promoter wouldn't give him a straight answer about who he was fighting or even discuss any potential stipulations, but--given the spectacle associated with the event, he was willing to reason it away as an attempt at maintaining some kind of mystery for the viewers. Not ideal, certainly, but all in all, there's value in learning how to cope with unforseen curveballs; the evasiveness rankled, but he rolled with it--until he was introduced to his partner in the middle of the ring, that is.

He made plenty of noise since then, but said very few words; mostly, he just growled, and snarled, and snorted--all while glowering and steadily clenching and unclenching his hands into fists. A lot of his attention is on Sakura, but since he is still signed up for a fight, K' and Athena receive plenty of murderous stares too; despite his demeanor, it takes somewhat less time than one might imagine for the former Emperor to settle on carrying out the fight as scheduled--at least, for the time being. Ultimately, he wants - /needs/ - to hone his style by testing it against as many fresh opponents as he can manage, and beating a teenager dressed as Ryu - while satisfying - would be a poor way to go about it, given the presence of two other opponents.

With any luck, he and his--partner--will be able to handle them quickly. And /then/, perhaps, he'll see about having his satisfaction...

The young fighter sucks in her breath then exhales, violet eyes settling on the crowd as she continues to turn slowly. Being here, in the midst of so many, sharing their excitment, their emotions, their energy - were it not for the training provided by the eccentric old Gentsai, she would easily be overwhelmed by it all. As it stands, with no small amount of effort, she is able to keep from being lost in the noise of it all and instead finds strength in their enthusiasm causing her own smile to radiate even brighter. Even at her age, she seems born to be in the limelight.
Sakura rushes past, causing Athena to take notice, giving her fellow fighter an equally cheerful smile, returning the bow in turn, "Hello, I'm happy to meet you!" she chirps. She isn't really sure who the girl is, not really being super informed about the fighting scene in general. "This is a great chance to show what we can do, right?"
She lifts her hand, fingers tracing through her long, dark violet hair as she brushes it back behind her ear even as she turns toward a curious sensation - a presence standing out from all others for a fleeting moment, a spark in the shadow, as eyes come to rest on her partner for this match. The way she freezes seems to give undue pause to the moment, studying the hooded, rough looking young man far too long to just be casual acknowledgement. Already fight scripters are busy at work on how to play this intended coupling of the two younger participants. "...huh." she murmurs softly. Those flames... she didn't know Kyo had a brother?
When the biggest name in the fight is announced, Athena whirls toward Sagat on sandal-clad feet to stare at the towering fighter and really take in this opponent of theirs. Easily the tallest man she has ever stood in the ring agaist - the up and coming fighters she worked her way through swiftly in her short career thus far were /nothing/ like this. Even she knows who the man is. And now this is her chance -
He may not have been crowned the World Warrior, but his legend is no less imposing. If she wanted to give the audience an incredible show, who better to face than Sagat himself? Even beneath the trappings of his costume, his powerful presence is impossible to miss. Athena sucks in her breath, becoming subdued for a moment, right hand going to rest at the base of her neck. Is her training up to this task? Thought of the power that must exist behind his strikes must be put out of mind.
There are dark days ahead, her sensei had warned her - those behind them will feed on your fear if you are not strong enough.
The salient warning is processed again in her mind as the girl redoubles her resolve. The man is a legend but even legends can fall. Closing her eyes, she bows her head, hands dropping to her sides. There is a pulse - a wave unseen that washes over the makeshift arena of this venue. Few will have the senses to atively sense it as the girl taps into that incredible reservoir which has carried her fighting career thus far.
Eyes open with a glint of determination, her expression serious now as she looks across the way at their two opponents. To K' she remarks, "I promise I will do my best." Whether she can win this fight or not shouldn't matter, she tells herself - as long as there are no regrets.

COMBATSYS: Athena has started a fight here on the right meter side.

                                  >  //////////////////////////////]
                                  |=------\-------\0           Athena

"Stay..." Sagat exhales as his head twitches so that he can glower down at Sakura, "out..."

He breathes deeply between between words, and each exhale is accompanied by fresh waves of burning orange chi crawling across his bare skin and flickering through sleeves and collars. His voice is a bestial rumble forced through clenched teeth, barely held in check as he paws at, then grabs a handful of his shirt. "... of... my... /way/!"

His upper body twists towards the opposing team with that last word, and with a sharp jerk of his arm, he rips the front of his costume away. Just then, the sparks of chi alighting his body flare into a column of spiritual fury around the dethroned Emperor, obliterating the rest of his costume instantly. Ruined strands of black and salmon briefly swirl through surging chi before being blown away by the sheer magnitude of his outrage. The only remotely intact piece of the costume left is the scrap in his hand, which he throws aside so that his hand can return to his chest--and the now bared scar carved mockingly across it.

He doesn't make any further movements yet, save for digging his fingers in against his flesh sharply enough to draw a few pricks blood; he simply glares at his foes and seethes. And continues to take the kinds of deep, rasping breaths one might expect from, say, a warthog on the verge of charging rather than a man.

COMBATSYS: Sagat has joined the fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Sagat            0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0           Athena

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

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Sagat            0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0           Athena

COMBATSYS: Sagat gathers his will.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Sagat            0/-------/---====|=------\-------\0           Athena

Oh, also: Sagat is wearing black Muay Thai shorts with orange trim, along with taped hands and feet. Because this game has a rating.

Sagat is... imposing. To say that Sakura can feel his presence looming next to her, to say that she can feel the disapproval he has at her costuming--to say the least--even without him glaring at her with his one good eye... none of these things are farfetched. His mere aura stifles any sort of chipper remark she might've had for the Emperor of Muay Thai. Athena -does- get a smile and a nod, but that's well before Sagat comes on the scene. Once he's in the area, all bets are off.

Sakura manages a quick bow to Sagat, respectful to a man who Ryu likely respects as a warrior and a martial artist, even if they aren't what one would term 'friends'. Heck, she doesn't even -say- anything to Sagat; his glowering stare convinces her immediately that opening her mouth would be a Bad Idea(tm). Plus...

...she's nervous. She thinks of herself as a fighter--but the people she's arrayed with and against all exude an aura that she can't hope to match. Tsukushi's disdainfully honest words come to her mind: 'You're just playing...' The words made her frown then, and they make her frown now. Frown, and clench a fist. She'll show him. She's a fighter! This fight is her proof!

Determination restored, Sakura edges away from Sagat a few steps. Stay out of his way? _Not_ a problem. Sagat is psyching himself up, and Sakura... does no such thing. She gives K' a look, but, unsurprisingly, Sakura darts forward--for Athena.

She engages the idol singer with a quick, low kick--akin to a Muay Thai kick, though the form is slightly different.

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

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Sakura           0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0           Athena
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Sagat            0/-------/---====|

COMBATSYS: K' has joined the fight here on the right meter side.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Sakura           0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0           Athena
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Sagat            0/-------/---====|-------\-------\0               K'

COMBATSYS: Athena instinctively blocks Sakura's Light Kick.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Sakura           0/-------/-------|==-----\-------\0           Athena
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Sagat            0/-------/---====|-------\-------\0               K'

Oh good, the little Ryu cosplayer is fanfriends with the pop princess. K' reaches behind his head to scratch at his hair through the hoodie with the black gloved hand that's -not- bleeding fire through tensed fingers. The renegade infused with the killing instinct of a bloodline; a weapon as old as recorded history? He's lived what some would call a Rough Life(tm). Abducted, experimented on, finally rewritten into a key to a cosmic force-- and he's -still- wondering what the fuck is wrong with the people organizing this shit. "Yea." K' takes a minute to study Athena, instinct superceding culture shock as the 'musician' tunes her own mind to the battle ahead. "That's probably a damn good idea, princess." Scoffing covers legitimate agreement-- but hey, it /should/ be a given, right?

He's perhaps better prepared than could have been predicted, or at least... K' came armed. It's evident indeed to fighters attuned to such a thing, for the young fugitive's own amplitude as well as the fact that the celestial flame of the Kusanagi is something wholly unique. The demonslaying, blazing heart of a star. Frankly, K' doesn't know much of the lore-- he didn't ask for this (Adam Jensen voiced); but it comes to him as easy as breathing, easier in the moments he seethingly, with teeth clenched, channels that ire into fire. It comes from him in torrents, like all he had to do was stop holding it back, let go just a little. It comes with a sneer that's half a snarl, defiant in the face of Sagat's chest-thumping.

That Tiger means to rage, and if he expects his quarry to cower? He can fuck right off. It's almost lazy-- to a lesser observer, it looks haphazard, nonchalant. It's just that reflexive, that second nature. K' doesn't think about it, barely seems to -have- a trained style, but he has a certain predatory grace as the roiling fire is flicked towards the ground before him, roiling into a ring of consuming fury, then kicked by one heavy boot and a sharp twist to lance outwards. It's hard to discount the beauty of that plume of flame, flaring like an autumn sunset, as it blasts across the distance in for Sagat. That flesh-melting fury speaks terms fairly enough.

The anger broiling off of Sagat's form is enough to give Athena pause, the girl looking about to recoil from the imposing force. Her own spirits are dampened by the magnitude of his hostility - an immediate lesson that not all fighters enter the arena with the same attitude. Countless backgrounds, each different in so many ways, has brought the four of them together there in that moment. While she has, in her short career, known only largely victory, backed by the heartening support of the people that have become herfamily, she is given a stark reminder here and now that the same cannot be said for everyone.
Violet eyes snap to the scar on the powerful man's marred chest. It is more than a physical disfiguration of his flesh - it is a badge, a mark, an engraved reminder of a moment witnessed by the entire world. It is in that moment that the youthful fighter gets even the slightest sense of what fuels the man's anger... even that ioita of wrath is enough to force her to refocus her thoughts. She must not dwell on it - emotions like the Tiger's are infectious. But they are not entirely without their use, either. She doesn't block it out completely - that dark infuence, that burning fury radiating from the man - it can fuel her own strength if funneled properly into her own techniques. Anger, if applied righteously, can be a power unto itself, she reflects quietly, slowly becoming more at ease in the presence of the imposing man.
Lifting her hands, she turns so that her left shoulder is forward, feet slipping apart a little as she begins to bounce lightly on her toes. At the heart of her style is a deep love and appreciation for the simple directness of the Kung Fu passed onto her by Chin's teachings. Just remember the fundamentals, she reminds herself - allow the training to take hold. She forces back the unease at Sagat's presence as her assigned partner, Dash, steps into the fight.
That fire though - there's no mistakening it - the way it resonates, ripples in the ambience. The echo harkens back to a signature she has felt the one time she got to see Kyo Kusagani fight in person. There's a dark edge though - a shadow that occupies her thoughts for a fleeting moment before she shakes his head. The dismissive retort wasn't missed, the girl managing a waning smile as the inferno comes to life at her side. She is used to not being taken seriously. Was that heartbreak in her eyes? The script writers off stage jotting down notes seem to think it was close enough to serve their purposes!
Violet eyes come to rest on Sakura. Does she know that feeling? Of being dismissed for her age? Her build? Is her heart so easily discounted? Perhaps a moment of reflected empathy brings the sparkle back into Athena's smile as she looks upon the eager fighter who has chosen to demonstrate her strength with a speedy assault. Yes - she too no doubt knows the feeling. And now each of them can work to dispell such sentiments with the dedication they bring to the fight.
When Sakura charges, Athena crouches down lower, making herself a bit of a smaller target. She moves on instinct and, perhaps on some small level, an impression of where that opening strike is going to come from even before the muscles in Sakura's leg respond to Kasugano's will. Arms come up, bracing the impact, weathering the kick directly, teeth grit.
Her response comes surprisingly fast as the light-armor-clad girl surges up out of her crouch into a hop, her left knee leading the way as she aims to drive it into Sakura's sternum. Her left leg snaps up next, a chin-targeting snap kick. She isn't the strongest fighter around when it comes to raw, physical striking force... but she's no joke either! "YA!"

COMBATSYS: K' successfully hits Sagat with Second Shoot.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Sakura           0/-------/-------|==-----\-------\0           Athena
[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Sagat            0/-------/--=====|=====--\-------\0               K'

COMBATSYS: Athena successfully hits Sakura with Renkantai.

[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Sakura           0/-------/-----==|====---\-------\0           Athena
[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Sagat            0/-------/--=====|=====--\-------\0               K'

Sagat's glare shifts between Athena and Dash from the heart of his churning fury. Despite appearances, his mind is at least partly occupied with crunching the possibilities before him, rather than being wholly consumed by rage: pop princess or pretty boy? Which one could he make the biggest statement by crushing?

At one point, he catches Athena's eyes roving over the scar; he makes certain to make as much eye contact with her as possible as he bares his teeth and draws thin trails of blood across the warped flesh. He then closes his bloodied fist and begins to take a step forward, but before he can fully commit to whatever dread thing he may be planning, two things happen:

1.) Sakura charges at Athena, effectively choosing his opponent /for/ him, and,
2.) The edges of his perception positively boil as that opponent taps into the cosmic fire of the Kusanagi clan.

The former Emperor snaps his eye and body both firmly towards Dash as an ephemeral heat prickles his skin, and his nostrils flare as releases one last, bracing breath that banishes the flaring chi. He takes a solid step forward--only to pause for a moment of wary observation as Dash demonstrates his lackadaisical style. Such indolence, and yet--the air around the flame arcing towards him positively ripples with the same incredible energies pouring from the man.

Rather than test its intensity by barreling through it at full speed, Sagat hunkers low and shuffles forward for a couple of steps, intent on pausing to deflect the flame as best as he can when the time comes; no matter how badly he needs to close the distance, he's better off treating the clone with the utmost of caution--at least, until he has a better idea of what he can actually /do/.

He gets his first lesson when the flame twists at the last moment, worming its way past his defensively crossed arms to splash directly against his chest. The towering Thai staggers backwards a couple of steps, smoke pouring from his freshly burned skin; there is an expression of surprise that twists right back into rage as soon as he catches himself, and it's accompanied by a low noise of annoyance--and, in some small part, grudging appreciation.

"Interesting," he rumbles. Immediately afterwards, he charging across the arena with thundering footfalls, and as soon as he's close enough to Dash, he drops his body low, cocks his right fist so that it's tucked near his sternum--

--and then twists his hulking frame to deliver a scything elbow strike to the clone's ribcage. Afterwards, he'll try to hop back a step while uncoiling to his full height so that he can adopt a properly aggressive posture.

"UFF!" This is Sakura's response to taking a knee-kick combination to the chest. It isn't, perhaps, the most eloquent of responses, but she should be forgiven--she's just had the breath knocked out of her. The second part of Athena's combination knocks Sakura backwards, stumbling, Athena's kick having broken through Sakura's upraised guard--similar to an uppercut blasting through a boxer's peekaboo guard. But Sakura's made of tougher stuff than that; she straightens her back and offers Athena a grin.

It's a combination of a challenge, acknowledgement of a fellow martial artist, and a promise to repay the hit with one in kind--all that and more are contained within Sakura's grin. It's with an almost deliberate motion that she brings her hands back up, tightening her hands back into fists. It was a good hit, and she acknowledges that. Clearly she'll have to turn up the heat some, too.

Sagat? Well... he told her to stay out of his way. And she has absolutely no problem with that at all, because, well, he's /Sagat/. Even as a devotee of Ryu she knows and respects the Emperor of Muay Thai. He says stay out of his way? She definitely will. Out of a sense of self-preservation if nothing else. In any case, she really considers Athena her opponent right now, and so it's back on the idol she moves.

Athena can probably read in her eyes--if not her aura--that there's a touch of starstruck wonder to the girl, but her determination is coming through too. Closing, closing... and then she suddenly lunges, dropping her right fist to her hip, cocking it, and, as she reaches Athena, throwing a sharp uppercut with a turn of the body behind it and a short leap.

COMBATSYS: K' blocks Sagat's Medium Punch.

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Sakura           0/-------/-------|====---\-------\0           Athena
[   \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Sagat            0/-------/--=====|=======\-------\0               K'

COMBATSYS: Athena dodges Sakura's Shou'ou Ken.

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Sakura           0/-------/-------|====---\-------\0           Athena
[   \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Sagat            0/-------/--=====|=======\-------\0               K'

Interesting: One of the kinder words that's been applied to K' through his harsh tenure on this Earth. He's certainly not going to argue it-- and not only because it's a damned mountain of Muay Thai saying it. That's probably a factor, though; the renegade normally /does/ love to run his mouth. He needs his focus, here, though, needs ever element of his instinct and alertness honed in on the massive Thai to avoid getting abruptly crushed by the locomotive that is Sagat. Thusly there's scant attention spared for Athena and Sakura: if he's hurt the former's feelings discounting her for age and appearance (and because K' just default assumes everyone else is shit)? Well, hopefully he makes up for it at least in part by deciding all the more firmly in those first instants that Asamiya -does- know what she's doing.

She's spared little more than a glance out of the periphery of his vision, visible behind the shades only in the slight tilt of his head to take Kasugano's charge and its results in, and then the infused conduit of the Kusanagi legacy is dropping his guard around, flexed arms catching that elbow early and heaving off it-- though it's K' who's hurtled back, the sheer force of it sending him into a braced skid. "Heh." Most men would be flattened. Most fighters would be intimidated. The prototype bioweapon just realizes his hypothesis with regard to the Raging Tiger? It's been confirmed. This does little to dull K''s wary edge, but he wasn't cowed before, and it sure as shit isn't happening -now-.

Even as he's landing, motorcycle boots skidding across the ground, his teeth clench, his gloved hand snaps to his side, and where before there was a torrent of BURNING, it's now full bore inferno, a conflaguration that metaphorically threatens great forests. Wavering lines distort the air about his arm, swirling tongues of flame course from every fingertip, that Promethean force suffusing him, surrounding him, casting the rogue weapon's entire aura in the ochre ire of cosmic fire.

His left glove, simple leather, vaporizes as that hand joins in the summoning, disintegrated in an instant by the deceptively simple gesture-- he might have been holding it back, but he's not anymore, pushing his tolerances higher, nearer their limit. K' didn't come here to get pulped, towering Thai who's the rightful Emperor of one of the most brutal styles in the world /or not/. "It's been said." Interesting. K' accomodates the sentiment in dour tones, even as it's compounded by the brilliant solar flare of both his hidden eyes, burning behind his sleek and fashionable glasses.

COMBATSYS: K' charges his next attack!

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Sakura           0/-------/-------|====---\-------\0           Athena
[   \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Sagat            0/-------/--=====|=======\=------\1               K'

Athena lands quickly from her hopping kick, rising up to a defensive stance without a moment's hesitation. Every movement seems to flow into the next in one smooth motion. Now that the fight is engaged, the young fighter's training can take over, leading her through attack and defend in a rhythmic cycle until the bout's end. At least, that is the idea... it just takes one bad mis-step to lose that pattern completely.
She feels a tinge of relief that Sagat's towering form is advancing in on Dash - a sentiment immediately replaced by a flash of guilt. Why should she wish the Muy Thai master's force be directed elsewhere? If she was afraid of being hurt, she shouldn't be here. And isn't Kusanagi's apparant relative worth consideration as well? What if he can't withstand the might of the titan?
The introspection happens in an instant, but it's enough to leave a lasting thought in her mind. She can't shirk danger here if she ever has hopes of being able to face the monsters beyond the arena. She prepares to deal with Sakura's attack, turning her left shoulder forward, left hand extended, fingers splayed, right hand cocked back, ready to strike with more force. Dash finds himself absorbing the impact of one of the most powerful fists in the world, an exchange she barely catches notice of yet feels a pulse of the kinetic exchange even from a distance!
Violet eyes read Sakura's bold charge. It's difficult to predict - a kick? A straight punch? No, something more-! Being unafraid of being struck isn't the same as willfully getting uppercutted in the jaw by a very impressive, full-body punch, she decides, leading her to react evasively, avoiding Sakura's rising fist narrowly, stepping around the strike on nimble feet. Even as she turns, there are two flashes of energy:
- One at her back, a crimson cloak unfurling down from her shoulders from seemingly no where, as her costume evolves slightly from the golden armor she began in. She definitely wasn't wearing a cloak when the match began?
- Two, and of greater interest to Sakura, is the rose hued surge of power coursing down Athena's arms toward her hands as she draws them back. It all happens in a split second, putting the dedicated martial artist to the test.
"Psycho-" Her signature technique - the first powerful projection of Psycho Power she learned to master under Gentsai's tutelage. She also knows something of putting on a show. The girl leans forward, snapping her hands from behind her back to out in front as she slings the power together, crashing the energy into a sphere of Psionic at close range. "BALL!"

COMBATSYS: Sakura dodges Athena's Psycho Ball.

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Sakura           0/-------/-------|=====--\-------\0           Athena
[   \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Sagat            0/-------/--=====|=======\=------\1               K'

Sakura misses part of the lightshow--she's still recovering from her attempt to sock one to Athena. But the cape is, while certainly very interesting, definitely not -the- point of interest for Sakura. That would probably be the Psycho Ball, because that's definitely the most dangerous thing to her. And Athena is pretty swift with that ball. Sakura's barely touched down and turned around by the time Athena's hurling that thing at her and her eyes go wide.

For a half-second she hesitates, as if unsure what to do, then at the last moment she literally hops to her left, twisting her body to clear the psycho power projectile by the thinnest of margins. In fact, one end of her black belt gets singed by the Psycho Ball, wisps of residual energy, or smoke, rising from it as Sakura lands.

Her shoes squeak like a basketball player's shoes as she lands, due to the sudden shift in momentum and inertia. If there's one thing anyone can say about Sakura, it's that she doesn't give up. Sakura takes two steps, nice long ones, before leaping forward, throwing her whole body into a flying kick. Flinging herself recklessly at her opponent is definitely not a Ryu-approved strategy but it's definitely one all her own.

She seems determined to stay close to Athena, to not let the girl breathe--perhaps it's the only way she's thinking she can win against the Psycho Soldier. She's probably not far off--she'll need to smother Athena, strategically speaking, in order to succesfully prosecute this match against her. If K' steps in? Things might go bad very quickly for the young Ansatsuken prodigy.

Most of Sagat's attention is on the clone; there is some concern in the back of his mind for the possibility of Athena deciding to interject herself in he and Dash's fight, but the Kusanagi flame - not to mention the way the burning bioweapon moves with his blow instead of being crushed by it - demands that he make the hooded man his first priority. His skill is unmistakable beneath the layers of nonchalance; he might lack Asamiya's popularity, but conquering him would make for a worthy debut all the same.

This is sure to be much, much tougher to /do/ than it is to imagine, but the dethroned ruler has never been one to back down from a challenge.

Of course, K' allowing his inner fires to run wild only goes to demonstrate /how/ great a challenge Sagat is facing: where before he saw shimmering air and felt helt on his skin, now he feels the flames pouring from K' in the depths of his very being, a purifying warmth that burns in stark contrast to the vengeful fires fueling the Invincible Tiger. Faint wisps of chi flicker along the surface of his scar, as if unwilling to stay contained in the presence of the ancient force Dash seems to be channeling with relative ease.

Some men might be alarmed, given the givens; Sagat just draws in a fortifying breath before lunging at the blazing clone. His massive arms dart out as soon as K' is within reach, but his aim is to seize K''s unignited arm and hurl him across the arena with a sharp twist of his hips instead of throwing more strikes.

COMBATSYS: K' blocks Sagat's Tiger Carry.

[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Sakura           0/-------/-------|=====--\-------\0           Athena
[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Sagat            0/-------/-======|=======\====---\1               K'

COMBATSYS: Athena interrupts Aggressive Strike from Sakura with Psycho Sword EX.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Sakura           0/-------/<<<<<<<|=======\-------\1           Athena
[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Sagat            0/-------/-======|=======\====---\1               K'

For K''s part, his attention remains more or less fixed where it began, where it was demanded by Sagat's initial display of raw power and inhuman lack of concern for pain and injury: on that Thai Tiger, squarely. It's not that he's oblivious to the battle unfolding around him, to the flares of odd power from Athena. The wild psi-talent is not a thing that the Beast of Flame has encountered before, it's definitely remarkble, it's definitely-- what was the word? -- interesting. It is however an interesting that's filed away for -after- he's not in danger of having his bones mashed: Sagat's strength, his potential with chi, his ironclad defenses? These are things K' is -far- more familiar with. The renegade knows the threat he faces.. of course, K' also knows the sheer, ferocious fury that burns within his own spirit, so scarcely contained.

K' doesn't step in on Sakura, doesn't interrupt the battle waged by his partner, instead keeping those flaring orbs /locked/ in on the rightful Emperor of Muay Thai. The flames coursing through him, flaring wildly and unpredictably from the bioweapon's very pores, may lick with superheated intensity at Sagat's ironclad grasp-- but the clinch isn't long enough to do any real damage, and K' goes hurtling skyward. His descent, however, is not quite right. As he arcs towards the sudden stop at the other edge of the battleground, his feet kick downwards, suddenly below him once more. He /rockets/ straight down, rather than skidding to a crash landing, impacting the ground with a thrumming kaboom and sending shockwaves through earth and air, fire erupting about his three-point crouch in charring gouts.

In the next half an instant he's in motion, back in at Sagat with, alarmingly, perhaps /more/ speed and ferocity. His hands sweep from his sides to brace before him, gloved grasp first, in a reaving warhead of divine flame that seeks to form the vanguard of the Kusanagi conduit's roaring charge, an impact that would bring K' bodily all but /through/ Sagat, with force enough to move even the mountain of Muay Thai... perhaps several times over.

COMBATSYS: Sagat endures K''s Empowered Heat Drive.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Sakura           0/-------/<<<<<<<|=======\-------\1           Athena
[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////      ]
Sagat            1/-------/=======|====---\-------\0               K'

The swiftness with which Sakura avoids her projectile tells Athena one thing for certain - this up and coming fighter has honed reflexes. The Psycho Ball itself is no small blast of energy, and to avoid it at point blank range? The Psychic Fighter will have to adjust her own speed to contest that - or, perhaps, try a different tactic all together.
The heat of building flame can be felt even from where she stands but she can't risk even a glance to see how Dash is holding up against Sagat's formidable force. She has her own hands full with Sakura's aggressive approach to fighting, constantly forcing the girl to react and try to slip in attacks where she can. She isn't a purely reactive fighter herself, but the gifted newcomer is definitely setting the pace for her right now.
She has something to prove, Athena considers. This pursuit of hers is no mere passing fancy - she can read the enthusiasm Kasugano has for martial arts in her eyes; no psychic power needed there. She snaps her right finger as she draws back into her ready stance - several meters past Sakura, the Psycho Ball loses its form, its energy scattered as its creator shifts her focus to more pressing needs.
Like the kick that is going to hit her in the face if she doesn't do something about it. Her left arm raises, the costume buckler is successfully moved on instinct to block the other girl's foot.
At the same time, Athena's right arm draws back, her legs bending, another pulse of Psycho Power coursing along her arm, the magnitude not visibly appearing greater than her last attack, but even being in proximity to it is enough to tell it's another order of threat all together compared to the Psycho Ball.
Sakura's foot crashes into the buckler. Maybe it's not just for show?
The buckler shatters into a thousand fragments of cheap prop plastic. Okay. Yeah. It was just for show. But by now, Asamiya's shoulder becomes the point of impact for Sakura's kick, the force provoking a flinch as she tries to carry out the attack. "Psycho Sword!"
Moving with the force applied to her left shoulder, her right arm is swung forward, her bent legs straightening into an upward leap, her right hand tracing a path for the dangerously compressed Psycho Power that surges upward, up and through Kasugano's body, on Athena's ascent into the air.
It's the pain that gets people. The Idol Princess's most powerful techniques leave almost no mark, render almost no physical harm to her opponents. But the pain they inflict is something else all together - something unworldly and debilitating. Sakura would feel it then, in this moment of intense contact with that rose hued energy, the crushing aura of Athena's presence when she's fighting.
The lithe fighter's form spins through the air in an almost straight vertical leap before she drops to the ground in a soft crouch, the glow along her arm fading at last as she rises up to take better stock of the fight in what might be her only chance to do so. She knows that won't be it for Sakura. Some fights, among some fighters, can be resolved in a single powerful blow. But in her heart, she knows that will not be the case here.

Sakura isn't exactly sure what happened. She felt the impact of her kick--and then suddenly. Suddenly she's thrown back--the force of Athena's technique, even without a physical mark to leave it, such that she just finds herself on her back. For a moment, she lies still, and just when one might wonder if she -is- out, she twitches, convulses, and jerks, sitting up and instinctively, reflexively, hopping back up into a guard stance even before she's fully aware that she is.

Lowering her right hand, she touches her chest lightly, as if to confirm that she hasn't been cut in half, because the lingering pain seems to suggest that she was. But she's still in one piece. Somehow. Her eyes--her eyes. They're not cheery anymore, because Sakura's taking this more seriously now. Not that she wasn't taking it seriously before... but now.

She checks her impulse--to run back in--and stops to think. Is a show of power what's needed? Or...? Sakura makes her decision before she's consciously realized she has, and her stance shifts, centering itself, lowering her center of gravity. Her power is not the same as Athena's, but in its own way, it could be just as potent, flowing up around her as a circular gust of wind, as a lapping, undulating blue-white glow that flickers and flows up from the earth around her.

COMBATSYS: Sakura taps into her inner strength!

[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Sakura           1/----<<</<<<<<<<|=======\-------\1           Athena
[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////      ]
Sagat            1/-------/=======|====---\-------\0               K'

Rainbow Mika has arrived.

On the other hand, Sagat knows very little about /his/ opponent. The fire he wields is easily most familiar thing about him: the Kusanagi name and flame are legends in the fighting world, but Dash himself is a virtual unknown. He /had/ seen scattered, poorly filmed highlights of a brash, white-haired, shades-wearing young man running roughshod over opponents in seedy locales with overwhelming pyrotechnics; keeping an eye out for talented young upstarts often meant digging for intel from even the humblest of events and venues.

He never quite saw enough footage to formulate a strong theoretical gameplan for confronting the young man, and as Dash crashes back to the ground and scatters even more of those incredible flames across it, he is beginning to second-guess that lapse in judgement. When the clone follows his landing up with blisteringly swift aggression, the Emperor is downright livid with himself; rather than lose himself to regret, however, he breathes in deeply through his nostrils, spreads his feet, and--waits. There's just enough time to pull his arms up defensively, but instead he spreads them, inviting -- /daring/ the clone to hit him.

And Sagat is not disappointed; K''s burning hand impacts solidly with the former Emperor's midsection, eliciting a roar of agony as the sheer force of it rockets him back along the arena floor. His bulging eye and tightly clenching teeth tell the story of a man determined not to falter despite the pain he's enduring, even as Dash tries with all his might to strike through him. When their momentum finally fades, the Towering Tiger crumples, supporting himself on a knee and a fist as smoke curls off of his bright and freshly branded flesh.

Following a couple moments spent panting heavily in recovery, his labored breaths give way to ragged, but nonetheless mocking laughter and he pushes himself upright. Despite initially stumbling when tries to plant his feet, he continues to cackle; it isn't anything new for anyone who's ever seen Sagat fight, really. Even when he was on top, this was one of his favorite tactics for unnerving opponents--even ones who threatened him, bloodied him, showed flashes of taking his crown. For better or worse, though, the laughter doesn't last too long; soon enough, he's reciprocating in launching himself forcefully at the clone, only it's the wickedly sharp point of his knee that's primed for a collision rather than a flaming limb.


COMBATSYS: Sagat successfully hits K' with Tiger Crush.

[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Sakura           1/----<<</<<<<<<<|=======\=------\1           Athena
[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////           ]
Sagat            1/------=/=======|=======\-------\0               K'

Contact is made. Profound, explosive contact-- but it's not quite right. K' knows in the first moments of that violent pass that while Sagat may indeed be moved, with fearsome intensity, the mountain of Muay Thai has tricks of his own up his... decided lack of sleeves. K' skids out of his trajectile onto an anchoring boot, twisting on one heel to face the rightful Emperor anew, fire still stirring in lingering tendrils from his fingertips. The young fighter's sudden, alarming concentration of cosmic flame may be drained... but he's far from tapped, his spirit reaching across untold distances to the cosmic heart of his stolen power and renew that remarkable fusion that fuels him, roils ever higher. It almost seems effortless, making it easy to write the prototype off as a blistering success, particularly glanced now, over a year into his freedom.

It's easy to miss the strain it places on him, the way that Promethean might threatens to consume the conduit outright. The way his flexing, gloved fist actually -restrains- him; a little. At the least, it means that the solar flare summoned within him doesn't disintegrate -him- outright, but for all his apparent affinity for the armament of the Kusanagi, there's little he can do when that knee hurtles in, crosses the distance in an instant. Turnabout is fair play. K' is launched back, skyward, reeling for the ascent as his chest screams from the impact. For a moment, it seems like it would be easier to let the pain overtake him-- to crash to earth, skid to a stop, maybe take a very pleasant and opportune nap while Athena handles this mess. The predator in K' is far more voracious, however: killing instinct supercedes any desire to submit-- the Beast is scarcely spent.

As his momentum shifts, in the instants preceding brutal impact with the newly constructed arena, K' /kicks/ his feet out, this time upwards, launching in midair into a flame-empowered backflip, snatching his nearly-lost shades back to his face. It brings him around in an instant, but it's the sudden outpouring of fire that keeps him aloft another moment, that cascades downwards, its molten intensity erupting everywhere in a shockwave of rippling, nearly liquified fire that seeks to surround Sagat-- and no shortage of the area where he finds his footing-- in napalm forged of raging, cosmic chi.

COMBATSYS: Sagat blocks K''s Air Trigger EX.

[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Sakura           1/----<<</<<<<<<<|=======\=------\1           Athena
[            \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////           ]
Sagat            1/-----==/=======|=======\-------\1               K'

On her feet, Athena slides into her ready stance again, arms raised, primed for striking or defending. Now that she has been given a window of opportunity, she allows her senses to expand outward again. She had been so intensely focused on every step Sakura made, she was barely able to follow the violent exchanges between the two men in the match. And now, as she takes in their situation and tries to reflect on what she knows of the blows levied back and forth, she really has no idea who has the upper hand!
Eyes switch back to Sakura. She had been dealt a significant attack, Athena's certain. She's too young in her own career to really know the full extent of what it means to be struck by Psycho Power by one with far more capacity to dish it out than she can defend against it, but even the spars amongst the Psycho Soldiers have given her a firm clue as to what it must be like for Kasugano this moment. Next she allows her senses to extend out further, toward the viewing audience. Their excitement, their energy, so much wavelengths of varying psyches, feeling them all so fiercely focused on the excitement of this fight only serves to build her own enthusiasm.
Sakura's expression has shifted. Athena can sense that now. Their exchanges had already been close, the Idol fighter only managing to hedge out an edge when she finally gambled on a risky interruption against an incoming kick. And now? It seems likely they will be even closer. Every step matters. The girl steps forward then, shaking the last remnants of her shattered shield to the ground. There is a hint of a smile at her lips - not a patronizing grin or feigned attempt to distract Sakura from her motives. Just a pure, simple expression of enjoyment for this match amongst such powerful individuals. Even the energy radiating off of K' and Sagat is empowering.
She takes another step forward, moving cautiously but not slowly. She is curious about Sakura's plan. The fighting fan in her even wants to see what it is in action. But the /fighter/ in her knows it is upon her to do anything she can do to stop it!
And then she's there. At Sakura's side. Her hands snapping out in an instant from the girl's left. How she crossed the distance between them in that moment would be a challenge for even the instant replays to explain.
She seeks a grip on the girl's upper arm and shoulder, her own foot moving in behind Sakura, as Athena attempts to provide enough lever force to flip her opponent to the ground before she can execute on whatever plan she seems to be forming! "Ha!"

COMBATSYS: Sakura instinctively blocks Athena's Medium Throw.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Sakura           1/--=====/=======|=======\==-----\1           Athena
[            \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////           ]
Sagat            1/-----==/=======|=======\-------\1               K'

The problem with doing this--with tapping into her inner power, as Ryu showed her once, a while ago, or at least explained--is that she still sinks -too- far into herself. Maintaining awareness of what's around her is a spotty-ish thing. So it's a triumph for her, a minor one, when she finds herself rolling across the flooring, her body having reacted--of its own will, practically--to Athena's attempt to dislodge her. It was successful, but not especially so, and Sakura blinks once, then grins.

Even that is a triumph for her, and she lets it be known by briefly raising a fist in celebration. Athena will probably understand the exultation--as well as the subsequent attempt to even the score.

She'll certainly feel the rising energy from Sakura even before it becomes visible, a blue-white aura filling her hands and growing at an alarming rate, expanding once, twice, a third time, before Sakura compresses it down further, intensifying it and concentrating it. Her voice takes on a strange tone, a slight echo, as she says--not loud, but her voice carrying--"Try -this-... Shinkuu... HADOUKEN!" With that last syllable she flings the bolt forward, seeking to engulf Athena within its pure chi fire.

There's nowhere to run, and there is so much fire raining down around him that K' is more felt than seen, a brilliant comet falling to Earth and bringing ill omens with it. Of course, the destruction that K''s descent portends is much more concrete than the far-of doom that some might imagine in the wake of that celestial body: Sagat weathers it as best as he can with grit, determination, and no small amount of wrathfully swatting some of the burning projections away from himself. No matter how carefully he strives to protect his face and already branded upper body, though--the Kusanagi flame refuses to be fully denied.

By the time the salvo abates enough that hop-stepping over and/or through the lingering flames doesn't carry an obvious risk of darting into even /more/ of them, his reddened arms are covered with freshly blistering skin. He hears - and /feels/ - Sakura unleash her technique as he strives to escape the conflagration, and he has to swallow the urge to launch a blast of his own in her direction, just on instinct. The flames licking at his heels are, at least, a wonderful motivator to stay on target; the odds that K' might join him in battering the schoolgirl instead of taking advantage of his lapsed focus seem slim.

The first time his feet touch ground that /isn't/ surrounded by fire, he breaks into a short run towards the clone's landing place that will swiftly shift into sweeping kick aimed for his solar plexus once he's close enough to make contact with those long legs of his. Rather than drop his right foot to the ground afterwards, he'll keep the knee bent almost protectively in front of himself.

"Where," he wonders in a low rumble, keeping one fist clenched before himself while his other fingers gingerly walk the weeping, tortured flesh of his chest and abdomen, "did you learn to channel such power, boy?"

COMBATSYS: K' interrupts Medium Kick from Sagat with Crow Bite EX.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Sakura           0/-------/---====|=======\===----\1           Athena
[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////               ]
Sagat            1/---====/=======|=======\===----\1               K'

COMBATSYS: Athena overcomes Shinkuu Hadouken from Sakura with Psycho Shoot.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Sakura           0/-------/---====|=======\===----\1           Athena
[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////               ]
Sagat            1/---====/=======|=======\===----\1               K'

K' lands out of the blast of fire with a sharp intake of breath, released in a hiss as Sagat manages to weather the firestorm and come out the other side singed, slowed, but far from stymied. Eyes narrowed behind his shades, the Beast of Flame grits his teeth, chuckles darkly to himself in a near-silent shake of his leather jacketed shoulders, and holds his ground. For a moment, it looks like he's taking a knee, expecting it to stop the rampant violence that bears down on him now-- but Sagat isn't stopping, and K' is not surrendering. The impact is resounding, tangible, a rush of air in all directions as unstoppable force meets immovable object in volatile fashion. Sagat may try to keep his legs ready to guard, may plan to measure his offensive, but what he doesn't account for is the Kusanagi conduit erupting /into/ the onslaught.

Sagat's potent leg crashes into K''s ribcage a bit low as he rises, launches himself into the air. The force should be enough to launch him back the other way... but a lashing tongue of fire is already rippling in a spiral across the twisting youth's frame, is already projected up and along Sagat's chest and into his jaw courtesy of a clenched fist. It has none of the technical expertise of the blow that felled him courtesy of the new World Warrior; but much of the savage intensity. It's a reaving rocket of fire-fueled fist, one that takes K' soundly skyward as he seeks to upend Sagat, and drop the mighty mountainous marauder to the arena, harshly.

His spinning ascent is like a firework, traced in afterimages of fire, shimmering and distorting the air around him even as he drops back to a crouch, his own dark laughter coming far less menacingly... but perhaps with a similar mania. It's not that Sagat's menace doesn't sell-- it's that it's peril K' has bought at sale price for as long as he can remember. Which, admittedly, is -not- very long. It's that it spikes something primal, deadly within the Beast in turn. Dog against Tiger or no, the chained prototype has -no- intention of letting teeth sink in quietly. Or answering his opponent's fair question. "Mail order... certificate." The slight twinge in his snark is testament to the /damned pain/ of his bruised ribcage demanding he press past the agony. It's not over yet.

Even as she gets a hold of Sakura and aims to spin her to the ground in one smooth motion, Athena can tell something is off with the way her opponent moves. She's actually surprised at the tactic, rolling with it so easily, landing softly, coming to her feet in a ready position to fight.
Even now, every opponent she faces has something new to teach her, she realizes with a quiet marvel. Back to ready in an instant, she doesn't pursue Kasugano - she seems quick on her feet and charging in with the same kind of aggression she's been shown thus far is a recipe for getting face punched out of the blue.
Still, it appears she will, indeed, get a chance to see what the Ryu-inspired prodigy has to offer. Eyes widen slightly at the visible surge of energy buildup, the cerulean hue casting its light across the slowly dimming arena. The sun will set soon but given the amount of energy being thrown around in this battle, there will be no need for artificial illumination. Each of these fighters has brought their own torch to bear.
There is a challenge issued in the stance and declaration of Sakura. A challenge Athena can't help but answer to. She /has/ to try against it. To do less would be to not properly respect the sheer tenacity of her opponent's resolve. Her right foot slides back, bracing against the ground, arms reaching back behind her head, palms facing each other as another brilliant surge of Psycho Power is summoned to life between them. "Psycho....!"
She has only the smallest of windows with which to act. A moment too late and she will be blasted away by magnitude of that crescendoing chiball. She steps forward, bravely into the trajectory, as Sakura unleashes her torrent of chi for her to deal with.
"Shoot!" Athena's body snaps forward, arms and torso movement dedicated to the act of pouring every shread of Psycho Power she has available in that instant into a contesting projectile. Rose hued energy is surrounded by swirling rings of gold that appear to serve simply to keep the extent of the psychic energy constrained long enough for it to actually serve as an attack rather than scatter uselessly into the air.
The collision of attacks is bright. For a moment, Athena can't even see what is going on, forced to rely on other senses to understand where anyone is. Psycho Power and chi war against each other in a powerful display of energy until finally, at last, a fragment of her original energy shoots onward toward Sakura, incredibly diminished in size, but certainly not in speed.
An exhale follows the release of her attack before Athena staggers back a step. So far, she has managed to stay one step ahead most of the fight. But at this level of competition, even one wrong step can lead to events spiraling rapidly out of control.

The words are, ultimately, delivered while Sagat is on his hands and knees instead of standing at guard, and they follow panicked instants spent confirming - and reconfirming - that it is in fact still Halloween, and not--the finals. It's true that K''s soaring blow was no Shoryuken, but it launched his massive frame into the air, burned a savage furrow along his chest, and shifted the flow of the fight just the same. The already injured Tiger's back is pressed firmly against the wall, now; too much more punishment and this young upstart might just send him crashing through it and leave him laying.

And wouldn't /that/ just be the perfect re-debut for the former ruler?

It is with great effort that the Cyclopean Tiger retakes his feet in the shallow crater made by his crashing fall, his features set in a deep grimace the entire way. As soon as he's upright, his hand comes in to clutch some of the twisting, suppurating network of first and second degree burns spread across his upper body. As much outrage as Dash's impertinent refusal to fall before him and Sakura's entire existence inspire in him, he can't ignore the searing pain wracking his body. If it weren't for K' /also/ happening to linger on the ground after exerting himself, he would likely be in even worse trouble than he is.

And then K' decides to smart off to; red sweeps across his field of vision in an instant, and that grimace twists into a vicious snarl--

--and that sneer erupts into a fully fledged /roar/ as he rushes from his landing place to answer K''s smarm with a snap kick meant to catch him across his jaw and perhaps teach him a lesson about respect. Which probably won't take--which is fine with Sagat.

As much as it hurts to be on his feet right now, that's a lesson he'll gladly give until his body is unable to teach it any longer.

COMBATSYS: Sakura instinctively dodges Athena's Psycho Shoot.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Sakura           0/-------/---====|=======\===----\1           Athena
[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////               ]
Sagat            1/---====/=======|=======\===----\1               K'

Sakura's Shinkuu Hadouken--one of her most powerful attacks--is torn through, obliterated by Athena's Psycho Shoot. It's... shocking to her, to say the least--she never would've expected her technique to be... dismissed like that. This is a day of shocks--a fight of revelations.

But at least -something- is working right--Sakura comes out of her little mini-trance to find that she's once again slipped the end result of Athena's defense. Ryu always talks about that point where reaction outpaces thought--if she's really reaching that point, then she's progressing as a fighter. Walking down the path that she chose for herself not so long ago.

The thought sparks a little smile within her, though her visage remains determined and serious. And she's still moving, still fighting the good fight. She's practically moving on autopilot at this point, making decisions without really thinking about them. Despite Athena's deft handling of Sakura's attacks, she continues to press--by the time her conscious mind catches up with the rest of her she's winding up for another attack.

This one finds her twisting her body to her left, crouching, and pushing off, flying off the ground in a low arc, her right leg extended for a helicoptering kick. It isn't quite a Tatsumaki Senpuu Kyaku, but considering that Sakura's pretty much only tried this in her own backyard... it isn't bad.

COMBATSYS: K' endures Sagat's Light Kick.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Sakura           0/-------/---====|=======\===----\1           Athena
[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////                   ]
Sagat            1/--=====/=======|=======\======-\1               K'

An upstart. A snarky kid. It's easy to dismiss K' as these things-- hell, they're not even inaccurate labels. He's notably different from the typical up and comer however, and not simply for the nature of the energy he wields. Sagat made sure that the Beast of Flame /started/ this bout with his back to the wall. That K' knew what kind of opponent he was up against. That pressure, that menace, that raw anger tripped all too easily triggered reflexes in the honed killer instinct of the experimental weapon of mass destruction, all but /assured/ the most stalwart and defiant of fights. It's just how K' rolls-- ask anyone. Not that the Cartel particularly likes to talk about it, as a rule; maybe wise not to ask. The enraged Tiger charges, and K' just eyes that rushdown evenly, anticipating just that.

In other circumstances? The Beast of Flame would be downright smug. Here, he's just resolute, stubbornly refusing to give ground even now. He takes the snapping kick across his skull without complaint or evasion. It spins him about abruptly, violently, it rings through his ears... it batters his brain. It compounds the desire -not- to take any more of what Sagat has to give than he absolutely has to, in this instant, and it flows with perfect synergy into the Conduit's next, instinctual motion. It almost seems like he planned it, the chaos of that blow, the exact angle it makes him reel. K' throws himself into the twist, comes around in a stable stance rather than landing on his knees, catches his flying glasses out of the air and opens eyes like fierce embers to Sagat, the first time those odd ochre orbs are revealed at all, in this confrontation. He doesn't snap them back to his face, but as he whirls around, he /whips/ them outwards-- straight at Sagat.

It's a feint, a distraction, a stinging slap of plastic an metal that, should they impact the Muay Thai Titan, would only be the /beginning/. K' would appear in the hair's breadth after they hit, as if he simply translocated from where he was, to where he is. Where he -is- would be slinging a fiery elbow squarely for Sagat's chest, following it through in a nigh uncountable flurry of explosive fists, brutal knees, and violently lashing elbows. His aim would be to pepper the mountainous warrior's ribs, his chest, his neck and face with fierce, fearsome blows-- but even that is only half the story. The rest is the surging eruption of a veritable volcano of cosmic fire, roaring forth so eagerly and voluminously that /it/ almost seems to lead the onslaught, to drag K' along kicking-- but not screaming. More /snarling/.

COMBATSYS: Athena blocks Sakura's Shunpuu Kyaku.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////      ]
Sakura           0/-------/---====|=======\=====--\1           Athena
[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////                    ]
Sagat            1/--=====/=======|===----\-------\0               K'

What's left of her power charged projectile goes flying past Sakura before collapsing into so many harmless motes of lingering Psycho Power as Athena shifts her focus back to the girl she's ended up facing across. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Dash get brained by a dazing kick from the Muay Thai champion. Is he down? That looked like it /hurt/, and he's been taking some abuse from Sagat in prior exchanges as well!
It's when she shifts her focus back to Sakura that she feels the sudden surge of incredible energy as K' aims to light up the field with his grafted gift. Given a chance to watch it, she might have been better able to narrow down that nagging sense that there is something just slightly off - the flames themselves, no doubt burning every bit as hot as the Kusanagi's legend claims but still not quite matching; the shadow of something in the way K' fights. Like someone who has known entrapment and difficult times... not someone who has basked in the Kusanagi family wealth. Where, then, did he come from?
Her mind can't digest it, and she can't actively focus on the exchange between the two men, as Sakura is immediately upon her again. The girl's spirit remains unsuppressed even after what had to be trying exchanges throughout their match. The young psychic's eyes glimmer with appreciation for the resolve of her opponent as she brings her arms up protectively, digging her feet in.
The simplicity of the motion is not unlike most of her attacks. Aside from the magnitude of the Psycho Energy she can muster, her martial arts seem to lack the flash and complex motion of other participants. Perhaps it's the nature of the Kung Fu she is learning that when left uncertain as to how to work her way through the spinning kick of Sakura, she settles for simply weathering it, taking a beating to her arms, but otherwise avoiding a direct hit. Bruises will appear in a little while, but for now, the trade off was worth it.
The impact has driven her back, however, putting her in prime position to retaliate in a more physical manner herself. "Whew," she murmurs, feeling the strain of the match, realizing that some time has passed as the violent exchanges have taken place. But this is no time to slow down. Legs bend briefly before Athena takes to the air in a surprisingly high leap.
It is at the apex thereof that she tucks herself into a ball, suddenly redirecting her dive into a steep angle directly for the girl. Her body shimmers, Athena becoming a canonball of Psycho Power that intends to crash through Sakura's guard. If successful, a slide along the ground into a strong, low kick delivered by thrusting both of her legs out would be intended to deal the final blow!

COMBATSYS: K' successfully hits Sagat with Chain Drive+.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Sakura           0/-------/---====|=======\====---\1           Athena
[                        \\\\\\  < >  //////////                    ]
Sagat            2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|===----\-------\0               K'

COMBATSYS: Sakura fails to interrupt Phoenix Arrow from Athena with Large Hadouken EX.

[                        \\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Sagat            2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\1           Athena
                                  >  //////////                    ]
                                  |===----\-------\0               K'

COMBATSYS: Sakura can no longer fight.

[                        \\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Sagat            2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\1           Athena
                                  >  //////////                    ]
                                  |===----\-------\0               K'

Sakura may be a naturally talented--nay, -crazy- talented--prodigy of an ancient martial art that doesn't get taught in schools anymore. She might have essentially figured out the nuts and bolts of the style just from having some basic concepts and precepts explained to her by a man who didn't quite grasp that he was, in fact, teaching a girl how to take her destiny into her own hands. She may have risen well past the point where even most talented beginners reach--all on her own. But everything has limits, including Sakura.

She doesn't quite know it yet, but she's just reached hers. She can feel the fatigue and the pain in her body. She's gotten lucky--or, as some would say, gotten into the flow of the fight--over the last couple of exchanges with her pop idol opponent. But the flow of battle changes, subtly, and she misses it. Seeing Athena go into the air, she draws her hands into her stomach, building her power again--but she mis-estimates the speed of Athena's approach.

As a result, she isn't -quite- ready by the time Athena arrives--the would-be blast of power goes awry, creating quite the light show as the Psycho Soldier's rolling dive hits Sakura square in the chest. The hadouken bursts then fades as Sakura takes that final kick to the gut--

--and that's enough for her. She tumbles across the flooring and is out. Not for long--but for long enough to know that she shouldn't be getting back into the fight. Not that the organizers would let her--it would be bad form to let a fighter, no matter how willing, to get actually seriously injured in one of their events. By the time she's aware, she's already being tended to by medical staff, just out of the way of the rest of the fight. But for all the people around her, Sakura is essentially alone with her thoughts. And she's ruminating about the fight. Not, per se, about what she could have done differently--but that's certainly something she's thinking about. In the larger context, though, she's trying to fit the fight into her mental framework. Trying to discover what she should have learned by fighting.

And, of course, she's still watching the fight that's in progress. Part of her wants to see the man called the Emperor of Muay Thai show exactly why and how he earned that title.

Sagat manages a broad, predatory smile when the glasses bounce off of his chest, taking it as a sign that K' is spent and wasting the last of his energy on meaningless defiance.

It lasts right up until that first flaming elbow explodes against the spot the glasses touched, and there's nothing /remotely/ amusing about the flurry of fists and feet that follow it. Sagat's arms or legs try to shift into defensive positions once or twice during the onslaught, but each time he manages to force a limb into place, K' finds another angle to attack him from--which only makes the defensive attempts that follow that much more sluggish. He can't even /try/ to muster a credible defense when the strikes give way to an explosive finale; all he can do is feel the air whipping past his body as it's hurled above the arena and fight to twist himself into a landing that is marginally more controlled, if not much less painful.

To that end, he is able to turn himself over so that when he finally comes down, it's flat on his back instead of on a limb. Or his head; this still drives the wind from his body, but it's better than ending up more broken than he already is. His initial attempt at drawing in new breath seems to come with a whole block of knives jabbing at his lungs, but he still manages to force himself up into a seated position after taking it. He is wearing a fresh grimace, but at least he's up; that grimace lingers, even worsens as he grinds his fist into the ground for support in shifting to a knee, despite the trickle of blood flowing from his blistered, freshly broken nose and dripping over his swollen lips.

"'Mail... order...'" he groans in a flat tone and raspy voice. He tilts his chin enough to try and make eye contact - true, full eye contact, now - with the clone as adds a bloodied sneer to the incredulous words. "Hhhrr--"

Strands of amber chi swirl around the dethroned Emperor's thoroughly battered chest as he vocalizes/exhales, tracing the curves of the oldest wound among the many now marring his body. The hand he isn't using to support himself brushes over his skin, and while even the barest of touches is enough to compound his torment right now, that familiar topography hidden beneath an angry patchwork of burns is no less bracing. The next time he inhales, his chi momentarily flares into a brilliant banner surrounding him--and then it's all drawn inwards as he /explodes/ from the ground, letting outrage fuel him as he rockets towards K' with his right knee poised to be buried in the clone's body.

COMBATSYS: Sagat knocks away K' with Tiger Destruction.

[                       \\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Sagat            0/-------/---<<<<|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2           Athena
                                  >                                ]
                                  |=======\==-----\1               K'

"Tiger--" escapes Sagat in a growl when he first barrels into K'; unlike before, though, he isn't content with stopping at the knee strike. As soon as his feet hit the ground, he's coiling into a crouch, cocking fist back, narrowing his eye up at K'; the posture might be familiar from the fight's opening moments, but the end result is /entirely different/:

His battered, but no less powerful body unfolds into a soaring uppercut directed towards K's chin. Sparks of chi begin to swirl around his fist /after/ contact is made and they're on their way down, and by the time he lands on the balls of his feet, they've erupted into a fully fledged blaze of spiritual fury; it's certainly no match for the cosmic fire wielded by the clone, but it's plenty potent in its own right.

Especially when it's used to fortify a /second/ uppercut.

"--DESTRUCTION!" he erupts as he twists into the final blow.

K' actually /catches/ his shades on the rebound, snaps them right back over his eyes, and continues the ruthless beatdown without missing.. well, a beat. Rather than being spent, the Beast of Flame was simply picking up speed-- really getting rolling. In this case, however, it's a rather /violent/ roll, and as punishing as it proves to be for the Thai titan, well... turnabout, as they say, is fair play. Staggered by the flying knee, launched skyward by the uppercut, and caught on the descent by -another-, K' is soundly battered, beaten, and set flying twice over. Lesser men would be dead, blood spattering from each impact, flesh and bone deforming in a violent mask of swollen, misshapen injury by the time the bruised prototype /does/ crash to the ground.

It's not just his face, either, pain wracking him as he coughs blood out onto the battlefield, his dark chuckle diminished little from moments before... but it's harsher, now, breathier, terse from the agony he's fighting just to blink. He manages it with one eye, the one that's still opening, a nasty cut gushing blood out over and across the other. It's with white but bloodied teeth that he flashes a wolfish, predatory smile back at Sagat, crawling back to his knees with defiant ferocity--- and another expectoration of bloodied spittle. "Heh. Not... not bad.." gift for understatment: from K', it's highly complimentary. In his current situation? It's kind of ironic. Still...

"But you..." K' fights for a bit more breath, flames still alive in his grasp, consciousness held by will alone, "You're only... half fucking done. Heh!" There's -almost- humor in the last guffaw, and it's only at that point that his eyes betray his meaning, darting aside to his pop idol partner, that grin returning. He just nods, firmly, and presses to his feet... all but staggering in at Sagat, gasping for breath, trusting his instincts more than his eyes for the timing.

Sliding to a stop, Athena presses off with her hand to skip up to her feet. She felt her combination connect cleanly but it isn't until she's righted that she gets to evaluate the situation. That Sakura isn't back on her feet leaves her borderline surprised. She knew it might be close, but she could also feel the fire in that one... and knowing how close she came to dive bombing a painful looking chiblast, she was also well aware that she hadn't seen the last of the prodigy's skills.
But it seems their exchange is finished. Another day, it could go another way. She can let down her guard now-
It's only then that she becomes aware of the cacophony of strikes taking place between the other two. Her senses lost to the excitement of her own battle and the surging intensity of the crowd who can't believe the powerful attacks being brought to the forefront at this stage were overwhelming enough. But the pulse of power as Sagat's rage becomes made manifest as a devestating combination. Quickly she turns, violet eyes widening at the onslaught being suffered by her partner in this bout.
Dash is airborn, then falling, then... airborn again, then falling... it's not a pretty sight. If he hadn't been the one to tank the Tiger's rage, that would have very likely been her! There's no pretense at this point, no show to put on, no expectation that anything other than a raw, brutal fight is reaching its final moments before the eager audience.
Sagat will have to stop moving at some point. That might be her only chance before his attention turns to her. Sucking in her breath, Athena clenches her hands at her sides, intending to summon an attack worthy of trying to fell someone of Sagat's incredible legend. Even as she begins to channel, she catches that look from K'. That look on his bloodied face. The smirk that can only mean one thing... he's going back in for more??
On one hand, attacking Sagat at the same time is a grey area for her honor to process... on the other hand, honor also dictates she needs to do everything she can to keep her partner from taking any more abuse this fight. Closing her eyes in concentraiton, she bows her head briefly. The aura around her surges into a small nova as two rich blue spheres begin to orbit the girl in a phenominal display of power. "aaaaaaAAAAAAH!"
Almost impossible to see behind the growing nova of psychic energy, Athena's eyes snap open, the girl raising her hand, drawing all of that potential power into a single, concentrated point over her head. Her right foot stomps forward, her arm slamming down, and suddenly the surging blast of chi launches for Sagat at incredible speeds, a cruise missile of Pyscho Power that might be enough to topple the Titan.... Except it won't be the only thing Sagat has to contend with?

He feels that surge of power-- felt the reservoirs of immense, alien energy within Athena even before it was conjured up. K' knew she had it in her. Perhaps not as accurately or intimately as he's aware of his -own- limits at this point, but well enough to expect something that even the Muay Thai mountain would have a difficult time weathering. On that front, the Beast of Flame is not disappointed. The eruption of psychic energy gives him a moment, just a moment-- a narrow window with which to stagger the last few steps... and abruptly feint to the side, around opposite the trajectory of the proverbial Tomahawk missile. It's the last swift step he has to make, the last potent acceleration the rogue prototype can manage-- but power, he still has in reserve. His vocalization is more of a growl than a kiai, inarticulate, primal, raw.

Tinged with blood, broken beyond the point he should rightly fight, K' nonetheless /launches/ into Sagat's other flank. The first rotation carries him in at an angle, an abrupt and fiery uppercut not like the first tasted by the Thai warrior-- though this one is aligned all but perfectly to launch him /into/ that projectile, even if K''s own onslaught is stymied by Sagat's remarkable defenses. One good turn deserves another deserves another, and perhaps another, however-- K''s momentum redoubling as the Promethean flame surges from him, releases in an explosive, ravaging arc with the first, then a second rotation, meaning to launch Sagat harshly skyward, even as the young, augmented conduit of the Kusanagi fire drops nearly as hard to one knee. Then forward to one hand. Then keels over, faceplanting onto the ground with a low groan. He's had worse.. just, just sleeping it off.

COMBATSYS: K' can no longer fight.

[                       \\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Sagat            0/-------/---<<<<|>>>>---\-------\0           Athena

COMBATSYS: Athena and K' successfully hit Sagat with Heaven and Hell.

[                                < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Sagat            1/-----<</<<<<<<<|>>>>---\-------\0           Athena

It's only after his third landing that Sagat realizes something isn't quite right:

He and Dash were the last ones fighting. Sakura is gone, watching from the sidelines; he spares a scowl for her as K' come down and spits, "Useless; of--hgg--" before a fresh surge of pain rolls over him and causes him to grimace anew instead of finishing his insult. He's /still smoking/ thanks to what the clone has put him him through, and his knees begin to buckle, but--he can't rest, yet, because K''s correct: he still has Athena to contend with.

And the incredible rush of Psycho Power surrounding her just confirms that she has no more intention of making it easy for him than Dash did.

Between the two of them, Athena reads as the more significant threat - not only is she brimming over with energy, she's still upright; K''s proximity and continued consciousness mean that he can't be entirely ignored, though, a fact which he proves by blindsiding the former Emperor with a flaming uppercut. He makes an effort to interpose his shin between the fist and the rest of his body, but not only is it too little, too late, K' isn't even his biggest problem; he's just the one setting Sagat up for it.

Stumbling back from the uppercut in a shower of smoke and flame, Sagat is defenseless against the torrent of Psycho Power that then washes over him. For a few seconds, he's only visible amidst the singer's psychic onslaught as a dark, hazy figure rendered in stark and agonized relief against her brilliance; when they pass, he's still standing, smoking. Shocked, too; his eye is wide with it and twitching ever so slightly.

"Ti--tt--hhgh--" he stammers; chi flickers along the surface of his scar with each syllable, and with a labored breath, he strains to draw his arms up--

--before falling face forward and hitting the ground with one last, resounding *CRASH!*

COMBATSYS: Sagat takes no action.

                                  >  ///////////////////////       ]
                                  |>>>>---\-------\0           Athena

COMBATSYS: Sagat can no longer fight.

                                  >  ///////////////////////       ]
                                  |>>>>---\-------\0           Athena

The Psychic Bit is as deadly accurate as expected, made even moreso by Dash's own interference. It's questionable if any fighter alive could have successfully navigated the two techniques without suffering a punishing hit. Athena's arm lowers, the girl watching Sagat in the aftermath of so much fire and pschyic energy. Common sense says she can relax at this point - no man could go through that and still have fight left in him.
But Sagat is no normal man. She can sense his purpose, his drive even across the meters that separate them. She can see his figure through the blinding light of their combined attacks illuminating the entire area, but she can't see the man clearly himself. There is movement next and Athena draws up her arms. Anything could happen. Legends are made in fights like this - especially when someone makes the misake of thinking it is over when it isn't.
Finally Sagat falls forward out of the haze and the girl releases a gasp of relief, stumpling forward a couple steps herself. The crowd is going wild. It's impossible to tell who the crowd expected to win this. All that is abundantly clear is that they were vastly entertained by the show put on by recognized names and apparent newcomers alike.
Asamiya turns, draping her costume cloak over her shoulders to cover her up almost entirely as she takes time to bow in each of the four directions. "Thank you!" she exclaims. "And thanks to my partner, Dash, and my opponents, S-" she's already getting hustled off to the side for follow up interviews and questions, cutting short any lengthy speeches the Idol Fighter might have had intended to give. Such is the business!

COMBATSYS: Athena has ended the fight here.

Log created on 23:06:48 10/31/2014 by K', and last modified on 02:18:30 11/03/2014.