Honoka - Twilight Star Challenge 1 - Benimaru!

Description: The first big-name fighter to meet the Twilight Star Challenge is Benimaru Nikaido! The fighters seem to be evenly matched at first -- read on for the shocking conclusion! (Winner: Benimaru)

Bright lights under the big top! Shows at the Twilight Star Circus follow a pretty standard schedule -- get the audience paying attention with a loud flash and a bang, then dial back into a slowly-building crescendo. It's all expertly timed stuff -- moments of high intensity are interleaved with longer, more languid moments to catch one's breath. Sustained excitement just leads to heart attacks and riots, after all -- which are quite detrimental to ticket sales!

Right now, though, this is the start of the final stretch of the show: an opportunity for audience participation. Most nights, folks chicken out, and the Twilight Star troupe has to 'volunteer' one of their own to keep from completely losing the audience's attention. Sometimes a brave soul volunteers, and the troupe does everything they can to make a lackluster appearance seem as dramatic and impactful as it ought to -- no one wants their moment of stage-fright memorialized on social media as a laughing stock, after all! That, too, hurts ticket sales.

Nonetheless, the combatant for the night is Honoka Kawamoto. She'd already done a rousing performance earlier n the night, her juggling act being the capstone of one of the previous segments. Her tightrope skills and acrobatics by themselves are easily foreshadowed by her companions, but juggling flaming diabolos is definitely the mark that sets the otherwise completely average-looking Honoka apart from the rest.

Right now, the diabolo shuttling back and forth between her two wands is not on fire. But it is exhibiting a lot of the same motions that it had in her earlier performance. And, as before, Honoka is silent, letting the ringmaster's shouts and her expressive body language do the talking for her.

"LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! We bring you now to the AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION part of the show! At this time, we would like to offer a unique opportunity: anyone from the audience is free to challenge Miss Honoka Kawamoto this evening for the opportunity at a cash prize of seventy-five thoooousand yen! Is -anyone- from the audience brave enough to give our juggling star a fight under the big top this evening?!" "Taka" Takayanagi's dressed to the nines, as usual, in his immaculately sparkling long-tailed white jacket. Spotlights scan the crowd, hoping to catch sight of someone, -anyone- who might be raising their hands...

The circus... a fine place to relax, while still not being bored. Because a show being boring ALSO hurts ticket sales. Ticket sales are very touchy, and get hurt very easily, don't they? Regardless, the mix of relaxation and exhilaration that comes from watching a show in the circus is just what Benimaru Nikaido needs. Circus freaks are one thing... freaks like that lady with the teeth were something else entirely. Kinda freaked him out a little, truth be told.

Ah. But THIS! This is something he wasn't aware of. Not the circus, but the 'audience participation' segment. He hasn't been to this circus before, so he's not aware of the usual operating procedure. He doesn't know that most of the time it ends up being a fight between two members of the troupe. But if they're serious...

Benimaru waits a few moments. Probably long enough to almost convince the troupe that no one would answer their call. But just before they'd have called it, he reaches up to pull the elastic holding his still-down hair in its ponytail. And then grins. He does more than just raise his hand, too. He stands up. This movement will probably be caught by the one manning the spotlight. The blond-haired man in a black crop-top, white pants, and what just might be black fingerless opera gloves might just be recognizable when the spotlight shines on him.

And if that wasn't enough to identify him? What he says should do well for that. "Still need a sparring partner, 'hani'~?"

The audio board operator already has his finger hovering over the effects board, so when the spotlight operator drops his light on Benimaru, there's an appropriately dramatic orchestra hit! "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, we have found our challenger! Come on down to center stage, we'll..." Some in the audience have recognize the face of the world-famous shootfighter, by this point, but the ringmaster still needs to be clued in by one of the stage hands. Circus is his life, not the fighting circuit, after all! "... Ladies and gentlemen, I've just been informed that that our -very- special challenger this evening appppppears to be the famed shootfighter, the one and only... BENIMARU NIKAIDO!"

Honoka Kawamoto, still perched atop a raised circular platform, seems to have recognized Benimaru as soon as the light had fallen upon him. A bright smile crosses her face, as she slings her diabolo high into the air, gathering both wands into one hand so that she can get a few seconds of clapping in until the diabolo falls. Again, she catches it effortlessly -- but as soon as the diabolo is safely ensnared by her string, she expertly sends it into the air again. Performing a flip forwards to land on the big top floor below, she catches the diabolo once more, in perfect coordination with its fall. And of course, she's keeping her eyes on Benimaru as best she can, making a wide, overexpressive gesture with her hand to beckon Benimaru down to the stage.

"So come on down, Mister Nikaido! Treat our audience here tonight to an exhibition of your shootfighting skills! Let's see who will be the victor between you and our star juggler, Miss Kawamoto!"

The lights have all dimmed, at this point, with the notable exception of the spotlights on Benimaru and Honoka. The way is clear -- all Benimaru would have to do is descend from the audience seating, and make his way across the expanse of the center ring between himself and Honoka. With a broad smile, she's even going easy on the tricks so as not to upstage her challenger too much -- she's glad to have a legitimate challenger, after all, no sense in scaring him off! The audience is waiting!

COMBATSYS: Honoka has started a fight here.

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Honoka           0/-------/-======|

Benimaru bows as his name is called by the announcer, and then makes his way down to where Honoka is, the other lone spotlight shining on her. It's a measured approach, though not exactly slow. A beautiful lady won't wait all night, after all. And it'd be rude of him to keep her waiting! So it's not too long before he's at the ring.

"Seems like all eyes are on us, ne?" he notes. There's that teasingly flirty tone he uses a lot, too. "What say we give them a show to remember?" As he says this, he raises his hands, and sparks begin to jump between his fingers. Those hands go right into his hair, already beginning to spike up, and he combs his fingers quickly through his hair, straight up. And THERE'S the style!

COMBATSYS: Benimaru has joined the fight here.

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Benimaru         0/-------/------=|======-\-------\0           Honoka

For Honoka's earlier stage performance, it would seem to the audience that she's a bit of a mute. She moves too fast for any stationary mic setup to really work well without extensive manipulation, and a clipped-on mic is just bound to fall off. So for those, she'd been content to let the ringmaster do the talking. "Ladies and gentlemen, it looks like the challenge has been accepted! Let's give our performers a huge round of applause!!!" As the audience roars its thunderous appreciation for what's sure to be a big spectacle, Honoka raises her arms, gesturing a big welcome towards Benimaru, interspersed with the times in which her juggling prop has been tossed into the air.

But once Benimaru's down to the stage level, Honoka is more than happy to pull her eyes away from the audience, going from directly working the crowd to focusing upon Benimaru. Almost passively, she flicks her wrist as the diabolo drops down in front of her, catapulting it once more into the air without a second thought. In a small voice that would only just -barely- carry over to Benimaru, she answers his call. "Seems so! I hope you're ready!"

And then with a quick wink, she snaps her wrist. The wand slips out of her left hand, and with an audible crack like a whip, it flies out right towards Benimaru's chest -- a warning shot, little more, just intended to fire up the senses and put him on guard.

Of course, there's also the matter of the diabolo falling to the ground -- likely to disincentivize standing in the same place for the duration.

And all delivered with the same ever-present smile. The audience may not be at the forefront of her attention, but it's always in mind -- a tool to be used, just like the juggling props at her disposal. She knows of Benimaru's reputation, and she's sure this will be a fun time...

COMBATSYS: Benimaru just-defends Honoka's Thrown Object!

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Benimaru         0/-------/------=|=======\-------\1           Honoka

Warning shot? Benimaru's ready. The stick comes flying at him and he raises his hand quickly as to block. But instead of just letting the stick bounce off his arm...

He catches it!

He looks down where the stick would have bounced off his chest. "A shot through the heart?" He twirls the stick in his fingers, tilting his head to the side and placing the other hand on his hip. "All part of the game we call love, ne?" A wink.

"So... I think this is yours. Want to come and get it?" Pause. "Actually... here~!" And then suddenly he's throwing the stick back at her!

COMBATSYS: Honoka just-defends Benimaru's Thrown Object!

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Benimaru         0/-------/------=|=======\-------\1           Honoka

Honoka's lashed stick is much, much quicker than the diabolo she'd tossed into the air. It's plenty of time for the thing she'd been wanting to do -- and when she sees Benimaru catch her stick, she already has a few other plans in motion to react to what she can only conclude is coming next -- and starts running towards him to impart some slack on the rope connecting the wand in her right hand with the one in Benimaru's grip.

Honoka's entire juggling act revolves around keeping track of things she's placed into motion. Without intending offense, she does not expect Benimaru to have the same level of dexterity regarding the juggling props she's spent the last few years mastering. The thing about her juggling wands is -- they're attached. And by running in closer to Benimaru, she gains the flexibility she needs. Sidearming the wand in her hands like a boomerang just over Benimaru's head, the air is cleaved in two, the displacement making a wicked slicing sound in the process. But the wand she pitches isn't intended to hit her opponent -- rather it's intended to counteract two things.

The first -- it's intended to catch the diabolo she'd thrown overhead, and the sound of the diabolo twanging the string is pretty obvious.

That would imply the string is taut. And it is -- for one brief instant, as the string goes taut, the tip of the stick that Benimaru had thrown is pulled to a stop mere centimeters in front of Honoka's smiling face.

But Honoka is moving much too fast to just leave it there. She reaches up and takes the generously returned wand, continuing in motion as the other end of the wand and the diabolo continue in motion. The juggler herself? She's reaching forward to grab Benimaru right by the crop-top. Not enough to tear the garment, but rather to aid his fall, as she falls onto her back, using her heel as a fulcrum from which to pull him forward, over her fallen body. If it weren't for her driving a spike of energy through her foot, and the fact that her foot is there to even -begin- with, it might be an attractive proposition. But, since her foot -is- there, she's aiming to kick him towards the center of the ring.

But lest her diabolo be forgotten, she's still holding tightly onto her wand, and it's quite likely that the string will pull taut, popping Benimaru in the back of the head with either the other wand or the diabolo.

COMBATSYS: Benimaru interrupts Wakka Pururuse from Honoka with Raijin Ken.

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Benimaru         0/-------/--=====|=======\=------\1           Honoka

Suddenly Honoka is inside his guard, and grabbing at his shirt. But it's not to dance with him. Or if it is, it's likely to be a painful dance, at least for him. Being pulled forward there's not much he can do about. And he gives a grunt as the foot impacts. He can, however, punch while he's in mid-fall. Both his hands are free, after all.

So, he cocks back a fist! Though the spark that jumps across his hand is probably a clue that it's not going to just be a punch. The next clue is either the boyish smirk... or the shout that carries through the ring.


This is an exhibition match, after all. Gotta make sure his fans know what he's doing.

He does end up going over, but it's not without leaving some damage behind. He rolls back to his feet. "Handsy one, eh?" Yes, he's being a little bit of an ass.

The audience responds with uproarious applause. The famed shootfighter's known for his impressive reversals, and he's certainly not here to disappoint this evening! As the Twilight Star juggler is practically punched into the hard-packed dirt floor, her relatively small frame convulsing with the pain of what feels like several thousand volts of electricity lancing through her system, Honoka won't be presenting -too- much of a fight as Benimaru springs overhead and rolls back to his feet. Her diablo clacks lightly to the dirt, moments before the hollow metal wand lands afterwards. Raijin Ken, she notes... hurts quite a bit.

But really, she has a greater plan in mind. She twists to the side, pushing back to her feet, with the diminishing tendrils of electricity still rippling down her extremities. "Can't... blame a girl for trying..." she notes, her right eyelid still flickering from the last of the electrical impulses overriding her nervous system.

But while Benimaru may be in command of the fight for the moment, he doesn't know the big top like Honoka does. Listing sideways, it looks like the juggler might be about to tip over -- but that's part of her feint. She's actually reaching for a rope attached to the elevated safety net, left from the previous high-falutin' acrobat act. With a snap of the wrist, the loose wand and diabolo spring back to life -- while the wand darts back to her hand, the diabolo is flying overhead. And with a sudden leap, Honoka too is flying into the air -- as she scrambles up the rope. It only takes a couple seconds for her to shimmy up the rope, but there -is- a ladder if Benimaru's not comfortable following her lead.

Standing eight feet overhead on the frame supporting the safety net, Honoka flits her diabolo around into a wide horizontal loop, like a tree-cutting sawblade, tossing a confident smirk down at Benimaru. She's still aching from that electric attack, but her slightly hunched-over stance is something that's more obvious to the audience than her opponent at this point. "I'm ready to bring this to the next level... are you?"

As the audience cheers, all eyes are on Benimaru -- some more than others.

COMBATSYS: Honoka focuses on her next action.

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Benimaru         0/-------/--=====|=======\=------\1           Honoka

Benimaru makes to move forward as she starts to tip, but pause as he notes her sudden upward momentum. He looks up as Honoka starts making her way up the rope, and then casts a look around at the environment. And he catches sight of the ladder. He's a high diver, he can climb ladders pretty well. Though first he has to respond to the quip. "Ah, is the spider inviting the fly into her parlor?" he observes. Nonetheless, "Still... far be it from me to refuse a request from a lady~."

So he makes for the ladder! He's pretty good at climbing it. Benimaru didn't want to go up the same rope, in case she was waiting for him. Well, she still is, really... but it's a little different. Ultimately he'll try to get to where she is, if possible. His balance is pretty good. If not, though, he can cling to the ladder until he finds a way to get near her. She has the advantage here, and he knows it.

"Is chasing you normally such a perilous pursuit?"

COMBATSYS: Benimaru takes no action.

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Benimaru         0/-------/--=====|=======\=------\1           Honoka

It might seem odd to be having a personal conversation in the midst of thousands of screaming, adoring fans. But oddly, the crowd isn't really a -distraction- to Honoka -- she's been working under the harsh lighting of the big top for the past eight years, and anything they could offer just... isn't going to faze her.

The spider inviting the fly -- sure. She smiles at that, nods quietly. The juggler does appreciate the colorfully-tinted repartee, letting go of her wand just a moment to gesture an open palm to the ladder -- more for the crowd than for Benimaru, of course. With a pirouette, it looks like she's unintentionally lost control of the diabolo, but a calm, practiced hand snaps back to catch the wand just before it cracks into her ribs, showing she'd intended that all along.

It's right about the time that the house DJ starts adding a bit more intensity to the mix. Whereas the music was calm before, Nikaido's ascent to the net level brings with it a faster, more intense beat to match the higher altitude. It's a subtle shift, but it's one reflected in the velocity of the diabolo slinging in front of Honoka. Once she can tell that he's stable, she approaches him once more, with a nod. "Usually."

Suddenly, the diabolo's orbit changes from horizontal to vertical. Again, it's slung -- but this time, Honoka gives a little hop.

The net flexes, strains at the motion, but the result is that Honoka just gave herself the lift she needed to hurl herself into a forward somersault. When she snaps out of it, just over Benimaru's head, her palm is outstretched, reaching for Benimaru's chest as before. Her momentum is more than enough to bowl him over backwards, and back into the net. The airborne diabolo is still a threat, should he fail to anticipate Honoka's attack.

And if she were to land atop Benimaru, he'd find that it's not an amorous advance: she'd aim to repay the favor of electricity coursing through her own frame, by channeling a bolt of lightning from the ceiling into his heart. The source of her energy is different -- he'd feel this one as more of a neural shock than a somatic one -- but the audience would be hard-pressed to tell the difference in the midst of the bass-thumping speakers.

COMBATSYS: Benimaru parries Honoka's Niwen Horibi!

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Benimaru         0/-------/-======|=======\-------\1           Honoka

It's a moment that Benimaru's agent would have loved to see. Of course, he probably will, once the cell phone footage hits the internet. But it's likely to get a reaction from the crowd, anyway. As Honoka leaps over him, Benimaru quite literally bends backwards to avoid the grabbing hand, somehow managing to keep his footing as his arm comes up to push hers away.

There's going to be zoomed-in slow-mos of that move ALL OVER YouTube in like five minutes. Because that was like hella awesome.

But he doesn't stop there. In fact, he tries to grab HER, by the shoulders, with both hands. Why's HE suddenly being grabby? Because if he manages to grab her, two things will happen. Firstly he's going to shout, "BENIMARU COLLIDER!" Secondly... she's going to get an unpleasant shock. Presuming he manages to grab her.

COMBATSYS: Benimaru successfully hits Honoka with Benimaru Collider EX.
- Power hit! -

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Benimaru         1/------=/=======|=======\-------\1           Honoka

The block-rocking beats from the beats are pretty much spot on. But as Honoka approaches Benimaru, her perception of them slows down. Indeed, as far as she can tell, time -itself- is slowing down.

For she sees her hand sail over him. She can sense it missing, she can sense that her knees came -ridiculously- close to plowing Benimaru over as it is. She's not a powerhouse, but she has enough mass to have knocked him over, easily, if she'd connected.

But instead, she finds herself swept off her feet, pulled right out of the moment, her elastic perception of time suddenly snapping back to its true speed is the least of her concern. What is concerning is that she finds herself the victim of another electrocution -- the foreign energy searing holes into the shoulders of her stage costume, Benimaru's fingers pressing black scorch marks into it. (Property damage? Well, sure, but there are plenty of spares!)

Her body spasms, shaking violently from the jolts, but one thing that =should= happen -- the young woman swooning due to the proximity of one of the coolest guys in the fighting circuit -- fails to happen. There's sparks between the two, but not like /that/. Especially since the very next thing she does is try to grab for Benimaru's shoulders, to nullify the taller man's height advantage -- and possibly make the best use of the arcing electricity to fuse her arms to his, at least for a moment.

But really - she's aiming to slam her knee into his abdomen. There are better ways to express her appreciation, surely, but it's hard for her to really offer a tangible quip in response with her electricity-charged face convulsing the way it is. Perhaps she's counting on the sudden shift of momentum atop the safety net to bowl him over!

COMBATSYS: Benimaru just-defends Honoka's Strong Kick!

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Benimaru         1/------=/=======|=======\===----\1           Honoka

At the moment, Benimaru's not expecting her to swoon at his presence. She wouldn't be a very good fighter if she did that. And he can see that Honoka's no pushover! Proven quite well when, despite being SHOCKED TO HIGH HEAVEN, she manages to get her knee between them.

She can probably hear his drawn-in breath of surprise over the music. He wasn't expecting her to move that fast! However, he manages to intercept with his own knee, his momentum knocking her knee to the side.

Then he follows suit, with his own blindingly fast knee kick aimed at her abdomen. His leg literally looks like a blur for a split second as he draws it up.

COMBATSYS: Honoka instinctively blocks Benimaru's Iai Geri.

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Benimaru         1/----===/=======|=======\===----\1           Honoka

Honoka grits her teeth as her knee slams into Benimaru's own. It's... not the optimal situation here -- in fact, it's pretty far from it. Really, if it weren't for Benimaru's easygoing attitude, she might just be a smidge angry.

As it is, though, two can play the 'block with the knee' game as well -- much like the pair seems to have a similar intention to strike the abdomen. As she's knocked aside by Benimaru's knee, she still in fact -has- her knee raised -- all it takes is a counterbalancing motion of her shoulders and elbows to either side, and a twist of her hips, and her offensive knee can pull double duty as a defense as well. It's pretty amazing, how adrenaline can give a burst of speed when one most needs it -- though, admittedly, Honoka's defense isn't -quite- as solid as Benimaru's. She's knocked backwards, a bit off-balance, but she's quick to compensate with her outstretched arms -- =still= crackling with electricity. And, oddly, giving him a predatory smile.

Out of the corner of her eye, she'd spotted the diabolo as it fell, perched precariously on the edge of the net and about to fall to the ground below. With a quick stomp to the net, she sends it sailing into the air...

But the focus here isn't on the diabolo. The focus is on how she slams her wand at Benimaru's shoulder in a wide hook strike. Should she land the strike, her intended followup would make use of the wand on the -other- edge of the string, which would ensnare Benimaru from the other side, with the aim to limit his escape route as she uses the close quarters to slam her knee into the shootfighter once, then twice -- perfect timing for the airborne diabolo to crash down from above. She would continue by balling her hand into a fist, enveloping it in a floral blossom of purple energy, before effectively -punching- Benimaru as hard as she can. Only at this point that she would let her grip on the diabolo string falter, leaving Benimaru to the mercy of the bouncing net.

COMBATSYS: Benimaru interrupts Seta-pagoat from Honoka with Jab Punch.

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Benimaru         1/-======/=======|=======\=====--\1           Honoka

Benimaru had been expecting her to do something like hit or kick the diabolo at him. He did not expect the hook strike! As a result that entire sequence of events Honoka set up seems to work perfectly. Almost. Right up until the flower fist attack!

At the mercy of the bouncing net, Benimaru's footing is unsecure. So he can't QUITE muster the momentum to be able to commit to a solid strike. He is, however, able to pounch back with a quick jab of one fist! It doesn't do much but lessen the impact of the flower fist from Honoka, though. Still, OW! But in the end, it does give him the chance to get loose.

Unfortunately, between the disorienting spin and the bouncing of the net, he's going to need a moment to get his bearings. He just needs a few to adapt.

To cover his discomfiture-- and possibly trying to unsettle Honoka a little-- he quips, in a breathy voice, "Oh? Didn't know you were into bondage, 'hani'~."

No... no. Honoka wouldn't mind -catching- her diabolos, but striking them introduces too many variables into the equation. it's just as well, though, as her onslaught of strikes seems to have sufficiently destabilized Benimaru to the point of creating an opening, however temporary.

When she's punched with the fist, though, her chin snaps back to the side -- it's enough of a wake-up call to remind her that, hey, this is supposed to be a show! It's not all about -violence- after all. The juggler rubs her jaw, as the audience says 'ooooh' in unison -- the battle had been going so fast it was tough to the audience members in the nosebleed seats to really -see- anything taking place after all.

As Honoka lashes her diabolo wand around, she snares the diabolo off the net, twirling it around into a high-speed rush. She offers Benimaru a pointed gaze up to the trapeze bar hanging high overhead, replying, "Suspend your disbelief, then." Perhaps this 'honey' isn't as innocent as she seems -- or maybe she's just hoping to disarm Benimaru in similar fashion. Once again, the diabolo itself pops into the air, but then Honoka interlaces the string, weaving the wands over, under, and through each other.

When the diabolo lands between the two wands, the string has formed a star-shaped pattern. One more outward tug of the wands, and the spinning prop seats itself into the center of the star.

In perfect unison with the maneuver, the lights in the big top dim. The music... drops to an unusually low volume. And the only light left, the rapidly-dimming spotlight... is centered on Honoka and her star cradle.

The light show that bursts forth from the center of the star is more than enough lumens to make up for the intensity. A blazing cylinder of light erupts forth -- threatening to swallow Benimaru whole. And if the five-foot-wide spear of energy catches him in its grasp, he's likely to feel an intense, searing light -- not unlike being tossed into the midst of a raging bonfire.

Thankfully for the audience, the beam is relatively harmless more than thirty feet out, though it's more than bright enough to show the faces of the spellbound audience.

COMBATSYS: Benimaru blocks Honoka's Nochiu-o Kando.

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Benimaru         2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\-------\0           Honoka

"Oh really~?" Benimaru replies. Keeping her talking is preferrable, it gives him a chance to watch and prepare for her attack. Or not, since suddenly there's a HUGE LASER COMING AT HIM! His eyes widen and he crosses his arms in front of him to try to block. But he just can't find his footing on this unsteady net! And he's knocked onto his back and bounced up again, so he ends up have to block from a lot of weird angles. Ultimately it still hurts.

He doesn't quite get cooked, but when the laser fades, Benimaru's long gloves are smoking! He brings his hands out to his sides and shakes his hands-- it looks a little bit like a slightly frenetic jazzhands! However, he keeps up with the quips as much as the battle, too. "Talk about a 'hot time'!" Though it also looks like he's bouncing the net under him, adjusting to the movement. But he's increasing the movement of the net under him, like a child swinging their feet to swing higher.

He winks. "Hopefully you'll get a... 'charge' out of this~." Then it becomes clear why he's been bouncing the net. Because he SPRINGS at Honoka, his hands sparking noticeably. If he can he's going to grab hold of her shoulders! Nails! NAILS! Thankfully, should he manage to grab her, he's not going to dig his nails in to draw blood. But Honoka might wish he had. Because if he can get hold of her...


And then SO MUCH SHOCK! His 'Benimaru Collider' hurts... but this? This is something else ENTIRELY.

COMBATSYS: Benimaru successfully hits Honoka with Electrigger.
~~ Alluring Hit! ~~

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Benimaru         0/-------/---<<<<|=======\-------\0           Honoka

Honoka's slight frown is reflected in the light of her attack -- due to the nature of the attack, she's able to tell almost exactly how much she was able to do to Benimaru, and she finds the amount somewhat lacking. As the house lights fade back up to their normal intensity -- not to mention the applause, as Benimaru is still able to move after getting knocked down by such a powerful-looking attack -- Honoka unravels the star-shaped pattern and sends the diabolo into the air again, once more twirling a quick pirouette as the juggling prop dances behind her back.

That cold precision is perturbed just a bit from the sudden motion of the net. Her frown turns to a smile as she notices Benimaru making use of the environmental hazard -- that ought to bring a smile to the audience.

With another bounce of the net, she prepares to jump. But apparently, Benimaru's leap is just a bit faster than hers -- he's taken the impromptu acrobatics lesson to heart! And for one deliriously long moment, she's drawn close to the shootfighting champion in a... well. It's not a -loving- embrace, considering the nails digging into her already-scorched shoulders. But Honoka can't help but be swept up in the spirit of the moment from all this smarmy talk.

With pursed lips, there's not much time for her to respond, "Again?"

And then she finds that it's not -quite- the same this time. Benimaru's turned the dial up to eleven. Whatever 'Electrigger' is, it's MUCH stronger than the Collider -- but it's hard to really quantify the feeling of -that- much voltage coursing throughout her, her limbs quivering from the jolts of power. If it weren't for Benimaru holding onto the nimble juggler's shoulders, she -would- be falling onto the net.

When the electricity stops, though... Honoka can barely keep her eyelids open. Dazed, she simply reaches a hand up to plant upon Benimaru's chest. "I... I can't say I've ever been touched like -that- before..."

But, as she's not really likely to get -another- shot at this, her palm glows with an intense flare of purple light. Whereas the last blast she'd unleashed would have the feel of a flaming inferno, this would have the chill of winter's cold -- ice to counteract the burn. Maybe she's just playing hard to get.

COMBATSYS: Honoka can no longer fight.

[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Benimaru         0/-------/---<<<<|

COMBATSYS: Honoka successfully hits Benimaru with Pon-itak Ki.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Benimaru         0/-------/<<<<<<<|

"Nobody's got an act like me, baby~," Benimaru quips in a low tone to the words of his 'touch'. Yes, he knows he's being horrible. But he DOES have a reputation to uphold. And besides that, Honoka IS cute! But just because the shootfighter is a little bit of an ass (or a LOT of bit, depending on who you ask), he's not unkind. He makes to try to catch her as she seems to be falling. Except that hand on his chest is suddenly cold, and then...

Cue one of those laser sound-effects from comics.

"Augh!" Benimaru's thrown back into the net as well. Almost OFF it, in fact! Thankfully though, he manages not to not fall off the eight-foot high net. Because that would be a hell of a skull fracture, given he'd have hit the ground headfirst. Instead he gets bounced!

...Right back at Honoka. So if she's not quick, she may end up being a landing cushion for the flying Benimaru!

At this point... Honoka's -much- too exhausted to do much else. There's a reason these fights always take place -after- her juggling performance -- she'd be much too tired the other way around! After her opponent goes flying off, Honoka finds gravity to be much more irresistable than Benimaru (sorry) and collapses to her knees, dropping one hand down to the net to catch herself.

Her grip tightens as he hits the net -- she knows what's coming, even in her compromised state. Holding onto the net, she stays rooted in place on the first bounce -- but as Benimaru comes flying back at her, she pretty much just flops over and log-rolls to the side. Nope, no landing cushion here... But... the juggler also isn't going to have the strength to get up. Not yet.

The ringmaster with the booming voice had remained silent for most of the fight, letting the fighters' actions speak louder than his amplified words. As the house lights turn back up, it's now clear to the audience what just happened.

"Ladies and gentlemen -- may I present to you now, the winner of this evening's Twilight Star Challenge -- Benimaru Nikaido! Everyone give him a big round of applause!"

The cheers are absolutely deafening. Honoka may be a crowd favorite, but with a fight like -that-, and the numerous injuries on both sides, it's pretty clear the audience themselves are the true winners!

For her part, Honoka offers a weary grin up to Benimaru. Shoulders scorched and lightly punctured, her natural hair and purple hair extensions alike still sparking with residual static electricity, she has enough presence of mind to fling a thumbs-up his way. "Hey, good fight up there. It was an honor, Nikaido-san." She -tries- to push herself back up to a sitting position, but every bone, every muscle aches. Maybe... maybe in another minute or two. Whew!

Honoka's movement produces the expected result-- Benimaru faceplants in the net with a muffled, "Oof!" Well, that's slightly less than dignified. Then again, it could have been worse. If he hadn't been bounced back, he'd have ended up on the floor. And sure, he missed landing on Honoka. Which he's actually not too sorry she moved. For all his being 'all legs', he's surprisingly well-built. His weight might have hurt her in this state.

But still. He's basically lying in what's tantamount to a big hammock, right next to her. So once he gets his arms under him, he turns his head to look at her, with a smile on his face. Instantaneously knowing Honoka is going to slap him as soon as she can-- heck, she might just find the strength to get up and hit him then!-- he... says possibly the worst thing he can think of.

"Was it good for you?"

To his credit, the tone was clearly a teasing one-- he's obviously only kidding. And the audience probably can't hear it, so there's that, too. All in all, not TOO much embarrassment.

Presuming Honoka DOESN'T beat the hell out of him, he'll try to help her up. Sit or stand is okay with him. He's aiming to raise one of her arms with his in a triumphant gesture. Part of the praise is hers, after all.

Honoka... well. She can't really manage to do -too- much in response. Slaps... probably overkill. And besides, the audience wouldn't hear her anyway. She just flashes a friendly smirk back to Benimaru. "I'll... let you know when I stop shaking." That's at least a big part of why she was so sluggish to respond.

When Benimaru offers her his hand, she accepts it gingerly. The audience doesn't come to watch bitter rivalries form between people who would otherwise be perfectly friendly, no -- they come to feel good about life, and themselves! So that's why Honoka allows herself to smile when Benimaru raises her hand.

"Congratulations, seriously..." she says, close enough for her voice to be heard without straining her lungs too much. She's still... shaking, he should be able to feel -that- much. "That -was- good for me," she concludes.

Of course, she has to be at least a -little- hard to get. Offering Benimaru a smirk, she says, "...I'll call you, though. 'kay?"

Benimaru chuckles quietly at the mention of Honoka still shaking. He did tend to have that effect on women. Though his smile gentles a little when she offers her congratulations. "Thank you," he says honestly. "And you too. That was quite a fight. I'm gonna be sore for a while." He means exactly that, but it's hard to tell if he's being flirty or not. The statement's not overly flirty-sounding... so probably not.

Though the smile becomes a little more of a smirk when he mentions calling him. "Anytime, 'beibi'~." A wink. Though yes, he straightens up when he asks, "Need some help down?"

Honoka knows how to deal with mild flirtation -- she has been dealing with circus crowds for quite some time after all. "Yeah, I... I could use some rest, haha. Will probably soak in a tub for a bit." It's almost like she's -daring- him to comment, but as opposed to previous remarks, there's no particular tone to her voice. Too tired for that, clearly.

She nods towards the edge of the net -- there's already Twilight Star staffers willing and able to help her and Benimaru down. "Just... set me down by the edge, I should be fine. And... er... thanks for stepping up to the plate!" She's not heavy, not at all -- but with the pulse-pounding emotions of the fight starting to bleed off, and the music returning to a more subtle, jazzy style... it seems she really -is- ready for a return to her trailer.

Not to mention, there's some guys in suits on the ground floor, apparently eager to talk business with Benimaru, in the form of his reward check. Apparently Honoka's not the only one who is resistant to Benimaru's wiles!

COMBATSYS: Benimaru has ended the fight here.

Log created on 09:23:58 01/19/2015 by Honoka, and last modified on 18:50:16 01/19/2015.