Description: The first ever G-King match features rookie fighter Hotaru Futaba facing off against an absolute master of Chinese martial arts. With a gulf so impossibly huge, what could have possibly motivated the aging fighter to have the rookie stand against him in the arena of the Global Kings? With so decisive a win, are the event officials reviewing their terms about allowing their fighter select their opponents?! [ Winner: Chao Liu ]
For a fighting arena that seems to have sprouted up almost literally overnight, retrofitting an old arena that had lost business to the more popular fighting venues, in only a few months it's become arguably the most technologically advanced. Sleek silver and blue on the outside with a completely enclosed dome roof, the interior amenities include air conditioning and a suite of restaurants or vending machines, all able to be taken to comfortable chairs. Unlike most, observers are treated to two options; a large square box dominates all directions above the main fighting floor, with direct line of sight possible.
However, small rotor-bladed cameras also zip around customized battlegrounds, as this is primarily an electronic venue. At every seat is a small television, and one can either shuffle through which camera they want to watch, or look at the main screen, or watch it in person with supplied binoculars. The price is too cheap for all of this, the worst in the house having all of these features for slightly more than the nosebleeds at a standard arena.
Hotaru would be given a large area to wait in, compete with training dummy, a futon to relax in, television, and any request for food or other amenities. There's no clothing requirements, and she can even take a shower if she wishes to get rid of any last-minute jitters. Eventually the call is made for her to arrive on the main scene!
A well-lit walkway between the crowds tells of her mediocre exploits, but at the 'personal request' of Chao Liu, she is fighting the man first. Whether that interest is mutual with any research done on her own end is another matter entirely.
At the center, a small shrine has been constructed. The outermost area is water, with a retracting bridge to allow the fighters in. There is a moderate-sized building on a raised base with steps, the walls the traditional wood frame with thick paper and a few sliding doors. A deer startler fills with water and *clacks* regularly, small stream leading to a koi pond with a wooden bridge arching over it. The last area is filled by a sand pit with a number of rakes.
Presently, Chao Liu is intricately raking a zen-like piece into the sand, a flowing and beautiful piece that a few of the floating cameras catch. He is ancient, with only a single topknot of silver hair and a fu manchu of proud length. His face shows incredible age, but he's a large man past six foot, his posture still strong and with heavy muscles in his upper body and thighs. A loose gi covers him, uniquely covered. It is a giant Ying-Yang, crossing in the center with one dot at his breast and the other his hip. The sleeves are removed to show his carefully sculpted body kept into his late sixties, although many subtle nuances show age is creeping on him for sure. One arm is behind his back, the other finishing up the design. Within the dead middle, an effortlessly spry hop takes him to the edge of the koi pond, where he pulls out some crumbs to throw to the fish.
"Such a quaint fighting arena." he allows, seeming pleased. "Perhaps coming here was not so negative as I feared... for more reasons than one."
It had been with no reservations that she had entered the world of professional fighting. If this was the road her brother trod, it would be her path as well. Still fresh along this path, the newly minted fighter has definitely learned the hard way that the Champion's Road was no walk in the park. With only vague memories of lessons conveyed over seven years ago and the occasional points and tips from small time local trainers along the way, the Futaba girl has had to make it largely on her own.
Between her family name and enough talent to at least not be a boring fight, she has managed to keep getting opportunities to participate in the low tiers of the Neo League circuit or make a showing in the 'warm up' matches at major venues.
In spite her losses, she was not deterred. She knew she could get stronger, faster, and more skilled if she continued to challenge herself. Everyone had to start somewhere... even if she had come to understand just how large a head start her brother must have on her.
Even though she was used to getting rejected from fight venues in favor of bigger names, that didn't keep her from trying. With no agent or coach, she did it all on her own, submitting letters, pleading for opportunities to fight, no matter how small the venue might be. When the latest in fighting entertainment was announced in the from of G-King, she didn't hesitate to pursue it even if she was certain her chances of ever getting invited to appear in such a limited if spectacular event were near non-existant.
The promotional materials showed her one Chao Liu and the brief clips of the venerable fighter in action captivated her imagination. In him she saw reflections of her mother's art - a style she had attempted to mirror to this day with some success. She would definitely look forward to watching him fight whoever it was that got selected to face him in the arena.
Here and now, she still can't believe that she was selected. The pressure is incredible, the girl pacing the preparation area, hands clasped behind her back as she tries to force the tension out of her body. She hadn't been this nervous since her very first public match against Haru Sakuraba in the incredible Howard Arena. At least there she was going up against a fellow newcomer...
Trying to go through the same mental exercises as her match against Haru wasn't helping at all. When the time came she felt less prepared than she had ever been for something in her life. This was way worse than last week's trigonometry final!!
But one thing she is not is a quitter. When it's time, she sucks in her breath, balls her fists, and marches out into the incredibly tranquil looking arena to face the man who is already a legend in her eyes. She was dressed in her finest Kung Fu outfit - a rich navy blue Chinese styled blouse is worn along with pristine white trousers. The vest itself is broidered with gold bands with a golden floar print with her pants also bearing a white floral print only visible when the light reflects off them just right. Shoulder lengthed black hair is tied off into two pig-tails by large red ribbons done up in bows.
Crossing the bridge into the faux but convincingly well built shrine has a calming effect however. Azure eyes glance over the pond, the stream, and the rock garden in turn, but come to rest on the tall man himself almost immediately. Swallowing, consciously trying to appear confident, she sucks in her breath and bows her head, standing up straight. Her hand is pressed over her fist as she offers a traditional bow of the Chinese arts, head lowered, eyes closed.
"Master Liu," for such the man is from what she read. He picked her to fight him? Her heart races with a desire to not disappoint. "Being here is an honor I will never forget. Thank you."
She glances up, trying to tune out the whirl of the flying cameras and imagine that she really was fighting him in some remote mountain shrine, that there weren't millions watching this exchange. It would be... all she could ask for.
Under normal instances, there would have been no chance at all of coming across Chao Liu within this fight. The gulf between them is clear as night and day, although many people interested in the new arena showed up to check things out. Yet there is power given to those who represent the G-King, primary of which is that they can select whichever opponent they want. Reasoning does not have to be given, and in this case was not. For Hotaru it's quite a chance, as in terms of exposure, this is going to be the most-seen match since the leaked copies of Hotaru/Roland on the web.
Outside the buzzing of those helicopter-like cameras, it's hard to see the crowd, and nearly impossible to hear them. At a single large tree is the sound of a cicada, although they shouldn't even be in season. It must be for effect. Chao Liu looks up at the girl's arrival with a small smile, genuinely warm. He idly fondles the overly large buddha beads around his neck, a clear symbol of his faith.
"Young one... I saw every one of your matches before this day." That might initially come across as a negative, before he instead presses his hand together and does just the slightest bows. This might come as a surprise. In Japan, such is quite common, but not nearly so much in China. "You've a talent to learn and a great heart. I find, though... you've not had a proper teacher in many years, have you? This is a shame. There is nothing worse in this life... than a willing spark, unable to find tinder."
He then walks to one end of the bridge, about four feet wide and ten feet long, with the koi swimming and churning beneath where the bread was tossed. He grasps the hips of his pants and hefts them up, before assuming a light stance, extending out both of his arms. It does indeed look much like her mother, as if a grace and dignity suddenly flowed over the man.
"Would you do me the honor of a fight...?" The bell rings then, but no move at all is made by the man. "Take it as seriously as you would any other. I shall not hold back."
COMBATSYS: Chao Liu has started a fight here.
Chao Liu 0/-------/------=|
COMBATSYS: Chao Liu takes no action.
Chao Liu 0/-------/------=|
With each passing second in the unexpectedly quiet arena it becomes easier and easier to forget that there is even anyone else aware of the events transpiring here besides the two lone occupants. It begins to feel less like a match she is appearing to compete in and more akin to a special session with a venerable, respected master monk. His initial smile eases her nervousness considerably, the girl having lacked for adult figures in her life to even really receive feedback from for all her lonely years.
Sapphire blue eyes widen as he mentions having seen her matches. So he saw her bouts, her fights against a bear, against rookies, against the infamous wrestling heel Hunter Grand, and... even /that/ unmentionable match? That he transitions immediately into a soft, subtle bow of acknowledgement is enough to draw her focus back away from dwelling on her own motley track record and more on the words and actions of one who is rapidly gaining her admiration in addition to the respect she already had for his prowess in Kung Fu.
He comments on her talent and her desires to improve and her cheeks hint at pink for a brief moment, but as he observes the rough edge to her fighting style, the lack of precise finese or a unifying flow of each of her steps in her matches, she nods slightly. There is no shame in admitting to the truth his eyes have already discerned.
He moves onto the bridge over the peaceful pool and slips into a stance that immediately brings a new wave of nostalgia over the girl's mind. It had been eight years since she had seen her mother adopt that stance and she has been attempting to recreate it herself ever since. Graceful control, flowing movements, an ability to seem to cover all angles simultaneously... in this moment her eyes have set on the most perfect execution of the style she has ever seen. While many fighters of the world practice Chinese martial arts, they almost invariably favor the hard, direct styles over the softer, flowing styles she has been attempting to emulate all her life.
"The honor," she replies, her voice a whisper of awe as she raises her hands and slides one foot forward slightly. "Is all mine."
The signal echoes over the quiet staged shrine. The deer startler clacks its staccato sound. A fish splashes in the pond beneath the bridge. Hotaru sucks in a breath. To attack a man of his experience is an intimidating prospect for any young hopeful. The stance he has adopted seems simple but dismissing it would be a mistake.
She has no choice - the onus of action has been placed on her now and she mustn't disappoint. She has at her disposal speed and a small number of acrobatic techniques - it is not a deep arsenal of options, but it will have to do.
Her other foot stomps forward and then she sprints, each step a small resounding thud against the wooden bridge.
'Do not waste this moment.' she thinks to herself as she closes in.
'Eyes on him... this might be your only chance to see the perfected form so close!'
Small hands would reach out for his foreward most arm, a necessary anchor and pivot point, a chance to get a grip to twist herself up into swift, stomping kicks into the chest of the much taller fighter. Each stomp is reinforced by an extention of her leg, a snap of her foot, attempting to create as much force over a small distance as possible, each attempt accompanied by a sharp 'Ya!'
If permitted, she would attempt to escape, kicking off with both feet and spinning backward through the air in an attempt to backflip down to the bridge roughly where she had started from!
COMBATSYS: Hotaru has joined the fight here.
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Hotaru 0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0 Chao Liu
COMBATSYS: Chao Liu dodges Hotaru's Shinjou Tai.
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Hotaru 0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0 Chao Liu
"Ah, you speak too reverently... I'm but an old man, now..." Chao Liu states with just the smallest hint of a smile. This does nothing to deter him from his obviously masterful stance, lifting up lightly to seemingly bounce in place, center of gravity perfectly oriented for maximum motion in any desired direction. The eyes upon her are intense, and there's a sense that young Hotaru's every motion, breath, and even shift of tense muscle is being viewed by the man.
His response to her assault is so fluid and precise that he must have practiced thousands of times in it. Twisting his forearm as she moves to grasp, a press away makes it difficult to grasp. His other hand then pushes, breaking the hold in a heartbeat. It seemed for an instant that she was about to manage; allowing Hotaru to lift up and launch a couple awkward kicks, but Chao Liu has already twisted sideways, momentarily presenting his back...
And then thrusting out a quick, sharp palm blow towards Hotaru's midsection before she can land and attempt her escape. He says nothing, which might be unexpected. No pointers, no analysis, simply a quick stroke of the silver hair of his fu manchu and the slightest of thoughtful sounds... as he attempts to stagger her backwards along the bridge, likely skidding her a few meters on soft wood unless she manages to somehow fully evade!
COMBATSYS: Chao Liu successfully hit Hotaru with Kai Hua Zhang.
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Hotaru 0/-------/-======|==-----\-------\0 Chao Liu
There will be no way to surprise this man, she realizes, her hands pushed way with ease, her grip broken with the careful but precise touch of one who knows what she is about to try before she even gets to him. He has seen her matches, and no doubt observed hundreds of others in her shoes. It isn't that her speed is poor, or that her execution is inherently flawed, but it follows the paths he would expect and unraveling it appears to prove all too easy for the master of Wushu, and even her fastest would be nothing for him to see through.
Where her control falls apart, however, is when it doesn't work out as she had optimistically hoped. The technique itself was inherently risky, every step along the way a potential avenue for disaster. One false step, one slip of her hold, one clever deflecting guard is all it takes for the girl to be put into unfamiliar territory, forced to improvise but lacking the breadth of experience necessary to really manage with the kind of smooth response that would be necessary.
She stumbles into a landing, having been denied her necessary fulcrom, leaving her staggering forward toward the master's back. A flicker of confusion registers at first - his back seems open, what is he -
The palm strike is faster than she can respond to, arms raising in a desperate defense against the impossible speed. Acting out of haste and reflex rather than a sure knowledge, she guards high, his own wrinkled but powerful hand striking her in her exposed stomach with enough force to fold the girl over it then send her flying backward!
She manages to land on her feet a few meters away, sliding along the smooth wooden boards before coming to a stop. Her left hand is already over her stomach as she looks ready to crumple forward in spite her resolve to the contrary. Her mind races, trying to think of an avenue of approach.
Snapping her hands back up into the ready position, she starts to slip forward slowly, her feet shuffling in tight, controlled steps that leave the smallest of windows where she would be unable to respond.
The bridge prevents her from circling around him as she might prefer trying, but she does change her angles of approach to be less straight forward. She risks closing in to two meters out before she acts, right hand swinging down and out to her side, a surge of sapphire chi coursing along it. Again he must know what she is about to do - she has only really demonstrated maybe two or three techniques with actual energy manifestations in her debuts.
Such brilliant displays of energy were not her father's way, though he certainly had the ability to produce visible manifestations if he so desired. Her hand swings forward, willing the projectile of blue, swirling concussive force outward, zipping across the distance between them. Maybe the confines of the bridge will affect Master Liu's approach to handling it as well, she can't help but hope!
COMBATSYS: Chao Liu interrupts Hakki Shou EX from Hotaru with Kua Dan.
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Hotaru 1/-----<</<<<<<<<|===----\-------\0 Chao Liu
Hotaru has likely learned much just from that simple counter; each step within her technique that left her vulnerable, reliant on success to not be made prey. Escape is not always an option about failure, as by the time she had even begun the natural motion the elderly master had already swiftly completed his attack, precisely within the slim opening her motion allowed. It's clear, now. The difference between using something like that on an opponent who cannot capitalize on it, and using it against this man. It might almost feel sloppy. Embarrassing. Just how much further she can go made apparent.
When Hotaru looks up, she will see that this man was serious. He's leapt forward in a graceful lunge, leading with a lifted knee as the other trails behind. But now, it's no longer the finesse of her mother... there's a power and strength to it, a difference in resolve etched into his very face. An elbow leads him, lifted up high. There's no time to close in, and no need; the desire to do so might be very well why her assault slowed. sufficiently.
Nothing was particularly done wrong on her end this time, outside that.
His elbow drops violently, impacting the ball of chi. It explodes, rippling over him yet without the impact and cohesion she desired. Twisting around, the man lands heavily on his heel, slamming down the other hard enough that the bridge quakes and boards crack beneath...
Before the elbow of his other arm slams into Hotaru's face, with incredible force. As close as he is, every advantage to using it instead of strikes is apparent. The aim is to blow her through the bamboo railing and right into the waters of the koi pond. To those watching, it feels like in less than 5 seconds the fight has been mostly decided... why on earth did they allow someone so outclassed to fight?!
But Chao Liu is already leaping, aiming to land on the edge of the pond opposite Hotaru hard, assuming the Boar Stance of immovable iron...!
The energy had scarcely left her fingertips when she found herself completely engaged on, splashing with little effect having not even had the chance to compress into its full form necessary to pack the punch it was intended to. Arm already extended, body leaning into the attack, any attempt at defense would require speeds far beyond her capacity to even fathom yet alone perform. The point blank elbow crunches with the force necessary to send the featherweight flying, bamboo fencing shattering as her back impacts it hard and the girl splashes down into the pound, sending fish scurrying in all directions in sudden panic at this unexpected invasion.
A wet, splashing scramble has her getting to a seated position, shaking her head rapidly, sending a spray of water around her as her pig-tails flip about. It takes a moment for the water pouring off her face for the blood to begin pooling at the base of her nose. The the crisp, cool water of the fabricated pool is enough to snap her out of the daze she finds herself in. Everything is happening so incredibly fast!
For the viewing audience, the gulf in capability was evident within the first seconds of the fight and Hotaru's plunge into the water has done little to sway that obvious opinion. But she has already forgotten about anyone in the world besides the Kung Fu master she has found herself completely dispatched by. This might not have been the intense bout the G-King organizers were hoping for - but the curious conditions of the event were quite clear. Master Liu's choice reigned supreme above all else.
Aware of the pain in her face, she wastes no time evaluating it as she pushes herself to her feet, standing shin-deep in the pool as water pours off of her. Sputting a spray of droplets, she whirls, blinking her blue eyes as she tries to get her focus back onto the teacher. The pain in her body is almost crippling after two simple but crushingly powerful blows.
By all standards, the experience should be utterly humiliating. It wasn't as if she had been idle the last five years. Hers had been a life of intense focus, consistent regimens of training and exercise, and careful study of what the successful fighters of the world did in their various match circumstances. But as the girl pants for her next desperate breath, trying to convince her body to carry on, she isn't thinking about any of that. In these brief, painful exchanges, she has seen just how far Chinese martial arts could take her, how much still there is to refine, improve, and grow. This time isn't for anyone but herself now. Let the G-King PR deal with things as they see fit.
Her hands snap up, sending another spray of water airborn now that she is facing him again. His stance is different than she remembers it being up on the bridge. Just how many arts does he know? His positioning is clear, however - to get out of the pond she'll have to get through him. Another gasp of breath is accompanied by a fleeting smile, half driven by delerium, half by exhilaration.
She has to try something more... of course, her ability to engage him in traditional melee combat is dubious. And he won't give her the split second she needs to marshal enough chi to keep him at bay or does her chi pack the force necessary to slow him anyway. Flexing her fingers for a moment, she finally bursts forward, legs splashing water aside with each step.
The pool might slow her slightly, but not enough to change the nature of her attack. From a meter out, soft, dark blue chi trails from the girl's hands as she lifts them, springing up into a committed, low hop to close the final distance. Her arms swing, the young fighter aiming to execute two windmilling palm strikes designed to bring an opponent's guard high.
It is a traditional strike, one of the purest of her techniques as she would aim to land and twist into a second pair of chi infused windmilling strikes from her other side. One final pivot would bring her arms back around for a third as the girl attempts to compensate for raw striking power with numbers and the extra extention of chi with each blow.
It would only be after the third that she would go back into her more improvised style, lunging upward with a shoulder slam, her entire body covered in chi now, before finally diving right back down into him, right knee first, in what would be a decisive hit... against a rookie, at least!
COMBATSYS: Chao Liu just-defends Hotaru's Soushou Tenrenge!
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Hotaru 0/-------/-----<<|===----\-------\0 Chao Liu
All of Hotaru's lifetime spent training could fit ten times into the experience of Chao Liu; and his dedication had been absolutely no less, with the advantage of having not one, but two masters. What kind of difference that makes in the long run is evident... can Hotaru reach such heights, at such age, in the path she is going now? Will she even be as strong as her brother, ten years in the future?
Facing him now, it's obvious that the man no longer has any intentions of backing down. He is rooted to the floor, although still with his toes lifted and ready to move with that same force. It is mostly in the upper body that it's different, turning his side towards her with the front elbow presented, the rear one held closer to his body. It's not very far off from...
"You are... a Futaba, correct?" he questions singularly. Of course, he guards as expected. His elbow snaps out, both times impacting the open palm dead center, as if it were a game of patty-cake. A sideways snap drives her palm away as the third is made, before what happens next obviously does not surprise him.
He twists up, both forearms crossed before himself. His shoulder slams into Hotaru's, and her knee hits the apex of his juxtaposed limbs. The result is her being slammed away, all the chi and force lost in a heartbeat.
"I fought your father once... many years back..." And then he's leaping towards her as she likely remains mid-air, exhaling deeply before bringing in his partially closed fist. "I can sense the same potential... within you!!"
And then he drives out a singular strike, aiming to slam into Hotaru's midsection with explosive force and send her hurtling towards the side of the small shrine building nearby, which would be utterly lacking in the support required to endure her slender frame impacting it!
COMBATSYS: Hotaru fails to interrupt Inner Focus from Chao Liu with Tenshin Shou.
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Chao Liu 0/-------/--=====|
COMBATSYS: Hotaru can no longer fight.
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Chao Liu 0/-------/--=====|
Striking elbows harder than any wooden dummy she had practiced against, she attempts to speed up her next swing, twisting her body faster, whipping her arms around in a fluid follow up that leaves almost no time between swings, but she isn't even close to getting anything through his iron guard. The switch in tactics is equally ineffective as he scatters her energy with a counter push, her focus lost, her concentration rattled-
The Futaba girl finds herself completely thwarte, knee impacting his tough limbs, arms out at her sides for what was a hopefully balanced, controlled landing but which is rapidly converted into the complete opposite.
He speaks of her father and the spark or acknowledgement is readily visible in her eyes, but her focus is still on his movement as he takes to the air to meet her before she'd even have the opportunity to land.
Not to be outdone, the determined girl falls back on the one option she had not had the chance to try - a desperate measure but sometimes that's what it takes. Instead of trying to escape from his attacks, she would meet him head on, the girl twisting in mid air, intending to swing herself around so that it would be her shoulder he would strike while she readied her own counter strike to fire the instant her feet would touch the ground!
It plays out nothing like she imagined it, however. When his stone hard hand smashes into her it is with even more force than his previously devastating blows delivered. The realization hits her in that instant as her airborn body is blasted sideways by precise, pure kinetic force, that she had not even begun to see the slightest extent of Chao Liu's power - In that single blow, he had rivaled the power of the most powerful combinations of anyone she had fought to date!
The chance to marvel at his destructive power and her own inability to so much as land a single hit on him is short lived, however, before she smashes through the small structure, caving in the wall in the process, sending a plume of dust, splinters, and a wake of trailing droplets of the still waterlogged Kenpo artista flying.
It's quiet for a moment, the cameras having to zip around in search of a new angle to best broadcast the aftermath of the final exchange between the two, before she finally crawls out of the wooden debris on hands and knees, head bowed, eyes closed, hair draped over her shoulders. Gasping for breath, she starts to push herself up, one knee against the soft soil, her hands pressing against her other bent knee. "Nnnh."
What was that she had heard? His words replay in her mind - her father... he encountered her father then, and sees the same potential in her? Then she needn't get discouraged, she tells herself. She can grow further, but-... but without a master to correct her and guide her, how could she really hope to release that potential?
Straining, she tries to rise up again. She wasn't even thinking about how she would approach Master Liu again. First she needed to get up. Then she could figure something out. There had to be something she hadn't tried yet, something-
A gasp of pain as the damage finally catches up with her, no longer able to be abated by the adrenaline pumping in her veins, and then she falls back down to the turf on her hands and knees, panting for breath. This was as far as she could go now and this would be the extent of the audience's entertainment this day.
Landing nimbly afterwards, Chao Liu places his hands within the large sleeves of his gi, drooping down and concealing them. Quick, rapid steps take him up upon the raised foundation of the small building. Within is a shrine and a number of cushions, which probably did little to soften the fall of the young girl when she was sent hurtling in it.
As the young girl thumps down to hands and knees, there's a heavy thump of feet before her. A quick, rapid DINGDINGDING happens just as a great billow of wind blows down, rippling the pants of Chao Liu heavily. Were she to lift her head even a fraction of an inch, she'd bump into the hard prong of an elbow, having been in the midst of descending with full intention of knocking her unconscious. Luckily, whoever observes these fights clearly saw it was over... it's doubtful it would have ended in any permanent damage, but she likely prefers being scuffed up with bruised ribs to head trauma!
Rising back up, Chao Liu lets out a relieved exhale. "Your father was a cruel man. I declined to fight him, as one of the masters of Chinese martial arts. He then took to attacking my students and forced my hand. I was distracted by rage in my heart... but he defeated me soundly, all the same. Ah... one cannot forever keep away rage."
A hand extends, to help Hotaru to her feet. "I shall be in this city for at least a week longer. If you'd like, you should be able to meet me at the outskirt shrines..." Another small nod of acknowledgement follows, before he turns in a whirl of clothing to begin striding for the opposite end of the arena. Hovering cameras whirr and focus on him, a few others on the waterlogged Hotaru, as the announcer above confirms the crushing loss of Hotaru Futaba yet again!!
But... perhaps this shall become more of a turning point than she expected...
COMBATSYS: Chao Liu has ended the fight here.
With how fast everything is happening, Hotaru is still reeling trying to understand it all. Her mind is a blur, the girl dazed beyond all comprehension by the three swift but decisive strikes that had completely taken her out of the fight. The back of her head nudges his elbow as she tries one last time to force herself upright but it takes a long moment for her to realize what it meant as the painfully brief match is declared complete and she is spared any further concussion.
She wouldn't see the look in the ancient master's eyes but she can hear his voice, his soft exhale, and her eyes, slowly regaining their focus, find his offered hand. Resting her own small hand in his, she allows herself to be pulled to her feet unabashed but slightly chagrined. He was the first master she had ever fought in person and there was no denying her new understanding of just how far there was to grow yet.
But the question wouldn't leave her mind - how to grow on her own? Did her brother find powerful men to advance his own training? He clearly left home far ahead of where she was now though... their father's training had not been lax in the slightest. In fact, it had a certain harsh edge-
Master Liu speaks and instantly has her rapt attention, Hotaru lifting her hand to brush some of her hair back out of her face as she continues to drop water all over the ground. He speaks of her father's cruelty, that the man had raised his hand against students to provoke their sifu's wrath into a fight, and Hotaru frowns a little, her eyes wandering, searching the older man's face for any clue of desceit or guile only to find nothing of the sort. She knew her father could be a severe man, but a monster...?
But then he speaks of his prolonged stay. He would have another match in the week ahead, no doubt, per the terms of the G-King event. Her eyes light up at the stated invitation, mouth opening before she nods her head eagerly, "I would love to- I mean, I will. Thank you, Master Liu!" she asserts, bowing her head.
Finally she turns to leave back the way she had come, crossing the bridge to the locker rooms below, hand lifting to rest against her stomach as the pain of the match begins to settle in earnest. Maybe this was another loss, but she got ideas from what she had seen. Even if she has only observation and imagination to grow by, she will find some way to benefit from it...
But other questions fill her mind as well. Chao Liu exhibited none of the traits she had seen in her prior opponents. No competative, brash fighting spirit, no desire to show off or impress the crowd. He was direct, flawless in execution, and unforgiving of her mistakes, but he was no sadist... Just what WAS it that brought him to Southtown?
Why fight now after all these years away from the public arena?
Log created on 13:20:21 01/11/2015 by Hotaru, and last modified on 22:29:49 01/11/2015.