Honoka - Twilight Star Challenge 2 - Hitomi!

Description: The second Twilight Star Challenger makes her way to the stage. When it comes to straightforward combat, Hitomi has the nimble juggler beat, but how well will the karateka fare against the unconventional hazards Honoka has in store? (Winner: Honoka)

Despite its varied locations all throughout Japan, the Twilight Star Circus generally has a pretty tightly-defined order for the segments in its shows. The audience's attention is ensnared right at the beginning with a loud, upbeat performance, and the circus carefully modulates the excitement levels, vacillating between softer music tracks and harder music tracks to keep the audience engaged with the show, without oversaturating the awesomeness levels. The pacing is finely tuned to produce the most bang for the buck!

While the order of the segments is set, the actual content of each segment allows some variety, such that people who want to see two or three performances in a row won't be bored. Tonight's juggling performance starred Honoka Kawamoto and two assistants throwing props back and forth to one another at an alarmingly fast pace, while -also- performing acrobatic feats in the process.

It was quite a sight to see -- and it's pretty clear the audience remembers Honoka's earlier performance, from the roars of applause as she makes a return appearance to the stage at the end of the second intermission! The center ring has been completely reconfigured as a result of the current show -- an exhibition fight between Honoka and one challenger. The star juggler has taken the opportunity to show off her skills in more detail, lighting two diabolos on fire and spinning them around as the Ringmaster Taka goes through his schpiel.

"LADIIIIIIES AND GENTLEMEENNNNNN... Earlier this week the Twilight Star Circus treated audiences to a special exhibition of our star juggler's skills against the famous shootfighter, BENIMARU NIKAIDO!" He pauses for effect, and to let the applause die down. "Tonight... we would like to extend another invitation for those in the audience to match their skills and wits against our very own Miss Honoka on our own multi-level battleground!" With a wave of his hand, the spotlights turn on, casting light upon the constructions that Honoka is standing in front of: a 10m-long tube covered in foam padding, 15cm in diameter and 3 meters off the ground, and surrounding it, several long platforms about 4x10 meters at various heights from the ground.

Honoka demonstrates exactly how easy it is for a trained circus performer to leap between the platforms, balancing with ease on the padded tube without missing a beat in any of the wide, circular sweeps of her flaming diabolos.

"Again... -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?!"

Clapping her hands together delightedly at the spectacle taking place in the ring Hitomi is right at home in amongst the crowd. A half-eaten cone of candy corn balanced precariously to allow her to applaud without upending it as the crowd gives a resounding round of applause and approval while the flaming diablo whip and circle about the circus performer.

As the announcers voice cuts through the tent she cocks her head up to listen. Benimaru Nikaido, Who was that? The crowd seems to be filling the drawn out pause with cheers and yells while she can only wonder who he was to elicit such a reaction from the crowd. Hitomi makes do with tipping some more candy corn into her mouth while looking on as the spotlights make to illuminate the multi-tiered arena. The whole thing makes her feel a little nauseous just looking at it but that's probably just the candy corn and excessive sugar in her system protesting, that arena does look really flashy she stands up and shields her eyes to get a better look at it at the same time one of the roving spotlights illuminates the one girl standing in the midst of the stands a sea of faces turning around to look at her, people still laughing and applauding. Obviously thinking the girl mistakenly caught out and out of her depth. They weren't wrong... Uh-oh.

Peer pressure is an amazing thing in a situation like this, cautiously making her way down her aisle she slowly makes her way to the arena and stops only to hesitantly drop her candy reluctantly into one of the provided bins. A gate is opened in the wall between spectator and ring by a gleeful looking clown who points over toward the spire like setting illuminated proper by all the spotlights while another follows her progress, no escaping this one.

Hitomi turns a revolution or two as she walks, looking out at the crowds from the rings interior and the performers.. it was actually kind of fun, she tries waving back at the crowd who shout back some support.

Hitomi's gestures certainly seem to have the crowd's attention! Cheers, applause, and even a few catcalls can be heard from the Twilight Star audience -- eager to see some fresh blood and maybe a dynamic performance from the unassuming fighter! Peer pressure, indeed!

"Oh-ho! A brave volunteer has entered the ring!" While there are certainly clowns present to ease Hitomi's transition from mere audience member to an esteemed Twilight Star Challenger, there is also one young man in a white tailored suit who meets Hitomi -- a junior announcer of sorts. Taka at the main podium asks, "Miss, could you give us your name?" But it's the junior announcer's job to keep the microphone in his hand held near Hitomi -- wouldn't want her to cause a feedback loop by speaking the wrong way after all.

Throughout Hitomi's approach, though, Honoka continues stepping through her routine. Diabolos continue whirling about, even as she performs a forward somersault down to a platform nearer to the center stage. A welcome, of sorts, for the new arrival. "Welcome!" she cries out -- unamplified by a microphone, it's meant only for the ears of the circus staff and Hitomi. "Thanks for volunteering... but don't worry, I won't bite!"

She had been talking without the whirling diabolos slowing for even a beat. But as she concludes, she languidly reaches forward, extending an open palm with one of the wands pinched by her thumb. One flaming diabolo sails up into the air, followed closely by its sibling. But as Honoka pulls the second wand away, the diabolos fall neatly onto her palm with a clack. And a light breath of air from Honoka stills the flames, enough for her to hand one of the diabolos -- still warm, obviously -- to one of her clown assistants.

Winking back at Hitomi, she backflips back onto the lowest of the four platforms. When she snaps out of the flip, her legs are extended to either side in a kung-fu stance, one diabolo and both wands in her left hand, her right palm extended to Hitomi in a beckoning gesture. "C'mon up," she calls to Hitomi, "Let's give the audience a good show, shall we?"

The crowd is eating this up! "WOOOOO! FIIIIGHT!"

COMBATSYS: Honoka has started a fight here.

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Honoka           0/-------/-======|

Hitomi readily answers the gentleman asking her a question without taking much note of the microphone, answering with her name and a slight startle as her voice sounds out likewise over the speakers system. Up to this point she has been spinning on her heels and taking in all the attractions, performers, costumes and clowns up close.

"I'm Hitomi, nice to meet you." A glance down at the microphone thrust toward her she grins further, feeling a little chagrined at being surprised so and covering trying to cover it with a smile directed at the Junior announcer.

Now with an unparalleled front row seat she cranes her neck back to watch the performance. Hitomi starts to clap her hands in response to the somersault and is even more surprised to be addressed she cups her hands around her mouth to call back.

"It's a great show, um... please be kind to me."

The Japanese introduction delivered in really high spirits by a cheerful looking girl. Even as she strips off the denim jacket she had been wearing, feeling the heat from the lighting focused overhead she is pleased when one of the clowns offer to take it for her. Working a shoulder around she takes stock of the platforms that make up the set during Honoka's display of acrobatic prowess, despite herself she starts clapping once again until Honoka beckons her up. Leaving the performers behind she makes her way to the lowest platform and hops, pushing herself up with her arms and sliding a knee up onto the platform to assist her climb. Much less elegantly than the circus performer, and the gaps between platforms were such that the acrobatics must be even more impressive up close than they were in the stands.

Dusting her jeans off Hitomi is earning support, cheers and laughter from the crowds thus far but, if this was really a fight then.. she bounces on her toes.

"Suh! Sei--yaaah TOH!"

She raises one leg and sweeps it back across in a hook kick, draws back and half-turns sweeping a karate style chop through the air and then punches her fist back into the same location with sudden explosive power, her fringe lifting with the spinning action is parted as she steps straight forward into and parting it around her forehead with the lunge into the punch. The platform under her feet shudders just a little with the impact. A kata? one showcasing some of her arts and her strengths since she had already seen some of her opponent. The girl breaks focus to smile at Honoka before likewise raising an open handed karate style posture.

If anything, the crowd react by getting louder. The drama just kept getting better and the setting for the fight was getting better by the minute.

COMBATSYS: Hitomi has joined the fight here.

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Honoka           0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0           Hitomi

COMBATSYS: Hitomi gathers her will.

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Honoka           0/-------/-======|====---\-------\0           Hitomi

Honoka can't help but smile at Hitomi's sense of wonder and enthusiasm, as Taka repeats her name for the audience. He's already going through his warmup schpiel -- Honoka's more than used to it now, she actually starts to tune the loud ringmaster's voice out after a moment or two, so focused is she upon her new challenger, taking a moment to look Hitomi over as she peels off the denim jacket. Shuffling through her memory of the name, and now the face and physique, Honoka is able to recollect where she's seen the fighter before -- one particular Saturday Night Fight involving the karateka, another girl, and a Frenchman with too much sass and too little tact. Now... -now- the fighter's wonder clicks, and Honoka has a better idea of how to deal with her opponent.

The crowd seems to know how to react as well, their cheers amplifying, and practically drowning out the ringmaster's call for the fight to begin. As the platform continues to shudder its complaints against Hitomi's kata, Honoka tosses one of her diabolo wands and the diabolo into the air. "Alright then... here we go!" It's a simple gesture, nothing -super- flashy about the graceful arc as the wand lands in her leading hand, the diabolo spinning as it lands upon the string stretched between the two wands.

But what happens afterwards is the klaxon of an alarm. Once, twice, thrice it sounds, and then the sound of release...

As four metallic trapdoors can be heard opening from the big top superstructure above. Four near-spherical sandbags, painted various bright colors and adorned with the logo of the Twilight Star circus, descend from the ceiling -- and for now, they swing in harmless, easily avoided arcs across the platform. "Hope you're okay with a little extra danger..." More hazards for the karateka and perhaps a less-attentive juggler to contend with.

While the sandbags fall through their scything arcs, Honoka has returned to a her spinning diabolo tricks, flashing smiles at the audience as they take in the spectacle. Once the rhythm of the pendulum-like sandbags is properly established as a norm for the fight, Honoka breaks into a dash, darting between them! The diabolo was lost in the shuffle -- presumably it's in midair, but it -is- so hard to tell as Honoka's using her two diabolo wands as clubs. She advances first with a left strike, then a right, then left, right -- before snapping her wand down with a goal of ensnaring Hitomi's leg, to pull it upwards into a takedown attack. "Hya! Hya! Hya! Hya! HYAAAA!" Apparently she wants to keep her opponent on guard!

COMBATSYS: Hitomi blocks Honoka's Shitumbe Marapto.

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

Hitomi's head tips back as she follows the trajectory of the Diabolo lifting off but immediately loses sight of it with the overhead lights focused down upon them. The pained squint in her eyes as she even tries looking up into those lights or following its path. The klaxon sets her on edge and she shifts away from the arc of the first sandbag falling, staring at it with her guard down and reflexively stepping further away at it's sudden appearance, just watching the brightly coloured bag pendulously swing around them adding even more risk to careless manoeuvring.

With Honoka upping the ante yet further the karateka takes a deep breath and turns her attention back to the performer, her fallen guard quickly reset her reaction to the sandbags had been confusion at the alarm and startled by the dropping and swinging objects. Distracted some by the swinging hazards she can't help feeling cornered by all these tricks and nuances of this stage but she reacts to Honoka's speech by refocusing her attention and trying to laugh off her concern, she was starting to sweat at the same time as she really tries to narrow her focus, can't block out the distractions.. the distractions are obstacle to be avoided.

As Honoka advances the girl hardly misses a beat, turning each strike with the wands aside with her bare arms, pale skin striped pink with the lash though she seems confidant in her defence right up until the string pulls tight around her calf. Eh? The lifting threatens to throw her right off balance until she strong-arms her balance and momentum back by throwing her whole weight forward pressing that foot and leg to the floor.

The jeans themselves provide a good enough resistance that she can only feel the tug still even as she grabs for Honoka's shoulders to pull her off balance toward Hitomi while swinging a punch at Honoka's midsection aiming to follow it up with another of the same and separate the pair of them with her free leg performing a rising knee-strike into the circus star.

"Ei! Teh! Kya!"

COMBATSYS: Hitomi successfully hits Honoka with Moka.

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

The Twilight Star juggler has a lot to pay attention to -- and really, that's why she puts herself and her opponent through these challenges. Usually, these matches are choreographed, rehearsed -- that's why she doesn't -really- need to pay as much attention to the swinging sandbags. That part's all second nature to her. But the variables introduced by Hitomi's powerful karate are not so easy to contend with.

The reinforced rods crack down against Hitomi's solid defenses -- not entirely unexpected, really. But Honoka had been expecting to be able to leverage Hitomi down to the platform -- and as she'd committed to that exchange, she finds herself caught off-balance as Hitomi stomps back to the floor. The pitfall of using a string to ensnare your opponent, of course, is that it leads to a tug-of-war situation -- and Honoka loses, set up perfectly for Hitomi's followup. The cord from her wand slackens as Hitomi works herself free. One grabbed shoulder, one punched midsection, and one knee strike later, Honoka finds herself reeling backwards with three rather distinct bruises starting to form!

With an 'Ooooooh' from the collective audience, the juggler curls one arm about her midsection, shutting one eye from the pain as she lumbers backwards. "Heh... you don't hit light, that's for sure." Her other arm, of course, still grips one of the wands.

Hitomi might take note that Honoka looks like she might just get clobbered by the sandbag careening towards her from the right -- but in two blinks of an eye, Honoka isn't there when the sandbag would have hit.

She'd sprung onto the sandbag, and in fact has used it as a handhold for an impressive acrobatic flip up, up, and -over- Hitomi's head. While inverted, Honoka plans to take hold of Hitomi's shoulders -- with her diabolo wand's cord acting again as an entanglement -- as she twists sharply, sending the karateka crashing to the platform while Honoka flips to the side. That's the ambitious plan, anyway!

COMBATSYS: Hitomi blocks Honoka's Medium Throw.

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Honoka           1/----===/=======|=======\=------\1           Hitomi

Hitomi's every instinct is to actually warn her opponent about the approaching sandbag, Honoka had seemed pained by her strikes and thus maybe hadn't noticed the sandbag arcing her way on a collision course. Without lowering her guard the tension is too much for Hitomi and she does call out.

"Watch out for t-fweh?"

She's gone!? Hitomi had bene able to follow what looked like an evasion but then the circus performer just slipped away. The glitter of the cord catching the light is her only visual clue that something is coming that and the weight settling down upon her shoulders, a sparkle of light plays down the length of cord even as she raises both arms to form a two L shaped barriers on either side of her head, her hands raised defensively above her forehead, a barrier protecting her face as the cord pulls taut with a whisper binding her arms as such, The sudden jerk turns her hard to the right, twisting her off her feet and spinning her into the air like a top.

Pinwheeling around with little sense of up and down Hitomi turns her own body yet further in mid-air to angle herself instinctively into a break fall against the platform, a resounding clap and thud as palms slap against the brightly painted plywood surface; landing so as she doesn't even bounce the girl could probably have made an admirable stunt performer, hair whipping while jerked through a high speed manoeuvre she manages the fall like it was choreographed.

Hitomi rolls onto her side, still where she landed tipping her head back to try and locate Honoka once again before picking herself up, she wasn't unaffected by the throw, feeling even more nauseous now and her palms stinging she still has her head on a swivel, taking time to ensure she's not in the path of any of the still swinging sandbags.

"Amazing! I didn't even see that one."

She had been certain the performer was going to fall for one the stages own tricks but even as her eyes had told her Honoka was evading the sandbag, she had lost track of her. Now back on her feet and not even aware of the grin on her face her fist claps into her still stinging palm as she psyches herself back up, she won't lose sight of Honoka again, not this time!


COMBATSYS: Hitomi focuses on her next action.

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Honoka           1/----===/=======|=======\=------\1           Hitomi

Most of the audience members were only able to pick out bits and pieces of motion -- one moment, Honoka and Hitomi were apart from one another, the next they were stacked like cups, and in the next moment they were once again separate. The cheering and clapping only gets louder as Honoka slackens her diabolo cord just enough to withdraw it back to her hands -- the audience doesn't have to see -all- of the nuances of the battle to demonstrate their appreciation of the fighters' skills!

"I was kind of counting on that..." admits Honoka, lashing one of her diabolo wands at the floor in a gesture that might seem like a distraction -- when in actuality it's to retrieve the diabolo that had rolled there a few seconds earlier. A gentle smile spreads across Honoka's lips as she paces sideways towards the next platform up. A sandbag whooshes past...

And Honoka is still there when it passes by. "But it seems you've got quick reflexes to go with those strong arms of yours," she notes, as the diabolo spins around under the deft maneuvers of her twin wands. Bobbing high, bobbing low, the diabolo gains speed, spinning faster and faster through Honoka's accelerating gestures...

Just as another sandbag whooshes past. But the juggler has chosen to move with the sandbag this time -- not far, but enough for her to perform a leaping pirouette to the side along with the motion. As the sandbag swings by, it reveals that Honoka has adopted an offensive stance -- both wands out to either side, with the rapidly-spinning diabolo keening out a high-pitched squeal as it hovers motionlessly upon its tautly-stretched cord. The spin is also shedding petals of pink energy -- but the true threat is the sudden, intense spike of white-hot energy streaking forth from the diabolo, streaking forward to Hitomi. If it collides as the Twilight Star performer hopes, it's likely to induce a sharp pain -- like sixty hornet stingers concentrated into one singular pressure point aimed at Hitomi's midsection. It wouldn't leave any -physical- mark, but it would certainly give cause for alarm.

COMBATSYS: Hitomi blocks Honoka's Ishirishina.

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Honoka           1/---====/=======|=======\===----\1           Hitomi

Hitomi isn't letting as many of the finer details distract her this time, when the Diabolo is retrieved she notes it, ..As the circus performer moves with the sandbag, she drops her attention to the girls feet, any of her that can be seen that lets her keep track of where they are.. no more disappearing this time. Honoka moves with the second sandbag and Hitomi can follow the leap this time, at least in which direction but it isn't up or toward, it's aside.. combined with the yoyo thing she had just picked up? Hitomi ceases her lunge in and poised on her toes expects the thing to come hurtling at her, ready to throw herself aside she instead winds up starting down the barrel as the device spins between Honoka's wands, held near invisibly held but spinning and getting brighter. As the light spears towards her she realizes the mistake and the limited room to evade an attack launched this close.

Cupping her hands inwards towards her torso she receives the attack like she were catcher in a baseball game. Pushed backwards into taking a firmer stance she resists against the impact and pressure with faint alarm building in the back of her mind that she has no idea how long Honoka could sustain this attack.

Her face registering discomfort a few degrees below what her hands are experiencing and squinting one eye shut against the brightness driving into her hands trying to core it's way to her own midsection, from the moment of impact until the beams duration end she resists without giving another step, but rather than doing so with style and grace she throws out her hands wide flapping them both at her sides as she shakes them loose; wrinkling out the pain before reassuming her guard.

A purple bar of light still present in her vision along the trajectory the beam had travelled and collided with her defence is a no small problem as she tries to blink it away.

She had to do something about that attack to stop Honoka using it again. One half-step backwards and Hitomi launches forward in a sudden dash that's entirely too reckless when one considers the size of the platforms, turning her body before she runs into the circus star she slows as her leading leg, steps it forward into Honoka instep and fits in right behind her heel without Hitomi girl actually stopping her momentum half leaping into the other girl. Her attention is focused on her effective backhand batting at the Diabolo trying to send it flying away out into the empty ring space away from where the pair are fighting.

COMBATSYS: Honoka blocks Hitomi's Combo Grapple.

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Honoka           1/--=====/=======|=======\===----\1           Hitomi

Honoka's had a fairly gentle smile across her face pretty much all throughout the fight. Hitomi's dedication to her craft is inspirational, after all, and a credit to karate practitioners around the globe! That kind of enthusiasm is clear in everything she does -- Honoka notices it, and the crowd is eating it up! But the slight uptick in Honoka's smile as her energy attack lances into Hitomi's palm could be easily overlooked in the glare-inducing brightness of the attack, the ever-so-incremental increase in her heart rate difficult to read from the distance.

That distance seems to be one that Hitomi is eager to close though -- for while the Twilight Star performer's energy beam stops as soon as the Taiyo karateka begins her charge, the diabolo is still spinning. Honoka's smile fades once she realizes exactly what's going on, and with a lowering of her left hand, the diabolo starts to spin in that direction, towards the cheering audience. As the diabolo strikes the left wand, it jumps the 'track' of the cord, hopping into the air as she then furls her arms close to her, using the wands as defensive measures against Hitomi's hip check. It's enough to dissipate -some- of the force of the attack, but not -all-, as the juggler's still knocked off her feet.

She didn't forget about the diabolo, though. Hitomi stopped short, which gives Honoka an opening to twist sharply to the side, lashing out one of her wands. An audible 'clack!' can be heard as the wand smacks into the diabolo -- sending it back into the air. "Heh," she notes -- a brief observation that, nope, Hitomi's not getting rid of it that easily...

As Honoka flies backwards, she was also twisting to the side. It's that twist that allows her to land in a raptor-like posture, arms out to either side for balance as she's brought low to one knee. When she rises upwards though, the raptor analogy takes another aspect: she's uncoiling fast, bringing both wands together into her hands and using their extended reach to poke at Hitomi -- into her midsection, much like her last energy lance was aimed. This time, though, the strike will be a very tangible threat, propelled by Honoka's rise and thrust forward by both her palms. "Hraa!" Though the question is, should Hitomi keep eyes on that strike, or the diabolo still flying about, or the impending threat of a sandbag to keep Hitomi's peripheral vision occupied? She can't watch everything at once...

COMBATSYS: Hitomi fails to counter Random Weapon from Honoka with Weakened Bukyoku.

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Honoka           1/--=====/=======|=======\=======\1           Hitomi

Colliding into Honoka, The leaping German karateka bats at the diabolo even as the other girl throws her efforts into resisting the high speed step-in and hip check. Chasing that which was her target, the diabolo, only to have it leap away out of her reach and her slap at thin air rather than depriving the performer of one of her tools. Hah, that was a clever move since it meant devoting some effort to saving that pesky yo-yo instead of putting everything into her defense.

Hitomi twists back toward Honoka, the swing and a miss bat had been an overextension that swung her around, she has to correct for it and gave up enough time for Honoka to likewise recover. A lunge of her own in response to the attack she finds herself now faced with, left hand cupped under Honoka's right and lifting her wrist while the other seizing the left forearm, grabbing both the red and purple clad arms it's pretty clear she was attempting a counter attack of some kind. But the blow struck is Honokas.

There is a grunt and the 'Ghnk' escapes her lips as Hitomi registers the pain in her abdomen, of course.. Her arms are now loosely clasping Honoka's own in an attempt that might have stopped the circus performer cold; If not for the extended reach provided by the length of the wands striking hard into her sternum. Her knees lose some of their strength as she half folds over forward, sinking over the struck point and her arms falling away, a tottering step backwards and one arm curling in in response to the severity of the hit. It wasn't that hard a blow, she's been hit harderc but focused on such a narrow point driven right into the bone plate between her breasts the pain radiates outwards, through her torso, her breath is harder to catch.


She turns so the arm crooked in and tucked against her body is angle toward Honoka like a flimsy shield, withdrawing backwards with her one free arm still poised to strike back and curled into a fist still. Face pained and sweating without saying a thing, understandable after taking a bone jarring hit to the chest.

Hitomi felt the blow. Honoka felt the blow, and can see Hitomi's response -- and frowns somewhat. Perhaps that crossed the line, she realized -- perhaps she'd gotten so much into the fight that she'd forgotten about the audience entirely. As Hitomi's hand curls back away from her wands, the juggler parts her lips, drawing in her breath in an expression of sympathy: "... Eesh, sorry about that..." It doesn't seem like Hitomi's going to -stop- fighting though, which brings some measure of relief to Honoka as she lashes her wands out once more, capturing the diabolo back into her reach.

The Twilight Star performer doesn't have a whole lot more time to consider her opponent's welfare, though -- as she raises one finger. "Hold that thought..." Wands and diabolo drawn back to her body, Honoka leaps with the motion of the sandbag that was about to knock her over. But rather than doing damage, the sandbag provides some desirable acceleration: clinging to the side with one hand and a bent knee, she allows herself to be carried up to the level of the second platform.

The second does not appear much different than the first, physically, but the threat of sandbags is practically nonexistent -- robbed of their initial momentum, the sandbags just won't reach that far. But what -will- be obvious is the small circular grilles spaced throughout the platform at regular intervals. Just to demonstrate their purpose for the audience, Honoka wings her diabolo at one of them, landing it neatly upon the grille. After a moment, it pops into the air suddenly with a hiss of pneumatics -- the sudden burst of air would probably sting a bit if it were to hit one of the combatants. Snaring the diabolo with her wand, she begins to spin the diabolo to her side like a vertical buzzsaw, smiling down to Hitomi on the first platform. They're only separated by a meter or two -- enough for Hitomi to leap, if she feels the urge -- but even if not, Honoka has the high ground. Finding her smile again, the Ainu-Japanese performer tosses a beckoning hand to Hitomi: "Okay, that was bad manners of me, I'm sorry! But... let's try something else, shall we?"

The audience has apparently recovered from the shock of Honoka's disabling blow -- and their clapping and cheering is reflected in the performer's eyes as she watches Hitomi with eager delight. How will her karate-wielding opponent strike back this time, she wonders?

COMBATSYS: Honoka focuses on her next action.

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Honoka           1/--=====/=======|=======\=======\1           Hitomi

Hitomi straightens, given the momentary reprieve as Honoka apologises, hand clasped to her breast right over the spot struck and watching, The karateka raises her hand with palm held toward Honoka in a 'don't worry about it' gesture as she sets her guard down and lowers her hands to rest on her knees, taking some deep breaths to steady herself while doubling over, the crowd had started yelling encouragement and for her to get back into the fight until their focus shifts to the performing circus stars showy acrobatic display.

Hitomi lifts her head to likewise watch, as the cheering clues her into something going on Honoka sailing elegantly up to the next level where she begins toying with the diabolo once again. She is likewise transfixed by the display as much as letting her body recover.

Blinking Hitomi might have questioned when the Diabolo bounces into the air seemingly all on its own, but at the same time she can hear the pneumatics at work from close proximity to the stage. She responds to Honoka beckoning with a clearly affirmative nod her head. Picking herself up she takes a running jump up to the level of the second platform, she hits it at waist height and holding herself with upper body strength she levers her lower body up onto the platform. One knee taking purchase as the girl climbs and glances down at one of the grills dotting the platform, there is no hiss in her face but she still circles the grill rather than stepping over it. Her neck craning left and right to take in all the different grills and hazards she might have to be aware of up here now.

Dusting her hands together she reassumes the same guard with open hands she has had since the match began, In truth she was quite grateful to the circus performer for the charity she had shown in the fight, she wasn't focused on what the audience wanted at all.

COMBATSYS: Hitomi takes no action.

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Honoka           1/--=====/=======|=======\=======\1           Hitomi

It is, of course, all about the audience. The most perfectly-executed stunt may provide some measure of comfort to the performer, but it's altogether meaningless without an audience to appreciate it. In most of her fights upon this stage, Honoka can cruise by on muscle memory and repetition, but fighting a martial artist like Hitomi rather than a dancer requires a completely different mindset. It takes conscious effort to fight convincingly without succumbing to the base survival instincts that might cause an anticlimactic and premature end to the fight; no one wants that, least of all one of the circus' star performers!

In short, Honoka is glad that Hitomi's still in the fight! She's been careful note of what the karateka has been looking at: the cheering audience, the attacks, but most of all the special brand of ire that seems to be reserved for the juggler's signature prop. And Honoka is mindful to draw Hitomi's eye towards the prop, as she hurls it around into a figure-8 pattern. Left, and right, and left, and right, and up -- the diabolo leaves the string from time to time, in a calculated distraction as Honoka treads ever closer to the circular grilles.

And there it is -- just as the juggler drops the diabolo low enough that it -should- have scraped one of the grilles, instead it flies upwards, seemingly out of control.

But if Hitomi was watching the diabolo, she might not have also noticed that Honoka, too, is making use of the abrupt shift in airflow -- that is to say, she's sprung into action! The wands which had proven to be her attack surface for most of the fight are instead trailed along behind her as she brings her right foot up, scything a high-angle overhead kick downward between Hitomi's shoulder and neck. And, if swayed too much by the performer's dizzying array of tactics, Hitomi might just find herself in the path of her airborne diabolo, or on top of another of the vented grilles.

COMBATSYS: Hitomi blocks Honoka's Strong Kick.

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Honoka           1/=======/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2           Hitomi

Hitomi soaks up the overhead blow across just one raised arm, letting her knees slacken to bleed away some of the power, the blow drives her close to kneeling despite her kinking her torso and compressing down under the weight of the hit without moving her feet, every point of her body flexing to try and minimise the shock of the hit.

Hitomi forcefully pushes back from below, shoving upwards and pushing off with now straightened knees, sailing backwards rather than at Honoka in a springy escape powered half by her coiled legs and by pushing against Honoka.

There is a rapping sound as the Diabolo strikes against her other arm, having reserved it for warding against the this second threat it glances off of her and into air once again. The only difference now is with intended target leaping backward already it is perceived to hang in the air in front of her in the midst of its deflected bounce. Hitomi sailing backward swinging one arm high overhead right at it, a volley serve attempted in mid-hop with the teen intently focused.

"Here - I - Go!"

She smacks the diabolo with more power than skill and sends is screaming in Honoka's general direction, on landing she does note the metallic clank of her feet landing on one of the vents and has to keep steeping quickly to avoid the summoned jet of air that sets her loose brown hair fluttering wildly. Uaaah, this place just felt littered with traps! Not even sure which pressures are her opponent and which are the stage and having to watch her footing and positioning.

COMBATSYS: Honoka reflects Large Thrown Object from Hitomi with Kunne Chup Kamui.

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Honoka           2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\1           Hitomi

Honoka had thankfully not committed -all- of her momentum into the kick -- an all-out dropkick would have left her in quite the compromising position against someone of Hitomi's caliber, after all. The stands come alive with cheers as the two fighters enter closer range, with the forcefulness of Honoka's blow becoming readily apparent in the way the karateka chooses to deal with it. As the acrobatic performer's trailing foot lands, her knee bending as she withdraws her kicking foot, she finds time to nod her head in approval at the Taiyo student. "Nicely done..." For the Twilight Star performer knows how her arms would fare under such attacks -- heck, she's still trying to work off the first few blows Hitomi had dealt her.

The cord once again makes itself obvious, as the performer raises her arms, eyes narrowed at the distinctive sound of bone rapping against her diabolo. And not her own knuckles, but Hitomi's forearms. The diaboloist makes a note of asking what body-toughening exercises the girl goes through...

A split second later, and the cord disappears in a blur. There should have been another rapping sound - the sound of the diabolo connecting against Honoka's skull.

There is no such sound, just the whooshing sound of rapidly-spun cord, as Honoka takes two steps backwards. One diabolo wand is held stationary in her left hand. The other is held in her right, oscillating rapidly to keep the recaptured diabolo in a rapid spinning motion.

Honoka arches an eyebrow at the karateka as she stumbles against the grille and its rapid discharge of air. She finds a window of opportunity for the simplest trick in her arsenal...

A smirk.

It's a mere cover for the another simple trick in her repertoire: a quick pirouette, that has her back momentarily oriented towards Hitomi. When the juggler faces Hitomi once more, she's slipped into a lower stance -- taking a bow.

For the diabolo is coming right towards Hitomi, now -- no longer playing second fiddle to Honoka's machinations, it =is= the front and center attack. Directness can pay off in dividends.

COMBATSYS: Honoka successfully hits Hitomi with Reflected Large Thrown Object.

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Honoka           2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2           Hitomi

There is a quiet yet sharp cry of 'au!' as the karateka is struck and sails back, falling to the ground and lying flat on her back as she slides to a halt. Sat down hard Hitomi is having trouble regulating her breathing, deeps gulps of air and heart racing. Even as she immediately sits back up, one arm pushing against the ground and lifting her torso while she draws her legs in and sets the soles of her feet to the ground. Rapidly drawing back to her feet at the same time a pneumatic hiss signals the triggering of one the blasts of air setting her hair whipping around her. She's clearly hurting, those last few moments of straightening up were plenty painful, if anything her bouncing back to her feet had been rather spry, but it was catching up to her once she got to her feet.

Gasping hard she has some faint idea of what hit her though the how she didn't really follow so good. The performer herself performing a pirouette into an elegant bow was particularly eye grabbing. The crowd is getting really worked up, yelling encouragement and jeering, seemingly as many voices as there are people in attendance.

It would have been an elegant finisher. Showy like she would never have believed, but she fights through the pain to raise her fists again and the cheery voice betrays no signs of the pains she must be feeling.

"... I can still fight, here I come!"

She starts running the short distance between the two fighters with a whistling straight right at the performers face as she closes. Spinning her body to throw an elbow directed into the upper chest, left and a right sharp swings, bang-bang! And drops into a low stance, one fist pointed at Honoka the other wound back behind her, elbow pointed to the sky and fist cocked and straining as the muscles tighten. The whole action seems to dilate time for her as she is swinging so hard the sweat droplets lifting off her skin become points of light she moves through as they catch the illuminated stage light, she moves like she is intent on punching clean through Honoka and out the other side.

COMBATSYS: Hitomi successfully hits Honoka with Moen.

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Honoka           2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|>>>>---\-------\0           Hitomi

Full disclosure -- taking a bow was a remarkably cocky thing to do, if the audience's stunned reactions were any sign. In all fairness, attacking the juggler with her own prop was pretty much asking for a rebuttal of some kind -- after all, Honoka -had- spent several minutes demonstrating her skill with the diabolo prior to the beginning of the fight! Even still, both Honoka and the audience does share some sympathy for Hitomi's plight as she staggers backward with the breath knocked out of her -- something Honoka takes careful note of. The Twilight Star performer, for her part, gathers the two diabolo wands into the crook of her elbow to give Hitomi's attempt some honest applause. There's no trace of bitterness or hard feelings as she offers the karateka an apologetic smile: "Nice try, but... I've kinda had lots of practice with those!"

But... it would seem that Hitomi is still, as she declares, able to fight. While the performer shifts her wands back to her hands, the Taiyo fighter is right up in her grill. The wands which might have provided an adequate defense prove to be useless in the face of Hitomi's momentum, allowing the German-Japanese fighter's elbows to crash through, each strike driving her back another two steps. Time slows down for both the aggressor and the defender -- but it's not enough time for Honoka to bring her arms to any sort of renewed defense against the final punch, Honoka's purple-highlighted bangs fluttering in the breeze as she's sent flying backwards! The performer may be used to aerial antics, but not of this sort... though, thankfully, Hitomi's punch doesn't have an exit wound like her power suggests!

Her landing on the platform could have been better -- she was roughly sitting at first, but slumps over onto one side, supporting herself with one arm while the opposite hand curls about her stomach. Even throughout the attacks, she'd managed to keep her wands in her hands, but she hadn't had time to retrieve the diabolo after it had bounced away. With the briefest flicker of a frown, she screws her eyes half-shut, wishing away the stars from her vision as she tilts herself to the side, pushing back to her feet. Her motions are slow and deliberate as she staggers forward -- from the way she's cradling her abdomen, she's still in considerable pain.

The Ainu-Japanese performer forges a smile back at Hitomi, just the same. "Okay... guess I had that coming to me..." Doubling both wands into her stomach-cradling hand, she starts rushing back towards her opponent, veering over slightly to ensure that she steps on the uplifting air grate, sending her springing into the air. No somersault this time -- those last strikes hit harder than she'd prefer to let on -- but her flight does give her a moment's breather, before she finds herself landing in a low crouch, just before the Taiyo karateka.

When she rises, it's not with wands that she intends to strike -- it's with an open palm, glowing a dark violet, placed upon Hitomi's shoulder. The real trick, though, is the crashing tsunami-force waves that suddenly manifest from the space surrounding Honoka, threatening to bowl the two fighters off the platform and take the audience with them! The crushing pressure of Honoka's grip would be minimal in comparison to the pounding of several tons of water bearing down onto the karateka, akin to the thunderous surf crashing into the coast. The salt kicked up and the abrupt rise humidity in the air would make it even more difficult for Hitomi to breathe, especially with how she was already having difficulty in that...

... if it were anything but a powerful illusion meant to dazzle Hitomi -- capitalizing on her current physical state -- and wow the audience, to boot. The mind can run wild, can amplify the slightest stimulation into a world-ending catastrophe if allowed free rein -- it can place the water droplets all about, it can make clothes feel damn when they are as dry as bones, it can make the rush of the air vent feel like the crushing force of a tidal wave. But whether Hitomi has the mental fortitude to see through the deceptive attack for the illusion it is... that depends entirely upon her own abilities.

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

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Honoka           2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>\-------\1           Hitomi

Hitomi forgets about her attempt to counter this latest attack, focused on the position of the wands and frozen now as she stares at the incoming deluge of water crashing down at them, she can't fathom the how's or what's of the appearance of the crashing wave, only react to it as best she can. One of her hands reaches out to pull at Honoka's bicep, her feet shifting with soles scraping loudly across the plywood surface as she tries to forcibly escape sideways, attempting to draw Honoka with her to some semblance of safety, perhaps if they jumped! But some force holds her tethered in place, her shoulder and collarbone pinned in her opponents grasp with the karateka reacting only to the deluge.

As the wave appears to swamp over and around them she reflexively tries to recoil and raise her arms in what seems a futile defence. The blow down upon her is flattening, pulverizing with a an inescapable, incalculable blow; it felt as though everything in her was broken and smashed in one instant, it's not even a constant pain as the crushing force already delivered she feels the cold robbing her body of feeling at the same time.

In Honoka's grip the girl flinches and sways unsteadily, sinking to her knees with a minimal resistance. Still caught up in the illusion Hitomi can feel some near unbearable pain still in her shoulder while the rest of her body succumbs to its own leaden weight, the nothingness beyond pain where everything just starts shutting down of its own accord. Her chest doesn't feel as though it's burning for air, in shock her body just stops even trying to breathe until her conciouness has utterly fled.

Having fainted already Hitomi slumps forward and is held up only by the hand gripping her shoulder, overwhelmed she just now lost consciousness as the last vestige of the attack fades from view. Her collapse timed just such that the audience can see a clear victor of the match.

COMBATSYS: Hitomi takes no action.

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Honoka           2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|

COMBATSYS: Hitomi can no longer fight.

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Honoka           2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|

The waves crash down, and viscous salt water floods Hitomi's throat, blocking out all the air. The killer wave beats and crashes against her, swaying about -- but Honoka's there providing strength, keeping her from succumbing completely to the waves. Even as the water level stabilizes, Honoka's reassuring presence is there, holding fast to Hitomi's shoulder...

...as she swims Hitomi to shore. Splintered driftwood is all that remains of the fishing boat they had rode in upon, the air choked with mist churned up from the tumultous lake, angered by the thunder and lightning brewing about. It was a fight to keep Hitomi's head above water -- she must have failed once or twice, as she had inhaled a huge amount of it. But the trip to shore must feel like an eternity.

"Hitomi-chan, wake up... wake up, dammit! I can't lose you like this, no, you -have- to wake up. Wake up, Hitomi... I'm not going to lose you too! You've got to fight... just open your damn eyes!" The grains of sand press into Hitomi's bared shoulders, her clothes utterly drenched from the fall into Lake Akan. The flash of lightning, the crash of thunder, the unceasing bullets of rain showering down on the parts of Hitomi not blocked by the Twilight Star performer. The pleading gesture in her eyes can be felt -- even with the eyes closed... somehow...

The spectral illusion of water is not something that can be accomplished through pyrotechnics, or projection devices; the waves are too three-dimensional for that, enveloping around Hitomi wholly and fully. In this day and age, the sight of a chi attack is nothing new -- even on this stage, just a few days prior, Benimaru and Honoka were fighting with what appeared to be lightning. Is water... really so different?

Honoka's grip on Hitomi's shoulder is the only thing keeping the karateka from hurling herself off the stage. Aside from the performer's hand, nothing's really touching Hitomi, but she's buffeted about as if by the waves Honoka had summoned. And... as the karateka's muscles give out, and unconsciousness takes over, Honoka is quick to place her other arm about Hitomi's waist; her diabolo wands, forgotten, drop to the platform with a clatter. She gently lowers her to the plywood platform.

Honoka had stopped smiling, about halfway through her attack -- instead, her mouth had been moving. Speaking... something unintelligible. It's hard for the audience to hear over the music -- that's on purpose. But her voice may become clear, as the music softens and Honoka kneels down beside her opponent: "Wake up, Hitomi..."

Hitomi's breathing resumes -- and Honoka realizes she'd been holding her breath as well. Her hand to her mouth, she stares, nods for a moment.

And then she flashes a thumbs-up, holds it high to the audience.

The crowd goes -ballistic-. The effect was not one they'd seen from her before -- but the performer always finds a way to one-up her previous performances.

First-aid staff are already making their way up to the second platform -- it's a bit more of an effort for the folks carrying medical equipment, but they're pros! "Taka" Takayanagi, the ringmaster for this evening, calls out, "And it looks like we have a decisive winner! Our challenger for this evening..."

Honoka usually tones out the ringmaster by this point anyway. Brushing Hitomi's fringe out of her eyes, she offers a slight smile to the unconscious karateka.

Messing with her dreams was a spur-of-the-moment decision; the young karateka's overwhelmed responses to her psychic attacks were just too irresistable an opportunity to pass up. Honoka just hopes she hasn't overdone it, hopes she didn't push too far too fast. Hitomi will be able to remember what the camera footage shows -- review it, likely, and reinforce the memories with what actually happened. But the dream itself? The mind strives for order, and since camera footage never showed Honoka's act of sacrifice, saving Hitomi's life in a boat that never existed? That doesn't make sense, and the brain won't put it anywhere the conscious mind could access the memory. But it... won't be entirely discarded, either.

Honoka allows her hand to be lifted up triumphantly by the junior announcer, allows herself to be declared the winner, as first-aid staff ensure Hitomi's condition, and assist her off the stage. After all, the show must go on...

Log created on 18:45:18 01/20/2015 by Honoka, and last modified on 00:28:43 01/24/2015.