Description: On the sands of the arena, a bevy of beautiful and sheer-clad bellydancers fill the arena in a short parade. It is meant to be a sort of half-time event, complete with spectacle such as trained tigers leaping through fire and the like, but the Lotus Dance is what captures the audience's attention the most, the beginning part a ten minute long theatre of the provocative. Roughly at about the time the dance reaches its final measure, the two fighters are brought in, carried in on elaborate sedam chairs borne by men best described as 'towers of muscle,' each six feet tall exactly and stripped to the loincloth and codpiece, ceremonial swords tucked into their belts. Amidst the silken and frenetic dance of the performers and the exotic beats, ROSE and ATHENA ASAMIYA will fight until their blood is just one more decoration for the sands.

Rose felt a certain inkling in the paths of fate, a feeling in the pattern of things, that roused her from her readiness in Southtown. The guidance of the cards - never wrong, but often oblique - brought her here, to the Promethean Stadium in Kowloon.

Unfortunately for Rose, fate interfered with her plan to locate that man - that enigmatic presence which she has felt, and which has been foretold to her, sometimes in worryingly specific details by evil ghosts. When she arrived, she had intended to lay low, execute her match and hopefully not have to rescue a certain girl from a certain bear again...

But instead, several promoters had found her. Brought her to her dressing room, which was almost palatial, and presented her with...

"Well," Rose said at the time, "it IS a little much, but I suppose it can't hurt." 'Can't hurt her investigation into the matter of 'that man',' she'd meant. Either way, on it went.


The dance approaches its final measure, or at least what seems that way, when a palanquin is brought forth. Well, a sedan chair at least; Rose is leaning back in it, wearing an outfit that exceeds that of the swarms of belly dancers in ostenation and jeweled splendor even as it matches them in broad outline of cut and style.

I could get used to this, Rose thinks as she eats a grape. What part of 'this', she does not specify even to herself, though the high ponytail that keeps her hair from splaying everywhere is definitely on the list.

As she idly toys with the remaining few fruits on that tiny bunch, she straightens upwards, casting her gaze towards the other sedan chair, still seen only in the distance. If it's /him/, she thinks...

He must be hiding himself well. Though, is there something there as well?

From the beginning, the tone of this event was unlike anything else Athena had ever participated in. She would have sat this one out all together given the dark implications of the promotions behind it. Even with what little there was to glean about it, the event promised violence and brutality, and referred with spite to the kinds of matches she normally participated. She was a school kid, afterall.
But she found herself wondering if her reservations about attending had to do with her own insecurities or fears rather than the implied menace of the venues? Was she doubting herself? There was no room in her training for such apprehension. All of her fights to date had been sanctioned battles in the rings, arenas, and cordoned off areas of the world. But she was being trained to fight other battles as well. The ones that wouldn't be televised, sanctioned, or carefully monitored. The shadow wars against powers few in the world even knew existed were to be her eventual destiny and for those she had to remove all qualms from her ability to fight.
And so she found herself recruited for the event. The rising star prodigy of Justice High had a name building for herself. Many fans around the world were wondering just how high she would go? What WAS her limit? She had fought to a draw gainst the Silver-Haired Devil, but the rest of her matches had been victories, albeit a few close scrapes. That she had only been fighting on the world stage for six months was unbelievable. Apparently the organizes behind this intense invent wanted to test that limit themselves.
The entire affair was showy. Had this happened a month ago - before her sifu dashed her hopes of pursuing her singing career if she ever wanted to see another day of training from him - she might have eaten all this presentation up. Playing to the crowd had been just as important to her as exercising her skills. But Master Gentsai was going to have none of that. She had to make a choice.
Play to the crowd.
Or focus on her arts.
She couldn't have it both ways.
Which made this grand, ostentatious entrance a bit uncomfortable for her. As long as Chin knew she didn't ask for this, then he won't get mad, right? Seated on the elegant throne atop the palanquin, her costume makers seemed to have gone in a different, albeit equally themely direction for her attire. A long crimson gown drapes over her body with lengthy sleeves concealing her arms and all but the ends of her fingers. Golden embrodery covers the expensive apparel, including a ruby decorated golden sash about her waist and a golden crest with inlaid rubies at her neckline. The front of the gown parts, revealing the white full length skirt beneath it, covering her feet from view as she sits upright on the throne.
It is a fine line to walk - to cooperate with the event organizers, but to stay focused on her purpose for even being here. Her long, violet hair has been done up into an elegent hairstyle with locks draping down her back and against her shoulders but leaving her face and ears visible; an intricate crown laid atop her head with one final, large ruby in the center of it. Large, golden earings dangle from each earlobe. Whether any of this is even real she doesn't possess the knowledge to determine. All she knows is that she does look exquisite. And that this ensemble is going to be difficult to fight in given her acrobatic style!
The dance number is playing out in the sands for the entertainment of the audience as the two fighters are carried in on the backs of hopefully paid performers. Given the severe nature of this event, Athena really isn't sure what what to make of the whole thing, her hands gripping the armrests of her throne tightly. As the elevated platforms get nearer, violet eyes blink. What... is this incredible sense she feels coming from the other elevated seat?
Without receiving any cue, Asamiya pushes herself to her feet, her long dress draped around her as she takes a few steps forward on comfortable, black flats to stare at her opponent.
'Rose' was the name she was given, with no additional information. Across the sands, the two platforms are carried until they all but touch, the powerful mean bearing them finally coming to a stop.
Athena bows her head, hands clasped daintily in front of her, closing her eyes for a fleeting moment. It is a moment to prepare, to tap into that rich fount of energy she has at her disposal, but to also raise the walls needed to focus. The audience needs to be tuned out, the cameras forgotten, the show set aside. All that matters is her fighting skill and her training. And, she supposes, making sure to compensate for the ridiculous attire.
Glancing back up, she nods her head, exhaling softly, "Thank you for this honor to fight. I will be doing my best." she states without reservation. But there is a look to her eyes, a sense that she is thinking about a lot more than polite discourse as she gazes at her beautifully dressed opponent. She thought she knew Psychic Power in terms of what she could manifest and what Master Gentsai had helped her hone over her years of training. But... suddenly, she's not sure she's ever understood what truly exists out there world.
With heavy grunts, the 'servants' lower the platform to the sands, allowing the two women to engage immediately. The audience is already crying out for their next dose of violence.

COMBATSYS: Athena has started a fight here.

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Athena           0/-------/------=|

COMBATSYS: Athena takes no action.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Athena           0/-------/------=|

Rose looks upon the woman before her as the chair is set to the ground. She rises, stepping off of it with an almost imperious attitude, her scarf following along with her.

Athena might not be able to see just what transpires within the heart of that woman. That might be a surprise in itself.

But then it is revealed, gradually. A subtle peek. If this is Vega, Rose thinks - if this is HIM - then...

No, she thinks, wonderingly. It isn't. But then who is it?

A feeling crosses through Rose's mind, her soul, that she doesn't feel often. It is not fearful, or wary, or stern, or strict. For just a moment, she is filled with wonder.

She returns the bow, if with a flourish of one arm. Rising back upwards, she slides one foot forwards, hands going to her hip. "You're nervous, aren't you?" she says.

Before something else passes ahead... an impression reaching from her mind with careful but sure firmness. If psychic power is often demonstrated with smashing force, a profound burst of sorrow and anger or passion and joy or any of a dozen other emotions, this is a simple tapping out, a swift transmission through subtle means. Not quite words, but concepts that link together. Words are close enough, of course.

'Do you hear me? I think that you can, unless I miss my mark. Tell me of yourself! This is astonishing --'

BOOOOO HISSSSS STOP STANDIN THERE DO SOMETHING, bellows the crowd. Rose looks out at them and takes a moment to put two fingers to her lips and then brush the 'kiss' out towards the crowd, stilling that shout.

Aloud, she says as she turns back to Athena, her thin scarf wavering in the air behind her in a subtle touch of impossibility, "Your best... I expect nothing less." With that mental touch, she adds (subtitles, almost) 'If we stand here too long, they will release a robotic tennis bear or something equally outlandish.'

Rose winks then. 'Let's put on a good show.'

COMBATSYS: Rose has joined the fight here.

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

She realizes that was what was confusing her at first. The absense of sensing her opponent as she gazed at her across the platforms. Even when not trying to reach out and feel the emotions of others, to risk that brief moment of psychic contact, to build empathy unlike any other, she was almost always aware of something about them. To gaze upon a living thing and not sense anything at all - to be so perfectly blocked as to feel nothing at all. Is the problem with her, or is it-
Then something changes. A crack, one created deliberately, in that flawless, absolute wall, and the young fighter visibly recoils slightly, making an effort to not betray what she was experiencing to the audience or even to her opponent. Though she discovers there is little point to hiding such from the woman known as Rose.
It's there - a new sensation, a string of ideas coming together to form a thought, thoughts linking to form communication. Her mouth opens as the question is understood at a speed far faster than the spoken word.
'I- I do.'
She is asked to speak of herself. What a question! Even verbally it would have caught her a little off guard. But she has been interviewed before, fighting fansites taking interest in her meteoric rise through the fighting ranks. She could have blurted out a rehearsed answer if asked out loud.
But this question in her mind is something else. She has no prepared mental speach to play back, no script to follow.
'I- I- am Athena Asamiya, student of Master Chin Gentsai, a-and-'
She definitely wasn't ready for this. Her thoughts are scattered, her composure slipping a touch. She manages a quick, hasty smile in response to the woman's audible words even if she didn't spare a single frazzled moment of thought to actually understanding what was just said to her.
The next statement comes. Something about actually fighting.
'I've never done anything like this before-.'
She had felt hints at this capability around her friends but never actually tested it. Could she speak to Kensou like this? What of Master Gentsai? Did he know and was waiting for her to discover it on her own?
Attacking, that's something she can do. She has practiced this technique so many times over the years. It started as such a miniscule projection of Psycho Power only to grow into what it was now. The decorated princess swings her arms back, rose hued energy coursing over her draping sleeves. Her foot slips forward as she moves with the motion, whipping both hands forward and past each other. All that pink energy gathered is smashed together into one cohesive attack, a surging missile of psychic energy now hurtling Rose's way. Either the woman will deal with it or the throne behind her might pay the price!

COMBATSYS: Rose reflects Psycho Ball from Athena with Soul Reflect.

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

Rose can sense anxiety, fear, nervousness. The mental equivalent of stammering makes Rose feel a certain protective impulse. Is this what the Japanese mean by 'Moe'? She cannot tell, for she has never spoken to an otaku, for they do not talk to women.

'Be not afraid. Master Chin Gentsai, you say...? I wonder how it is I had not known of you - but perhaps there are now some mysteries revealed, things which I had felt, which are now rev--

Rose stops talking as a smashing burst of pink light comes towards her. Her eyes widen, even though she doesn't look terrified. Sensing perhaps the tension in the crowd as clearly as she can sense that in Athena, she twists around with a dramatic swivel of her hip and twists that diaphanous scarf upwards with a crackle of pastel violet light.

It follows the tracing path you'd expect... but lingers, and with a final little fillip, that missile lands in its far end. The ball of light curls there, pink energy mingling with pastel violet (now shading to green) as it loops up - Rose twists around, 'rolling' it over her shoulders and then letting it snap back, now towards Athena again!

'A bit of a knack of mine. Can you send it back?'

After this she waggles her fingers, audibly saying, "Tch tch tch~"

COMBATSYS: Athena fails to reflect Reflected Psycho Ball from Rose with Round Psycho Reflector EX.

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Athena           0/-------/---====|===----\-------\0             Rose

The ability to send a fighter's energy back at them isn't the most common skill in the fighting world. It takes a certain gift, a certain amount of precision and timing to step into an oncoming attack and return it to sender with such dangerous precision. But it's not like Athena is unfamiliar with the capacity, having practiced such an art against the impressive Psycho Powered attacks of her own team members. Still... this is the first time someone has actually done it to /her/!
Violet eyes widen as the girl's arms swing back from their extended positions, leaning back slightly at the same time, recoiling at the unexpected deflection of her power.
In an instant, that challenge is issued to return it back. She should know better than to do something like that - to answer to humorous demand. She can almost hear Master Gentsai already chewing her out for playing games in a fight rather than doing her best every step of the way no matter what her opponent or crowd might demand of her.
It is in a fleeting act of teenage rebellion that the girl answers the call afterall. Just this once can't hurt, right? Recovering from her own recoil in an instant, she slams her arms back out, her left aimed low, her right high, her palms facing each other. This should be easy. She of course knows the wavelength of her own power. Creating the perfect defense against it shouldn't be hard.
A shimmering shield of Psycho Power explodes to life between her hands, nearly hiding her from view. Its attunement is flawless - it will be a barrier to her shimmering Psycho Ball without a doubt.
Only when the projectile flies clean through her reflector and crashes into the girl, sending her reeling, a startled cry of pain escaping her lips, she realizes her error. During that fleeting moment of contact with Rose's own energy, her signature Psycho Ball was changed - if anything it was strengthed by the exchange, coming back and hitting her harder than it could have managed herself. Her flawless barrier was not even remotely attuned to the change!
Sliding back over the platform, her dress billowing out around her ankles, the girl comes to a stop a meter later, gritting her teeth, hands raised back to a ready stance.
'I do not think so.'
The answer comes succintly in an instant. She should know better, she chides herself. Sucking in her breath, she tries to fight back the unnerving pain coursing through her. Her expression of distress is replaced with resolve to focus better, a mien of intensity as she tries to recover from the surprise of telepathic communication.
"Nice one," she says out loud, hands raised, returning to her ready stance, realizing the dress reduces her mobility slightly. Such is simply part of the challenge, she reminds herself.
'I have never met one...'
There is a pause in the thought.
'Quite like you.'

The shimmering shield appears - and the Psycho Ball slides right through it!

Rose answers this with an upraised hand and a rich, belly-shaking laugh of triumph! How cruel.

Of course, she explains further, in that silent touch.

'Thank you... Athena.'

'I will tell you a secret, then - since you would puzzle it out shortly, you or your master. My own techniques have been trained to slip past the sort of power which you wield. You have done no evil! No, though there is one who has.'

Visibly, though, Rose pivots around again, one hand on her leg and throwing a terribly fierce expression towards this exotically-attired princess. Fierce in the sense that it would fit an album cover; put some three-mooned planets behind her, or throw out more dramatic lighting.

After this Rose struts forwards. With the relatively mundane slippers she has on it is easier going, though it may rule out one of her habitual moves. (Or would it?) "What a silly little girl..."

'Anyway,' the mental conversation comes again, quite amiable and lacking in this menacing poise, 'what do you call your art? I have not met your master, though I think someday I should.'

With a rippling flourish of her scarf, Rose leaps the last several paces that separate her from Athena, then, but it isn't a direct rush. Her hands come out wide, as if to grasp for her head - but then she pivots around an invisible point, rising up to be perfectly, one hundred and eighty degrees, directly above Athena, seeming to float there for a heart-stopping instant --

(This is because she is actually floating, if only for that instant. The best trick: Literally doing what you /appear/ to do.)

Her hands come up. This is not a traditional attack vector, but Athena may be canny enough to realize Rose is trying to have her hands on either side of Athena's head. Whether or not this aggressive head-palming is on target, a shimmering blue sphere of light ripples out between her palms as Rose's momentary defiance of gravity comes to its end -- her legs stay pressed together as she 'dismounts,' landing behind Athena with a whirl of that wispy yellow scarf.

COMBATSYS: Athena blocks Rose's Soul Drain.

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Athena           0/-------/--=====|====---\-------\0             Rose

The brief discourse happens in an instant. That the woman has already mastered the art of slipping techniques past the defenses of other Psycho Power users is a startling discovery. Is there any defense to be had against such a skilled technique? But it is the other detail that triggers a shiver in her soul.
'One?... Who?'
There is urgency there but not fear. This woman knows of a monster then - one who has the gift they both do, one she has prepared that unique, reflecting technique to deal with. One who has taken that power and, rather seek ways to help and enable, has corrupted it for evil. The thought is distracting. The entire effort of conversing in two ways in parallel is so much to take in without the breadth of experience Rose possesses. She can only really follow one thread at a time.
There were words uttered. Athena has to focus to recall what they were. Oh. Right. A taunt, one princess to another. Her mouth curls into a smile. The lingering pain can be ignored for now.
"You haven't seen anything yet."
She can do better, she tells herself. She needs to focus, to concentrate, to dig back down to her fundamentals! But then she's asked again - those thoughts, the thrill of speaking with ideas, communicating in an instant, without betraying any of it to the audience or recorders. It's as fascinating as it is distracting. This is something she is going to need to learn to cope with!
'Psycho Power. Kung fu.'
The two ideas are communicated simply, as if she's trying to think through an answer. They had not really ever named the styles passed onto them by their old drunken sifu.
'My friends and I- we never thought to name it, I guess.'
She's approached again, the younger fighter drawing back, arms raised to defend herself against an anticipated strike. That the attack comes from above is not super unusual... but usually airborn opponents are going to strike out with a limb and not... whatever it is she's trying to do with her head!
Asamiya moves her hands to intersect, gritting her teeth, eyes clenched closed as she fights back the assault, blocking the direct hold and forcing her own will to contest the painful energy attempting to bore into her skull. "Nnngh-"
She breaks away, stumbling forward a step as Rose lands behind her with her incredible elegance. Once again her dress whirls about her ankles as Athena turns around and takes another staggered step backward. To say that she is being extremely pressured is putting it mildly. This woman is a master at unraveling psychics if she so choses!
Her next step against the platform has her going airborn, however, the girl goes airborn, leaping backward. It might be somewhat misdirection, however, as she tucks herself forward into a ball and suddenly, sharply, changes directory into a steep, tumbling dive against the experienced psychic.
Her body flares to life with her rose hued Psycho Power as she attempts to bodily crash into the woman. Should she find any gap in the woman's defenses, she will slide out to a stop and, using her hand as a launching point, attempt to kick her feet out for Rose directly - of course, with the long gown, such a finishing kick is a bit of a logistical nightmare. There's a very good chance this could completely backfire!

COMBATSYS: Rose blocks Athena's Phoenix Arrow.

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Athena           0/-------/--=====|=====--\-------\0             Rose

Athena answers Rose, and in turn Rose replies in silent thought: 'Psycho Power. Hm.' Suggestive. 'It works well with your style, though,' she continues, even as Athena answers her other challenge with action.

Rose raises up one arm, her scarf curling up like smoke around her wrist and hand, rising in front of her, when Athena vaults into the air, curls up - and then bursts a flatteringly rose-tinted shade of POWER. Then slams towards her!

Rose might, perhaps, be swift enough to evade, but in the sheer shocked sign of similarity of seeing Athena's exercise of psycho power lead to her hurling herself, body put on the line in a classically daring way... she forgets to twirl. It happens to everyone.

'Ah - my dear Athena -'

Rose does throw up her scarf-wrapped arm, gritting her teeth as she's slammed into. Athena's impact drives down, her fluttering scarf flashing several times as the impact energy and the bursting of Psycho Power interfaces with the emanations coming from deep within Rose's very soul, through the medium of the scarf. Each blow pushes her back - the sandy coating on the arena's surface making her skid back, slowly but certainly, an almost methodical inch or so per flash.

Rose takes a step back.

'Did your master teach you that maneuver?'

And with this, Rose snaps her scarf around again. Big deal, one might legitimately say, especially as Rose's rather heavy-weight saffron-yellow scarf is not what she has today. That piece of cloth has heft to it. This one is practically gauze.

Except that it shimmers pink and gold and green and violet, like an aurora come to life, as she snaps it forwards with a twist of her wrist. Contact would fill the target with a synaesthetic series of flashing lights and a distinct and sudden feeling of being thrown backwards! (The latter part, of course, is totally real.)

COMBATSYS: Rose successfully hits Athena with Aura Scarf.

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Athena           1/------=/=======|=======\-------\1             Rose

Sliding out of her technique leaves young Asamiya precious little time to respond. Rose's precision and timing is without blemish, her scarf snapping out, giving her range on the younger fighter - the bewildered look in her face suggests that she realizes a bit too late the threat it represents, only deciding to move at the last second. It's hard to accomplish, draped in a gown as she is, to press up from her post-divekick and then try to spring to the side.
The contact with the fabric allows that moment of contact Rose sought, the decorative article of clothing becoming a conduit through which her Soul Power can flow. Her arm struck, Athena cries out again, this time knocked back by the surge of power assaulting her, stumbling until she ends up flopping back down in the throne she was carried in on, crown slightly a skew.
Shaking her head, the aching princess grimaces, hand lifting to her temples. Her focus is unraveled. The spectacle of the event was hard enough to cope with by itself, but the newfound experience of communicating with a gifted psychic through the power of thought is overwhelming.
Without thinking, she speaks out loud this time. "No... well-" Chin's tumbling acts were legendary. Perhaps she was, after all, inspired by the eccentric old man? 'Master Gentsai's own style is a bit... unconventional.' That's putting it mildly.
This is no time to sit around, though. Sucking in her breath, the girl gets back to her feet and shakes her head, lifting her sleeve-draped arms back into position. She doesn't have Rose's reach with the scarf - her choices are to project or attack directly. It is the latter that she goes for, pushing off, moving forward as fast as her gown-clad form can manage. She would attempt to weave around any attempted counter attack, hand slamming out, fingers extended... all in a bid to so much as touch the woman.
Successful contact would allow her to try and hurl Rose over her head with just a sweep of her arm, leaning entirely on psychokinetic power rather than any real throwing strength!

COMBATSYS: Rose endures Athena's Psychic Attack.

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Athena           1/-----==/=======|=======\=------\1             Rose

'It reminded me of another technique... But,' Rose assures Athena, 'do not feel your style is cursed. I am sure that "That Man,"' and Athena can hear the portent in those words despite the semi-verbal symbolic link, 'also drinks and bathes, yet these are not wicked acts.'

Rose sometimes makes no sense. Is this due to anticipating objections and thereby threading around them? Or is she simply eccentric? Signs post to a combination of both.

Athena attacks. Rose slips back to brace herself on her hind foot as she watches Athena, raising her hands up as that impact comes up. But is Athena bodyslamming her? No - it's a simple touch, this time ending up coming on the inside of her arm. It's a delicate little poke.

It is enough. Rose is attached to Athena's hand, and with a sudden flip and a look of astonishment, she is thrown into the ground - hard enough to bounce upwards, toppling over herself in a flurry of scarf and slacks and limbs and a cry of, "Ohh--!!"

And yet she lands on her feet, if a little bruised. Rose has to suppress a smile, before she straightens up and tosses her long high ponytail back with one hand, waggling an index finger at Athena afterwards. "Clever..."

Her scarf snaps out -- towards one of those burly pieces of beefcake, sliding over him like a grasping hand! (He seems pleased.) As she does this, Rose stares smoulderingly at Athena. Her mental voice remains uninflected. 'Have you ever fenced? It should keep them amused a while longer.'

Her scarf slithers over two of the men at once, and two objects fly up into the air on very divergent trajectories! Their ceremonial blades - whipped loose from their hips - now being passed one to the other!

Rose catches hers. Athena may have to decide if she wants to play along, because Rose THEN advances with a quick pattering step, drawing the (not very sharp) blade out to make a (not very forceful) slash forth, as if to 'cut' Athena's belly wide open!

COMBATSYS: Athena blocks Rose's Small Random Weapon.

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Athena           1/----===/=======|=======\=------\1             Rose

'Cursed?' There is a spark of fear in her voice. Master Gentsai has taught her a lot about her incredible gift, now to bring it forth, channel it, use it to defend or attack, and to blend it in with her own direct but acrobatic style of Kung Fu. But she feels with each passing moment that the woman she has been put against knows even more and she cannot help but marvel at what secrets she must possess about the world she is only just starting to discover.
'That Man, you call him.'
She draws her arm back after having hurled the woman by exercise of psychokinetic power, violet eyes blinking as the woman lands on her feet after a decisive bounce. She thought maybe she got her better than that! But she's also starting to realize the limits of her own use of Psycho Power against one who has been weaving it for longer than she has been alive, let alone her four mere years of training under Chin. This fight is an incredible opportunity to see what might be someday, but she's not there yet.
'Who is he? What has he done?'
The woman seems gravely serious about whoever this mysterious individual is. Athena can't help but pick up on hints of that from what stray traces of emotion Rose lets her sense. Whoever the threat is, his menace must be unlike anything she has ever encountered before...
Wait, what is Rose doing? Fencing? Athena's eyes widen slightly as she begins to guess where this is going. 'N-not in the slightest-!'
The sword thrown her way can't be ignored, however, the girl managing to catch it out of the air with the help of a last second psychic tug to make sure that its the handle her fingers close around instead of the 'blade'. Fake, or not, it might ruin the illusion some if her first act is to grab the prop sword by the so-called sharp end. It is with a desperate swing that she brings it crashing down in a desperate bid to deflect the incoming swing. It's a good thing Rose isn't going all out with the technique - it's clear the younger psychic is in way over her head here!
But Rose is attacking her with a makeshift weapon while offering her one in return. It would... be dishonorable to not respond in turn, right? Gripping the tossed sword with both hands, Asamiya takes a fierce swing with it, using it more like a two-by-four than a proper sword. But it's also not a proper sword, so...? "HA!"

COMBATSYS: Rose interrupts Light Random Weapon from Athena with Small Random Weapon.

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Athena           1/--=====/=======|=======\===----\1             Rose

'He is a master of evil,' Rose replies as she watches Athena closely. 'He has done many horrid things. I shall not tell you them now, as it would be rather poor practice of me to read you a list of horrors --'

But Rose smiles even so. 'Then,' she suggests, 'let's learn together.'

Her dramatic slice is not well followed up. Rose says, however, "Aha! Now you shall perish, fell princess!" with an energetic shrug of the shoulders, twisting the blade in her grasp completely unnecessarily. When Athena makes that grand swing, Rose stabs up -

'Here, let me show you a trick.'

and her blade impacts Athena's but with weaker force. There is a vast and sparkling flash of violet light from her palm into the hilt of the weapon - Athena can likely tell exactly what Rose has done. Much as she's used her scarf as a way to help project her psychic power, she has poured it into the hilt of the blade.

More remarkable is -- that it explodes!!

Flinders burst out, but strangely enough, none towards either Rose or Athena. "Kyahhh!!" she declaims, eyes going wide as her free hand comes up to frame her face. "Is this the power - of a princess's pure heart....!?"

'I don't want to alarm you,' Rose adds as she mugs a bit further, gasping and staggering back, throwing the hilt aside. 'But this man I speak of... is /here/... somewhere.'

The thought Rose communicates is sobering. While enjoying the experience of facing a woman of her talent and knowledge, Athena can't help but be caught up in the severity of it all. She had never fought anyone darker than the Tiger of Muay Thai, Sagat himself, and even then all she felt pouring off the man was rage... a thirst for vengeance... but evil? The man Rose describes must truly be a monster!
But her mind is on her feeble attempt at slashing, the sword sweeping through the air to minimal affect. 'Y-yeah.' She needs all the learning she can get on this area, having never even really gripped a practice weapon before in her life!
The blade strikes her, albeit not as hard as the woman could accomplish if she wanted, the girl is certain. It provokes a soft gasp all the same. And then the trick is shown - had she not already been so well honed in fighting at extreme speeds, she might not have caught what the woman did so deftly as to go unnoticed by the audience.
The violet detonation is definitely showy and her words prompt the girl to laugh lightly at Rose's creative improve skills. She's not faced a more imaginative fighter to date.
Slipping backward, she swings her own sword out at her side for a dramatic pause. "Your time in our kingdom is at an end. I will now banish you-"
The sword is tossed aside as Rose speaks into her mind with that chilling declaration. That Man is here? At the event? Does HE know Rose has been preparing to face him with all of her talents and skills in fighting against Psycho Power? Athena can't help but wonder.
'I understand.'
Violet eyes focus on her beautiful foe.
'And now, I wish to see it - what you are capable of-'
The sword is flung to the side to land half-buried in the sand. Athena clenches her hands at her sides and bows her head, closing her eyes. Tapping into that fount of Psycho Power she was gifted with, the girl begins to channel a local phenomenon, pink and violet energy surging up around her. At first it is mostly shapeless, radiating power. But slowly much of it is compressed into two swirling spheres of ultra-concentrated Psycho Power. "AaaaaaaaaAAAAAAH!"
Eyes snapping open, burning with that same power, Athena raises her right hand to the sky, pulling all of that energy into a single, incredible sphere of crackling energy. Rose was able to redirect her power before and even send it flying back at her. But now? Sucking in her breath, the girl resolves to make this one count.
Swinging her right hand forward, she directs the infused, crackling energy Rose's way with all the power she can muster!

COMBATSYS: Rose fails to reflect Shining Crystal Bit EX+ from Athena with Turquoise Soul Overdrive.

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

Rose, for all her talent, can't simply put her brain inside of Athena's brain and then understand all of her hopes and dreams. At least not without extended close contact, and that would be a wholly different sort of a match, wouldn't it?

"Ohhohohohohoho!" she laughs in mockery as Athena declares her banishment is at hand.

Mentally, she replies. 'Do you? Well,' and then she turns, her scarf untouched. Sucking in a deep breath, her eyes gleam as turquoise blue light pools in the palm of her hand, an impossible phenomenon like glass pouring in liquod motion as she slams it forwards towards that incoming incredible sphere. The liquid manifestation of Soul Power expands outwards, crackling -

It is clear to Rose that it will not work. Her eyes widen in wonder. The rippling burst of Soul Power DOES seem to pause the shining bit of crystalline psychic purity - but only for a moment, at which point Athena's resolve shoves it forwards, and


Is this what destroys buildings?

Probably not.

Rose does go flying back, however, smashing through one of those sedan chairs and bowling over a gentleman in a loincloth! "Ahhh," Rose vocalizes, sprawling atop an oiled chest - and then pushing herself off with a flourish and a wriggle, giving Athena a feigned pout and narrow-eyed, lethal look.

'As you can see, my art is not perfect. Even so...' And here Rose rises up to her feet. 'That was spectacular.'

Rose then raises a hand to her face... and then upwards. Holding it over her head, she slides her other hand along that opposing arm, her scarf interleaving with her arms. She gives the IMPRESSION of being on the verge of belly dancing without actually doing so.

Athena can feel the power gathering to her.

"Come on! Show me your best!" she calls. "I'm still up!"

'There are a few things I hesitate to reveal - but I think you'll enjoy this trick. I just need to catch my breath...'

There was no mistaking the focus of Athena's eyes on Rose's defensive technique. If there are abilities to contest even her strongest burst of Psycho Power and to stop it short, she needs to know about it. In this specific case, it seems her will saw it through... but she suspects the woman would not fall victim to the same attack twice.
Not that she has any hope of USING it twice. Following the release of the Psych Powered missile and its successful impact, young Asamiya staggers forward a step and exhales softly. Even her fount of energy has its limits and it seems as if she's starting to run up against them.
'You do not have to face him alone.'
She pushes herself back up to standing, perspiration rolling down her cheeks. She can't look so weak, so exhausted. She can keep on fighting and so she must.
'It is for standing against tyrants that I have dedicated my life to my training... And I am not alone.'
The woman is back on her feet, her movements fluid and every bit as controlled as when they first met once she has recovered from her sprawled landing. Her staying power against Asamiya's formidable energy is remarkable... by far the most resilient she has ever faced!
Winded as she is, drawing even more psychic energy from her reserves might be just beyond her capacity right now. But she can still fight. She hasn't been learning all that Kung Fu for nothing!
"I can see that," she replies, smiling in spite her weary state, cheeks rosey with exhertion. "Okay then-" comes the answer to the challenge as she rushes forward. She can't move as fast in the long dresses as her normal fighting outfits, but that doesn't mean she's slow either!
'You have already taught me so much...'
There is a strong sentiment of graditude radiating from Athena as she closes the distant and slams her left hand out, fingers half bent for a knuckled strong strike. She would step into a second blow then, right hand coming forward in closer proximity for a crushing palm press to Rose's stomach. It puts Athena right up next to the woman, which is a risk given her talents... but if she connects clenaly, she might be too staggered to do anything about it?

COMBATSYS: Rose blocks Athena's Strong Punch.

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

Rose is certainly exerting herself. Sweat is on her skin, it's just largely drying quickly because this outfit is less muffling than most. She stares ahead as Athena rushes in...

As she approaches, Rose, in the physical world, braces herself for impact, squatting down slightly. In that shimmering clarity of communication, she replies, in tones of gentle smiling, 'And I would say the same.'

Aloud, she says "GHK!" because, of course, Athena just slammed her palm into Rose's soft underbelly. This is not a critical weak spot - Rose does not explode into giblets, or even collapse, but she does stagger back with a notable hitch in her breathing.

Her scarf twirls around her right arm as she regains herself. Did she guide it? As it moves nearer to her arm, a sparkling auroral light fills the space between it and her arm, which may answer that question quite succinctly.

There is little more to say. As the light grows from mere sparkling bursts to a luminous filling of space between arm and thin cloth, Rose kicks off the ground, letting go of the scarf itself and letting it spiral swiftly as she leads with her loosely-held hand. Much as Athena's own maneuver, the touch is the thing, which will translate the psychic force into physical --

But hers is different; it has a spiralling aspect. If Athena is not cautious she may be sent spinning, possibly into the bellydancers!! Or worse -- the other sedan chair! Think of all the lumber...

COMBATSYS: Athena reflects Soul Spiral from Rose with Round Psycho Reflector.

[                    \\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Athena           0/-------/-======|=======\====---\1             Rose

Earlier, Rose had challenged her to reflect back her altered Psycho Ball and Athena had failed, not realizing the very nature of the energy of her own attack had been altered. It wasn't like she wasn't clueless at the concept though. This time, however, Asamiya is fully prepared to respond to energy that is similiar yet unlike her own. If anything, the brief bursts of painful contact she's had with it indicated to her that the energy wielded by the insightful woman was even more refined, more pure than what she herself can draw upon. How has she altered it? Filtered it to be so refined?
The mystery will have to wait. Arabian Princess Athena is being pressed into defending herself once more from that pernicious scarf. This time she isn't having any of that thing. Swinging her arms back over her head, rose hued energy explodes along her limbs as the girl springs forward into the twisting scarf assault. "AaaaAAH!"
Whipping her arms toward Rose, palms forward, the girl thrusts another massive barrier of Psycho Power into existence. Unlike her previous failed shield attempt, this sphere seems designed to drastically overwhelm the magnitude of power in the scarf, washing over it and even blasting into Rose herself.
"I'm-" the girl gasps as she steps forward after the significant power has dissipated. "-not finished yet!" Whether the declaration was for the act or a legitimate challenge that she is willing to push herself further even still, in spite the extent of her fatigue.
'Does That Man have a name?' she asks. She can't help but keep thinking about the ominous warning received, that the very person Rose viewed as possessing cursed Psycho Power was at this very event - the Gods of the Arena. Is this man, then, numbered among those gods...?

The vast wave of Psycho Power that Athena generates makes Rose wonder for a fleeting fragment of a second-- IS this that man?

No, she thinks. Even if there is the subtlest shading of memories -- an implication that might, perhaps, match him to what Athena is doing, what Athena might be able to do -- he would, of course, have grown past where Athena stands now.

That was, after all, the entire point.

"Hoho - you are flagging, girl! Youth and vitality have never yet defeated maturity and treachery!" Rose intones, with another flourish even as her scarf whips back. That impacting sphere ripples through her - externally she grimaces, as if she'd just felt a twinge in her gut. Athena can doubtless sense that her blow did strike home against Rose - there's a sense of whipping wind and a lamp light fluttering in a hurricane, deep beneath that linguistically metaphoric exchange.

Rose sucks in a deep breath.

'He has many names,' Rose replies as she draws her scarf back. 'Aliases, not without number, but certainly in their abundance. But the name which he is known by, more often than not --'

Rose snaps her scarf out. It lashes towards Athena's bangled and besleeve'd wrist. Harmless! Yeah, that is a lie.

'is Vega.'

Rose exhales sharply. "Hora!" she says aloud, as light flows through her body, down out her arm, through her hand, and into the diaphanous fabric of the scarf. Thin as it is, and an uncharacteristic cloth at that, the erupting auroral colors of Soul Power are causing it to /burn/ - a cool blue light, one that would never warm, and which will leave the scarf itself slowly and steadily unravelling until it's nothing more than threads.

But that's the scarf's problem for later. For now, Athena's problem will be this surge of Soul Power - unless she can, of course, get out of the range of that sudden sparking sweep, and remain free! Clear! Unbound!

COMBATSYS: Athena blocks Rose's Illusion Spark.

[                       \\\\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Athena           1/--=====/=======|-------\-------\0             Rose

Vega. The dark name is inscribed in the girl's memory alongside a number of other unforgettable moments from this exchange against the extremely talented medium. She knows full well that had the woman been going all out with her anti-Psycho Power techniques, this fight would be over by now and she would have been denied the opportunity to learn as much as she had. For that alone, she is already extremely grateful.
'Thank you.'
She sucks in her breath, inspired to keep going in spite the agony she feels, her body aching from fighting too long, drawing too much of that dangerous but powerful energy through it, and no small amount of lingering pain from the sword smack and Soul Power swaths she's been put through thus far.
'For trusting me with this knowledge.'
And then she's forced to defend herself. Once more that persnickety scarf comes whipping out for her. She's already been caught by it before, and watched as it was put to elegent use in warding off her attacks. This time, however, she's about to turn the tables on it!
Maybe it's the foolishness of youth that has her extend her right arm up into its path, wanting to make sure that it doesn't find its way to wrapping around some other part of her body. The end of her arm will give it the minimal conduit to inflict-
And there it comes, that burst of Soul Power coursing alongit, a live wire of psychic energy unlike anything in the world. And is there that Athena fights back, forcing all of her will, all of her determination, all of her resolve into contesting the surge of energy assaulting her now.
It is a silent battle, and one the audience may not appreciate or understand, as the younger violet eyed fighter stands there, arm raised, illuminated scarf of doom wrapped around her wrist. Her arm trembles, her knees begin to buckle, but she is not overcome.
A gasp escapes the lips of the rising star of fighting as she staggers forward, the scarf finally relenting in its battle against her psyche, scattering to thew inds as so much harmless thread. She can't say she will miss the thing. Not. One. Bit.
'This has been-'
She sucks in her breath. She can still move. If anything, she's moving even faster than she had the entire fight. Call it adrenaline, inspiration, or just tenacity beyond that of most fighters in the entire globe.
'An incredible experience.'
She is a blur when she charges Rose then, her image shimmering over distance faster than movement should allow, aiming to deliver a powerful shoulder charge into her esteemed opponent.
Should she connect, it is with a combination of Kung Fu strikes that she would continue - a palm strike, a spin kick, another shoulder ram, a double palm strike, a rising knee... finished with her lowering her hand down, Psycho Power surging into the tips of her fingers and then rising into the air, painting a line of precision psychic energy up through the talented woman. "Psycho Sword!"

COMBATSYS: Rose deflects Psychic 9 from Athena with Soul Reflect.

[                            \\  < >  ///////                       ]
Athena           1/-------/=======|===----\-------\0             Rose

Of course, Rose's perspective is rather different on this matter. From where she sits, if Athena had gone full throttle with her Psycho Power... had she walked the path that Vega did... Rose would be getting to take a trip out of the arena on a stretcher.

Or perhaps she would have prevailed. It is hard to say. Fighting teenagers is always a challenge.

Her scarf is disintegrating. She smiles at Athena, making no words in reply, as she sets back on one heel. The Illusion Spark did not pour in enough to disable Athena. It is a little dismaying to Rose to see that, but now she knows, and perhaps that knowledge will be pivotal some time later.

Athena shimmers as she comes towards Rose. She slams in that shoulder charge -- and strikes home!

Every blow connects. There is the sensation of flesh yielding underneath these strikes, that peculiar combination of striking a hollow vessel, a fresh piece of lumber, and a side of beef that comes from a hearty blow struck home against an almost unresisting figure. Rose must have been on her last legs. She twists at the last moment, and that rising knee smashes into Rose, sending her flying -

But -

Something's wrong, because Rose is moving in two directions at once. Athena is, perhaps, moving too fast to percieve what's happened, but there is a bruised and stunned Rose flying backwards, quite disabled... and there's another Rose, scuffed but intact and smiling to herself, stepping to the left.

Is this a vision?

The confusion was not apparent outside of the perspective of Athena (and, by shocking coincidence, one of the main cameras for the fight - which will drive some editors insane). From the perspective of most of the ring, Rose had swept that shoulder charge slightly abroad, met the palm strike with an elbow, ducked the spin kick, leapt over the shoulder ram, pirouetted around on Athena's shoulders, landed right in front in time to cross-block the rising knee --

And then everything comes together. The momentary hallucination flickers instantaneously before the invisible phosphoric light of Soul Power consumes it; this is not one of Rose's finest arts.

"Tremendous!" Rose says aloud. But there's a Psycho Sword left to contend with, isn't there? Rose lowers her left hand to land her palm on the back of Athena's own glimmering palm, and -

Perhaps it is best explained by analogy. From the side, a glimmering spike of light pastel green light spikes harmlessly through the back of Athena's hand and out through her palm. This stings. What probably hurts more is the sudden intrusion of Soul Power into the flow of Psycho Power, which can profitably be compared to what would happen if you could teleport a golf ball inside of a high-pressure garden hose.

SOMETHING - SOMEWHERE - is going to explode. Or at least come close, since this 'blockage' is rather slim -- the only harm will be a brief moment of pain! ... and the explosive launch, don't forget that.

Suffice to say - caught in the nexus of illusion and reality - Athena Asamiya is completely bewildered. She knew she was hitting something, or so her basic senses were telling her. Her higher senses warned her that she was in great peril of being attacked. Trying to adjudicate between those two completely opposed realities has her more than a little baffled.
In lieu of a better idea, she keeps swinging. She has momentum now, stepping through the smooth transitions of one Kung Fu strike after the other. Individually, they would certainly not be devastating, but collectively they would certainly add up. And of course, there's the key finisher to make it all work - that phenomenally effective rising blade of Psycho Power she has honed to a fine edge.
Knees bend, arm lowered, energy surges down her forearm, ready to slice, on a mental level, through Rose's last remaining defenses.
Or so she thought - unrefined Psycho Power collides against that blockade of pristine Soul Power in her wrist at the point of Rose's delicate touch. Violet eyes widen, the girl finally realizing with a sudden crash of awareness what just transpired. She'd never even considered someone being able to thwart her energy like this. Her mouth opens a little in surprise, but she never gets a word out as the backlash finally strikes home.
Finally the audience can see at least something, as the younger fighter is knocked away from the collision of similar yet incompatible forces. She lands right back in the throne she had started in, arms draped over the armrests, sinking down in the seat. But for the battle worn look about her, it effectively looks like she's dozed off on the seat.
The acting servants who had been standing around (and sometimes IN) the fight shrug their shoulders. Their work here is done, right? Time for more heavy lifting. With a grunt, the palanquin of the defeated princesses is hefted to their shoulders so the journey out of the arena can commence.

COMBATSYS: Athena takes no action.

[                       \\\\\\\  <
Rose             0/-------/----===|

COMBATSYS: Athena can no longer fight.

[                       \\\\\\\  <
Rose             0/-------/----===|

Rose, after the slumping of the Princess, says with a final toss of her hair, "Typical... Nap time, it seems, for the young queen to be."

She climbs into her own seat, damaged as it is, to ride out the way she came, legs crossed, reclining indolently -- and even reaching for the last of her grapes (which have miraculously escaped becoming grape juice).

'I look forward, Athena, to seeing you again. Please inform your master as well - I'm sure we'll be able to find one another again.'

Log created on 22:54:42 12/12/2014 by Athena, and last modified on 00:10:12 12/15/2014.