Athena - By the Blade of the Sword

Description: What was supposed to be a student vs student match in private explodes into a huge event at the Parthenon in Greece. At the temple bearing her own name, Athena Asamiya faces off against Alma Towazu in a match that will only magnify the reputation they both have as fighters and forges a lasting friendship to stand against the growing tide of darkness.

Alma Towazu shields his eyes.

The golden-haired young man in finely tailored clothes is dwarfed by the shining pillars arrayed around him, the remnants of the labor of those whose spirits dwell here still, though it is infinitely beyond his ability to hear their voices. What he can fathom of their hopes and wishes, he gleans from the artistry before him, illuminated by the adamant sun above. His artist's soul is moved by the sight of these relics in person, carrying him away from this time for a brief spell, away from the din and clamor.

Alma runs the hand shielding his gaze through his hair.

Yes, the relentless clamor.

"A-THE-NA! A-THE-NA! We love you! Woooooooo!"

How did this happen?

No, he reflects as he turns away from the innards of the temple he now stands within and toward the white road leading to it, he knows exactly how this happened, how this massive throng before them came to be. At first, it had been a simple matter. He and his teacher Rose, desiring to band together with fellow psychics of a similar disposition and with similar aims, sought out a means to contact Athena and her fellows. It would have been a private contest between the student of Rose and the student of Chin, a chance for the two teachers to speak of weighty matters as the students demonstrate what they have learned. A private, simple contest.

But when agents get involved, nothing is simple.

The reality is, Alma and Athena are not merely talented psychics. Athena is a worldwide pop sensation, and Alma, though he is significantly less famous as a person and as a fighter, has recently made a huge splash in the international art scene. Given both of their inherent appeal, those with PR blood in their veins quickly realized this was a chance for the realms of high art and (no offense) low art to collide, that this battle could be a real event.

Thus, the Parthenon.

"Athenaaaaa! Sing Terepoto My Heart!"

Alma smiles, though it's a little weak even for his mild manner. Some of the audience seems to be under the impression that this is going to be a concert rather than a fight. He's hopeful he can make the most of this unexpected scenario, but it may come down to the willingness of his partner to work with the situation too. He's heard that she is a consummate performer despite her youth.

The finely-featured psychic turns his gaze back to the weathered pillars, still smiling, though his expression is faintly bemused.

"Ah," he murmurs, "I should have brought my paints and easel."

Chisaki hasn't been to Greece before. But, she decided, watching a match between two fighters -- two famous celebrities, at that -- was a good way to get her mind off what happened at the United Nations. She was there, and a couple of hastily taken pictures went around Twitter of the girl with the shadowy claw. She hasn't been recognized yet, but it could happen. She hopes that it doesn't.

This? This seems like a good way to not think about it.

She doesn't join in with the chanting of 'Athena! Athena!' like the others. No, instead, she munches on a gyro she bought at a stand nearby and sits down on two millennia old limestone seating. She glances down at Alma, watching him thoughtfully.

An artist? She doesn't know much about art. She applauds, though, and yells: "YEAH! Go for it, artsy people! And when you're done, find me in the stands and purchase reasonably priced Nepalese imports to commemorate your awesome victory slash drown out the sorrows of crushing defeat!"

Rose is here, of course. How could she not be?

She did not interfere very much with all of the agents, having long ago learned to tolerate these fusses and canoodlings. She keeps herself a bit back from a lot of these matters, simply - it could be said - to build a sense of mystery. Of course, it could also be that she is lazy.

Either way she is seated up towards the front of the 'stands', a seat of honor to suit her position as Alma's mentor. A small platter of feta on pita bread, along with a bottle of retsina and several glasses, albeit only one filled. She's smiling, not least at the meeting of the minds between that girl whom she faced in that arena and her most promising of students.

And also at the person huckstering for their native arts and crafts. Rose takes a moment to remember where Nepal is - and then turns her head, looking up over her shades with surprise to Chisaki.

Yuri may have been to Greece before as part of a promotional fight, but that's not why she's here today. Instead, she's here today to watch a fight between two other fighters. She knows Athena quite well, after all who wouldn't like her music? But Alma's not someone she's familiar with, although most likely after this fight, she'll be very familiar with him. She does know Chisaki, and has taken a seat near her to be with someone she knows. Surprisingly (or not) Yuri's wearing her standard casual outfit, that is her gi, her leggings, and her sneakers. Even her bandana is still worn around her head while her hair is in a long braid.

Snacking on popcorn with a large cup of soda in the other hand, Yuri waits with eagerness for the fight to get started.

There is one person frowning in the middle of all the ATHENA ATHENA ATHENA fans. You wouldn't see him in the crowd - he's far too short - but you would certainly FEEL him, that presence of a wolf among the sheep, a shepherd among the sheep, a black sheep among the... sheep! Oh, but that presence is *oppressive*, just another potent ego blanketing itself over the others showing here, this evening. From the fighters, it might be a sense of hopeless optimism, or a sense of overflowing love. From the crowd, perhaps something more ambiguous. From the small man maneuvering his way through a sea of waistlines and fannypacks, its--
A hand on a young girl's ass, a fist to a young man's groin, a hand on another young woman's thigh, another on the lower back of another. Like a ratty but unmistakably warm blanket, the stained, smelly, soothing thing that's helped many a child find succor against the monsters in their closet, Chin sort of hangs around like something you don't want to admit you sometimes sort of *need*. Powerful psychic presence, indeed.
He totters his way to the viewing area, sipping artfully at this cup he's carrying in one hand - it's hard to miss those huge gouty knuckles, but don't stare! He slides into a seat right next to Rose, presumably dislodging her delightful and quaint feta/pita combination.
Another long drink from his cup, an offer to Rose - Chin looks her way, ruddy, too-big nose leading his face like the prow of some ill-fated ship. There *is* a destination - his eyes have already marked it - but we'll get to that later.
"Want to try this punch, dear?"
Oh, and he's still frowning. Why?


He doesn't even teach a course in playing to the crowd! This is not the point of back-alley kempo!

'Why sure, I would love to meet Rose's student - oh, a fight? That sounds wonderful. I look forward to the arrangements.'

It started that way when the request reached her attention. How it turned into what is going on here and now on this clear, sunny day in Greece, is a tale already recounted sufficiently. What followed was an unending series of requests by the menagerie of agents and event organizers that got invovled in whole affair before she had any idea what was going on.

Given Chin Gentsai's still fresh injunction against putting on shows or focusing on anything besides her training and doing her absolute best in fights, it couldn't have come at a worse time.

'We'll have you open by singing this.'
'N-no, thank you, I-'
'You'll wear this for the first half, then we have this tear away-'
'That is truly lovely, really, but I am just going to focus on-'
'Do you think you could sing /during/ the fight? The fans would go crazy over that that.'
'Actually, that isn't even remotely possible in a serious spar and besides-'
'Make sure to win, we'll want a closing serenade before we wrap this dance fight up.'
'Excuse me, dance /what/?'

The requests were relentless, and every single one of them in direct opposition to her sifu's unmistakable, uncompromising mandate - focus on what he was teaching her, or go learn from the media moguls. She couldn't have it both ways.

Now that the day is upon her, the cries of the gathered audience only makes it harder. The hype her name draws is almost intoxicating given her complete and sudden absence from the musical world for the last few months. It would be so easy to cave in, to give them what they wanted. Would it be so wrong to make them happy? The empathetic feedback would be as phenomenal as she remmebered.

But the young martial artist's resolve in keeping her word to her trusted teacher and proxy grandfather would not waver. If possible, she would present the eager crowd a fight to remember, but she wasn't here to put on a performance for them.

Fighting at a temple dedicated to a goddess with the same name is a bit over the top, she can't help but feel. But when it comes to event organizers, there just seems to be no upper limits in matters of pretension. All she can do is make the best of it.

In spite her protests, she had caved on a few things. A battle in Greece for the girl named Athena was too much for the agents to pass up on, and thus it is she finds herself standing not far from Alma in the court held by pillars. She's clothed in what she can only imagine was someone's idea of an Athenian warrior princess with a leather tunic, short sleeves, pleated leather plated skirt, and brown leather sandals with binding that wraps around her shins. She suspects the historical accuracy is somewhere in the neighborhood of Not Even Close, but dressing to the occasion was the least she could do after seeing the crestfallen agents' reactions to her refusal to put on an accompanying concert.

Rose's student is fascinating to her. His name was recognized, his works studied, each a glimspse at the soul of their creator. Facing him in person would be quite the experience. Waiting meters away, facing the crowd, she lifts her right hand to wave toward where the chanting seems loudest. Just trying to suppress the sheer amount of emotional energy being directed her way is no small feat. Her left hand lifts to brush violet tresses back over her ear while she secretly hopes Chin isn't going to kill her over this whole thing.

It isn't her fault!

COMBATSYS: Athena has started a fight here.

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

COMBATSYS: Alma has joined the fight here.

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

All of Alma's uncertainty evaporates at once.

He is extraordinarily difficult to perturb, his attunement to others rendering him at once agreeable and resolute, but even he has to admit these circumstances are not appropriate to what might otherwise be a serious, even solemn, occasion. But the moment he feels the presence of the one to be his honorable opponent, the pressure of the auras around him, like an everpresent demand that he behave in the manner they wish and not that befitting of the battle, recedes. What remains is the faith that no matter how the spirits of the audience members align -- including the recognizable signatures of their esteemed masters -- he and his adversary will create something extraordinary together.

Entering onto the world stage has been worth it already.

He has studied his opponent as well, of course. Popular music is unfamiliar to him, being rather estranged from societal trends save those of men's fashion, but he did his utmost to acquaint himself with the revered art of Athena Asamiya.

* * * PREVIOUSLY * * *

Alma, his expresion grave, slowly lowers the headphones over his ears before pressing play on his newly-purchased MP3 player.

| Athena Asamiya - Terepoto My Heart (To You) |

o/~ Everybody says that dreams will pass
o/~ That wishes don't come true
o/~ They see me gazing out the window all class
o/~ They don't know that I'm looking at the reflection of you

o/~ No words can express these feelings deep inside
o/~ Though this hope of mine is simple and pure
o/~ My mind's made up but my lips can't decide
o/~ If they dare reveal it or if they'll demur
o/~ All I want is for you to get a clue
o/~ Why can't I terepoto my heart to you

o/~ Tere-terepoto my heart
o/~ Terepoto my heart to you
o/~ Ohh-ohhhh, terepoto my heart
o/~ Terepoto my heart to you

Alma nods solemnly.

* * * NOW * * *

Alma's smile has broadened and grown sure as Athena steps onto the sanctified stone of the Parthenon, no trace of amusement or dismay to be seen.

"I was regretting that I had not brought the tools of my art to paint this place," he says calmly to his fellow student, "but now I see I should have brought a costume instead."

He may not be joking. Turning fully toward her, the demands of the crowd fade away into irrelevance. Alma and Athena will not give them what they say they want.

"I am glad to meet you, Athena."

They will come to want what Alma and Athena give.

"Alma Towazu, student of Rose!"

With a sweep of his arm, a plume of ethereal white flame tinged with pinks and purples bursts into being, silencing some of the front rows. The flare of color is like that of a painter slashing pigment onto a bare canvas.

"Please, do your best!"

His transition from stillness to motion is preternatural in its suddenness. He hurtles forward, leaving a faint image of himself in his wake, dust billowing from the stone where his fine shoes stood. A lance of Soul Power spirals around his open hand, reaching out to his famous opponent, with eyes gentle moments before now flashing with light, with the will to pierce through what divides them--


--to forge a work of art in these flames.

Chisaki turns sideways to look at Yuri, flashing a grin at her after her rather obvious attempt to hawk her wares. "This is pretty cool," she opines to her fellow Taiyo High student. "A fight in the Parthenon, you know? It's like something from a movie or a book. And with famous people!"

Even if, tragically, Athena is not her type of music. She looks down, catching Rose's look over her sunglasses. The girl waves once in her direction, but doesn't comment more than that. She glances, briefly, in Chin's direction - and then wrinkles her nose for a second. But, the fight is starting, and that demands her attention.

She sees the power that lights up around Alma's hand. Her eyes widen sharply; she glances sideways at Yuri, then looks back at Alma. "Whoa..."

COMBATSYS: Athena dodges Alma's Self Expression.

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

As Chin settles his wrinkly backside down like a majestic psychic elephant, Rose touches the feta/pita platter. It flips up but nothing slides off it. There is a faint gleam of something violet on the metal, but she twists it around to the other side of her chair without words.

She could feel Chin coming. So this is that man, she considers, gazing at him with thought in her eyes. She smiles; "Master Gentsai, I presume. And, I appreciate your offer - but I feel I have had enough in my glass already. Please, enjoy yourself."

She reaches for the bottle of retsina. "Though if you'd like a splash of this... by all means, don't be shy."

Rose looks out with a sort of patient mostly-pride as Alma keys up that ridiculous pop song. It becomes real, genuine pride when Alma lashes himself forwards -- though she remarks to Chin, "I wonder if he's seen my own battle with Asamiya."

Chin smiles at Rose, particularly at the way her food doesn't fall, the poise with which she accepts his rather... tremendous aura. It isn't all psychic. Not much at ALL of it is psychic, really. In fact, it really speaks to Rose's *skill* that she could feel Chin from anywhere, considering the --blah, blah, blah. Nonetheless, he's not exactly trying to impress people, so Rose's kindness in accepting him as company is already making a good impression on Chin.
Then again, Rose doesn't exactly have to do much to make a good impression on Chin.
To his credit, he's not distracted by the retsina she offers - he focuses instead on the paint thinner he's carrying with him, pulling the bottle from his lips after an exceptionally long drought - one that takes him ALL the way through Alma's ridiculous song. At least this will be a good test for Athena.
"He's very pretty, but that kind of showmanship lends itself to..." A shrug. Chin looks over to Athena, who... well. At least there's a hardness to the girl's eyes. Her outfit will dodge his criticism for now. Chin scratches at his cheek, blinking wearily as the first of doubtless dozens of psychic effects makes its appearance.
"Do you think he has? I don't know much about that young man, but..." Chin pauses. Drinks. "I don't believe I've ever met somebody with such open eyes. Hard to focus like that. What did you think of your fight with Athena?"

"It sure is," Yuri replies to Chisaki with a grin, sipping her soda. "I'm used to hearing stories about gladiators fighting here, but never something like this." She leans back a little, briefly noticing Rose and her sunglasses before stretching her arms over her head. "Either way, however this fight ends, no one will look at Athena the same way!"

One more wave, another bow, her expression fixed in a glowing smile that seems every bit as legitimate as the enthusiasm as the crowd has for her. On some level, she can't help but feel a touch awkward about it. After all, doesn't her opponent merit the same level of accolade? Or is it truly the fate of the artist to carry on in relative obscurity compared to the instant fame of a pretty girl with legendary stage presence and a lovely singing voice? Okay, yeah, that's just how it goes.

She turns toward Alma, arms at her sides, palms downward, posing for a moment in the sun as they face each other. Introductions are in order out of decorum's expectations. He mentions the lack of costume on his part and she can't help but grin, "Aah... This wasn't my idea," she offers by way of apology. "But I am happy for this moment all the same."

She dips her head, eyes closing briefly, "The pleasure is all mine. Athena Asamiya, student of Master Gentsai."

She is slow to lift her head from the acknowledgement and her eyes remain sealed for a moment longer than seems necessary.

The probable reason becomes abundantly clear when she taps into that inner presence, that fount of energy that seems to ripple with unlimited potential. An aura completely different from that of the performer bursts out from around the girl, invisible and not even actively noticed by most in attendance - an an unmistakable impulse to notice the young martial artist more than ever before, as if she were the lone performer before the eyes of the world. It is no wonder she has managed to capture the attention of so many in so little time.

Violet eyes open to settle on Alma. Even without trying, her bearing can almost overwhelming, especially to those better attuned to sensing such things. The air around her is supercharged with an indomitable spirit that seems to radiate out from his opponent.

"I promise you," Athena answers, her stance shifting, arms lifting to a traditional if extremely well practiced Kung Fu state of readiness.
"I will."

First matter of demonstration that he will be seeing her best is in just how impossibly fast she moves when the artist's creation is levied against her. Reading the movement before it has even happened, stepping against the aged stone with a kick off that sends her spinning into a small hop to the side - it is clear that she narrowly evades the Soul Power meant to connect with her and give her an understanding of his own sincerity in this match.

But as she lands immediately to Alma's left, already facing him, one might wonder if the breadth of her escape was exactly to the degree she intended it to be. Her arms were trailing rose hued energy even as she spun, held behind her back, leaving her defenseless for only a moment in this close range.

Caught up in the moment, feeling the high of the crowd that seems overwhelmingly in her favor, she can't help but lose herself to the spirit of the moment in announcing her signature technique even as she steps through its rote execution. "PSYCHO-"

Both hands sweep forward, crossing over each other, smashing the gathered energy together in passing. She's so tight at Alma's side that escape seems nearly impossible before the shimmering sphere of Psycho Power would collide with him.

He would find it distinct from that gift both he and Rose practice - it lacks a certain pure refinement of the Soul Power that answers their mutual calls. The emotion behind the attack is raw, fierce, and determined.


COMBATSYS: Alma dodges Athena's Psycho Ball.

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

"I have confidence in him," Rose says. She steeples her fingers idly in her lap as she looks forwards, taking a deep breath and doubtless increasing her reputation with Chin as she does.

"That flashiness you speak of isn't simply a way to build the crowd's passion. It is a way to inspire yourself, I find. Of course, I don't indulge myself quite so much, but my own style could be considered a bit... flashy."

She picks up a piece of pita bread. "As for my own battle... it was an astonishing thing. I had never thought to encounter someone who shared our ability to such an extent-- much less in these circles, in the public eye."

Rose lowers her voice and leans towards Chin, possibly grossing out the teenage girls watching. "I was unsure, and now I will ask you. Have you, and Athena, been... concealing yourselves from anyone...?"

Alma cannot help but falter.

The transformation that Athena undergoes as he approaches is something the likes of which he has never experienced. There is a power within this young woman that seems distinct from her already admirable spirit, one which manifests in a sudden surge that overpowers the sense Alma has attuned to her. Chin's words are prescient. Having become so open to Athena's spirit, Rose's student has to brace himself against its abrupt magnification.

It is only for the barest moment, but it is more than enough time for one as swift as Athena. Alma skids to a stop, caught unprepared as his adversary expertly repositions herself, calculating the perfect distance to launch a point-blank ranged assault. The crowd, temporarily cowed by the beginning of this fight, goes wild, cheering Athena as Alma's eyes widen.


The orb of Psycho Power blazes toward him--


--and through where he once was.

His word comes from a meter above, where Alma's form flickers back into existence, his short-range teleportation endowing him with the momentum to flip forward, bringing his leg blurring down toward Athena's probably-insured head. His power does not burst into flame this time, but it seems to infuse his movements, leaving confusing afterimages as he pounds down with three slicing kicks, a hammering downpour.

He is beginning to adjust already to this crushing presence of hers, his own heart opening up to accommodate for its power. But even with his full will employed, can he match her speed?

"She's definitely not just a pop star, that's pretty clear!" Chisaki says, before she bites down into her gyro. She licks her lips, before she glances sideways at her classmate. Her head tilts, before she looks down at the fight. She jerks her chin towards it to point towards it. "Who do you think's gonna win? I think that pretty boy's got a shot. That power he's got, it's... interesting."

But then she sees Athena fires her Psycho Ball off, proving she is not only a pop star. Her red eyes widen -- and then narrow, a little. Very impressive. Yuri is absolutely right, she decides: people won't think of Athena the same way after this publicity match. Alma, she thinks, might be on the losing end, but it's early.

COMBATSYS: Athena fails to interrupt Autumn Rain from Alma with Psycho Sword EX.

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

"Inspire yourself? Hmmm." Chin chews the words over while he watches the fight. Alma's vanishing draws one of Chin's eyebrows upwards, but that's all he has to say on the matter - he simply waits, watches, and brings his eyes back over to Athena. Oh, but the striking fire in her eyes! She's conflicted, she's pinned in, and she's *angry*. Perhaps at Chin himself. Complacency breeds stilled growth, however, and it's a sacrifice the old man is willing to make. Slowly, his frown creases upwards.
"Perhaps I simply forget what it means to be young. Confidence is something you build over time, isn't it? Years and years of failure lend themselves to a sort of immunity to doubt."
His expression is obliterated by the drink he places against his lips. God. It smells like Bigfoot pissed in that jug.
"You think it is strange to meet somebody who flaunts their power so recklessly?" Chin squints, leaning forward on his knees. For all his show earlier, Rose's display of largesse doesn't affect him in the lest - he's interested in this latest Alma attack - this is new. Athena hasn't seen something like this before.
How will she react?
"Weren't you just speaking about children and manifest confidence? We've all had our reckless years. Because of this, I think it's important to keep your students from becoming complacent - look at that young man over there. He's a wild horse! I wonder how much longer he will take counsel from you?" Chin rolls his eyes towards Rose, smiles beatifically, and she finally asks her last question. It's a good one - the old man's expression becomes drawn, and he inhales deeply, cryptic words already formed on cracked lips...
"Well, my dear... *hic*. *hic* *hic* *hic*." Even as his eyes bug, Chin's expression suggests he's playing coy. You don't even need to be psychic to tell.

The renown artist's evasion proves fortuitous. His opponent did not stop moving for an instant. Arms cross over, unleashing the swirling orb of energy brilliant enough to cast a glow against the ancient stone even in the light of a clear Grecian afternoon sun. Following through the motion, she steps, turning into a close proximity elbow strike with her right, the limb swishing through the space occupied by the young man only an instant before.

She follows through all the same - caught up in the moment of her combination, her left hand swinging in under her extended elbow with a lower palm strike. Only then does it register that she isn't actually connecting with anyone at all, her body freezing, right arm just starting to retract, left hand still extended... For all the types of opponents she had gone up against in her short but incredibly successful career as a fighter, she had never encountered a single one with the same knack for teleportation as she had - such lack of exposure to the very idea leaves her visibly surprised, though the space in time to be bewildered is painfully narrow.

She feels him a moment before his voice reaches her ears and she realizes her mistake in not properly exercising her awareness to her opponent amid the myraid other psyche's pressing in from all around her. In the cloud of emotion is judgement, adoration, eagerness, excitement, and resolve. Singling out one mote of feeling from among the million possible human emotions is nearly impossible, but she has not trained at this very skill for nothing.

She lets down her guard for an instant to find him. He speaks up and she responds, on instinct more than conscious thought. Her right arm completing its motion to lower to her side, the whole limb wreathed in that lavendar glow of her blend of psychic energy. To an observer, it is if she had planned it all along, so elegant is the transition. "PSYCHO-"

But what she probably hadn't planned as she springs off her feet, arm sweeping up, intending to slice Alma from the sky he so brazenly claimed, was the impact of his foot against the top of her head. The ascent is cut short, the defenseless girl struck two more times before dropping down hard against the stone. She keeps her footing, hand grazing the temple foor for only a moment before she is upright and ready again.

A shake of her head and blink of her eyes has her good to go again, mouth curling into a hint of a sheepish grin. That went nothing like she had planned. Her smile fades after a brief moment replaced with a recentering of focused intent.

"You do your teacher proud, Alma," she offers, her tone warm even if her expression has become serious. No doubt she would hear about her brush with showboating later. She could do better than this.

"For example, I've never been quite as good at that trick," Rose says, indicating Alma's momentary flicker.

She bites that pita bread, and chews on it in thought. She is also deliberately ignoring the smell coming from Chin's jug. Different strokes for different folks.

"I did not mean that she displays herself," Rose says, gesturing with the wine glass she's lifted up. "I mean that her talent is extraordinary. I have ran into few like it. I am envious, but only a little, that it is you who found her. As you see here, I think that she and Alma would have learned much from each other..."

"And fear not, Master Gentsai. I believe he will attend my words for quite a while longer... though you're quite right."

Rose sips the retsina, and leans back in her chair. "Not forever."

"There is a man with power beyond either Athena's or my own," she then says, more quietly, to Chin. "I had thought that perhaps you were concealing yourself from him, and thus also from myself. I was astounded to find that we were so close. But this brings me hope as well -- for if you have avoided that man's notice, it shows that he may have fewer eyes in fewer places than I had feared."

Alma can feel how close that came.

He spins once more in midair as Athena is pressed back, landing elegantly and lightly upon the temple floor. In the distance he hears the shouts of the crowd, and while it is impossible to make out much coherence from their words, the energy pouring forth now seems free of confusion and infused with positivity. Though the majority of cheers he hears are for Athena to regain the advantage, he can hear no one, even among her fans, booing him.

But he has no space in his heart to find this satisfying. He exhales deeply, releasing the tension born of his intensity and the harrowing intuition that a split-second made the difference between this and his being knocked out of the sky. "You as well, Athena," he murmurs, a tinge of awe in his otherwise intent gaze. He could not tear his eyes away even if he tried. That costume is-- no, that aura is gripping. "I now know well how fortunate I am to have the opportunity to face you as an equal."

He whips his hand about again with another unconsciously dramatic flourish, an honest expression of his thrilling passion, summoning another plume of flame. He should be tiring from this extreme exertion, yet he does not feel fatigued in the slightest. It is as though the energy of the crowd is pouring into him, a radiance now in harmony with his own.

"I shall not waste it!"

With an upward sweep of his arm, Alma releases a dart of flame like a bird flying free of his fingertips, rippling and twisting before, once it closes in, expanding and cresting to splash against the beloved performer.

COMBATSYS: Athena instinctively blocks Alma's Sacred Wave.

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

Athena takes Alma's attack to the face - always with the wrists and the flare of power! She'll learn, one way or another. Chin winces along with his student, but doesn't lose his good mood -- he sees the look in Athena's eyes. He's seen that look. He tries to *keep* that look. She's the sort that refuses to be kept within a cage, set by mentors, opponents, or otherwise. There's simply too much girl to be bound within any sort of barrier.
On that thought, Chin looks back to Rose. He smiles.
"I've never hidden myself from anybody," admits Chin. "But then again, I hardly understand what it is I do. I merely teach, and enjoy life, and share what I have with those that want it -- I don't think this mysterious man you speak of would be very interested in me, now would he?" Gentsai scratches at his side, and takes another drink from his jug.
"But if there is a man like that out there - you would know better than I - I worry more for Athena than myself. I tell her to keep out of the spotlight, but she understands better than anybody the burden of talent. Some simply aren't allowed to live their lives privately. It would not be hard for whoever your enemy is to find my girl-- why does he hunt the talented? I feel like there's quite a bit you aren't telling me."

The girl already had the confidence that the enthusiasm of her fans would not hinge on her performance here. Many had followed her career from her initial debut as a rookie only a little over half a year ago to her latest challenges against fighting veterans around the world. With them she had shared her triumphs and her challenges, her break throughs and her struggles. Through it all, her image seemed untouchable, her reputation for sincerity to her followers beyond reproach.

They would forgive a misstep here and there - when outcomes of her attempts are decided by a razor's edge of timing, there is room for forgiveness to be found in the captivated crowd. Whether her sensei will get on her case about it later is an entirely different matter.

She has found her focus now and he might feel that shift in her presence. It isn't her intention to curb the momentum or drive of those she faces but it has been known to happen as she becomes further attuned to their every impulse. She is happy to see Alma break through that all the same and bring his fighting spirit to bear without reservation or hesitation. To find another in the world like herself... that lone makes this entire spectacle worth it.

"Just meeting you in person has made this time well spent," she replies as he paints the air with his power.

Her left hand extends out with a swish of air, fingers splayed, the girl striking into the wake of Soul Power hurled her way. It ripples and splashes around her, leaving her largely unphased by the technique even as she spins into her next attempt to catch up with the gifted artist. She may have insisted she had no intention of engaging anything as ludicrous as a dance battle, but with the way she follows through with her momentum from her left, spinning into a graceful pirouette on one foot to spring herself at Alma from afar, it almost seems like when she is truly giving into her instincts of battle, it impossible for her to avoid such appearances all the same.

Her right hand has slipped past her neck where a necklace of small, violet beads had been draped a moment prior. Now it dangles in her hand, an extention of herself as she whips out outward, attempting to spin the threaded beads around Alma's own forearm.

It would be all the contact she needed if successful before sweeping her arm up over her head and toward her back - if his defenses prove anything less than absolutely certain, Alma would find himself launched clean off his feet. If he wanted to take to the air before, then it is to the air she'll return him, his body propelled by pure psychokinetic force, the beads connecting the two of them serving as the necessary conduit.

Chin will have never seen this attempt from Athena before. Perhaps her bout against Rose and the woman's infernal scarf gave the girl some ideas on matters of imbuing otherwise mundane items with a bit of her own energy?

COMBATSYS: Athena successfully hits Alma with Psychic Attack.

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

In the meeting of two indomitable souls, harmony and conflict are one. Though Alma and Athena fight with all their strength, within the ebb and flow of battle is a unity that transfixes the crowd. Strangers minutes before, the psychics seem to be propelled to their full potential by the presence of the other, as one might by an old rival and close friend. Witnessing -- no, feeling -- his power dispersed by Athena's skill, displaying talent that far exceeds her years, Alma smiles unbidden, his face fresh and eyes unclouded.

"Likewise," he says, voice quiet yet still audible over the roar of the crowd. "To think that my hopes would be not realized, but exceed--"

His eyes widen again.

Though Alma may have a natural talent for teleportation, he has never been able to get a handle on Rose's capacity to manipulate objects and channel her power through them. To see Athena seemingly so effortlessly utilize that skill would be stunning in its own rights. But Alma's surprise gives way to a greater uncertainty.

Surely he's ready for an attack like this, given under whom he's studied. He has, after all, undergone Rose's Extreme Scarf Training.

He blanches slightly.

It only takes a moment of hesitation for Athena's clever and spontaneous improvized attack to ensnare and hurl him away, the noise of the crowd impossibly rising.

Perhaps the training was ... too extreme?

Alma hits the stone floor of the Parthenon with the full force of Athena's psychically-enhanced attack but rolls neatly, rising to a crouch. "V-very nice," he murmurs, banishing the uneasiness from his expression. Did she take him by surprise, or-- "I mustn't be outdone."

Rising to a standing position again, Alma appears to glide forward, as though the ground is slickened by his power, summoning energy about both arms. He slashes them both forward while still out of range, but rather than unleashing anything, the burst causes him to suddenly lunge forth into melee range. Focusing intensely on maintaining his poised stance, seemingly able to advance without breaking his stance in the slightest, Alma aims a flurry of jabs at Athena's torso, challenging her kung fu.

"He might prefer you to be dead, so that his control of Psycho power would grow," Rose says, which is really kind of pissing in the cheerios, isn't it? She sips her wine afterwards, her eyes cutting forwards.

After a deep breath, she answers Chin elliptically. "When I encountered Athena, I thought at first that she might, somehow, /be/ him - his power is very like unto hers. Several of her techniques could be his own, the details only slightly different. It was a relief..."

Swirling the wine in her glass, she glances at him. "His name is Vega. At least, that is what he is known as."

She is distracted from more details by wincing, sympathetically, with Alma's agony.

COMBATSYS: Alma successfully hits Athena with Spring Shower.

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

In one smooth motion, Athena spins to a stop, slipping the necklace back over her head, hands reaching behind her to lift her long hair up and over it while Alma rises to his feet smoothly. She had noticed the reaction - it almost seemed a spark of fear or a hint of traumatic concern incongruous with his demeanor thus far. Given who she got the idea from in the first place, the girl beings to feel she can guess as to why. He'll be fine, she thinks with a quiet smile.

He recommits to closing in on her from across the way, the ancient stonework providing plenty of traction for his feet as he puts her own melee martial arts to the test. Perhaps he had seen her close range strikes earlier from his birds eye view above in that brief instant. If so, he would have noticed the simple, elegant directness of the girl's strikes when it comes to the fundamentals. Nothing fancy, nothing clever or overly complex. In testing her defenses, he would find her behavior similiar.

For all the flash, all the stylish grace Athena demonstrates with her use of psychic energy or acrobatics, her melee combat skills seem to focus on the pure fundamentals. Leaning back a little, she brings her arms up, making no attempt to counter Alma's swift incoming jabs but rather simply weather the storm of attacks.

It could have gone better - she leans to the right when he reaches from the left, his fist slipping in around her guard with enough force to knock her off balance. Faced with the choice of either allowing herself to fall or to give up her guard to correct by sweeping her arms against her momentum, she choses the latter.

It serves perfectly well at keeping the girl upright but no so swell at keeping her protected. The rabid jabs might not be fight ending strikes, but they are clearly felt, Athena recoiling with a wince from each blow as she attempts to slip in a bare knuckled counter punch in the process only to take one more strike to the torso and finally be driven back.

Gasping for a breath, she closes one eye as she fights to ignore the blunt force impacts she just unwittingly weathered.

Okay. She can do better than this, she tells herself. No time to think about the pain now. Compared to the bone shatteringly powerful strikes of the Silver Haired Devil, this was nothing. If she could fight back from those, she could fight back from this. A quite mental note is recorded regarding her need to focus on that melee combat further still...

But such concerns are drown away immediately as she sweeps both arms behind her, rose-tinted power wreathing both hands once again. It looks as if she might be intending to strike back with another one of her Psycho Balls, but Alma would feel something else entirely. The magnitude of psychic potential being gathered in this instant is nothing like before and when Athena leaps, aiming to land a meter in front of him, he'll have to realize that it isn't the same attack in the slightest.


Both arms slam forward, palms outward, a pulse generated that is potent enough to drive invisible currents out and away from the temple floor, swirls of dust marking the borders of the unseen blastwave.

When the full magnitude of the attack is made manifest, it would be large enough to compeletely conceal Alma's form within it if he is not out of its way in time - a huge, rippling sphere of raw, crackling Psycho Power held in place and given form purely by the magnitude of its wielder's will. She would sustain it long enough to blast him away if he's caught though the kinetic shockwave would come only after being awash in a point blank maelstrom of psychic power.

COMBATSYS: Alma interrupts Round Psycho Reflector EX from Athena with Leap of Faith.

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

"He'd only have to wait a few more years, in that case~" Chin's laughter is hardly self-effacing - he's old and he loves it. He watches the fight for a moment, and really, the grin that creases his face might cause one to believe he's forgiven Athena *entirely* - such fatherly pride when Alma takes that hit!
"Athena is... special. I don't know what I think about her, or what she represents, or where she is going. I've never met this Vega person, either, so I couldn't say much about the similarity. Natural talent takes its own form, and I feel like powers like Athena's - like Vega's - represent the goals of the wielder. Athena wants to make everybody around her happy. She's never once thought for herself. Extroversion, maybe? Is that the similarity? I don't really..." He shrugs slender, emaciated shoulders. "I haven't really *taught* Athena much about her... power. She's done that on her own. The kicks and punches, though...!"
Chin is being modest if nothing else - the crafting of a psychic is much more than technique and focus - personality bleeds through in this power, compassion and world-view represent themselves wholly. It's what makes Alma so dangerous, and what makes Athena such a powerhouse. Chin smiles at the young woman when he sees this fresh new gleam in her eye.
"Here, watch this -- this is a good one. We'll see how your boy does..." Athena screams, the Round Psycho Reflector abruptly manifests.

It was only a matter of time.

Even as Alma is able to advance, pushing Athena back with rhythmic and flowing jabs and palm strikes, his movements almost emulating the fabric of his teacher that he cannot yet wield, he is aware that his opponent has far from revealed the magnitude of her power. The towering spirit that dominates his psychic senses is gathering a strength that he will need to strain to defy. The unity of battle is only maintained through the vigorous striving of both participants. If his will crumbles and his presence is overwhelmed by hers, the dance will end.

Crucially, the fey-featured fighter retains his poise throughout his onslaught, defenses ready for when Athena inevitably counterattacks. Yet it takes all the resolve he can muster not to flinch before her cry, given the power that rises with it and that it represents.


Alma's eyes flash as he summons his own power in response, and then can only blink at the sheer mass of what emerges. In the time it takes his lashes to lower and raise, he has been encased in a solid sphere of untrammeled psychic energy, crushing at the coherence of his sense of self. He grunts in pain, a sound that goes unheard amidst the ferocity of Athena's assault and the adulations of the crowd. Trembling, he feels his own spirit quail before this hint of the might of the gods.

That won't do.


This cry of his can be heard. Alma's presence surges, exerting an invisible smothering force with the power to interfere, if just briefly, with Athena's relentless barrage. In that barest instant, Alma's form flickers and vanishes, reappearing behind his opponent, opposite where her sphere still burns. Without a moment's hesitation, eyes fields of light, Alma thrusts out with his palm toward Athena's back, raw Soul Power billowing about his entire body in a spectacular counterattack.

"Ohh, that was a clever one," Rose says.

To Chin, she says, after a moment, "You can tell their [Polarities], can't you? I suppose it might just be my own hobby horse..."

Rose reaches over to pour herself another glass. Her current dress is a little stifling for the sunny Greek countryside, even in January, so it's loosened at the top.

"That power, I think, is ultimately the same. The form in which Athena wields it - what seems to be the most natural use of it - is attractive. Literally so. Magnetic, drawing inwards. You could call it 'feminine,' or compare it to the negative charge in an electron. It draws things in."

She sips her wine.

"But what I practice - and which I have taught Alma - is subtly different, Master Gentsai. Where Psycho Power attracts - draws in - crushes..."

Alma moves beyond space itself, sliding behind Athena, striking forth.

"Soul Power thrusts. It presses - it repels."

Under normal circumstances, she might have known he was behind her, might have responded quickly enough to dismiss her own sphere of shimmering, pulsing energy and burst forward right through its lingering fragments to escape his Soul Power imbued reach. She can't see him from behind her wall of energy, but she should be able to feel it establishing contact with another - it is not as if the young man's own will is not a tangible force for her to strain against - Iron takes many forms in the battlefield.

But it is his own masking presence that secures him the clean hit to her back, the girl still focused on her attack, her black-violet hair driven backward by the magnitude of the precision fusion reaction of Psycho Power she seems to be able to keep molded to its spherical form. It infuses the temple grounds, masking his exact whereabouts to one not used to being unable to pinpoint the exact location of her opponents at all times.

The palm against her back catches her completely by surprise. Her own attack is scattered as she is sent tumbling forward into it, catching herself just shy of face planting hard against the unyielding stone, knees and palms scraped by the force of it. The physical strike was enough to rattle her back, but it is the energy backing the palm thrust that she wrestles with the most, her own psyche forced onto the defense - a state not common to her given the nature of most of her opponents.

Teeth grit, she kicks forward out of her kneeling position, putting additional distance between her and Alma. She knows she can rival him on sheer magnitude of manifestation, but when it comes to the versatility of his techniques, reflections of a breadth of experience far beyond her own, she finds herself struggling to keep up. Even now, she is aware of his presence, the very nature of it shrouding him from her, blocking the subconscious but vital link she had formed only moments before - to better read him yes, but also to benefit from his own spirit of fighting, his soul and resolve fueling her own.

First things first, she decides, sucking in a breath and bowing her head, hands clenched against her sides as she finally actively combats the artist's magnificent aura. "Nnnngh." Teeth grit, arms trembling slightly, it seems for a moment as if she might not even be able to muster the necessary power to so. Strained near her limits, it finally breaks.

Aside from the two senseis, few if any in the audience would have had any idea what Athena had just done, the suppressive strength she had to fight back against, but they will recognize its effects, the girl taking in a breath and drawing up her hands. Swirling motes of lingering psychic energy, brilliant pink stars with a lifespan of seconds, swirl about her. Lingering latent power from her struggle, drawn back in, molded and shaped to renew and revitalize her injured body.

A final exhale, a refreshing breath of crisp, clean air, and her eyes sparkle with readiness to continue, quiet pride at her own recovery from the skilled martial artist's techniques.

"I must confess, you fight as if you had been doing this for a lifetime." Veterans she had faced had not demonstrated the intense adaptability Alma had shown her thus far. It is a reminder still that there is so much more room to grow.

Style turns narrow success to masterful skill.

Alma's fashionable clothing is still rippling about him from the swiftness of his counterattack, his unconsciously flamboyant pose obscuring how his mind still races and heartbeat pounds. His mind slowly settles from its extreme exertions, normal awareness returning, and with it the consciousness of how his body subtly trembles. If it weren't for the advanced technique he had intuitively utilized to open that slight opening, he surely would have been crushed by that power--

"If that is so--"

--and it is clearly far from the limit of her strength.

"--it is because your presence inspires me."

Alma allows his arm to lower at last, meeting Athena's gaze as she summons her reserves, revealing another talent he lacks. Though he has attained the capacity to gradually restore his vitality as his spirit surges, such a sudden recovery is beyond his abilities. His chest swells and falls with his steady breathing, a bead of sweat trickling down the side of his smooth brow.

"Never have I encountered a spirit so in tune with my own," he continues softly. "Before you, I feel weightless, as though my body were naught but light."

It is as he says this that Athena throws off the invisible weight he has placed upon her, and all at once he senses her energies flowing renewed. Having awaited this moment, Alma abruptly narrows his eyes, sweeping out a hand again, in what is clearly a preferred gesture. "Athena! Here, in the temple of the goddess whose name you bear, show me your true power!" At these melodramatic words, delivered with obvious sincerity, the rapt crowd roars in approval and expectation, emitting emotions sure to buoy them both.

Steeling his resolve, Alma lunges forth once more, this time rushing full-tilt, his image even flickering a few times as though in a teleporting stutter-step, boldly plunging toward Athena's surging aura while adopting an unpredictable rhythm. The light that he has gathered in his hand is small but pure, an orb of power that when he at last closes in he thrusts out, causing it to leap a couple feet from his body and attempt to deliver a shocking blow.

COMBATSYS: Alma issues a challenge!!

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

COMBATSYS: Athena successfully aids herself with Healing Aura.

[            \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Alma             0/-------/---====|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2           Athena

COMBATSYS: Athena endures Alma's Glimmer of Hope EX.

[            \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Alma             0/-------/--=====|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2           Athena

Those who have followed Athena's career closely might have a sense of what is coming now. For many, previous viewings of her full capabilities may only have been through the medium of a digital screen where one can only appreciate the visual magnitude of it all. But to be in the presence of of the girl as the cyclone of energy begins to build around her is something most of her ardent fans have not actually experienced for themselves until now.

As Alma speaks of a goddess, it is not hard to reconcile the connection against the divine storm building up around the heavenly named Athena Asamiya. While still not tangible to their eyes, there's no denying the psychic disturbance on a large scale starting to build up around the temple grounds. Alma's pushed her this far, keeping step with her and even outpacing her at points throughout their match. She does have a technique only drawn on when pushed to her conscious limits - an all or nothing maelstrom of vigorous energy that begins to churn the ether about the two fighters with each passing second.

"Just finding another..." She hasn't glanced toward the two senseis in attendence but she knows they are out there. Even over the shrouding energy she is building, their presence can be felt. "I trust you share your teacher's cause," she finishes the thought after a moment, Rose's warnings from their match together echoing in her mind. "And because of that, I find solace-"

Finally it's visible, as Alma bursts forward toward her again, a swilling sphere of swirling, rose hued energy rising up over the girl, starting to form a flawless shell.

"-that we do not stand alone."

He has called for her to show her all, and she will stop at nothing less than that. It is into the cyclone he ventures in pursuit of his attack, a test of courage if any there could be found to brave. The roar of the storm only increases as Athena braces, feet digging against the repliable surface of sacred stone.

His arm pierces through the shield, bearing the small fragment of the energy his soul seems to refine in its purest form with such ease. How remarkable, she thinks, that light so pure can still be a weapon.

He hits cleanly, the girl in no position to respond but to prepare herself mentally for the challenge of fighting off the interference. Violet eyes sparkle, her mouth curled into a radiant smile of excitement as her hands clench and her right foot slips forward. It would be while contesting the psychic elements that Alma might become aware of the true nature of her technique - they start as two pin pricks of dark blue swirling about her lavender shell, almost impossble to see against the corona of power.

But in an instant, each dark bit becomes an anchor, a focus around which all the collective power she had gathered collapses. It would only take one complete orbit around the girl before Alma would find himself the target of the two intensely fast cruise missiles of psychic potential. If he can't escape them, they will both explode into and then clean through his body, leaving no lasting physical evidence of their existence - but the trauma the point blank singularities inflict will feel plenty real enough!

COMBATSYS: Athena successfully hits Alma with Shining Crystal Bit+.

[                       \\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Alma             2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>\-------\0           Athena

None are alone, here among the gods.

It is only once Alma's spark of light makes contact with Athena's windswept form that he is fully faced with the power rising within his opponent. He is no stranger to taking in external energy and making it his own, forging raw emotion into a weapon in the crucible of his passion. But what looms in the horizon of his consciousness now is something sublime, like the flash of lightning over tormented seas or a yawning valley lush with trees, a vision that surpasses what he knows as humanity. Here in the eye of the storm that surrounds her, Alma feels Athena respond to his call.

With that sensation, each of his senses strains.

His palms raise a mere breath before the orbiting spheres rocket toward him, such that Rose's student appears to catch them, his body sliding back several meters from the impact. The audience goes wild as his aura flares to visibility, white turning to gold still mingled with pink and indigo, pressing back against the dark orbs that burn into it. Alma appears to physically strain against the assault, but the battle is entirely mental, as the outrageous fireworks between the two fighters attest.

His soul is singing. His heart is pure. His very essence is focused on this singular contest, his resistance to this force akin to a testament to his existence. This, here, is all the power he possesses.


It is not enough.

His shield is shattered as Athena's orbs burrow within, blasting through his body. Alma is momentarily frozen, his body jerking once, as though the laws of physics have forgotten him. As though as an afterthought, then, is he hurled across the far length of the arena, crashing into the stone floor of the Parthenon and laying still.

The audience exults, not at Alma's defeat but at the incredible display. After suffering a blow like that, he might indeed be finished. Yet wordlessly, even as he visibly quivers, the young man rises, slow and uncertain. His eyes are unfocused, unseeing, but some inner compulsion forces him to his feet in the presence of his foe. It is only after several seconds that he appears to recover, ego reassembling itself from the scraps left behind, and finds himself already standing.

He parts his lips, but there's nothing he can say. Instead, after a moment of inscrutible contemplation, he nods once, expressing all his speechless sentiment.

What awesome power.

He is still unable to move, but he finds that reserves still dwell within him, enough to carry him forward. As he opens his heart to that power, it seems as though, having survived Athena's onslaught, it has in fact endowed him with a spirit exceeding even what he has displayed before. His spirit begins to churn about him once more, color flaring to life, eliciting more shouts from the crowd as they see that this fierce fight is not yet finished.

COMBATSYS: Alma gathers his will.

[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Alma             2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>\-------\0           Athena

In nearly every case she has been pushed to the point of calling up an attack of that magnitude, it has been a fight ending exchange. One might understand why in the aftermath Athena staggers forward, sucking in her breath, catching herself with her hands against her knees for one fleeting moment of reprieve.

He was done, finally. The struggle between them had pushed them to even greater heights than they began, but all things must come to an end and so too has this match. Or so she and much of the audience believe to be the case. Rose undoubtedly knows better to count her student out after just that though.

Air is precious to her. She doesn't even remember the last time she took a breath. Was it when she tried to smother him in her Psycho Reflector?

The cheers are a reward all their own, but she would be just as exhiliarated if this fight had happened alone where none but she and the gifted Soul Painter would ever know it happened. A short, soft laugh escapes her lips, not out of pride, or mockery of overcoming such an incredible opponent, but out of pure, unadulterated joy at having shared this experience.

And when he rises, that feeling is not diminished in the slightest. For this to keep going - for this to last a little longer - what more could she wish for? Her short laugh fades, replaced with another much needed breath.

He needn't say a word. She probably couldn't answer with her voice anyway. His nod is met with a quiet dipping of her head in return, violet eyes still aglow with life, with exuberance that will not falter.

Let their wills collide again. This isn't going to be the end at all.

As she swishes her right arm out at her side, the limb already wreathed anew in a shroud of shimmering, vibrant Psycho Power, she realizes the truth of the matter -

This is only the beginning. Her weapon of choice flares with the light of a new dawn, the pink giving way to soft, golden rose tinted orange as she sustains the psychic blade at her side. The audience is not forgotten, but in this moment, all she can feel is the aura of Alma's presence. Her first step is a bit unsteady. She had been put through a lot so far.

But her next step comes faster, the next one after even quicker. She is a golden blur now with a thin trail of Psycho Power left in her wake. Forward she charges, without reservation, to force her way through, to clash with whatever sword Alma might choose to arm himself with.

She would swing as if to cut him asunder though drop not one iota of blood with the slash of her vorpal sharp blade.

"Thank you-" she whispers, her voice audible only for him over the roar of the audience echoing across the hilltops.

"Next time-"

She would try to pass right by him, a dash of incredible speed that would leave her skidding over stone, her sandals disintegrating from the friction created before she could possibly come to a stop. Her words trailing in the wind.

"-as allies, as friends."

COMBATSYS: Alma interrupts Psycho Sword from Athena with Absolution EX.

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

COMBATSYS: Alma can no longer fight.

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

Alma takes a faltering breath.

As Athena steps forward, so does he. Both of them have been pushed to the limits of body and mind, and both of them are called still to this contest. Rather than moving of his own volition, it is though he is magnetically drawn to his opponent, a force beyond his control compelling him onward.


He would not resist it even if he could.

"Athena, you are--"

His arm lifts at his side, faintly trembling.

"--already my--"

His eyes shine now not with power but with faith. All the spirit that dwells still within his mortal form is focused at his fingertip, glowing white with a primal heat. As Athena's power takes the form of a blade, Alma's mirrors hers, though whether of his own will or out of an intuitive mirroring of hers it is impossible to tell. No, rather, perhaps there is no longer any difference. Here, on the verge of the final clash, the divisions between them at last dissolve.


It is nigh invisible.

So swiftly do the two warriors pass one another, so sudden is the simultaneous slash, that a hush falls over the crowd that has cried out almost continuously during the whole of the battle. Alma and Athena stand still, her sandals turned to dust, his stylish jacket flapping in the breeze, the only sign of movement.

His eyes are fierce and focused, proof of the indomitable will he has manifested. With all his strength, fearless of her power even in the wake of her prior overwhelming assault, he cut through. He has done it; he knows he has done it. He has touched her heart. He--

His features soften, his lips upturn, with a childlike joy.

He's won--

The ground is rising up to meet him.

Sensei, did you see? He--

Alma falls, his sword slipping from his grasp, never to reach the stone that he soon rests upon, a sweet and innocent slumber.

On the stands, multiple women scream when the enormous bubble rhythmically inflating out of a certain Chin Gentsai's nose -- explodes! He winds up screaming, too - the old man must have suffered a nightmare - but it's too late. The stands around Chin have vacated.
"Athena! You did it!"
Chin's voice echoes feebly in the gaping silence around him.

Log created on 19:10:50 01/11/2015 by Athena, and last modified on 04:47:01 01/12/2015.