Honoka - Under the Knife

Description: Even when setup finishes early, the circus never sleeps. Well. The rest of the circus is ordered to sleep, while Honoka and Oboro practice.

The Twilight Star Circus's travel time from the east was short, so the big-top was set up early, well before sundown... and the workers have receieved a much-needed respite for the evening. Which is to say, they're prohibited from entering the big top for about an hour or so, as they're under orders to REST. The life of a circus worker is long and onerous, after all.

There is an ulterior motive at work here. One of the key performers has something on her mind.

"Do you remember... that time with Inamura-san?" asks Honoka of her companion, as she strides out to center stage, twirling diabolos behind her back in an idle gesture. The juggling props alternate between simple rolling left-to-right, and bouncing to their return point. "If I recall, it was our first outing together... ringing any bells?"

With a snap of her wrist, both diabolo spring into the air, and Honoka turns back towards her companion. "It has been on my mind lately," she elaborates, "ever since I got this scratch on my cheek." It's not much, really, it -is- just a scratch. "Southtown is... overflowing in talent, I would believe."

Most of the people get to rest. Oboro does not. But then, he isn't involved in the setup of the big tent, and so he doesn't have any reason to rest. He's not particularly industrious when it comes to the circus stuff--he leaves that to the workers. His skills are different, after all. So when Honoka asks him to join her in the big tent, he is more than capable.

"Inamura-san... ah yes," he nods, with a faint smile.

"As I recall, you ordered me to take his leg off...?" He thinks back more.

"Yes. Well," he says, lazily, drawing one of his throwing knives and flipping it into the air, dancing it along his fingers as he talks, "Southtown is... known for a concentration of talent. It's quite... troublesome in that regard. Primarily due to the actions of one Geese Howard, if I recall correctly--he created the concentration of them."

"Yes... in a manner of speaking." Honoka smiles, the diabolo having been snared out of mid-air, and recycled back onto her string for another warm-up juggle sequence. She hadn't especially been thinking about Oboro's creative interpretation of her direction, but as he does bring up the incident, she considers: it actually does factor into her thoughts on this particular evening in Higashi-omi. "From what I can gather, Geese Howard has been... laying low, so to speak. I know I have not been sharing all of my information, but suffice to say, the balance of power -is- about to change."

Honoka's diabolo wands begin moving faster and faster. They begin to spin like a top, with one wand above and one below. "And we... are perfectly positioned to take advantage of this. But we'll need to move quickly, I'm afraid."

The diabolo maelstrom shifts again, rotating once more to form a disc that protects her like a shield. "Whenever you are ready... Attack me."

The lazy smile, the slit eyes... it's not common for her to adopt this appearance under the big top proper. But this is a special case anyway, as Honoka has left the deadliest of the Empress acoutrements outside. Just her diabolos, now.

COMBATSYS: Honoka has started a fight here.

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Honoka           0/-------/-======|

Oboro raises an eyebrow. "Really," he says, at length, his expression betraying nothing more than that. Well, he knew obviously that the Circus wasn't just some performance troupe.

"So you intend to... supplant this Geese Howard? I've heard many things about him..." Word of a man of that stature is prevalent in the underworld. One can't be involved in a gang and -not- know of a man like that.

"We'll need more than just the few of us to solidify a hold on an empire like that..." And the gangs? He's not so sure about their usefulness in all this. Still.

Commanded to attack, he makes a negligent gesture and slips his throwing knife back into the bandolier, then draws his knives.

"As you wish," he says, with an inclination of his head, then does what he did to Inazuma-san all that time ago--he disappears in a cloud of mist, then reappears above Honoka, intending to drive a pistoning kick down--into her shoulder, not her head.

COMBATSYS: Oboro has joined the fight here.

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Honoka           0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0            Oboro

COMBATSYS: Honoka auto-guards Oboro's Mirage Spike.

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Honoka           0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0            Oboro

Honoka smiles, shaking her head. "No... we won't need to dirty our hands with much. Consider us the creative director of the biggest show on earth," she chuckles softly.

And when Oboro disappears... the young performer's placid smile simply grows. She's needed a spar that can actually get her blood pumping... especially after her encounter the other day. Tossing her diabolo straight up into the air, she doesn't intend to hit Oboro -- in fact, her props precede him by a mere instant. No, the real objective is to cross the wands over her shoulder in an X, providing a perfect landing pad for her compadre to land upon, instead of her shoulder.

Her knees spring lightly, deadening the blow as she lowers her companion down just enough for her to hop out of his path without suffering injury. But it also leaves her in a prime position to leap forward, grab for Oboro's shirt, and fall backwards, her heel placed on his waist to act as a fulcrum. It'd be a standard Judo maneuver, if not for the intense spike of psychic energy she kicks into him therein. Quiet and smooth, aside from any outward indications Oboro might yield.

COMBATSYS: Honoka successfully hits Oboro with Wakka Pururuse.

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Honoka           1/-------/=======|===----\-------\0            Oboro

A pained grunt issues from the knife man. It's all he can do to retain the grip on his knives as he's tossed, landing flat on his back, wheezing slightly as the air is driven from his lungs. Immediately, he flips back up to his feet, his expression unchanged from previously--his lips still curved in a little smile.

He approaches more carefully this time, his feet crossing over each other, stepping in with his hands held up in a loose guard. Of course, he knows that this girl--as a little slip of a girl, comparatively--is no pushover. But neither is he.

He feints a knife throw, then shuttles forward, snapping out a kick for Honoka's feet--a stinging kick, really meant to strike the point of his toe against a point on her ankle, intended to numb it and make it harder to move...

COMBATSYS: Honoka blocks Oboro's Light Kick.

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Honoka           1/-------/=======|===----\-------\0            Oboro

The young juggler's diabolo are easy to lose track of in the midst of a fight. Matching Oboro's grin with a predatory grin of her own, she stretches her string taut, catching both diabolo upon it, and then lets the string drop as he charges in. Oboro's toe lands not against her ankle, but seats itself within the bowl of the juggling prop, held in place with the instep of her near foot -- a foot now left unsteady, as she's forced to hop backwards.

"Interesting. There was a fight with a Gedo student. He used knives, not unlike you. Laughed a lot. Unlike you." Honoka's grin grows, at that.

With a graceful step to Oboro's side, Honoka trips the string of her diabolos yet again, sending them into the air in a lazy arc over Oboro's shoulder. But the true attack is Honoka slamming her elbow into her companion's side -- an elbow reinforced with the rigid metal wand she's been using to lob her diabolos about with.

Perhaps the diabolos will hit on the down trip, as well.

COMBATSYS: Oboro fails to counter Medium Strike from Honoka with Haze Counter.

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Honoka           1/------=/=======|=====--\-------\0            Oboro

If the point of this fight was for Honoka to demonstrate her superiority over Oboro--to remind him just of who really runs this circus, Ringmaster be damned--then she's doing a fine job of it. For all that he can touch the mind, too--that he does so regularly, both on the job and in a fight--he can't touch hers. And he guesses wrong.

The elbow drives a gasp from him, involuntary and something he'll shame himself for later--showing weakness is -never- a good thing. Thrown off-balance, he loses a knife, the fine blade clattering to the packed dirt floor--

--but he retrieves it telekinetically as he recovers himself. His lips twitch in a momentary frown, but then he works to compose himself. If he can't perform for the circus' leader, then he won't be useful in any other situation...

Honoka's relaxed nature also means that she allows her temper to become a bit more obvious -- her narrow-eyed disapproval is only momentary, but noticeable all the same.

"Keep your focus, Oboro..." she half-whispers, regaining control of her rogue diabolos with a lash of her cord. "Or reach out and disrupt mine. Do not allow yourself to get discouraged." The juggler lobs her diabolos into the air, allowing herself a moment to stretch her arms to either side: something she should have done before the fight, but oh well.

"One day I'll learn how you do that..." she notes, upon Oboro's summoning of the blade back to his hand. But in the meantime, she spins the diabolos into a rapid top-like orbit -- and lashes the wand itself as a projectile towards said knife!

COMBATSYS: Oboro fails to slow Thrown Object from Honoka with Phantom Blade.
- Power fail! -

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Honoka           1/-----==/=======|=======\-------\1            Oboro

It's a demonstration of utter subjugation. Not consciously, of course--Oboro would never admit that to anyone, not even Honoka--but Honoka packs a lot of power into a small, young frame. That's scary. But that's just an excuse, and there is none for this. His throw is off--not by much, but it's enough. The ghostly, purple knife slashes just past the wand--and moments later, the wand strikes him in the forehead.

Once again, he staggers; this time, he fails to regain all his composure. Slowly, he's cracking. The flickers of desperate fury are showing in his eyes; they aren't the glacially calm things they were before. The smile that cracks his lips takes on a different cast, subtle but dangerous.

He isn't cracked--he isn't broken. But neither is he quite in full control, either...

Honoka breathes sharp, measured breaths. She has not been sleeping well the past few nights, and the past few times she's needed to fight... it's been too easy for her. This is in itself not a bad thing, but considering her lot in life... well, karma's a bitch. And she'd rather have control, than be forced to rely on luck, or fate.

Which is why she's doubly frustrated now. There are not many opportunities to train one another, under this very big top, and even less to speak freely about the goings-on of the month. And as much as Honoka would -love- to take her aggressions out on Oboro... that would be counter-productive for her aims.

Pressing her lips tightly together, Honoka takes a few steps back, to give Oboro some breathing room. The diabolos enter a lazy orbit by her side, nothing terribly difficult... but a faint purple aura illuminates her slight frame.

"Oboro... is something on your mind? This... Geese Howard, perhaps? Or Southtown, in general?" She takes no hostile actions... waiting to judge Oboro's state before continuing her attacks. "Or was it the fight with those strange ones in Metro City?"

COMBATSYS: Honoka enters a trance-like state.

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Honoka           1/---====/=======|=======\-------\1            Oboro

The words penetrate his clouding mind, and he slowly shakes his head. "No... Perhaps I am merely..."

ANother pause. "Daunted by the size of your ambitions." That's the safest answer, really. And the only explanation he will allow himself to give.

"We are not quite done here yet, though..." Once again, he moves forward, moves in, his knives flashing around him in a confusing brandish pattern; only once he closes does the real strike show, or the real pair of strikes--

--a backhand slash from the left, twisting his body around briefly as he continues the attack from that angle, by bringing his right hand around into a stabbing attack. These knives are not his 'work' knives--they are dulled, but it'll still be painful. Just not... deadly.

COMBATSYS: Oboro successfully hits Honoka with Medium Strike.

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Honoka           1/--=====/=======|=======\-------\1            Oboro

Daunted by the size of the Empress' ambitions? "... Perhaps I've said too much, then," Honoka allows, the mild amusement creeping back into her face. Out of necessity, and the desire to keep her assassin's mind as sharp as his blades, she'd been making a conscious effort to limit the amount of information shared with Oboro, in most cases.

And it seems her current state of mind has allowed her to forget that. She quietly resolves to keep Oboro in the dark... worse comes to worst, the less said, the less culpability.

She does seem pleased that her assassin is not too put out by the pace of the spar. He rightly assesses the weaker side, as Honoka is caught at a disadvantage from the momentum of her diabolos. Grimacing as she's tagged by the backhanded slash, she looses a louder grunt as the dulled blade slams into her side. Just enough to give the criminal mastermind a taste of what she's been doling out.

With a tight-lipped grin, she nods back to Oboro. "-That's- the killer we know and adore," she coos...

The diabolos are tossed, once more, into the air, as Honoka leans forward, using the close proximity of Oboro as best she can. She may be smaller in stature, but she can give a good hard shove when she desires -- though, this shove might be amplified by some of her fearsome psychic power, her palm glowing an iridescent pink.

COMBATSYS: Oboro stops Pon-itak Ki from Honoka with Quick Strike.

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Honoka           1/-======/=======|-------\-------\0            Oboro

There's no real joy in Oboro from the strike. It's nice, sure, in the context of the fight, but he has no illusions--were this a real fight, Honoka would not be holding back and he'd likely be very close to dead... But he isn't yet. He spins back around, rewinding himself with another flourish of the knives and is in position just in time for that flash of pink to gleam in his eyes.

Acting reflexively, instinctively, he meets her palm with one of his own--a burst of his own psionic energy, tinged purple, negating that energy. A desperate tactic, and one that clearly costs him in other ways--but it served the purpose it was meant to. After a moment, he lowers his hand, and sheathes his knives.

Stepping back a bit from Honoka, he bows. "My apologies for not performing to your exacting standards, Mistress."

Honoka does not fight to make her opponents happy -- quite the opposite, she enjoys each and every decisive hit she can land. But there is such a thing as demoralizing the very people she has working beneath her -- and there is a degree to which such demoralization can impact their performance, and become counterproductive.

So, even though Honoka had laced her palm strike with an extra smidge of energy aimed at snapping Oboro out of whatever funk he was in... well, it seems his sudden shift of tactic overpowered it. Which, in itself, causes Honoka's eyes to widen in alarm. Just slightly.

Not performing...? "Pah. You just don't want to hurt me the night before our performance." Catching one diabolo on her wand, she catches the other in an open palm. "Taka would tear you up like a dog rips open a rag doll if you hurt me. Your fear is completely understandable." Gone is the bemused grin, gone are the thin eyes... replaced almost entirely with the stage persona Honoka has adopted for herself. Gone is the cold, callous attitude of the Empress -- as Honoka returns to the guise of a simple 20-year-old woman, the 'nice country girl' from Hokkaido.

"Besides, Oboro, you still know -more- than me when it comes to the flashy things. You gotta teach me those techniques some time, I never could figure them out..." Simple talk, from simple folks.

He does not fear Taka. But he does fear Honoka. Just a little. Even as he supports her. She has a frightening and intriguing vision. He... wants to see where it will go. "I'm not sure I could," he admits, after a brief period of thought.

"Sometimes it is as much instinct as technique. It's not a technique I can use at will... it requires effort and a bit of desperation. But perhaps it is something we can develop... for you." He muses at that and nods.

"It would take time, but it is very much doable, I think." Absently, he rubs his forehead. Gonna need some extra makeup there to keep the bruises from showing.

COMBATSYS: Oboro has ended the fight here.

Log created on 21:44:44 11/13/2014 by Honoka, and last modified on 00:51:19 11/14/2014.