Neo League 0064 - NL#0064: Cracker Jack vs Honoka

Description: Cracker Jack, flash in the pan champion of the Western Professional circuit, takes on Honoka Kawamoto of the Twilight Star Circus in the Neo League Season #2 Opener! A flashy battle from both opponents, ending with a bang! [Winner: Cracker Jack]

Ahh, Gatlinburg, the pleasant little hamlet. By the standards of a Japanese urbanite like Honoka Kawamoto, the population density of the Appalachian town is downright rustic. Every streetlamp in the tourist trap town is lit up with kitschy, fall-themed decorations varying from turkeys, pumpkins, and cornucopias.

"Seriously, what is the deal here..." mumbles Mizuho. The auburn-haired performer is the featured star of the current Twilight Star Circus show, "A Young Woman's Path" (It is less awkward in the original Japanese, trust us!). And as she's not a crew member like the rest of the Twilight Star representatives, she has the leisure time to gawk at the decorations. "I mean, I get turkey's a big deal, but..."

"An important holiday is coming up next week. Thanksgiving. It is where Americans celebrate the spirit of community that saved them from starving to death in the harsh winters their first year on the eastern shores of this continent." As a chill breeze sweeps through the four-laned "Parkway" that's considered to be the fight venue this afternoon, Honoka sweeps pink-highlighted bangs out of her eyes, flashing a casual smile back at her companion. "Whenever I bring up more details, people get mad at me. Just roll with it."

As they approach the area on the sidewalk designated for the fight, Honoka gives her slightly confused friend a brief hug -- quite sure the gesture will make it onto the B-roll camera footage.
"Good luck!" chirps Mizuho!

Honoka smiles tightly, uncoiling her diabolo wands from a loop on her costume's wide pink sash. Leggings with alternating black and pink stripes, matching the long-sleeved pink shirt and the black vest, aren't doing -quite- enough to keep her warm in the chill air, but she has confidence that moving around should help immensely. "Now, then... is everyone ready...?"
Circus crew dressed in festive turkey outfits and dispersed all along the storefronts of the street nod their assent. Ready!

COMBATSYS: Honoka has started a fight here.

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Honoka           0/-------/-======|

The late year holidays are always a sore time for Cracker Jack. His family never could afford Christmas presents, sometimes even a tree. Thanksgiving and Christmas meals were reheated McDonalds, Chinese food if they were lucky and his father saved enough on his construction job he took after the Mafia ruined him as a welterweight boxer. And his mother couldn't exactly dance the pole anymore because of Jack's birth, a fact which he was occasionally reminded of this time of year when he asked why they lived in a trailer and not a house. Yeah, Thanksgiving, not much to be thankful about. And Christmas? Not in Vegas when you're poor, Santa Claus didn't come to your part of time. The cholos would've robbed him blind.

Cracker Jack is waiting for Honoka on the sidewalk, already there in advance. His leisure suit does its best to protect him from the cold, but he has to admit, out here in the mountain fall, he's just a little bit chilly. He's ready to get this fight started so he can warm up. He taps his baseball bat in his left hand, right hand wearing a fingerless glove so he can grip his weapon better. "You're here on time. Great." As the people part to watch the event, the Neo League Season 2 opener (he knows for a fact his recent defeat to a Delta Red is part of why he's here - Bible thumpers would love to see Jack fail), Jack casts his eyes over the gathered masses in the street. He offers them a grin, tipping his hat brim down with his left hand, before he shifts into a fighting stance, left hand forward in a fist as his guard, right hand back with his wooden bludgeon.

COMBATSYS: Cracker Jack has joined the fight here.

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Honoka           0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0     Cracker Jack

Honoka has done some research on her opponent, enough to know that he's quite formidable in combat. In some sort of way she was pleased to finally meet him in combat -- the enthusiasm shows in a slight twinkle of her eyes as she bows back to him in greeting, even though her smile remains guarded.

"One mustn't keep the fans waiting, after all," she responds, reaching behind her back for two additional props: her famous diabolos. With two flicks of the wrist, the juggling props arc into the air. The juggler walks forward as nonchalantly as if nothing at all was unusual about the diabolos veering from their artillery-like path, swinging into a wide circular orbit at her command -- and never does she break eye contact with the apparent lounge-lizard.
Well. As much as one can have 'eye contact' with someone who keeps his eyes cloaked by the brim of his hat. But it's okay: the psion doesn't really need the eyes to be able to ascertain what Cracker Jack is focusing upon.

As the fight announcer makes some noises which could be considered the start of the fight, and cheering and shouting starts, Honoka's smile grows broader by degrees. "So let's not disappoint them, hmm?"

The diabolos both fly into the air. Honoka collects both of the wands into one hand, and extends the other to Cracker Jack in a beckoning gesture. "... Unless you're afraid to strike a lady...?"

COMBATSYS: Honoka takes no action.

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Honoka           0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0     Cracker Jack

"Normally, I try not to aim for the face," Jack admits. "Force of habit from my days as a bouncer." His face tips downwards, as his grin goes sneerish. "But I am known to make occasional exceptions." He goes quiet for a few moments, watching and evaluating Honoka's choice of weapon with a discerning look. Juggling weapons? Those probably are going to be coming at him at weird angles. He'll have to remain vigilant. Never underestimate something you haven't seen before. Cracker Jack is a misogynestic pig, but he's not very arrogant.

Jack takes a quick jump forward, rising off the ground as he leaps at Honoka, his left hand stretching out at the low point of his jump as he lands. His fingers swipe at Honoka's jet black hair, attempting to take hold of her scalp, before his bat sweeps in from below, with several strikes launched at one of her knees, taking great pains to aim at the same spot in an attempt to hobble her early. He hisses through his clenched teeth to breath as he does this, that ferocious expression still on his face.

COMBATSYS: Honoka blocks Cracker Jack's Cracker Blitz.

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Honoka           0/-------/-======|=------\-------\0     Cracker Jack

"Chivalry isn't dead after all, then," replies the juggler with a sardonic expression -- taking careful note that, yes, she's just been placed into the exceptional category. Maybe. Honoka is entertained by the lack of precision in word games such as these.

The leap in is met with a cautious withdrawl backwards; as much as Honoka was practically -asking- to be attacked, she wasn't about to take a series of strikes as vicious of that without even attempting to mitigate it. Indeed, the real danger to Honoka's style isn't the diabolos flying about in the air, but rather the wands used to propel them there. Cracker Jack may find this out once his attempt at a scalp grab is met with the metal of one of her custom diabolo wands, a perfectly sturdy piece that keeps him from gaining purchase. So, too, is the lower strike deflected, as Honoka's right hand had dropped just moments before in anticipation. Well-versed in sleight-of-hand, she's quite cautious of the perils of focusing on only -one- of her opponents hands at a time.

That said, those weren't love taps he was driving into her knees. Even with the impact blunted by her metal wands, Honoka is forced to stagger backwards to keep from getting -too- savaged by the attacks.

"Your reputation is well-deserved, at any rate," comments Honoka, as she withdraws to give herself space to maneuver again. Clearing the air with a swing of the wand that had warded off the knee strikes, the falling diabolos make their sudden reappearance, slipping once again into their proper orbits.

At this point, though, Honoka lunges forward, hoping to prove just how hard -she- can hit. She aims to wear down Cracker Jack's forearms with a series of advancing strikes.

But she's also showing off, a little, in that she's aiming to keep juggling the diabolos with her rearward hand -while- doing so. The crowd... seems to approve.

COMBATSYS: Cracker Jack blocks Honoka's Random Weapon.

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Honoka           0/-------/-======|==-----\-------\0     Cracker Jack

Cracker Jack's left hand is knocked away, unable to find traction in Honoka's hair, before he hears his bat repeatedly bang off the wand. He pushes backwards as she backpedals, raising his guard to respond to her counter assault. The diabolos bludgeon his forearms as she intended as he raises them in front of his face, cagey as he pivots from side to side for each strike. Taking a step back and bending his knees, he takes a low posture, before he pushes his bat with both hands to knock the juggled weapons back at Honoka as a diversion.

Bat now held in his left hand, he surges forward, unleashing a quick pair of rabbit punches at Honoka's left collarbone, attempting to attack the base of support of her arm to make it harder to ward his attacks away. "You've got an unusual fighting style," he comments nonchalantly as he punches, expending little effort at the moment, merely probing and prodding his opponent until he sees a weakness he can exploit. Maybe if he can get those wands away from her, she'll be vulnerable.

COMBATSYS: Honoka fails to interrupt Double Punch from Cracker Jack with Sarak Kamui.
- Power fail! -

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Honoka           0/-------/--=====|====---\-------\0     Cracker Jack

Luring her bat-happy opponent into closer range was her intent, however it did not go according to plan. The idea was that by establishing her wands as a means of defense, that Cracker Jack would do... pretty much exactly as he did. And then Honoka would use the sudden proximity to deliver a powerful psychic directly into his heart, proving that she was not only a ranged attacker but a deadly force to be reckoned with as well.

However, it seems that the performer was trying to juggle too many things at the same time: the diabolos, the sticks, and of course her quite-capable opponent. Whereas her right hand was ringed with a growing halo of pink energy, her left hand was twisted in such a fashion to make deflecting the rabbit punches quite impossible.
The first punch lands true, jolting the diabolos out of their practiced orbits.
The second punch is immediately more visceral, with a rather loud sound of bone crunching against bone. Honoka drops any guise of attacking, withdrawing so that she can place her right hand over the wounded collarbone, her left holding the diabolo wand limply by her side.

"Th.. thanks, I guess...?" she manages, screwing one eye shut from the pain while the other scouts out the locations of her diabolos. Careful, Jack, you won't want to step on those. But while she's thusly injured, make no mistakes about the fighter's tolerance for injury. Even with her right hand pressed to her collar, her left hand begins spinning the diabolo cord about -- like a pair of long-range nunchaku. The shoulder may be injured, but it's all in the wrist. The show must go on!

Perfect. Cracker Jack pulls his right leg backwards as the juggling cup falls out of her hand, watching her with a smirk one his face. But he noticed that pink glow on her left hand. More than meets the eye, huh? He'll have to be careful here. But for now, it's time to press his advantage. He squats downwards in an imitation of a kung fu stance, but without the precision or grace, making it clear that he's learned from watching others, not actually training in this endeavor. And then, he surges into the air, his leg spinning around with a roundhouse aimed at Honoka's head. "HWUH!" he grunts loudly as he circles around in the air, landing in a crouch with his side facing the Ainu, watching her with his jaw sticking outwards, hidden eyes narrowed.

COMBATSYS: Honoka dodges Cracker Jack's Fierce Kick.

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Honoka           0/-------/--=====|==-----\-------\0     Cracker Jack

Collarbones aren't really something folks go into combat thinking about. But when one is nearly fractured, you tend to realize just how crucial it is. Punching, twisting, spinning, cartwheeling... none of those are really -good- options for Honoka at this point, unless she wants to take herself out of the circus for a good long while.

Leaping backwards, though? Yes, this she can do, even while backed into the storefront of a kitschy local gift shop, because for someone with acrobatic training like Honoka, any flat surface is another option. A lash of her diabolo-wand-nunchaku is enough to snare the nearest of the two diabolo, pulling it into her grasp. With caution to keep her shoulders squared, she hops backward to avoid the leaping kick, her hair stirred into motion from the boot careening mere inches from her nose.

Trapping herself against a plate glass window is not the end of plan, though, but just the beginning. While her ensnared diabolo begins to glow pink, the juggler distributes her weight between her two feet, she suddenly vaults forward, arcing up and over Cracker Jack's head. The diabolo is not the actual attack, but the spinning she's imparting on it does have an effect: she flings what seems to be an after-image of the diabolo at Jack instead, as she rights herself with the aim to land gracefully on the other side of her opponent.

Tracking the performer as she performs the acrobatic escape is enough to induce a little bit of dizziness, which is why the psion chose to leave a little 'bonus' in the form of an -extra- sensation of dizziness, should the pink-tinged energy happen to sear its way into Cracker Jack's head.

COMBATSYS: Cracker Jack blocks Honoka's Ishirishina.

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Honoka           0/-------/=======|====---\-------\0     Cracker Jack

As Cracker Jack grimaces as he whiffs, watching Honoka as he has her pinned against a plate glass window. But before he can act on it, she's flying and somersaulting over his head, dragging a ball of Psycho Power into him. He slaps at it with his left hand, but feels his head pound as if punched momentarily, the familiar pain of getting hit with psychic energy. How he hates that stuff.

Jack spins around to face Honoka, growling as he shivers. "Didn't know you were a member of the circus freakshow," he comments, before he charges in with his bat. He takes a swift swing at the side of her head with the bat, holding it one handed, making a lunging motion as he jerks forward. It may leave him overextended for a counterattack, but he doesn't care right now, instead wanting to jar the source of that energy he just got hit with. It's not very logical, but Jack isn't always a college professor at this sort of thing.

COMBATSYS: Honoka blocks Cracker Jack's Aggressive Strike.

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Honoka           0/-------/=======|=====--\-------\0     Cracker Jack

Landing a fair distance away, Honoka prances from one foot to the other like a trotting horse, gauging the level of damage she's sustained. She'd had to play it safe for a moment until she was sure, but she seems to consider that her collarbone has a hairline fracture, instead of something more serious.

She quirks an eyebrow at the circus freakshow comment. She raises her hands and their wands to either side, though the shrug gesture that accompanies it is only noticeable on her right side. "... Really? What was your first clue?"

Mizuho, from her position on the sidelines, had even been holding a "TWILIGHT STAR CIRCUS" sign in both hands -- and even she droops a little bit at that comment. Maybe Cracker Jack pulled his hat down -too- low?

It's quite possible that his emphasis could have been on the 'freakshow' part of the statement, but all of the performers are used to that sort of derogatory comment anyway. And, in this case, take it as a point of pride. There's little time to quibble on that point, though, as Jack follows up with a one-sided swing of his bat. With a blur of motion, Honoka's wands double up as she pivots to the side, keeping her shoulders squared, evenly distributing the force upon both sticks rather than upon her head. She's forced to stagger backwards again from the sheer strength of the blow, but it's a strategic withdrawal: with a flip of the wrist, she snakes the cord of the diabolo wands with an aim to ensnare the bat and Jack's wrist. If she manages that she'd tug Jack close as she leaps hard to the side, hoping to yank him off-balance and send him careening into a nearby lamppost.

It might be hard to keep track of where the diabolos are, at this point, but Honoka knows -exactly- where they are.

COMBATSYS: Honoka successfully hits Cracker Jack with Medium Throw.

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Honoka           1/-------/=======|=======\=------\1     Cracker Jack

Cracker Jack's aggression pays him back with pain. His wrist and bat are tied up by the cord, and he's forced to stagger forward to avoid falling. Then, Honoka shifts and he's sent flying head first into a lamp post. There's a hollow *BOOOONG* as his skull impacts into the metal, his body jerking stiff for a moment as his upper body resonates with the force of the blow. He turns to the side and staggers across the sidewalk, nearly falling onto his back before he finds credence in a brick wall. He pushes himself up against it, adjusting his hat and putting it back in place. "Not bad, little girl."

He puts his two left forefingers into his mouth and whistles, and a man in a black trenchcoat steps out of the crowd. He tosses the man his bat, before he raises his fists, striking a crude boxing pose, as he dances from foot to foot, before he takes a quick series of dashing steps at Honoka. His fists lash out, left right left right, one after the other, as he unleashes a flurry of jabs, straights, and hooks, before a final uppercut with his right hand. "Huh! Huh! Huh! Huh!" As he follows through with the last blow, he growls, "HA!"

COMBATSYS: Cracker Jack knocks away Honoka with Lazy Buffalo.

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Honoka           1/-------/=======|-------\-------\0     Cracker Jack

Honoka can't help but feel -some- glee at the sound of Cracker Jack's skull impacting the hollow lamppost. Yes, the camera will definitely catch her mouth flickering into a sadistic smile for one moment before replacing it with a more sportsmanlike expression. Her diabolo misses its mark, as becomes obvious when she raises her hand to 'catch' the prop, spinning it about upon an outstretched pinky finger. Sending it into the air again, she flicks her wrist again, retrieving the coiled cord from Jack as she prepares for the next strike.

She didn't prepare enough, though. While Jack's exchange with his black-trenchcoated friend gives her time to consider, the injured juggler doesn't really have the nimbleness necessary to get out of his way. She hops down the sidewalk with each strike, and seems to be poised to continue this sort of evasion -- except that first strike clips her way too close, bashing the defending wand out of her way and clashing right into her upper torso.

And the lithe juggler's defenses prove inadequate for weathering the storm of blows that hammer into her afterwards. Bruising is a foregone conclusion, to say the least, as her head lolls back and forth with each successive blow. Strands of pink and black hair flutter to the sidewalk with the final uppercut, which sends her crashing through a sandwichboard sign placed outside one of the souvenir shops.

And then... LIGHT. Despite the mid-afternoon sun, it's practically blinding. In all actuality -- it's a -really- bright spotlight being shone onto him from one of the adjoining buildings, and it's only when he steps forward that it -really- seems intense.

But whether he can see Honoka or not, it's quite likely Cracker Jack will hear her. "I guess there's no sense in holding back now..."

The light cast into his eyes will pale, next to what comes afterwards.

COMBATSYS: Honoka successfully hits Cracker Jack with Nochiu-o Kando.

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Honoka           0/-------/-------|=======\-------\0     Cracker Jack

One thing Honoka had managed to do while getting bashed backwards was to hold onto her diabolo. And, after directing her crewmembers to cast their blinding light directly at Cracker Jack, the very next thing she did was to twine her diabolo cord into a "star cradle" pattern. Audiences will have an easier time seeing the following lightshow than he would: a star-shaped column of pink and purple light that erupts forth from her star cradle, the sum of her psychic energy distilled into one awesomely powerful flare.
If he wasn't crazy about the last attack of hers, he -really- won't appreciate the headache this one gives out.

Cracker Jack is given pause as Honoka outdoes him at cheating, the spotlight in his eyes causing him to shield his face with his arm. "What the f..." And then, comes the flare of pink psychic energy, consuming him and sending him stumbling backwards as people gasp and cheer. The Bible Belt crowd, who had previously boycotted his matches because he sold such licentious products with his now vanished title belt endorsements, are roaring in applause, and there's even a cry of 'hallelujahs' from the crowd. Jack spasms as he falls onto his back, drool leaking out the side of his mouth as he seizes on the ground, his central nervous system screaming in agony as his body twitches and shudders. Soon, the flare has done its work, and Jack is laying on the ground, barely conscious.

Jack looks around blearily, tears in his eyes from the extreme pain, seeing everyone. He slowly sits up, rubbing his temples with his hands, before he sees Honoka. He slowly stands, panting, and reaches out towards the man in the trenchcoat. He waves him off, and gives him a 'down' gesture with his hand, before he squints in Honoka's direction. He takes a step forward before faltering, falling to a knee. He pushes himself to his feet again, then charges forward. He spins and pivots, the back of his fist flying at at Honoka's jaw. It's done with the same force and practiced movement as always, just without the same soul behind it.

COMBATSYS: Cracker Jack successfully hits Honoka with Turn Punch.

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Honoka           0/-------/------=|=======\-------\0     Cracker Jack

Relying on Lightning Spangles' stage crew was the worst mistake of her professional career -- and that was a mistake Honoka aimed to correct by making sure -her- crew were on point in every public engagement moving forwards. If she wasn't going to rely on them, well, there's a chance, however small, that Honoka might be cast in an unfavorable light! It just wouldn't be sporting of her to -not- use the advantages offered her...

For example, the cheering section. Mizuho pumps her fists and shouts in the background, even though the fight has moved so far down the sidewalk that her voice really doesn't jump out from the rest of the crowd. The younger starlet, unfamiliar with Cracker Jack's reputation, finds herself captivated by the cries of the more devout members of the audience, wondering what he -did- to invoke such bile-filled disgust from them... And doesn't seem to mind that she's cheering along with them for some reason.

Honoka, though... is a bit shaky. Her collarbone hurts the most, but she's left a bit weak in the knees after directing so much of her psychic energy at Cracker Jack. Her shoulders sag, both from the exertion and the rapidly-blossoming bruises all along her form. Her face... well, she's far from the point of being able to act away the pain like she usually does.

And then she finds herself staring back at the trenchcoat guy. Are they communicating in sign language? A black eyebrow arches.

But apparently too -much- adrenaline had worn off, as Honoka finds herself in the path of another wild charge. She leaps backwards, but without being able to read his 'true soul' in the attack, she's a bit tardy at raising her guard in time, getting socked full in the jaw. Guess she was an exception to that rule after all! Though, to her credit, she lets her body fall limp with the motion, allowing her torso to helicopter about and providing no resistance, to keep it from hurting -quite- as much when she lands in an unsteady crouch.

Head still swimming from the attack, she gives a crazy-eyed glance back up at Jack. The exchange with his trenchcoated friend still fresh on her mind, the juggler knows she needs to strike before he can make use of whatever he's planning.

So why the heck is she so slow about swinging her diabolo wands around this time? It's a simple maneuver, and with her right next to his feet, it seems like she's hoping to ensnare his legs and jerk them out from under him.

COMBATSYS: Cracker Jack reflects Huge Thrown Object from Honoka with Batting Hero.

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Honoka           0/-------/-----==|=======\-------\1     Cracker Jack

The thing is, though, she was also packing a bit -extra- punch, by including the remnants of the half-shattered sandwich board in the blunt trauma fun. Hitting him with the stick alone would be fun, but hitting him with the sandwich board might keep him from putting his baseball bat to good use!

"NOW!" Cracker Jack shouts over the crowd, and suddenly, his baseball bat is hurled at him by the man in the trenchcoat. He reaches out and catches it without looking, before he spins around with the bat in both hands. Just like hitting a change-up. Even though Honoka is hiding her intent, he swings the bat at the diabolo cords and catches the half board, slamming it back in Honoka's direction. It goes flying through the air with all Cracker Jack's might, as he gets his bearings. He hurts like Hell, but now he's back in this fight! There's a chorus of boos and jeers from the religious right, as Jack grimaces with pure exertion, far past being amused at this opponent. He is taking this fight very, very seriously. His head hurts, his body is sore, and that damned spotlight won't go away.

COMBATSYS: Honoka fails to reflect Reflected Huge Thrown Object from Cracker Jack with Tokap Chup Kamui.

[                       \\\\\\\  <
Cracker Jack     1/-----==/=======|

COMBATSYS: Honoka can no longer fight.

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Cracker Jack     1/-----==/=======|

If Honoka had played nice, and maybe just stuck to the simpler attack of striking at Jack's legs like she was telegraphing... well, she might've been fast enough. But adding the complexity of striking with the advertisement board... backfires. For while Honoka can tell that Cracker Jack has played his card -- the very card that Honoka -expected- to get played -- there's the unfortunate side effect that Honoka can't -undo- her improvisation in time. It'd be a simple matter to rein in her own diabolo stick. It's much less so when the stick doesn't want to loosen its hold upon the board.

Clobbered in the head with her own attack, Honoka finally goes down like a sandbag, pain written all upon her face like a doctor's illegible prescription. She's not unconscious, but she ain't goin' anywhere soon -- her body shakes with each attempt at motion, exhausted beyond belief.

Out of respect to her opponent, she compels her stage crewman to ease up on the spotlight intensity.

"Heh... Guess you got me after all..." admits Honoka, taking the moment to clutch at her aching collarbone rather than to try and get back to her feet.
While the fight officials call the fight in Cracker Jack's favor, the Twilight Star cast and crew converge upon her. There's at least as much cheering -for- Cracker Jack as against him -- if for nothing else than putting on one hell of a show!

Cracker Jack exhales slowly, using his bat as a crutch as he bends over. He's still dizzy from the blast of Psycho Power, and is going to need painkillers to sleep tonight. He turns around to the crowd, raising his bat, before he joins his friend in the trenchcoat and stalks away, the ebonclad assistant moving in front of Jack, parting the crowd with his arm so Jack can leave. He doesn't say anything to Honoka or her friends, merely leaving. He's completely silent until he gets into the back of a Cadillac, the man in the trenchcoat getting into the driver's seat. "Honoka Kawamoto. Have her marked on the list of Psycho Power users." There's a grunt from his driver, before they cruise off into the rising dusk of Appalachin autumn.

COMBATSYS: Cracker Jack has ended the fight here.

Log created on 15:19:55 11/21/2015 by Cracker Jack, and last modified on 20:03:44 11/21/2015.