Description: This was the greatest moment of Lightning Spangles life. Her career at the cusp of failure, Jezebel had only one last chance to save herself. Set in the Antelope Canyon in Arizona, Lightning Spangles faces off against Honoka Kawamoto in a promotional match for not only the Twilight Star Circus, but also supporting Donald Trump in his run for the GOP nominee. It was the perfect match, it should have been the perfect promotion. But in the end, Jezebel can't help but be herself... and show that even the greatest of dreams must come to an end.
Antelope Canyon. Arizona. 5 PM.
The site of the most important fight in Jezebel's life.
This was a slot canyon, a narrow canyon formed by eons of water erosion. A religious site to the local Navajo, the smooth sandstone was almost like a work of art, naturally sculpted walls of intense beauty. Here was what was known as 'The Crack.' Located in the Upper Antelope Canyon, the entrance was actually ground level. It is so named for the 'crack' overhead, where countless beams of light cascade down from above. It was a site of serenity, it was a site of bliss.
And then the crate of Mountain Dew comes crashing down from over head.
"Oh Shit!" The laborer calls out as the cans explode, spraying around wildly to the crowd filling the canyon. It was crowded, much more crowded than what the canyon could be, even in peak tourist season. Sections of the winding canyon were cordoned off, with various howling Americans were busy chattering, hooting, and eating nachos. Overhead, different supplies were being lowered down, as the crowd looks down into the canyon below. It was hardly the site for a career changing fight. But in reality, it was much more than a fight.
That much was apparently when Donald Trump continues his speech in the arium of the canyon.
"... And that's what I'll do the protect the border of our United State of America!" The blonde-haired businessman roars out, as banners bearing 'TRUMP 2016' roll down the sides of the canyon walls. Even in the cool exterior of the canyon, the man was sweating wet. But the crowd didn't care. With every pause from the man, they would whip into a frenzy, cheering and chanting. They didn't even notice the cans of mountain dew spraying all over them. Donald just waves his hands, continuing his train of thought. "What is up with all these businesses giving up jobs overseas anyways? All those Wall Street fat cats, giving up AMERICAN JOBS to FOREIGNERS overseas! You wouldn't see Trump rely on no Chinaman! Let me tell you, My only interests are in AMERICA!"
"And what makes AMERICA GREAT!"
Another round of frenzied cheers erupt, and soon, Trump lowers his hands, trying to calm the crowd. "Now, before I take up TOO much of your time. I know you are all here for a reason. Lightning Beagles is gonna be showing up real soon to show you a cowgirl thing and beat people up. But before I give the stage up to her, I got to give up the stage to a close friend of mine! A business partner of the best degree" Donald Trump steps aside, reaching out a hand to motion to the side stage as NEW banners come rolling down beside the Trump ones. "Everybody clap your hands for..."
Fired. They're so freaking fired. The smug publicity department, the bean counters looking at the income possibilities, the board of directors that supposedly signed off on this deal... especially after the travesty -last- time. Insane Clown Posse couldn't even tell the Twilight Star Circus apart from Twilight Sparkle, for heaven's sake. At least these banners spelled the name of the circus and its featured juggler correctly -- that -would- have been a debacle. All of them: FIRED. Or at the very least given very stern faces and talkings-to.
The mentioned juggler is not, however, alone: there's enough of a stage crew to enable her to put on -some- of her featured effects. Such as a spotlight, weaving its way through the shifting light patterns cascading down from the Crack, above. And a few effects projectors, casting violet and pink stars onto the canyon walls in various delirious patterns. And, of course, the confetti cannons which preface the arrival of the acrobat-turned-juggler, as she leaps down dramatically from above, tossing her hands up high into the air as she bounces about on the floor, seeming perfectly ethereal and weightless to the crowd. The rigging that allowed her to leap so far without so much as a scratch is discarded in the thick smokescreen thrown out by the cannons, a forgivable distraction aided by Honoka's ebullient smile as she waves back to the eager crowd...
Most of which who haven't heard of the weird Ainu-Japanese performer. So much for downplaying Trump's connections with the nefarious "Chinamen," one must conclude, as the consummate performer strides confidently up to take the microphone from the one and only Trump.
"You're much, much too kind to me! Thank you so much for coming out here today!" Honoka may be slightly uncomfortable in the heat, wearing her stage costume with a black a sweater vest over a pleated purple dress, a long-sleeved pink shirt, and pink-and-black tights, but she is a professional! "It may be hard to believe," she states in accented English, while running her fingers through her pink hair highlights, "but this is not my natural hair color..." Pausing for the awkward laughter to die down, she adds, "But that is, of course, how I came to meet my close friend Donnie, after all!" If he's going to play it up, she's perfectly okay making up nicknames. Anything to get the crowd on her side!
"It is long way from the circus, but it is good to be here... in the great United States of America! And this costume is much lighter than my Gojira costume."
"Er... my /Godzilla/ costume," she repeats. And THEN the crowd gets it, breaking out into laughter once again.
"But while I could spend all day talking your ears off..." And right then, as another round of laughter erupts when the pink cat ears atop her head begin to wiggle on their own accord, the professional gestures towards a third set of banners which begin to roll out. "Let's not forget why we're really here, right? Miss Lighting Sparkles!" Drop the n, garble the word... she's just passing the buck. Not like the audience is really going to notice, since they started clapping halfway through Honoka's announcement anyway...
Donnie trump-faces at Honoka as she speaks.
The businessman purses his lips into a sort of half sneer, entire face scowling. He was actually very pleased and bemused by Honoka's comments. Naturally, this conflict of interest was completely ignored by the crowd. Donald Trump said he wasn't for foreign interests, therefore he wasn't! As she mentions Lightning Sparkles, he just gives a fake sneering smile as an attempt at sincerely agreeing with her. Everyone was clapping and cheering and hooting and hollering. Honoka might be wanting to fire things, but already 33% of the audience was browsing their phones, trying to find where the nearest Twilight Star Circus was, and booking tickets to fly there AND attend. It was riding on Trumpmania. And the only cost to ride was your dignity.
And suddenly, the canyon brightens up.
Beams of light cascade across the floor of The Crack, as music begins to play. Inspiring orchestral strings stab as the crowd begins to cheer instinctively. Jezebel was waiting for this. She was waiting above the crack. And now, was her chance. Dropping through the crack, she begins to glide towards the stage. Dressed in her blue jeans, her all american vest starred and striped, she was falling, falling at a 45 degree angle. Naturally, not even Lightning Spangles could fly; it took a pulley system to keep her up as she gradually descended. And yet, everyone was going crazy. Children were screaming. Fans were crying. And steadily, posing as she falls, Lightning Spangles lands squarely on the stage, the harness unhooking and rising back up. Turning around, Lightning Spangles looks at the audience.
And it was like old times again.
"Howdy Y'all, I'm Lightning Spangles, the All-American Hero!" The actress calls out, waving to the crowd. There was no regrets. There was no booze. There was no mistakes, nothing to take away from her one last chance. Somewhere above, Jerry and the CEO of Lightning Spangles Inc. was watching down the Crack. And here she was, with the full turnout with the easiest crowd she's dealt with. She wasn't going to embarrass herself here. Everyone here had to love her.
Except, maybe, her opponent.
"I'd like to thank my good friend Donald Trump for calling me out here." Lightning Spangles places a hand on his shoulder. Immediately, Donald Trump throws a hand around her hips. Lightning Spangles begins to wriggle a bit to let Donnie adjust his hand. He doesn't adjust his hands upwards. Continuing to smile, the actress looks out to the crowd and keeps waving. "It really is a pleasure to come out and see all of you right here in Arizona! But you didn't come out here to see me hang out with my best friend Donald Trump!" Lightning Spangles pulls out of Donald Trump's hungry grasp, striding across the stage towards the only OTHER person on the stage. "You've all come out here to see me fight my opponent for the evening..." And with that, she tips her hat at the guest fighter, with a true smile.
"Honoka Kawamoto, of the Twilight Star Circus!"
Okay, so... Honoka's descent was much, -much- too quick, compared to that of Lightning Spangles. The Twilight Star performer takes copious mental notes, here, especially with regards to how people don't even seem to -care- about how bulky the pulley system looks on the older, chunkier American -- they're even cheering a ton more loudly. Home turf advantage, maybe? Or maybe it's just that no one in their right mind has actually heard of the circus that's mostly stuck to Japan.
While Lightning Spangles is going through her schpiel, Honoka watches with a pleasant smile, picking apart every aspect of her words. Nothing -too- different than what she'd said, but... well, less picking-apart of the gracious, overly-handsy host. It also goes to show that Honoka wasn't as... well-liked as Lightning Spangles seems to be... which dampens Honoka's smile a smidge, really. She chose her 'friendship' with Donald Trump poorly, it would seem.
But before the juggler can comment, one of her crewmembers presents her with her diabolo wands and two bright purple diabolos. That's enough to remind the professional that a smile is what's in order here -- and she nods in hearty agreement with Lightning Spangles. "Right!" The hat tip... well, that's a -lot- more friendly than the banter she'd gotten from Lady Liberty Spangles in their last encounter. She twirls both diabolos around on her left hand, diabolo wands clutched in her right along with the microphone. "And for anyone interested... I'll be performing with the Arizona Cardinals halftime show tomorrow night! So..." She coughs into her fist, adopting a thick drawl. "Ah hope ta see y'all there!"
Winking back at the audience, she hands Donald Trump the microphone. Because what is he, if not a secondary act to her? "Keep this warm for me, Donnie? This will only take a few minutes..."
With another cloud of confetti, Honoka flexes backwards into a backflip. Landing with perfect acrobatic grace, she sets her diabolos into motion with a smile. And by tossing some flash paper from her hands... the diabolos light onto fire.
Honoka smiles back at Jezebel, her face lit by the dancing flames. "Shall we begin?" she calls out, her voice loud and clear above the hush of the crowd, before the awed audience remembers to break into riotous applause.
COMBATSYS: Honoka has started a fight here on the right meter side.
Well Honoka can't help if Lightning Spangles is better than her!
That is almost certainly what Jezebel would be thinking. Still smiling wild, she certainly -was- chunkier than Honoka. Certainly it gave Donnie more to hold. But why couldn't he use her for whatever he wanted. This was her last chance. She had to be willing to do anything. Still, as Honoka breaks out the strange toy wands, the actress just keeps that smile going. She wasn't worried about those.
But then she mentions the Cardinals.
She would be performing with the Cardinals? As Donnie takes the mic, Lightning Spangles tilts her head. The crowd was cheering on Honoka at the mention of the Cardinals, while Trump tries to take back all the air in the room. "Thanks Honny! While you two dames just catfight or something, I think now would be a great time to talk about my foreign policy against Iraq, and what I'm gonna do to keep them from getting the bomb!" As Donald Trump begins to rant, Lightning Spangles tosses her ponytail. "We sure can begin, pardner. But I just want to make sure one more thing!"
"That everyone makes sure to go to your circus!"
With what must be sleight of hand, Lightning Spangle whips out a stack of small papers. Holding them up, she nods at Honoka, and begins to twirl in place. "That's why we are promoting coupons for Twilight Sparkle Circus! A free bag of popcorn when you redeem these coupons!" Lightning Spangles hurls the stack of coupons across the audience, to the cheers of the the entire audience. Sweeping her arms around, her pony tail swirls around her...
And she brings her leg around as well.
Drawing back her right leg, she winds her heel sidelong as she continues to pivot. Snapping her foot forward. It seemed that this would be a full-fledged Lightning Spangles fight. Where the points don't matter, and the rules? The rules would bend as it fit the narrative. The question was whether or not Honoka was the hero of this fight, or whether it was Lightning Spangles.
My money's on the All-American Hero.
COMBATSYS: Jezebel has joined the fight here.
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Jezebel 0/-------/-------|======-\-------\0 Honoka
COMBATSYS: Honoka blocks Jezebel's Spin Kick.
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Jezebel 0/-------/-------|======-\-------\0 Honoka
Honoka seems pleased when Lightning Spangles quirks her head to the side, regarding the Cardinals; not one to be caught unprepared, Honoka's taken the last fight into consideration and set up some arrangements of her own. After all; she's more than happy to stoke the audience's voracious appetite for CAPITALISM.
It's Honoka's turn to double-take, though, when she hears trump talk about crushing Iraq. The history buff hasn't really been paying that much mind to Middle Eastern politics, but she was pretty sure Iraq wasn't the enemy there. Pursing her lips, she focuses on the battle in hand...
While Lightning Spangles and Honoka grandstand back and forth, the Twilight Star crew is hard at work. Which, in this case, means that they are steering six heavy-looking wheeled devices across the desert floor. As Miss Spangles announces the circus, the six devices spring into action, revealing their terrible, true form: Plywood cutouts of key members of the Twilight Star Circus cast:
- Honoka's cat-eared prankster costume
- a trio of acrobats
- a rather massively-muscled gentleman
- a man dressed in all black with a lavender mask
- a Scottish fortuneteller
- a young woman in a pink dress
It's not -everyone- in the cast, to be sure, but surely the most photogenic of the group. And even after the plywood cutouts are raised to view, the wheeled trucks continue moving closer to the two performers.
Honoka isn't able to tout the values of the circus right away though: kinda busy! The Twilight Star juggler tosses her two flaming diabolos into the air in anticipation, to oohs and ahhs from the crowd, leaving her with the two wands free. She doubles up one wand across her left forearm, raising it vertically to meet the shockwave from the Lightning Spangles spin kick! It also helps that Honoka is in the midst of hopping backwards from the blow, such that as Twilight Star fliers are twirling about the 'arena' area, the acrobatic juggler is leaping back to a safe distance.
"That's a darn good idea, Lightning Spangles!" It might not show on camera, but Honoka's skin crawls as she adopts a bit more of the southern drawl. It can be a little contagious. One snap of her diabolo wands later, the flaming diabolos are back under her control -- though they seem to have caught one of the fliers on fire. Honoka either doesn't notice, or doesn't care, spinning her diabolos into a controlled figure-eight routine as she continues. "Twilight Star Circus is fun for the whole family! So if you're in the mood for crazy acrobatic stunts, silly clown acts, or daring feats of skill and endurance, keep an eye out for the Twilight Star! Visit our website, twilight star circus --"
Right at this point, the flaming flier is drifting right in front of the juggler. Honoka deftly raises her left hand into the shape of a pistol, the wand acting as the barrel of such; with a sudden puff of air, she blows out the flames. "-- dot com!" she concludes, to thunderous applause!
With the audience sufficiently wowed, Honoka pops the cord of her diabolos -- lest the flaming juggling props be -totally- abandoned. No, she sends them flying into the air, because her next motion will require both her hands: she cartwheels towards Lightning Spangles, arcing upwards into the air such that she can guillotine a heel down onto the cowgirl's shoulder. The diabolos are arcing as well: if they don't hit here, there's a good chance that the plywood standees will!
COMBATSYS: Honoka successfully hits Jezebel with Strong Kick.
- Power hit! -
CSYS: This exciting moment brought to you by Twilight Star Circus!
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Jezebel 0/-------/-======|=======\=------\1 Honoka
The crowd was eating up both of these stars.
While Honoka didn't have the same name brand presence as Lightning Spangles, she was certainly holding her own, both martially and charismatically. At the side of the stage, thirteen children stand beside, the Lightning Spangles fanclub. None of the children were over 12, and each one was dressed in their own cowboy outfits. They cheer as the kick comes, but they soon notice that Honoka doesn't drop. The slam of the leg is caught by the smaller fighter, the cowgirl's massive limbs rolling in with bonebreaking impact. But the brunt of the force was stopped, and now, as Lightning Spangles recoils from the attack, it was clear what was the case now.
She was surrounded.
Putting up her guard, Lightning Spangles' eyes go wide at the cutouts around her. "Lord moley, I thought this was a one on one!" She belts out. Stumbling about, she turns around to keep her guard up against the cutouts, as well as the burning diablos that were dancing around. Honoka continues to describe the high-quality entertainment that the Twilight Star Circus could provide. Finally, at the end, when both diablos and cutout comes together, the actress throws up her arms to deflect the onslaught.
And what comes instead was a kick.
The blow hits Lightning Spangles squarely, forcing through her defenses with collarbone shattering impact. The actress gasps as she is struck. And with her, the whole audience gasps. Trump, irate, turns to look at the pair, his face contorted in a Trump face. All the attention was on Jezebel and Honoka... and not the flaming flier that had fallen down, and landed on the stage by the cutout of the strongman. Lightning Spangles just lays there on the ground, face down.
And the lights go low.
Lightning Spangles struggles on the ground, as the eyes of the cutouts watch her. The only light was the muffled sunlight from above, and the burning fire of the flier right beside the strongman cutout. Lightning Spangles makes a valiant effort to rise... then collapses. Once again, she tries to rise, much weaker than before. It also fails.
And then, a dark robed figure rises from the side stage.
The figure slips past Honoka silently, its feet unseen from beneath the black robes. In one hand, was clutched a simple but cruel scythe. He moves like a whisper, with the entire crowd falling silent. The little boy dressed in the cowboy outfit begins to whimper. "N-n-no..." The black robed figure soon stops over the writhing Lightning Spangles. And there, his face is revealed. Pure white, sallow eyes. It was clear who this creature was.
It was the Grim Reaper himself.
"Lightning Spangles..." The voice states with a thick swedish accent. Hovering over the weakened Spangles, he looks down ruthlessly at the woman defeated. "Your time has come, Lightning Spanagles." Reaching down, he beckons for Lightning Spangles to rise. The sheriff gasps, shaking her head. The Lightning Spangles Fanclub begins to sob, the 13 children bawling.
Was this truly the end of Lightning Spangles?!
And suddenly, two more figures leap from off stage.
Dressed in black robes as well, they pile in from the side stage from opposite angles. Rushing up next to the Reaper himself, he briefly looks confused. "Oh hey there Death!" One of the strangers say. "Your shoes are untied!" The Grim Reaper gasps a bit. "Oh! Thank you!" And there, he bends over to look at where his shoes would be. The figures suddenly high five each other, and move behind Death. With a swift motion, they grab him by the briefs, and with a great tug, pulls it upwards in a two-man wedgie! Death screams in pain, and soon collapses, writhing in agony. Donald Trump, seeing his opportunity, runs over and starts kicking Death while he is done. The two figures work to help Lightning Spangles on her feet, and with the actress on her feet, the pair suddenly throw off their robes. Still unsteady on her feet, Lightning Spangles turns towards the two saviors, and bursts out with a smile.
"Bill And Ted, what are you doing here?"
The curly-haired man with the dull look on his face smiles, and thrusts out one hand towards Jezebel, and the other placed on his chest. "That's right Lightning Spangles! I'm Bill S. Preston, Esquire!" The other man, with stringy black hair and black vest, mirrors his counterpart. "And I'm Ted "Theodore" Logan! And we are..." And with that, the pair calls out, rocking out on an air guitar. "WYLD STALLYNS!" Lightning Spangles laughs, and gives them each a high five. "Thanks Bill and Ted! You really Melvin'd death there! Looks like you all are ready for your next adventure!" Bill shakes his head. "No way Cowboy Lady!" Jezebel tilts her head. "Maybe you are getting ready for a journey?" Ted shakes his head. "Almost there, Lightning Spangles!" And then, the actress plants a hand on her forehead. "Oh right! I remember it is Bill And Ted's Righteous Quest! Coming out soon to theaters October 2015!"
And with that, all three of them riff out on air guitars.
Lightning Spangles immediately turns around, facing Honoka with a look of resolve. Bill and Ted place a hand on each of Jezebel's shoulders. "Looks like I got friends of my own Honoka! Okay Bill and Ted! Show me what Billy The Kid showed you! Lets show them how you tame a WYLD STALLYN!' The pair bends down to lift Lightning Spangles up in the air, and wind back. Lightning Spangles begins to erupt in Red, White, And Blue energy, the chi cascading down her body. "Lets do it Bill!" Ted says. "Totally, Ted!" Bill says. And with the three of them working together, Lightning Spangles is hurled through the air, spiralling as she unleashes her ultimate attack. Should she smash right into Honoka, she will unleash THREE aerial kicks, exploding red white and blue, before bringing both herself and her opponent to the ground.
"WHERE EAGLES DARE!!!"
COMBATSYS: Jezebel successfully hits Honoka with Where Eagles Dare EX.
CSYS: This exciting moment brought to you by Bill And Ted's Righteous Quest!
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Jezebel 1/-------/=======|=======\=------\1 Honoka
Children are crying. This is problematic for the entertainer in a number of ways: one child crying can get any number of parents worked up, but -all thirteen- crying... That's just no good. Honoka keeps a stern expression on her face as she alights back upon her feet, trying to keep from addressing the children -directly-...
And then an oddly familiar presence makes itself known in her periphery. Honoka has some experience with the Grim Reaper... just not this particular form of his.
There is a moment where Honoka's facade cracks to show no small amount of displeasure. More actors on stage? This is ridiculous...
But the professional gets her emotions under control after a moment, exaggerating her heartfelt anger into a comedic caricature of the same. Her two flaming diabolos are resting off to the side, and by lashing her diabolo cord at them, she returns them to their controlling orbit around her left side. As Lightning Spangles continues her dialogue with the new arrivals, the juggler spins her fiery props around in ever-quickening orbits, vertical and horizontal to remind the audience that, hey, she's still here!
With feigned irritation, she stamps her foot as Bill and Ted prepare the Lightning Trebuchet. It's intended to be a setup so that she can vault backwards to safety. But the speed of the WYLD STALLYNS is... not really something she's familiar with.
The first kick connects with Honoka's leading arm, bashing it to the side. The second and third connect with her midsection, folding her like a jacknife as she's plunged backwards. Up till now she's been able to compensate for small shifts of momentum so that her diabolos never stop twirling... but there is a very noticeable shift as the props are flung at awkward angles, here.
The All-American attack brings her and Lightning Spangles down, with the diabolos clacking loudly to the floor afterwards. The agitation is enough to snuff the flames... which makes the darkened scene even darker.
Honoka is still conscious... but wishing she hadn't eaten so much. Her skin pale (but not as pale as that of the Grim Reaper) she clamps her jaw shut, forcing herself to swallow a gulp of air before trying to move anywhere. Nausea: Honoka doesn't feel it very often herself, but after exposure to powers like Lightning Spangles'... well, there's not much she can do but hold it in. She pushes back to her feet, mugging her best smile for the children as she wraps an arm about her stomach. "It's okay, kids... I'll be fine. And do you know why?"
Another banner rolls out across the canyon walls, and Honoka gestures to it with her other hand: "Because I've been taking MR B. NATURAL VITAMINS!" She flexes both her arms at this point, standing in a superheroic pose. "Powerful enough to chase away the bad vibes and the monsters of sickness!"
And then with a sudden blur of motion, the Twilight Star juggler leaps forward, landing in a crouch right in front of Lightning Spangles. Just as quickly as she lands, she rises with her hand outstretched, reaching for the All-American Cowgirl's solar plexus with an open palm -- her entire arm shimmering with a brilliant pink-purple light.
The best way to work off nausea, Honoka has found, is to simply transfer that uncomfortable sensation into someone else, and all the bad vibes that go along with it. Hopefully it won't trigger any... disturbing memories for the on-again, off-again alcoholic.
COMBATSYS: Jezebel blocks Honoka's Pon-itak Ki.
CSYS: This exciting moment brought to you by MR B. NATURAL VITAMINS!
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Jezebel 1/----===/=======|=======\==-----\1 Honoka
Madness was taking its toll.
The audience was alternating between laughter and tears, hope and fears. The children was no longer sobbing, but cheering. And as Honoka is stuck, they are crying again. But as medicine is shown, the vitamins, the cheering comes again as each one of them are given a bottle of Mr. B Natural Vitamins. Immediately, several of the kids bypass the defective childproof caps, and begin to eat them like candy. Beside them, Trump stops from his kicking assault on death, just in time to let the Wyld stallyns take over. Adjusting his toupee, he nods at the pair as he backs off. Frusterated, he takes off his hairpiece and inspects the neon-blonde thing.
Somewhere, through the annals of time and space, Rust's own hairpiece stares into the television screen, longing for the touch of another so beautiful.
Lightning Spangles, meanwhile, was lands from her relentless assault off balanced. Grinning to bear, she naturally stumbles. Regaining her footing was a slow process, as her technique was flash, substance, but low practicality. In fact, as she evens her footing, Honoka pushes her own product, which Lightning Spangles tries to keep herself OFF balanced to keep Honoka going with her product. By the time she finishes, the acrobat was rising up to lay that palm right between Lightning Spangle's breasts. Immediately applying the lessons taught by the Lightning Spangles Teaches: Sekuhara No Jutsu! video, she immediately catches Honoka's palm with her own palm. For a brief, tender moment she intertwines her fingers in Honoka's own. Countless male and female fans online immediately begin to explore the potentials of Lightning Spangles pairing off with a Japanese Circus Lady. Before the first chapter of 'Just Clownin' Around with Lightning Spangles' is spellchecked, however, the energy bursts forth.
And clarity comes surging forward.
"Come on, Jez, they are going to keep there pants on." It was a blur, as it always was. Jezebel just remembers being angry, very angry. There was a damp smell in the air, and the smell of manure. It was a strange smell for a Studio, even in Hong Kong. There were five men on the stage, and one standing to the side with a camera. The director, Jezebel couldn't remember his name. But she remembered being angry, through the haze of baijiu. She might have hit him, or maybe she just wanted to hit him. But she was angry, and she tried saying things in Cantonese before breaking down into English.
"I have standards! I have standards!"
She remembered screaming that. She was flailing her arms around, she was mad. But then, she remembered one of the men grabbing her arms, and another grabbing her body. Maybe they were attacking her, or maybe it was self defense. But she remembers the director. "No you don't. Come on, it's only gonna be simulated. You wanna get paid don't you?" She remembers being led to the stage. And the shame. The sheer shame. She remembers how she answered, it was how she answered it for 10 years of her life.
"Yeah, yeah I wanna get paid."
A sigh comes from her dried lips.
"Lets do this."
And then, the man in the elephant suit places a hand on Jezebel's shoulder.
Memories fade, like looking in a fogged mirror. The man was in an anthromorphic elephant suit, who was in turn dressed in a business suit of bright green. On top of its head was a giant yellow hairpiece, and from some reason, the elephant looked smug. But it was reality, and so was Lightning Spangles. Jezebel is jarred from her dream as she stumbles back, feeling very, very sick. But she smiles, as she places a hand on the elephant's shoulder as well.
"Well, Howdy Trumpy The Repubephant!"
Trumpy lets out a loud elephant noise, as Lightning Spangles turns towards the crowd and thumbs up. "I...Trumpy..." She begins, trying to focus her mind as disgust still weighs in her. Why did she feel so weak? "Trumpy is the newest mascot for Trump for 2016! Remember to vote for Lightning Spangles best friend, Donald Trump, for your GOP presidential nominee!" Meanwhile, Trump hurls the hairpiece aside into the smoldering flames backstage. Immediately, the fire combusts into a surge of blue-violet flames, unleashing a rising fireball that reaches more of the banners... and well out of the crack of the canyon. The crowd roars in delight, as Trump heads to a large crate need the side of the stage. Inside, he retrieves another yellow hairpiece, and fixes it on his head. The fires might be spreading, but who cared?
They looked awesome, didn't they?
The kids at the sidelines continue to munch on the pills, while Lightning Spangles turns to face Honoka with an overwrought frown. "I don't know what you did to me, pardner! But you gotta to a lot more than that to bring down the BURNING SPIRIT of A TRUE AMERICAN ICON!" Immediately, an American Bald Eagle flies through the canyon, just released by its handler. The screaming eagle flies around overhead, inspiring Lightning Spangles to look up at it, and shed a single tear. Naturally, the eagle also has a trump wig. Embolden by the true American spirit, Lightning Spangles focuses her attention on Honoka, and thrusts a finger at her. "I! Lightning Spangles! THE GREATEST AMERICAN WHO EVER LIVES!" She states, hyping herself up.
"DARES YOU TO REALLY BRING ME DOWN!"
Jezebel continues to rant, burying the dark thoughts. These weren't Lightning Spanlges words. These were hers. "You think you can make me hate myself like what Injun Joe did? You think you can make me disgusted? You think you can ruin me like what Momoko tried to, or Cracker Jack, or everyone who tries to destroy me?! I'm the greatest! I'm always going to be the greatest! And more importantly, I believe! I believe forever and ever! I'm the hero of children, I'm the hero of Americans! And you aren't going to ruin this for me! So try! TRY TO RUIN ME! TRY YOUR BEST TO BRING DOWN LIGHTNING SPANGLES!"
And she charges.
Lightning Spangles is upon Honoka with the frenzied rage of a desperate woman. Taking a page from the Kim Kaphwan school of GREAT JUSTICE, she opens up with her bread-and-butter four kick combination. Three roundhouse kicks, chained into a upwards thrust kick towards Honoka's chin. Whether that was evaded or blocked didn't matter; she could dodge or block some of it. What was coming was the REST of it. The upwards thrust kick is chained into a heel drop, and Lightning Spangles just unleashes a rapid fire chain of straights with her opposite leg. Switching again to a roundhouse, she takes to the air to unleash a trio of three more aerial roundhouses, attempting ot drive Honoka back. Lightning Spangles was enraged, or enlightened, or in love. She was mad, mad about everything. Jezebel loved Lightning Spangles more than everything.
And she wanted Honoka to try and destroy that love now.
To test it, and make it stronger.
And all the while, the flames grow brighter.
COMBATSYS: Jezebel issues a challenge!!
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////////// ]
Jezebel 1/----===/=======|=======\==-----\1 Honoka
COMBATSYS: Honoka blocks Jezebel's True Grit.
CSYS: This exciting moment brought to you by TRUMP 2016!!
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Jezebel 0/-------/----===|=======\===----\1 Honoka
To the audience, only a brilliant flare of light is seen. To Jezebel the epiphany took a while -- to Honoka, it's just enough time for her to consider just what it was that Lightning Spangles was trying to do with her fingers. Palm strikes to the sternum are -totally- a valid form of attack, but lacing fingers together... that's more of a dance move....
Honoka flashes an awkward smile at the audience as she pulls her hand away from the childrens' heroine. One crack of her diabolo cord is enough to popping the diabolos into orbit once again, and as Honoka resumes the routine, she catches sight of kids popping pills out of the corner of her eye. The juggler flashes a wide-eyed stare at one of her stagehands, before jerking her chin at the kids. Apparently that's enough of a sign for her circus compatriots to rush over in an attempt to keep the children from overdosing, by offering bags of yummy popcorn instead. Dumb kids!
With Lightning Spangles returning to awareness, Honoka pulls her eyes away from the GOP hopeful/trainwreck, setting her jaw in place as fire erupts around her. The average person can keep track of five independent trains of thought, plus or minus two -- and luckily, Honoka tends towards the 'plus two' aspect, because her priority list is seven items long: that weird guy with the microphone, crying eagles, her own crew, elephant, children, her future, and finally LIGHTNING SPANGLES.
Who is challenging her, suddenly making this from a friendly bout into a... well, what is this? Is it seriously going to be the end of Lightning Spangles if Honoka wins here?
"Whoa, whoa..." starts the juggler, her eyes going wide once again. Try to ruin her? Try to -destroy- her? Honoka grits her teeth as one blistering accusation after another is sent her way -- accusations that aren't even -about- the Twilight Star juggler. Her only way to maintain equilibirum -- especially with that passing wave of nausea -- is to keep spinning her diabolos about. The comforting rhythm, the calming whoosh-whoosh of the weighted props, gives her the calm in the midst of a raging storm.
The juggler's usual performances do not involve a microphone. It's not that Honoka isn't quick with a response, but rather, she prefers the spectacle of combat to the bombastic delivery of shouting. It's hard to be as dynamic in action if you're expending most of your lung capacity on threats and taunts, after all. So she stays cool as Lightning Spangles whirls three roundhouse kicks at her, withdrawing and deflecting the blows with her diabolo wands in equal measure, as calm as if it were a simple sparring exercise. The followups, though... Honoka finds herself pushed further and further back, finding herself nearly pinned against one of her own plywood standees from the blistering onslaught, but she's able to absorb each blow -- barely managing to keep it from upsetting the delicate orbits of her whirling diabolos.
But when the aerial roundhouses come in, Honoka has run out of room as she finds herself between a taekwondoka and a hard place.
Or, in this case, a barrier. She pivots sharply, twisting at the waist as if in a kung fu movie. As her diabolos fly up into the air, she pivots like a spinning log off to the side, twisting about as she lands beside the standee...
At which point the plywood caricature of the pink-dressed Twilight Star headliner, Mizuho, shatters underneath the brunt of Lightning Spangles's attack.
"If I were wearing Cruggs... that set of attacks may have finished me off..." Emerging from a shower of splintered plywood and sawdust with her arm over her face, Honoka nonetheless talks back through the microphone clipped to her collar. Stupid Cruggs -- those damn things -broke- on her during her last battle against Lightning Spangles. "But no," she continues, rising in a triumphant stance, "with the power of my Converse Chuck Taylor II shoes... I can stand up to whatever the mighty Lightning Spangles can dish out!"
Spotlights... well, spotlights fail. There's too much sawdust in the air at first, but before long the dramatic shafts of light burst through the clouds, parting the heavens to bring illumination to the purple shoes upon Honoka's feet. She raises one finger, wand clutched in her palm as she dramatically catches one diabolo on her outstretched fingertip. The second diabolo falls, but a twist of her wrist allows it to be caught on the tip of the wand, orbiting around with a delirious spin but never falling.
"So if you lose to me, Lightning Spangles..." Honoka pops her right hand into the air, launching the two diabolos once again as she levels her left-hand wand at her opponent. "... you can bet it's due to your inferior footwear!"
That... is when Honoka steps forward, swinging her forward wand in a bartitsu-styled test of her opponent's defenses. Honoka steps forward again, aiming to break through said defense with another swipe, before following up with a whirl of her right-hand wand towards the ribcage.
If all goes to plan, the diabolos should be touching down onto her opponent's head about the same time that Honoka steps through with the wand and palm of her left hand, to complete the combination. Does she think she can -ruin- or -destroy- Lightning Spangles? Well... that's not a decision Honoka will make.
COMBATSYS: Jezebel dodges Honoka's Random Weapon.
CSYS: This exciting moment brought to you by Converse Chuck Taylor II!!
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Jezebel 0/-------/----===|=======\===----\1 Honoka
And then the screams come.
Not the screams of agony. But the screams of children. Some of the children are eager to have the popcorn. But others do not. The circusfolk might find themselves fighting with angry children, some who are trained in Tae Kwon Do just like their favorite hero. The first line of the Lightning Spangles Militia would naturally be children. Of course, as Trump fixes his new toupee on, with the fires from behind illuminating the canyon, the crowd goes wild. Trumpy begins to dance on stage, his trunk swaying to an unheard beat. The eagle above continues to squack, hair trailing in the wind. Bill and Ted stop kicking Death, and gingerly begin to inspect them. Their faces slowly turn as grim as the reaper himself.
And Lightning Spangles finishes her onslaught.
As the last trio of kicks come, she lands roughly, standing above the remains of the posterboard sacrifice. Lightning Spangles was grinning mad, and her eyes were burning with desperation. "YEEEE HAW!" She yodels, already moving in. The sawdust was thick in the air; already embers of the flames behind the stage catch up through the flammable fuel air material. The fire could be contained, though. It was all part of the show. It had to be. As Honoka nimbly slips herself forward, bringing her flying diabolos around and across, Lightning Spangles found herself being attacked from all angles.
Just like in that memory that Honoka dredged up.
"Those Converse Chuck Taylor II shoes are impressive..." Lightning Spangles muses warily, stepping forward with awkward rhythm with Honoka. The acrobat was swiping in, as Lightning Spangles brings up her arm to deflect it. As the second diablos comes, she suddenly realizes what was happening. Shoving off the first tool, narrowly evading the returning wand as it whips through her cowboy hat, knocking it clean off. As the palm comes, she deflects it aside, backing up out of the assault from all angles. "Not even high-quality Chuggs could compete with such an excellent product. THey are impressive, I'll give you that!"
"But they ain't as impressive as my Japps!"
And immediately, Lightning Spangles rips off her pants.
Or rather, just the area covering the pelvis. There, not only does her white leather chaps remain, but her jeans remain as chaps themselves! Wearing a real American Flag as underpants underneath the jeans, the flag is snug and tight, though it tastefully covers her more intimate regions for the sake of the children. One boy, in fact, who is still busy fighting the Twilight Star Circusmen over his delicious vitamins, is stunned just long enough for the pills to be ripped from his hands. Staring wide-eyed into the depths of Old Glory, the boy takes only a moment to exclaim aloud.
"Hey, there are only 49 stars on that flag!"
Lightning Spangles however, continues to strut around to the hoots and howls of the crowd. "That's right, Honoka! Jean Chaps! These Japps are as breezy as they are comfortable, and are just as easy to put on as to take off! Japps are the perfect accessory for Chuggs, for the popular, charming All-American Hero!!" The 13th boy nods in agreement. "Yes, Lightning Spangles." He repeats, entranced. "I must wear Japps." Lightning Spangles nods, as Trump steps forward. "I'm Donald Trump, I gotta say. Those Japps... are fantastic! I promise everyone free Japps from our crates backstage!" And immediately, Donald Trump takes off his own pants, revealing his Japps. And soon, so does Trumpy. Japps are the face of the Republican Party. Trump nods his head.
"And like all proper Japps, they are designed in America, and made in China!"
Lightning Spangles, bearing only her Japps below the belt, leaps into the air, swinging her Japp-clad leg in a wide circle over her head. Red, White, and Blue energy cascades over her chaps, as she hurls her legs with a strong kick downward. A ball of red energy, a ball of blue energy, and a flicker ball of white energy all falls down towards the stage around Honoka, a carpet bomb of energy. As Lightning Spangles lands, each of those balls will erupt with a fireworks of explosions, each of red, white, and blue respectively. She would barely notice as she bumped into the eagle as she lept up... causing the eagle to dive right for the fire.
And soon, the screaming, burning eagle begins to soar around, as the banners begin to burn brighter.
COMBATSYS: Honoka reflects Sundance from Jezebel with Tokap Chup Kamui.
CSYS: This exciting moment brought to you by Japps!!
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ///////////////// ]
Jezebel 0/-------/---====|=======\======-\1 Honoka
Kamuy, what a mess.
The Twilight Star Circus regularly plays host to over a thousand people. Most of the time, the circus has the crowd under control by the end of the night -- the kids' sugar rushes wear off, the parents are tired, and really, the last five acts are the most dramatic and impressive. It's... it's a good time to be a performer, since folks are either glued to the performance or too worn out to interrupt.
But this... this is the part of the performance she hates. Imbecilic children are screaming and flailing about, starting mayhem and demanding attention. And that's not even counting the taekwondo-using gradeschoolers! Between the fires, and the elephants, and the dancing, it's almost too much for the master juggler to keep track of everything.
Almost. While her diabolos do their job in distracting Lightning Spangles and knocking off her hat, Honoka's volley of attacks seems to do little but harry her opponent backwards. And... it has enough influence to cause her pants to fly off.
Yeah, one way of managing the background chaff is to focus on what the hell just happened. Honoka actually pauses in midstride with a dumbfounded expression. Her hands move like clockwork from years of training, automatically retrieving the two diabolos and one other object without her even giving conscious thought to the process, so wrapped up is she in the exact brand of WTF that Lightning Spangles is manufacturing right now.
"Japps," repeats the juggler in disbelief, as the objects continue whirling about within the mercy of her diabolo cord.
"I... " She stammers, shaking her head as the half-form thought completely fails to materialize.
"Nope, I got nothin'."
The fact that Donald Trump, Trumpy, Bill, Ted, and the Grim Reaper all seem to be playing along is just not something that concerns Honoka right now. The only thing that stirs her ire is the mention of being designed in America, and made in China -- the same thing that Trump was just campaigning -against-.
It's hard to see Honoka for a moment, as the spotlights are all focusing on Lighting Spangles. And it may be a bit hard to hear, as the soundboard is completely awry from all the chaos going on. But by the time Honoka's finished speaking, the syllables should be clearer: "You mean to tell me... these All-American products... are made in -China?-"
With a snap of her wrist, one of the objects in her snare pops free from orbit. She collects both wands in one hand, collecting the diabolos into a parking orbit as they drop to a stop.
And reaches up and tucks Jezebel's cowboy hat upon her head.
"Say it ain't so, Lightnin' Spangles. These Japps you're tellin' me about... " For this, she spares a glance to the communist-promoting Trump: "... are takin' jobs away from hard-workin' Americans?"
The Southern accent is painful as hell. But she's playing to an audience here; the drawl has to be flawless.
Lightning Spangles is airborne. Honoka peers up at her from the beneath the brim of the Stetson. Disappointment reigns as she shakes her head solemnly, and turns her back on the American.
With a sudden flash of light, her diabolo cord whirls into action as her two diabolos clack harmlessly to the canyon floor. Red, white, and blue are enveloped within the distinctive pink-purple of Honoka's energy signature; the explosions are kept in check by the juggler's high-speed twirling, each firework charge contained within a static 'bubble' of her own creation.
She continues the pirouette -- it wasn't -just- for show, after all -- as she returns to face the airborne Lightning Spangles and her now-burning eagle. "Really, now... what would the Duke think about that?" With a graceful lash of her diabolo cord, Honoka levels an accusing diabolo cord at her opponent, the faintest of smirks tinging what would otherwise be a -totally- monstrous sneer of disdain.
While red, white, blue, and now -pink- fireworks are en route to Lightning Spangles, another banner unfurls, advertising a seven-disc set of movies. "How can you call yourself an American if you don't own a copy of John Wayne's greatest hits, all in full HD video on Red, White, and Blu-Ray?!"
Honoka's nose wrinkles with disgust at even -having- to say that. Or maybe it's from all the damn fire that's going on. The psychic sends a subtle mental directive to her crew: << Maybe you jerks need to get those fires under control, before someone -dies-! >>
COMBATSYS: Honoka successfully hits Jezebel with Reflected Sundance.
~~ Alluring Hit! ~~
CSYS: This exciting moment brought to you by John Wayne's Greatest Hits!
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Jezebel 0/-------/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 Honoka
Arthur was very happy to have made it to Lightning Spangles big show.
Arthur Solomon was just a 10 year old boy, who loved Lightning Spangles. She was the greatest American Hero. Sometimes she was funny, and sometimes she beat up bad guys. But she was just so cool. He was the president of his fan club at school, and he and his fellow clubmembers won a real contest, and got to get a ride all the way from Phoenix to visit. And here he was, munching on candy, having everything he wanted.
He even got to see Lightning Spangles panties.
Little Arthur Solomon was so happy with everything that was a feverish blur around him. Maybe it was all the candy medicine he took. Or maybe it was the natural high that Lightning Spangles gave his heart. He wanted Japps. He loved Japps. And he wanted the Japps in the back. As the circus men deal with the other members of the Showup Crew, Arthur slipped away, slipped to the backstage.
Nobody noticed he was gone.
With the chaos going around, it wasn't hard to get there unnoticed. And Arthur was very small, and very quick: he could slip past the fire. And as long as he held his breath, he could get through the smoke. ARthur reaches a stack of boxes. Peaking in the top one, he sees a pile of yellow hairpieces. Turning up his nose, he knocks it over, letting the contents spill out. Prying at the next box, he pops it open, and smiles. From the light of the spreading flames, he could see the inside of the box. It was Japps. In a daze, Arthur could feel his heart soar like the screaming eagle.
He had what Lightning Spangles wanted him to have.
"Uuuuuh." Trump says, standing there in his Japps, as Honoka makes a note. Normally, this thing would be ignored. But the fact of the matter was that because Honoka used a southern accent, the entire crowd noticed, and were stunned. They were chattering amongst each other, trying to understand. Trumpy looks at Trump. Bill And Ted drag the unconscious Death off stage, looking at Trump nervously. All eyes were on Trump as Honoka deflected the red, white, and blue balls, sending them right back towards Lightning Spangles. As the fires began to spread more and more backstage. The circus men were likely on the job with fire extinguishers. But the only thing important to the people right now was Trump's answer. If it was made in China... was it really American? Trump is quiet for a moment. And then he smugly grins at the audience.
"Come on guys."
"You trust me, right?"
"It's TOTALLY American!"
And the crowd goes wild.
"TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP!"
The chant roars out from the crowd, as the smoke begins to darken. There was a thick layer of smoke building at the top of the canyon; it was getting impossible for the people up top to watch. But the crowd inside the canyon was in a frenzy, cheering Trump, cheering America, cheering Lightning Spangles and Honoka in a rabid fury. Lightning Spangles herself was high on the frantic madness. But as the fireworks are unleashed... Honoka spins, and contains them. Not only that, she sends them right back. Still falling back to earth, Lightning Spangles is exposed. All three balls scatter around her as she lands. And with that, they are released, exploding right into her. The eagle overhead crashes straight to the ground behind the stage.
And the backstage explodes into a blue-violet fireball.
The blast cuts across the stage in perfect timing with the unfurl, with perfect timing with the fireworks burst. It was ripping apart the stage in a chain reaction, the flames cutting straight across and around. The banners were all aflame, except the most important one: John Wayne's Greatest Hits. As Lightning Spangles rises up from the explosion, her jacket is gone, her blouse is in tatters. Another American Flag makes her sports bra, and her Japps and Chaps were in tatters. Lightning Spangles was exposed, her body now bearing obvious red, blue, and black. But inspite of burns and bruises, the woman was smiling. She was ignoring the fire. She was ignoring the flames.
And in the aftermath of the consuming fire, she thrusts her hand in the air.
The blue-violet flames, enraged by the hairpieces, were highlighting Jezebel's frame. The crowd roars in delight as the entire stage continues to burn The dozen children, having struggled with the circus stars, begin to scream and panic. The circus crew can very easily get the kids out of the way now... and they probably should, with the ways the fires are spreading. Trump, Death, and Wyld Stallyns flee the stage, running to the crowd. Trumpy is not so lucky. The elephant's hairpiece soon catches fire as well, erupting in a blue-violet fireball that spreads up to the sky. The sawdust begins to ignite as well, starting a chain reaction that made the air hot to breath. But Lightning Spangles stands there, her own Red, White, and Blue energy cascading across her body.
"JOHN WAYNE'S GREATEST HITS!"
That was Jezebel's scream as she takes her stand. All eyes were on her. This was the greatest moment of her life. It was the most important moment of her life. "I'M LIGHTNING SPANGLES, THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO! THESE FLAMES ARE AMERICAN FLAMES! THIS LIGHT IS AMERICA'S LIGHT! JOHN WAYNE LOVES LIGHTNING SPANGLES, AND LIGHTNING SPANGLES LOVES JOHN WAYNE!!! BUY IT TODAY IN RED, WHITE, AND BLUE-RAY!"
COMBATSYS: Jezebel burns with the AMERICAN SPIRIT!
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ///////////////// ]
Jezebel 1/----===/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 Honoka
Pure chaos -- so many minds speaking at once. Normally it doesn't bother Honoka, but she's trying to pay attention to a few minds at once -- her crew, Donald Trump, and Lightning Spangles.
She senses Trump stammering. And decides she can deal with not paying him mind for a moment. When she decides to think of something else, she 'hears' the thoughts of a little boy, far from the rest. Mild panic, fear ... and determination. Usually these are dangerous combinations. She should tell her crew members...
The crowd erupts into a frenzy, their thoughts all blaring in wildly different directions at the same time. What was she about to do? Can't bother with it now -- not with her prime target disappearing in a star-spangled heap.
The stage begins to rip apart like a zipper. Some elements of this debacle were actually -planned- to be that way: the promotional deals could have been tossed out in any order, really. But this wasn't in the plan. People are going to be getting hurt, and that's bad for business.
Honoka nudges her diabolos with the toe of her Converse Chuck Taylor II, launching it back into the air. Half-heartedly, she loops it back into orbit, spinning it around behind her back for a bit more crowd appeal as she paces across the rapidly-disintegrating stage. When the rift in the center stage reaches her, she nonchalantly hops up, letting the stage tear asunder beneath her, letting her land on the rocky floor beneath. Rock won't burn.
Lightning Spangles emerges. And she is a hot mess.
Emphasis on hot.
Honoka's cheeks turn red.
It's from the heat. Really.
But this is really, -really- a debacle. The stone cavern is safe -- it has lasted for eons. Trumpy, the WYLD STALLYNS, and Donald Trump... they'll be fine.
But will the children...?
"Act now... and for a limited time..." echoes Honoka, with muted enthusiasm. There's one more endorsement in her corner, but the young woman who normally plays a villain in her own circus show does not feel up to pitching it -- not with so many lives potentially at risk.
As the Twilight Star crew begin to steer the kid to safety, Honoka's hair begins to rise. It's not from the superheated air of the fire -- her hair itself takes on a pink hue, rather than the fiery orange. The diabolos rise up as if of their own accord, spinning about as Honoka raises her arms, and steadies her stance. The pink light spills across the diabolo cord.
Honoka draws in a breath, the searing heat scratching at her throat. She pulls the cord taut, and the line snaps into the form of a star.
Some of the spotlights swivel out of place as their crewmembers heed caution and abandon their posts. But somehow, the juggler's voice carries over the shouts and yelling of the audience, an ominous intonation: "The Twilight Star Circus Summer 2015 tour: A Young Woman's Path."
The quickest way to stop Lightning Spangles is to end this fight the way it ought to be ended: with a -bang-.
The diabolos snap into fixed locations. And then a column of intense white light, the diameter of a tree trunk, erupts from the center of the star, rocketing outward towards Jezebel like a searing, white-hot lance.
It will only hurt for a moment, as if getting blasted backwards by a massive ocean wave.
COMBATSYS: Jezebel blocks Honoka's Nochiu-o Kando.
CSYS: This exciting moment brought to you by The Twilight Star Circus Summer 2015 Tour: A Young Woman's Path!
[ \\\\\\\\\\ < > ///////////////// ]
Jezebel 2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>\-------\1 Honoka
Zach Glenn has been backstage the entire time. Being here served a couple of purposes. The first being that it's away from most of the places that would be considered normal haunts for him. Secondly, he is here to serve as Honoka's translator and security heavy. A distant third would be the fact that his younger sister was a fan of Lightning Spangles, and the young man thought that autographs and merch would make for a nice birthday present.
Zach is wearing a long leather coat (the better to hide gear if need be) over a nice dark blue suit with a black and purple tie. He is also sporting an eyepatch. The eye is not permanently damaged, but it serves to protect the injured orb and is less off-putting than bandages. The eyepatch compliments the almost military close cropped blonde hair.
He is enjoying, for certain values of the term, the fight when he spots a flicker of movement out of his good eye. Zach sees the kid. Sees the wigs and the fire. Has a second to spit out a curse as he rips the long coat off to try to shield himself and lunge towards the boy...
Zach Glenn almost made it.
Arthur actually noticed Zach as he rushed towards him. For a brief moment, the boy looked angry... and guilty. He was caught, after all, sneaking backstage. It was all part of the show, yes. But now this big, scary pirate man was charging him. Arthur was caught red-handed too, holding the Japps. For a brief moment, everything was in slow motion. The despair from Arthur. The desperation from Zach. And very slowly, the burning trump eagle, diving down, lands hard into the pile of toupees. The Ex-Marine is only inches away as Arthur is consumed in the blue-violet fireball that explodes from the yellow hair.... and with it, Zach is also consumed. For a brief moment, Arthur was in intense, unbearable pain. If he had time, he would have screamed. But all he had time for was to draw in a brief, searing his lungs and throat with the intense flame. And after that sharp, surge of pain....
Arthur didn't hurt anymore.
Honoka's waves of energy come roaring in towards Lightning Spangles, to the delight of the entire crowd. Trump was staggering through the crowd now, groping blindly through the smoke. The crowd loves it, pushing themselves in Trump's way so he can touch them. Trumpy runs around, dropping to the ground rolling. It might be amusing... except he wasn't getting up. Lights dance around madly, the entire production falling apart at the seems. But Lightning Spangles stands against the tsunami of the star force, the blast of pure psionic energy cascading over her red, white, and blue energy. She stands strong against the assault, forcing her way against the pure force of Honoka. Bracing her arms against it, she was blind to everything, blind against everything but her opponent, and the crowd's frothing energy. By the time the white energy dies down....
Lightning Spangles was still standing strong.
"Time to END THIS!" Lightning Spangles cries out, wearing only the barest shreds of the American Flag for clothing. The energy had torn away even the Japps, leaving her sweaty thighs exposed. Only the Chuggs on her feet managed to surive. With the full shape of her breasts in view, only the frail bindings of the flag kept in safe.
To the delight of the remaining audience.
THe crowd hoots and hollers, catcalling the actress amongst the flames. Screams now interject the shouting; it was no longer clear if the crowd was panicking, or adoring it. The banners were burning, beams of light were cutting through the Crack. Water was now being poured down into the depths, as those up top seem to realize just how deadly the fire was. The children, at least, the remaining children were being escorted away, being brought away to safety, all thanks to the quick actions of the Twilight Star Circus.
But Lightning Spangles did not care.
This was all part of the show.
Sweeping her arms around, Lightning Spangles shapes the energy around her, letting it swirl. The flames now reaching for her are driven back. Red, white, and blue chi energy were dancing around her, tugging at her scraps of flag on her body. "Honoka, this is it!" She exclaims, lowering herself down. "It's time for the biggest showstopper ever. Everyone loves me, and everyone loves you, and we are going to be stars! Thank you Honoka! You've done so much for me!" She smiles at her opponent, oblivious to the disaster. Because Lightning Spangles was always a hero. With that, Lightning Spangles launches herself through the air, hurling herself straight for her opponent, spiralling through the air. Arcs of energy flow over her body as she spins. There would be no trio of kicks now; Jezebel was going to just bowl through Honoka, smashing through her.
And send the pair of them straight to the back stage.
COMBATSYS: Honoka dodges Jezebel's Pale Rider.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\ < > ///////////////// ]
Jezebel 0/-------/-----<<|>>>>>>>\-------\1 Honoka
As Honoka's energy blast settles, she comes to a fairly vivid realization.
Lightning Spangles is... compromised. In more ways than one.
The truth is: Honoka doesn't know Lightning Spangles that well. But she's felt Lightning Spangles' attacks -- she knows that Lightning Spangles COULD kill her. And she sees the spark of true madness within her -- the manic, desperate tinge to her voice that proves that, with the right catalyst, murder is a definite possibility.
The venue is in complete disarray. She'd felt a lot of conflicting signals throughout the fight, but she'd had to give Lightning Spangles her full attention. But even without that, in the back of her mind, she knows something went awry.
Because she can sense Zach.
Honoka cannot be distracted. She speaks her mind, but her plan is not up for discussion.
<< There's no pause button for people when they're like this. I'm finishing her off. >>
Setting her jaw, she ignores the hooting and hollering. As the diabolos spin back into their usual orbits, she considers: ~ Everyone loves you, and everyone loves me. ~ Honoka wants to believe that, but... she doubts the mindless masses love those two as much as the T&A destruction derby: you can't get much more American than that.
Water crashes down, hissing into steam as it contacts the flames. Everything will be contained shortly. And then she can find out what's got Zach so worked up. But the show must go on.
Honoka recalls the red white and blue energy that slammed into her earlier. When she sees it again, it's a learned response: book it whenever you see the colorful lights. Using the momentum of her whirling diabolos, she hurls one wand out of her hand in an impressive "excalibur genocide" technique, where the wand acts like a missile -- not towards Lightning Spangles, but perpendicular to the path. It's a means to an end -- as she leaps -over- the hurtling Lightning Spangles, her body axis goes completely horizontal, pulled into an axial spin by the momentum of the diabolos. And as the wand pulls taut on the end of its cord, she uses that reflexive motion to snap her back into a controlled fall, sending both diabolos arcing into the air -- along with the wand on the now-slack cord.
If anyone still has the presence of mind to record it, it'd be pretty impressive to watch in slo-mo... but it is only a second before Honoka lands in a crouch, yoking her diabolos back into a holding orbit between her raised arms.
Exhaling softly, she rises slowly, accelerating the diabolos in their orbit behind her back and over her head. Applause? You betcha -- for she dodged the one and only Lightning Spangles during a -very- tense moment. The audience may not know -what- happened, but they can tell it was rocksome. There's a hint of a smile on the usually tacit performer's lips -- that -was- pretty invigorating, after all.
"I trust you were not hoping to get the last word on me, Lightning Spangles," Honoka announces in her not-quite-flawless English, as she turns towards her opponent. The audience probably wasn't listening to the banter anyway -- nor are there any product banners in usable condition at this point. But she does resound with the notion of 'ending it', just... doesn't feel like saying that specific phrase again.
After all, she muses to herself while slinging her diabolo wand at Lightning Spangles in yet another "genocide" trick: actions speak louder than words. As the missile closes in, the American may find that the two diabolos are also along for this ride -- and they might hurt just a bit more. If the scenery itself doesn't collapse onto her first, that is...
Zach almost made it. He was, however, just a moment too slow. Zach takes note of everything in crystaline detail. He won't be forgetting this any time soon. He felt the brief spike of panic from Arthur as he leapt towards the child. That makes sense; Zach's a pretty well built, coming in fast, and the eye patch lends a certain sinister air to the psion. He feels the pain pour off of the child even as he feels the wash of the heat against the skin.
Then all he feels is the heat.
Zach lands in a crouch, wrapping the child's body in his coat to smother the flames even he recognizes the futility of it. He stares numbly at the lump of leather and flesh in front of him. His eyes narrow as he gently scoops up the remains of what had been a young life, cradling the body as if it were a boy who had fallen asleep after a particularly exciting day... and not a corpse.
He feels Honoka's announcement to her crew, and responds with one of her own. The steel in it might startle the juggler, it might not. There is an utter lack of emotion behind it, however. Pure /will/. <<Do what you have to do.>>
Zach lets loose with a simple working of will; a small, circular blast wave to clear out the rubble and ruin around him so that he might be able to get clear of the fires easier. The former Marine is burnt in several places, his suit has some serious tearing and charring, revealing a pair of sheathes for some kind of hand weapon, as he makes his way toward the stage. Someone needs to answer for this, Zach just doesn't know /who/ yet.
COMBATSYS: Jezebel endures Honoka's Large Thrown Object.
[ \\\\\\\ < > ////////////////// ]
Jezebel 0/-------/-<<<<<<|=======\=------\1 Honoka
The flames would die down.
If it wasn't for Honoka's crew, the chaos might have consumed everyone. But the Twilight Star Circus would be heroes today. With the waters pouring over the fires, steam and smoke are the only remains of it. The Trump Hairpieces, while chemically unstable, were made inert with water at least. A disaster was almost averted; and the handlers of the fight would remember Honoka all too well.
Lightning Spangles was also unaware what was happening behind the stage. As Honoka nimbly evades the assault, Lightning Spangles lands hard, just short of falling off the stage. Off balanced, she pivots, turning to face her opponent. "What?!" She gasps, as Honoka unleashes her own coup de grace. As both projectiles come roaring in, Lightning Spangles was pinned down. She had only one course of action. Gritting her teeth, she leans forward, hurling herself against the assault desperately. Both blows hit her squarely, one in the head, the other in the chest. Pushing through, she manages to break forward... and collapse to the ground, face first. Gasps fill the audience, as they finally react. For a moment, there is a silence, broken only by the blast behind the stage, as Zach forces his way out of the epicenter of the blast zone. For a moment, Lightning Spangles seems, once again, defeat.
And she begins to rise.
"You think this is how it works?" Lightning Spangles begins, coming to her knees. "You think this is how villains triumph? For as long as there is wrong in the world, as long as they are troubles in the world, there will always be people with the determination to fight!" Lightning Spangles returns to a stand, head faced down as she fights to regain her footing. "There will always be people with the resolve to do right! So bring your arrows! Bring your stones! I'm Lightning Spangles, the All-American Hero!" Lightning Spangles strikes a pose, as Zach approaches the stage. Half-mindedly, she glances towards the Ex-Marine, as the crowd roars in delight. "ANd HEROES NEVER... die?"
And Jezebel turns numb.
Psionically, it had to be a chill. Absolute zero, a stinging numbness. A mental dead leg, so to speak. It was like Jezebel's emotional gears were shifting without a clutch. Jezebel's sheer emotion, sheer personality floods everyone around. Where there was once the artificial presence of the Lightning Spangles persona, there was now the purest of Jezebel's heart. Not even the cheers of the audience, the chanting of 'Lightning Spangles! Lightning Spangles!' Could drown it out. Jezebel was in a bad dream now, it was every bad dream, every bad flashback, every moment of the dark, shadowy pits of her life right before her. Her emotions now were dieseased, putrid refuse of her soul.
The purest of dread and terror.
The smile was frozen on her face as she stares at what Zach was holding. The crowd continued to roar and cheer, as the steam spreads around. It was all part of the show. Jezebel breaks from the enagement with Honoka, and walks slowly towards Zach. With each step, the smile fades, with every movement, the facade cracks. Jezebel reaches Zach, and puts her arms towards the child, dressed in the clothing of a true, Lightning Spangles fan. Jezebel begins to tremble, mouth opening and closing as if to make words. She almost touches the boy, before recoiling her hand, as if in pain. The crowd was continuing its chant, oblivious of what was happening.
Jezebel's voice is barely above a whisper.
"He's not breathing"
COMBATSYS: Jezebel gives y'all a free turn!
[ \\\\\\\\ < > ////////////////// ]
Jezebel 0/-------/-======|=======\=------\1 Honoka
Look strong, look tough. Honoka's dressed in pink and purple, and the youthful acrobat is -clearly- not the All-American beauty that Lightning Spangles is. So she has to play to the role, to be a savvy and collected counterpart to the cowgirl's bravado and bluster.
And yet... she doesn't want to be the villain. Every girl wants to be the heroine in their own story, and Spangles keeps stamping all over it whenever she keeps painting herself as the -only- hero in this canyon. Why does she have to be such a meanie? Honoka may have forced a misstep out of Donnie-boy, but she's still turning over the idea of how to be a -pardner- to Lightning Spangles instead of an all-out villain. And maybe even walk out of this fight without being branded as the enemy to all of America.
Her diabolos land true, clacking once more to the smooth stone floor. Poor props are probably trash by now; they were starting to get unbalanced enough as it is...
As Honoka draws the wand back to her, leaving the diabolos where they roll, she considers the words she'd heard, but placed on standby. Do what you have to do, he'd said.
Honoka finds herself staring at Lightning Spangles in the midst of her heroic monologue. Is /that/ how Honoka thinks this works? Is this how villains triumph? Honoka stares back at her -- she doesn't have to look at her boyfriend to know what the increased security on his emotional stronghold means.
Something really bad happened. And Honoka drops all pretenses of her being the opponent in a life-or-death battle between mortal enemies -- the look on Jezebel's face is as clear as the two vertical bars indicating the pause status.
Honoka shakes her head, and lets her hands fall by her sides. The diabolo wands slide out, clattering to the stony floor as well. She looks over to Zach. She doesn't want to look: she /has/ to.
Moisture comes to her eyes, and Honoka raises her hand to her face under the pretenses of brushing her unkempt, pink-highlighted bangs back into some semblance of order. And she begins walking to Zach, shadowing just behind Jezebel -- forgetting that her mic is turned on. With the stunned silence that falls over the crowd... everything is picked up. The slight hitch in her breathing, the belabored tromp of her Converses on the stone floor. Death is not something Honoka is unfamiliar with -- but it's something this persona, this public-facing mindset of hers is ill-equipped to handle. She manages... but only because the alternative is to collapse and sob, which helps no one. Everyone's looking to her and Lightning Spangles for hints on what to do; the people here need to be reassured that the situation's under control. And yet... the words she mumbles to herself carry much further than she really wants.
"Sometimes, there are no heroes. Just casualties."
Her own words startle her, as the canyon walls echo them back to her. But she soldiers on, all the same. By the time she reaches Zach, she can't really hold back the tears any more. She nearly begins pleading with her eyepatched boyfriend -- but she doesn't manage to speak up.
The obvious question is, is there anything that can be done for him?
But she knows Zach well enough to keep from asking; there isn't.
<< I'm so sorry. I... I thought it was all part of the show... >>
The Twilight Star crew assist in the aftermath as best as they can. Cameras... well, if there are any left rolling, they're shut off out of respect, while lights are stood back up to aid in the recovery efforts. And at least one crew member in particular is launching into a blistering assault on the people who were supposedly in charge of safety at this venue.
For her part, Honoka can only wrap an arm around Zach, and close her eyes as she rests her forehead upon his shoulder. He's hurt -- she can tell -- but it's not half as much as the pain in his heart. She's not really in the mood to say any more at this point: the show's over, folks.
COMBATSYS: Honoka takes no action.
[ \\\\\\\\ < > ////////////////// ]
Jezebel 0/-------/-======|=======\=------\1 Honoka
He was dead.
Jezebel killed another child. She is a child killer. She was always a child killer, wasn't she? She just stares at the boy. She didn't even know who he was. Just like the boy she run over. My god, she went to trial over that. But in the end, she just forgot who he was. Pain seizes Jezebel's body; it wasn't the pain that Honoka forced on her. Right now, everyone needed someone to take control. A Lightning Spangles to calm the crowd, to bring order and justice.
There is no reassurance from Lightning Spangles now.
Eventually, the cheers of the crowd die down, when the depth of what happens sink in. Or maybe, maybe the crowd control finally took hold. Slowly, in the backdrop, the crowd was fading away. Smoke and steam still intermingle in the depths of the Crack, but Jezebel wasn't there. Trumpy was gone. Donnie was gone. Gone was everything and anything that could be bemusement, cheer. There was only grief now.
All because of her.
Thoughts and fears flash through her mind. Every mistake she had made to bring her to this point become a blur. Her obsession with Johnny Cage being her Hoedown Dillo only drove him further away from her. The drinks that that teenage girl tricked her into having. Taking advantage of Naerose. Drinking before the belt fight. Being angry at Injun Joe. And now, this. This this this. She could have said anything now. But in a daze, she says the most important two words in her life.
The words come out as an accident. Jezebel had so many thoughts, so many deliriums. "I didn't mean... it wasn't supposed to..." She stammers. But Jezebel wouldn't be the hero here. There were no heroes. Only victims. Victims of Jezebel. Just like before. Jezebel realizes that she never should have come back. She never should have tried to pretend she could be a hero. The canyon becomes empty as Jezebel becomes seized by her introspection. Madness never really left her. But what was once mania, was now despair. There wasn't even the boy, not even Honoka, not even the strange man who brought the dead one before her. Everything was moving around her like a blur. And then, she realizes, she's alone.
Or maybe she really couldn't see anything around her anymore.
There are no more lights left in the canyon, except for a single beam of light peeking through the slit of the crack overhead. Jezebel sits on her knees inside the beam, tears streaming down her cheeks. She wasn't crying, though, she wasn't sobbing. She resigned herself. It was over. Everything was over. She had her last chance. And what did she do with it? Murder another child. Eventually, the beam of light dims into blackness. And there, Jezebel is alone with herself, in the ruins of her Greatest Show Ever.
Soon, she would pay for what she had done.
COMBATSYS: Jezebel has left the fight here.
> ////////////////// ]
COMBATSYS: Honoka has ended the fight here.
Zach stares out at the chaos for a moment as the two ladies walk towards him. Jezebel is there first, and it's all Zach can do to stop himself from moving. He wants to turn away from her, wants to confront her with the ruins not just of Arthur's life but also the lives of Arthur's family. Honoka arrives, and the proximity and the physical contact gives Honoka a mental picture of a fortress on high alert. The guards, however, are not looking outward. They are focused inward, as if trying to keep something in, to prevent something from getting out, where it can just make the situation a lot worse.
He doesn't speak right away, his breaths coming in rasps and coughs from the smoke and lord only knows what else is in the fumes. "This wasn't your fault," Zach answers Honoka in a low whisper, roughened from walking out of the fire. Already, the burns are starting to fade around the edges as his talents rise to the occassion. <<I...>> Zach barely manages to send to Honoka. <<I /felt/ it when he...>> Zach visibly shakes his head, the motion similar to a dog trying to shake water off of him, and forces himself to finish the thought. <<I felt it when he died.>>
Still holding the boy's remains, he turns to look at Jezebel. Zach's face may as well been hewn from stone, regarding Lightning Spangles. <<What are we going to do about this,>> Zach asks Honoka. The tone of the question has a certain finality and resolve about it, as if Zach plans to follow Honoka's lead in this. Regardless of where the juggler decided to take it.
Jezebel is now lost in her own misery, dim and unresponsive. She's worried about the boy -- but she's worried about a lot more than that. Conversation seems out of the question.
The pause button's done broke.
Honoka can sense guilt and tragedy from Jezebel, as if she was responsible for it. Wasn't she, in a roundabout sort of way, responsible for the senseless barrage of advertisements that convinces these willing mindslaves to consume... everything? On a sheer -mention?-
The Ainu puppetmaster had always kind of envied the legendary Lightning spangles in that regard, really. But her envy would be cloaked in layer upon layer of conflicting emotions, her psyche a maelstrom of confusion to anyone who could attempt to pick her apart.
For Honoka, too, could be considered guilty.
But what's done is done, she's concluded, as she rests her hand upon Zach's shoulder. << I know. >> Right now, Honoka is not an opportunist, or a criminal mastermind, or a vanguard of her nigh-obliterated culture. Right now, she is a representative of the circus whose staff may have salvaged 99.8% of the people who attended this media circus/rally/fight.
Honoka wraps her arm about Zach, her ribcage hitching as she sobs through the loss, rides the wave of emotions from -all- the people gathered about. She's used to guiding the flow of crowds, and she's accustomed to riding out the waves afterwards.
Honoka looks to the nice police officers in their neatly pressed uniforms as they march in and take control of the situation. The fires are doused. The stage is a shambles. But the one constant in the shimmering sunlight is that there -are- procedures to fall back upon for this sort of event.
<< Our show is over, Zach. We let the police handle it from here. >>
Deep within the confines of the juggler's psyche, the Empress wrings her hands in fury. But there are much too many witnesses to handle things -her- way.
Jezebel feels herself being tugged.
It takes a while before she is revived; a woman trapped in her own world, in bleak reflection of the misery she caused. She realizes she was still in darkness, but with bright lights shining at her. She was being guided around, led forward. Her wrists were cold, and there was a steady murmuring sound, growing louder and louder. It was just like the night she ran over the kid. She remembered all this. She suddenly felt herself falling, and the sharp smell of chemicals filled her nose.
It was at this time she realized she was in a police car now.
Jezebel sits up, staring around now. The police officer gets into the front seat, a young, tough woman entering the vehicle. The actress lifts up her hands, only to find handcuffs on them. She mumbles quietly, before speaking up. "I... did I get my rights... read?" She mutters. Officer speaks curtly. "We did read you your rights, Lightning Spangles..." The officer in the car states, before sighing sadly. "Jezebel, I mean. God, my kids loved you. I thought you were... I guess you were a mistake, all of this is a mistake." "The eyewitnesses were pointing at you as the cause of it. That's not why we're arresting you. Your manager, Jerry, said that you would be a threat to yourself and others if we didn't take care of you." A threat to herself and others. Jezebel draws herself furthur into the backseat. "What... what happens next?" She asks, voice trembling.
"Justice." The police officer replies.
Log created on 14:17:42 09/15/2015 by Jezebel, and last modified on 18:23:47 09/19/2015.