Description: Having fought her way to the finals of the Rumble Tournament, Ayame Ichijo finds herself facing not the Losers Bracket Winner as anticipated, but rather an inscrutable veteran of the fighting world, Lee Chaolan. It seems the self-proclaimed tournament organizer has taken an interest in how some of the up and coming fighters are honing their art. Meanwhile, Crazy Zhin will take any measures to avoid having to pay taxes!
It was, ultimately, meant to be a match between Maki and Ayame.
That was the nature of the RUMBLE tournament. That was the design. The final match would be on the Crazy Zhin Luxury Barge, the personal yacht of Crazy Zhin. The vessel itself looked... out of place of the harbor. It was a converted oil barge, covered with tasteful chinese script and pictures of top quality Crazy Zhin propriety characters. The deck of the vessel was -covered- with junk. High quality discount junk, put about on the deck by Crazy Zhin himself to properly advertise everything that Crazy Zhin had to offer. The audience for the greatest final in the world would be by the harbor, watching the barge as it left the harbor for the fight. Camera drones buzzed all over, while helicopters came as well. Several brave, brave souls were on the top of the barge itself, cameras ready to film everything that would go down.
And of course, only -fighting- would be going down for certain.
The entire Southtown Police Department would be on standby on air, land, and sea, ready for whatever gang violence would break out. Surrounding the barge, on top of the police cruisier boats, were several vessels bearing their own advertising banners. Violet Systems's banner was stretched across two boats, while smaller ones were for the HitBit and Twilight Star Circus themselves. A several people in a rowboat had a flag for the Hibiki Dojo, while they random let off fireworks, drawn from a cache of explosives piled quite high on the rowboat. Right now some of them were in a heated argument over the fact they lost one of the oars, and was going around in circles. The fight was ready, the final match between Maki and Ayame was set.
But exceptions to rules must be made in special circumstances.
Lee Chaolan was on the bow of the barge, waiting for the challengers. The martial artist was clad in only his best; a black tuxedo of the finest G Corporation materials in existence. On his chest? A single red rose. In his hand? A glass of fine Crazy Zhin Discount Wine. On his bottom? He was seated within a discount imitation of a headless Buddha statue, made of fine green discount plaster. Sitting in the Buddha’s lap, he was far from alone. On his left hand side was Crazy Zhin himself. The Chinese man was clad in clad in a cheap and run-down suit, in stark contrast to Lee. He was seated in a discount Laz-E-Boy, leaning WAY back. On the executive's right hand side? A mysterious figure, covered in a large blanket with bootleg artwork of Hello Kitty characters embroidered on it. He was waiting on the bow, amongst the junk, and debris. His gaze was on the walkway leading up to the bow. He had his exception in place already. Because between the two fighters, he done the most brilliant of schemes. One fighter would be getting the directions to her fight on the -bow- of the ship... while the other?
Directions to the -stern-
Lee Chaolan tightens the grip on his goblet of wine, the sheer brilliance of his diabolical scheme soon coming to fruition.
Until a little over a year ago, the young priestess of the Meian Jinja had nary a public fight record to reference. When she finally took the stage, it was with an extremely unexpected upset victory against the notoriously strong M. Bison. The RUMBLE Tournament marked her next major foray into a broadcast event where once again her performance has been remarkable. Those familiar with regional history were perhaps less surprised that the Ichijo clan had trained such an effective warrior - conflict was in her heritage, power in her bloodline.
Yet throughout the tournament, it was difficult for anyone to get a read on her motives. Why was she participating? Her demeanor rarely showed a flicker of enjoying the fighting itself - she seemed to lack that certain spark, that fighting spirit so common in the up and coming generation of young martial artists. Fame seemed to draw little interest from her; the miko never spent any time interacting with her growing fanbase, either via the Hitbit app or in person. And she had laughed off the idea of being lured by the profit available to a skilled competitor such as herself.
There were rumors that she might not even show - that her bout with Maki at the Floating Gardens would be the last interest the staff wielder would take in the entire tournament. It had sounded like she had been looking for something in the match against the Bushin-ryuu practitioner and it seemed likely that she had found whatever answer she had sought. Given the investment in the finale venue, it wouldn't just be the fans of the icy miko that would have been disappointed should she opt not to appear.
But appear she does, arriving on foot with the same lack of fanfare as she had each other match. No pomp and circumstances beyond that which the event coordinators might prepare, striding through the crowds without missing a step, using her staff to negotiate her way through without being slowed.
In spite the scale of the venue, she appears as calm as ever as she ascends the walkway onto the decorated barge, brown eyes fixed straight ahead, paying no mind to the audience, the drones, or staff and crew as she walks past it all. As always, her attire is that of the modest miko, simple, humble, pristine white and bold crimson. But there are trappings, ribbons, and markings that lend a certain vanity to the ensemble not quite befitting the office it implies.
Her expression suggests she is neither impressed nor intimidated by the discordant blend of opulance and bargain priced merchandise on display as she comes to a stop in front of the two men at the bow of the barge. Standing straight, her staff gripped at her left side, Ayame's attention brushes over Crrazy Zhin, then Lee, then lingers on the figure to Lee's right. A humorless smile, born out of polite obligation, traces across her lips as she rests her hands against her sides and bows forward at the waist, long, strawberry-blonde hair draping over her shoulder as she does so.
That anything is going on beyond a rematch against the spirited Maki Genryuusai doesn't seem to register on her features. The determined blonde had spoke of a time they would fight again... perhaps Ayame is willing to entertain that promised rematch this soon?
"So, Ayame Ichijo. Welcome to the Crazy Zhin Luxury Yacht~"
Lee Chaolan raises his glass high, as the young lady arrives onto the deck of the boat. "A toast to you. You have done admirably in this tournament! Why, my own assistant, the director of the HitBit Product, has only spoken praises of you." He adjusts in his seat, resting his palm against his cheek. "And here you are now, in the public eye, on the public stage, ready to demonstrate why you are the greatest. But there is a problem. Ayame." A bored frown comes across the man's face.
"It has come to my attention that you have not been very satisfied with our tournament."
Lee Chaolan leans forward hard, turning his head upwards as he gives a conspirical whisper. "You want a challenge, don't you? Do not deny it. You wear it in your skills, your talent, your martial art, your expression. When one has no reason to fight, then that is the only reason to fight. You want to actually grow as a fighter, not merely win trophies and knicknacks."
"Though if you want high quality knicknacks," Crazy Zhin suddenly blurts out. "Crazy Zhin has all knicks and nacks! Very good prices, crazy discounts!"
Lee raises his glass to Crazy Zhin, leaning back. "Precisely, my friend. And it is my opinion, my dear Ayame, that in order for you to grow as a fighter? You cannot be fighting the same opponent again. You must be facing something truly challenging, truly of your calibers. And after your performance, why not?" He leans forward in his buddha chair. "The reason why, of course, is that there are rules. Wouldn't it be against the rules for me, at the last moment, to swap out your final opponent?" He gives Ayame a rakish wink.
"That is why there are loopholeS, my dear~"
Lee Chaolan reaches behind the statue, and pulls out a rather thick book. Placing it in his lap, he opens to a bookmarked page. "Per the World Warrior tournament standards, you have not lost a single match in this tournament, and you have not needed to continue after losing, thus. At least 25% of your matches were finished via your signature, which are two of the qualifiers for what we need. However, you lacked any perfects. This would normally be a problem... except I have found a smoke clause, which allows me to use the inputs you put into your HitBit on your match with Nagase! Thus, per the official World Warrior rules, I can give you the Bonus exception." Lee Chaolan shuts the book with a thump. "That in light of your performance, I can, as the tournament organizer, substitute your final opponent with either the tournament organizer... or of course, my superior." Lee Chaolan sweeps his arms open. "In other words, you get the opportunity and privilage, per the rules, for me to superscede Maki with the World Master of Fighting."
"Now, of course, you are probably wondering, wouldn't it be unfair to face both myself AND Maki? And wouldn't it be a cruel gesture for me to deny Maki the opportunity to battle you? She has every right to win this tournament, isn't it?" Lee Chaolan has a mischieveous smile across his lips. "Go on, Ayame! Take a guess. How am I going to be fair to both you AND Maki, to ensure that you both have a fair opportunity to see this tournament through." He doesn't quite say it. But as he casts those eyes aside...
He looks straight at the mysterious figure to his right.
There is a slight bow of acknowledgement as the executive lifts his glass in toast to the young contestant, though the thin-lipped neutral expression she maintains would easily convey that she much prefers that the pomp and circumstance be rushed through as hurriedly as possible.
"Thank you," she offers by way of laconic, courteous reply, though the chances of her caring about the opinions of the HitBit director are slim at best. A slow blink answers his observations about her being featured on the most watched fight around the world this moment. While many young, up and coming fighters might be feeling the trepidations of such pressure, she continues to appear completely collected, as if her nerves had already been forged through stresses far greater than this.
But when the imaculately dressed entrepreneur makes the keen observation that the priestess has found herself not sufficiently challenged, her expression shifts ever so subtly. Her eyes convey a frown her lips conceal - who is this, now, to analyze her so? Rather than tense further, she seems to relax slightly, shifting her staff from her left side to horizontally in front of her, clasped around the middle against her thighs by her hands concealed beneath her lengthy white sleeves. A soft inhale then exhale follows, though she remains otherwise silent as Lee continues to speak.
It would take a truly exceptional talent for insight to identify that beneath her cool, composed exterior, she is suddenly anxious yet eager. Does the unknown pique her curiosity so in spite her efforts to the contrary? Does the mystery of what Lee is toying with keep her interested? The suit-clad magnate has, for now, her absolute, full attention.
As he speaks of another opponent, leaning forward in his guady, impious plastic seating, the girl's head cants to the side slightly. "Yes, I suppose it would be," she allows cautiously, mostly managing to hide a tinge of disappointment when he cites the rules forbidding the change of an opponent this far into the event.
The sacred tome produced, an eyebrow arcs slightly as Lee continues, her mouth opening on occasion as if to protest the ridiculous, convoluted rules the man begins laying out. "T-that-" she stammers eventually, only to fall quiet as the book is slammed shut.
And then the identity of her opponent is declared. It would be easy to see the gears spinning in her mind, eyes studying Lee with renewed concentration, no doubt recalling to mind everything she knows about the man. What has she seen of his record? His combat tactics? His style in general? That he is a man of political power, wealth, and influence is easy to bring to mind, but none of that actually applies to what she is actually about to face directly.
But hes already posing another question demanding her attention, the girl subconciously pivoting her staff back to her side, held lightly in her left hand as her eyes are drawn to the concealed individual at his side who had yet to move in the slightest. "It is only fair she have that opportunity," she allows, her tone leaving no doubt that she thinks the blonde ninja should have the shot she deserves.
"A fight after yours would rob her the honor due to her, but a fight before yours would put the legitimacy of your challenge in question..." Her right hand lifts, pointing finger resting against her chin at an angle, sleeve slipping down to hang from her bent elbow, "Therefore, both fights must happen at once, but I cannot participate in both in any meaningful way..."
Brown eyes settle on the figure, "The only resolution is for someone to fight in my stead. But..." How is that possible? While there are no doubt other staff fighters in the world, she is her father's only student. And the wards she utilizes - how many eligible fighters out there could possbly execute on them as she can? And... after all that, who could they find that could do both?
"I do not see how that can be done."
The smirk on Lee's face grew only more toying.
The camera drones hover around, trained on the pair. The audience was muttering over this development. Was the whole tournament naught? Was everything changing? What sort of sinister plan did Lee Chaolan have? And yet, the executive merely tosses his silver hair, utterly unpreturbed. "Then, Ayame. Let me show you how it is done." He reaches over to the figure, and pinches two fingers into a corner of the blanket.
%And with a careful tug, he removes the blanket.
Underneath the blanket, standing tall, was what looked like a robot. A somewhat skeletal frame, in fact, with a blank-faced head. A pair of red lamps peer out from the eyes, The silver-skinned robot was clad in a white haori and red hakama... in a mirror style to Ayame herself. Clutched in one of its pincher claw hands was a metal staff, in reflection to Ayame's own. In the other? A single strip of paper, pinched securely. While the robot has no hair, a great, red and white ribbon was done up behind its head, to mirror the style of the miko. The robot stares blankly ahead, as Lee Chaolan gestures the glass to it. "Ayame, allow me to introduce you to the solution to both our problems."
Lee Chaolan shrugs. "The acronym doesn't mean anything, of course. It is just a robotic version of you, more or less." "Based on your combat information provided through the HitBit devices, Ayame, we were able to reconstruct your fighting style. Can you imagine, Ayame? In only a few mere fights, and we have both your innate natural talent and lifelong experience replicated into a... well, an incomplete copy, to be sure." Lee Chaolan shakes his head. "We cannot copy your innate chi techniques; technology can only imitate them. Of course, hopefully for Maki's sake, the natural durability will make up the difference. Who knows?" Lee Chaolan gives a wink to Ayame.
"She might not even notice the difference~"
Lee Chaolan stands up from his Buddha. "Now. AY4M3! Go forth and -face- Maki!" The robot shudders, and then promptly moves. With jerky steps, it crosses past Ayame, heading towards the other end of the barge. Lee Chaolan pulls out a hanky from his suit, and waves it towards his creation. Dabbing his eyes, he sighs longingly. "This is the future, Ayame. Just imagine; tournaments where you fight against a string of computer AIs, instead of real opponents. Wouldn't that be something?" Tucking away the hanky, he looks down at the yonug lady. "Now, with that formality out of the way... I believe we have a fight to settle. Let us begin!~" And with that, he throws the glass down towards the deck.
There is a punching sound.
The glass, instead of shattering against the deck, bursts through the surface of it. A gaping hole of rusted metal is exposed, as the sound of the glass banging around somewhere down below is heard. Lee Chaolan looks down at the hole, as Crazy Zhin pipes up. "Crazy Zhin Discount Glasswear! Double lead of normal glass, impossible to break! The more lead, the better, that's Crazy Zhin's philosophy!" The chinese businessman grins, as Lee Chaolan glances towards him. Smacking his lips a bit, he just grins. The executive gives him a thumbs up.
"But as it so happened, our Product director, Yoshiaki, not only had a perfect copy of your outfit,
Her reaction is instant. The moment the figure is unveiled, Ayame recoils, face twisting into a visible frown. The matching attire is obvious, the choice of armaments leaving no doubt as to what she is supposed to be looking at. Quickly, her frown shifts to grit teeth, jaw set tightly. It's obvious she believes herself to be ridiculed by this clearly farcical presentation and she did not come all this way for /that/.
Eyes dart back to Lee as he introduces her namesake automaton.
"Did you now."
Her tone is terse, bordering on venomous as she answers his assertion that science has reconstructed her fighting style with just a few fights worth of data and video. Lee continues on so matter of factly, as if everything he was saying wasn't part of some extremely elaborate joke at her expense while the girl's left hand grips her staff even tighter.
"Just... what are you implying," she growls as he teases that Maki might not even notice the difference between herself and the metal construct.
But then Lee bids it to go forth, and it begins to do just that, walking past the surprised priestess as she whirls to follow its movement along the lengthy, ostentatiously decorated barge. The idea that Lee was serious about the robot fighting the losers bracket finalist clearly hadn't actually entered her mind until that moment. Turning back toward the inventor, Ayame stares at him with open incredulity. "You are serious?" A glance over her shoulder toward the striding robot then another look at Lee. "We will see. I do not see how that can possibly challenge Miss Genryuusai..."
The conflict is evident in her eyes - to go after the automaton and smash it into the ground to prove that it isn't actually capable of mimicking her style, or staying to face the promised challenge that has to be more interesting. By the time the glass smashes its way through the deck, her decision has been made, the girl squaring off against Lee, her rune-carved staff held at an angle in front of her, gripped by both hands.
Sucking in her breath, she exhales slowly, centering her focus on the execution of her abilities, right foot sliding forward slightly. In her life, only powerful Darkstalkers had managed to best the gifted miko and thus far in the tournament, no human has been able to defeat her. Is this man so much better than the rest she's faced - with a generation's worth of additional training than she has had? There is only one way to find out.
"I trust you are ready." She doesn't really give Lee the opportunity to answer. No bell, no referee to announce the start, no time wasted in attacking - he had better already be prepared or face the consequences of provoking her so!
Pushing off with her left foot, Ayame closes distance almost immediately, the forward end of her staff leading the way, both hands holding it near the center. With the reach the weapon gives her, it takes no effort to close into striking range, sweeping the weapon out once with a more obvious, mundane strike.
Before the second swing, however, there is a eyecatching spark of crimson chi at the end of her weapon as the girl spins into a slow but crushing follow up blow that seems to demand attention-
So striking is the spark of chi, it would be understandable if Lee missed the way Ayame's right hand slips free of her staff, fingers tucking into her left sleeve to palm a small, pale, ghostly blue paper talisman with the speed of one gifted at sleight of hand.
That one handed staff strike is no threat at all, lacking any actual weight behind it. But dodging it might leave the man vulnerable to her actual attack - the talisman, flung as she spins through the second strike, her hair and cloth swirling about her figure to conceal her actual attack.
Her aim is precise, the speed of the attack swift, and her timing such as to make it hard to notice. All key aspects of the miko's fighting style.
Should it connect, the ward would erupt into a half-dozen white, ghostly chains that all seek to bind themselves around Lee, constricting, squeezing, and slowing his ability to counter attack!
COMBATSYS: Ayame has started a fight here.
COMBATSYS: Lee Chaolan has joined the fight here.
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Ayame 0/-------/-------|======-\-------\0 Lee Chaolan
COMBATSYS: Lee Chaolan dodges Ayame's Binding of the Condemned Soul.
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Ayame 0/-------/-------|======-\-------\0 Lee Chaolan
It becomes quickly apparently that Lee Chaolan was well and ready.
As Ayame pushes off her left foot, Lee pushes off with his right. The thumbs up fades as he turns in mirror reflection to Ayame's own movements, a strange, elegant blend of instinct and practiced skill. It does not take long for both Lee and Ayame to meet, as the audience througout the city watches the first blows come between the fighters.
It was Ayame who makes the first move.
At first, it looks like Lee Chaolan takes the bait. As the staff comes, Lee Chaolan adjusts his footwork carefully. The initial swing comes, and Lee Chaolan simply rotates his body minutely, letting the staff come short. Lee's eyes were dead set on left hand, focusing on it as it seemed he was explicitly unaware of what Ayame was truly up to. As the dress whirls around, Lee Chaolan takes a cautious, precise side step around, focusing on the staff. With a deft, quick gesture, it looked like she was hurling it straight to the flanks of the unaware Lee Chaolan-
And he suddenly bursts forward in a flash of speed.
Ayame was fast, she was accurate. Both of those were absolute true statements. But as Lee Chaolan explodes forward, it becomes apparent that for all his age, for all his aloof bantering, Lee Chaolan was dangerously fast. The ward fizzles out into eldritch smoke towards the buddha statue behind Lee... or was behind Lee. Ayame might feel the rush of wind as Lee Chaolan swipes a fist past her cheek. An attack? A feint? A taunt? What was only clear was that Lee was on her flank... and already repositioning behind her.
And all the while, bantering with the light air of a coffeeside chat.
"Binding of the Condemned Soul. Or Spirit. Soul? I think it is Soul, yes." Lee meanders as he slams his foot down hard. The screeching, tearing sound comes out near Ayame, as the kick is completed. A deep tear was into the surface of the deck, another exposing wound to what laid underneath. In the light of the sun, one could see that it was haphazardly filled with junk, discount junk that was not even held in boxes. Just products from across the world, poured directly into Crazy Zhin's barge. Lee Chaolan actually flips backwards after the kick. The owner of the vessel stands up, kinda ticked off now.
"Lee Chaolan! Why you tearing up my ship?"
Lee Chaolan lands right by a Crazy Zhin Discount Spangles Life-Sized Nativity Set. The solemn christmas scene shows highly flammable plaster effigies of the Christmas scene, with all the popular standbys of the classic television series. Baby Lightning Spangles as Jesus, with the whole Show-Up Hoedown Crew, with Fish Friend Naerose as Mary, the Hoedown Dillo as Joeseph, and Anthony Conda, Injun Joe, and Dr. Tran as the three wisemen. "That was quite difficult to get configured on AY4M3 you know." Lee Chaolan continues as he pivots his kicks. The first kick comes towards Anthony Conda, sending him rocketing just short of Ayame. It breaks through the surface of the ship, ripping up the deck even more. He gives just enough of a pause, before unleashing a lightning fast series of kicks for the rest of the nativity; Injun Joe and Dr. Tran fly out wide, aiming to miss Ayame. "I believe this is the first time you've opened with that in the tournament! You really don't follow a typical opening pattern; I can't tell if that is youthful inexperience, or natural genius~" Two more kicks come, sending the Hoedown Dillo and Naerose with grazing angles, aiming to JUST wing her. The final kick comes to Baby Spangles, and this one was aiming to hit Ayame straight in the center. A fanciful assault.
And one well designed to fake her out, one way or another.
COMBATSYS: Ayame reflects Large Thrown Object from Lee Chaolan with Midsummer Fantasy.
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Ayame 0/-------/-------|=======\-------\0 Lee Chaolan
Even in her opening attack, Ayame demonstrates the remarkable versatility of her style, blending hard hitting, zoning staff techniques with more esoteric, unpredictable wards with countless, unpredictable effects - combining the gifts of both of her parents into one intricate, complex technique, Ayame's execution would be considered exceptional even ignoring her young age.
But through it all, Lee proves faster. Did he have the perception to see through her sleight of hand? Did he have the cognation to reconize her feint for what it was and thus knew to look elsewhere? Or... is he simply /that fast/? The affirmation of anyone of those abilities would be proof of a top tier fighter. If he has a combination of all the above?
Ayame will have to figure out what that implies later. Right now, she is a figure of continuous motion, her wooden staff whirling swiftly, her body turning, weaving, and shifting with precision that could only be born of years of practice. When his fist moves, she reacts, and when he ends up behind her, she whirls, coming to rest leaning forward, staff held out at her left side, her right hand raised knife-hand straight up in front of her, arm bent at the elbow.
Hair and cloth come to rest as the girl faces Lee. "Seems you have done your homework," she replies, corner of her lip twitching in faintly revealed amusement. It seems he does indeed know her style, her techniques... Everything she has used thus far in the tournament is at risk, she realizes, taking an instant to recall the attacks she had used against each of her opponents.
This, she muses, is why she fights so rarely in public. When her real battles are for far greater stakes than what the Rumble Committee can offer, revealing her style to her future enemies is a risk she has often tried to avoid... But how can she grow if not facing the best the world has to offer? She has already seen monsters stronger than she is now!
"I..." There is a quick facial tick - is she trying to imagine how a robot would mimic the ethereal chain binding attack? "It sounds like something I would have to see," she allows, recovering an instant later, a smirk teasing its way into her expression.
The deck of the barge is torn open with a crushing stomp and Ayame steps to the side as the surface itself is rended by the force. A side glance cast toward the damage, she looks back toward Lee, marveling quietly at his demonstration of strength. Physically well built, he doesn't /look/ like someone who would have THAT degree of striking power. She is... going to have to take his attacks very, very seriously. Can she, she considers, imagine if this was a fight to the death? Is this the pressure she was looking for? The intensity she needed to hone her ability?
She slips back a half step from the crashing Anthony Conda, head canting to the side slightly as if to silently ask 'Really?'
She reads the trajectory of the next figures, staying centered between their vectors, leaving them to crash into the barricade of discount goods lining the deck.
"Predictability is an costly flaw," she replies, eyes straying across the array of figures revealed by his stomp. It is a problem - he knows more about her abilities than she his. Can she keep from being predictable against such a challenge?
It is harder to read the flight of the Dillo and - who is that Red Witch? Her eyes flick back and forth between the two of them before she lunges forward, ducking as she pivots to the side - his aim is perfect, lining up with where she is forced to come out of her dodge if momentum holds true.
There is a chance for surprise then as the girl pushes back up to standing, already slamming her right hand out, palm forward, fingers splayed. A shimmering crack of energy yields a pulsing discus of rose-hued energy between her and the Baby Spangles. "Now that is just disrespectful." she retorts with a touch of amusement. It isn't clear if she is referring to kicking the poor Baby Spangles, or that he is trying to HIT her with the blessed Baby Spangles.
Either way, Lee Chaolan might find himself contending with that very dilemma as the miko sends the figure hurtling back toward him even faster than his lightning kick had sent it her way!
COMBATSYS: Ayame successfully hits Lee Chaolan with Reflected Large Thrown Object.
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Ayame 0/-------/------=|=======\-------\0 Lee Chaolan
Damn. She went for the Spangles.
That was the bemusement from Lee Chaolan as the last figuruine is launched. As he recovers from the kicking combination, the baby was already being launched straight back. How unfortunate. He was hoping she would have taken any of the other ones. Alas, she had kept her cool, and it would be Lee Chaolan paying for it. The baby Spangles comes in as Lee Chaolan was already turning, slamming against the side of his ribs as he turns. The Spangle cracks to pieces, the dust and shards blowing across the floor around him. And yet, the suit was flawless. Unmarked. Unwrinkled.
Truly the peak of G-Corp technology.
Adjusting the tux, Lee Chaolan continues his smooth grin. "And that, Ayame, snapped a rib. Very impressive." In the midsts of the bantering, he was moving again. Taking to the air, he rebounds off a straight table, flipping it as he rebounds a leg off it. As it lands with a crash, he bounds to a stray urinating statue fixture, sending it tumbling as he goes higher, and circles around the miko. The camera drones buzz arounds as they move in closer, to focus on the agile owner of the whole thing...
And Camera 7 suddenly goes down.
Lee Chaolan hooks his leg around, catching one of the drones in midleap. With a slam, he kicks the drone towards the center of the deck, where he had once been hit by Baby Spangles. As it crashes, this is a flicker of sparks... followed by an explosion. The plaster ignites volitaily, bursting into a small fuel-air explosion. The flames spread outward into a small fireball... before being sucked down below decks, into the exposed holes Lee tore open. In a moment, before they are sucked down, Ayame might notice a tiny detail, if she was even looking in that direction.
That the flames were turning blue before getting sucked under.
One could forgive her for not paying attention, as Lee Chaolan was coming in from the other side. Crazy Zhin grabs his head, as he sees the fire. "No Lee! Oh no! No no no!" He cries out, as suddenly, the police boats go on the move. Fireworks burst out from the Hibiki vessel, as police cruisers circle around the barge. Something was going wrong now. Lee, for his niche, was rushing in tandem with the flames towards Ayame. Dipping in low, he suddenly breaks to the side upright-
No, he was dipping low again.
Lee's approach was both incredibly predictable, heavily telegraphed, and almost immediately and invariably abandoned the moment when it mattered. A heel shoot down low as a kick comes straight for Ayame's foot. It would stop dead right beside where her foot was, as Lee would turn his body around into an elbow strike.... that would turn into a hand chop towards her neck.... that would turn into nothing, as the limb would sweep over her hair. The true attack would come by the swift knee jab of the right leg, aimed straight at where the leg and pelvis met. Ayame had to choose the correct attack to react to, and not fall into the trap that Lee had put in place with the flames and pits. If she chose correctly, just like with the baby Spangles, then it was simply a matter of control. If she chose incorrectly?
Well, it was always the last attack that was real, right?
COMBATSYS: Lee Chaolan successfully hits Ayame with Light Kick.
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Ayame 0/-------/---====|=======\==-----\1 Lee Chaolan
"That was not exactly my intent." young Ichijo replies, lowering her right hand, the brief barrier that had defended her from the unavoidable collapsing into a thousand shimmering motes of that rose hued energy. Her tone is hardly apologetic not taunting, a simple statement of fact - she would have settled for any impact at all - a cracked rib was a happy accident of the exchange rather than a calculated result.
Her eyes stay on him now. While she had moved fluidly at first, following her deflection, she has taken to staying still while chaos erupts around her. As she watches his destructive traversal of the deck debris, she realizes that not only is he far more agile than she would have expected but that he is being intentionally destructive with his maneuvering. The unconventional tactic puts her on the defensive - what is his gameplan she can't help but wonder.
Wood shatters, cheap plaster explodes as Ayame turns to keep Lee in her field of vision. She can't help but follow the trajectory of the drone, however, torn between staying focused on her opponent while also keeping tabs on the wanton destruction he is carrying out. "I am starting to wonder where the bad ship touched you as a boy," she murmurs as the newly born conflagration is sucked into the tinder-packed deck below. Maki better not take too long with her own match, Ayame muses as she whips back toward Lee, staff raised to a defensive angle in front of her - this floating death trap isn't going to be afloat for much longer!
Poor Crazy Zhin's protests fall on deaf ears, the girl tuning him out as an unimportant distraction from the exchange taking place. She flinches once at the first firework to go off but the rest are ignored. One thing matters here - her opponent. Everything else is distraction, is it not? If only she could keep track of him better...
Like a bat out of hell, the executive charges the miko with a wake of flame to frame his assault, and then she is on the defensive. Her staff pivots down, blocking a stomp that never connects just like it was intened. Shifting her attention high, she twists her weapon back the other way, trying to catch the swinging arm with enough counter force to jar the martial artist's momentum, only to swing low.
When he knee moves, he has already worked his way into point blank range. The girl's staff twists one more time but the last second adjustment seems to lack enough force to stop anything and his knee connects in painful, bone jarring impact against her hip, eliciting a sharp, high pitched gasp of pain as Ayame is sent reeling back, hunching forward, face twisted into a wince.
Of course, there was more to the exchange than that. A high speed replay with just the right angle could reveal the truth - the way the girl sacrificed her blocking force by slipping her right hand free of her staff to brush against the side of that crushing knee, a small pink spark of energy visible for only a handful of frames before fading away.
Just a little something to keep tabs on you, Ayame thinks to herself as she bites back the pain in her hip.
One thought rises above all others, however, as fires begin to spread across the deck, rising up from the splintered surface: she has stumbled across a master of deception unlike anything she had faced before. She will have to rise to the occasion!
"Your insurance rates must be something else," she manages to quip while biting back the throb that threatens to dull her footwork.
With so much of the deck now aflame or collapsed, footing has become precarious and space to position limited, but the shrine maiden continues undaunted with a skipping hop to her left clearing a gap. She doesn't even have to look at him directly right now - not while that tracer lasts - looking his way might warn him of the next strike too early.
The girl's staff stabs out to the left, hooking the handle of large bucket full of plastic toy replicas of carpenter's tools. With a twist of her shoulders, the container is heaved toward Lee, Destroyer of Barges, but the actual material is light enough to be only chaff. Following through with the momentum, Ayame spins into a second hop back over the gap, twisting her body to deliver a hard, horizontal slam into Lee's side - the quicker members of the audience would realize it quickly enough, but will he?
The target of her swing is the rib she might have damaged earlier.
COMBATSYS: Lee Chaolan blocks Ayame's Power Strike.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ////////////////////////// ]
Ayame 0/-------/----===|=======\==-----\1 Lee Chaolan
"Oh no, this is all insured by Crazy Zhin."
Lee's knee makes contact, but even here the man doesn't commit to a further combo. Instead, he breaks away, stepping back and circling. Lee Chaolan was constantly moving, constanting repositioning. Where other fighters might have a more linear approach, or a more deliberate indirect approach, Lee's offensive presence of relentless. The fires of the deck was grow more wild and chaotic, the flames spreading across the death trap. The crowd was roaring, and already, hoses were turned on the barge. He doesn't even seem to notice the spark on the knee, as he keeps moving. As she even begins to throw the bucket of tools, Lee was already moving in, ready to attack.
But it seemed he shifted to the defense instead.
Lee deftly catches the container, catching the light object as if it was nothing but a toy. When the staff comes, however, he uses the official Rust Jr. Buckotools as the shield, blocking it straight. The block smashes through the crate, shattering it into plastic flinders. Pieces of the shards spread around as the blow actually comes through, grazing the man's ribs as he turns. An audible -wince- comes from the older man.
"Well done, Ayame!"
The words of appreciation comes as Lee lets the pieces scatter around. "I'm surprised you didn't come to the Trouble In Paradise tournament!" The martial artist muses, as jets of flames begin to roar out of the barge deck, framing the man's form as he was already blurring around her. "Two blows on me, Ayame! Incredible! Just incredible. You are adapting well to a changing environment." The teasing comment holds a sharp edge as Lee Chaolan hurls out another kick, stepping in deep this time as it fall away into a feint. He was keeping inside the reach of the staff, toying it, testing it, and defying it. Lee Chaolan could very well be where ever he wanted to be. Why was he playing this game? Meanwhile, Crazy Zhin was screaming as his yacht was going up.
"Now they come for Crazy Zhin Taxes too?!"
The chinese man pulls out a hand gun and starts firing down on the ships, as Lee chaolan continues his erratic approach. A pair of cat paw punches launch over Ayame's shoulders. Almost immediately, the knee comes in again, still alight, going straight for the exact same spot that he had landed before. This time, however, he would graze on the hip, to get a hold. That might be a warning when both of the cat paw punches would launch straight down to seize Ayame. And should all three limbs get a hold. Lee would turn, clutching BOTH of them to slam her into the ground-
There was no ground there.
Lee was going to bring -both- of them below decks, into the fiery chaos.
COMBATSYS: Lee Chaolan successfully hits Ayame with Medium Throw.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ////////////////////////// ]
Ayame 0/-------/=======|=======\===----\1 Lee Chaolan
One thing is becoming abundantly clear to the miko as she continues to probe Lee's fighting style: he is dangerous at any range even without a single chi projection demonstrated as of yet. The environment is under his control and, with every step, every swing, every move he makes, he is corralling her into the position he wants. Unfortunately, just being aware of what is happening is not enough, by itself, to stop it.
She can still do this. She has faced worse odds than this and triumphed over them. But she needs to break through - she needs to wrest control back! Landing after her swing, Ayame twists on a thin strip of wood before coming to rest with her feet astride a narrow gap that she managed to avoid tripping on. "Catching the hilights was more than enough exposure to that event, thank you."
He remarks on her adaptability and she finds herself thrown off guard once more. What is it to him? Why does he seem so delighted with her performance? It's only then that she realizes she neglected an important question so often posed to her opponents throughout the tournament: what is he getting out of this? What is his interest, why is he fighting her? He hardly needs the money and fame he has aplenty. What is this about for him then? Why DID he step in? It couldn't just be for the ratings.
But he leaves her no time to solve the self-assigned mystery as the pressure is upon her almost immediately. Gripping her weapon with both hands, Ayame continously responds to his incursions into her space, finally kicking off her less stable footing to land on a four inch wide plank jutting out over another hole in the deck, her white-sandal clad feet perched with perfect balance. She pushes back with her staff, trying to control the space Lee can use against her but the man stays one step ahead as he gets even closer.
Finally, she retreats further, springing back and landing on the edge of another hole. The intention is clear, positioning herself as so there is only one direction he can approach her from. Unless he can levitate. Then that might be a problem.
"Why is that you are even participating in this. Why challenge me so?!"
The idea is sound if only Lee wasn't already there, standing behind her on the solid deck. A white and crimson whirl, Ayame turns on him, forced to pull her staff in close as the martial artist is already within point blank range. With no time to read him or his attack, her arms swing up, attempting to sweep the staff in a rising arc and knocking aside the punches she perceives. But then his leg moves again. Perhaps fearing another pointed knee strike, she changes her mind and pulls her staff down. Again, his movements are a milisecond ahead of hers and his hands find the hold they sought. Pressed in close as he is, there is nothing she can do with her weapon to negate the grip he finds and an instant later, Ayame finds herself crashing down the interior deck below.
The uncontrolled landing would have hurt even worse if not for her crashing down into a sloped pile of overstocked Rainbow Mania Rainbow Mika plastic dolls. Rebounding to flop forward with a grunt, Ayame lands on hands and knees, staff still in hand as she shakes her head. With the stowage aflame, smoke inhalation will be a threat. And the flames. Flames are a threat too.
Her heart racing, the calm mien with which she had arrived is slipping fast. Surrounded by fire, pressured by the dangerous fighter, it is suddenly easy to forget that this is simply just another match in a crazy tournament. The danger feels far too real for that.
Holding her staff with her left hand, she begins to rise, her right hand slipping into her left sleeve. Down here, her long weapon may become more of a liability, but she has yet to surrender it. Withdrawing her right hand, another talisman is between her fingers - grey, with black ink. "You are going to get us killed!"
Sucking in a breath to hold, she stands up into the building smoke and whirls, her pristine white clothing already coated with black and grey, seeking her target. The direct approach she takes next relies little on deception and entirely on speed, staff twisting to her side to get out of the way, her right hand slamming out, attempting to so much as brush any part of Lee's body.
Contact would be all it would take to leave the talisman behind - a thin paper card that erupts into several black, vapor-like tendrils that seek to squeeze and constrain. Even if it only holds him for a second or two, that might be enough-!
COMBATSYS: Lee Chaolan dodges Ayame's Anchor Through the Endless Dark.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ////////////////////////// ]
Ayame 0/-------/=======|=======\===----\1 Lee Chaolan
For Lee, Ayame was enough to break his fall.
The depths of the barge was hollow, a battery of moans, groans, and pings running through the graveyard of bargains. The depths was not too dark; long shadows was casting wildly thanks to the chaotic flames. It was just short of exploding, it was just short of sinking. It was suicide to go deeper and deeper into the ship. And yet, Lee Chaolan's response was to roll to the side, off the heap of Mikas, only coming to a stop against a My Size Mika doll.
A smile still on his face.
"I won't let you die, Ayame~" The man states with a smooth confidence. "As to why I challenge you..." The martial artist tosses his hair as he rises back into a stand. Visibility was a challenge for both parties now. As Ayame moves subtly and swiftly, the executive realizes this wasn't an adjustment, it was an attack. His reaction is to grab the first thing on hand. Sweeping up the doll he was so close to before; the talisman strikes the My Size Mika doll that Lee whips up. The figurine is suddenly enveloped in the tendrils, binding and tying down the Mika. Lee Chaolan hurls it aside, letting it smash against one of the steel girders forming the berth's wall.
And now Lee was closing the gap.
"As one of the greatest fighters in the world, I have a duty to face down the up and coming fighters. Just like with Athena, and just like..." Lee Chaolan cuts himself off, trailing off with a sound of concern. The sound of the ship pulling itself apart is soon mingled by the sounds of buzzing drones. The machines force themselves into the depths, fixing on the duo that was still forcing through the fight. A roar comes somewhere within the berth, followed by the sound of metal rending. A burst of smoke rolls in, concealing both Lee and Ayame...
Just as he closes in.
The shadow and smoke flicker with vague shapes and vaguer sounds. Something brushes against the hem of her skirt; the sensation of movement was all around. A sharp crack comes nearby, with another scream of metal. A rush of cool air blows through the berth, followed by the drone of running water. The smoke clears, and standing mere inches from Ayame, was Lee Chaolan. He was... waiting for the smoke to clear. "... Have you seen Ryu recently?" He idles, the smirk on his face gone.
Before bursting forward with a one-two of punches, straight towards Ayame face.
COMBATSYS: Ayame blocks Lee Chaolan's Medium Punch.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ////////////////////////// ]
Ayame 1/-------/=======|=======\=====--\1 Lee Chaolan
Her attack flung, Ayame's right arm sweeps back up over her mouth and nose. It won't be enough to filter all of the smoke from each much-needed inhale, but it will help a little. Eyes water as she squints, shifting her feet to stay steady as the barge around them becomes increasingly less so. The air higher up has become a curtain of black and the miko ducks forward seeking any chance to see through the flickering shadows.
Her left hand keeps a grip on her staff as she moves away from a nearby support girder. If she wants to put the weapon to further use, she needs to have enough space around her - a shortcoming of her weapon of choice that she has spent extensive time studying how to compensate for.
"A duty to show us that we have yet to discover the peak?" she speaks, eyes flicking left and right as she does so. "An inspiration or a warning?" A glance up takes notice of the drones forcing their way through the ruined deck to keep as much of the match in view as possible. One brushes a bit close in its flight, its fans blowing an opening in the smoke. Ayame takes the opportunity to exhale and inhale again before slipping backward, deliberately vanishing back into the smoke.
"Seems awfully charitable..."
Her foot kicks aside a tray of Crazy Zhin's branded pocket knives, sending it sliding with enough force to crash loudly against the hull wall, the girl ducking low to see if the noise will draw her opponent that way.
But Lee has been silent since his last words and the attempt to draw him out fails to yield the desired results. Then there is motion at her side and Ayame whirls, taking steps back, still blinded. Gritting her teeth, she risks channeling energy into her staff, the weapon glimmering crimson, casting a glow against the fog around her but also creating shadows in the smoke, shapes that she can identify as she gives away her position to discover his.
And then he is there, right in front of her, her left hand held out, staff askew, her right arm over half her face. Eyes widen as she is given an instant to react, her staff twisting to align horizontally across her face, her right arm twisting up, bracing with her forearm against the force of impact. The wooden staff creaks as it absorbs much of the concussive force meant for her face and her feet slip back along the soaked metal floor.
"Ugh," she grunts, coughing out a breath.
"I have never met him." she answers with prompt dismissal
She pauses. The question was too random to be simply a distraction. Something about it echoed with sincerity.
"You... have not seen him either. Since your fight?"
Her staff continues to glow, a shaft of sanguine light in the darkness, the girl hunched behind it. "Man like that..." she considers, "Given to wandering." Did he simply wander on to find the next challenge?
Eyes sweep up, guaging the room she has to work with. Just enough- When she rises out of her crouch it isn't simply to stand in the smoke. No. This time she disappears into it, leaping into the corner where the hull and deck meet and the cloud has grown thickest. When she dives from it, her feet lead the way as she attempts to dive kick directly into the side of Lee's head. Pushing back off from the impact, Ayame would fold forward, her staff swinging overhead, targeting the crown of his head with a crushing, follow up strike that could bend metal if it doesn't reach her intended target!
COMBATSYS: Ayame successfully hits Lee Chaolan with Heavy Strike.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ///////////////////// ]
Ayame 1/-------/=======|=======\=====--\1 Lee Chaolan
"The rich in wealth has an obligation to be charitable, do they not?"
The words come after the one-two punch riots out. As he meets staff instead, the man doesn't even seem phased at the damage to his hands. Pushing back, Lee circles the woman, jabs and kicks coming out to test her defenses, to draw her guard. "Why not the rich in talent as well?" Lee Chaolan was rich in both, as it was. Maybe this was the idle musing of someone with more money than they could know what to do with. As the woman slips into the smoke, he continues, watching the smoke. "Of course, as for Ryu... haha... don't worry about it-" He is cut off as Ayame explodes out. The blow is caught with the fist, absorbing a large amount of the impact. "Hah, well-" The follow up staff swing comes.
And it lands true.
Lee Chaolan is sent staggering back by the sheer impact. That one... that one he felt. Stumbling back into the smoke, he collapses into heap on the pile of My First Time Lightning Spangles Practice Potties. The half-melted plastic mass cracks as he falls in. Reaching up to his still perfect hair... he raises up a trickle of blood. Lee Chaolan's expression was a smooth smile. "Hahaha..." Was the light laughter as he returns to a stand. Adjusting his tux, he returns towards Ayame. "Okay, I think you've proven yourself. Time to loosen up now! And don't worry~"
"I'm not going to let you die!~"
And then the flurry of kicks begin.
Lee Chaolan hurls out two roundhouse kicks, both coming short of directly hitting Ayame. By the time the actual kick comes, unless Ayame could stop it -there-, it would with a steady rhythm. The start of a chain of high and low and middle.... and high and low and middle... and high and low and middle.... the rhthym of kicks doesn't stop, in fact. Lee Chaolan was keeping the series of even, rapid kicks going, never giving Ayame a break, never giving her a breather, never giving her a stop. Just kick after kick is unleashed, as Lee tries to drive the young lady further and further across the berth... towards the walls of the ship. The groaning, terrible walls, as blasts of hot and cold come roar out. The groaning was terrible, the ship itself sounded like it was screaming. And the kicks keep coming. And coming. Ayame would have to make her own opening here.
Lee was only going to infinite kicks.
COMBATSYS: Ayame fails to counter Infinite Rave from Lee Chaolan with The Sunrise of Broken Dreams.
- Power fail! -
[ \\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////////// ]
Ayame 1/--=====/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 Lee Chaolan
The rebound off the swing has Ayame landing cleanly some meters away. The movement of the drones has cleared up a lot of the smoke... Of course, the water pooling about their ankles by now might also have something to do with overall reduced flames within the compartment. "This is not a work of obligation." she observes, rising back up to standing only to wince as the pain in her hip returns following the brief burst of acrobatic activity.
In spite it all, there is a knowing look to her expression, "You clearly enjoy fighting... but differently than those simply craving the adrenline rush. It is something else for you." A glance to the side is followed by the shake of her head. It is hard to push back on the curiosity that bids her to figure him out, but that can't be her priority now.
And then he is on her again, unleashing an endless series of kicks - each bearing the full force of a complete attack. Reeling backward at first, Ayame realizes simply avoiding a couple of attacks is insufficient. Whereas most athletes can muster a chain of five or six such powerful strikes, Lee Chaolan shows no signs of slowing down, maintaining perfect balance and rhythm with each attack.
At first she manages to figure out which ones to deflect and which to ignore. But after the first few, the rest seem to come faster, time speeding up rather than slowing down, the pressure mounting with each narrow escape, no room to even breath. She finds herself forced backward with no chance to halt his advance, every iota of her concentration focused on protecting herself leaving no chance to find an opening in his stance.
She has to fight her way back out, she's convinced. A flare of crimson in her staff has the girl swinging for his right the same moment he kicks from the left. Better to trade blows than be cornered - if she can slow him an instant, she can improvise from there!
The length of the weapon finally catches up with her, however, the end wedging against the creaking hull of the barge, bringing the girl to an aburpt, complete stop, her momentum causing her to hit herself in the gut as she folds over her staff. The kicks begin connecting immediately, the left catching her in the side of the head. The relentless assault that follows connects unabated in spite desperate measures to the contrary. A crack to the ribs, a hobbling blow to her shin that has her stance collapsing.
Still she grips her weapon in spite its moment of treachery, hands slipping out from the center. She has to put a stop to the attacks - there seems to be no limit to his capacity to continue like this!
Dropping to a knee, the priestess slams her staff up horizontally into the path of a crushing axe kick. The sound of wood giving way is the result, his heel finding the crown of her head as the two halves of her weapon fall to either side still gripped in her hands. Crashing face down, she lands hard with no chance to catch herself.
Yet in spite the possible concusion, undoubtedly broken ribs, and snapped weapon, she is moving, already pushing her hands down, still holding the fragments of her runed staff. No sound is made beyond the pained intake of air, but it is clear she is intending to keep going. Whether it is even a conscious choice at this point would be hard to say.
As the chain of kicks comes, so does the conversation.
"Feh. The Baikens, the Ryus, the Gatos, Even my own family suffers from it!" The man seems to give a huff at that. The drones keep focused on the fighting, though the din of the chaos below made the words fall silent. "Fighting is in fact martial art. An art! And aesthetics require patronage. G-King was a perfect example of that! But even tournaments themselves are a perfect way to promote the dignity and grace of such artistry!~" The stalemate of offense against defense breaks, as a single mistake comes from Ayame. And all it took was a single mistake, as Lee Chaolan begins to land the full force of the blows into her. "Ryu had a quiet, almost traditional reverance of martial arts! He is still a homeless bum who doesn't even have shoes, but if it wasn't for tournaments like this, he would be in silent solitude, a complete unknown! Baiken herself is some kind of bounty hunter or something, and she invokes a blend of cruel brutality with the formless elegance of a samurai master! Gato invokes the pure brutality of Kenpo, with a raw force that leaves people in awe! And even you, my dear Ayame~" The heel kick, and Ayame yields, her very staff shattering as he unleashes the foot down. He aims a foot squarely to the crown of her head, and winds it back. The rush of wind comes as he hurls out the kick.
Straight down, to stand in place.
Looking down at the woman as she returns back in, Lee Chaolan backs up. He was holding off his offense now, giving the floor to Ayame, so to speak. He was shifting into full defense now, letting the miko give it her all to him. "You fight out of time, my dear. A one-woman, cultural fair. I could imagine you fighting the likes of samurais and ninjas of old, with maybe a few kappa and demons in the mix as well. And just think... If it wasn't for this tournament, you might still be hidden away at your shrine, a mystery to the world still. But this whole thing isn't just about me, or the demands of a global, cultural festival of martial artistry. There is what -you- need, my dear." He gives a wink to the woman, an explosion suddenly rattles throughout the ship. The vessel lurches heavily, as suddenly, a rush of cold air and light comes through steadily expanding tear on the walls of the vessel. Lee Chaolan stands ready, his tux still flawless as the flames grow more intense.
"Tell me, Ayame, what have you -learned- so far?"
"And what will you take away from this, to become a better fighter?"
COMBATSYS: Lee Chaolan takes no action.
[ \\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////////// ]
Ayame 1/--=====/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 Lee Chaolan
Down on hands and knees, her staff broken, her head bowed, Ayame was reacting to that final crushing kick, both hands snapping up, body tensed, both halves of her staff crossed into a blocking position, a surge of crimson energy rippling along their surface, possibly to reinforce what was left of the weapon against the blow that doesn't come.
She waits, clearly not expecting a reprieve nor quite confident that she has even received one until Lee slips back and the sense of his overwhelming pressure recedes. Pushing herself up to standing, her head remains bowed for a moment, her staff fragments lowered to be held in front of her, seeming to consume the focus of her attention for the moment. The sheen of crimson fades, bleeding into the runes carved into the surface of the broken weapon, leaving the glyphs glowing softly in the dark corner of the barge.
The question is posed as the priestess presses the ends of the weapon together, covering the broken section with her two hands as the exquisitely dressed executive continues. The sigils flare with even brighter energy for a fleeting moment before fading. He speaks of samurai and ninja and the miko glances up. The right side of her face is painted in red from an open cut on her head, her eye held closed against the sticky blood. Her left eye is focused on the man, however, using the time he speaks to control her breaths, waiting with her staff held together by her hands.
"I may yet rue not remaining a mystery," she answers with what almost appears to be a hint of a sad smile though speaks no further of her interest in obscurity.
The boat rocks and Ayame responds out of instinct, twisting her hands to pivot her staff down against the compartment floor for additional stability - her staff in the singular, that is, for as the shrine maiden slides her hands away from the center, it becomes clear that the break that existed between the halves a moment prior is gone, the weapon having been returned to its whole form.
There is a blink from her left eye as he asks what she has learned - what she will take from this experience. "Nn..."
She slides her right foot out, her sandal concealed by the murky shin-deep water filling the hold. Her right shoulder is forward, her staff held off to her left side. Another inhale, another exhale. He is ceding the control he had over the match to her - a dangerous display of confidence, she tells herself. One she intends to make him regret. That intent is not even masked but displayed openly. Giving her a free attack, is he? The girl tenses, his question still gnawing at her mind - it's something she wouldn't normally deign to answer. She was the one that asked the questions in her fights, after all!
But if what he says is true - if this entire spectacle at Crazy Zhin's expense is about what she needs - then how can she possibly refuse to respond? Her open eye scans Lee from head to toe, taking in his condition, the pristine state of his suit after all she had tried to inflict on on him.
"I have found proof that the potential for human strength is greater than I believed - that there is more to exceptional fighting than pure technical execution. There is a barrier yet through which I must break to grow further." Her foot slips forward a bit more, left foot bracing against the corner where the hull meets the floor. "I have discovered -" She pauses as another explosion seeks to drown out her voice. "- that everything around me is every bit a weapon as the ones I carry with me."
The water at her feet begins to churn in a circle local to the young fighter. Flickers of a glimmering aura can be seen cresting the dark liquid occasionally, an echo of energy being gathered, shaped by her will in preparation for utilizing the opening she perceives.
"From here, I have a wall to shatter. My focus has been my homeland..." Her eye closes for a moment. "When it should have been the world." She had not lifted a finger to deal with Majigen - let the Westerners solve their own problems.
A breath is held before being slowly released. "I have discovered that in order to grow beyond my current limits, I must risk defeat and understand..." A catch in her voice. "...failure."
Her left eye opens, focusing on Lee once more. "The only question that remains-"
The corner of her mouth curls into a hint of a bloody smirk.
"Is if you are going to be able to give me that lesson!"
The water around the girl explodes upward, a geyser born of an explosive burst of chi. She vanishes from sight behind that wall of dark water for an instant. When she appears next, it isn't from behind the liquid curtain but from Lee's left flank. The crimson glow of her signature energy would be the only warning as the girl slides in with a frenzy of strikes - a whirlwind of crimson, white, and strawberry blonde, it would seem as if there were more attacks coming than could even possibly be excuted by the staff wielder. "Allow me to express my gratitude." Lee would see the truth for what it is. She wasn't wielding one weapon now but two - her rune carved wooden staff in her left and a sanguine hued twin of pure energy in her right.
Her signature technique - Final Solstice - a combination so swift, so fierce, it had yet to ever be defended against by any opponent to face its brutal force, its name a symbol for the end of all things; that last night deep in the heart of life's Winter that everyone must face someday. As fast as she attacks, the blows are not wild flailing but rather precision executed steps, her feet moving through the water, splashing up a torrent with each flawlessly executed step as she tries to crush her way through any hope of defense.
While she has to be mindful of the space her wooden staff occupies - and she appears to be handling that masterfully well - she need not concern herself with such physical constraints with her energy staff. Her offense is relentless and her execution so flawless it would require most two lifetimes to master the intricate dance. Yet there was something different - while she had unleashed this attack on others during the tournament, there was an especial level of vigor in her strikes and the magnitude of chi coursing over her staff is such that it begins to trail behind her, forming lengthy blurs of lingering chi flowing around the girl like the sleeves of her own attire until after a point, the girl is no longer even visible through the globe of chi building around her.
This is Ultimate Solstice, the pinnacle of Ayame's mastery of staff and chi arts combined.
Gratitude has the potential to be painful at times.
COMBATSYS: Ayame successfully hits Lee Chaolan with Final Solstice.
- Power hit! -
[ \\\\\\\\\ < > /////////// ]
Ayame 0/-------/--<<<<<|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 Lee Chaolan
Lee Chaolan keeps his attention on Ayame, as a good teacher should.
As Ayame gives her report, the martial artist nods along, a kind and gentle smile on his face. The water from the depths of the harbor was surging into the ship. Gunshots could be heard overhead. And as the light draws in, it soon shifts into the murky haze of reflected water. The barge was going down. It did not matter though. Because she finally understood that this was all about her art. Lee Chaolan was readying himself, his opponent's motion like poetry to him as he prepares himself for the attack. There is a sudden sound through the barge, of metal hitting against metal.
And there is a ripping sound.
From above decks, a single, metal staff is suddenly sent hurtling towards Lee, tearing right through the leg of his pants into the ground. It was a near miss, a near dodge is more likely. As the whirling blend of staff and energy comes, Lee Chaolan almost casually pulls his leg to free it from the staff. The fabric holds, already having rewoven itself around the torn impact point. Lee tries again, struggling as the first whirl comes. The martial artist deftly blocks and deflects the first swing, trying to pivot around as he is fixed in place by the AY4M3 staff. The second blow is narrowly deflected away, grazing the man's cheek as it comes around. Lee Chaolan keeps his cool as the whirlwind of strikes hammers in with the third blow...
And there is nowhere that the executive can go.
For his effort, the third one is deflected into a body blow, the fourth into a body blow. The fifth, the sixth, the seventh, the on-going assault soon simply overwhelms the man as he is beaten in place. Unable to move, unable to rotate, the martial artist is fixed in place, unable to tear his fabulous tux. Bruises under the tux soon become blood, as the man is literally held in place to hold a defense against Ayame's strongest attack. Lee Chaolan was slowly sinking to his knees, sinking into the water that was rising. It does not end, it only dies down, only slows down in the face of the relentless assault. Because the moment that Ayame lets up, even for a glimmer, even for a moment? Lee would simply break from his guard completely to -wrench- the staff with a single grappling twist. The expression on Lee's face would be the warning of what would come.
Lee wasn't smiling.
The response comes almost inhumanly, almost uncharactistically of everything that the man had presented so far. There is a crack as the entire ship suddenly dips hard . There is a ripping, a tearing sound, but it was -not- the tux. The staff slips free of the leg as it is bent nearly 90 degrees, as Lee just riots free. A spray of water rises up as Lee takes to above the miko. Every blow had sparked a flicker of frustration, a glimmer of rage. Caught by a stray chance of luck, caught by his own creation by accident, every little flaw soon built into a leviathan of fury and resentment, long hidden within the depths of the martial artist. The charming, smiling, aloof Lee Chaolan was, for a moment, gone. In its place a raging demon, a specter of death and destruction, pure martial fury directed straight into the source of all failure and frustration.
A Mishima, in other words.
Lee Chaolan is upon Ayame instantly. The waves of the movement had not even reached Ayame, even in such close quarters. There wasn't even droplets of water on her yet. The man having broken free and chosen to stride upon the rising surface of the waters. There weren't even ripples formed in the time for Lee to move. The fires are suddenly blown upwards and outward of the cargo hold. The walls that were already damaged, whether by the flames or the fight, are simply blown in. The deck above begins to collapse and twist down, down into the hold. There is a kiai shout, almost like the bark of a mad dog, as blow fires out with the same grace and motion of a mere jab.
A single, precise blow, straight down on the collarbone.
The positioning for Lee was key, and might make the difference to Ayame. The blow was short, nary any build up. Some might compare it to Poison Touch from Marshall Law himself; the so-called 'one inch punch.' Everything within the man was now twisted up into this single blow. A perfect blend of power and force, one that come close to the strongest blows of Gato himself... if still having fallen short. But what the old foe would have in power, Lee was having in both speed and and precision.
But what was Lee aiming for?
Lee was aiming that point of impact -across- Ayame's entire body, on her right side. The force of impact would pass from bone to organ to organ to bone again. Precisely dealt, and the force of impact would be either run out on the inner thigh, or all the way to the heel. But the important thing was that Lee would not, could not let the point of impact cross the heart. He COULD not let it cross her heart. She could survive a collapsed lung, organs battered, and compound fractures on collar, hips, ribs, and thigh from the mere exit wound of the blow. She would be alive, she would survive that. But to cross the heart?
Lee would not break her heart.
Even in his rage, he did promise she would not die.
COMBATSYS: Ayame counters Death Touch from Lee Chaolan with Midsummer Fantasy.
[ \\\\\\\\ < > //////// ]
Ayame 0/-------/-----==|>>>>---\-------\0 Lee Chaolan
And suddenly, the environment that he had been using to control the battle betrays the executive as the metal beam spears its way through his nigh indestructible suit. It is doubtful his young opponent even saw the fortunate event while launching her attack, so unexpected is the event. The initial high speed contest of offense and defense is already putting her signature technique to the test - to date, no opponent facing down its formidable speed had been able to withstand even the opening volley before their defenses were crushed asunder for the rest of the combination that follows.
But his precision defense only spurs her on, her body moving, both arms whipping about, swinging the twin staffs - wood and energy - in a blur of force and feints. And then when she actually begins to land clean hits, she only seems to attack even faster, as if she knew full well that this was it, this would be her one and only moment to truly demonstrate what she was capable of against the exceptionally skilled martial artist. Maybe, in the already stressed synapses of her mind, she even believes he might fall from this alone as had many others she had faced before.
A torrent water splashes up around the two even as it grows deeper, seeming to rise up and claim more of Lee's body while his stance crumples little by little under the storm. She has to finish him now. There is no choice. She had seen more of what he was capable of from his ininite kicking assault just moments prior. That she is moving at all is only because he stayed what could have been a finishing kick and gave her a chance to move... She could not afford him the same indulgence. This had to be it.
But she cannot continue forever. When it comes to this storm, man will survive. She slows slightly, her forward momentum spent, the shrine maiden spinning to the left, her wooden staff pivoting out horizontally in a scything motion. The water is slowing her down now, her sore hip is slowing her down, and the execution of the Final Solstice was slowing her down. By the time she swings her chi staff in for a follow up hit, Lee makes his move.
It happens in an instant, a flicker in the dark shadows of a flooding, burning hell.
It had to be instinct.
The average human mind requires 0.215 seconds to respond to something seen. The world record for responding is 0.101 seconds.
Lee was upon her even faster than that.
The shockwave explodes outward, the walls erupting with shrieks of tortured steel, the water jettisoned out through the ruptured metal as if a bomb had gone off within the depths of the barge.
And there the two are - Lee airborn, fist thrust down; Ayame standing, face tipped up, right hand raised, a rose-hued discus of chi between her palm and his violent knuckles.
The miko stands atop the metal floor, the strap of her right sandal severed, her feet sunken within a dent only made visible due to the water being blasted away. Brown eyes stare at Lee from behind her shimmering barrier - it was supposed to be a perfect defense, provided her timing was exact. Nothing was supposed to be able to get through it. The Midsummer Fantasy - a technique not born of her father's staff training or her mother's warding techniques - a move uniquely hers, its appellation calling to mind blissfully sleeping beneath the cherry trees surrounding her family shrine, an experience that may not have ever actually happened.
It as supposed to be a perfect defense, yet... her raised right arm is bare of the lengthy white sleeve that had draped over it a moment before, taters of white cloth clinging to her shoulder the only evidence that the sleeve ever existed at all. Drifting down around her legs are a dozen paper talismans, each twirling to the ground, each born of different colors of paper and ink. The right bow of her hair ribbon is gone, the cloth seemingly completely vaporized. Red, bloody gashes travel the length of her raised red arm, the results of trauma generated by that collision of forces.
Around the two, only silence exists at first. It feels like several seconds before air finally rushes back in to fill the vacuum. Crimson drips from her elbow to splash against the exposed metal deck.
"Why Mister Chaolan-"
The final act of defiance of her energy wall is for it to explode back up along the inventor's arm - an attack of spite rather than devestation.
The cocksure miko smirks.
"You have been holding back on me."
Ayame's right arm drops, its motion unnatural as it thumps limply against her side. The priestess staggers back a few steps, her face paling as if she was beginning to feel sick, the agony ripping through her mangled arm overwhelming her capacity to compartmentalize pain.
"A victory under such conditions... may be of questionable merit."
Another step is taken, her left arm propping her staff against the floor as she comes to a stop a couple meters away.
"But I am not about to let you turn my organs to paste," she finishes, her moxie fading slightly as she succombs slightly to encroaching exhaustion and agony.
The sky above was open, the fire coming into full bear, as the deck fully collapses into the hold. An explosion comes; not on the barge, but somewhere OFF the barge, as the circling boats seem to be battling their own thing. Crazy Zhin stands at the sides, throwing away the spent RPG-7 to the side. "TAKE THAT PIGS! YOU WILL NEVER TAX CRAZY ZHIN!" Was the cry, as he looks... across? It seemed that the water level was now at the same level as what was formerly the hold. The ship was almost completely sunk in record time. Lee Chaolan, of course, was unaware as he was upon Ayame, with his one-inch punch.
But the blow is stopped dead.
The recoil nearly tore Ayame back, it was true. But Lee Chaolan's own hand cracks on the impact, the sheer force not going down into the woman, but deflected back into him. The blastback is enough to send him spinning away. Landing in the currently fixed water level. It seemed that.... the barge had finally run out of room to sink in. Knee deep in the cold salt water, he fixes his gaze on Ayame. His hand was swelling, visible swelling.. as well as his wrist. Adjusting his cuff, Lee Chaolan rolls his neck... and then, he finally responds.
"Ah ha ha! I am sorry, oagh, I am sorry~" He sings. "I lost my head there a moment. Very good, very, very good, oh Excellent!~" He starts to clap... but stops himself. Raising his eyebrows a bit, he looks down at his hand. "Hah hah! I am sorry, Ayame." He begins, giving a quick bow in respect, before falling back into his fighting stance. "I should have kept myself restrained! But please, don't think any less of me... or my tournament." He turns a mark more grim, the smile fading slightly. "Because there is one more lesson I must share with you."
"You must hold back, Ayame."
He shakes his head at Ayame. "You need to learn, very quickly Ayame, that you have to be holding back, in every fight, in every victory, while on the stage. Nagase, , even that little Interpol troll of a ladykiller was holding back. Probably." Lee Chaolan shrugged. "Yes, yes, I've made the confession. A little bit of the magic and mystery is gone now, for good." He gestures like a bird with one hand, before falling back to his stance. "Because these tricks, why, even your artwork traces on a thin line between life and death. You could have killed me, Ayame. You know you could have. But never dismiss your opponent holding back. If you don't hold back?"
"Then you kill your opponent."
"Killing instinct..." He looks off in the distance. "I know quite a few fighters with it. They believe it is liberating. Hmph." The martial artist adjusts his hair. In spite of the violence, the blood from a rather... brisk blow from Ayame, the hair was perfect. "It's a mistake. When you choose to use your art to kill, you are not developing an art. You are simply reaching a goal. Solving a problem. Your art stops growing, stops evolving, stops changing, until you actually fail in killing. There is no aesthetic joy in execution, after all. And when you try to use your killing art in non-lethal ways, after growing it into your hammer, your weapon? You are clumsy, ineffective... and prone to accident."
"And this is what Ryu understood, Ayame."
Once again, a mention of Ryu. "This is what he understood, and you must learn, if you wish to grow." Lee Chaolan held a relaxed presence about him. "The Killing Intent is attractive, it is easy to fall for... especially in anger, frustration." Lee Chaolan looks away a moment, his face turning just a tinge red. "Because when you are desperate, desperate to win, desperate to prove yourself, or simply unable to stand for a precieved injustice, or something unfair... you could just lose control, just this once, and push yourself past the limit of control. Now... Ayame. I'm on the ropes. Are you going to hold back now too? Or are you going to give it your all? All eyes are on you, the tournament is yours." He leans back on one leg, bringing forward his good hand forward, his wounded hand back. He gestures for the miko with the good hand, beckoning her with two fingers.
COMBATSYS: Lee Chaolan gathers his will.
[ \\\\\\\\ < > ///////// ]
Ayame 0/-------/-----==|=======\-------\1 Lee Chaolan
Water swirls about the legs of the young fighter, her left hand maintaining a hold on her rune-carved staff. Her right arm hangs limply against her side - it would be unlikely to pose any further threat during this battle. Every bit of strength, mental and physical, is dedicated to focusing on Lee. The countless, flagrant tax evasion violations and violent defiance of Crazy Zhin does not exist, the audience does not exist, the cameras, drones, and staffing do not exist. For this moment, it is only her and the man who's attack she had somehow managed to stop even at great cost to her health.
Will he charge again? Will he be furious? To fall prey to her signature technique by virtue of outside interference then have his powerful counter blow stopped? Everything about Chaolan's personality has been mysterious - his motives, his triggers, his interests, none of them are as plain to understand as she would have liked. Where will things go now?
But rather than seek savage retribution, the executive answers with a laugh? Bracing against her trusty weapon, the miko stares back at Lee with a tight lipped, neutral expression. Perhaps she considers even this response a ruse? She does answer his bow with a slight dip of her head though never takes her eye off him. She has seen first hand what he can do, what the potential of mankind in combat truly is. That is the kind of power necessary to fight the rising tide, the power she needs herself.
Her fingers adjust their hold on her staff as he speaks of another lesson but when he declares it, he might be surprised at the blink he gets in reply. Hold back? His lesson is to not use every option at her disposal to achieve victory? Inhaling, Ayame shakes her head slightly, her eye losing its focus for a moment. She has refrained from one option in all of her fights - a memory of a young man burning in a pyre of green hellfire comes to mind before she shakes her head again, dismissing the memory. Her cheeks, partially concealed by soaked hair matting against her face, have lost their color, either from feeling nauseous from the agony of her damaged right arm or the fresh recollection of a moment she would rather forget.
"It is not so easy," she murmurs, "To slay a giant," Her eye finally strays from Lee to glance at her staff. A blunt weapon, strong for its blend of zoning, defense, and reach. But what is is not designed to do is sever flesh or slice free limbs. "With a big stick." She cannot help but think of her father and his countless lessons with the weapon over the years. Why fight with a stick instead of a blade? With a flick of the wrist, the edge of a knife can kill. Yet she carries an edgeless weapon into the war against the night creatures. Do Lee's words echo cautions her own family tried to teach her?
He speaks of killing instinct and he has her attention once more. What is the difference between a fighter and an assassin? She has not met so many of the latter but no doubt Lee, a man with more than twice her experience, has encountered them - those who combine brutal talent with a muderous soul. Well, if your problem is a living thing, that is... certainly one way to find a solution. He mentions the lack of joy in an actual execution and Ayame balks slightly, "I... would not know..." she murmurs before shaking her head, blinking again, mouth curling into a faint frown, "What I mean, is-"
Ryu's name enters the exchange and the wounded shrine maiden falls quiet, eye flicking side to side as she proceses his words, whether taking them to heart or trying to argue against them in her mind in defiant petulance.
Slowly her frown fades, replaced with a smirk, half of it concealed by the mask of blood covering the right side of her face. "I wonder... is this a lesson you would impart to every contestant... or a concern especially for me?" the crimson streaked fighter answers, "Is this about the fight with Agent Little?" she challenges, left eye narrowing slightly.
She inhales then exhales slowly, face tilting upward to gaze at the sky through the wartorn deck of the barge. "There is a difference in honing an art and fighting for survival..." She glances at her right arm, bare now that the sleeve that covered it was vaporized during the last exchange, the paper talismans she had stowed there lost to the swirling seawater now. There had been one in particular kept in reserve - one she had only made the mistake of using against a human a single time, an egregious oversight never to be repeated. One miasmic green talisman, its ink pure blood refined by ritual, a last resort, a demonslayer. "You see..." She slides her left foot forward, left shoulder facing the Mishima scion, "I have been holding back the entire time."
Her smirk fades, lips neutral once more. "The stage is no place for bloodlust."
He beckons, the two combatants wounded, battleweary but still able to continue.
"The audience means nothing. The tournament has proven interesting, thanks to you, but also matters little. Right here and now, you will face all I have left. You, not them, deserve nothing less."
She braces, leaning forward, staff held in front of her at an angle. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. And then she bursts forward, charging directly for him, water splashing up around her with her impaired sprint, angled staff leading. She may only have one hand to wield it, but he has seen that the priestess can make that staff dance with such a hold all the same.
Compared to most of her other attempts to strike him, this next advance seems strikingly mundane - a straight forward, bold charge of inevitabilty.
Of course, he would know better by now to trust such an open book. His small statured opponent slips in, twisting her body from left to right as she applies force to her staff, swinging it into a horizontal strike targeting his upper right arm the instant she's within range.
"I will not let you die~" Her inflection mimicking the one he used before.
There would be two clues that not all is as it seems, however - unlike her previous staff strikes, the weapon bears no chi. And secondly? The girl has let go of the weapon mid-swing, allowing the shaft to spin freely through the air between the two of them.
Her left hand, free of her staff now, has gone to her sternum, fingers slipping beneath the trim of her bloodstained kimono, drawing from it a string of small wooden beads that had been tucked away, the makeshift weapon already imbued with rose-hued chi at her touch.
Her timing is perfect, slipping through the opening left by her staff in a single rotation as to avoid being struck by her own weapon. Her left hand whips out, flinging the loop of beads for Lee's injured hand. Perhaps she believes he will be slower to move it, or maybe she is counting on the success being that much more excrutiating as she attempts to loop the beads around his wrist, twist the band tightly while turning her shoulder into him so that she can try to flip him clean over her back to slam him down into the churning water.
If successful, escape would not be so easy as the young woman would try to step over him, pulling his captured arm up in order to wrench him over and yank the limb back behind his back, potentially holding the talented man down in the water and removing his capacity to retaliate all together!
COMBATSYS: Lee Chaolan fails to interrupt A Long Road to Harmony from Ayame with Hitman.
[ \\\\\\\ <
COMBATSYS: Lee Chaolan can no longer fight.
[ \\\\\\\ <
Well, in a way, the audience meant more than nothing.
Of course, Lee Chaolan wasn't going to argue with her on that. What each fighter decided with each audience was up to the fighter! No, as Ayame makes clear, she was going to give him everything she had left. Her teasing tone doesn't even get a reaction. Lee Chaolan was focused hard now, eyes dead set. He was -beckoning-. One thing was clear now, as the barge battle around them comes to a close.
That the fight was going to end right here, right now.
"Please." Lee Chaolan scoffs as she begins her approach. "Agent Little is an incompetent buffoon, who's only success was punching a few women on TV." His body is relaxed, or at least seemed relaxed. But he was holding himself like a mousetrap, rigid and ready to strike. "I would like to see every fighter learn that lesson, to be sure. But many aren't worthy to even come close to that degree... or even tempted. You though... you've killed before~" That is all he can muster, as she makes her charge. She closes in, reaching into her kimono.
And already, Lee Chaolan readies the counter-attack.
There was a borderline on this. Either Lee would make his punch, or he wouldn't. The punch was what would stop the assault, and give Lee his opening to finish this. The loop of beads go straight for the injured hand, and the martial artist knew that his gambit was going to bring him down, or both of them down. The punch from his good hand hooks around in a flash. And for a moment, time slows down to a near standstill. The bead loops tightens, the fist closes in. Lee Chaolan's eyes lock with Ayame's, that smile on his face. And closing in, closer and closer, the fist comes.
But the punch only grazes her cheek.
Speed goes back to normal again. The hand is wrenched around, twisted hard in the hands of the miko. And Lee Chaolan doesn't resist. He couldn't resist; at this point, if he resisted, the hand would not heal for a long time. And that was his cocktail hand, his hands on hips hand. And most importantly, it was his primary thumbs up hand. Lee Chaolan visibly accepts his fate as he rolls with her, rolls with her throw as he is sent head over heels, right into the water. Splashing hard in it, the man's arm is wrenched around with... a curious balance of resistence. Enough to keep her from pushing it too far, but not enough to break free. The degree of control suddenly surges back as she tries to drive him into the water; Lee Chaolan gives enough pushback that he could have bowled over Ayame from that point. And yet, as he hovers above the water, held in a humiliating stance, he responds as such.
"Done! I'm done!" He exclaims, nodding his head. "Uncle! Uncle! I surrender, Ayame Ichijo!~" He announces, very clearly now, very directly to the drones. "I! Lee Chaolan, organizer of this tournament! Concede to Ayame Ichijo! She has defeated me! I have no fight left in me!" Lee Chaolan glances up at Ayame, and gives her a wink. In a lowered voice, he adds to the girl. "Very impressive, Ayame. I didn't think you could slip past my Hitman stance. You deserve this victory... and don't try shoving your opponent's face in the water again, okay?~ I already warned you about accidents, and I don't want to have to repeat myself again~" For the rest of the audience, it takes a moment for what was happening to sink in. A brief moment.
And with a steady wave, the roar of the crowd fills the air.
The throw executed, Ayame's attempt to push it a little further- maybe further than she should- is stopped short by the executive. She freezes, hand still applying tension to the beads looped around the martial artist's wrist. He would see it easily from that vantage, the tremble in her arm, the shakiness in her knees. She was at her limit. That last charge was all she had left. At his cry of 'uncle', she releases the pressure immediately, staggering backward one step then, panting for breath.
Her fearless expression from moment's prior has faded, her face flashing a look of confusion for a moment as if she is struggling to process that the battle in the sunken, destroyed barge against the strongest man she had fought in her life was at an end. The moment passes quickly, replaced by a faint half-smile still partially hidden behind bloody hair draped over the right side of her face.
"Th-thank you," she stammers, the stutter brought on by weakness rather than nervous giddiness. Her complexion has completely paled now. The smile remains even as she continues, "But I am not a fool. I know... I am not at your level. Yet." Her left eye flicks to the side, "I saw for a moment that glimpse you afforded me - of strength beyond my own... to witness such potential first hand..." she continues to murmur thoughtfully, "Is the closest I have come to elation in a long time." She apparently hides it well.
The beads are tucked away in her waterlogged kimono that has long since ceased to be the pristine white it was when she arrived. Another shakey step back is taken, her left arm going against her side, her right arm continue to hang uselessly, and then the battle weary girl bows to Lee only to freeze in the bowed position longer than expected. Her eyes linger on the Rust Jr. Buckotools as it floats by along with unknown flotsam.
Slowly, the miko stands up straight, her expression suddenly focused, looking at Lee intently. "You /are/ the organizer?" The tone suggests she is not entirely convinced, her left eye searching the man. "Curious." Her faint half-smile returns, her mind clearly on something other than having just won the world famous event. "That such a magnet for gang trouble would be your doing."
She takes another step back, before leaning forward, arm sinking below the surface of the water before coming up with her soaked staff, having memorized exactly where it fell during her last attack. "Do not fret about me, your words did not go unheard. Thank you, Master Chaolan."
Without thinking, she tries to move her right arm to meet her left in holding it only to be agonizingly reminded that is not actually possible given the pulverizing the limb took. A soft gasp escapes the girl's lips as her legs finally give out, the shrine maiden dropping to her knees in the sea water.
For once, she will not be refusing medical treatment. There will be quite a while before she will be ready to fight again.
COMBATSYS: Ayame has ended the fight here.
"There is more than you know, Ayame~"
That was the response, as the response team comes roaring in. The crowds was in full celebration. Fireworks explode all around. A plane flies overhead, carrying the banner of Ayame. It was.... it was overwhelming. The medical boat parks over. Another boat, a plice cruiser, escorts away Crazy Zhin in handcuffs. "You don't understand! Everything discount! I'm crazy! I'm... crazy" Was the babbling sound of the man. Lee Chaolan rises into a stand.
His suit, incredibly, remained dry.
The executive rubs his damaged wrist. It would recover soon enough. But the smirk on the man's face remains as the medical team heads to Ayame first. That his words were heard. That she was thankful. All Lee Chaolan needs to respond to that is with his good hand. Reaching out, he flashes a single thumbs up to her.
Log created on 12:19:51 03/20/2016 by Ayame, and last modified on 12:16:51 03/27/2016.