Trouble in Paradise - TIP - Week 2 - Fuji Curios vs Team Maginot Line

Description: The trainwreck duo shows up for their second tournament match, but whoever decided that they should duke it out with Ryu Hayabusa and some street punk named Scratch in the crater of a volcano... Is a real moron. The heat slowly whittles away at them all, leading to minimal stripping and weird hugging at the very end. Why is it that every time Ash and Hitomi fight, they forfeit? Answers possibly contained within. (Winner: Fuji Curios)

A jostling and foreboding journey by a tan coloured Truck crawls its way up a remote trail towards the very heights of Zack Island; the rim of the Volcano that was the epicentre and source of the Island. The ride had gotten rougher after they had left the better maintained trails behind them in the lush and vibrant jungles found at lower altitude. The truck fair bounces on its suspension as it encounters a bump and the cooler of drinks and ice pops open its lid and spills some water and cubes into the bed of the truck for the umpteenth time during the trip.

The windscreen folded down onto the hood the passengers and drivers alike are exposed to the elements in what will probably be a welcome relief on the trip back. The driver wearing a stylish and cute cut of a safari outfit, a tight fitting shirt and shorts complete with the helmet was gleefully and excitedly pointing out features of the island to one of her passengers in particular, Hitomi was rapt and hanging on her every world as the other woman played tour bus operator while en route to the remote location for their schedule match. Silvery haired and smiling cheerfully the young woman drives the trail carefully with both hands on the wheel but occasionally gestures away in a direction and begins a fast talking spiel that has Hitomi leaning closely to and nodding before looking in that direction. Countless times she has broken into a huge grin and covered her eyes to stare down and what was going on far below as pointed out by the guide.

The mood had been positively dreadful when one particular team had arrived at the truck not that long ago, arriving separately and not even speaking to one another.

Having started the journey being so quiet and almost miserable looking, Hitomi had completely fallen under the drivers spell of enthusiastic and cheerful banter; playing tourist to complete the experience. The truck rolls over the rim of volcano with a belch of diesel and high revs and begins it's descent into the Caldera, where the heat immediately begins to make itself noticeable as the tropical foliage gives way to scrub brush and two cultivated and easily discernible man-made structures. A sculpted Volleyball court and an arena both cut into the surface of the caldera and the trail the truck is on is headed right toward them.

Right beside the open mouth of the Volcano itself, occasionally belching smoke and incredible waves of heat even at this distance the truck begins to slow and eventually pulls off by the side of the trial and heedlessly flattens some of the tenacious shrubbery.

'Everybody out, we're here! Zack island Volcano, home of the mighty (and sexy) -Tak- You can leave any valuables here with the Vehicle where our drinks will be keeping cooler.'

Bounding out of and around the truck now with a most cute little camcorder she gets some first impressions of the groups reactions with a handheld and very unprofessional sweeping pans. Hitomi flashes her a V-sign in return after noticing and right after she frees her arm from her denim jacket and tosses it back onto her seat, won't be needing that... nope! Not at all.

Cake! Who has cake, Ash has cake! Spooning up a dollop of sugary goodness and buttercream icing, it is presented for the devourings. A napkin is laid out across his lap to catch vanilla-flavoured crumbs that fall before they can make the journey from paper plate to his snarky sass gap. He stretches out luxuriously in the back of the truck, without care for the knee buried in the passenger seat-back or how uncomfortable it may be for Hitomi. She should be grateful that the Frenchman isn't tugging on her seatbelt like an obnoxious child.

"Mm!" He's been doing this while chewing every morsel for the entire ride. When their driver glances up to check the rearview mirror, often she glares at Ash. The woman has a special sort of disdain reserved just for the lackadaisical flamewielder. Really, the pyrokinetic is honoured, almost proud to have annoyed her. His amusement is vented through his nose in a mirthful snort at the latest baleful stare, using his fingers to dislodge a bit of icing from the corner of his mouth. Crimson isn't so uncouth as to lick his digits clean; he wipes them on the napkin and resumes scooping another spoonful.

B-bump, goes the transport vehicle.

Th-thump, drinks pop out from the cooler and roll around in the truck bed.

Splat, that was the cake, tumbling off his spoon and hitting the floor. "Whoops," says Ash, but he doesn't sound in the least bit bothered.

Eventually, they arrive at the summit of the volcano; the truck trundles up the dirt road until it can proceed no further. The lithe teenager still has at least half of his cake left, and bunching up his napkin, he unlocks the door and steps out into the searing heat, far more pronounced when he stands on the fringes of the crater. Their designated driver natters on to Hitomi, begins recording haphazardly. She V-signs, Ash rolls his eyes. His smile is somewhat amused as he sets his plate down on the seat, leaving the crumpled napkin with it.

No words have been exchanged between the Frenchman and his partner, not even now. Ash slips his hands into the pockets of fitted grey slacks, wearing a button-down dress-shirt and a soft blue cardigan that compliments his eyes. It's surprisingly light, but could be the death of him. Still, he is loathe to leave it behind...

"Saa, so it begins," he chirps in his sing-song voice, shaking windswept platinum blonde hair out of his attractive face, directing his gaze toward the sky above. Ash... waits. Waiting is terrible.

The very theme of this tournament, and the way that it has been promoted, seems to suggest that the Kings of Paradise are intending for every part of this experience to take on a fun and sexy appeal so that the television broadcast will be popular. Participants are practically thrown any opportunity to wear attractive, sexually charged clothing and much of the fighting has had a goofy, playful theme attributed to the matches.

Thus far it would seem that any attempt to create a fun and playful attitude around the fights of Ryu Hayabusa has been a complete an utter failure. On his way to the island he was convinced that if he failed to face down a violent mercenary, the cruise ship they were travelling on would be sunk... which despite being a farce resulted in the destruction of a major portion of the deck. In his first battle as part of this tournament (which he hadn't even intended to participate in) someone had convinced the former Muay Thai Emperor, a man with a deep seated rage, that he would get an opportunity to challenge Ryu, the man who had disgraced and scarred him. When it became apparent that the Ryu in question was Hayabusa, it became a brutal battle between titans of war that ended with the destruction of the upbeat roller disco they had been battling in, with no competitor left able to move.

...Now he has been assigned an inhostiptible battleground at the peak of a volcano that seems suspiciously active. A position so harsh that there can be no human camera operators anywhere close to the action, all of them forced to film from a distance making use of drones. A place where life doesn't dare tread. This is not a fun, silly fight just for the cameras: this is brutality.

Matching the tone of the intended arena, Hayabusa has not dressed up in a costume to show off for cameras. The moment he was informed of his battleground, he announced that he had the appropriate gear, and not even the usually pushy wardrobe department seemed comfortable attempting to coerce him into something they deemed more appropriate. Not with the look on his face.

No, Ryu Hayabusa has actually battled inside of active volcanos, fought powerful fiends near flowing rivers of lava. He has dressed for an arena of death. A mask has been pulled up his lower face, covering just up past his nose, it's secured to the gray scarf wrapped around his neck with angular metal clamps. His torso is nearly completely bare, ignoring a set of straps hooked over either shoulder that hold the sheath containing the legendary Dragon Sword across his back. The only thing marking his arms is a thick, leather armband that wraps around the entirety of his right upper arm and a pair of fingerless leather gloves strapped at the wrists. His lower half is clad in what would seem more appropriate with a suit of samurai armor, loose pants lined with some form of protective chain with three kunai sheathed on either side of his thighs. The pants grow tighter just past the knee as they meet with armored tabi boots

Those riding on the bus are not, in fact, the first party to arrive for this match; for the last three hours, Hayabusa has been exploring the battleground, appraising it for its tactical advantages and disadvantages, and most importantly, making discoveries that all is not as it seems on Zack Island: the sweltering, overbearing heat of the volcano does not act naturally, there is no form of ninpo technique that disipates the draining heat that flows from this mouth to the churning depths of the planet.

When his opponents finally do make their appearance known (and a bus travelling up an unpaved road is hardly stealthy), the ninja goes to meet them. What this actually means is that as the bus comes to a stop, Ryu Hayabusa has landed on the roof without a sound, waiting for his opponents to step out into the surrounding aura of heat.

"...Be cautious in this match. This volcano's activity is unnatural."

Meanwhile, one Cadence Carter, a.k.a. Scratch, has been a rather difficult failure far as providing a lot of on-camera moments as well, at least outside of fights. It's not just that she isn't cooperating with the wardrobe staff since she arrived, no, though that was a big deal as well. After all, punky as she is, she still tended toward the practical, and for the love of all that was sacred avoided the skimpiest of the skimpy swimsuits as much as she can. She had standards to try and uphold after all.

No, her bigger issue is that, despite coming here, she was not a 'beach' person. She was a city rat, through and through, and the sun simply did NOT agree with her at all. To the point, as she was on the truck to the next fight sight, she was in near head to toe sunscreen, save the parts that were covered in calamine lotion for the unpleasant burns on her paler skin. Regardless of what kind of vacations she had as a kid, it's clear that now, as a teenager, she does not tan, she peels.

Of course, as Ryu waited at the peak of the volcano, so did Scratch, and unlike him, she didn't have experience in volcanos. And the sheer heat has forced her down to the bare minimums, which (to her consternation at this point) is a a strange bikini that seems to hang from one actual strap, the other slipped down her shoulder while the actual top (black with white paint splatters like a psuedo-chalkboard) remains tight like a tube top. It wasn't as skimpy as others, but it's clear the teen wasn't comfortable with it, or the venue at all.

"Whose ****iing idea was this?!" she shouts, sure to be bleeped by the producers." She then gives Ryu a strange look at his warning. "Unnatural...fighting at the edge of a ****ing volcano, THAT'S unnatural! What the hell are we even doing here?!"

Stretching out her arms Hitomi rotates one across breasts and pulls it taut with the other arm stretching out her shoulders and repeating the gesture with her other arm, dressed in a short white belly shirt with pink trim on the upper edges she has bare navel and shoulders but is also wearing some heavy and worn denim jeans; laced up thick soled boots. She does her best to ignore the presence of the camera for a moment as she glances over at her 'partner' and his staring off into the sky, she openly sighs dejectedly at his seeming lack of interest. It's apparent that the opposing team was already here and waiting for them even as the distant repeating echo of obscenities around the caldera, a girls voice? If that weren't enough of a clue beside the appearance of figures down there, closer to the arena proper.

Hitomi trails after their guide like a puppy as they trek down to the arena. Her using the time to try and get a better look at her opponents, the bare chested guy looked like he was wearing a ninja costume; she'd seen plenty of people in costumes and swimsuits all over the island but she definitely hadn't seen a ninja around. But that's okay, they're ninja! The girl was something else, all bright colours and rather skimpily dressed in a bikini top and paint speckled pants. Hitomi's outfits wasn't much more practical but for the moment the heavy denim of the jeans was doing an admirable job shielding her from the environmental heat though the very air you breathed in here was sharp and dry, occasional breaths of air even tasted bad with an acrid sting in the nostrils or left a bad taste in her mouth, hot like a sauna is without the steam.


Hitomi greets the opposing team with an overhead hand wave before they arrive and turns to the guide with a sudden impromptu question.

"It's okay if we use the Volleyball court right?"

The guide waives away the silly question with a hand assuring them that it is indeed fine, busily piercing a juice box distractedly with her hands and the camcorder hanging around her neck by a strap. Hitomi offers Scratch her hand held out for a handshake and a sincere smile, secretly immensely relieved that they can split the fight and give each other a little room, there was no telling how things would get around here once fire started getting thrown around once again. It'd be best for her and Scratch to be further away.. because it was dangerous for them rather than it holding Ash back. She worried more about them getting caught up in the crossfire.

This fight needed to happen quickly else they would expire just due to the heat. Taking off with a lively jog she waves Scratch on atowards the Volleyball court and leaves Ash to his own opponent.

The guide finishes subduing her jucie box and is sipping away with one hand while surveying the now two arenas of combat with sweeping camcorder pans.

'Everyone! ... Take your marks! Ah-Nd-Dd -- FAITO!'

COMBATSYS: Hitomi has started a fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Hitomi           0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Scratch has joined the fight here on the right meter side.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Hitomi           0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0          Scratch

COMBATSYS: Ash has joined the fight here on the left meter side.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Hitomi           0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0          Scratch
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Ash              0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa has joined the fight here on the right meter side.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Hitomi           0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Ash              0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0          Scratch

Wardrobe personnel? Zack Island has wardrobe personnel and nobody told him?!

Sad forever.

How is Ash supposed to criticize the selections so carefully chosen for him and send the designers crying for their mothers when the staff is rather reticent to approach the flamewielder? It just sucks the fun out of life. His life, not theirs.

In truth, their reasons for avoiding him are that the wardrobe personnel had seen a bit of the fight footage from Hitomi's match with Ibuki; the Frenchman is a dick and they decided it best to leave Ash to his own devices, for now. He'll be fine.

Fine in his... grey slacks and everything else. Already he's feeling a touch uncomfortable and fisticuffs have yet to begin, the button-down shirt clinging to his fair skin as he stands by idly. "Tch," Ash clicks his tongue off the backs of his teeth and reluctantly strips out of his cardigan. It's tossed onto the seat across from his cake, falling into a rumpled heap. The sight of it there serves as a sad reminder of something he'd prefer to be wearing. Oh well.

Black nails pinch the front of his collar, Ash fanning his neck and the top of his collarbone by flapping the fabric with poor results. His nostrils sting as he inhales the acrid smell that permeates the battlefield. He still has that empty smile affixed to his lips when his head lowers, but it shows signs of fading around the corners, possibly giving way to a subtle annoyance that he doesn't express aloud, at least not right away.

Be sure to stay tuned, he'll be complaining enough for everyone shortly.

Hitomi takes to their driver like a pup on a leash, leaving the pyrokinetic to dawdle. His ears prick at the sounds of Scratch hollering from a distance, shouting her disapproval to the heavens, but of more interest to him is the ninja perched high on the roof of the truck (is it a truck or a bus, whatever! I forget!) "Hmm~hmmm," says Ash, his musical cadence ringing out with a touch of smugness, "Like we couldn't tell that for ourselves, oui? Maybe they sent me here..." A beat, flexing his long, slender fingers, "to heat things up. Ahaha!"

Le pun.

Hayabusa will learn exactly what this means. Ash's partner, already aware, goes out of her way to avoid being caught in the crossfire. Which is literally fire.

Fire that wreathes his entire arm in an instant, its emerald glow bright against the white of his shirt and his freckled face. Pupils narrow to a pin-point. Before the nameless girl who has become the unofficial announcer calls the start of the match, the thin young man twists around on the spot, hurling the conflagration off his arm, unleashing a blazing crescent that will serve to knock his opponent down. The angle is such that it will clear the roof of the transport vehicle entirely. How's that for a greeting? Clearly Ash is ever so polite.

And nice.

And... yeah, he really couldn't care less if he's attacking too soon, what the sword-wielding shinobi thinks of him, or even that an arena has been designated for the bout. All the French teen wants is for this to be over with before he's forced to take off his trousers or something, a slight sheen of sweat glistening on his forehead. This fight isn't sexy so much as it will be the worst experience ever.

COMBATSYS: Ash successfully hits Ryu Hayabusa with Ventose.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Hitomi           0/-------/-------|==-----\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa
[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Ash              0/-------/-----==|-------\-------\0          Scratch

Even with the sweltering heat, the only sign that the environment is beginning to take its toll is the way sweat gleans off of his chest in a way that the camera seems to enjoy focusing on. If it weren't for the fact that he has a body built to catch audience attention (and has been tolerant enough of the wardrobe deparment's suggestions for the most part), he would have proven to be a miserable pick for the reality show. He refuses to create rivalries or romances. He won't make any claims about being the strongest or the sure pick to come out on top. In fact, the majority of his time on the island has been spent offering his services to the Zack of All Trades. Zen salesmanship hardly pulls in the ratings.

Quite honestly, this fight means very little to Ryu Hayabusa in a long term. He never had any real intention of joining the tournament, let alone managing to pull out a victory. He continues to participate because he gave his word, but the nature of this arena has provided far more important questions about this island to the Dragon Ninja. Something here is wrong, something here may be a greater threat than the ideallic location would suggest. There is no doubt in his mind that he will need to speak with Zack about this in the near future.

He should know better than to allow himself to be distracted.

Emerald flames fly forth from the ground before he's managed to draw his focus toward the fact that the young woman acting as driver, camera operator, and referee has declared the start of the event. The absolute readiness of his flamethrower opponent to get into the mix of things overcomes ninja training as Hayabusa fails to throw himself off the roof of the transport before he's overcome and launched off in the opposite direction.

It's most definitely time to take things seriously.

The sound of metal gliding free of its home marks the air as a sharp accent seconds before the ninja slides out from beneath the truck and launches into melee. As he pulls to his feet, the blade is held in an awkward stance, aimed behind him, its back resting along his shoulder with both hands held tight on the hilt. The blunt, wrapped end of the sword is suddenly thrust in, aimed to knock the flame-wielder in the nose, following by a twist of Hayabusa's wrists that draws the sword in a precipitous arc for the blonde mop of hair atop Ash's head.

The street girl's complaints unanswered for now, Scratch scowls, feeling far too exposed in her current outfit, and considering how many burns she already has, she's not exactly looking forward to being here any longer than needed. The heat is already opressive enough for her. Her eyes clower toward Hitomi as she arrives, clearly not sharing the brunette's enthusiasm and cheer. Though, as she glances toward the direction of the volleyball court, she does silently concede that might be the best way to do things. She's seen what Ryu is capable of...and she'd rather not be in TOO close proximity again if she can help it. She knows better than to get in the way of that.

Instead, she rolls herself toward the court. "Still a crazy stupid idea to have a volleyball court in a place like this," she mutters, arms crossed over her chest before she reaches out to take the offered handshake. "Yeah, yeah, luck," she says, still not terribly enthused. Backing up, she gives some space for Hitomi, waiting for the signal to go. She rocks herself back and forth on her wheels, testing out her all-terrain wheels on her skates. She's not too used to these, but she's going to try and fight on them.

Finally, as the signal goes, Scratch rushes in. Charging in a line toward the chipper girl, she scowls and makes a leap forward at full speed, a hand glowing faintly with a green aura chambered back before trying to palmstrike her straight in the face.

COMBATSYS: Hitomi blocks Scratch's Taggin' It.

[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Hitomi           0/-------/-------|==-----\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa
[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Ash              0/-------/-----==|-------\-------\0          Scratch

The German karateka pauses and nods along with Scratch's observation, it was rather seemingly out of place to have a Volleyball court up here. In just a few minutes after entering they were already starting to sweat and swelter in this heat, so either the heat was unnatural or else there was a purpose or endurance component to playing here.

"So-so, ...Huaaah! It's really too hot for volleyball up here. You'd be covered in sweat in just a few minutes into the game."

Probably nailing the game-type right on the head there.

Contemplating the other girl right alongside Scratch as the street girl rolls over to their fighting venue Hitomi wonders whether skates like those do offer any kind of mobility advantage here, maybe it might be fun to try some like that sometime. The net is still up and the court itself has softer ground to better necessitate the diving and falling associated with a fast and furious game of Volleyball, though the setting up here seems far removed from the beach setting.

Hand wiping a hand across her brow she swipes some of the light sheen of sweat away before assuming a ready stance and meets Scratch's sudden rolling advance head on; leaning into it and meeting it with a firm block, bare fist and wrist alike absorbing the impact from the strangely glowing palm strike rather than the face behind it.

Hurriedly stepping forward she shoves hard at Scratches opposing shoulder to try and throw her off balance backwards, leaving her open for a quick reprisal. Knee launched up at Scratch's abdomen Hitomi transitions straight into a hard straight punch to the chest to try and drive the other girl right back along the same trajectory as her advance.

"Teh! -- Eiyah!"

COMBATSYS: Ash instinctively blocks Ryu Hayabusa's Blade of the Wisdom King.

[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Hitomi           0/-------/-------|==-----\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa
[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Ash              0/-------/----===|-------\-------\0          Scratch

Really. If Ash were privy to Hayabusa's motives, exactly why he is participating in this friendly tournament that hasn't been quite so 'friendly' in all matches, the Frenchman would question him. Why bother? What's the point? Those who are not interested in fighting should sit off to the sidelines where they belong.

It's a good thing he can't read minds.

And he doesn't much care about the state of the island, hardly invested in the place save for what entertainment it can offer.

So far, Ash has enjoyed himself, even after Testament's strange blue companion butt-bumped him into the swimming pool. He could've drowned! Viewers at home probably got a good kick out of it...


Anyway, his flames strike true; the ninja topples off the transport and hits the dirt, but he returns with a vengeance just as the pyrokinetic, the wielder of strange bubbleflames, snuffs out his birthright with a puff of smoke rising before him. His fingertips are singed. Thin brows draw together, both confusion and concern evident in his expression. Ash... isn't going to be able to chuck fire around without consequence, it seems. He tucks the slender digits in toward his sweaty palm and refocuses on the threat ahead.

Popping up from under the vehicle like some bizarre gopher, the Dragon Sword is borne from its saya. The lackadaisical European isn't a swordsman, but even he can see that the hold is awkward, moreso since the helve is shoved directly in his face. Half-lidded blue eyes widen, allowing a modicum of surprise to slip past what is otherwise a carefully constructed facade of apathy and indolence. Out of reflex, Ash's knuckles crack against the roped handle to knock it sideways, thus the downward stroke doesn't so much leave his head feeling a few pounds lighter, but the blade does whisper through his forelocks, platinum blonde strands severed just below his cheek.

Snrk. Pfft.

"Ahaha~" His soft, lilting laughter fills the air around them, Crimson finding some strange amusement in this, quite possibly because he might be barking mad. Or maybe his throat could've been slit and he narrowly avoided death or a worse fate... Such as having an impromptu haircut at Hayabusa Salon. If the worst Ash has sustained is a trim, well...

I don't know exactly what I'm getting at here, so moving on, he glances only briefly in the direction of Hitomi and Scratch, the street rat rolling around on... wheels. His teammate appears once again to have a handle on her situation, that's good. This means that the flamboyant, freckle-faced fighter can focus on leaping away lightly, cat-like, and as he does so, his hips rotate the rest of his body. It is a fruity, unorthodox pirouette that involves both kicking the side and escaping, but no fire, lest he wind up with yet another burn. Ash's back is almost soaked and his shirt is plastered to his skin like an additional layer -- last thing he wants is to suffer from his own power when unnecessary.

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa dodges Ash's Prairial.

[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Hitomi           0/-------/-------|==-----\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa
[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Ash              0/-------/----===|-------\-------\0          Scratch

COMBATSYS: Hitomi successfully hits Scratch with Tenchi Kaibyaku.
- Power hit! -

[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Hitomi           0/-------/-----==|==-----\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa
[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Ash              0/-------/----===|=====--\-------\0          Scratch

Starting at a disadvantage.

It's not overly surprising that a ninja such as Hayabusa is more comfortable fighting in a time and place of their own choosing, striking out from the darkness to quickly dispatch or disable an opponent before they're forced into an extended combat. Unlike many other ninja the Hayabusa clan's leader has frequently had no such luxury in performing his duties. As battle draws on, the beginning holds no weight, beyond what the combatants allow.

Quite honestly, he's still at a better start than he was when he was forced against Sagat, being tossed around from the start and treated like a ragdoll by the giant. Even when the hilt of his sword is held off, and the follow-through left with no more than a few strands of hair to drag along the blade, he simply settles in to adjust his tactics.

The stance he ultimately takes once he's managed to draw back is honestly no less strange than the one he began with, the Dragon Sword is held high in his hands just beside his head, the edge of the blade raised up to the sky while the tip is directed toward his opponent. He begins to circle as he awaits the retallation, carefully shifting one foot in front of the other as he seeks to keep from having his immediate retreat blocked by the resort transport.

As the flame-wielding youth launches toward his silent opponent, Hayabusa would seem to be far more prepared this time. Once Ash begins the graceful spin that drapes violent in grace, Ryu ducks backward, managing to slip close enough to the ground for Crimson's foot to clear the top of his head by a few hairs' breadth.

Without a touch of hesitation, the Master Ninja tenses the muscles in his arms. For a moment, all of his thought is targetted on the blade of his sword. The intensity of concentration lasts little more than a measured breath, but as it passes suddenly the Dragon Sword erupts with lightning crackling all along its surface. Wild nature reigned in by the ninja's will.

It's here that he rockets forward into the air, attempting to clear the space between him and his opponent without touching the ground, looking down at him with eyes that speak intent. With the very power of the furious sky tamed withing the Dragon Sword, Hayabusa lashes out in a flash, leaving behind to sword slashes across Ash's torso before snuffing out the chi flowing through the blade.

With her palm strike caught, Scratch furrows her brow. Normally, she'd have some distance here by using a spraypaint can, but she doesn't exactly have the space on her body to use such now. And the skates unfamiliar as they are, she's still having trouble getting her footing. Not that it matters at the moment, since even before she lands, Hitomi is able to set her completely off balance that even before she lands, she has a knee in the gut, not even able to get in a hand to troy and stop the karateka before the rest of the attack comes.

Slammed forcefully away with the the following punch, Scratch finds her flow completely broken. Between the heat and the strike, she finds it hard to even get up again, and certainly without the same verve she'd normally start off with. "NGhh...." Sweating profusely, she glances up toward Hitomi, clutching her stomach, she curses something under her breath before trying to push herself back into a forward charge again. She tries to add in a bit more speed, knowing she can't afford to go down without some kind of fight.

As she speeds, she tries to whip past Hitomi on the side, an arm reaching out for one of Hitomi's one. If she can grab on, she'd first try and use the other girl as a pivoting point to make a swift turn, then use that momentum to hammer throw Hitomi away, the very same direction she had come in before.

COMBATSYS: Hitomi counters Rewind Whip from Scratch with Komon.

[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Hitomi           0/-------/---====|==-----\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa
[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Ash              0/-------/----===|=======\=------\1          Scratch

The fierce strike having connected and knocked her opponent back Hitomi withdraws her fist, smiling apologetically the karateka doesn't even move from her spot instead just deftly raising her guard back into position pumping one forward and the other back with an "Osu!" momentarily before she swings them both up into her same guarded posture.

The heat is getting to her just a little, that faint film of sweat is back already and beginning to bead and roll down her shoulders or soak into her hair where it begins to plaster to her skin in damp threads. She views Scratch pushing themselves back to their feet with approval and firms her resolve to meet the other girl head to head with equal, Eh?--

passing by her side the skater latches firmly onto her arm and both girls enter a spinning twirl where they fight for control and recovering enough to exploit an opening in the other. Hitomi's hair whipping around her even as she stumbles through the first half of the turn fighting to regain her balance with some impromptu footwork and wrestling with Scratch for a grip on her arm, Scratch's lack of clothing or a Gi made her experience in competition all but useless as the two struggle. The entire twirling and dancing mass of girl flesh crashes to a sudden end as one of them manages to get a solid foothold and a firm grip at the same time.


Hitomi seizes hold of the arm that had grabbed her own; whipping the other girl quickly over her shoulder with a vicious throw that sends the girl fully vertical and onto the ground face-up at her feet! She drops to one knee leaning down with a closed fist blow to the head to her prone opponent with an almost formulaic karate style finishing blow before she releases Scratch's arm and hops backwards, breaking away and allowing her opponent to rise as she would in any match.

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa successfully hit Ash with Lotus Slash.

[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Hitomi           0/-------/---====|====---\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa
[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Ash              0/-------/--=====|=======\=------\1          Scratch

The reason he is doing poorly all of a sudden is Hitomi. Hitomi is at fault for everything because she sucks and is a disappointment in general.

Nah, I'm messing with you. ILU, Hitomi.

Ash has no one to blame but himself (and Ryu's good fortune) when his leg clears his opponent; he lands with it whipping back to drop a foot and steady himself, unable to correct the oversight. The slender teen rocks forward, not entirely in the mood to let momentum send him spilling out onto his ass like a damn clown.

As he straightens, it's not a fighting stance so much as it is standing with arms akimbo, fingers curled over his slightly protruding pelvis. The Frenchman seems to be... the most dispassionate douchebag ever. He even has the audacity to SIGH, hiking his shoulders almost to his ears and allowing them to drop in a nonchalant shrug. A quick snap of his head to the side flicks his trimmed fringe from Ash's sight. "Saa, I wonder if this is going to be any fun. Mon ami, can you humour me with some witty banter?" There's one beat, his smile sly and the corners of his eyes crinkled with an emotion that doesn't exist within their depths, "I get bored rather easily," he admits, his French lilt making the words a little difficult to understand.

Unfortunately, Hayabusa deigns not to amuse him, not right away, and hoists the katana to a weird angle again. Ash quirks an eyebrow and looks at the ninja in askance. "Che."

Now it is his arrogance, not his inability to adapt, that makes the flamewielder an easy target.

He might have attempted to leap aside, or simply stroll leisurely out of the blade's path, but he coils to spring and fails. Silver flashes as it slices through his shirt, it slices through flesh and marks his chest. The cuts aren't deep, but they tingle in an unpleasant way and bleed, crimson essence staining the top that was already ruined before, but now even moreso. Ash attempts to staunch the flow with his sleeve, but he grips at his top in a way that suggests... he doesn't like to show skin. "Ca me fait chier." Whoa, dude. Watch your language.

Lightning chi is snuffed out, but it could be that it might reappear in an instant or not at all. Either way, the pyrokinetic has been put on edge. He doesn't lurch forward to strike; Ash holds back for a minute, or maybe two. Then, suddenly, his aura flares with emerald flames. They envelope him, trap the effeminate fighter in the centre of an inferno as he draws energy from it to empower himself. This does not happen without some adverse side effects: His sleeve is soaked in red as the cut rips wider and he winces as the fires nip at any skin exposed, lashing out at him with burning fingers and scorching his cheeks and hands.

"Here, dance for me!" Crimson draws a perfect circle in the air, boiling, churning flames chasing his finger and connecting end to end. It grows solid, rotates into a sphere. The orb receives the energy that is his birthright, fed into the conflagration before Ash sends it hurtling at Ryu, the Dragon Ninja, with a gentle nudge. The teen switches from his right arm to the left, allowing his fingers to probe the chest wound gingerly. Gross.

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa just-defends Ash's Thermidor!

[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Hitomi           0/-------/---====|====---\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa
[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Ash              0/-------/-----==|=======\=------\1          Scratch

Amusement is hardly a major aspect of Ryu Hayabusa's combat style. There is very little need for conversation during battle, and the occasions where this isn't in fact the case are also very likely occasions where the fight isn't of his choosing and he specifically wishes to avoid harming his opponent if at all possible.

It also tends to make things slightly different when many of your fights are in fact life or death, with the fate of the world possibly relying on your success.

And so it is that when his blade hits its mark and strikes clean across Ash's chest, Hayabusa offers no witty comment and no mocking. He simply falls back into his unusual ready stance with his blade raised high beside his head. Green-gold eyes drift away from his direct opponent only momentarily to take in the other part of the fight, his brown drawing into a frown as he notes that his partner isn't holding up quite so well.

Unfortunately, there's no time for that right now.

No, he has more pressing matters at hand. The taunting cries of Ash Crimson resettle his gaze on the blonde flame-wielder. All of this power being summoned, formed, shaped into a violent orb intent on retaliation. The ninja's sword drops into a lower guard, held at his side with the tip a whisper against the volcanic sands. He stands ready, silent in the face of the burning threat as it comes flying toward him.

And then in a flash, the orb becomes two hemispheres, shooting off on either side of the ninja. The blade glows red hot for a few heartbeats before the clash is left a memory.

Without hesitation, Hayabusa begins to close in on his target once more, not a word spoken as he moves, the Dragon Sword disappearing back into his sheath. He's managed to draw enough blood from the young blonde for the time being, a change of tactics to keep his opponent off guard as he vaults into the air once more, twisting in a quick half-spin that aims his armored foot at Ash's cheek.

This clearly hasn't started well for Scratch. And it seems to just get worse as she goes.

Instead of managing to whip around Hitomi like she had hoped, Scratch finds herself as Hitomi dug her feet and gripped back hard, managing to pull Scratch over and back despite the momentum the girl had tried to build. Feeling her arm wrenched as she's yanked back, the skater ends up slamming hard onto the ground at the victorious shoulder throw. The painful drop is enough to get the city girl to cry out, but the following strike downward addedeven more injury to injury, taking her breath away before her arm is finally freed up.

Completely on the figurative back foot now, Scratch scrambled away, gasping and trying to get some distance again from Hitomi. AT this point it's painfully clear she's in over her head, trying to take the initiative...and that's a terrible proposition for a girl who's short fight career has been built on swarming her opponents. Clutching her stomach as she finally manages to get some distance on the volleyball court, she falls back into a crouch, gasping. The heat is doing no favors, making it hard to catch a breather. But hopefully, from this distance, she can force Hitomi to come forward instead, and maybe think up SOMETHING to avoid this becoming a laugher.

COMBATSYS: Scratch focuses on her next action.

[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Hitomi           0/-------/---====|====---\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa
[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Ash              0/-------/-----==|=======\=------\1          Scratch

Scratch's plan works as the karateka watches her progress and condition, eventually lowers her guard only to brush at her face with an elbow, sweat is starting to run down her face, more by the moment as she watches Scratch's moves carefully. The skate junkie slash activist had definitely fallen back but made no indications she was giving up, perhaps she was just shifting the venue just slightly more to her advantage. Hitomi blinks away the sweat stinging her eyes and hooking her fingers under the bottom edge of her top she pulls it off over head exposing a -lot- more pale toned flesh and generous curves; the black bikini top worn beneath bears a bright yellow eagle with wings spread in flight on the right-side triangle of cloth.

She takes a brief second to straighten the pink hairband, settling it on her head and takes the shirt in both her hands and buries her face in it, wiping at her face and getting the stinging sweat out of her eyes especially. Momentarily she then starts walking towards the edge of the court, still damping at her neck and collar now with the white shirt beginning to turn somewhat translucent in her hands after soaking up some more of the excess sweat; She half-folds the shirt in her hands with an adept and practiced flip and swings about to deposit it at the ringside with an almost perky twirl and bounce in her step.

She's still moving with exuberance and experiencing relief at feeling momentarily cooler having shed a layer of clothing. She advances on Scratch well aware it might very well be a tactical mistake, if the soft ground of the Volleyball court was interfering with her opponent then well - it was neither fair nor honourable to expect the fight had to take place over there.

She stops well short of the street punk, lifting one hand into a guard she settles back defensively and raises the other hand drawn back to strike and a closed fist; it's a slight variation on her earlier stance. More open but also more aggressive in nature, more threatening. A cheery voice laden with spirit she seemingly drops a challenge heaped right at Scratch's feet without batting an eye.

"I will not go easy on you."

Because -- if she did she would be trampling on the other girls pride, and Hitomi had her own reasons to win that necessitated winning as fast as she could manage. If it angered the other girl and brought out her best, that's good!

COMBATSYS: Hitomi gains composure.

[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Hitomi           0/-------/----===|====---\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa
[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Ash              0/-------/-----==|=======\=------\1          Scratch

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa successfully hit Ash with Medium Kick.
- Power hit! -

[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Hitomi           0/-------/----===|====---\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa
[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Ash              0/-------/--=====|=======\=------\1          Scratch

There's something that is generally unnerving about fighting an individual who is completely silent in combat. It gets right under his skin.

Don't misunderstand, however. Ash sees the merits. The quiet types are typically the most dangerous opponents, at least historically...

But Crimson thrives off banter, whether it be the insults and mockery of his ability, or his own in turn. He CAN'T keep his mouth shut. The exchange gives him a reason to invest himself, half-heartedly or whole. In silence, the Frenchman is left with his own thoughts and words on the matter, and what little solace they can provide. He has no distractions, and as the pale teen said, he quickly grows bored and his gaze starts wandering in search of greener pastures.

The opportunist in him wishes to interfere with his partner's fight -- Scratch seems like a far more interesting person, what with her skates and complaints. No doubt the flamewielder could whip the street rat into a frenzy. Get her cursing his name and his heritage all in good fun. Ash would be amused, but it would mean Hitomi must make a stand against Hayabusa... And he just knows that his baby-faced teammate would be put down faster than a manky old cat. If he hasn't performed so well in this fight, no doubt she would be destroyed in totality.

Ash heaves a sigh, his head turning away as the girls throw, punch, counter and then something. A flash of skin, the removal of a shirt. Personally, he would've pressed the advantage were he the young karateka, but Crimson is himself and that's that. His fiery orb of retaliation meets blade, possibly blood still staining the edge. Fingers slip against his chest, watching what took a great amount of his energy be sliced clean in two. Each hemisphere hits the volcanic ash-covered ground, bursting brightly with a bang like a firecracker and fading away, reduced to glowing embers.

His hair hangs in stringy strands of blonde, his dress shirt feels heavy, weighted down by both sweat and scarlet. This sweltering heat does him no favours; Ash is certain there's pools in his socks. Either the flamboyant French flameslinger concedes to the temperature in order to find relief, or not. He bitches softly under his breath and wars with himself over the decision, inattentive and dizzy.

Thin digits fumble over his buttons as he works away at them, unfastening them. Ash peels the ruined article off his back and down his arms, leaving it discarded in a pile. Lines of tension appear along his jaw as he grinds his back molars together.

He's well-built, solid and lean with broad shoulders, alabaster skin stretched taut over muscles, bone and sinew. Blood marks his chest like war paint, congealing far too slowly. Perhaps now it will be better, as the air seems cooler only briefly. Ash gathers his arms around himself as though it were his intention to... Hide, maybe? Shield his body from view? Protect himself? It's hard to discern what the reasoning is behind his pathological aversion to showing skin. Likely only he will ever know.

This all takes a heartbeat, maybe two, and his absorption with the task is not without consequences -- Ryu's already descending like a bat out of hell, with a face-seeking foot-missile intent on kicking him in the face. Blue eyes travel to the ninja coolly. A surge of chi, a current ripples as it winds along the ground. Just as flames crawl to his stationary legs to erect a barrier, Ash cannot do so in time.

He gets a deep look into Ryu's soul.

Er, sole.

The armored boot collides with his cheek and it hits the pyrokinetic hard. His head snaps all the way to the end of his neck, the smooth column of his throat exposed and glossy from the layer of sweat that is the most disgusting thing, and he stumbles to catch up. Already an angry mark of black and red starts to appear as blood vessels rupture, and his expression twists with the noting of a particular coppery tang.

Immediately he takes count of his teeth, tongue sliding over the wires of his braces until encountering one loose bracket-- no, two. The inside of his mouth is shredded on one side, but everything else seems to be in order. Able to slide both bits off the archwire, his cheeks hollow as his sucks in a breath before expelling it with such force that the brackets fly off twenty feet or so and disappear into obscurity. The wire jabs him in the back of the mouth. "I'll send you the bill, mon ami. Cest vraiment des conneries. That's the second time you've attacked my face." He's beginning to get irritated, his pride not accepting how he is being taken apart like an amateur (EVEN THOUGH ASH /IS/ AN AMATEUR), searching for a way to even the odds without great sacrifice in turn... But is that possible?

Who knows, but drawing upon his fury and his birthright, Ash intends on finding out.

COMBATSYS: Ash focuses on his next action.

[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Hitomi           0/-------/----===|====---\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa
[                     \\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Ash              0/-------/--=====|=======\=------\1          Scratch

The essence of ninjutsu is to fight in such a manner that your opponent doesn't know how to react. Deception, preemptive strikes, even sheer overwhelming violence when necessary. It is an art designed to allow small groups of often poorly equipped individuals defeat a numerically superior opponent through precision assassination.

At least, that's the version of ninjutsu that has managed to make its way into the history books; peasants striking out at military leaders. The Hayabusa Clan was not tasked with killing political targets in human wars, they were founded by the blood of dragons to stand against supernatural threats beyond the means of normal humans by mastering chi to accomplish the impossible.

People like Ryu Hayabusa are why myths are myths.

Ignoring the innate strength granted to him by the Dragon Lineage, the Master Ninja has been training nearly since birth to fight overwhelming foes. He has taken the fight to the actual Underworld.

And so it is a wonder that he even has it within himself to avoid turning this battle into a bloodbath. Even the cuts that cross Ash's chest are remarkably shallow for the stroke of a katana's blade. It is a powerful struggle to continue a fight like this. Had he not given his word that he would take part in this fight with Scratch, he likely would have left as soon as he recognized the threatening nature of this volcano.

No, in this situation his best hope of getting everyone out of here safely is through the appearance of relentless brutality.

When the ninja's feet hit the ground after the brutal strike that damaged Ash's dental-wear, he immediately draws back into a low stance, right foot forward with his weight settled mostly onto his bent left leg. This is not a fighting stance, it allows for very little movement, he'd be at a disadvantage if he needed to move quickly. No, this is a power stance.

Hayabusa focuses intently, as his body coils up like a snake for the strike. His left arm moves up in a ready position, blocking his opponent's view of his right as it begins to shake slightly from all of his concentration.

And then, in a flash, he releases, his right hand flying up as the entirety of his body is thrust forward, aiming to put every ounce of strength the ninja can muster into a rising backhand aimed to catch Crimson directly in the stomach, imparting so much kinetic energy that he goes flying into the air.

With Hitomi not advancing, and using the time to catch her breath instead, it still remains on Scratch to initiate combat again, and with HItomi still remaining at distance, it means that Scratch will still have to advance a bit to attack, and that's not something she's been doing too well against the karateka this time around, which is why she's been holding back.

Scowling a little, it means Scratch really has to think about her next move. Sure, the brunette is closer, but still too far away from the cyan haired skater. Furrowing her brow, and seeing no elements around the court still up that she could incorporate, she frowns and...decides just to drive in, it seems. Charging from her crouch, she darts straight on HItomi...

Before veering off to the side. She takes a hard turn around once she's got enough distance again to charge straight at Hitomi. This time, she leaps high, trying to grab onto Hitomi's head as she tries to turn full upside down. Not quite a handstand, but if she can manage, she'd swing clear around to Hitomi's back, and swing herself to slam her skated feet straight into Hitomi's back.

COMBATSYS: Scratch successfully hits Hitomi with Aggressive Air EX.

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Hitomi           0/-------/-======|==-----\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa
[                     \\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////                 ]
Ash              0/-------/--=====|=======\==-----\1          Scratch

Hitomi hunkers down and raises that one arm guarding arm in response to Scratch's sudden spurt of acceleration and is confounded as the girl suddenly jinks to accelerate past her once again. Skipping sideways and twisting to follow she observes the girl pulling a quick U-turn and accelerating at her still faster. Raising her arms to ward off the blow she shifts her feet to set her root and absorb the impact, not allowing the blow to--

And the sudden leap and pressure on the top of her cranium forces her to duck her head, the kid on skates pulling a handstand right on top of her and twisting to turn their body through one eighty causes the pink hairband atop her head to twist askew and dig painfully into the side of her head and back of her ear.

There is a whumph of air and hearty smack in the back on either side of her spine sending her staggering forward with two steps into a arm pin wheeling half crouch before she stops herself. That had hurt, those all-terrain wheels were not soft at all, her face twists in a grimace though she clamps down on any scream or cry this time, she'd probably be feeling that one tomorrow but she is already wrapping both those arms around her body; her feet having dug right into the ground and carved up furrows in the earth with how hard she had resisted to bring herself to a halt while still close enough to strike back.

Hitomi as she stands is a girl coiled like a spring, taunt and on the verge of explosion she launches herself right back at her opponent with such force she does indeed take to the air, half turning in mid-flight with one leg raised straight up and pointed at the sky. Clumps of dirt and earth caught up in tread of her boots sail through the air surrounding her as she descends on the skate punk like a bird of prey, diving with an axe kick primed and aiming to plow Scratch right into the ground and put an end to this match-up.

COMBATSYS: Ash just-defends Ryu Hayabusa's Soryu EX!

[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Hitomi           0/-------/-======|===----\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa
[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////                 ]
Ash              0/-------/--<<<<<|=======\==-----\1          Scratch

In other words, ninjas are jerks. Duly noted.

I kid, I kid. Nah, I totally get it.

Still, can't say that Ash has any love for ninjutsu, even the Hayabusa Clan's deadly arts that send Ryu packing a lunch so he can fight in the Underworld for the good of mankind. Crimson is entirely put off by what he's learning about his opponent, through silence and precision strikes that ruin either his dental work or attempt to cut him to ribbons. It seems a little severe, but at the same time, the pyrokinetic has been chucking around fire like it's going out of style. Although his unique brand of flames come in green, they're just as real as the volatile conflagration that burns down homes, or sears flesh from bones. Ultimately, turnabout is fair play.

Without his shirt to hinder the process, the humid air bathes his chest, rusting the painted marks of his blood slowly. The edges of each wound congeal, but they continue to smart sharply and a steady trickle of scarlet runs down over his ribs like veins, reaching as far as the young man's abdomen before they crack and dry. His skin shines with sweat. Ash shakes the strings of blonde from his bruised face, revealing an eye swelling almost shut, reducing depth perception to nil. "Saa, this would be the part where I resign," he speaks softly, pleasantly, even cheerfully. A lazy smile graces his bloodied lips.

"But," Ash unwraps his arms, releasing his shoulders and feeling more vulnerable than ever, playing it off by glancing at his finely manicured fingernails. They are blessedly still intact. "She's nowhere near good enough to fight you, and I have no reason to stop her. Not this time. Ahaha, what were the organizers thinking? Partnering me with that disappointment."

Is it possible that he can go even one fight without ripping on Hitomi for something? Probably not.

Despite efforts to cool himself, it seems as though the heat is on the rise, boiling sweat into steam, blood into steam, the air thick and choking. Next to remove would be his slacks, but if just the shirt made him uncomfortable enough, to be so bare would probably trigger some sort of massive panic attack. The thin material clings at his legs, which is impressive -- they were already fitted to begin with. His head is swimming again. The Frenchman burns what remains of the blood from his hands, scorching his palms and wrists. If he'll be applying a salve to his fingers, might as well make it worthwhile.

The energy flickers around him and he seems to focus, as well. But those blue eyes dart away, one able to see the match taking place at the volleyball court, revealing to him that Hitomi has similarly done away with her top. "Hmph," Ash tries not to tarry for too long checking her out -- he's a healthy guy, especially when it's confirmed that maybe she isn't like... 14. The baby-face confused him.

This is all pointless creeping.

Hayabusa, trembling with the effort it must require to channel his strength into one attack, blitzes in. His heavier frame skims the sandblasted earth, then he thinks he caught the fey flameslinger unaware. Wrong. Ash catches the Dragon Ninja's hand, his burnt fingers coiling around it almost possessively. The kinetic energy explodes out from the sides, as though it had just met an invisible wall, breaking upon it like a wave. His fair flaxen strands limply flutter in protest. "Hmm~hmmm," he says, suddenly finding reason to be a little more interested in this man...

Which is very, very bad for Ryu. And the dedicated fanbase around the world who are currently shipping the French teen hard with a murderer. What the hell, people!

Should he be able, his grip twists to take the man who is the bane of demons by wrist. Ash leans in, so close and so quickly, his freckled features partially obscured and only his best side visible. "Oho, you have lovely eyes," he purrs, sounding enticed, "I'll bet you're actually quite handsome under that mask."

"Let's find out~"

Crap, crap! Fire! FIRE! Those black nails sink in, if he held the ninja in the first place, biting hard into flesh. With a cruel grin, Ash Crimson anchors his opponent with an unshakable, vice-like grip. His other hand whips around from his side, a great glob of bubbleflames churning in his palm. This is what he tries to shove directly into Hayabusa's face, to burn away that layer of fabric and maybe singe the tip of his nose in the process. Ryu is then shoved roughly away with a light, twinkling laugh. Hope you enjoy suffering while you breathe, just like the rest of us~

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa blocks Ash's Brumaire.

[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////            ]
Hitomi           0/-------/-======|===----\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa
[                      \\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////                 ]
Ash              0/-------/-<<<<<<|=======\==-----\1          Scratch

Not even Hayabusa is comfortable in these conditions. He made it known at the very start of the battle that there was something wrong with the volcano. He's battled through the depths of volcanos, fought right next to flowing magma, but with his ninpo techniques he was able to avoid feeling this overwhelmed. There isn't even a lava flow, it shouldn't be this hot!

Unfortunately, his attempt to put a stop to at least half the fight comes up short. Finding himself locked in position by the angry, young blonde's grip. Green eyes lined with gold stare intently back into those piercing blues. The look that he holds is relentless. These are the eyes that have stared down impossible odds, being held by a teenage boy, no matter how sadistic, is not enough to make him surrender.

For the moment he simply ignores the hand on his wrist, the pain will pass, and it's nowhere near the greatest threat. His left hand holds tight on the ring pommel at the end of one of the kunai along his thigh, his thumb catching in the loop as his fingers wrap around the grip. As Crimson's flames are turned toward the ninja's face, the kunai is whipped free of its sheath, and in a flash the base connects with Ash's wrist, warding off the bubbling, emerald flames. For a moment the subdued jade color starring back at Ash burns bright with the reflection of his own power, but it lasts little more than a blink of the eye as he continues the motion of the kunai, twisting around, letting his sweat soaked skin aid him as he glides his hand free of that vice.

And like that Hayabusa rolls away, regaining distance as he tries to ignore the faint crimson lines left by those blackened nails on his wrist. In the haste, the flames managed to catch to his scarf, and the ninja is forced to pause, sliding the bladed ninja weapon beneath the fabric wrapped around his neck, twisting it so that it shreds the dark gray fabric before the consuming green flames manage to reach his neck.

It seems almost as an afterthought that he spins the kunai around his thumb as he begins one more twist on his heel, kicking up the black sand around him as the ninja weapon leaves his hand on the return, flying straight at Ash.

COMBATSYS: Hitomi successfully hits Scratch with Shingetsu.

[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Hitomi           1/-------/=======|===----\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa
[                      \\\\\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Ash              0/-------/-<<<<<<|=======\======-\1          Scratch

Falling to the ground after that emphatic double kick, Scratch grunts as she's forced to somersault back on the not-terribly forgiving terrain just outside of the volleyball court. "Nnghh...." She's not doing well, but she's finally got in a decent enough hit. That's one thing to be happy for at least.

The problem is that the damage isn't enough to make up the difference so far. And as she's forced to pull herself up after that reckless attack, she ends up in a terrible position to react, and Hitomi recovers far too quickly for her to stop when the karate comes with that flying axe kick. Slammed down into the ground, her head nearly ends up buried into the court. It's a messy look, and even as the skater matches to pull herself up, she's clearly looking worse for the wear. Bruises, scrapes from unforgiving volcanic rock, and profuse sweat all over. SHe looks a mess, and looking not like she's going to stay up for much longer.

However, wavering as she is, she's not about to give up without a fight. Shutting her eyes tight, she springs off the ground, and leaps high above Hitomi. She looks like she might pass out right there in mid-air, but she keeps herself together long enough to spin wildly in mid-air, tucked into a ball as she corkscrew flips around, then extending her legs out just as she closes in on HItomi. Her wheels carve streaks of energy through the air as she descends, trying to catch Hitomi in the reckless spinning storm.

COMBATSYS: Scratch successfully hits Hitomi with McTwister.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Hitomi           1/---====/=======|===----\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa
[                      \\\\\\\\  < >  ///////                       ]
Ash              0/-------/-<<<<<<|===----\-------\0          Scratch

Does her best to flatten the other girl into the ground even as she descends upon them, it's a solid connection and she continues to press down trying to flatten Scratch right out so she won't rise again hard enough to half bury her opponent or bounce her off of it. Taking a half step back Hitomi opens up some space between the two of them expecting the other girl to stay down or at least conceded after having taken this much abuse. Shouldn't she just give up now rather than fighting until she was all scuffed and bloodied? How hard was she going to fight so hard for something like a frivolous beach tournament?

It's almost horrifying ... and, at the same time a little inspiring. Watching Scratch launches herself right back up to continue their fight with a skyward vault while she looks in a state Hitomi doesn't even want to hit her any more, yet there's no referee leaping to the rescue and stopping the fight before one of them got hurt.

Hitomi can only raise her arms to protect her head and fact as the all-terrain 'blades' swipe across her raised forearms, only to drive her down in return and one of the chi infused blades crashes down atop her guard and with stinging pain in her scalp and heavy crush against her arms she's driven back by the following successive spinning hits to her abdomen, wobbling drunkenly on her feet and arms as pain wracks her torso she falls to one knee, supporting herself with one arm and hissing under her breath at how much that had hurt, but things weren't over!

Throwing herself from prone at Scratch in a wild lunge she tries to made a grab for the skater and flip the other girl around enough for her to establish a foreful choke hold. Applied from behind, starting by looping one arm around the neck so that the crook of the elbow is under the Scratch's chin, then placing the hand of her arm on the opposite bicep. Locking her other hand in place on the back of their head and pushing the opponent's head and neck forward into the crook of a flexed arm.

Hitomi still doesn't want to hurt Scratch any more but she really needs to stop the girl wailing on her and just put her to sleep if at all possible. The thin rivulet of red working its way down her cheek from her temple was a pretty good indicator that that last move had done some damage.

COMBATSYS: Ash blocks Ryu Hayabusa's Thrown Weapon.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Hitomi           1/---====/=======|====---\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa
[                        \\\\\\  < >  ///////                       ]
Ash              0/-------/<<<<<<<|===----\-------\0          Scratch

Oh, Ash knows all about the unnatural activity, how the volcano is nothing more than a ticking timebomb. He's not attuned to the energies of the world, not the way in which some are, but the flamewielder is very perceptive regarding anything that relates to his birthright. It can be felt right in the core of his very being... It's why the green flames that he controls with such skill... have been burning him, each time they see use.

However, Ash Crimson does not care.

The island could go down like Pompeii and it would mean absolutely nothing to him. Those empty eyes of blue would stare on impassively as a blanket of volcanic ash covers the land mass, stowed away safely on the boat that would bring him and the others home.

It is only a question of when, and he's fairly certain that the time isn't now, no matter the rise in temperature and what effect it has on the battling pairs. If he had assumed danger was imminent, he wouldn't be fighting and allowing his strength to be whittled down by stifling heat and acrid-smelling fumes from smoke that rises from several fissures that mark the crater. No, Ash would be leaving, and he'd be hauling Hitomi out of here, too.

Half-shaped moons are left as a reminder of how quickly the Frenchman can slip in past one's defenses, his opponent sliding free, but he wasn't seeking a surrender, nor was he angry. Not at Ryu, anyway. I mean, it has to do with the ninja, but is more the result of poor performance, including how his wrist is deflected, arm pushed to the side and fire extinguished with a gurgling pop as his fingers close to form a fist. "That's unfortunate," he says, tone snide but carefree, contradicting itself much like Ash does in every moment. He springs back when the other man rolls, to place yet more distance between himself and Hayabusa, and smiles again.

"Maybe it's time to finish this. Would you like to see what I'm capable of?" It doesn't take much to close his swollen eye, still obscured by locks of blonde separated into strands, but the other is reduced to a fox-like slit. An answer isn't expected - Ryu hasn't said anything since the first fireball was hucked in his direction - and so the pyrokinetic carries on. He folds his arms across his middle, yet more blood seeping from his chest, and stands as if enthralled with nothing.

A kunai, flung at him just as his aura swells, an oppressive force that reaches for everything around him. The truck groans as the bulk weight is forced down against the tires, digging into the dirt. When an explosive inferno consumes him, the European's hand snaps out to grab the little projectile from the air through his flames. It is incredibly hot. Ash grits his back molars together, allowing it to drop with a, "Grk!"

He tucks himself in, feet together, trying to keep the roaring conflagration from his exposed skin and the legs of his slacks -- it wouldn't do for them to catch the way Ryu's scarf had. The updraft evaporates the sweat from his hair, leaving it soft and lifting around his head, like Crimson had gone super saiyan for an instant. His fingers slip on his sweaty arms, the cuts tear wider, and when it is too much to withstand, the burning mass lifts off him.

It soars high in a malevolent arc, twisting and rolling, verdant and horrible. The blaze crashes against the ground and splatters in all directions, small bubbles and motes lifting into the air. It quivers, trembling, almost like a living being, almost content to remain there. "Can you dodge this?" While impossible for his voice to be heard above the crackling maelstrom, somehow it is, as if Ash had settled himself somewhere behind the ninja and whispered the words gently into his ear.

The raging fire surges forward as Ash points at Ryu, giving them a clear indication of where they must be. Who must be enveloped and burnt to cinders... Except not, because there's a sense of something, as though he were holding back. Not quite lethal, almost playful. The effeminate Frenchman toys with his hair absently, and he looks delighted...

COMBATSYS: Ash can no longer fight.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Hitomi           1/---====/=======|====---\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa
                                  >  ///////                       ]
                                  |===----\-------\0          Scratch

COMBATSYS: Ash successfully hits Ryu Hayabusa with Sans Culottes.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////                       ]
Hitomi           1/---====/=======|=====--\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa
                                  >  ///////                       ]
                                  |===----\-------\0          Scratch

Not a clean hit. A disappointment. Being able to force the young Frenchman out of the fight would have provided a strong advantage for his team.

No, instead he can feel the sudden surge of intention from Crimson. He may be nearing the end of his rope, but there is a powerful, swelling aura pouring off of him. Hayabusa has been in the presence of Greater Fiends, and there are many who would say that the Dragon Ninja himself gives off an aura of threat, but he can't help but be swayed back.

And then the bubbling flames appear, casting this section of the battle in an ugly green light, unnatural, otherwordly. Despite the surrounding sensation of heat coming off of the volcano, Hayabusa can already feel the difference.

He must avoid it.

He can't allow himself to be overwhelmed by this power!

Ash's whispered taunt is the last thing the ninja hears before he attemps to leap straight up. Extensive ninja training and a mastery of ninpo techniques has given the ninja an impressive range, and incredible speed.

It's not enough.

As the ninja starts to rise, so too do the flames. They surge forward without mercy, taking over him with the inevitability of an avalanche on an unprepared mountaineer. He vanishes completely into the inferno as it laps at his bared skin. Not event his masterful training is enough to restrain a brief, pained scream.

And then the flames fall away, like the retreating tide after a tsunami. Ryu Hayabusa lays on the ground on his hands and knees. The last of his mask falling away from his face as the last vestigates of the flame trail up from his chin. His skin is tinged red, like a boiled lobster, but deep in his eyes remains a fighting spark.

He rises back up to his feet. To most eyes he looks like a man prepared to kill, to strike a final, lethal blow in retalliation.

Instead his eyes close and his right hand is pulled in front of his face, two fingers extended up to the sky as he turns his attention inward. All of the weariness of battle, the pain of the flames, the taxing heat of the volcano, it begins to fade away. He focuses on his failure to maintain himself, unlocking the power held back in a moment of weakness. He must be ready. He must be strong.

He is a point of peace in a maelstrom.

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa gains composure.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////                    ]
Hitomi           1/---====/=======|=======\=====--\1     Ryu Hayabusa
                                  >  ///////                       ]
                                  |===----\-------\0          Scratch

COMBATSYS: Hitomi successfully hits Scratch with Quick Throw.
- Power hit! -

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////                    ]
Hitomi           1/---====/=======|=======\=====--\1     Ryu Hayabusa
                                  >  ///                           ]
                                  |======-\-------\0          Scratch

It wasn't trying hard for the sake of a stupid beach tournament tha drove Scratch. Hell, the tournament ended up more and more like a bad idea from the very start. But either way, it wasn't for the sake of the tournament. It was a matter of pride, something she was learning rather swiftly as a fighter. Well, that, and there was certainly a perverse thrill of fighting so close to the brink, another thing that Scratch has gotten more and more acquainted with the more she fought. She IS a bit of a thrill seeker and adrenaline junkie after all.

Either way, the wild, spiraling strikes, whipping out at near random angles as she careened, flipped, and rotated crazily at Hitomi, hits home repeatedly. Her glowing skates crash into Hitomi, before Scratch herself crashes to the ground. There was no other real other option there: even if she wanted, as beaten up as she is, she probably couldn't have enough control to land properly. Buckling and nearly skipping off the ground as she lands, the skater groans, gasping for air amid the near suffocating heat. Shakily pushing herself up, she tries to get up to a standing position, but doesn't get anywhere near that far as the karateka picks her up into a cinching chokehold. Eyes widen, her hands grasping at the arm hooked under her chin.

She squirms, and fights the best she can, but between the blood choke, and the heat of the volcano, it's no use. Her struggles grow weaker and weaker, until her arms start to slump downward, passing out in the hold.

COMBATSYS: Scratch takes no action.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////                    ]
Hitomi           1/---====/=======|=======\=====--\1     Ryu Hayabusa

COMBATSYS: Scratch can no longer fight.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////                    ]
Hitomi           1/---====/=======|=======\=====--\1     Ryu Hayabusa

Hitomi does her best to maintain the hold, has to strain prevent Scratch from squirming free while also trying to not hurt the girl any more than absolutely necessary. Their sweat mingling as the wrestle about, she only feels she can slackens the hold as Scratch's last struggles seems to become weaker and clumsier. Hitomi drops to her knees still clinging like a limpet but quick to release her hold and guide the other girl to the ground gently. I'm saved! -- Relief at having subdued the other girl is replaced by concern for her as she leans in close to ensure the girl is still breathing and at least no more harmed by her grip. Smiling she bends to touch her forehead to the skaters own and just pants, the last of her anxiety washing away in a few seconds.

"It was, a great fight. -huff-"

Panting and climbing back to her feet she starts walking towards the other arena, leaving Scratch behind her for now. Her eyes are already fixed on the figure of Ash Crimson. Her step quickens when she realized what kind of condition he is in but her speed trails off as she notes the severity of the injuries.

The open bloody gashes on a pale chest, his bloodied lips with yet more leaking from his mouth or lips and bruising with some swellings coming up on his cheek in reds and a faint purpling. Some time ago a hurt girl had made a crack that his tongue was in jail because of his braces and foul mouth, but he had -HAD- obvious dental work. Noticeable burns on his arms he is liberally decorated with wounds. This - was the same guy who gave up in their last fight? But he could throw fire about and was so strong he could outright state was a weak nuisance, Hardly worth his time or effort!

One hand raised to cover her mouth, even just looking at him after getting this close is enough she can feel sympathy pains and has to suppress a desire to wince

But, those wounds.. why on earth? She half turns toward his opponent, staring with wide eyes she notices the sword on his back and pieces start falling into place, There wasn't much chance this guy was a cosplayer just having a bit of fun on the island. For whatever reasons.. He might just be a real ninja-

"Give me a break! -- You're using a sword on an unarmed opponent?!! What kind of person does that!"

She shakes her head dismissing all the fear, guilt and trepidation. Fully rounding and focused entirely upon Hayabusa, completely and righteously enraged at his actions, at how easily it could cost someone's life or leave a lifelong scar, for - nothing?! There was no life or death struggle here, no grand and amazing prize worth hurting people so badly.

She'd beat some sense into his head if it killed her, the irony of doing and thinking so completely eluding Hitomi.

COMBATSYS: Hitomi gathers her will.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////                    ]
Hitomi           2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\=====--\1     Ryu Hayabusa

He was fine...

He was okay.

Fingers tangled in his platinum blonde fringe, looking like a smug bastard...

And then the wave rolls over Ryu Hayabusa, bulldozes the ninja, sweeps him up in its storm. Once it peters out, sucked into the cracks of the crater or simply bursting into thousands of bubbles, his oppressive aura lifts. The frame of the truck ceases with its groaning under pressure, and Ash sways on the spot. Only when he isn't focused on exerting himself so fully does he realize... the shape he's in, the toll the fight has taken.

The Dragon Ninja's had his goose cooked, but for the French teen, it's over. He stumbles blindly a few feet to the transport vehicle, crashing into it so hard that he dents the door before sliding down to sit. At the very least, his chest has ceased in bleeding, but his expression grows vague. Uncomprehending as heat stroke and severe dehydration begin to set in. Their driver pulls the plug on recording the match, torn between rushing to Scratch and tending to Ash. Scratch wins, and the street rat is hoisted onto the back of the employee, carried all the way from the volleyball court and deposited into the truck bed.

She scrambles to the cooler, rifles through the medical pack, pulling out bandages and disinfectant. Ash receives a bottle of water, which he stares at blankly, so the girl doesn't mess around. Grabbing his chin and tilting his head back, the bottle is tipped up by a little bit to drizzle water onto his blood-stained lips. That's enough to rejuvenate him, enough that he's looking directly at the driver and allowing himself to be pampered like the spoiled little brat he is. "Did she win?" the flamewielder asks hoarsely.

"Not yet, shut up and drink," she snaps at him.

One half of the fight is over. Ryu's original opponent falls to the ground, overwhelmed by the heat, and his partner... his partner does not look like she'll be getting back up very easily after all of this.

He prepares to turn to face the Frenchman's partner when she suddenly comes rounding up from the volleyball court and lets loose her fury at him. Hayabusa, still looking quite burned, simply stands in silence as the German girl screams at him. He pauses, looking her over, noting the way she shakes.

Under normal circumstances, he would consider lashing out and ending the battle, but she makes no hostile move toward him, simply focused on berating him over his method of combat. This warrants some consideration... but only for a moment. Instead he does something he hasn't bothered with since the fight began.

He speaks.

"...My blade acts as an extension of my body. I have trained to wield it for as many years as you've likely been alive. I can read my opponent and know my own strength, I would never kill by accident." His words come out with authority and confidence, his eyes stare directly at Hitomi's with unwavering truth.

"You wield your fists as a weapon. Your partner casually throws around fire like it was nothing. What makes my sword so different? Combat isn't about having fun, there is always the chance that someone may be crippled or even die. I have mercy, I have mastery over my body and my weapons. This volcano is more likely to kill you or your friend than me."

His arms cross over his chest as he continues, "If you're so offended by the nature of fighting, then I suggest you surrender so that we may all leave here in one piece and rethink your life."

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa takes no action.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////                     ]
Hitomi           2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\=====--\1     Ryu Hayabusa

Halted rigidly and decisively in her footsteps Hitomi remains absolutely stone still as the Ninja master lectures her with a barrage on the nature of fighting, calmly explaining to her the nature of his virtues and skills such that no danger to their life was ever presented by his blade. She hardly even seems to breathe after the final shot, only her hands falling to her side quite limply as a whole lot of that sweet and righteous anger and vitality just drops right out from under her.

Before now, for her whole life she lived in a dojo, a wealth of members of an extended family and friends surrounding her, centred on martial arts. Men laughing at each other and clapping one another on the back after matches; children giving their best to imitate the adults and enjoy their classes. She was infused with love and drive for the martial arts, fighting her opponents with all due respect and fairness to ultimately enjoy herself and feel they had mutually grown or achieved something; but that wasn't this. Even if she were to be fighting at her utmost to test her skills and abilities, to see how far she had come and reach new heightsc it wasn't this.

"You're right, -- I -... f-forfeit then."

She offers an incredibly rigid and brief yet formally deep bow. There's a hic in her voice and heave to her chest toward the end of her short answer as she turns her back on Hayabusa. Mentally she's trying to collect herself before she walks back toward the vehicles and avoid tearing up but there's nothing more she can really say to the man. He was probably right, she was just playing at being a warrior and trying to make sure nobody got hurt, she's so irritated and frustrated. But above everything else?

Their guide looks up at the girl a little concerned but hands over the water bottle she had been 'pampering' Ash with. Hitomi takes the water bottle in both hands and it takes a moment before she kneels down and raises the bottle to his lips and tips it like the guide had been doing, freeing the guide to custle off to take care of Scratch.

"I'm sorry. So-so-sorry."

For everything, really. Maybe this wasn't a place for her and she was just getting in Ash's way but too stubborn to admit it. She isn't crying, not at all.. It's all just sweat running down her face and cheeks and her eyes completely obscured by her fringe and the way she keeps her face downcast. Sorry for being so upset when Ash had thrown in the towel and maybe pressured him into this, sorry she wasn't a better teammate or martial artist, sorry she was even here.

She was just sorry.

COMBATSYS: Hitomi has left the fight here.

                                  >  /////////                     ]
                                  |=======\=====--\1     Ryu Hayabusa

Having a conversation with the driver is next to impossible -- whenever he tries, she attempts to drown him. Ash doesn't want to be coughing and spluttering, so he settles to take quiet sips of the bottle held to his lips and feels ultimately useless, arms at his sides, water dribbling down his chin.

"Nice shiner," she says after a moment.


Burble, burble!

Ash is choking, gagging, spitting up water and blood and looking pretty awful because the driver understands French, punishing him for pretty much telling her to eff off. Then Hitomi shows up, leaving Ryu somewhere behind her to stand majestically or whatever it is that ninjas do when they're not being paid attention to. He doesn't know, and he doesn't particularly care, either. What the flamewielder does understand is that... neither have fallen, which means...

He has the energy to swipe his arm under his lips, wiping away spit and other unpleasant things, the staff member sniggering softly. "You resigned." It sounds... heartless, cold, condemning. After all that... The young man...--

It may have been his intention to rise and finish the fight himself, as if he could, but Hitomi bars his path, accepting the water bottle from the horrible driver and... tipping it back for him. The young karateka HATES Ash, and it serves him just fine. All the better to keep the girl at a distance, because she has an obnoxious, innocent personality that could very well interfere with his plans should he allow her to get close. He doesn't understand what he's experiencing.

But she's crying. Claim it's sweat, he's not stupid, and for all that this doesn't matter to him, Ash is not so utterly heartless to ignore a girl in pain.

As refreshing as the drink was, his hand coils around hers and guides it away from his lips. The other other... is brought around her shoulders that might be trembling, pulling Hitomi against his chest in a hug that could be to comfort her...

Or to shut her up.

There's a strange quality to it, aside from the fact that it's not the best smell, owing to the fact that they're both sweaty and gross and he's bleeding. It's something... lacklustre, disconnected. Like there could be real feeling in it, almost. She may be too distraught to notice. "You silly girl," Ash murmurs as he gently strokes the back of Hitomi's head, his empty eyes finding Ryu and then dismissing him in a blink. He hates this.

"Just... stop."

And just like that the fight is over.

Hayabusa is left standing alone on the battlefield, a familiar experience for the man who has spent his entire life training to combat the most powerful evils that this world and the surroundings realms can produce. He must be strong because it literally flows through his blood.

Sometimes this means that he must be blunt to the point where he appears cruel. Hitomi has learned an important lesson, and deep inside Ryu feels for the girl and the new weight that wisdom places upon her. Seeing the world and your actions for what they truly are is a heavy burden, but hopefully the German karateka will be able to take his words and build new strength with them, no matter where she decides her life should go.

There simply isn't time to dwell on all of that. This heat, and the battle, have taken a heavy toll on Hayabusa, but he can't allow himself the opportunity to rest... not with the strange new mysteries of the volcano that birthed Zack Island.

He finally turns around, immediately locking eyes on the driver-cum-official and speaks with the sort of voice that lingers long after its passed. "Take them down off the volcano as soon as possible. It's not safe to linger here, don't waste time worrying about temporary comfort."

This fight has taken a heavy toll on his body; his skin looks as though he was out in the sun for far too long, his body is coated in enough sweat that it would not be hard to mistake him for having just stepped out of the pool, the marks left by Ash's nails have finally stopped bleeding along his wrist. Above all of this is a light spackling of black, volcanic sand.

And yet those green-gold eyes remain as sharp as ever. The pains of the flesh cannot blunt the tempered soul.

"Now, I need to speak with Zack about the threat his island holds for his Paradise..." As his words trail off, he summons up some deeper reserve of strength, charging toward the sharp decent from the peak and flinging himself seemingly recklessly off the cliff. His arms spread out to the side, and rather than plummeting, he begins to glide toward the main building as if lifted by invisible wings.

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa has ended the fight here.

Instead of flinching at the accusation of her having resigned she merely bows her head little more, accepting the blame there because it was her call and thusly her responsibility. She doesn't offer any kind of explanation and just focused on maybe raising the bottle to his lips so her can't speak of it further. Her arm being pulled away was distressing, she almost acts as if shocked to be grabbed, there was no love lost between these two as fighters or even as people, everything they did offended, irritated or was beyond comprehension of the other.

And just so?

The arm folding around her shoulders and pulling her close startles her, eyes open wide behind the veil like fringe she has no idea what he is doing. Hitomi was indeed trembling, just a little but is as started more than anything else by this bizarre turn of events, she lifts her head just enough to peek up at Ash face with her face tucked against his chest and blood seeping into her fringe he hits her right between the eyes with the words 'just stop' while stroking her hair. Eyes already swimming with tears screw shut and dislodge large droplets that drop straight into his lap and grey slacks.

"Hgn- *hic* -- auuuuwaaaahHH."

Defenselessly, she suddenly begins to bawl with her face buried in his injured chest, still damp blood clinging to her fringe and her just crying her heart out. Loud enough the opening of and starting up of the camcorder goes unnoticed as does her notice of their guide looking on at the display.

She had no strong motivation to fight here, she had just wanted to prove to Ash that she wasn't weak, she wasn't useless baggage. She had thought to meet a bunch of new and interesting people here on an island paradise and here she was crying into his injured chest without any kind of reserve or dignity.

Log created on 17:56:07 02/06/2015 by Ash, and last modified on 05:37:43 02/25/2015.