Neo League 0001 - NL#0059: Mei Lin vs Hotaru Futaba

Description: An aging, wooden structure at the edge of the world plays host to one more show - two young Kung Fu artists exploring the elemental ties their unique versions of Chinese martial arts possess - the strengths and weaknesses of each approach to fighting. [Winner: Hotaru]

The road to to becoming an acknowledged fighter is fraught with challenges no amount of practice had prepared Hotaru Futaba to face. Defeats have been common, matches hard to come by as she works to establish her name, but the Neo League remains friendly to fighters of seemingly all calibers. With the low cost of payouts and profits made off video streams and compilations, even rookie level fighters can get their chance in the rings.

The young Kung Fu artist was determined to continue growing, continue finding her place in the world. This was her brother's path and it was in his ephemeral footsteps that she followed. Each step had been a difficult trial, coming out of obscurity with only years of self-taught refinements of a style she only knew from memories of a mother long dead. It had gotten her started, though she was barely scraping by and while there was a promise of potential, her lack of guidance left her course rocky at best.

It took another, far further along that lonely highway of a dedicated fighter's life, to forge that potential into something, instructing the young, creative fighter in the ways of Chuojiao and teach her how to blend the intricate yet direct movements into her style of fighting nearly seamlessly. With renewed purpose, inspired by the month of personal instruction by the wise Chao Liu, the girl eagerly returned to the leagues to apply what she had learned.

The old wooden structure would serve as the battleground. Dating to centuries prior, the proximity to the sea had been an unending challenge in keeping this site from collapsing into rot and falling to the waves that crash against the rocks outside. The large, wood-floored area is open to the outside world on the north and east sides, while the south and western walls are solid, lined with small shrines, mounted wooden trophies of past battles, and statues of famous actors and warriors who had graced this place in bygone days.

Standing on the wooden floor, Hotaru can't help but feel a sense of history. The rush of ocean breeze, the waves crashing outside, the cry of seaguls winging through the air... Breathing in, she exhales softly. Even with a number of fights behind her, she still couldn't help the pre-fight jitters. Stretching her arms out in front of her, fingers interlaced, she closes her eyes and shakes her head.

Clothed in a blue and white Chinese-styled outfit, she looks every bit the part of a young, hopeful Kung Fu artist even with her Japanese heritage. Azure eyes open and take one last sweeping glance out across the ocean, hands reaching up to tighten the red ribbons in her raven colored hair, before she turns around, wood creaking beneath her feet, an excited expression on her face. She couldn't wait to get started - to meet someone new, to push herself to her limits...

Mei Lin remembers the years spent training in secrecy : how keeping the stances burn his muscles until he was able to bear it, how repeating the same techniques again and again made his muscles ache and grow sore from the constant practice so he could master the various routines. The pain always threatening to make him give it all up and take the easier path instead. It sharpened his will, determination and resolve.

Even now after a few fights with true fighters, Mei Lin was facing his true test. The numbness of his muscles and the ache of his body after the fights were much more intense than what he ever had in any of his solo-training and the thought of leaving it all always seems ever so alluring and tempting. He resists it, for now, knowing the pain will be only temporary and that through efforts he will be able to push his limits and extent them.

No great things are easy to accomplish, after all.

Mei Lin had a lot in common with this othre fighter, Hotaru Futaba it would seem : both desired to become acknowledged fighter (though both had their own reasons for it) and their respective martial art was a specific branch of Kung Fu. Though Mei Lin is more of a new face in the fighting circuit than Hotaru.

Letting the noises guide him, Mei Lin makes his way toward the wooden strucutre. His eyes seem to be staring off the distance behind his stray locks of hair in front of his face, as if he was contemplating the beauty of the scenery... Or was just day dreaming and not totally there. A soft smile was on his face : he was an happy fellow, obviously... For him to have so many people accept his challenge, despite then ending up in his defeat was a delight considering he had been denied this pleasure all of his life. It was even better to see female martial artists around the world being able to defend themselves and able to excel in their art, it was giving him some hope..

Mei Lin's attire looks like that of a monk, more or less. His feet are totally bare and the plant of his feet seems dirty, obviously, from long walks bare foot. He seems to notice the other girl's presence and turns in her general direction, though he doesn't seem to be looking quite at her, "Hotaru Futaba?" He asks with a deep voice. His lips curl into a smile and the diminutive young man strides a bit closer, "Mei Lin," He says, bowing his head respectfully, a fist into his palm as he introduces himself, "Thank you for accepting my challenge," He adds. He turns his head away and closes his eyes a moment, letting the breeze caress his face. He couldn't see the beauty of the place, but he could feel it on his skin in many ways, "Are you ready for this?" He asks her, after a moment.

Hand cups fist as Hotaru returns the gesture without hesitation, bowing her head toward the other fighter. "Hotaru Futaba," she responds, glancing back up with a smile already at her lips. She knows nothing of her opponent. In the rookie leagues, where legacies and legends have yet to be built, information can be fairly scarce and she lacks any support infrastructure to prepare her for her matches ahead of time. It forces her to learn quick on her feet, adapt, adjust, and try to stay one step ahead of those she faces. This battle will require that of her once more.

It is only as she watches him that she starts to notice the lack of focus in the boy's eyes, the almost removed element of his visage - as if he was somewhere else entirely. Her arms lower to her side. Each new opponent is a new personality, a new style, and a new history. Getting to know more and more about others who walk this long, battleworn road with her has been a compelling part of the journey. "It is my honor to face you." she replies, her voice calm, the nervousness of moments prior bleeding out little by little.

"I am," she answers, sapphire blues narrowing slightly as she studies the boy further. Dressed as a monk - is it simply for fighting, or something deeper - a reflection of his story, his life? Clasping her hands behind her back, the girl strides away from the railing overlooking the sea more toward the center of the old building. Her footsteps creak against the wood, announcing her every move, her head bowed in thought as she considers the curious look in her opponent's eyes.

Turning around near the center of the old theater, she raises her hands, left hand forward for deflecting and swift, light strikes, right hand drawn back, bent at the elbow, for harder blows when the opportunities avail themselves.

"Please." she murmurs as she begins to bounce lightly on her feet. "Whenever you are ready."

COMBATSYS: Hotaru has started a fight here.

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Hotaru           0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Mei Lin has joined the fight here.

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Hotaru           0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0          Mei Lin

The old creaking wood was an advantage for Mei Lin : his senses were more stimulated as a iota of movement seemed to send a ripple across the planks. It might not be something Hotaru would notice, but to Mei Lin, it made the scenery all the more vivid and lively.

Mei Lin follows after Hotaru and halts in front of Hotaru, about four or five feet in front of her. One of his hand goes up beside his face, while the other is extended foward. His fingers are all joined up and pointing downward, forming spikes with his hands. He leans back a bit, as if sitting back on some invisible chair. His sore muscles make assuming the stance a bit painful, but nothing he can't endure with ease. It was nothing compared to when he learned to assume the stance, after all.

"Have a good fight," Mei Lin says and, a second later, he lunges at Hotaru to attack. He sweeps with his right arm to try and knock Hotaru's extended arm away while lunging foward in an attempt to deliver a violent snap with his joined fingers straight at Hotaru's sternum... An attack that might end up hurting a lot more than it looks like.

COMBATSYS: Mei Lin successfully hit Hotaru with Strong Punch.
Grazing Hit

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Hotaru           0/-------/-----==|=------\-------\0          Mei Lin

From the elevation of her voice, he would understand the height of his opponent to be only slightly shorter than his own. And from her light step, he might have an easier time imagining the lithe build of his young opponent. From her distance only a meter and a half away, she waits and watches, observing the way he drops into his own low, tight stance. Out of all her matches thus far, this is the first time she had faced someone directly who also practiced a refined art descended from the impressive history of war originating in China. That something with such a long, violent history could evolve into the beautiful forms on display in this modern age is something of a marvel, the girl thinks to herself briefly.

She responds in turn, sliding one foot forward, lowering her own center of mass as her arms move out from her sides as if the wings of a bird. Her eyes are on his face, watching to see where he looks - or more accurately, where he does not. This close it is enough to confirm what she suspected. That he either cannot see at all, or choses not to in order to not rely what might be faulty or limited vision. For a fleeting moment she wonders if it is even fair to fight someone with such a handicap, but when the young man acts, thoughts of him being limited in ability are dispelled in an instant.

Rising up as she twists her body out of her lower stance into a turn to the side, she lowers her left hand with a snap to try and knock aside his strike while trying to slip out of the way - the precision with which he deflects her own defense and drives his right hand forward is so accurate as to leave her doubting her initial assessment! How else could he-

The blow glances off her rib cage as she fails to escape the strike all together. A soft gasp of pain escapes his lighter opponent's lips as Hotaru bends with the blow, wincing at the force behind the blow. That he seems to practice a harder variant of Kung Fu is now abundantly clear. Gritting her teeth, she retaliates in an instant, foot slamming down hard enough that the board beneath her step splinters, the girl reaching out for Mei Lin's monk attire, seeking a firm enough grip with her fingers to convert forward momentum into a rising series of rapid kicks, one after another, "YA, YA, YA!" Knee, stomach, chest, shoulder - she would finish with a backflip taking her away to land some meters back from where she had started if successful-

COMBATSYS: Mei Lin blocks Hotaru's Shinjou Tai.

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Hotaru           0/-------/----===|===----\-------\0          Mei Lin

Mei Lin seems to stare blankly in Hotaru's direction though his eyes were definately not focused on her. His gaze was lost somewhere, perhaps in his own mind as he concentrated on his other senses, perhaps? His hearing was one that gave him input, though he was more sensitive to vibrations, something that most humans barely noticed. His sense of touch increased tenfolds by his lack of sight and compensating in its own way.

His lack of sight was definately not a crutch to his confidence as he attacked Hotaru with confidence and fluidity, as if he knew exactly where she was. His fighting style was nothing fancy, though it relied on precise and brutal strike, as Hotaru just discovered.

He senses something odd in Hotaru's fighting style, as if she adapted to match his aggressive fighting style with a more elusive one. He's not certain but his feet definately tells him there was something odd about Hotaru's movement just a few seconds ago.

The young man doesn't move away from Hotaru when he reaches out for him, not fast enough to slip away from her fingers, though once she has gotten a hold of his attire, his arms and shin moves to block and deflect the blows she can, managing to avoid a few while the others don't quite cleanly hit him, the blows that hits him causing him to grit his teeth in pain.

When Hotaru backflips away, Mei Lin seems lost for a second, his head turning around as if he was looking out for Hotaru, turning his back half to her, arms up and ready to defend himself. She might not notice this brief moment of confusion, but he definately didn't retaliate right away. The moment Hotaru lands though back on the wooden plank, Mei Lin's body straightens up a bit. His lips curl into a smile and he slams his right foot on the ground, taking his low horse straddling stance.

The foot slam sends a wave of chi underneath the stage, into the formation below, and shortly after Hotaru has landed, the wood beneath her feet would crack as a pillar of stone bursts out and attempts to smash right into her abdomen.

COMBATSYS: Hotaru blocks Mei Lin's Stone Spike.

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Hotaru           0/-------/---====|===----\-------\0          Mei Lin

By now, the young fighter is used to opponents seeking out the moments of vulnerability in her acrobatic, high risk style of fighting. It was a caution the elderly Chao Liu had issued, and an expectation she had come to account for in all of her steps. When she isn't immediately pursued following the solid, unmoveable defense of her opponent, it almost leaves her confused as her feet strike the ground only for the retaliation to come an instant later.

Of course, she realizes. When she is in the air, she is nearly invisible to the sightless young man. Stepping forward, she twists in her gait, her left shoulder facing him as she braces herself. With time to prepare, she is plenty ready for an attack - and she can even sense that wave of energy surging her way...

But she was not expecting its particular manifestation, wood splintering as a piller rises out of the ground with sudden speed, threatening to crumple the young fighter with a solid, kinetic impact. Bracing for it is enough to avoid being bowled over completely and she even seems to avoid getting driven backward very far in the process. A soft exhale escapes her lips, "Impressive," she murmurs as she steps up the piller itself, taking to the air and and disappearing from sound as she flips forward. Those who shape earthen chi are rare enough that she has never seen it done before, she marvels, as she flips forward toward her only slightly taller opponent.

"You do your teacher proud!"

If only she knew. The call is enough to identify the angle of her descent as the girl seeks to land on Mei Lin's shoulders with a hand stand for a fleeting instant before flipping around and dropping behind, her hands on his shoulders, her feet driving into his lower back as she attempts to flip him up and behind her throw the air.

By now she must know that her best bet to attack without chance to prepare is to go airborn - a talent she certainly possesses based on the fight thus far - to announce her trajectory so openly all the same. Could it be the young Kung Fu artist still has reservations about this matchup?

COMBATSYS: Hotaru successfully hits Mei Lin with Ten Rankutou.
- Power hit! -

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Hotaru           0/-------/--=====|=======\-------\0          Mei Lin

The low stances of Hung Gar and its techniques were not particulary adapted for quick movements across the battlefield. Unyielding and steady like a rock, deeply rooted into the earth like a tree, this is where Hung Gar found its strength, able to withstand even the deadliest attack through physical perfection.

The young man seems lost again : it is subtle though, but the way he shifts uncomfortably in his stance and slowly turns around, relying on his hearing instead of his touch and sense of vibration was unsettling. Hotaru was one of the few who seems to have noticed the flaw and who actually used it to deprive Mei Lin of his 'vision'.

Fortunately for Mei Lin, Hotaru can't stay in the air forever. His hearing might be keen, but Hotaru offers him little time to adjust his defense against the incoming attack. The young man attempts to move away when Hotaru soars down into him, though his movements are obviously sluggish and clumsy : a mixture of reacting instinctively on something his fighting style hasn't really prepared him for.

He seems obviously caught by surprise when Hotaru lands on his shoulder, causing him to flail his arms in an attempt to keep his balance. "Woah, woah!" He says before an high pitched screech escape his throat, a little something that was far from manly.

Being thrown around was definately the worst sort of experience for Mei Lin -- it stripped him of his sight momentarily and the world spins around him without being able to know which way is up and which is down. It never lasts long, but he hated it. He crashes into the wooden floor, splattering with no grace against it. He rises back quickly, though the sudden movement mixed with Hotaru's throw makes him stumble about as if he was still dazed from the attack. Which seems to be the case. He has to rest one hand on his head to steady himself for a second.

"Thanks.." Mei Lin says as he manages to regain his bearings, "... That's really all I want, really," He admits with a smile, "You're pretty good too..." Still he doesn't want to reveal too much, wouldn't want Hotaru to abuse of his weakness, even if he knows it's something he'll have to come around sooner or later.

He adopts another fighting stance : low hore straddling with fingers curled up. He then charges at Hotaru and attacks aggressively, smashing his left palm straight for Hotaru's midsection before following up with his right palm for an uppertcut meant to hit the palm of his hand against her jaw.

COMBATSYS: Hotaru dodges Mei Lin's Fierce Punch.

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Hotaru           0/-------/--=====|======-\-------\0          Mei Lin

Hotaru was no stranger to the principles of the harder styles of Kung Fu - single, decisive strikes, iron-like defenses, echewing mobility for power, evasion for unyielding strength. Fighters like that force the battle to flow around them - a stone in the river, the ebb and flow of momentum adjusting to cope with them rather than them giving up a single inch.

She is familiar with it for she has seen such arts personally. Her brother's striking force was nothing shy of world class even seven years go when last they spoke one cold, bitter morning. And now, so many years later, she can only imagine what he is capable of. Fighting this young man, she muses, as she completes her flip and lands gracefully on her feet, is perhaps a small glimpse of what it might be like to challenge her brother in a rite of respect someday. To that end, she must continue to train her absolute best.

Rising up, she stays fixed for a moment as Mei Lin speaks. She had heard that cry when she sent the young monk flying - it seemed a bit high, but some hit puberty late, perhaps? Maybe it would be best not to dwell on it for too long, azure eyes narrowed as he answers her compliment and offers one in return, bringing a quick smile to the corner of her mouth as she waits, one foot in front of the other, legs crossed over, arms raised, the girl becoming rooted to the spot as if she has no intention of being moved. "A resolve I can understand," she considers.

But when he strikes, she shifts suddenly, her body twisting around an axis as her legs unentwine. With hardly a step she has completely repositioned herself, the soft sound of her soles slipping over aged wood. Even as she turns, her right arm has extended, at first seeming just to help with the necessary momentum as his uppercutting palm narrowly slips by her face, almost brushing her nose.

But as she pulls her arm back, it serves as counter balance, allowing her to snap her left foot out, a strong side kick, aimed to catch Mei Lin beneath his arm as he rises into his attack. It would be swift and not terribly crushing, but if delivered quickly enough, it would leave the young fighter plenty of time to slip away from him in the aftermath. "KYA!"

COMBATSYS: Mei Lin interrupts Light Kick from Hotaru with Steel Tiger Claws.
- Power hit! -

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Hotaru           1/------=/=======|======-\-------\0          Mei Lin

"It's Hung Gar Kung Fu," Mei Lin hisses through his teeth as Hotaru avoids her stirkes, every hit causing him to exhale sharply to empower his strike. "My family has been masters in this style for generations," The young man says. He doesn't let his failed attacks break his stance though, his tiger claw ready for retaliation at a moment's notice.

He feels something odd in the vibration, in Hotaru's movements. He's unsure what it meant, not having enough experience to tell the difference in the subtle shift of vibrations, but Mei Lin trusts his instinct and decides to counter-attack immediately, hoping this meant he had managed to cause an opening and left Hotaru vulnerable.

And it seems trusting his instinct pays off this time whether he had correctly assessed Hotaru's movements or sheer luck. His right arm moves quickly, sweeping off the incoming quick and deflecting the blow : it hits his forearm but his muscles make leaves it as hard as rock, doing little harm to him. He ruthlessly presses his advantage and momentum to prevent Hotaru from parrying any further attack, his left palm following up and smashing into Hotaru's abdomen before she has the chance to pull away from him. A lovely parting gift.

Fortunately for her though, her posture and the strike leaves him short of being able to follow up right away and instead of pressing on he regains his tiger stance. "I learned it from my father..." Mei Lin says, though his intonation seems to show he's not saying everything there. "Added a few tricks of my own, like that stone spike," Mei Lin says with a smile. "Your Kung Fu's a lot different than mine, you're much more agile like the wind, flowing like water..." It was an assessment of Hotaru's fighting style, a bit of awe in the young man's deep voice. Each new opponent she faced was a new discovery as she opened up to the different other martial arts out there in the world.

As her shin rebounds off his forarm, the young fighter is already attempting to correct for it, foot snapping back, left foot twisting - with a fraction of a second more time, she could twist away with the reverse momentum and escape his powerful melee range all together-

She doesn't make it, his left palm plowing into her stomach with enough force to crumple the younger fighter, a pained squeak forced from her mouth as she doubles over, still twisting to the side. Even winded, she has the wherewithall to keep moving. To come to a stop adjacent to him is to invite another powerful blow like that. Staggering, left hand pressing against her stomach, she half-stumbles, half-scrambles out of reach, her back to him for a few seconds before she finally comes to rest a couple meters away.

Her breaths are short at first, her lungs refusing to cooperate for a moment, but it passes, her mouth curled into an unwitting smile as the match continues. There is nothing common about this fight. She knows full well now that he can adjust to her position by sound alone, a fact that she has not tried to take ruthless advantage of thus far. But at the same time, her own ability to keep fighting is being increasingly tested. "I have to be flexible," she responds regarding her style, "Adaptive, quick to respond, adjust. You are requiring the best from me," she offers with no small amount of praise for the slightless fighter. The smile would be heard in her voice to the sensitive ears of the teenage fighter.

Drawing her right arm back, she takes a half step forward, snapping it forward an instant later, her whole limb wreathed in azure energy summoned to answer her call. "HA!"

Only when her arm is fully outstretched does it fly loose, a cerulean bullet of kinetic chi aiming to strike Mei Lin directly in the center. It bears no elemental prooperties, no capacity to burn or shock, but it will strike solidly if not warded against.

COMBATSYS: Hotaru successfully hits Mei Lin with Hakki Shou EX.

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Hotaru           1/-------/=======|=======\=------\1          Mei Lin

"Flexibility, adaptativity... All good qualities for a martial artist," Mei Lin muses out loud. His own fighting style was all the opposite though : inflexible, immovable, unwavering... Steadfast to resist the storm, it was the heart of its discipline. In spite of his particular training, Mei Lin was able to appreciate the difference of Hotaru's fighting style and what it had to offer that Hung Gar did not.

The sudden outburst of energy seems to catch the young man off guard : his arms quickly swirl in circles in front of him, as if to hamper and block the incoming blast of energy summoned by Hotaru, though in the end, it seemed to do little in order to protect him. A scream of pain escapes the young man's throat, the wind getting knocked out of his lung from the kinectic blast. The impact is enough to uproot Mei Lin from his mighty stance, his arms flailing to try and keep his balance but he eventually ends up falling on his back almost comically so. It was no small feat to knock back an Hung Gar martial artist... Even if Mei Lin's stature might be on the diminutive side.

He rises back to his feet, gasping for air a moment, one of his arm clenching around his midsection to brace for the pain. Being far from Hotaru meant, in his case, being like a sitting duck and he had to close up the distance to get in melee.

He changes his stance so he can dash at Hotaru. He rushes up to her and attempts to grapple the girl's outfit and he tries to knock her off her feet with a quick leg sweep, hoping his low stance and low center of mass will help her pin down her opponent.

COMBATSYS: Hotaru interrupts Medium Throw from Mei Lin with Tenrenge.

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Hotaru           0/-------/------=|=======\======-\1          Mei Lin

Drawing her arm back, the last lingering sheath of azure shimmering then fading from her limb, Hotaru is able to observe from a distance the solid impact that her small but potent projectile is able to deliver to the young man. That he tried to react ahead of time was a confirmation that he could sense the presence of chi... but just being aware of something coming his way is not enough to be able to ward it off without the ability to see it. Given the capabilities of so many fighters around the world to project their threat through the air like that, this new face is in for a rough climb, the girl muses to herself, mouth a thin line of focused concentration.

In her attacks, she had demonstrated airborn, high risk prowess, and smooth, fluid grounded mobility. But the ancient master had left her with one more gift as well - she too knew the power of the smoothed boulder in the river. If he could see her, he might have expected what was to come - the way she steps forward, turning her whole body in the process such that her upper back is facing directly toward him. Her right hand is resting just over her left knee, the girl looking back toward Mei Lin over her right shoulder.

Completely wound up, her body tense, everything about the way she stands suggests that she is determined not to be dislodged from her position. She's holding her breath as the Hung Gar practitioner gets back to his feet, only sparing a moment to finally speak. "It was only recently that I was taught the importance of standing my ground as well..."

To stay put instead of run, to brace for an attack rather than try to fend it off. It requires a different mindset, but one that she is working constantly to improve upon - it was a glaring flaw in her improvised style before now. Gritting her teeth, she bends her legs just a little further in preparation. The young man from China might realize something is amiss as his fingers close around taut fabric at the back of her top instead of front, his foot sweeping out to collide against the girl's shin as she launches herself into a stunning counter attack.

She leads with her upper back, slamming hard, unwinding her tight stance in the process of driving her whole body backward into him. From there, she would continue with the momentum, spinning into a leaping windmilling strike leading from her right, only to touch down for only a second before springing into a second volley of rapid strikes leading from her left, the whole flurry of blows happening in a blur.


Landing out of the windmilling palm strikes central to her mother's vaguely remembered style, she lunges into a rising shoulder slam that takes her airborn and finishes with an aerial spin kick to finally deliver a parting blow to the earth shaper. Arms raised, she drops back down to the wood floor of the old theater, impacting with a soft thud into a half-crouch, her breaths loud enough to easily announce her position as she tries to recover from the effort of executing the long string of solid, forceful blows.

A lot of Mei Lin's senses are far more developped to compensate for his lack of sight : he might never know what colors are, though he can sense many things into his surrounding that no words could describe. In many ways, others were just as bling as he was but in different ways, unable to perceive the same things as he does. He feels Hotaru's motion and the faint disturbance caused by her manifestation of chi, its lingering presence as it is thrown her way. Knowing its coming did little to help him, alas.

Even now he feels Hotaru's body shifting, her muscles bulging as she braces against his attack, all those odds sensations about her as she prepares herself. Experience will eventually allow him to know exactly what does sensations mean about her, what exactly she does subtle change in her stance and posture meant, but right now he just feels the difference and suffers the end result. He had realized she had turned around but that's not much of a problem to him...

The real problem is Hotaru's swift counter to his grapple : the sudden slam of Hotaru's back against his breast is enough to break his grasp over the girl, forcing him to take a step back not to lose balance, and before he can even attempt something, Hotaru's turned back on him and begins her onslaught of rapid strike.

Mei Lin attempts to defend himself though he's always a step behind, his arms moving to try and deflect the blow but each time, Hotaru's strike passes beside. The succession of rapid blow forces him to stumble back, leaving him in a vulnerable position and constantly on the defensive, each strike making him groan and wince, unable to match Hotaru's agility.

The flurry of blows had been enough to break his low stance, allowing Hotaru to knock him airborn with the final shoulder slam. Once in the air, all of the scenary seems to fade to black for him, leaving ghostly trails of the scenery in Mei Lin's mind. He definately doesn't see Hotaru's spinning kick, which is enough to get another painful scream of surprise out of his lung.

And he's sent crashing back down against the floor, smashing through the creaking wooden plank. He lies there for a moment, feeling a sort of dizziness from the final blows, but he's also wrecked by the pain in his torso from Hotaru's attack. Lying there seems suddenly like such an appealing idea...

His strength is slowly fading away, but he forces himself back up on his feet : he doesn't want to insult Hotaru, and will fight on to the very end, give her everything he has, because that's what he expects out of his opponent, and he will give her the same.

Mei Lin takes a moment to take a deep breath and steadies himself, rooting himself by assuming his low stance, focusing on his pain for a moment. He'll be done for shortly, but if he can control his body long enough to ignore the pain, to leave his body adament like the rock and unyielding like a tree, she might be able to last a little longer... Maybe just enough to defeat her.

For a second, it almost seems like he's going to get into deep meditation but then he finally reacts : he slams his right foot into the ground, twisting it and lodging himself slightly into the rock beneath.

Mei Lin's body then literally slides rapidly in Hotaru's direction, the small mound of rock into which he lodged his feet rolling foward, breaking and splattering many planks aside as Mei Lin surfs this small wave of rock. He quickly gains velocity as he closes up Hotaru and he leaps off from his mound in an attempt to tackle Hotaru violently.

COMBATSYS: Hotaru blocks Mei Lin's Landslide.

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Hotaru           0/-------/----===|=======\=======\1          Mei Lin

The fierce combination requires recovery in the aftermath. The young Kenpo artist is slow to push herself back to standing after landing. She knew her blows had connected cleanly, but would it be enough? Even the cool ocean breeze wafting through the theater does little to restore her energy as she pants for breath, turning toward her opponent and forcing herself to raise her guard once more.

For a moment she wonders if the opening she found and strikes she delivered would be enough to decide the outcome of this match completey, wincing a little as she finally notices that Mei Lin has sunk through the aged planks to hit the rock beneath the old structure. Sucking in her breath, she opens her mouth, intending to inquire as to whether they felt the match should continue, but the young man answers that definitively himself as he rises up out of the smashed floor to adopt his rock-solid stance once more.

Then things are definitely continuing, she observes, raising her arms to a ready posture though keeping them open enough for her to observe what is coming next. The floor-rending technique that follows comes as quite the surprise as the orphened fighter's eyes widen. She will brace herself for impact once more, ready to re-engage in close, melee range combat even if her opponent has proven to be quite effective there.

A soft grunt escapes her lips as she avoids being bowled over by the leaping young man, though her arms flail, her guard broken all the same, a reminder of the kind of raw force he is able to bring to bear. But after seeing the success of her last attack, she knows she can hit hard as well, her confidence in her own abilities bolstered as her right foot slams back against the wood with a resonating creak. One more hit, she tells herself - one more blow. And if he still wants to fight after that? One more after that. And another-

Having been driven back about a meter works perfect for her retaliation as the girl springs into the air with those same practiced windmill strikes she had just delivered moments before. Once again Mei Lin must contend with an airborn target as she drops him him, attempting to draw his guard high with her swift palm strikes...

It's only if she finds an opening in his defense that she will follow through with the true threat - a single, right handed palm strike, the girl leaning her whole body into it, her legs, torso, and arm muscles acting in perfect coordination to deliver an unexpectedly powerful blow. Her left hand slams out in the opposite direction, giving her the needed counter balance to keep from toppling right into the young man with her effort! "HAAA!"

COMBATSYS: Hotaru successfully hits Mei Lin with Soushou Shin EX.

[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////                     ]
Hotaru           0/-------/----===|=======\=======\1          Mei Lin

Mei Lin takes a step back after his sudden charge at Hotaru, taking a deep breath to concentrate. He can sense her close to him, close enough for him to engage in melee now... He takes his low stance and closes his eyes to harden his muscles and brush away the pain, to ignore his physical limitation momentarily and push his body beyond his limit.

He braces for Hotaru's attack, focusing on his Iron Body technique and waiting for her to come. With her superior agility, he eschews any attempt at avoiding the incoming attack, enduring every blow and focusing on delaying the inevitable while keeping Hotaru at bay for him.

Mei Lin's only reaction to Hotaru's descend is unwavering calm and serenity, her body hardly bulging from her rapid and swift strikes. The impacts are enough to cause his torso to be pushed back slightly, but no reaction or cry of pain. The following palm thrust has him gritting his teeth and biting his lips to maintain his focus and endure the blow, but it almost felt like hitting a boulder with all of Hotaru's strength.

He seems to come back to life only after Hotaru's last strike, his body strained under the pain from her palm strike, "Kyaaa!" He shouts as he retaliates, pushing himself against her and thrusting his right and left palm rapidly for Hotaru's shoulder and abdomen. The young man takes a swing for his last strike, stomping his foot violently against the floor, breaking the wooden plank in the process as he smashes his palm with all his might against Hotaru's sternum to knock her back.

Even if the force of the blow is enough to knock her back, his chi manifests right behind her, a pillar of rock bursting out from the floor to prevent her from flying away, hitting her right in the back to push her back toward Mei Lin who's already spinning on himself to thrust his foot right into Hotaru's midsection to send her crashing back into the stone pillar that just bursted out behind her.

Fortunately for Hotaru though, the hard rock that appeared grows soft and she'd probably end up breaking through it if her body is hurled back into it.

COMBATSYS: Mei Lin successfully hit Hotaru with Gaea's Wrath.

[                          \\\\  < >  ///////                       ]
Hotaru           1/------=/=======|=======\-------\0          Mei Lin

That her opponent doesn't crumple under her the pressure of her windmilling strikes is not clue enough that something has changed significantly. They are, afterall, intended to be only just enough of a threat as to draw another fighter's guard high, leaving them potentially vulnerable to the unexpectedly strong palm strike that follows...

It's when she slams her palm into his stomach and feels the strength of the mountain pushing right back that she realizes there is more to Mei Lin's stance than meets the eye. Her extended arm trembles following the release of such a focused kinetic strike but she is already starting to pull herself back. In not slowing him or dislodging him in the slightest, she knows full well that she is in a more precarious position than she would be otherwise-

His balanced, twin strike comes before she can properly withdraw, his palms connecting hard enough to send the featherweight staggering backward, her balance lost, eyes widened. She's just about to recover, arms pinwheeling forward to counteract the backward momentum, when the crushing blow to her sternum lands, driving the Kung Fu artista into the piller of stone that surges up out of the floor behind her.

The last of her breath is forced from her lungs as she smacks against unyielding stone from below. Even as she stumbles forward off the rock, her arms are coming up, though her movements are groggy, the girl not even sure what is going on arond her anymore. The feeble guard is insufficient to stop his foot from folding her over again as she finally smashes back through the errected stone, crashing to the floor as powderized rubble goes flying, finally coming to a rest several meters away.

Curling up on the floor, hands over her stomach, she grits her teeth, eyes squeezed close in pain. So that is Hung Gar style, she thinks to herself, the real potential of earthen elemental chi manifesting as a weapon from any angle at any time. Grunting, she rolls to her knees, forehead pressed against the ground, hands still folded over her stomach. She could stop now, she tells herself. Maybe she even /should/ stop now...

Sucking in her breath produces a pained cough, sending a new small cloud of powder from the shattered monolith that had served as such a threat moments before. No, not yet, she tells herself. She can keep going. A little longer, as she told herself. Grunting, she pulls her hands from her stomach and slams them against the wood, pushing down with her feet at the same time - the result is an awkward forward stumble in Mei Lei's direction. But with her next step, it becomes more certain, and the step after that, even more so.

Finally she's sprinting, her arms trailing behind her, her hands encased in azure energy that illuminates the ambient grey atmosphere as she takes to the air one more time. The fundamental windmilling strikes are there again as she descends on the young man. Only this time, each strike is laced with chi, as she goes all out, leaving nothing of her strength, vigor, and energy behind. One set of battering, chi imbued strikes follows another, as the girl seeks to break Mei Lin's stone hard guard.

If successful, she will lunge into him with her shoulder, similiar to before, taking to the air with the upward motion before flipping forward to dive right back down into him, her entire body wreathed in that bright, sapphire blue energy as the girl tries to tackle him to the ground one last, decisive time!

COMBATSYS: Hotaru keeps on fighting!

[                         \\\\\  < >  ///////                       ]
Hotaru           0/-------/-------|=======\-------\0          Mei Lin

COMBATSYS: Mei Lin dodges Hotaru's Soushou Tenrenge.

[                         \\\\\  < >  ///////                       ]
Hotaru           0/-------/-------|=======\-------\0          Mei Lin

Once his few brutal strikes hit Hotaru, Mei Lin doesn't rush after her to press the advantage and keep the momentum. He might not be able to see her, though he senses by the way she lies on the ground after his onslaught that she might not get back on her feet to continue this battle.

Mei Lin doesn't celebrate victory yet sweeping his arms in slow circles in front of him as he resumes his stance. While Hotaru struggles to get back on his feet though, the immovable mountain flinches momentarily, feeling some of the backlash of his technique, the iron body slowly cracking and burst of pains from the blows Hotaru gave him echoing through his body. He bites his lips to withstand this keen and momentary pain, regaining his bearings when Hotaru stumbles in his direction.

He closes his eyes and focuses on Hotaru's movement as she rushes in his direction : adaptivity, flexibility... The thoughts echo in his mind and instead of withstand Hotaru's attack head on, the young man attempts something new. 'don't be the tree that tries to resist the storm and breaks, be the reed that bends and flows with the wind' he thinks. He adapts. He changes his stance, opting for something less rigid and more fluid, perhaps catching Hotaru by surprise as he lets his senses guide him, his body moving swiftly and instinctively, narrowly avoiding the girl's strike.

When Hotaru attempts to shoulder tackle him, he manages to sidestep just in time, making Hotaru jump where he is no more. That has proven strangely more efficent than Mei Lin would have expected... All thanks to Hotaru for the stray pieces of wisdom.

The young man attemtps to retaliate before Hotaru has a chance to drag this on though, assuming his crane style and swinging his arm over the side of Hotaru's head to smack her with the back of his fist.

COMBATSYS: Hotaru instinctively dodges Mei Lin's Medium Punch.

[                         \\\\\  < >  ///////                       ]
Hotaru           0/-------/-------|=======\-------\1          Mei Lin

The burst of fluid movement on the part of her opponent is remarkable, evading each of those energy laced strikes with remarkable timing. Even with him evading, she thinks she might have him, leaning into a rising shoulder lunge, only for him to escape at the last moment. Already airborn, this is the moment where she might know what it feels like to be unaware of her opponent's positioning. All she can do is follow her instincts, tucking forward into a ball, narrowly escaping the backfist swinging her way.

The landing on her feet a split second later is less than awe inspiring, the blows from before taking their toll, robbing her of some of her natural grace and balance as she stumbles away from Mei Lin. Catching herself a few steps later, she whirls around, forcing herself to lift her hands to the ready, by willpower rather than habit, panting for breath as she squints her eyes in a bid to clear her vision well enough to target another attack.

That the fight is close she has no doubt - that she isn't going to be able to keep this up much longer, she's also quite certain. For now, all she can do is her best, placing one foot in front of the other, as she charges her youthful opponent, an eager grin at her lips as she continues trying to push herself to her limits. From a meter out, she leaps again, forcing him to defend against another one of her airborn, 'invisible' attacks, as she sweeps her right foot out swiftly...

Only she is certain to miss entirely, intentionally not trying to hit him with her leg like a normal kick. No... he might sense it - that build up of chi, that swath of sapphire trailing behind her foot that blasts out in wave at point blank range at the level of Mei Lin's head before the girl will drop back to the ground again!

COMBATSYS: Hotaru successfully hits Mei Lin with Kobi Kyaku.

[                         \\\\\  < >  ///////                       ]
Hotaru           0/-------/------=|=======\-------\1          Mei Lin

This might actually work! Flowing like the water, soft like the breeze...

No... No, it just doesn't work. It would take far more practice for it to become a viable defense. Mei Lin swirls on his feet in an attempt to roll out of the way but this time he's far less graceful as he had been in his previous attack, the wave of energy hitting him head on and knocking him back.

Lack of having an stalwart stance, Mei Lin has been easily swept away by the force of the blow. Fortunately, his focus on the integrity of his body allowed his to delay the pain and brush it away but it was slowly catching up on him. Mei Lin growls in pain as he rolls into his back an flips totally to end up back on his feet. He flinches once more, feeling the pain to his side, his breathing heavy from fatigue, his lungs burning inside from how he pushed himself farther and father. Hotaru had been definately a wonderful opponent -- he feels both of them have been pushing each other to their limits.

His lips curl into a faint smirk though. He might still be standing, but Mei Lin knows the pain will take its toll on her soon enough. One last push... Maybe she can take down Hotaru with him. With a groan of effort, Mei Lin forces himself to his feet and lunges at Hotaru one last time. With a ki shout, he hurls his right leg straight at Hotaru's midsection, following up with a flurry of low and mid kicks all sent at incredible speed considering the young man's generally more violent and brutal strike.

After a dozen kicks the pain makes him flinch once more and Mei Lin takes a step back, panting from exhaustion. Another step back and he literally crumbles down on his back, as if the breeze just knocked him out of his kicks took his remaining strength out of him. Truth be told, his body couldn't handle being pushed that far any longer and the pain overwhelmed him enough so he ended up no longer able to control it.

COMBATSYS: Mei Lin can no longer fight.

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

COMBATSYS: Hotaru avoids Mei Lin's Avalanche Kick.

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

Landing out of her leaping attack, the exhausted Kung Fu artist does the only thing she can think to do - the only thing she has the strength left to do - she ducks. Really low. Doing the splits, arms out at her sides, she avoids the sweeping right leg that would have staggered her. The high kick is also thus easily avoided but the low kicks are a problem, the girl forced to duck even lower still, feet slipping further apart, arms still extended outward, her chin almost touching the ground in a remarkable feat of flexibility.

It's all she can do to keep from just falling forward on her face as she demonstrates just why she is such a menace at limbo contests. When the flurry ends and he finally staggers back, the Futaba girl falls forward, catching herself with her hands, perspiration rolling down her cheeks as she presses against the old wood to bring herself back up to her feet. She saw the way he fell - it wasn't from a direct hit, by any means, which leaves her wondering for a moment if he'll be back up in an instant.

Only when that doesn't appear to be the case does she take a cautious step forward. "Your skills are incredible," she offers, bowing her head, eyes closing briefly as she presses her hand over her fist. "It was my understanding that you are just getting started, like me. Perhaps well fight again someday. I'll be looking forward to see how far you go... to face another Kung Fu artist has been a wonderful opportunity. Thank you."

Completing her bow, the girl begins to back away, retreating to the railings overlooking the ocean itself, seeking the cool relief of the sea breeze to help her recover. Her hand goes back over her stomach, wincing as she recalls the decisive blows delivered by the hard variant of their shared Chinese martial arts heritage. While she may not hail from China herself, she has gained even further appreciation for its great legacy this day.

COMBATSYS: Hotaru has ended the fight here.

"Ye... Yeah... Thanks... Me too..." Mei Lin coughs up from the ground. Speaking those words seemed painful and demanding. He gives a vague wave of his hand to Hotaru, not quite able to give a more formal sort of salute to his opponent. He just lies there and takes deep breath, eyes closed as his whole body makes him endure pain... he was getting used to it, that's what he gets for pushing it beyond its limit. Not a lot of good it did for him so far, but with every battle came a drop of wisdom and experience...

Flexibility and adaptivity... Not quite his fighting style but it'll stay on his mind. He closes his eyes and enjoys the breeze and the rough ground and steady ground.

He smiles, despite his defeat. This had been a very good fight.

Log created on 15:15:46 02/28/2015 by Hotaru, and last modified on 22:21:26 03/01/2015.