IHST - Inter-High School Tournament: Daigo vs Athena

Description: Rising Phoenix of Justice High faces off against the Phoenix of Iron of Gedo High at the humble school's very own dojo. [Winner: Daigo]

Gedo High has been reknown for its effort in the past years to reform delinquent youth. Its reputation has been based on the growing number of troublesome students who have been making the school shine in a very undesired ways. Act of vandalism, violence and gangsterism are amongsts the scourge that were brought to Gedo High the past few years.

The school's facilities have suffered a lot from the new waves of students that came to this school with varied harsh backgrounds : graffitis on most of the walls and the lack of funding for maintenance have left the building in a deteriorated state, not to mention the recent events that left one of the building partially collapsed due to some explosions.

Now a day, Gedo High is more a synonym of juvenile deliquence, violence and trouble. Though in a past not so far away, the school shined with its beliefs and ideals of education of the youth through the discipline and focus of martial arts. Those beliefs have still been passed down and carried on despite the evolution of the students that came to the school but they have been overshadowed by the nature of the students that came to this school. After all, the majority of the students here have had some trouble of some kind in their life, be it with the law or simply socioeconomical background.

The dojo in Gedo High seems to be one of the only place devoided of any form of vandalism, as if some mysterious powers kept this place safe from harm. It is the bastion of the old values of the school, one of the few things all of the student might hold some respect toward, the place where they are taught the fundamental teachings in various martial arts.

This is where the battle between Athena Asamiya, school prodigy and rising star of Justice High, and Daigo Kazama, the hope and spirit of Gedo High, would clash in the second round of the interschool tournament.

The second floor of the dojo was crowded with students from Gedo High, along perhaps the few braves and bold enough students from Justice High who dared to come in such an hostile territory. After all, the two school's ideology were diametrically opposed : the lower class of society and the elite of society... The hostile setup outside of the dojo might have been more than enough to discourage most of Athena's fans and supporters to make it through to the dojo.

In the center of the dojo, Daigo waits. He stands tall, arms folded against his chest. His head is bowed slightly, his eyes closed, as if he was in deep meditation. It's hard to imagine anyone able to concentrate with all the noise and ruckus made by all the students talking above. The only other person present on the fist floor is an official for the battle, to supervise and make sure everything would be alright.

Miko Kobayashi had travelled all the way out to Taiyo High to watch Kazuki fight, but she had missed the opportunity to watch Daigo before. This time, the fight's taking place in Gedo's own dojo, so between that and the rumored grudge between Athena and Daigo, she really doesn't want to miss this. She'd heard of the Psycho Soldier's pop career -- and, with her fulltime job as a performer, Miko -- or rather, Honoka -- was rather curious to see what was worth giving -that- up. Fighting? Against people like the fearsome Gedo boss? Clearly, something other than simple monetary reward was in play here.

Besides. Fight videos are one thing, but when it comes to the powers that fighters like Athena wield, merely /seeing/ is not believing. Honoka wants to experience this power from a safe distance -- which is why she's chosen to surround herself with other students, the fiery passions of the Gedo youth providing some mild cover for her own darker intent.

While her usual three companions are seated with their legs over the ledge, Miko prefers to stand with a few of the Gedo students who had stayed by Daigo's side. The ones pumping fists hardest. The ones with the most passion for their reluctant and self-effacing leader. The gakuran-coated Gedo student watches with her arms crossed and the slightest hint of anticipation in her predatory grin. This will be an entertaining fight, no matter which way it goes.

"Heyyy, Miko-chan! Did we miss anything?"

Arriving just now on the dojo's upper level, the cyan-haired Rina "Rocket" O'Reilly pushes her way through the Gedo students to find a place to sit on the edge of the walkway near Miko and her companions. A lanky, brown-haired youth in a leather jacket that some might recognize as the O'Reilly girl's cousin Sadao Kobayashi follows in her wake. Loud hip-hop music blares from a pair of headphones resting on Rocket's ears.

"You know, I don't think we're actually related," the brown-haired guy mutters from behind Rocket.

"Of course we are, dumbass. Your dad's parents are my mom's parents," Rocket replies, rolling her eyes as she pulls her headphones down around her neck and unslings a denim satchel from her shoulder, fishing inside it.

"No, I mean Miko - nevermind," Sadao says with an exasperated sigh.

"Hey, Daigo-san!! Good luck!" Rocket yells down at the first floor, waving a hand that's now holding a box of Pocky in the air to make her presence and support known.

Into enemy territory, it would seem. When the first round of the Inter-High School Tournament had Athena Asamiya facing off against the adorable blonde heartthrobe, Rock Howard, enough of the Justice High elite were willing to attend to fill half the available seating of Taiyo High's auditorium. While the academic upperclass were as aloof as ever, there currently existed no strong annimosity between the student bodies at this time.

When round two had one of the most popular students of the exclusive school facing off against Gedo's Daigo Kazama, on the other hand, the scowl of disapproval became one of the most common expressions throughout the campus. Not only was their very own facing off against the ghetto vandal and rabblerouser, but the match was being held in the filthy hellhole he represented. Many would not deign to grace the downtrodden campus with their presence, deciding to support their representative from afar.

Still, for some of the students, their pride would have them attending, refusing to be deterred from supporting their own just because the event officials have chosen to have her match hosted by the grungy school. They would be standing above, a small cluster of ten or so students, still wearing their crisp military-orange and black uniforms, their expressions a persistent glower, their posture stiff, with many folded arms and elbows jutting out to force space between them and the locals. They would not be a source of any of the audible commotion echoing off the walls in this place.

Daigo is given the chance to lord over the tatami mat covered dojo floor for a little while as everyone piles in. His opponent is already familiar with his strength in combat, having experienced it first hand. By now she knows better the truth of the assault on Justice High as the image of Daigo Kazama started popping up in the news for his other antics throughout Southtown. So he wasn't leading an invasion from Gorin afterall... If anyone is deserving of her full fighting focus, this young man is definitively it.

The young woman's victory over Rock Howard had been decisive. Even though many felt the two evenly matched going in, there had been a certain focused intensity to Asamiya's fighting that came across serious and far less showy than her previous appearances in her eight month long public fighting career - a lack of moment to moment hesitation that might have left some of the Taiyo students cringing.

The ride to Gedo was a sombering one. While the Chinatown home the Psycho Soldiers presently resided was simple and humble out of fiscal necessity, the increasingly run down neighborhoods she traveled through reminded her of Daigo's words from a month ago. The campus itself looks a bit like what she always imagined a third world warzone must be like - broken facilities, a shattered building, graffiti and other defacements wherever students have been able to get away with it... and kids are supposed to be able to /learn/ here? It is easy enough to find the dojo though - just follow the loud noise.

"Excuse-" Getting into the dojo is a bit tougher than the Taiyo Auditorium was. "Excuse me, I-" The girl tries to pry her way through the students packed at the doors. Not that they seem to be intentionally keeping her out, but the crowd here is thick and inattentive of the smaller student trying to work her way in to her match. "I'm sorry, I have to-"

Daigo is joined at last as Athena Asamiya just seems to appear across from him in a flicker of instantaneous motion that somehow got her through the racket at the front entrance in a blur of blue and violet. A dark blue sailor girl style jacket is that leaves her midriff bare is worn with a matching pair of dark blue shorts, black stockings, and white ankle-high boots. Her violet hair is worn long as always, held in place only by a blue headband with a golden star over her right ear.

At first the new arrival's expression is one of mild relief as she exhales after having made it through the mob packed in around the mats on the first floor. But it switches quickly enough to a warm, if quiet smile as she looks around at the students against the walls and those squeezed in tightly above. A nod and slightly wider smile is offered the Justice High contingent when she notices the small group who were here to support their own out of pride of their school and refusal to be kept away by some unruly mob.

Her attention then shifts to the young man towering over all others - the impressive Gedo Boss himself, and the girl's demeanor shifts to a focused look. A storm of emotions ripple through her though she consciously keeps them in check by sheer force of will - pain at the recollection of their last encounter, sorrow at the failed attempts to sooth the riled if quiet rage of her fellow Justice Students in the aftermath, and that unmistakable tinge of fear at facing the mighty fists of this young man again no matter how much she may try to suppress it.

Coupled with her own feelings are those of the room itself. The austere but present thirst for vengeance from her fellow Justice students. The zealous, excited support for the most famous student in Gedo from the much more numerous locals. The sentiment of wanting him to show these Justice High bastards whatfor by defeating their famous Rising Star. Capable of blocking out entire stadiums of psyches, this smaller venue should not present a challenge - but the emotions here are strong, sharp, and vibrant... and there is something else, a powerful presence lurking on the fringes of her awareness though she cannot manage the wherewithall to focus on it.

Sucking in a deep breath before saying a word, the girl presses her palms together and bows her head, eyes closed as if in a brief word of prayer in a brief moment of preparation. When the young phenomenon opens her violet eyes it is with an accompanying pulse of presence, completely unseen and unheard but most definitely felt in some small way by all those present whether or not they are cognizant of it - a strange compulsion to become aware of Athena Asamiya, a moment to glance her way regardless of what else they might have been focused on that instant... and for those more sensitive, an almost overwhelming aura of personality that refuses to be ignored even in these distracting circumstances.

"Daigo Kazama," Athena speaks up, eyes on him, hands lifting, left hand forward for defending, right hand drawn back to better position for striking.

"Thank you for hosting this match. It is an honor to face you here."

No words of their last encounter, no vituperations or scorn for his assault on her school. At her bout against the swordswoman Baiken, she had pleaded for the Justice High students to look past the slight and focus instead on peace between the schools. It is time for her to live up to her part.

COMBATSYS: Athena has started a fight here.

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Athena           0/-------/------=|

COMBATSYS: Daigo has joined the fight here.

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Athena           0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0            Daigo

With the loss of all the other Gedo High students in the tournament, Daigo Kazama was their last hope of victory in this tournament. Once again, the tall man ends up carrying the hopes of his comrades on his shoulders : the cheers and shouts from the crowd reminds him the importance of this battle to come.

It might only be about pride for most students : a simple rivalry and feud that was constantly fueled by warriors events and strife between the schools but to Daigo Kazama, this battle represented much more. It was an opportunity to show all to everyone in Gedo High that they could hope for a better future, that with determination and constant effort, they can hope to free themselves of the chains given to them by their social position and rise above everyone's expectations.

Daigo Kazama was far from being an underdog, but who would expect a student from Gedo High to make it to the top? After all, it already seemed like everything was settled with Justice High's domination of the brackets of the tournament. It was no longer just a matter of rivalry to him, it was a decisive battle to show Gedo High's worth. All those things were plaguing his mind at the moment, all the possible repercussions of a possible defeat. Defeat was a luxury he could not affort. Not this day, not within the walls of Gedo High. Daigo was the last carrier of this glimmer of hope and had to make it through the end, no matter the cost.

This was the only certitude Daigo had at the moment, like a fundamental axioms in his life, knowing that is example will inspire many to push themselves further and seek more than what everyone says they were predestined for.

Then again, perhaps Daigo is giving himself too much pressure for no reason.

There are no hints on Daigo's physique about his inner worries or the burden he felt on his shoulder. The tall man stood still like a monument of stone, his expression stern and focused, in deep meditation. Enough that he doesn't even seem to acknowledge the presence of his friends that came to cheer out for him. He has heard them, but every cry reminds him of the consequences of his defeat at the hand of Athena.

'There was too much at stakes, I can't afford to lose', he repeats to himself mentally like some sort of mantra.

Athena's appearance on the first floor of the dojo snuffs out most of the conversations of the crowd on the second floor -- the sudden change in noise of his surrounding is enough to take Daigo out of his reverie, his single valid eye slowly opening up to meet Athena's gaze. Daigo's facial expression is harsh and focused. His arms slowly unfolds to lie on both of his side and he acknowledges Athena's presence with a nod of his head, "Athena Asamiya," Daigo replies.

Likewise, the tall man shifts in his position for combat : his left hand rises up, palm facing him while his right hand is withdrawn at his waist. His legs spread and bends slightly for better reaction.

"I am glad you got the chance to see another reality. Few students from Justice High have the chance to see the harshness of world and the true injustice that happens right before their eyes," Daigo shakes his head slowly to Athena and says, "May the best fighter wins, and may the winner carries on the ideals of the loser,"

With those few last words he had meditated upon for the past minutes, Daigo opens up the ball : he lunges at Athena and takes a mighty swing with his fist. He hurls it right for Athena's midsection, opting for pure brute strength, his fist bursting into flames, leaving a blazing inferno it its wake and causing a torrent of flames to rain down into the smaller schoolgirl the moment his fist would touch her.

COMBATSYS: Daigo successfully hits Athena with Phoenix Fire.

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Athena           1/-------/=======|==-----\-------\0            Daigo

"Kobayashi" is the ninth most common Japanese surname. It is as Japanese as Fuji Apple Pie. ... Okay, probably a millenia moreso than that. So when Rina has decided that Honoka's nom de guerre - plucked whole-cloth from a minor character in a Luc Besson movie - is indicative of a family relationship, it's something that only brings a minor smile to her face. Because really, who -isn't- related to one another in Japan, a nation that prided itself on completely isolating itself from the rest of the world for a few hundred years? So while Rina's assertion is not wrong, Sadao's is more correct.

Miko's only response to that is a simple smile, and a small shake of her head. "Not yet." She is content to let Rocket do the speaking, signalling Daigo of their presence, as a ripple rolls through the crowd.

To say Athena's presence lights up the room is an understatement. The Psycho Soldier is a shining beacon through a moonless night sky to those who can sense it; while she may be presented with difficulty getting through the crowd at first, it's clear to see where she'd -been-.

So this is what it's like, thinks Honoka, watching a scene unfold from the audience's perspective for a change. She draws in her breath, placing her hands in her gakuran pockets, and steels herself for the coming battle.

As Daigo, too, prepares himself for combat, Honoka can sense... something different in him. Renewed focus. A desire to get things over and done with. The will to put action to his thoughts -- a determination that she hasn't sensed in him recently. The two competitors have similar urges, a similar need to prove themselves.

It's inspiring in a sense. She longs to speak; the urge to open her mouth, to take advantage of the situation, is near irrepressible -- but that will simply not do. Not yet. This is no simple observation: the young puppetmaster has an agenda here. And she reminds herself: it has little to do with the first level of this dojo.

Her eyes never leave him now that she has found her focus. She has already adopted her ready stance by the time the Gedo Boss has acknowledged his challenger. Standing across from each other, by all visual analysis of the match, the two are horribly mismatched for each other. The featherweight idol fighter from the elite academy facing off against the intimidatingly tall young man who has been forged by the trials and struggles of life in the roughest areas in Southtown. But physical stature alone will not be the deciding factor here - each fighter brings with them a short lifetime worth of talents that can sway the outcome one direction or another.

Her expression is somber now. Tuning out the crowd takes effort and there is that still nagging resonance of another presence lingering even as she tries to blockade off her empathy from the intense distractions in the tight confines. A breath in, a breath out, the girl works on finding her focus, left foot slipping forward slightly as she begins to bounce lightly on her toes. Speed will be of the essence here for the lithe fighter. She can feel that slight tug of wanting to get revenge on Daigo for his unprovoked assault, but stern resolve keeps it suppressed. She has to be an example.

But his words spark another feeling - the injustice a reference perhaps to her own high school. "I see here people like any other," she responds, "Each with their own dreams, regrets, and sorrows." She closes her hands, flexing her fingers, before opening them again to her open palmed stance.

"We are only as different as you want us to be. Whether the divide between our schools grows or narrows is determined by the actions of each and every individual here and at home. Please consider that when weighing your future... extracurricular activities..." A jab at his invasion of Justice, perhaps?

It doesn't matter now. The fight is on between them. It will be decided not by words or intentions but skill, tenacity, and strength just like any other. She falls quiet as she concentrates on the student. If he had any idea the simple, sparse housing she and her friends occupy over a fish store in Chinatown, perhaps he would realize that in spite her fierce devotion to academic excellence, the small fighter opposite him does not hail from such different circumstances afterall.

Her foot slips over the mat as Daigo surges forward, his fist nearly the size of Athena's head as he swings out with piston-like force. A press of her forward foot, a widening of lavender eyes, but whatever escape she attemped from the incoming devestation is not enough. Crushing kinetic force capable of smashing stone and a swath of hellfire that could temper anyone's will smash into Athena with enough power that the young fighter goes flying!

Students huddled against the wall are scattered as the blue blur impacts the stone dojo structure, a spiderwebbing impact stretching out from behind her upper back before she begins to slide downward. It almost looks like she might have been knocked out cold with one blow as her feet hit the floor limply and she drops forward to one knee, hands catching herself from falling flat.

This is the kind of strength she has to stand against. Flashbacks of another violent battle in her recent past come to mind - the circumstances quite different, the threat not the same, but the power she faces not entirely contrasting.

Gasping for breath, she pushes up quickly, refusing to kowtow from a single blow. Her visible midriff bears a scorched imprint and her face has lost several shades of color since she was last standing, but her eyes have not lost their determination. Arms snap behind the girl as a brilliant glow of rose hued energy surges down her arms. She has to attack Daigo back with everything she has. Holding back, for even a moment, will cost her this fight. Even now her lungs are spasming at the thought of normal function and she can't help but fear she has already damaged a rib in the very first exchange, though adrenaline keeps her from feeling the pain in its fullness just yet.

She doesn't move immediately, the magnitude of energy she gathers only growing by the moment, making her dangerous to approach yet also troublesome to leave alone. Finally, her arms completely lost in the swell of Psycho Power that has answered her call, Athena bursts forward, swinging her arms from behind her back to forward, palms forward, as she brings all of that collected energy into a single huge sphere of crackling psychic attack large enough to completely drown Daigo out from sight should he not manage to escape it. "aaaaaAAAH!"

Just sustaining an attack of that magnitude speaks to the fount of energy she can call upon. Simply watching it might be a moment of intimidation. But being caught up in it? That would be a decisively unfortunate experience indeed.

As the fight starts to get underway, Rina's gaze intensifies, focusing on the two combatants on the floor below her - particularly on the leader of the gang she's become a part of in her time at Gedo High. Pulling out a stick from her box of snacks, she starts to chew thoughtfully. Despite the trouble that they've gotten in and the tensions always flaring on the Gedo campus, the girl has only seen Daigo in a real fight once before. And in that one...

Rocket's brow furrows as something clicks in her brain.

"Yo Daigo-san! Give it everything you got!! I know you can beat her!!"

The cyan-haired girl's sudden outburst is accompanied by her thrusting both fists into the air, sending several Pocky sticks scattering nearby. A few are snatched up by other students. They're from Gedo, after all - they're not picky about their Pocky.

"Hey, what gives, princess? You got a thing for Daigo-sama or something?" her cousin prods from beside her, chewing on one of the chocolate-covered sticks.

"What? No! I just -" Rina's expression turns into a scowl, her cheeks flushing a bit. "I don't want him to lose, that's all," she mutters before sinking a bit on her perch.

The truth is, the girl could handle Daigo losing. What worries her more is that possibility lingering in her mind - that Daigo might hold back, like before...

COMBATSYS: Athena successfully hits Daigo with Round Psycho Reflector EX.

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Athena           1/-----==/=======|======-\-------\0            Daigo

It was unsettling to witness such a drastic change in his posture and behaviour. The serene and tranquil facade suddenly transforms into a brute force of nature ; like a raging storm that was unleashed with no warning. The moment his mighty fist knocked Athena back, Daigo's surge of speed and movement came to an halt : he kept the pose, his eyes fixed on the schoolgirl. He slowly slides back, shifting his posture into a defensive one, awaiting the retaliation.

The students from Gedo High were shouting their praises to Daigo. They were in bliss before his might, the first clean hit he had given her sending their hopes up for a clear and swift domination of Gedo High over Justice High. After all, Daigo Kazama was an hulking behemoth, what could a feather light weight like Athena hope to accomplish against him?

Unlike the rest of his comrades, Daigo was no fool and knew full well the extend of Athena's powers. He had fought her once and knew what to expect from her. This fight would be brutal and swift, and Daigo only hopes his resolve to accomplish his tasks would outshine Athena's own in this fight.

"If only everyone would see and understand the wisdom of your words, Athena, things would be different... Until then, I will use my strength to give hope to the oppressed," Daigo stares at Athena, waiting, assessing her as he remains on the defensive and prepares himself for her attack.

The tremendous ccharge of psycho power around Athena's forearms is enough to silence the crowd momentarily. Daigo's expression remains of ice though as he braces for impact : Daigo was clearly outmatched in terms of agility and energy attack such as this. His only hope was that his body would withstand the pain long enough to allow him to overcome her.

The tall man doesn't even attempt to move out of the way of the huge sphere of energy : his foot are planted backward in an attempt to resist the surge of energy, his arms brought up to absorb the impact, as if he was hoping to push it away. Alas, his efforts seem vain to stop the ball of Psycho Power. For a moment, the man's massive frame is engulfed by the ball of energy, which seems to bypass Daigo's defenses like it was butter.

A second after being englobed by it, it bursts out and unleashes its power into Daigo, blasting him off. A loud grunt a growl of pain escapes the main's throat as he's sent flying across the dojo and into a wall.

Likewise, the impact of Daigo's large body leaves a web of cracks on the wall. The generally unwavering behemoth staggers a bit after the impact, which indicates just how much effect Athena's attack had on Daigo. His back is arched slightly from the pain as he manages to slowly regain his composure and combat stance.

He mumbles something under his breath. The mantra he kept repeating to himself, letting the hopes of others instill him the strength to carry on. His body was wrecked with pain, but unlike Daigo's phoenix fire, her ball of energy seems to have left no visible mark or strain on his outfit. The impact with the wall must have lead to some internal bleeding, considering the trail of blood that slowly drips from his lip.

He raises his gaze up at Athena : his eyes filled with unyielding determination as he recovers his fighting stance.

Daigo's recovery happens in a blink of an eye : the moment he regains his steadiness, the tall man charges heads on at Athena to cover up the distance that seperates them both. His long strides echoing on the tatami as he dashes toward her like an unstoppable juggernaut.

The moment he arrives close enough to her, Daigo lifts his right foot up deliver a powerful kick to Athena's midsection. Daigo then quickly spins on his heels to deliver a second wide roundhouse kick aimed at Athena's face meant to sweep her away.

COMBATSYS: Athena blocks Daigo's Phoenix Kick.

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Athena           1/---====/=======|=======\-------\0            Daigo

Her attack executed, Athena manages to sustain the incredible sphere of shimmering energy for several seconds, leaving Daigo at its mercy until he is finally knocked back out of range all together. Now that the two have exchanged attacks, it becomes far more clear the magnitude of their talent and power for combat. What might have seemed to be a lopsided representation between the two schools is presented as clearly anything but that as Athena demonstrates just why it is she has been able to fight among the greats of the world.

Drawing her hands back, her voice falling quiet, her hair settling down against her back as the psychic manifestation dwindles and finally fades. But even though the visible energy seems to be gone, there is a powerful aura around the girl, an unseen current of potential that seems to be there though when focused on by most, proves to be nothing more than an impression or thought than anything tangible to sense.

Like her battle with Rock, the young fighter is holding nothing back, focusing only on an intense need to prove to herself that she can defend herself... She had never had to think about such things before. But the warnings offered by the powerful psychic fortune teller, Rose, about a menace named Vega, and the outright assault from the creature who called himself Krizalid, she has been fixed on that very concern... What is her place in this world if she cannot protect herself? How can she defend others if she is helpless to do that?

When Daigo surges back into melee range against the girl, this time she makes no bid to escape, no effort to run. He is entering her aura of presence, he is braving another disablingly strong psychic assault without hesitation. Athena leans forward, arms raised, body twisting a little to align her torso with the first incoming strike.

The meaty crunch of foot against forearm is enough to make almost anyone wince as the girl slides backward even over the strong friction of the mat at her feet, but her guard holds true. The second kick comes far more swiftly than one might expect from a young man of Daigo's stature. Had the girl not still been hunkering down, reeling from the force of his blow, she might have let her guard lax at a most perilous moment and found herself sent flying across the room again!

As it stands, the impact is still enough to send her arms flailing as Athena slides back several meters. But she keeps her footing, recovering her balance after a few rapid backsteps. Gritting her teeth, the girl braces herself again, hissing back the bite of pain in her forearms, quietly surprised that they were able to survive such bone crushing force as what Daigo was able to bring to bear.

This is it, she tells herself. Every split second she spends in the tight confines of this arena with Daigo is a moment where she could receive an incapacitating blow. This is his school, his world, and she can feel him swinging with the weight of the entire campus behind his powerful limbs, so powerful is his purpose. She might not fight for school pride even in the same realm as the Gedo Boss's, but there is another purpose, no smaller in its obligations, that she forces herself to stay in the ring against someone this powerful.

"You do your school proud in this fight... I hope your actions outside of it will do likewise."

She intends to finish it this fast, hands slamming down against her sides, the girl bowing her head, eyes closed, a sudden invisible current of gathered power exploding up around her. It becomes visible a split second later, a veritable storm of rose hued Psycho Power fully encompasing her form. Her hair flies upward, the ruffled colar of her jacket flapping in the swirl of threatening energy.

To approach her now would be incredibly dangerous, but she intends to launch an attack all her own anyway, right hand snapping up and drawing all of that sudden manifested power into a singularity of impossibly dense Psycho Power at the top of her finger, a crackling dark blue sphere answering the call of the divine child's will.

Her cry escalates as she channels all of that will into a single attack then comes to an end as she opens her eyes, locks them on Daigo Kazama, and snaps her right arm forward. Like a Gedo-seeking cruise missile, the particle of psychic energy hurtles toward Daigo. The girl might feel confident that this is in fact a swift, fight ending blow... almost no one has been struck by this attack and been able to continue!

COMBATSYS: Daigo Toughs Out Athena's Shining Crystal Bit EX+!

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Athena           0/-------/-------|=======\===----\1            Daigo

The tall man recovers his balance after his second kick, his left hand going up in front of him while his left one goes by his waist. His cold and harsh gaze stares down at the smaller schoolgirl, his facial expression stern and ruthless. There was more than just school pride at stake in all of this, it represented a lot more to Daigo : it was a trial to show everyone they could aspire to better futur.

"This is not about school pride... You're different than the others from Justice High though, somehow..." Daigo muses, his thoughts trailing off a moment. His hope of changing people's beliefs might have not totally died, after all, and Athena might be the living proof that it might be possible...

At the very least there was something in Athena's presence that seemed to shake the fundation of his convictions. This fraction of a second lost in his reverie have costed a lot to Daigo however, allowing Athena enough breathing space to charge up her Psycho Power, the swirling energy forming and gathering around her.

The tall man knew what was coming : the precious second he lost left him stranded and relatively out of options except for one. Charge head on into Athena.

Despite the menacing storm of energy that forms around of her and the imminent danger it beholds, Daigo Kazama rushes on with a loud war cry. It is hard to tell whether it was a reckless action or a brave one at this point, but if Daigo knows he's not going to be able to avoid the blast, he might as well try to make the most out of it.

His loud scream meets Athena's own, escalating just as hers does. There's still about a half a dozen feet seperating her from Athena as she unleashes the blast of psychic energy at him. Daigo doesn't try to avoid it, he literally /dashes/ into it and through it, the projectile hardly seeming to stop the juggernaut's advance.

It hits him right in the chest, the psychic energy difusing through his body and wrecking it with pain. The only thing that soothens it is the thoughts of his comrades who needs him, the hope they have put into him. His resolve allows him to ignore a part of the pain, to shake it off momentarily, even though his body is wrecked with spasms of pain.

He could not give in, not now... With sheer resolve, will power and strength, Daigo's massive body manages to burst through the blast and lunge at Athena. His own focus and energy answers Athena's own, overcoming it with flames that shrouds and engulfs his body. Instead of being knocked back by Athena's blast, he ends up right by her side, his body set ablaze by red embers.

Daigo lets a loud scream escape his throat as he unleashes the flames into a fiery torrent around of him, straightening himself to take a stance of stone while the flames swirl around him like a rising storm.

COMBATSYS: Daigo successfully hits Athena with Super Phoenix Fire.

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

While the battle rages below, the students of the two schools are a sea of conflicting emotions. It is safe to say that, on average, most of the Gedo students act as an extension of Daigo's self -- they cry out in cheer when he lands a hit, and they reflect the pain when he gets hurt. But the truth behind an 'average' is that some have greater responses, and some have less.

It is those with /less/ response that Miko Kobayashi takes a keen interest in -- the suggestion being they may not worship the hero of Gedo High quite so much as the others. It is obvious to Miko just -which- dancers are following the beat of a different drummer -- and it's not -just- the Justice High students that want to see Daigo get hurt, that -want- to him to receive his comeuppance.

The time and place to correct these minds is later, not now. Using any of her techniques with the Psycho Soldier fighting below would draw too much attention, possibly even interrupt the match itself. No, Miko is content for now, having observed the crowd and made her mental notes for later. With no more to learn from the passive observers, she steps forward, looking over the ledge to the fighters below.

Just in time to look into the shining supernova of psychic energy erupting forth from Athena. If sensing the subtle emotions from the crowd was like reading by a nightlight, this is like staring into a solar eclipse without shielding one's eyes. Miko throws her arm in front of screwed-shut eyes, staggering backwards, one of her friends catching her for support. She'd picked one hell of a time to look over that ledge.

Once her feet are steadied again, Miko finds her fists clenched; fingernails dug into her palm, drawing some of the puppetmaster's focus -away- from the masterful blast of psychic energy below. As Daigo manages to not only weather Athena's storm, but reshape her winds, Miko gives a tight-lipped nod of support for the fighters -- careful to avoid cheering, to avoid breaking concentration. Properly attuning herself to psychic energies of this degree will take some getting used to.

As the idol fighter's hand snaps forward, unleashing the missile of ultra compressed Psycho Power toward the towering Daigo's chest, she realizes in an instant that he is... not responding remotely how she had anticipated. Rather than recoil, he charges, rather than bunker down, he endures and continues through the devastating impact, the power splashing against him and through him, before vanishing all together as it collides against the young man's Iron Will and fails to stop his charge in the slightest. In later reflection, she will realize that she should have anticipated that very thing all along. His resolve... was not to be underestimated.

Eyes widen as he gets in close but the quick thinking girl isn't out of it yet, pulling her arms back, feet getting ready to press from off the ground... He is immediately in front of her, the magnitude of his heat already emanating throughout the room. No one is safe from the warmth of his presence, but it is his Justice darling opponent that experiences the epicenter of it. As the prye of Phoenix Fire errupts up around the man, Athena's foot lifts off the ground and in an instant later, steps down behind Daigo, the girl's movement from in front to being at his back happening so fast she seemed to flicker rather than step.

There is no doubt she had intentions of getting behind him after a split second evasion, but the nature of his torrential firepower yields no such result. Already turning into him, the girl realizes the error of her expectation as the mat on the floor of the dojo is blasted to ash around Daigo and she finds all avenue of attack immediately cut off.

There is no hope of being able to weather this storm by any form of conventional defense. Her aura against such things is definitely not up to the task as the wreath of flame washes over the girl. As she had scalded him with fire that burns brightly within, he envelopes her in a blaze that burns without. It is only a desperate, last second pulse of psychic resistence that spares her from collapsing under pain of it as she cries out, staggering back from the young man across still smoldering mats.

Exercising her fragile resistence to such energy finally manages to snuff out the flames before she is burned further, but the lingering black scorch marks of a well executed flaming attack are evidence enough of what she just endured. But then her recovery appears to go even a degree further - a shimmer of pink motes of energy swirling up around the girl as she closes her eyes in intense concentration - it would only take a moment to funnel a small portion of her potential into restoring her reserves and dulling the pain of his fiery attack.

Hissing as she cracks one eye open, realizing she must prepare herself immediately, "Every individual is different from another," she answers his musings from a moment prior, "But we can still find commonality in our struggles and goals, if only we try..."

Through the shroud of flames, Daigo straightens himself up and folds his arms against his chest. The flames slowly die down, curls of smokes rising from the tatami that were reduced to Ash. It had been a proud display of Daigo's resolve to overcome his opponent and with the blast of flames it felt like Daigo was reborn from the ashes considering how his stance was adamant.

The more canny observer can notice the exortion of the fight, the way his chest heaves back and forth with the growing fatigue. It had been a short fight, yet incredibly brutal and swift as Daigo expected.

His eyes set down on Athena, who uses her Psycho power to try and recover from the burns his fiery attacks have caused her. "Perhaps we could, Athena..." Daigo says as he shifts his posture into an aggressive one. Despite his willingness to accept an offered hand, now was not the time for such a thing.

With a sudden outburst of speed, Daigo lunges at her, he swings his right arm all the way up behind his head and gives a mighty sweeping smack aimed right at Athena's face. The tall behemoth puts all of his weight into this mighty attack, attempting to knock Athena away with it and overpower her with his physical strength, pulling the advatange while he still has it.

COMBATSYS: Athena successfully aids herself with Healing Aura.

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

COMBATSYS: Athena dodges Daigo's Phoenix Backfist.

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

Not one to leave a moment of opportunity for his opponent, Daigo is on Athena in an instant. It is as she expected, the girl finally gaining a greater appreciation for the man's stalwart approach to battle when she isn't viewing him as a vandalizing thug. No wonder he had the respect of those who followed him - she felt it when the gang willingly followed him into the hostile territory of Justice High, and she feels it now as she battles the Phoenix of Gedo on his own turf, surrounded by the powerful outpouring of support for the inspirational young man.

He surges in and swings, winding up for a devastatingly crushing swing of his mighty arm. Given what she's already been put through, even with her invigorating bolstering power, it seems unlikely that she'd be able to keep going after an impact like that. But prepared, she moves, darting forward and under the timber-like swing of his arm, his jacket just grazing over the top of her head as the smaller fighter puts her stature to work for her in slipping around Daigo with swift, fancy footwork that kicks up a small plume of ashes from the now scorched tatami mats.

Engaging him in melee battle is nearly impossible, with every swing of his fist or sweep of his leg can deliver bone crushingly powerful blows. All she can do is hope to wear him down. He has proven he can weather her most powerful attack, impervious to her attempt at simply bursting him down before she gets caught off balance and struck with a fight ending blow.

"I feel the energy of this room," she remarks, arms snapping behind her now that she has put a couple of meters distance between them, "And cannot help but marvel at what the change the schools of Southtown make manifest if only they worked as one..."

Another pulse of that rose hued, brilliant energy, every bit as bright as the fires that burn at Daigo's command. Another swing of her arms, crossing over each other in passing as the power collides into a singular sphere of shimmering Psycho Power now launched Daigo's way. Compared to the nuclear bomb of this power she had launched at him earlier, this pales in comparison. But that doesn't mean her signature attack is not a threat!

COMBATSYS: Athena successfully hits Daigo with Psycho Ball.

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

The towering man staggers a bit as Athena slips around him. He tries to turn his massive frame and follow her, though his movements compared to her graceful footwork appeared much more sluggish and slow.

What Daigo lacked in agility and reflex he made up with pure brute strength and resolve, though it might require a bit more than that to defeat this formidable adversary. He finally manages to set his eyes back on Athena, once she's got a safe distance away from him, ready to hurl another surge of psychic energy at him. "If only such a thing would be possible," Daigo replies, keeping his stoic stance, "... Though I doubt we could truly overcome all of our differences," Daigo admits.

Daigo braces for impact and attempts to block the incoming sphere of Psycho Power but his reflexes are lacking. He growls in pain, the collision forcing him to take a step back. Athena was succeeding in slowly wearing him down, it would seem, but it wasn't over. Daigo could not affort to lose, not to her, no here.

Once Daigo recovers, he dashes toward her once more, trying to impose his massive physique on her and prevent her from slipping away. He uses his superior reach against her, shoving his right foot straight for Athena's midsection.

COMBATSYS: Athena interrupts Medium Kick from Daigo with Super Phoenix Infinity.

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

Drawing her arms back, Athena seems to have the distance of range on him now. He can't possibly catch up with the swift fighter now that she's on the move, can he? But standing across from him, preparing her guard for retaliation, she still hears the words of the city-wide famous Daigo Kazama.

"Maybe not today..." she muses thoughtfully, turning such that her left shoulder is toward him. But rather than resignation there is hope to her tone, a thought of a new dawn and a better tomorrow. He might not hear her over the splash of the psychic power that crashes against him, over the reverberation of his deep growl of pain as he thunders through it anyway, still closing in on his petite opponent. If the captivated audience thinks the Justice High student is going to run again, however, they would be mistaken.

Another brilliant wreath of energy in what has proven to be a fight full of violent trades in energy manifestation - it cloaks the girl's body, trailing out over her arms as Athena leans forward further, knee bent. She will show Daigo the extent of her own resolve - the determination to be strong enough to one day be able to extend her hand to save those in harm's way, to stand between the afflicted and their tormentors and drive the evil away.

The war for the future may not have begun yet, but she knows full well that it will happen someday. Each match she has the chance to participate is rehearsal for that inevitable day. For the first time this fight, she charges INTO the powerful young man's attack, rising shoulder first into his swinging leg as it cracks against her collarbone so hard that were her resolve any degree weaker than it was in this instant, she might have been diven flat against the floor in pain.

She takes to the air, crashing into Daigo's chest, body and soul, the swath of power surging into him as she continues on up over his head... into a forward flip, arms extended from her sides as she finally drops down behind Daigo. The energy continues its upward ascent without the girl, her final posture lending it the form of a rising Phoenix before it explodes into a million harmless motes of lingering potential.

Athena lands hard against the floor, a soft gasp escaping her lips, her right hand lifting to press against the pain in her left shoulder. That had to finish it, right? Would the young man yield just this once?

Quickly she turns to survey the aftermath of her attempt at a definitive enough strike to secure this match at last.

Charging back at the hulking behemoth that is Daigo Kazama requires a lot of courage. Or as the students of Gedo High would say, a lot of balls. Athena's brash attitude toward the might of Gedo High's most esteemed student is definately worthy of respect, even if Athena comes from Justice High, the most scornful school of them all.

The audience gasps at the audacity the purple haired lass : a moment of silence allowing everyone to hear the cracks of the blows, as well as the cries of the two fighters. Being able to take Daigo Kazama to the air was no small feat either.

The blast of psychic energy that follows Daigo's ascent in the dojo is followed by a loud and deep screech of pain coming from Daigo's lungs.

After Athena's landing on the ground, Daigo's own limp body follows, crashing down into the ground with a loud thud. Unlike Daigo's own burst of energy that were harmful harmful to objects, Athena's own did not leave any visible mark on Daigo's school jacket. Though by his screams, it was obvious the energy found a way to strain his muscles and body in ways that were probably beyond comprehension.

Daigo's consciousness was lingering, on the verge of the abyss. The numbing pain he felt had taken all over his body, as if it paralyzed him, the exhaustion Athena has been pushing on him taking its toll as she forced him into a rather aggressive and brutal fight.

For a few seconds, Daigo's body lies limply on the ground. Was it the end? Everyone is holding their breath on the second floor, leaning foward to see if Daigo's body will bulge an inch or if Athena had the better of him.

Daigo Kazama lives those few moments of unconsciousness like a vivid dream. It was soothing, he no longer felt the pain and fatigue, he just had to let go and fall into the abyss.

'Don't give up! We need you!' a feminine voice echoes in his mind. 'You're our only hope, Daigo! Show them what we're worth!' says another masculine voice this time. The chorus of voice in his head multiplies, he hears them, encouraging him and urging him to bear this pain, to keep on this burden longer.

All of them, he heard them in his mind, calling out his name. He carried their dreams and hopes on his shoulder, he could not give up, he could not let them down. Their voices instills the strength, courage and resolve it takes to cling on and carry on.

The shock back to reality was brutal : with it came all the pain of his wrecked body, the fatigue and exortion. Daigo's body twitch and he grunts painfully as he shifts on the ground. The tall giant slowly rises, where everyone thought he would have not.

When the students from Gedo High notices their leader is still moving, even if only barely, they burst into shouts and cheers, encouraging him to rise up and not give up.

Their hope for a victory was still alive, if only barely, but they would give Daigo Kazama all the cheers they could, stand behind him to support him in. If there was one thing Daigo Kazama had managed to do with Gedo High, it was managing to give everyone and feeling of belonging, like a huge family : and all of them stood behind the leader of this big family in the face of adversity.

The cheers from the crowd instills a second wind to Daigo, allowing him to find the strength to endure the pain. His chest heaves loudly, panting deeply as he barely recovers from Athena's last attack. One of his arm wraps up around his midsection as he slowly stands : his stance was unsteady, as if he could crumble at any moment.

Had it not been from his supporters, Athena's final blast would have probably been enough to get the best out of Daigo and to claim victory...

With a growl, Daigo's voice comes ragged from the pain, "Come!" He challenges Athena, "Let's finish this, once and for all..." He says as he glares at her with intensity. "I will not be defeated," He repeats his mantra, though this time out loud, "Not when so many depends on me!"

He slowly slides into his combat stance, shaking off the pain and fatigue, putting up an extreme effort of inner focus.

COMBATSYS: Daigo focuses on his next action.

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

Gasping for breath as she pulls her arms up tiredly preparing her defenses that will assuredly not hold should they actually be put to the test, Athena settles her focus on the fallen Gedo Boss. She is not alone in thinking that the match has been decided. So too would much of the rest of the dojo's occupants. And maybe even Daigo himself, as he lies still for the painfully long seconds. A second breath is taken, the young Justice representative beginning to feel the first tinge of victory settling over her. It wasn't what drove her to fight, but upon realizing it, she couldn't help but be overcome at her successes, especially those so hard fought as this one.

The room experiences a brief moment of silence. Has the Titan of Gedo High fallen at last before the Rising Star of Justice High? But then she realizes... even before anyone notices the movement - that familiar thrum of unbreakable resolve, that determination to keep going no matter the cost, the pain, and the exhaustion. The corner of her mouth flickers into a faint smile. To see a spirit like this first hand... how rare a chance is that? It is her privilege to watch the young man to look up, get up, and refuse to give up - an opportunity any well meaning soul would cherish for life.

The cheers break out a moment later as the large young man pushes himself to his feet, his towering form once again standing proud in the humble Gedo Dojo. Violet eyes never lose their focus as she watches quietly. She has no intention of attacking until he is ready. She may be fighting with her all, might be treating every match as preparation for a dark day she has always felt will someday come... but to attack someone while they are down... she is not that person. Not now, not ever, she tells herself, ever aware of the danger of toying with aggression with the nature of her dual-edged gift.

The room explodes into thunderous applause and cheers, fists raised and shaking from those who have invested their all into the performance of the one person they could all trust in their difficult lives - Daigo Kazama. Even a few of the Justice students can't help but arc a quiet eyebrow in admiration of the gang leader's resolve in light of the punishment he has taken from Athena Asamiya's infamously poweful attacks.

Her own barriers fail her then, the emotion of the room beyond her capacity to withstand, sharing for a moment heartfelt empathy for lives she can only just barely begin to understand. They were family, each and every one of them. A warmth, simple and raw, radiated out from most of them, it was easy to miss those small pockets of exception that existed in their midst.

Perhaps it was exhaustion, maybe it was the pain catching up with her that has the girl lifting her hand to flick at the corner of her right eye, brushing away a stray droplet before it might have plotted a course down her scorched cheek.

Daigo makes his challenge. It was time to decide this. Let there be nothing held back between them.

"I had misjudged you... Daigo Kazama," she utters, her voice slipping into the lull in the cheering that enters the room after the young man speaks, every ear straining to hear what he has to say above all else.

"But you do make difficult first impressions." she finishes with a quiet smile and slight bow of her head, accepting his terms.

"On one condition - you and yours must bring no harm to the students of Justice High unless provoked. Let this intense devotion be applied to better pursuits than a war between us..."

She sucks in her breath, reaching her right hand out to her side, a sheath of rose hued enegy shimmering along the limb as the girl leans forward. She will meet his challenge head on - no more running, dodging, or trying to attack him from afar. This would be finished between them now.

Leaning forward, the girl prepares to charge, the energy over her arm rippling as her seemingly endlessly well of Psycho Power answers her will. When she moves from standing to rushing him, it is as a blur of blue with a trail of pink energy left in the wake of her arm. The energy is forged into a thin blade of psychic intent as Athena bolts straight for Daigo without hesitation, without guile - only pure and earnest intent to clash with the strongest student she had ever encountered in all the schools.

The sword of Psycho Power emanating from her outstretched arm was the likes with which she had sliced evenly many of her opponents - it would not draw a drop of blood, but with the flawlessly replicated experience of being sliced in two, would the lack of physical harm even matter?

Her form is perfect, her charge swift, the swing of her arm precisely timed to bring that psyhcic extention of her own body into Daigo, cutting him at a painful angle as she attempts to dash clean by him with a fight ending blow!

COMBATSYS: Daigo interrupts Psycho Sword from Athena with Phoenix Fist.

[                            \\  < >  ////                          ]
Athena           1/----===/=======|=======\-------\1            Daigo

"You have my word, Athena Asamiya," Daigo says in between two ragged breath. "No harm will come to anyone on Gedo High's ground on this day -- our suffering will suffice, you have my word, on behalf of Gedo High," His voice grows stronger through his speech as he straightens his posture with renewed vitality.

The applause and cheers of the crowd seems to have given him renewed vigor : an hidden strength within to overcome this trial and ignore the pain and exortion of his body felt. He stares at the rising star of Justice High, his hands clenching into fists.

His feature softens up for a moment, his lips curling into a faint, hopeful smile. There's a glitter in his eyes, different than the fierce determination and resolve that burned within them so intensely a few moments ago. He speaks up to Athena : his words are softer, covered up by the crowd's cheers, just loud enough for him and Athena to hear.

The tall man's gentle expression on his face fades away after those few words, just after Athena pulled out her shimmering sheath. The time for words was bygone : it was the ultimate test of resolve and might. His features hardens, his expression returning to its previous focused and stern state.

As Athena leans foward for the charge, so does Daigo Kazama : a mirror image in their intentions, both charging at one another. His charge lacked the grace and swiftness of Athena's, but it made up in brute force. A reckless assault where Daigo hopes his bulk and power will be enough to overcome Athena's will, sacrificing his well being to give everything he had in this final blow.

The clash of two different phoenixes. The sword against the fist.

The titan lets out a loud shout as he takes his swing and hurls his fist at Athena, both of them colliding into each other. Flames swirl around his fist as he throws it at Athena's midsection, his fist and arm appearing for a moment like a soaring phoenix that dives into Athena's midsection..

In the end, both of them manages to hit each other : his fist connects with Athena's face, while her sword literally slices down across his midsection from a different angle.

Had it been a real sword, it might have left a large gapping wound across his chest and the tall man might have bled himself out, but now, Daigo seems unphased by the attack. It seems to have hit him, nonethless, that much Daigo was certain... But he did not feel any pain from the blow he had been bracing for.

In the end, the hopes and desires of his friends : of his large family have given him the unyielding iron will to withstand the horrible pain from this attack, the same resolve that gave him the strength to carry him shielded him from this horrible fate.

Daigo's expression seems a bit confounded after what happened and he turns on his heels to face Athena after the brutal clash they had.

The fist against her face doesn't keep the girl from swinging her arm, of slicing out with that firebrand of shimmering, blade-thin Psycho Power for the larger student's body... but it definitely keeps her from flying past him with the clean hit that she might have hoped for.

Instead she staggers forward, limbs barely cooperating with whatever conscious thought she might be having in that moment, the girl carried along more by momentum than by any coordiation over her body. A few more steps are taken before she comes to a stop, wobbling forward only to catch herself with one more step. It takes her a long moment to realize the ache in the side of her face is from another one of those brutally powerful punches belonging to the innately gifted Kazama.

In that exchange she learned all she needed to know about him - that his resolve was real, that he bore the burden of an entire student body on his broad shoulders, and that at the end of his ambition were better lives for those who leaned on his sturdy arms for support in a world that would leave them abandoned and forgotten. As long as he has the strength to continue, their dreams will not wither on the vine of futility.

A soft exhale escapes her lips. How can she answer such will with anything shy of her best? Perhaps it is her lapsing consciousness that has her deviating from her normal attempts to fight... The young man would just get focus on the girl facing away from him when her form would seem to flicker away-

In the next instant, she is in front of him, to the right of him, to the left of him, and behind him, all at once. Three of the four images are without blemish, lacking the tokens of battle, of flame, and of fist. But all four draw back their arms, shimmering energy swelling for one final, combined assault against the penned in Daigo Kazama.

"Next time," she murmurs softly, the lips of all four moving in unison, but her voice coming only from his side.
"We fight as allies."

All four would move at once, each slamming their psychic energy infused arms forward, aiming to smash into Daigo from all sides with one final attempt at finishing him with the last the girl has to give.

She would reappear back where she had vanished from an instant later, still facing away from him as she drops to her knees against the remnants of the tatami mats, wobbles left and right, then finally falls over onto her side completely unconscious.

COMBATSYS: Athena can no longer fight.

[                          \\\\  <
Daigo            1/-------/=======|

COMBATSYS: Daigo interrupts Psychic Attack from Athena with Super Phoenix Fire.

[                          \\\\  <
Daigo            0/-------/-------|

Unlike Athena, Daigo knows nothing of her reasons to fight. In the two rather swift and brutal encounter the two had though, the young prodigy and rising star had been able to show him that not all students from Justice High shared the ideals and beliefs that drove most of them. Her words have been enough to persuade him that a glimmer of hope existed, that perhaps he did not need to go to such extreme means to achieve his goals.

Maybe things could be different... Maybe...

In the blink of an eye, Athena's body seems to multiply itself and copies of her surrounds the towering titan. Daigo Kazama might be still standing, but the strain of the fight was obvious on his body, surviving only on evanescent bits of energy given by his sheer will and resolve not to let his friends down in this crucial battle. Daigo shifts a bit in his stance, his eyes scanning the various copies of Athena : he is well aware of his condition, and how much he's on the brink of defeat. Just a little more, just a little bit further and it will be all over...

Daigo nods his head slowly at Athena's words, closing his eyes, "But today... I cannot afford defeat," Daigo murmurs under his breath, repeating the same mantra that gave him the strength to endure this much suffering.

There was only way to resist Athena's final assault, one final surge of chi to overcome her. Daigo grits his teeth, arching his back some as he draws upon his last remaining bit of energy. Daigo lets out a loud primal scream as he straightens his back, a torrent of flames erupting from his form, swirling upward, engulfing him and the four copies of Athena in this raging flame storm around of him, burning down even more of the tatami mats to ashes underneath his feet.

His final burst of flame is enough to keep the various forms of Athena from harming him, while probably knocking them back and away from him. His aura and resolve overcoming Athena's final psychic assault against him.

When the flames finally fades away, leaving curls of smokes all around of Daigo, the tall man is standing, arms folded against his chest. His posture is steadfast and unwavering, as if he had been reborn from the smoldering flames and returned totally unscathed.

Truth be told though, this is merely an impression that comes from the excess rush of adrenaline, mixed with his unyielding resolve and will to conquer Athena Asamiya. Not to claim his victory over her, but so he can continue to carry the dreams and hopes of his friends, so they can keep up looking foward and so he can give them the hope they need to believe.

His eyes scan the room for a moment, until he finds Athena, who reppears an instant later and finally drops unconscious.

There's a moment of silence, as if the crowd was half expecting Athena to make a spectacular come back like Daigo did previously, but when she seems to stand down for good, the students burst into cheers and applause at the victory of their leader over the rising star of Gedo High.

A faint smirk spreads on Daigo's lips as he lifts his gaze up to the ceiling, lost in his revery. He had done it... Thanks to those voices, to the spirit of Gedo High who gave him the strength to carry on.

The burden on his shoulder seems to alleviate all of a sudden, all of the pressure that had been on him during this fight. The rush of adrenaline dissipates suddenly, the remaining bit of energy quickly leaving him...

In an instant, Daigo's unfaltering stance is shaken by tremors. He takes a step backward, as if caught by sudden vertigo and the tall man bends over, one knee falling to the ground and one hand as well to prevent him from totally collapsing.

His breathing grows heavy, the exhaustion and fatigue catching up on him drastically, much like the rest of the pain. He coughs up some blood and winces, feeling the aches in his whole body, as if amplified tenfolds. A swift vengeance his system inflicts on him for ignoring and forcing such a strain on him.

Daigo coughs up a few times, a few drops of blood falling splattering the ground, but after this sudden moment of weakness, he slowly forces himself back to his feet, though his frame much more unsteady and wobbling than before.

Log created on 11:54:47 01/10/2015 by Athena, and last modified on 23:41:36 01/10/2015.