Neo League 0064 - NL#0071: Cracker Jack vs Natsu

Description: While Cracker Jack is quite a bit more powerful than the last, Natsu is at least somewhat familiar with how to deal with a baseball bat. [Winner: Cracker Jack]

Fresh off his humiliating defeat by Alisa, Cracker Jack is back on his feet after a few days in a Shadaloo medical safehouse in Mexico. He needs to get back in shape, so a Neo-League brawl is the perfect way to do it. Some people would hit the gym, but Jack hits faces.

He stands on the old world hospital's roof top with his bat tapping in his left hand, standing at the very edge of the central building's roof, with a shorter building behind him. As dogs howl in the distant night and a sickle moon pokes through the clouds amidst the scattered stars, Jack feels the wind ruffle his leisure suit. According to Shadaloo data reconnaissance, Natsu is a star athlete at Japan's school for star athletes, Gorin High, specializing in volleyball. Little practical martial arts initiation, just like himself. His bat will come in handy here, since he's expecting lots of high attacks, and the bat is excellent at protecting his upper torso. As a particular strong gust of the desert sirroco kicks up, he places his left hand on his head, holding it down and in front of his eyes, smiling at the way the wind feels in his shaggy hair.

COMBATSYS: Cracker Jack has started a fight here.

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Cracker Jack     0/-------/-------|

After spending some time out of the limelight, the Gorin volleyball team captain is eager to get back into the swing of things. The relaunched Neo League has already proven to be the perfect venue for the non-traditional martial artist: the constant presence of cameras should mean that she shouldn't be at risk of drowning due to a so-called "doctor" with sketchy ringside manner.

The lanky Gorin student strides onto the rooftop 'arena' with a duffel bag on one shoulder. Her shiny team jacket is deceptively baggy for someone of such raw strength -- something that she's eager to demonstrate against the Shadaloo enforcer soon. She's pleased to be fighting someone she can stand eye-to-eye with -- none of her teammates and few of her fellow students can make such a claim. Ayuhara does find herself squinting back at the man: bright white tends to cause a glare even in the thin moonlight, and it takes a moment to adjust.

She stops near a fight official, unslinging her duffel. Withdrawing a volleyball from it, she allows it to fall right by her feet, certain that it won't be a logistical problem -- it hasn't been in the past, after all.

Tossing the volleyball into the air to warm up her fingers, she nods her assent to the fight official. And then bows, formally, in greeting to Cracker Jack. "Hello! I'm Natsu Ayuhara, and it's my pleasure to be your opponent tonight!" Her shoulders sag, after the formal bow, and her hands drop to knee-level, with the ball curled in her left hand. It's pretty clear that, yes, this is how she intends to fight.

COMBATSYS: Natsu has joined the fight here.

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Cracker Jack     0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Natsu

Cracker Jack sees Natsu come into his sight, his hidden eyes slickly scanning over her with a single, dismissive flick. He stops tapping his bat on his hand, and moves into a loose, open stance, as she speaks. "The name's Cracker Jack. Let's see how much pain you can take, kid. Hope I don't ruin the Gorin volleyball team's chances at the provincials this year." Jack takes two steps forward, before breaking into a dash. As he dashes at Natsu, rapidly closing the ground between them, he tosses the bat to his left hand, and lashes out with his right fist, driving a straight punch at the taller teenager's solar plexus with all the force of his dash. He grinds to a halt an inch past where he estimates Natsu's chest started, recoiling with a lean and a step that happens regardless of success.

COMBATSYS: Natsu blocks Cracker Jack's Dashing Straight.

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Cracker Jack     0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Natsu

... How rude! Or maybe not. Like, he definitely made a threat there, but it was wrapped up in polite phrasing, so... was it a compliment or not? Natsu's perplexion is written across her face as she nearly goes cross-eyed at the man whose eyes seem to be continually eluding illumination of any kind. How in the heck is she supposed to look her opponent in the eyes like this?!

But once he shifts the bat to another hand, Natsu stops trying to pick apart those words and find any deep underlying meaning. This is a fight, she reminds herself, and his psychological pressure isn't all that different from the rudeness of her volleyball opponents. The lanky teenager slams her volleyball to the ground hard enough to bounce it five meters into the air -- she'll get back to that in a moment.

Right now, she's got a fist to deal with, and she's got a good idea how. It's a bit smaller than a volleyball -- even though it certainly -seems- bigger when it's flying towards her chest! -- so she braces her left hand with her right, blunting the impact of the punch with her palm as if she were stopping the enemy team's spike. Her sneaker soles register an angry protest on the rooftop as she's forced backwards from the strike; she finds her eyes squinting shut again from the severity of the blow.

"Thanks for your concern, but don't worry about me, Jack-san..." Her saccharine smile isn't completely sincere, but she's going to hold up appearances as best she can. Stepping backwards, she shakes the numbness out of her left hand, but then suddenly hops upwards -- and rapidly scythes her right wrist downward. There's no way it alone could hit her opponent.

But the ball she's striking with said wrist? -That- might hit him.

COMBATSYS: Cracker Jack blocks Natsu's Tokkun Spike.

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

Cracker Jack turns around and ducks as he spins around, and away, from the leaping athlete. He completes his single revolution as the volleyball comes throttling at him, swinging his right hand up and punching it as hard as he can before it can hit his body. The sheer force the standard issue sports equipment rattles his arm, Jack gritting his teeth at the amount of non-lethal force used. Too fast for the bat, right now. Let's see if it stays that way.

Jack runs at where he projects Natsu will land, swinging out for her with his right hand as his fingers shake and clench from smacking the ball away. He attempts to grab her by her left shoulder and pull her close, before thrusting his left knee up into her stomach as he jumps half a foot. This is followed by bringing the butt of his bat down at her from his left, hopefully jamming into her right shoulder.

COMBATSYS: Cracker Jack successfully hits Natsu with Power Hunter.

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

Natsu hadn't jumped far, but she realizes she probably -should- have, as Jack is right there when she falls. She's not a chi prodigy: she can harness the stuff from time to time, but managing such weird feats as bending her landing trajectory to set herself down -away- from Jack is just not something she's currently capable of. The Gorin athletic jacket crumples under Jack's grip, her taut shoulder providing an excellent handhold for the enforcer to shotgun his knee right into her stomach. Predictably, the lanky teenager folds like a jackknife; less predictably, she -isn't- knocked completely unconscious from the severe damage dealt to her shoulder afterwards, as she goes flying back to the rooftop floor.

Far from it; she rises back to her feet, left hand curled around her shoulder. It's bruised, no doubt, and from the way her arm hangs, it could be shattered -- but her enthusiasm is far from dimmed. Her eyes burn with a fire from within.

"I've had worse," she replies, as her aura begins to flare a brilliant orange. She's... probably fibbing, though; the outspoken student is a terrible liar.

Shaky, and wobbling, she surges forward without much warning at all. Her entire aura ignites into a halo of flame as she lashes out. Her intention: start with one vicious overhand strike with her left palm, follow up with a hard bash from the shoulder, then a driving right knee to the midsection, before snapping into a left roundhouse kick to send Cracker Jack flying. "HRAA! HRAA! HRAAAAAAAAAA!" She's running on pure adrenaline right now, and landing a series of solid blows will do wonders for the pain she's trying so hard to ignore.

COMBATSYS: Natsu successfully hits Cracker Jack with Rival Launcher.

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

Cracker Jack raises his right hand to shield his eyes from the burning aura's blinding glare, squinting, before he sees Natsu rush forward with quit a bit of speed. His head is smacked to the left by the overhand strike, the bouncer wobbling back a step, the shoulder bash hitting him directly in the torso and nearly knocking him over. The right knee to the midsection destroys any chance of steady footing, and as he spins sidelong, dazed, the roundhouse kick slams into his face and he's sent flying sidelong away from Natsu, right over the edge of the roof. There's a long pause, before Cracker Jack's hand reaches up from the edge and over the building's finely sculpted precipice. He pulls himself over and rolls onto the same level as Natsu, before he stands, wiping his mouth and the blood there.

Cracker Jack pops upwards once on his feet, to shake out the cobwebs caused by the combination, before he shifts his bat to his right hand. He spins it once in his hand, in the manner of a Wild West gunslinger twirling his pistoliero, before he goes running at Natsu with both hands wrapped around the bat. He suddenly jukes as he gets close to her, moving to her flank and falling to the ground in a slide with the bat swinging out at her knee. Dust is kicked up by his legs skidding across the concrete roof, accompanied by the sound of gritty desert dust getting kicked up around him.

COMBATSYS: Cracker Jack successfully hits Natsu with Aggressive Strike.

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

The Gorin volleyballer's aggression fades the moment that Cracker Jack disappears over the ledge of the rooftop. She hadn't meant to go -that- far! She begins to step over to the ledge, but stops once she sees that hand reach out -- he's conscious, and it's quite likely that he's alright after all, she rationalizes.

Ayuhara grimaces once she sees the man twirling his bat around though. Has she awakened a sleeping bear?! Setting her jaw, the volleybrawler leans over into her game stance, her left arm hovering protectively in front of her knees. It's there that she attempts to block -- But the sudden -drop- catches her off-guard, and Cracker Jack's bat takes her legs right out from under her.

Which is probably for the better -- she'd probably do something stupid and -really- threaten her chances for the volleyball season. Here from the ground, she takes a moment to screw her eyes shut and steel herself for the next impulsive movement -- and she realizes she's going about this all wrong.

Shoving herself back to her feet, she scrambles back to her volleyball bag, keeping her left shoulder turned towards Jack. Her right hand flexes tentatively, but otherwise hangs by her side as she turns her pale grey irises back towards her opponent, gritting her teeth. The volleyball captain is in a bad spot right now: she takes a moment to stare down this bat-wielding opponent of hers, as she considers her next move in light of the blood pounding in her ears.

COMBATSYS: Natsu focuses on her next action.

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

Cracker Jack turns onto his knee and pushes himself to his feet deftly at the end of the slide, covered in dust but ignoring the mess on his suit for now. He's got a few different pairs of his outfit around, plus more practical clothes for different environments. But he loves his suit, it's very much his 'brand'. As Natsu stares him down, he shows her a toothy grin and lifts his bare left hand to his hat, giving it a little downwards tweak, as if greeting her casually at a pickup bar.

"Life hurts, kid. Get used to it."

That said, Jack runs forward with his bat in both hands, moving at a decent clip as he gives her little time to build up a plan of attack or defense. He's quite aggressive, and doesn't ever stay still for long in a fight. As he closes in, he shoves his right foot forward and uses it to slide to a halt half a foot in front of the highschooler's own feet, swinging his bat at her jaw in an attempt to do serious damage.

"You just got JACKED!"

COMBATSYS: Natsu interrupts Grand Slam Crusher from Cracker Jack with Knock It Off!.

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

Life hurts. Yes, Natsu knows this well: she's been standing up to bullies and thugs like Cracker Jack ever since elementary school. Always the tallest of whichever crew she might be hanging with, she commanded respect -- and those who considered otherwise usually found themselves on the wrong end of a backhand.

Truth be told, Ayuhara has been defending her classmates for much, much longer than she's been playing volleyball. So Cracker Jack shouldn't take her steely-eyed non-response personally; the attempt at demoralizing her just doesn't have the effect it might on one of her classmates.

When the man stops short, Natsu seizes her opportunity, shoving the back of her left hand into Cracker Jack's shoulder. Because there's another life experience she's gone through that he may not have found in her file: She spends -quite- a bit of time staring at a certain player in the Gorin baseball team. She knows the placement of the foot, the stride, the motion of the shoulders -- everything. And she knows exactly the right moment to take advantage of the weakness. Accordingly, while the bat -does- strike her, it's a blunted impact upon her shoulder rather than the grand slam across her jaw that he may have been hoping for -- as her imparted momentum takes some of the fire out of Cracker Jack's.

But there's further injury to be added to insult: Natsu's right hand clenches the front of the leisure suit. It's not much good right now -- still numb as heck -- but her grip is enough to hold him in place long enough for the left hand to smack across his cheek. "I've fought Daigo Kazama!" And for one more left-handed backhand across his jaw, she loosens her grip so that he's sent flying!

She calls back, "Next to him, you hit like a baby!"

Cracker Jack is pushed off balance by that left hand to his shoulder, taken off guard by the precise timing of the motion. Maybe he's not as fast as he thought. The bat thumps into her shoulder, but cannot find purchase through her solid flesh and bone, and the enforcer is instead left hanging awkwardly in front of Ayuhara with both hands taken, and his primary weapon deployed but trapped for a moment. Before he can pull out of her grip, he's slapped across the cheek, then backhanded away, tumbling awkwardly and nearly falling over. He catches himself with a quick step behind him after eight feet or so of this quasi-comical balancing act, squinting at Natsu.

"I don't even know who the hell that is."

Spitting out more blood with a quick *PWFHUT* from his wet lips, he considers his options. He jumps forward at Natsu, swinging his left hand down in a chop at her, before he lands. He turns around to press his back up against her and spin around her in what appears to be imitation kung fu, tossing his bat between hands, and then turns to face her with a stiff righthanded punch. The direct approach isn't working, so it's time to practice his dance moves. Jack, despite being a thug, is a skilled dancer, a skill he picked up in Vegas wining and dining rich women.

COMBATSYS: Cracker Jack successfully hits Natsu with Double Punch.
- Power hit! -

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

Truth be told, Natsu's staggering quite a bit, herself. She's running on fumes, but pushing herself beyond limitations is something she's had a lot of practice with -- she expects her team to do the same, after all! Now with both her shoulders raw and bruised, possibly worse, she knows she can't take a whole lot more of this sort of combat. That doesn't stop her from trying, though: when Jack rushes in with a chop, she tries to deflect it with her right forearm.

It wasn't the wisest course of action: the beleaguered limb falters, and the athlete staggers backward as her arm is blasted aside. Dazed, she finds herself a bit lost when the baseball-bat-wielder spins around her -- what kind of baseball move is -that?!- And that wild-eyed expression of confusion is the one left on her face when she finds a fist coming squarely for her solar plexus -- taking her off her feet, arms and legs trailing behind her shoulders and hips as she is propelled backward.

Natsu finds herself sitting, still with that perplexed look on her face. That was not a light punch -- still not as hard as one of Daigo's. That Cracker Jack doesn't know who the guy is, that's his own problem. Her shoulders rock forward, and her legs obey as they would on a volleyball court -- unlike her arms, they haven't seen quite as much abuse.

Natsu looses a low chuckle. She knows nothing of the bouncer's treatment of women, but from what she's experienced, it's not... great...? Slapping herself in the cheeks, she steels herself once again -- and with a primal roar of "HRRRRRAAAAAAAH!" she comes charging back at her opponent. It's simple, it's telegraphed -- and she'd likely use her hands, right?

That's when she leaps into a kick, aiming to plant her oversized athletic shoe right into Jack's solar plexus, hoping to return the favor. With interest!

COMBATSYS: Cracker Jack blocks Natsu's Medium Kick.

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

Jack slides backwards away from Natsu after the second fist is delivered, his feet like fresh velvet caressing a fashion model's leg as she struts down a Parisian runway. He tosses his bat from hand to hand as he begins to lean back while keeping his legs forward, swaying and shifting from side to side. He steps to the left as she comes charging in, his head tipping right as he grins crookedly. He's watching every minute of her as she comes in, focusing on the base of her sternum. As he detects her torso shift for a jump, watching her center of gravity briefly move downwards with bent legs in preparing for the rapid leap, he sidesteps away from the kick, batting it aside with a swift turn of his forearm into an upright position.

He wastes no time as he knocks her aside before she can land, immediately closing in for the kill. He turns sidelong as she lands, and with a spin, sends one leg sweeping around with his toe up to catch her Achilles tendon with the crook of his foot, then swinging his leg upwards to take her off her feet before her kicking leg can land. After that, it's a simple matter of another spin, before he jams the heel of the other foot down at whichever hand is closest. He's visibly sweating, but he keeps his dancing moves up, feeling the rhythm of the fight for the moment.

COMBATSYS: Natsu fails to interrupt Medium Kick from Cracker Jack with Set and Spike.

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Cracker Jack     0/-------/-======|

COMBATSYS: Natsu can no longer fight.

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Cracker Jack     0/-------/-======|

In retrospect it probably wasn't the -best- course of action, but with as close as Natsu was running to the margins, it was one she'd felt was worth the risk. To her credit, she expected to get shrugged off: she's already moving her center of gravity to the point where the fall won't hurt half as much as she could have.

But to Jack's credit, the professional bouncer's already savvy to that move, and it's enough to keep juggling the volleybrawler off the ground for longer than she'd liked. The ground is a rather essential part of her combat style!

Jack's dancing, though, denies her even the one thing she was trying to do. Horribly off-balance, she'd tried to double her hands up to set Jack airborne, but just as she begins, her hands are kicked back into the floor, throwing what's left of her beleaguered sense of balance awry. Her arms aren't really obeying commands that well -anyway- at this point, and her shoulders sag as she stays down on the floor.

Tears well up at the corners of Natsu's eyes, but it's a response she has no control of. Her facial expression is resolute as she keeps her jaw clamped shut. While her eyes are pointed up towards Jack, her eyelids flutter as if staving off unconsciousness. She holds the unsteady gaze as best she can, but without the strength to rise up from her knees -- or even to voice a reply -- she simply dips her chin, bowing her head in mute appreciation for the fight. And only then does she open her mouth, finally drawing in the blessed air to her ragged lungs.

No, staying down is probably for the best for now. She may not be participating in practice next week, but the Gorin volleyball team still needs their captain to bark orders at them.

Cracker Jack spends a long moment staring down at Natsu with his bat in his hands, watching her with his shaking arms. His chest and shoulders slowly tremor with his breath as the tears well up in her eyes, but she refuses to yield to tears. He looks up at the official, then down at Natsu, considering her. His slow grimace moves away as he determines she's no longer a threat. He reaches into his jacket, and pulls out a small flask full of Jim Beam. He tosses it on her chest, before he slowly strolls away, walking through the door that leads down into the hospice, where his medic is waiting to assess him after the fight. Then, he'll hook up with his driver to bring him back to his present base of operations in Guadalajara, in a Shadaloo safe house.

COMBATSYS: Cracker Jack has ended the fight here.

Log created on 19:25:15 12/13/2015 by Natsu, and last modified on 06:26:36 12/17/2015.