Neo League 0001 - NL#0004: Ibuki vs Satsuki

Description: 'Ginko Himura' and 'Akemi Hino,' neither of whom are actually named 'Satsuki' or 'Ibuki' for sure, have an arena battle in Thailand to kick off the Neo League. (Winner: Ibuki)

"You want me to do what!?" Master Enjo was always calm in his meditative seiza. His body seemingly never in motion, even if his mind was. Nothing could be further than the truth. "To enter a tournament. It is meant to supplement your training by pitting you up against a variety of styles." Ibuki crossed her arms with a teenage sort of harumph, "But what about scho..." "We know you'll make us proud on both fronts." Ibuki fumes in silence for a while, before acceptance finally comes. "Alright, but I get to choose my cover..." "Acceptable." She holds up a finger, "I'm not finished. I also get to pick..."

~Not long after~

"You can't be serious." The disbelief in her voice was palpable as she stared into the ever-serious face of Elder Sanjo. "You are serious." She repeated, a note of panic entering into her voice. Sanjo opens the plane's door from thirty thousand feet up, the rush of wind taking Ibuki off guard. "I hate ninja training." She mutters, steeling herself for the jump.

~Shortly after~

Akemi Hino, which put together roughly means 'Fiery Beauty' enters into the tropical arena to the cheers and jeers of the crowd, in a modified dogi from her norm. Except that it's entirely pink, it has a sheathed wakizashi at the back of her waist, and she has her hair down. Why the sword, since she doesn't wield one? Because it looks cool. Duh!

"Please repeat directive." Satsuki seems mystified by the possibility that she'll be entering something big and public uncostumed; fortunately, the latter fear is assuaged by her handlers, who explain that she'll be operating under a slightly more thorough cover identity than the one she received last time she fought in a public capacity. Once the sum total of the situation is explained to her, she gives a nod and a firm, "Understood."

~*~ much later ~*~

Her entrance is not so... /vast/ as that of 'Akemi;' she does not have to paradrop, at least, into Thailand. This is the seat of her power -- of /his/ power -- and thus she gets to be driven to the arena, given a surprising amount of fanfare as she exits the vehicle and stands up. Clad in the classic jinbaori of a samurai, Satsuki -- no, 'Ginko Himura,' today --strides to the center of the arena, eyes meeting 'Akemi's' in short order. She says nothing, simply reaching down to her side and flicking the sword just an inch out of its sheath

Back in the vehicle, meanwhile, a team of two scientists carefully watches a pair of monitors. The jinbaori bearing the insignia of her school... it's a lot of her old life to give her back, and there's a very real worry that it'll prompt -- fluctuations. It's necessary to the illusion that she's not just a Doll... but there's always that fear of her running rampant.

These worries, at least for the moment, are unfounded. Satsuki holds no attachment to the garment, or anything it signifies, and her brainwaves remain placid.

Ibuki is something of a stranger to the world of tournament fighting, having spent most of her life in seclusion and training outside of her ordinary girl activities. When she learns her opponent is to be Ginko Himura, it does not ring any bells in her mind. As her opponent approaches she places her left fist against her right palm, and bows. It's certainly not a ninja tradition of her clan, just one she's copied in order to keep up her cover.

The roar of the crowd, indicates that this Ginko Himura is something of a local favorite, perhaps even a national favorite. Yet she looks like she's from Japan with that sword and jinbaori. Why? She would have expected someone using a Muay Thai style to be more of a crowd favorite.

As her first performance, she feels a fluttering in her chest, masking her anxiety by calling something out, "Entering the world stage. Behold, Akemi!" She calls out boisterously, before pumping a fist at her foe. She falls into a casual combat stance, before winking at her. "Good luck. You should know that I'm a heart-breaker!"

A gong rings, marking the start of the fight, and 'Akemi' is in motion at the start of the crowd's roar. A pink blur, she moves towards her flanks, before springing into the air, and somersaulting. She uncurls both feet extended towards her opponent's shoulders in an attempt to stomp on them and leap away. It was perhaps... a move too familiar to her opponent.

COMBATSYS: Ibuki has started a fight here.

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Ibuki            0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Satsuki has joined the fight here.

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Ibuki            0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0          Satsuki

COMBATSYS: Satsuki blocks Ibuki's Hien.

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Ibuki            0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0          Satsuki

"... Understood," is all 'Ginko' says to the comment about being a heartbreaker -- and her voice is a dead giveaway. She brings her arms up immediately, bracing herself for the blow as 'Akemi' comes down on her with a forceful series of stomps; each hits the gauntlets, and though her arm sings out in pain, she's not /that/ badly hurt just yet. She's seen this one before -- defending against it now feels natural

As the other girl leaps away, she immediately gives pursuit, her steps as crisp and precise as always; there's something faintly unnatural in the way she moves -- and just like the stomps of Ibuki's feat, it's almost unmistakable. "... Target recognized," she says quietly, her voice soft enough to be inaudible to all but Ibuki herself over the crowd.

Once she's close enough to 'Akemi' for her comfort, 'Ginko' grabs her blade. Her hand glows a faint indigo for just a moment before she draws it, letting loose a ribbon of psychic energy a foot or two in front of the cut. It's that, not the cut itself, that's in striking distance of the 'Fiery Beauty' -- and she hops back as she finishes, buying herself even more space still.

How on Earth has this girl tracked her all the way here? Is Shadaloo operational security truly so poor? Satsuki begins to worry -- though a brief assessment of the totality of the situation indicates that this is likely just a happy accident of sorts.

COMBATSYS: Ibuki dodges Satsuki's Psycho Slash.

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Ibuki            0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0          Satsuki

The foot stomps upon the gauntlets sting, and 'Akemi' is forced to flip backwards, away from her. While in flight, she never takes her eyes off her opponent for more than a split second at a time. That faint indigo glow of the hand catches her eye. It's all too familiar, but it's gone from her sight all too quickly.

What isn't is the slash that comes after.

This feels familiar too. She knows what she has to do in that instant, but would her training be enough? She bends over backwards, and the slash comes. It's at that moment, she realizes that she's overcompensated. It's coming right down upon her. Her feet leave the ground from their awkward position, and she leaps upwards, corkscrewing in her motion parallel to it with her hands folded to her chest, avoiding the blade by literally... a hair.

It's proven by the few strands of brown hair that flutter to the arena floor, drawing gasps from the crowd at just how close that had been. Ibuki knows it herself. Unfolding her hands from her chest, one palm touches down, as she balances on it for just a moment, before her weight brings her down onto one leg. "It's you." She murmurs in complete surprise. Just her luck. Is this the girl's real name? Ginka? Or was it a cover too?

The other leg folds up against her side, before it whips out, lashing high and low in a series of whirlwind kicks aimed right at her, streamers of azure chi in their wake bolstering both the speed and strength of each attempted strike.

COMBATSYS: Ibuki successfully hits Satsuki with Tsumuji.
Glancing Blow

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Ibuki            0/-------/-----==|=------\-------\0          Satsuki

Satsuki's eyes narrow as she takes another half-step back from Ibuki's encroaching feet; only the last one actually catches her, and even that's an irregular blow that doesn't /quite/ send her sprawling. Her parrying position is atrocious, thanks to her series of backward hops -- but she at least only staggers back from the blow, rather than eating it outright.

Knowing she needs to avoid overextending herself, Satsuki steps forward in spite of getting knocked back, trying to move inside Ibuki's guard and gain the momentum. Gritting her teeth a little, she demands, "State your reason for presence in Thailand." There's only one way she can really know, outright, what she's gotten into -- and that's to ask.

Going into a whirling forward hop, Satsuki reaches for her blade mid-spin; it's a feint, though. All that comes forward when Satsuki finishes her hop is a fist -- wreathed in indigo energy and aimed squarely for 'Akemi's' jaw.

COMBATSYS: Ibuki dodges Satsuki's Medium Strike.

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Ibuki            0/-------/-----==|=------\-------\0          Satsuki

Ibuki crosses her arms, before jutting them out suddenly into a guarded position, her striking leg falling back to the ground. However, she doesn't immediately capitalize on her opponent's seemingly vulnerable position. First off, she knows that her repeated kicks were not as solid as they could have been, and second because Ginka was dangerous. She'd seen her nearly cut that Master Kunoichi in half, the one who had dodged all of her techniques with enough ease to make her feel like a child playing with ninjitsu.

The question comes. And Ibuki relaxes that she wasn't calling her out for the theft in the middle of a crowded arena. "Right now?" She doesn't answer in time. As that hateful energy has wreathed Satsuki's fist. A solid strike is coming towards her jaw, serpent quick. She moves evasively, knowing what a single hit could do to her. A blur of motion as she tries to dash away, it leaves a trail of three after-images in her movements. And...

It's still coming.

She immediately falls to her hands and knees, putting herself in the worst of positions, but it's the only thing she could think to do. She still feels it as it moves past her half mask, and touches her ear. That sense of despair, and malice. Part of her shudders unconsciously at it.

A hand suddenly whips up, trying to grab her under the arm pit of the strike and pull her forward into a palm strike with her other hand. It glows with an incandescent blue light, that bursts outwards when she makes a fist with that palm, creating a small spherical explosion that would blast her backwards if it hit her head on. "Trying to kick your butt, obviously!" The operative word was 'trying'. One hit with that sword could be her end, against this opponent.

COMBATSYS: Ibuki successfully hits Satsuki with Raida.
- Power hit! -

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Ibuki            0/-------/---====|=====--\-------\0          Satsuki

The careful, measured offense coming from 'Akemi' shows a great deal of respect for Satsuki -- and that respect is rewarded with nice, clean hits. The grab at her underarm lands clean, and Satsuki finds out that getting in too close with her ninja opponent is every bit the mistake that trying to fight her from the outside is.

Flying back from the blast of chi, 'Ginko' feels almost like she's watching herself lose the battle in slow motion; nevertheless, she kips neatly up from her fallen position, wincing a little bit. So, she came here to fight -- that's it? Just to have a league battle?

... well, for the moment, Satsuki will accept that reality. She frowns, already starting to wobble from her wounds. She needs to catch her opponent totally off-guard -- nothing she's done so far has really tested the limits of Ibuki's defenses.

Lunging forward, Satsuki throws herself body-first at Ibuki; her blade comes out mid-maneuver, whirling wildly through the air, threatening to catch her and leave her with cut after cut. It's a risky maneuver -- but Satsuki doesn't /think/ she used it on Ibuki the last time they fought... so it's probably the smart play, at least for now.

COMBATSYS: Satsuki successfully hits Ibuki with Spiral Slasher.

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Ibuki            0/-------/=======|=======\-------\0          Satsuki

As Satsuki advances, Ibuki moves from side to side with expert footwork, trying to anticipate her next move. Satsuki however, chooses one she'd never seen before, it leaves her guessing. It couldn't have startled her more when Satsuki hurls herself at her, and it catches her somewhat flat footed. She tries to get out of the way, all too late. The 'fiery beauty' catches one cut to the flank, splattering the arena floor with crimson. Then another to her forearm, carving off the armguard cleanly, and splattering the arena floor with more of her life's blood as she's knocked away from the sheer force of the whirlwind attack.

The arena may hear a shriek that quickly dies as her self-control kicks in, as she muffles it, forces it down from her position on the floor of it. The crowd's cheers for Ginka could not have been louder. 'Akemi' Forces her limbs to cooperate, realizes that the cut in her side is shallow enough that she won't breath to death outright, she rises to a kneeling position, then up to her feet anew.

"Alright." Ibuki cleanly draws her wakizashi, imbuing her fist with a small measure of blue chi. It causes the hilt of the blade to glow an eerie blue from behind her. "Time to show you something you've never seen before from me." She holds it in reverse, in a dramatic manner. And then she charges. However...'s just a feint, a magician's trick, smoke and mirrors. This was a part of ninjitsu, misdirection. Something glints in her other hand, and a kunai is hurled towards Satsuki as Ibuki abruptly backpeddles, any showy blue chi around the sword fading abruptly. "Psych!"

COMBATSYS: Satsuki instinctively dodges Ibuki's Kunai.

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Ibuki            0/-------/=======|=======\-------\0          Satsuki

It's not skill that lets Satsuki evade that incoming kunai; she'd fallen for the ruse. It's a flash of insight -- a split-second hunch that Satsuki acts on and is accordingly rewarded for. She brings her blade up to meet the kunai, batting it aside casually; it nicks the once-perfect steel of the weapon, but at the very least, Satsuki herself is safe for now.

"Your technique has developed in the short time since we last encountered each other," 'Ginko' notes to her opponent, as she takes a half-step in. Her gaze rests on Ibuki, expression as carefully neutral as always, as she steps in.

Preparing to punish Ibuki for her charge, Satsuki ducks low and pushes off the ground. Her feet point arrow-straight at the other girl, in an inversion of her previous technique; she drills forward at high speeds, threatening to pierce clean through the kunoichi's defenses with a forcefully-shouted, "SPIRAL ARROW!"

COMBATSYS: Ibuki blocks Satsuki's Spiral Arrow.

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Ibuki            1/-------/=======|=======\-------\0          Satsuki

The ruse failed, though not for lack of trying. It was something to keep in mind for the future. She huffs out a breath, acknowledging her opponent's skill with a respectful pause to answer her statement. "Thanks. They've been really pushing me to be adaptable after I fought the other girl like you."

The pause though, was just that. Satsuki strikes, like some sort of dervish incorporating Samurai techniques. She sees her coming at her, from afar, wielding that sword with killing intent. It's a funny thing about wielding a sword, when you've barely ever held one before. Only in training, and mostly to learn to defend against it. However, in this situation, in defense.

It doesn't feel much different from a Kunai.

Satsuki's blade strikes the raised Wakizashi in a raised parry to try to throw it off. The clang of metal on metal echoes, sparks shower the arena as her lesser blade drives against the superior blade of her opponent, her arm instantly numb from the force of the impact. Gritting her teeth, she tries to keep it held up against it, her other hand touching the back of the blade to offer further support.

She hears it, just before she sees it. The sound of the blade causing small chink, before the blade breaks off just after the circular guard. It clatters to the arena floor, the drilling strike having nothing left keeping it at bay other than air. If she didn't act fast, she'd be a 'Akemi'-ka-bob.

Ducking down low, she let her 'sword' arm fall to it's side, needing rest after that, her other, left hand she tries to grasp the chest of her jinbaori. She turns her back to her and attempts to roll her over a single shoulder quickly.

COMBATSYS: Satsuki blocks Ibuki's Quick Throw.

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Ibuki            1/-------/=======|=======\-------\1          Satsuki

The other girl like her? She fought another one of the Dolls? That... changes things, a little; she gets the feeling that her opponent has decided to scout, /specifically/, Shadaloo members. It'd make sense; she knows that they're beset on all sides by ninjas. Bushinryu has been a thorn in the side of Psycho Power for as long as either has existed, or so she has been made to believe; it makes sense that there'd be other ninjas as well.

Moving with the grab-and-toss, Satsuki rolls over Ibuki's shoulder and lands neatly on her feet; planting them firmly, she resolves to give no more ground to Ibuki if she can avoid it. The ninja's sheer strength has already put her enough on the back foot; she doesn't need to make it even harder on herself.

"... Target strength: continuing to exceed expectations," she murmurs softly, a frown crossing her face. She begins to get the sense that, without the chaos of a real battle, of /objectives/, she may be outmatched.

Dipping into a more defensive stance, Satsuki brings both hands down to her blade; rather than going for her lightning-fast quick-draw slashes, she just draws it straight forward -- aiming the pommel of the weapon right at 'Akemi's' sternum. If it lands flush, a fine point of indigo energy extends from 'Ginko's' weapon's pommel and out through Ibuki's back; she then returns it to its sheath with no more fuss or muss.

COMBATSYS: Ibuki dodges Satsuki's Medium Strike.

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Ibuki            1/-------/=======|=======\-------\1          Satsuki

That precise sort of compliment is sort of strange. It's like a computer is complimenting you for your efficiency, for your precision. She's not a computer though, she's not a robot. She's a girl, about her age even. What sort of training regimen did this poor soul go through to make her this way, emotionally, logically? To make her process everything like this? Rougher than Ibuki's certainly. "You're exceeding my expectations too." She comments, as her feet touch down on the ground.

The pommel strike comes, and 'Akemi' flips backwards into a hand stand in which she remains upright on a single palm as her handstand, tottering to the opposite side from which the strike falls, while trying to bat away the hilt with the single arm guard she had left in the opposite direction. "I can't help but wonder though." It was a wild maneuver, perhaps even a touch show-offy as her instructors called it, but now. If she was going to fight for her life, she might as well have some fun with it. Still she can't help but wonder what might have happened to her chest if she had been just a moment slower, if she'd been wrong in her predictions.

She comes up swiftly, on her feet. "What kind of freaky regimen your superiors put you through. You're great, but I can't help but wonder the kind of life..." She turns suddenly, into a backwards roundhouse kick, attempting to strike her with her heel. "'re living to be this good!"

COMBATSYS: Satsuki dodges Ibuki's Light Kick.

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Ibuki            1/-------/=======|=======\-------\1          Satsuki

"It is primarily standard training," Satsuki says, which is technically true, in that there is a standard training regimen for individuals of her class. Ibuki gives her something to worry about, though -- and she whips her whole body back from the kick, having to hurl herself into a flip and give the kunoichi the ground she was hoping she wouldn't have to in order to get out of the way.

She continues to maneuver back from the pink-clad kunoichi, saying, "You would likely benefit from similar training, given time..." Her gaze sweeps over Ibuki's body, saying, "You are already close to standard specifications." There's a sense of dread that rolls off of her with those words.

Ducking low as she tries to recoup her lost space, Satsuki goes into a baseball slide-like maneuver as she speeds in; she doesn't necessarily need to hurt Ibuki with this -- just swap their positions. Then again... an attack is still an attack, even if it's intended to shake up the positioning rather than hurt.

"Why do you ask? My training is of no consequence to you," she adds, as she slides; the idea of concern for her -- especially from a competitor -- is impossibly alien.

COMBATSYS: Satsuki successfully hits Ibuki with Light Kick.

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Ibuki            1/-----==/=======|=======\-------\1          Satsuki

The low sliding kick hits her shin, just as Ibuki had started trying to sidestep. Yelping in pain, she finds herself off-balance, as she topples forward, and rolls on a single arm to try to come up on the other side. Ginko got what she wanted, their positions swapped. However, the attack, as concerning as it is, was not as concerning as her words.

'Already close to standard specifications.' Her masters always told her how much potential she had. What would she have to become, to become 'standard'? What would she have to become to surpass that? "Because." Ibuki states, reaching down to briefly massage her wounded shin. "I don't want similar training! I don't want to be just a ninja! Or whatever you are! I want to be an ordinary girl, that is also a ninja."

"So I wonder." Suddenly dashing forward, a hitch in her wounded shin, she lashes out with her former sword arm, finding it has it's former strength back within it. "Did you want this training?!" She attempts to grasp her by the front of her jinbaori and climb over her opponent's shoulder, leaping off of it, while twisting to try to send her flying through the momentum of the movements. In the air, she turns around into a vicious roundhouse kick aimed towards the back of her head. "Is this what you want to be!?"

COMBATSYS: Satsuki dodges Ibuki's Uki Yami.

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Ibuki            1/-----==/=======|=======\-------\1          Satsuki

'Ginko' decides to deal with Ibuki's grasp in a somewhat unorthodox manner; the outermost layer of the jinbaori gets discarded casually as the Doll slips out of it, leaving Ibuki to stomp a garment. The scientists in her vehicle breathe a long, slow sigh of relief; there was a real fear there that she'd allow some hypothetical sentimentality to lead to a decrease in her effectiveness... but her willingness to discard it for an advantage indicates that such a fear was totally unfounded.

Rolling back to her feat, she says, "A truly effective weapon has no wants. No desires. There is, for the truly exceptional, only the void." She draws her blade again; this time, though, she takes the sheath in hand as well, moving around to Ibuki's side with both weapons in hand.

Stepping forward, she strikes with the sheath first, aiming it for Ibuki's midsection; after that, she brings her blade down hard toward the other girl's side, half-shouting, "I am empty of all things!" To her, it really is that simple; she can't even conceptualize a world in which she had 'wants' or 'desires.'

COMBATSYS: Ibuki dodges Satsuki's Heavy Strike.

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Ibuki            1/-----==/=======|=======\-------\1          Satsuki

Left with only the outer layer of the jinbaori in her hand, she keeps it with her when she lands, holding it loosely in one arm. Be adaptable, her instructors had taught her. Even so, as Ginko continues to evade her best efforts with an ease that defies description, she wonders if she's right. It's just a niggling feeling in the back of her head. That feeling ceases when Ginko speaks again.

And Ibuki freezes, just staring at her opponent as if she'd sprouted a second head, or a tail. It's the only logical thing to think when someone says something so foreign, so alien to her. She has no time to respond though, at first, at Satsuki's battlecry and vicious strike. She casts the outermost layer of the garment back at her, watching the blade shear right through it with deadly efficiency, and over her in the sudden impromptu roll she'd made.

The thought that she'd possibly made her angry strikes her. It may be entirely her imagination, but from the girl's words, she's angry too. "Stop bullshitting!" She comes up to her feet, moving at Satsuki with an impromptu series of palm strikes which are entirely feints meant to put her on her guard. "Noone thinks like that! Noone wants to just be a weapon for someone else to wield!"

Her knee comes up in another feint, her foot whipping up, then coming up short. "Everyone has thoughts, feelings, and desires of their own! To say you don't have any of that is to..." Suddenly the real attack comes, a spinning roundhouse kick that lifts Ibuki off the ground, aimed right at her jaw, " deny you're a person! That you're a girl just like me!"

COMBATSYS: Ibuki successfully hits Satsuki with Medium Kick.

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Ibuki            1/----===/=======|=======\===----\1          Satsuki

Bringing both weapons up to deal with those whiffed palm strikes, Satsuki falls for the bait almost perfectly; when that foot comes up for the second time, it pops cleanly through her guard, nearly breaking her jaw. Her eyes screw shut on reflex, and she stumbles to one side; her guard doesn't break, though, her body withstanding the pressure even when her /heart/, under some circumstances, might want to quit.

Her tone becomes a little more human... but what she tells 'Akemi' is anything but, as she drives both her blade and the sheath into the ground in front of her. "That... is affirmative. I am an instrument of /his/ will. Nothing more." Her voice is quiet as she says it; she doesn't want to shout those words to the heavens, if only for the sake of operational security... but they need to be said.

She studies Ibuki carefully, her eyes drawing over every inch of her frame this time; this is no passing assessment. She's taking in every last inch of her opponent, studying every micro-movement of muscle and every breath. If she's going to defeat her, the way things hand... her remaining strikes need to be absolutely perfect.

"Personal desires are a distraction," she adds, her tone slowly shading back to the usual flatness.

COMBATSYS: Satsuki focuses on her next action.

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Ibuki            1/----===/=======|=======\=======\1          Satsuki

Ibuki stumbles half a step, when she lands, searing pain moving up her shin from the previous wound, before she takes up a guarded position. "Whose will?!" The anger, the emotion in her voice rises to a crescendo. The implications of it are frightening, deep down, she's scared of the answer. Anyone who would do this to a person, to break down their sense of self and to make them a... thing, an object to be wielded as they saw fit, the very idea of such an individual is terrifying to her.

The kunoichi loses all pretense of trying to keep up her cover now. Her arms weave calm, flowing patterns as she tries to flow into the rhythm of battle. Her body calm, even if her mind was not. "A distraction from what? A distraction from being an instrument? I don't buy what you're selling girl!" Like with the battle with the other upon the rooftop, she tries to move into a deadly ballet of sorts. A dance in which she hopes she'll be the prima ballerina this time. She darts in and out, watching Satsuki's eyes following her.

"A sword doesn't think about how enjoying the company of it's sheath will distract it from cutting in it's next battle!" She suddenly darts in, quick as she can, her image blurring suddenly all around Ginko, a pink whirlwind flanking around her in one direction, before changing to move in the opposite direction. "Which means... either you're lying to me. Or the one pulling your strings put your sense of self to sleep!" She suddenly moves in, aiming at sharp jab at her solar plexus, "So stop fucking around, or wake up!"

COMBATSYS: Satsuki blocks Ibuki's Jab Punch.

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Ibuki            1/----===/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2          Satsuki

Taking a deep, full breath, 'Ginko' steels herself against the blow as best she can; rather than try to throw something against it, she just shifts her body to make the blow as painless as possible, moving with clear, defined purpose. She retrieves her blade and its sheath calmly, doing exactly what she set out to: give 'Akemi' no ground.

"... by knowing what exists, one can also know what does not exist," Satsuki says, eyes narrowed as she steps forward, shouldering into Ibuki's guard with a clear sense of purpose. "I exist; the 'sense of self' you seem to expect does not." Her tone seems... sincere, rather than robotic, again; there's something behind those words. Belief, perhaps.

The point of maintaining cover between them has floated away on the breeze; the only people the cover identities are for now is the cameras. Satsuki only cares, now, because she's been told that her identity is a liability if known by the wrong people. "Requesting target's name," she asks, quietly.

She knows that, by picking the sword and the sheath up, she's drawn Ibuki's attention to them; with that in mind, she decides to come forward with the thing Ibuki will be least looking for: a divekick. She hops into the air, pushing off slightly with her blades; she then drives her foot straight down toward Ibuki's thigh, hoping to open her up --

COMBATSYS: Ibuki blocks Satsuki's Cannon Slasher.

[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////                   ]
Ibuki            1/--=====/=======|>>>>>>>\-------\0          Satsuki

At the first moment of contact, Ibuki doesn't follow up. She's fought Satsuki for long enough now that she's certain that trying to push her luck would result only in grave injury, or worse. Her footwork makes it look like she's pirouetting backwards, but it's only an illusion created by her expert footwork, honed from years of training. Years of fighting against that training, but she's grateful for it right now. The motion of retrieving the blade and the sheath causes her to look only at the two objects.

Had her words actually touched some sort of nerve?

The request for her name, is meant with ample consideration. There's the problem of the secrecy oath she swore. Right now though, she doesn't like to define herself by ninja oaths, or tradition, or duty. She defines herself as being an ordinary girl, that was trained to fight. And she thinks that's what Satsuki is too, if you strip away all the layers of whoever had messed with her to turn her into that.

Before she could answer, Satsuki advances. With her eyes fixated on the weapon and the saya, she anticipates an attack, but not from the proper direction. It's only at the last moment she sees the upraised foot, and Ibuki raises her left arm, with her sole remaining arm guard. The other one lay pitifully elsewhere, slashed in half, covered with a thin spattering of blood. The foot strikes against it, and her arm is bent backwards and drive against her side. She feels a pop from both her arm and a rib, which causes a scream to bubble out of her lips, then be muffled, bit down upon. The sheer force of the kick sends her flying, then rolling against the ground of the arena.

Lifting herself on her other, which has a layer of dried blood across it from the laceration, her other arm hangs limply at her side. "A-Ake..." She rasps. No, that wasn't it. That wasn't her. Closing her eyes, she whispers, inaudibly. "Ibuki." Her whole body seems limmed by azure chi, rising off her in waves.

And then she's off, rushing at Satsuki as if she didn't have a sword, at frightening speed that raises a cloud of dust in her wake. It starts with a grab that tries to pull her forward, the same arm twisting into a punch, forming a controlled spherical blast of chi that envelops both of them. "The name is Ibuki! Now take this! My ultimate..." It dissipates suddenly, as if it had never existed as she spins, her good arm actually taking her other arm, and bending it, which raises a sob from her lips, as she forces it into a spinning elbow strike against her stomach, trying to dig it in far enough that it will stay propped up on it's own. "...h-heart-waking attack..."

Back at her village, Master Enjo frowns at the pun, which interrupted his meditation even from afar.

She draws the arm holding up her nearly limp arm backwards, hoping the other will stay in place. All of the gathered chi forms in the fingertips of that arm, as she drives it back into the one whose elbow struck first. It moves up her arm like a lance, through the elbow, and attempts to drive right into the Shadaloo doll, creating a second spherical burst as it moves. "...YOROITOSHI!"

COMBATSYS: Satsuki just-defends Ibuki's Yoroitoshi!

[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////                 ]
Ibuki            0/-------/------=|>>>>>>>\>>>>---\1          Satsuki

The yoroidoshi, or 'mail piercer,' is a traditional Japanese blade designed to pierce the armor of an opponent.

Ibuki rushes in despite her injuries, hoping to give Satsuki something to remember her by. Satsuki sees the attack coming, and recognizes instantly that her blades will be a liability if Ibuki manages to close; accordingly, she slides the sheath into her belt, and her blade into the sheath in an instant, keeping her arms raised.

Yoroidoshi were worn at the user's right, and intended to be drawn with the left hand.

Ibuki's hand grasps at Satsuki, and she lets it occur; she rides the grab right up close. This is risky -- even a hair of improper timing one way or the other, and she'll be feeling the burn of that chi in moments, and she knows it.

The short, thick, tapering blade made the yoroidoshi an ideal weapon for desperate circumstances -- a broken blade, or an opponent choosing to grapple.

As Ibuki winces and sobs at twisting her injured arm into position, Satsuki takes action; her hand slides up and toward Ibuki's arms, neatly shifting both out of place and breaking the hold. The sleeve of her undershirt -- now her only shirt, with the jinbaori discarded -- slides up in the process, revealing the red gauntlets of a Doll.

Unfortunately, the fighter with only a yoroidoshi often found herself at the mercy of an opponent with a stronger or larger weapon.

Her other hand goes down to the katana again, flicking it up and out of its sheath with her thumb, but using the strength of her entire arm to do it; she can feel the thumb bruise in the process, but it knocks the katana high -- high enough for her other hand, still in that rising block, to intercept.

Locking her stance in before Ibuki has time to react, Satsuki meets Ibuki's eyes with her own hollow blues. She gives her no validation for her attempt to 'wake her heart,' no sense of some epiphany the ninja has allowed her to reach by risking herself; she moves with cold, eerie precision as she brings the blade out of the parrying catch and into a full-on assault.

The first cut comes clean across the median of Ibuki's body, and the second perpendicular to it; she follows up with an impossibly forceful forward swing of her foot, trying to put Ibuki down for the remaining blows.

Whirling around to one side, she brings her whole body in for the third lateral slash, and the fourth thereafter, forming an 'X' with the trajectory of the previous; indigo energy flows off of the blade in waves now, as she commits more and more to the assault.

The fifth and sixth slashes actually prove to be feints -- or rather, they would be were it not for that energy; waves of Psycho Power like the one she started the battle with fly out for Ibuki, hoping to push her back with each blow.

Rearing back into her parrying stance one final time before committing to the last one, Satsuki says, firmly enough to entrench it in Ibuki's mind but quietly enough to avoid letting the cameras hear it, "I am Satsuki." The old word for the month of May.

"I have nothing to wake."

Slamming her whole body forward, the Doll finishes her assault with a perfect, crisp kenjutsu strike -- sword held perfectly straight in front of her and swinging all the way down as she steps in for one final time.

COMBATSYS: Ibuki parries Satsuki's GW!

[                    \\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Ibuki            0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0          Satsuki

Like that particular, historical Tanto, the very need to overextend herself was a weakness. Sometimes a nearly fatal one. The doll proves this, as she defeats her attack, with the iaijutsu strike that masterfully takes apart her attack, intercepting each attack one by one, finally using a rising block to throw her arm wide. It was frightening, watching the doll like that, so calculating. So precise.

The most terrifying part of all were her eyes, Ibuki takes a glance into them, and sees. Nothing. Almost like a complete void of emotion, that the Doll stated she aspired to be.

And then comes the attack. Ibuki does the only thing she feels she can do. She grows calm, still. She falls back on the muscle memory that years upon years of training had granted her. She feels nothing. She becomes a void herself, that at one point in her life, her former clan had aspired to turn her into.

The first strike comes with a palm slap that Ibuki strikes against the top flat of the blade, throwing it wide, while she leaps over it. She then flows backwards, into a somersault, poetry in motion, her hip twisting like a breakdancer's might to kick the second strike wide, just as it shears through the leggings of her dogi.

The third strike, she lands, and twists her body like it is a wheel upon an axle, moving to the side. The fourth, she repeats the motion, in the other direction. She feels nothing when one of her bangs drifts apart and strikes the arena floor and gives her a bad haircut, not even noticing it is gone. She feels nothing, until the psycho power pierces the veil of instinct and muscle memory that she'd put up in these final moments, thinking she was certainly dead. She feels fear again as she hears her name, like some movie Samurai giving her name to an already defeated foe.

Emotion surges up, her will to live. And halfway through the strike that is descending, with all of that malicious energy, she uses her one good arm to reach up, serpent quick, and hook it behind her forearm just after the strike begins, meant to cut off the momentum halfway. The blade is just a hair's breadth away from her face that energy cascading off of it, with only one arm she can't perform the Shinken Shirahadori defense properly. Her arm was already trembling as it feels like it's going to give up.


She says, eyes pleading. Looking for mercy, finding none. Unlike last time though, she doesn't climb up her back, she doesn't try to break her neck. Suddenly she rips her arm free, in a dancing motion to the side, and leaps high, her legs do the splits in the air in an evasive movement to take her over any ripostes. The leg whips up in a furious kick aimed at the side of her head. "You're so full of it."

COMBATSYS: Ibuki successfully hits Satsuki with Bonsho Kick EX.
Glancing Blow

[                    \\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////                    ]
Ibuki            1/-------/=======|==-----\-------\0          Satsuki

Her ultimate technique -- and Ibuki's taken it entirely out of the equation. Satsuki winces as she sees Ibuki's incoming kick; it doesn't hit her in the side of the head like Ibuki had planned thanks to a well-timed cringe away from the blow. It does /hit/, though -- it lands neatly on her shoulder, sending the Doll staggering back. Her eyes screw shut for a moment, staying that way; she's in agony at this point -- Ibuki's done a number on her. Sheer willpower keeps her going...

... but not her own.

At this point, she's resolved to stop responding to Ibuki, at least for the moment; no words will sway her from her current chosen course, and indeed, many of her previous ones seem to have primarily given her more cause to keep talking, keep poking and prodding and /picking/. At this point, the safest decision is just to stay silent and fight.

Tensing every muscle in her body, she rears back slightly; she then hops forward forcefully in a spin. Her blade goes with her this time; as she swings it out toward Ibuki, she seeks to push her as far away from her as possible, using the full length of the weapon as she spins it out toward her. 'Go away,' her body language says, her other arm remaining up to close herself off and give her an easy blocking posture. 'Just leave me alone.'

COMBATSYS: Ibuki blocks Satsuki's Axle Spin Thrust.

[                      \\\\\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Ibuki            1/------=/=======|==-----\-------\0          Satsuki

The glancing blow is something of a disappointment. What sort of titanic will must the doll possess to stay standing after this sort of punishment? If she knew the answer, then she'd feel cold inside. And Ibuki is tired herself, the flow of this battle had taken a toll on her own will. Anything else she said would just make her seem like some sort of superficial smart alek, with no ability to think beyond the next quip.

There was no humor in this battle.

All she saw was a girl that had been likely denied an ordinary life, whether out of choice or force. The former was horrible, the sort of life she must have lived to make that sort. The latter was disquieting.

The blade sings out a song of death in it's strike, even if it's less potent than the prior attack. It clangs against a Kunai, and tears it out of her hand, even as she hops backwards, shaking that hand like it had betrayed her. Feeling was returning to her other arm, even if that feeling was agony, but she wasn't certain how useful it would be in what was to come. She doesn't just feel the power behind the strike, but she sees the context of her body language.

Even the desire for Ibuki to go away though, to stop. Her body language, her movements. To Ibuki it felt like a minor victory. She knew on 'some' level she was right. She just knew on every other level that either the doll was willingly choosing to act like this, or someone had twisted and tortured their will to change it into such a feeble thing as to put up no resistance. That made it feel like a hollow victory.

She lets her actions speak for her, taking off her half mask with her good arm, letting it flutter to the ground. For a moment, she just stares down her foe like some warrior of old, with steel in her eyes to mark the fact that she wasn't just going to let this slide. 'No.' Lowering herself to the ground, she leaps up suddenly, turning in a backwards somersault. In one hand was a number of kunai, spread out like a fan. In the other was a single kunai, held with little evidence of strength behind it. 'You have feelings.'

As she descends, her wrists flicker multiple times, as she doesn't just throw the kunai, but puts spin on them. They descend in a shower upon the doll, one after another as the kunoichi descends to the arena floor. 'You have desires.' There's no need to call out the attack. The intent behind it was enough. 'You matter as more than a weapon.'

COMBATSYS: Ibuki successfully hits Satsuki with Kasumi Suzaku.
Glancing Blow

[                       \\\\\\\  < >  //////                        ]
Ibuki            0/-------/-------|====---\-------\0          Satsuki

The first kunai she sees coming for her is enough to give Satsuki cause to leave, at this point; she can't keep up her defense with Ibuki's relentless assault. By the time they're showering on her, all she can do is turn that guarded body language into a run directly away from Ibuki. She's been beaten and she knows it; as the kunai cut into her back, the pain of each stabbing into her diminished by some adroit motions but not by /too/ much, she knows she has to concede defeat.

... In more ways than one, at that. Her course changes halfway through the run; at first, it looks as though she's just retreating to the entrance of the arena, admitting defeat pure and simple. After a few seconds, though, her direction changes... to recover her discarded jinbaori. As she draws it up into her arms and continues her retreat, a feeling of disquiet enters her gut.

What disquiets her about the act isn't that she does so, or even that she'd thought to; it's that she doesn't know why. It seemed... important.

Exchanging no further words with the kunoichi, Satsuki retreats all the way to the Shadaloo vehicle that carried her to the arena, practically diving into its waiting doors. It's not that Satsuki /needs/ to leave -- she could have thrown one final strike out toward Ibuki, could have soured the league record of 'Akemi Hino' out of spite...

... it's that, after that many challenges to who she is, she /wants/ to leave.

COMBATSYS: Satsuki takes no action.

[                       \\\\\\\  <
Ibuki            0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Satsuki can no longer fight.

[                       \\\\\\\  <
Ibuki            0/-------/-------|

After she lands, she's quiet. Whether the crowd is cheering or jeering, she doesn't hear it. It's all white noise to her, as she gropes around and wraps her half mask back around her face. With her hair down, there'd be enough reasonable doubt to anyone who looked closely enough at the fight replays unless they had the best facial recognition technology in the world. She had no police record of course, so that would avail them naught. And noone in the audience had heard the name. Noone but Satsuki of course.

It meant that in the long term her cover was likely blown, given the very few possibilities on who she likely served. In the short term though she would probably be safe. Her clan would be furious no matter what the case. She turns to face her opponent, having no idea what to say, if anything. Uncertain if she trusted her own emotions. Then she sees it, Satsuki picking up her jinbaori. While she supposes there's some small possibility that she's removing evidence, Ibuki cracks a faint smile anyhow, hidden behind her mask.

Moving all over the arena, she picks up the kunai, one by one, and then she leaves, also because she wanted to. She wasn't supposed to face the horror of another girl her age, like that doll. Someone with no identity beyond what her master allowed her to keep. And yet, she had... now she just wanted to lay in bed and forget the experience, but she wouldn't. She wouldn't ever.

COMBATSYS: Ibuki has ended the fight here.

Log created on 01:05:39 11/26/2014 by Satsuki, and last modified on 19:04:42 11/26/2014.