Killer Instinct - [KI:Round 2] THE STRONGEST VS THE SHARPEST

Description: In all truth, Baiken is hardly concerned with the actual realities of the tournament, only destroying monsters. However, despite rumors, she hasn't seen a single one yet. Is Ultratech trying to give her the slip? She might see her chance at getting to the bottom of things when there's a report from the paramilitaries aboard with her that there's a spy on the outside of the SAC she's boarded, heading to Europe. There's gunfire coming from outside the hull--and in the viewports, images of soldiers being tossed over. Based on intelligence he's taken from his fight, Hayabusa has cemented his place in the tournament, and is now following Jin and the rest of the competitors to Europe. However, his presence is still regarded as a threat by the people in charge. Baiken stands to gain a powerful ally in the shinobi--but to do so, she'll have to stand on the wing of the manta, and face him directly.

When it comes to security, one only needs to look as far as the plans to protect the US president in case of danger: the top priority locations are either a secured bunker, or in the skies, safely in Air Force 1. The great advantage of taking to the skies is that you can make yourself difficult to pin down. With appropriate altitude, most threats can be identified with radar before they can reach you, and if you've secured everything before you take off, it's not like someone can just sneak in.

Or at least, most standard threats would be locked out, Ryu Hayabusa is anything but a standard threat.

The Ultratech SAC has been in the skies for hours now, it was gone over with a fine tooth comb before it even took off, and the security aboard has finally started to relax. Aside from keeping an eye on the passengers and the radar, there's not much left to worry about until they're preparing to land. The calm is suddenly broken when one of the warning lights goes off, showing a failure in some of the aircraft's systems. At first it's nothing more than minor electronics, but soon enough security systems start to fail.

Eventually one of the crew engineers realizes that all the systems have failed at points near the exterior of the vessel and a team is dispatched to investigate. Nervously lined up the hatch, the first one locks a safety chord to the frame and pops it open, cautiously climbing out while the rest of the squad waits for the initial assessment.

Then the chord goes loose, a hint of a scream flowing into the distance just barely heard over the howling wind. When the cable's pulled back in, there's no weight, just a clean cut.

This time the team heads out all at once in force, armed with the latest in Ultratech armaments as they climb up to the top of the plane. At first there's nothing to see aside from the sparking of damaged electronics and sharp grooves cleaved into the hull. Then the guard closest to the hatch screams as he goes flying past the rest of his squad. Spinning back around they lock eyes on the attack.

The Singular Super Ninja himself, Ryu Hayabusa.

In a panic, they open fire, but Hayabusa moves as if he were still on the ground, ignoring the furious wind as he easily avoids every shot, moving through the rest of the squad in series, sending more bodies flying away with their safety chords are cut.

Baiken doesn't trust Ultratech.

This is just kind of a given. Baiken doesn't trust a whole lot of people. Some people would say she doesn't trust anyone. But in her case it's a little more than general paranoia when it comes to Ultratech; she's seen one of their monsters. She knows there has to be more. Somewhere.

Which means playing along - at least until she gets into a position where she can act. The actual tournament doesn't mean a while lot to her. She doesn't know what she'd do with the money. Probably fund her travels with it. But for now she'll play their game. She'll go where they want her to. And then she'll find out the truth.

Baiken did not expect that opportunity - or need - to come on the SAC. She had not found anything on the ship to be worried about - and she checked, though she'd been looking for different things than the Ultratech security crew. She had allowed herself to rest - not sleep, but wait. There is nowhere really comfortable on the VTOL to do it, though at least it's quiet.

That was, of course, before there was an attack. On the /outside/ of the vehicle, and by the sounds of it, not what Baiken would have expected from an airfight. (She has never been on a VTOL before, but assumes you would send planes to shoot them down, not people.) That means she's going to investigate. She puts out her kiseru before she goes; no Ultratech staffer has been able to take it away from her.

The security crew comes out. Ryu deals with them. It seems like that might be it, at least for a moment. And then someone else pulls out of the hatch. Someone with pink hair, who is not strapped onto anything. There is no spare cable for outside work for the passenger.

Whatever Baiken was expecting, that was not it. "/You/," she snarls, pulling herself the rest of the way out. She balances on the lip of the hatch, rocking back and forth once to test the wind, then takes a shuffling step onto the wing. It isn't fearful so much as she's learning how she has to move on it. Her hand rests on the tip of her sword hilt, maneuvering the sheath out of the way of her legs. "What are you doing on my plane?"

Well, okay, it's not actually Baiken's. But it was sent for her, and her demand is practical; if Ryu kills everyone on it she will have to guess how to land it, and for all Baiken's skills, technological aptitude is not one of her strongest. Also, she has no interest in letting Ryu Hayabusa kill her, either.

COMBATSYS: Baiken has started a fight here.

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Baiken           0/-------/------=|

Investigating Ultratech has not been an easy task. After the attempt they made to poison Hayabusa when he participated in the pre-tournament show, he realized they were hiding something. He forced his way into the competion only for Ultratech, winning a battle against the Mishima Zaibatsu heir, Jin Kazama, to attempt to force them to treat him as a competitor only for them to send him the wrong information on how to reach the second stage of the tournament.

They should have known better, because the ninja master had already managed to identify a number of competitors... which leads him here to Baiken's transport. He'd encountered the monster hunter twice now, once being forced to fight against her and the other time fighting alongside her against the archfiend Jedah during his takeover of Metro City. They were not exactly allies, but Baiken had both the talent and the drive for Hayabusa to suspect they might be able to align their goals.

"Don't hold anything back, Ultratech wants me either dead or at least unable to investigate them. Doing your best to stop me here will improve your position with them," Hayabusa's words are direct and somehow reach Baiken undisturbed despite the mask over his face and the furious wind flowing across an aircraft at speed.

Without an ounce of hesitation, Hayabusa lunges forward, aiming the hilt of his sword in a downward strike for Baiken's temple as he snakes a leg behind her's, aiming to sweep her footing out from under her as he leaps backward.

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa has joined the fight here.

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Baiken           0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa

COMBATSYS: Baiken dodges Ryu Hayabusa's Armed Combo.

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Baiken           0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa

Baiken remembers both of those events perfectly well, which is why she was not surprised to hear that Ryu Hayabusa was doing something in this tournament, too. That part wasn't the unusual part.

No, the unusual part was the whole 'break in to a moving VTOL' thing. Baiken has to give Hayabusa this: he doesn't lack guts. Anyone who'd try a trick like that has more balls than brains.

Her single eye narrows as she hears Ryu's words. She's not sure if she believes much that crosses his lips - he did try to kill her once. "I hope you're not accusing me of working for them," she shoots back, deciding to stay in a slightly low stance, knees bent in a crouch.

That helps her. Baiken is in a good position to move at the rush; she crabwalks slightly, jerking her head out of the way of the sword hilt. It passes close enough she can feel it ruffle her hair, but it leaves her head unsmashed and the movement gets her feet untripped, too.

When Hayabusa leaps backwards, Baiken rises. In the same motion she draws the blade she favours, and though it's short compared to a katana meant to be used in one hand or two, she has good reach with it - as she demonstrates with a wide, sweeping strike designed to catch Hayabusa midjump before slamming the blade back into its scabbard. It's fast, practiced; this is not something Baiken is unaccustomed to.

She keeps her back to the hatch she came out of. Which is still open, and probably affecting the flight characteristics of the VTOL a little bit. She doesn't care. The pilot can handle it.

COMBATSYS: Baiken successfully hits Ryu Hayabusa with Tetsuzansen.

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Baiken           0/-------/---====|===----\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa

Hayabusa had hoped to maintain a bit more spacing before Baiken had a chance to retaliate. Baiken is quick, and this new battleground clearly isn't enough of a distraction to put the swordswoman off balance and give the ninja time to control things. Caught in mid-air, blood goes flying as a gash goes straight across his chest.

When the ninja hits the top of the plane again, he's forced to take a knee, his sword sliding back into its scabbard as he clutched momentarily at his chest. The pause is unusual for Hayabusa, but not wholy out of place given the damage sustained. Apparently it's an opportunity to talk. "If I thought you were working for them, I wouldn't have gone out of my way to bring you out here... Ultratech is hiding something dangerous enough that they were willing to attempt a pre-emptive strike against me. They failed, and have been trying to keep me away from the Killer Instinct tournament as long as possible."

Slowly the ninja pushes back up to his feet, "I know that money and fame aren't what motivate you, so I'm assuming you also find them suspicious... my goal here is for us to work together by securing your position in the tournament. They'll be able to see that we fought, but out here there's no way for them to overhear us."

The moment he's back to his feet, Hayabusa lunges forward, ducking in low in an effort to slip under Baiken's guard before rising up into an uppercut, aimed to take her off her feet, leaving her open as he twists around into a spinning kick to knock her back down to the top of the plane.

COMBATSYS: Baiken blocks Ryu Hayabusa's Shoryu Senku Kyaku.

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Baiken           0/-------/---====|===----\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa

Ryu's read isn't wrong: the battlefield is likely to give Baiken problems when she starts to run and jump on it. That's why she started by keeping it simple; a strike without moving except to rise, the shuffling foot movement she uses on bad terrain (which this is) instead of a stable floor or ground.

She's good. She knows how to adapt. But then again, Hayabusa already knew that. He'd be less interested in her if he didn't.

Baiken brings up her arm to absorb the impact of Hayabusa's uppercut, bracing against the blow. She feels it, and it rocks her back - but it doesn't throw her up like he was hoping for. She allows herself to be pushed away instead; she's dangerously close to the hatch now and she knows it.

"Hnn." Baiken, slightly uncharacteristically, has listened to Hayabusa. He's not wrong. She does find them suspicious. But she suspects that she is interested in very different things than the ninja. Or, and possibly worse, she isn't, and he's going to try to take it like he did with the armour instead of binding it like she would.

But he's right: money only means as much to Baiken as it can get her in the ability to travel and fulfil her goals, and fame means nothing at all. Life is transient, and she doesn't much care if she'll be remembered after hers. She certainly isn't there for wealth and fortune, primarily.

She does not respond beyond that short grunt. That, and a sudden surge forward; so close to the hatch, she has decided she needs room to maneuver without possibly falling in. She doesn't draw her sword, though; she ducks down, using her lack of height to advantage, and then comes up in a slightly hooked punch toward Ryu's midsection, trying to both hit him and push him further out on the wing - and come along, herself!

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa counters Medium Strike from Baiken with Mekkyaku - Koryu EX.

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Baiken           0/-------/=======|====---\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa

No real response from Baiken, at least not one that Hayabusa can take with any certainty to mean she is willing to work together. This isn't a good situation, but if it weren't for the fact that he fully believes that Baiken wouldn't choose to betray him to Ultratech he wouldn't have done all of this to get in contact with the hunter. They'd only worked together before when they were essentially moving in parallel.

If nothing else, now that he's here he's going to have to make certain this looks good. If he were to simply run of now, he'd risk putting extra suspicious on Baiken, and if they were willing to hire an assassin to attempt to kill Hayabusa for merely signing up for one of their events, they'd likely do much worse to someone they had any reason to believe might be allied with him.

But they can both survive some serious punishment, which means neither of them needs to hold back.

As Baiken comes at the ninja, he's intently focused, eyes watching every movement, looking for any tell as to her intent. An adjustment to the position of her hand is what ultimately gives it away and he ducks back as her fist comes in from the side, missing him completely. As it moves past him, he lands an open handed blow to her sweeping strike, imparting enough force to send her spinning back the way she came, opening up her back as he lands another blow to put her to her knees before punching her in the back of the head to plant her against the top of the plane.

Baiken didn't say yes, but she didn't say no, either. While it's not as good as confirmation (and absolutely shouldn't be taken as one), it does mean that Ryu probably doesn't have to worry about being sold out to Ultratech.

Probably. But Baiken does have a code, even if it's sometimes cruel and vicious. She may not like the man, but she doesn't think of him as a sworn enemy, either - and it's not like Ultratech has much they can give her that she's interested in. Or if they do, they haven't offered.

Baiken's strategy is to strike hard and fast. Ryu takes advantage of that. She corrects quickly when she realizes she's not going to land her blow, but not fast enough - if anything she overcompensates into the spin, righting herself only at the same time Ryu gets ready to slam her down against the plane's wing.

She ends up planted on her front. Her first instinct, on ground, would be to roll to the side and then get up; here, she doesn't want to risk rolling right off the plane, and so she somersaults forward instead, past Hayabusa. She ends up in exactly the opposite position as before: now he's closer to the hatch, while she's on the length of the wing. "Heh. You're still about as good as before. That's the only reason you came here?"

She realizes there are cables linked here - cables that don't have people attached to them anymore. Baiken is not adverse to killing, but it still drives home that Ryu is definitely not treating this as anything but - literally - deadly serious. Her lips narrow to a thin line as she watches him, hand held close to her blade again like she was about to draw it -

She doesn't draw it.

Baiken lashes out with her empty sleeve instead, swinging it down and then up, but Ryu Hayabusa is very aware that that sleeve isn't anywhere near as empty as she pretends it is. The faint clinking of chain is inaudible over the wind, but the sudden axe-blade on a chain that swings out of her sleeve is as obvious as ever. She's gone with a rising blow with it, aimed upward toward where Ryu's arm meets his body, blade diagonal but fairly vertical - she's not trying to cut the arm off, but she's definitely trying to impede the use of his primary arm.

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa dodges Baiken's Youshijin.

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Baiken           0/-------/=======|====---\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa

It is not a simple thing to take a life if one wishes to maintain their soul. Were he not burdened by Dragon Lineage, it's quite possible that Ryu Hayabusa would be a peaceful man enjoying a life of contemplation, but the blood that flows through his veins carries with it the weight of responsibility. It is this legacy that allows him to wield the Dragon Sword, using it to destroy threats that would overwhelm the mortal world. And so he faces the reality that lives will be lost at his hands, but none recklessly or out or anger. Those that stand with an evil that threatens the world will be lost.

As for Ultratech's minions, they were cut free; if they were wise enough to carry a parachute, then there is still an opportunity for them to save themselves.

There's no time to think about the philosophy of violence at a time like this. At least one of the two fighters out on this wing will have to be pushed to the edge for all of this to work out, and at the moment Hayabusa needs to do everything he can to make certain he isn't the one to go... at least not without a proper fight. He knows full well that Baiken has more to her than it would appear, and as the axe blade bursts forth from the hunter's sleeve, he's almost already moving, pivoting out of the way as he reaches back, drawing the Dragon Sword out into his distinctive stance by the time he sets his feet again.

Hoping to take advantage by moving before she can withdraw the chained blade, he rushes forward, feed gliding on the smooth wing, building up speed. As he nears the swordswoman, he leaps forward, dropping his sword for a passing slash as flies past her to land on the other side in a crouch.

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa successfully hit Baiken with Power Strike.

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Baiken           1/------=/=======|=====--\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa

Baiken didn't bring a parachute.


Then again, Baiken is confident enough in her skills that she may not have considered it essential. And not for no reason; she's a lot tougher to throw off than the Ultratech security team was. There are a limited number of people who are as good as she is.

Hayabusa is one of them, which is one of the reasons she's so wary about his interference. "You didn't answer," she says; she wants to know /why/ he came up with this plan. Ultratech tried to kill him, but if he tried to enter first... well, a ninja doesn't need fame any more than she does.

Starting to pull in the chained axe-blade, Hayabusa rushes her before she's finishes. Passing by her, she circles, but it's on her blind side; she can't manage to parry because she simply can't see the blow coming. Baiken is very good at dealing with her handicap, but it /is/ a handicap, and someone as talented as Hayabusa is can take advantage of it.

She recoils from the slash, blood staining her robe - what drops don't go flying into the distance from the speed. It's hard to forget where they're doing this - on a moving VTOL. Though the fact that they're approaching clouds might remind them pretty well.

Baiken does not rush after Hayabusa. She's where she wants to be now; closer to the hatch than he is but not so close that she's about to fall back in, on a relatively stable patch of wing (mostly because it's flattish here), admittedly hurt but not too badly.

She watches, her single eye narrowed against the stinging wind. And she waits, hand resting on the blade's hilt, chain arm stowed, the sleeve blowing back. She's ready to move in an instant, and she doesn't bother hiding that fact.

COMBATSYS: Baiken focuses on her next action.

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Baiken           1/------=/=======|=====--\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa

As the moment passes, Hayabusa draws back up into ready position, his sword held parallel to the ground, blade pointing upward to the sky at eye height. It's a strange posture that would seem to leave him open, only able to effectively wield quick thrusting attacks. Certainly it does much more than that in the Dragon Ninja's hands.

"I've been attempting to find whatever information I can on both Ultratech's secret projects as well as its past tournaments. When I forced my way into the tournament, they gave me a false location for this round, so I needed to gain access to one of their transports." Ryu speaks carefully as he watches Baiken, eyes perfectly set as he begins a slow path that would normally allow him to circle the swordswoman, but on the wing the path will take him off into the clouds if he continues far enough. "That's when I discovered you were on one of the transports. I decided having an ally on the inside would make all of this easier. We may not agree on how to handle certain artifacts, but we both stand against threats to the world without hesitation."

The ninja's path carries him closer and closer to the trailing edge of the wing, and just as he appears ready to drop off, his hand drops to his thigh, whipping out a kunai and launching it toward the front of the plane. With the distance between them, the flat of the blade is enough to catch the wind, whipping the ninja weapon back around at Baiken from a partially flanking angle.

COMBATSYS: Baiken blocks Ryu Hayabusa's Thrown Weapon.

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Baiken           1/-----==/=======|=====--\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa

Baiken listens while she watches. This is a good sign.

Hayabusa is half right. Baiken stands against some threats to the world, but her true goal is revenge - revenge on a man she's seen only once, as a child, and his monstrous servants. For this she threw away any semblance of a normal life, anything but the fighting and hunting and killing. If the world broke out in international war, she would neither know how nor have the ability to stop it. If someone started summoning devils and demons and things that go bump in the night - well, that's more what she knows about.

She doesn't know what category Ultratech falls into yet. That's why she's here. She meets Ryu Hayabusa's gaze as he circles, her one eye to his two. She seems to be judging him. She rolls it over in her mind for the few instants she has.

Then several things happen at once. Ryu Hayabusa throws the kunai, and Baiken moves into it; she deflects it away from her face with her arm, catching the flat in a jarring sensation but leaving her cheek unslashed. She keeps moving, forward.

The last thing that happens is that the VTOL finally enters the cloud bank.

For a moment, the only thing anyone on the wing can see is white. Baiken, Ryu - they're both blind to anything more than about two feet away from them, it's the thickest fog they've ever been in. So, crucially, are any exterior cameras, and any remaining security staff peeking out of the hatch; between wind and white, there may as well be nothing out there.

Baiken suddenly appears in Ryu's field of vision. She's slashing already, three slashes - left, then right, then vertical, all with broad, strong cuts. She was intentionally waiting for the fog to cover her movement, and she's going to take advantage of that with a dangerous strike...

...but at the same time, midslash, Baiken uses the cover of cloud and wind to say, just loud enough for Ryu to hear it, "Deal. For now." It sure doesn't seem to have stopped her attack, though!

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa blocks Baiken's Tsurane Sanzu Watashi.

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Baiken           0/-------/----===|=======\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa

The downside of attempting to manipulate Baiken into being distracted by the kunai is that the whole process leaves him in a precarious position. On the edge of the wing, with his more dominant arm off the sword, he's forced to struggle as the one-armed woman comes at him in force, especially as the battlefield begins to change.

In a moment of haste, he whirls the blade up and braces the back of the blade with his right hand, in the moment failing to brace against the flat as intended. Each strike is caught at and angle, sent flying off the course and leaving the ninja mostly unharmed. The downside of this technique becomes apparently as blood begins to drip down from the palm of his right hand. While Baiken's sword never touches the ninja, each hit causes the narrow back of the blade to crash against his hand.

There are no words as he hopes back, slipping the Dragon Sword back into its sheath as he guards his injured palm. Their agreement has been made, and both knows their role, but for the time being, the ninja is forced to focus, channeling his own energy to seal up the wound.

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa gains composure.

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Baiken           0/-------/----===|======-\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa

When the VTOL moves past the cloud, it shows a slightly different tableau than when they went into it.

Ryu's hand is bleeding now from the defense, but he's focusing on it, trying to limit the bleeding. Baiken is still moving, predatory, around what she might ordinarily think is a fairly easy target - but she knows Ryu isn't that.

She can't back off, of course, agreement or not. Ultratech is probably watching.

With Ryu letting up on the attack for a moment, Baiken does the opposite - she doubles down on offense. If you give her a moment to recover, she'll take a mile; healing techniques like Ryu's are beyond her, but she's so stubborn that she'll keep fighting even if there's a scrap of health left in her, and right now there's more than that.

Baiken comes in with a fast horizontal cut, then a second. They're more of a distraction than the actual attack, though - because that comes from her sleeve in a method Ryu might not be expecting.

Baiken crouches as the side of her robe side shifts slightly. What looks like a fan of knives on a pole drops out from her sleeve, sticking straight forward as if it was braced against her shoulder. (If she has a shoulder; she never shows how much of her arm remains.) It's the Zakuro mechanism, but undeployed, used as a bladed fan instead of a spinning buzzsaw; she jabs with it, spear-like, after the feinting slashes.

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa dodges Baiken's Random Weapon.

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Baiken           0/-------/----===|======-\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa

Of all the ninja techniques at Hayabusa's disposal, perhaps his most powerful is his ability to recover from fights. The ninja has suffered mortal blows and managed to bring himself back from the edge. It is with these techniques that the Super Ninja has managed to fight through waves and waves of both soldiers and fiends alike.

They are, however, a great deal more difficult to pull off in the midst of battle. Hayabusa only just barely manages to seal the wound on his hand as Baiken comes at him, forcing him to weave back along the wing, narrowly avoiding the extended reach of the sawblade weapon. He's running out of room to maneuver.

Clearly the time has come to force the fight back toward the body of the plane if he wants to put on a good show of it.

Surging forward, he vaults forward, doing a forward flip in mid-air that ends with him in a handstand facing away from the swordswoman, in the same motion her draws down and then thrusts both feet up at Baiken's jaw, aiming to knock her up in the air as he drops back down and launches into another push-up kick, this time letting his body turn toward the hunter as he does, aiming to knock her skidding back along the wing toward the hatch.

COMBATSYS: Baiken interrupts Strong Kick from Ryu Hayabusa with Sakura.

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Baiken           0/-------/-======|=======\=------\1     Ryu Hayabusa

Fighting on the wing is increasingly hard the longer Baiken has to do it. The footing is treacherous. It's sloped, and not in a useful way. It's wet, now that they've flown through some clouds recently. It's got Ryu Hayabusa on it.

Well, okay, that part would be true even if the fight went inside. Or on top of the main part of the plane, which is where Baiken would like it to be.

The handstand flip is something Baiken has seen before, but rarely. She doesn't ever do handstands (for obvious reasons) and as a result has limited experience with them, though she's fought a couple people who have used them previously.

She absorbs the two-footed kick. Hayabusa hit her all right, but she doesn't fly upward - because she drove the points of the arm mechanism into the wing. She has completely taken out a handhold for the benefit of the maintenance crew, but has not really damaged the flight surface - they're probably disturbing it more by standing on it.

Anchored as she is, Baiken pivots on the false arm, causing the obnoxious scrape of metal on metal. She stabs as she ends up facing away from Ryu, momentarily, driving the sword /backward/ with all the force in her body; the movement is enough to pop her false arm back off the wing, and she starts moving toward the main bulk of the plane, not running but definitely moving fast. She goes sideways, so she can simultaneously watch Hayabusa and not have to walk backwards.

Allowing your back to be turned on an oppoent is always a risky maneuver. Unfortunately for Hayabusa, his gamble didn't pay off against Baiken and he begins to go flying. This far onto the wing, there's not much room to go except back, which in this case is out toward the tip of the wing... and the fan intake. While Hayabusa might be safe falling regardless of the height, he'd have a lot more to worry about if he had to go through the fan first, like the fact that even he might not make it out alive.

With a moment of quick reflexes, he snares two kunai from his thighs and plants them into the wing like pitons, halting his path toward the whirling blades of death that help keep the VTOL aloft and allowing a moment to consider recovery.

Now he just needs to get back to Baiken. Pulling himself up to rest his feet against the kunai, like a runner propped up against starting blocks, he essentially leaps horizontally until he's cleared most of the wing, lashing out at Baiken the moment he's within reach, throwing a pair of punches, aimed to knock out whatever guard is in the way, before leaping up into a trio of wide whirlwind kicks that should knock Baiken practically back into the hatch.

COMBATSYS: Baiken blocks Ryu Hayabusa's Ren Kikoku Shintei.

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Baiken           0/-------/=======|=======\==-----\1     Ryu Hayabusa

Those /are/ some pretty big turbofans over there. There's a reason that Baiken isn't going near them.

The barrage of attacks strikes home, though Baiken is on guard for it. Still, it takes a toll on her to actually defend herself from it; the punches knock her arm out of the way, and unlike most fighters she doesn't have a backup.

Baiken dodges one of the kicks, almost dodges a second, and gets struck solidly by the third. It sends her backwards, and she moves with the impact because that was the direction she was going anyway; she is now near the hatch.

But she doesn't go down it. She steps onto the body of the plane itself, the divot between the two wings. The wind is horrible here; the sunken area around the hatch means it whirls and tears wildly, blowing her robe around her legs. She seems at least relatively stable, though.

And apparently she wants Ryu over to her. She's swapped out the pole-and-knives for her claw hand, the one that Ryu has seen multiple times before and seems to be her favourite. Baiken lobs it at Ryu, trying to catch the back of his shoulder with the hooks; they're not razor-sharp but they do come to a point and dig in painfully, if she manages it. And if she does, she yanks with her free hand, dragging Ryu Hayabusa over to her in the recessed part of the VTOL.

It's a safe bet she has something else up her sleeve. So to speak. Though probably literally, too, come to think of it.

COMBATSYS: Baiken successfully hits Ryu Hayabusa with Kabari.
- Power hit! -

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

For some reason Hayabusa is hardly affected by the wind. There must be some aspect of his ninja training that allows him ignore the ripping winds; once his feet his the wing, it's almost as if he's on solid ground. Seeing him in action, it's hard to imagine any battlefield factors that could be worse for the Master Ninja than it would be for his opponent.

It's not actually accurate that the terrain doesn't bother Hayabusa. The wind, especially now that the wing has sustained some damage, has become more turbulant, it's incredibly difficult to read just which way it might blow at any moment. It's not that Hayabusa isn't affected, it's that he's trained for almost his entire life to be able to survive battles even in places that don't obey the normal laws of the human world.

But sometimes, even with all the training in the world, you read incorrectly. The wind is prepared to knock the claw off its course, and when he thinks he has the path, he moves to duck under it.

The wind changes.

The claw drops down, as if tracking Ryu with a mind of its own. It latches onto the ninja, and when Baiken pulls, the ninja doesn't have any hope of breaking free. The turbulence grows as he's pulled closer to the body of the plane. He hits the hull hard enough to leave a dent.

The ride on this plane is getting rough.

If there is something that's as important as the ability to avoid being placed in a bad spot, it's having the ability to get back out of them. Despite being nearly put through the hull of the VTOL, Hayabusa manages to push back up to his feet, pausing a moment to take in a deep breath and stomp his feet before kicking off toward the front of the plane.

Landing just above the cockpit, if not for the way his scarf flies violently about him, it would be as if he were standing inside a peaceful dojo. His hands begin to move in rapid, arcane motions as every bit of Chi is summoned up from the depths of the Super Ninja, dragging flames up in front of him. The way they gather together is incredible, surging up from a pin-prick again and again until the violent orb of power is nearly as large across as the ninja is tall. And the flames appear to be feeding off the flow of air past them, providing fuel at a rate that would be impossible on the ground.

The destructive sphere roils with energy as Hayabusa lets out a powerful shout, "HYAAAAAAAAAAAA!" With a burst of motion, he thrusts the fireball forward, launching the inferno directly at Baiken. With something like this, he could put a hole clean through the VTOL, but right now it's aimed for Baiken and nothing else...

...And to complicate matters, it would seem that Hayabusa's earlier stomp was designed to bury the hunter's claw in the hull of the plane.

COMBATSYS: Baiken fails to interrupt Art of the Inferno from Ryu Hayabusa with Tate Shunmaku.

[                        \\\\\\  < >  ////////////////              ]
Baiken           0/-------/----===|=------\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa

The ride /is/ rough. It's not easy to fight up here, even disregarding the opponent, who makes it even worse - he's tough and skilled. He's Baiken's equal, even if she doesn't admit it.

But Baiken does her best when she's up against a wall. Figuratively speaking, this time.

Baiken gets the claws into Ryu Hayabusa's shoulders. Good, she thinks, as she yanks; he gets pulled, but the claw slides off his shoulder. She can tell when he stomps it into the hull, and that gives her another idea. The idea grows when she sees him forming a sphere of flame, something she cannot do herself.

Baiken yanks on her chain arm again. This time, however, she doesn't pull her opponent. Nor does she pull the plane; it outweighs her many many times over. Instead, she pulls /herself/, accompanied by a leap.

She moves so fast she seems to blur, streaking toward - into - the flame. Perhaps she thought she could get through it as it formed, but if she did she was miscalculating badly; she goes through it as it travels, feeling the heat on her - everywhere. She draws her sword mid-flight, cutting a single impossibly fast slash in the air.

But, blinded by the flame, she misses. There is an unpleasant buzzing sound as Baiken literally cuts the /air/, a dull thump from the disturbance, but she doesn't strike Ryu. He might feel the dull push of wind, but given how much wind is already going around him, he may not notice.

Baiken lets out a roar as she hits next to Ryu Hayabusa. She appears to be actually on fire for several long seconds, though it goes out pretty quickly, from sheer wind speed and the ambient humidity of the clouds as well as her trying to slap it out. She twists, unhooking her claw from the hull where it's under Ryu Hayabusa's feet, but it leaves her open - and, for a moment, Hayabusa can take advantage.

A monsterous hit. Quite honestly, Hayabusa had attempted to lock down Baiken's claw to prevent the massive blast from knocking her off the VTOL entirely. He knows full well that he has nothing to fear from a fall, with all of the shinobi techniques he has mastered, but if Baiken went over, he'd have to go after her, and that could ruin the whole thing. She needs to stay with the VTOL.

But the fight can't end until one of them can't fight anymore. When he looks down at the wounded warrior at his feet, he expects her to be broken after going through the fireball, at least temporarily unable to keep going. Instead it only takes him a glance to realize she fully intends to get back up once she recovers.

...Time to add a final touch to the believeability of the match.

In a single, smooth motion, he draws the Dragon Sword from it's sheath and swings it low, imparting enough force in the blade that it should send Baiken flying. Rather than above the VTOL, he instead launches her ahead of the aircraft. As she rockets forward, he suddenly appears beside her, out in the open air, wrapping both arms around the one-armed woman, he sets both of them spinning as they aim back at the craft, flying straight for the pilots' windscreen.

COMBATSYS: Baiken dodges Ryu Hayabusa's Izuna Drop EX.

[                        \\\\\\  < >  ////////////////              ]
Baiken           0/-------/----===|=------\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa

Baiken is struggling. She's battered, bruised, burned - but Baiken is also too stubborn to stop. Some people would say 'crazy' instead of 'stubborn', but it amounts to the same thing; it takes far more to put her down than people would expect.

Slightly dazed, Baiken does not immediately realize which way Ryu is launching her and thus tries very, very hard to interfere with it - the last thing she wants to do is go sliding off the VTOL. She gets her arm in, and when Ryu tries to wrap arms around her, he finds her pushing back, stumbling as she pushes him, keeping the Dragon Sword from doing more than tangling with her blowing skirt.

She's rapidly recovering from her daze. She's still as badly hurt as she was before, which may explain why she tries to push herself closer to the hatch - she might have to make a quick exit through it. But before that, she has to get through Hayabusa.

Her claw arm is not attached to anything but /is/ still hanging loose. She swings it backward, hooking the edge of the hatch to anchor herself to it, preventing herself from being thrown away. With her foot, Baiken tries an almost horizontal kick with her left foot, using the impact to guide herself back, away from Hayabusa. It's not a retreat (yet) but it's definitely a reposition.

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa parries Baiken's Strong Kick!

[                      \\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////              ]
Baiken           0/-------/---====|==-----\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa

The fight has been rough. Both fighters have been thrown around in this uncommon fight atmosphere. It's nearly impossible to hear, the wind stings the eyes, and the pressure from the wind is constant, you've got to fight for every step. Quite honestly, in a normal arena, Hayabusa is certain this fight would have more back and forth, but the Dragon Ninja has battled inside of volcanos, in fields of poison, in frozen depths, and even in other realms. In a fight like this, he has the advantage.

Which means that while Baiken is attempting to reposition herself, Hayabusa is already in a spot where nothing seems to bother him. Baiken comes flying past using her claw to propel her back toward the hatch, but Hayabusa ducks low, turning around as he slips under the boot.

All the while Ryu's hand is drawn back, locked in place as he locks his body like a coiled spring, only hitting release the moment Baiken passes over. With the swordswoman in recovery, he lashes out from behind, twisting up as he puts all of the forced stored into his body into a sweeping backhand that should send Baiken rocketing straight at the edge of the hatch.

COMBATSYS: Baiken dodges Ryu Hayabusa's Soryu EX.

[                      \\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////              ]
Baiken           0/-------/---====|=------\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa

Ryu is trying to move Baiken, but Baiken doesn't want to be moved.

Scratch that: she wants to be moved, but under her own control. Letting Ryu throw her around is bad for her strategy, such as it is, and definitely bad for her health. Already in midair (well, twice; the whole VTOL is still in midair), she manages to pull herself past Ryu's reaching backhand.

Baiken is still not looking great, but she's definitely got her mindset back. Physically she might be battered, but she's not dazed anymore, she's working at full capacity in /that/ sense. And her mind is a weapon; she might come off as a brute but she does love her tricks and gimmicks.

Touching down at the hatch, Baiken turns. She's still anchored by the claw hand and doesn't seem interested in unhooking herself; breathing hard, she knows she's battered, and she doesn't trust herself to fight without a safety cable (or whatever) if she can help it.

Baiken doesn't jump, this time, because jumping clearly isn't the way to go. Instead she stomps her foot next to the hatch - and part of the VTOL seems to flip up. It's not the VTOL, though; it's a square of green chi, and if Ryu isn't careful it will appear under his feet and knock him over!

Even if he steps back to avoid it, there's still a hazard; from under the green 'tatami' chi, a geyser of pink chi erupts, spraying out for a good few feet. It drifts downward in broad wisps, like falling flower petals.

COMBATSYS: Baiken successfully hits Ryu Hayabusa with Tatami Gaeshi.

[                      \\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Baiken           0/-------/--=====|====---\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa

This isn't the first time Hayabusa has been locked in combat with Baiken, and this isn't the first time that Hayabusa has seen this particular technique from the one-armed swordswoman. The last time they faced, he snuffed the unusual chi mat with his Lunar Staff, being left completely unharmed. This has left the ninja with two problems: he doesn't currently have his Lunar Staff and he's never actually seen the follow up portion of this attack.

Under the circumstances, there is only so much Hayabusa can do, taking the opportunity to leap up so that the mat has no hope of contacting his feet. He is unprepared for the explosion that follows as pink chi catches him full on and sends him flying.

With no connection to the roof of the plane, Ryu goes tumbling through the sky, rapidly disappearing to the back of the plane, seemingly out of reach of any attempt to regain his position, the fight will be over. Except then the ninja's hands snare the tail as he is tumbling past, and in an incredible feat of acrobatics, he manages to wrench all of his backward velocity into a rotation, flinging himself back up onto the body, landing in a low, crouched position propped up by his left hand. As his head rises up and those intense, green eyes lock on Baiken, it's as if a wave of new power radiates from the Dragon Ninja, some hidden strength.

With a complete lack of hesitation, and movement that suggests his body doesn't even recognize the wind desperately fighting against his progress toward the front of the VTOL, he charges down on Baiken before launching back up with a violent uppercut aimed to knock the hunter into the air.

He doesn't the wind a chance to catch her.

With relentless speed, Hayabusa fills the air in front of him with a flurry of fists, each blow removing her aftward progress, tidally locking her to the gravity of Ryu's assault. Finally, the barrage is punctuated by a downside blow, both hands locked together as he apparently aims to bury Baiken into the VTOL's hull.

COMBATSYS: Baiken just-defends Ryu Hayabusa's Shokaku Rensho!

[                    \\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////                   ]
Baiken           0/-------/--=====|-------\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa

At first Baiken thinks she's done it. She believes that Ryu Hayabusa can probably get to ground (he got UP here somehow, didn't he?) or at least avoid a sudden falling death, but either way she didn't really mean to send him off uncontrolled. He might have some kind of technique to avoid that -

Ah. There it is.

When Ryu swings himself around, Baiken nods, just a hair, to herself; a barely visible inclination of her head. She sees him swinging forward, landing in front of her, and Baiken adjusts her own position and stance; legs spread further apart for stability, planted right in front of that hatch entrance.

And when the uppercut comes, she's ready for it.

Baiken pulls her sword out in one smooth motion. She might have been able to take the opportunity to sink it into Hayabusa's arm, but she doesn't; she uses its flat as a barrier, letting Hayabusa smash his uppercut into it while she's holding it point-down. It almost jars it out of her hand, but her grip is iron, and it stays in her grasp. And she rises - but under her own control.

With her claw hand anchored, she has limited options; a lot of her advanced techniques require something up the sleeve. But her skill with a blade doesn't rely on gimmicks or trickery. Baiken flips backwards, away from Hayabusa; she is in no danger of falling off, though the chain clinks and clatters as she spins. She has the blade out when she does it, though, and the arcing path she takes means the blade spins with her, an almost three hundred sixty degree slice she puts her arm into.

Baiken lands on the far side of the hatch from Hayabusa. She shrugs, letting the chain shift to a more stable position. Her face is bloody, but she manages a fierce - possibly slightly crazed - expression anyway.

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa dodges Baiken's Ouren.

[                    \\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////                   ]
Baiken           0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa

The moment it becomes apparent to Hayabusa that his assault isn't going anywhere, he begins to ready himself for the retaliation. The simplest method of preparation is often to simply avoid an attack, and Ryu would hardly be a ninja if he wasn't as well trained in evasion as he is. The moment Baiken hits the air, the Master Ninja kicks back off the hull, flipping in the other direction as the hunter's sword comes within a hair's breadth of his feet.

He'd had some understanding of just how talented Baiken was from their previous encounters, but at the moment he's beginning to be quite glad that the two are only putting forth this effort to sell their deception; if the two were to legitimately fight to the death, he's not certain that he would be able to come out on top.

But fear and doubt have no place in a battle, to allow one's mind to be tainted by such emotions would be to lose one's resolve. Continuing to move without any hesitation, Hayabusa charges forward again, drawing the Dragon Sword from its sheath as he lashes out with a violent downward chop.

COMBATSYS: Baiken interrupts Fierce Strike from Ryu Hayabusa with Sakura.

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

Baiken is good. And she knows it; she considers herself one of the best people in the business of monster killing on the planet, and is probably not wrong. There are better /fighters/, but few of them have the focus she does.

Ryu Hayabusa is one of the people who are up there.

Honestly, they've probably fought enough that, if one of them ditched the battle, Ultratech probably would not find it suspicious. Baiken is bruised, bleeding in a couple places; she's recovered from her daze and has anchored herself safely to the VTOL. Hayabusa isn't in much better shape, though he's calmer, less aggressive.

But Baiken's personality is such that she doesn't /want/ to give up. Last time, she wasn't sure which of them was better, either. Perhaps it's time to test this, especially if he wants to be her ally so.

Baiken twists. She catches the Dragon Sword with the chain of her arm; it hits at an angle and doesn't sever any links because the chain is not taut. Instead it drags Baiken to the side, pulling uncomfortably at... whatever the arm is attached to under her robe. She's not telling.

But it gives her an opportunity, and she takes it. Baiken stabs with her sword, a sudden forward thrust. Pink chi builds near the hilt, flows down the blade and explodes from the point, showering the area in what would be slowly drifting pink sparks; because of the speed of the plane, they leave them behind almost immediately.

"You could run, you know." Baiken's voice is rough. It usually is, when she's pushed herself this far.

Another hit sending Hayabusa tumbling back as his attempt is overpowered. Once again he seems ready to go flying off into the sky until he stabs down with the Dragon Sword, pointing the blade toward the nose of the plane so that the flat of the blade is able to catch on its hull. Even with all of that added resistance, a sizable tear forms before the Dragon Ninja is able to get his feet back down.

With a clean sweep, Hayabusa draws his blade back up to his traditional stance, cleaving a longer, clean breach through the VTOL's hull. Given everything else it's gone through, that most likely won't be enough to put it down.

"Would you run in a fight like this?" asks Hayabusa, shuffling his feet to carry him closer to his temporary opponent. "I don't intend to allow my determination to appear weak, not when there is so much on the line. Pain and exhaustion are transient, and I will do all that I am able to guarantee the success of my mission."

Baiken probably isn't wrong; after a fight like this someone would expect Hayabusa to run, but he's not willing to take the chance that there is someone in Ultratech that knows him well enough to guess at his deception if he doesn't play his part all the way.

The slow shuffle finally brings the ninja within striking range; he surges forward, sweeping his legendary blade down and around into a rising slash with enough force to carry Baiken up with him as he lifts off, then twisting down to his side for another incredible rising arc, repeated then for a third time, reaching a peak near the end of the hunter's chain.

COMBATSYS: Baiken interrupts Phoenix Ascendant from Ryu Hayabusa with Random Strike.
* Attack Of Opportunity! *

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

Baiken can tell what Hayabusa is doing when he's shuffling around. She's done the same type of slow movement often enough when she needs to stay stable but still get around. Admittedly, she doesn't normally do it on the top of a plane, but that's more because she doesn't /fight/ on top of a plane very often.

She also has to admit he's right. She wouldn't retreat at a time like this. If she was the kind of person who would, she wouldn't be very useful to him - she hasn't even gone back inside the plane since the people were thrown off it.

"Hnn," she grunts, watching the shuffle. It's not too much more before he'll be in reach. One step, another, another -


Baiken lashes out at almost exactly the same time as Ryu Hayabusa surges forward. She spins her sword in her hand, whirling it in a manner that seems like she really ought to drop it, but she doesn't; she catches Ryu with it on the approach, though not well enough to completely interrupt his own attack. It draws blood as Baiken recoils - but is it enough to get Ryu to completely back off?

This is a bad hit. Perhaps he could take this fight further if he wasn't holding back to avoid damaging the VTOL and avoiding doing serious damage to Baiken. Perhaps if this were a fight where he desperately needed to fight on for the fate of the world, Hayabusa might be able to summon some more strength... but if he keeps this up, he might not be able to recover enough to reach the ground safely.

For the time being, there is but one option: retreat.

Which is not to say that the ninja is willing to just let everything come to a close like this. He's still got just enough for one more attempt. Even as his blood is hitting the hull, he steels himself, preparing himself for that one last moment.

His feet hit the deck for just long enough for him to unleash that stored up potential, twisting the Dragon Sword down to his side before he flies forward with an inhuman speed, slashing across Baiken's flank as he bypasses her only to hit the deck on the other side and kick off, still spilling blood the entire way.

Despite his injuries, Ryu manages enough height away from the VTOL to clear a small building, hitting the wind and suddenly tumbling awkwardly as gravity takes control. It isn't long before he drops beneath the cloud banks, after which its impossible to tell what will happen to the ninja on his way to the ground.

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa can no longer fight.

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

COMBATSYS: Baiken dodges Ryu Hayabusa's Rising Swallow.

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

Baiken's wild strike was more effective than she expected. The spinning blade tends to catch people by surprise, which is good enough, but to actually get a significant hit with it is always a pleasant surprise.

Ryu ditches. He's going to dive off the plane if he goe sin the direction he's clearly intending to. Baiken has no interest in stopping him from retreating, provided he can survive when he does it; they've made the point, and if Ultratech asks her about it, she will point out that /she/ can't fly and in fact had her claw arm hooked into the hatch so she wouldn't go flying. Which means that she has a way to evade that Ryu Hayabusa didn't have to take advantage of.

When he slashes, Baiken yanks on the chain. She ends up pulling herself - throwing herself, really - down the hatch. There is an unpleasant thump from inside, but it /does/ get her well out of the way of the slash.

About five seconds later, the hatch closes, as Baiken figures out how to work the electronics that keep it locked.

COMBATSYS: Baiken has ended the fight here.

Log created on 16:27:01 08/23/2015 by Baiken, and last modified on 19:58:47 09/01/2015.