Description: Zach Glenn and Honoka Kawamoto have received invitations to the King of Fighters tourmament. Zach, though, wants to take on a new persona for the role: one not connected to his demon-slaying identity. Honoka may know a thing or two about fighting under a stage persona...
The past few months have been... interesting for the Twilight Star Circus. A visit from a malevolent dictator hell-bent on taking over the world. The abduction of a star performer. A visit from an arsonist that devastated a major section of the circus' big top.
It took almost two months to effect repairs to the big top; to retain their salary, the circus' performers were pressed into non-traditional roles to drum up support for the circus in its absence. Some of the talent performed for promotional events in community areas. Others entered the Rumble in the Streets fighting tournament. And, together with a major advertising blitz, the Circus' first show of the spring turned out to be a smash hit.
In the life of the circus though, there's always thoughts of the -next- show. And that's why the circus is practicing a new act on a day typically alotted for rest.
"You're sure about this, Zach?" Honoka smiles, juggling a series of four flaming batons as she stands a fair distance away. "I mean, the costume's -one- thing..." She winks back at him -- she wears a half-mask over her upper face, not unlike that of her boyfriend opposite her. The star juggler wears a purple vest with the Twilight Star Circus logo on its back, over top of a light cream-colored camisole top and billowy pants. Casual wear, really.
"But have you decided on a name?" The juggler glances around at the surroundings -- a number of juggling props and set pieces abound, placed at haphazard angles. The big top is arranged asymmetrically for combat practice... though it remains to be seen how well Zach will be able to fight in his new guise...
Zach is also wearing a mask, vest and billowy pants. He is not, to the delight of some of the onlookers, wearing a shirt under the vest. The vests cover most of a pair of scars on the man, on on the left side of his ribcage and one under his right arm. Neither are particularly hideous, but both are somewhat impressive when one can see them. He rolls his left shoulder, then his right as he whirls a wide bladed cutlass around to test its weight.
He slides into a fairly plain combat stance, the sword low and at his right side with his left arm slightly raised to a ready position. He stops for a moment before whirling the blade and bringing it to a higher position, sliding his feet so that Honoka gets a narrow view of Zach. The blade and left arm are aimed in Honoka's general direction, and any discomfort Zach might be experiencing might have more to do with the mask than anything else. He isn't /used/ to having a mask like this on. "Not yet," he admits. "I keep coming up with dramatic names and then feeling like I am trying too hard. Then it's back tothe drawing board."
Then again, this was actually HIS idea to begin with.
COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn has started a fight here.
Zach Glenn 0/-------/-------|
COMBATSYS: Honoka has joined the fight here.
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Honoka 0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0 Zach Glenn
Honoka's grin is apparent. She definitely approves of his look -- whether he'll be content to perform in this look in front of a crowd that consists of more than Twilight Star cast and crew will be the big test, of course!
Miss Kawamoto is completely professional, though. She's fought against people wearing less, after all. And people with deadlier weapons than a cutlass. She continues juggling the batons, utterly unfazed by the brandishing posture adopted by her opponent. It helps knowing that he wouldn't -actually- visit grievous injury upon her, after all.
She wrinkles her nose at the lack of a name. "Well, you know, if you don't pick one soon, we're just gonna reverse your name. 'The Mysterious Nnelghcaz' has a certain je nais se quoi about it..."
Honoka casts a glance over to the crew members supervising the fight. Fire weapons and swords aren't anything new for them, but it's good to know that her crew has their back -- and can get medical help if needed. But when she looks back, she sidearms one of the batons at Zach, aiming to sling it right past the cutlass. And she spins about in a circle, keeping her remaining two batons in the air as if nothing else was changed...
COMBATSYS: Honoka successfully hits Zach Glenn with Large Thrown Object.
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Honoka 1/-------/=======|====---\-------\0 Zach Glenn
Zach takes the baton cleanly in the side, staggering slightly with the impact. He grunts a little, but other than that seems fine. "Names are important," Zach says calmly as he spins the cutlass once. He takes a deep breath, and then charges Honoka at a sprint. "I want to get it right."
The man takes a long leap at Honoka, bringing the sword around in a high flaring arc aimed at Honoka's shoulder. It has a decent amount of force behind it; Zach needs to know he can fight like this as much as anyone else needs to know!
COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn successfully hits Honoka with Dragon's Tail.
-* CRITICAL HIT! *-
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Honoka 1/-------/=======|=====--\-------\0 Zach Glenn
Of course names are important! Honoka was just trying to goad him into thinking of a better name, of course -- the beguiling smile she flashes his way is enough to back up that theory, anyway.
Honoka twirls the batons around in midair, never faltering in her pace even as Zach begins charging for her. "We'll figure something out, I'm sure there are name books for..." Though she doesn't get to finish her thought, as the sword's closing in at just that moment. The trained juggler grips one baton, swinging it back to address the blade while she sways away from the strike. The intent is that she can pivot away from the blow, blunting its impact.
The big top floor, though, disagrees with that course of action. The stage is still damp from the previous night's show -- and quite uneven. It was supposed to help Honoka, but the familiar big top tent has lulled her into a sense of security, and the uneven floor... well.
The baton acts as a fulcrum, allowing the blade to bite in further than even Zach may have intended, sending a fine crimson mist showering into the air from the major artery sliced into. Honoka staggers back in alarm, her sense of balance already thoroughly shaken from her misstep , just causing the sword to drag further across the wound.
The second baton is thoroughly forgotten about, clattering off to the side as Honoka presses her hand to her wound. Her face is a mask of control, but every circus member present can sympathize with the juggler's pain.
Possibly because her psychic presence is such that her bitter, unspoken and unintentional come out as howls to those closest to her. That... that hurt quite a bit.
Sudo had been leaning against a support strut. He's got a pretty damn angry expression on his face now.
"I'm fine, " insists Honoka, screwing one eye shut from the considerable pain. "Keep up the cadence, " she urges, while flicking the hand - of the arm that was just injured, no less - towards Zach.
Suddenly, her burdens become lighter -- as she channels her dark emotion as a psychic blast wave -- aimed into the spot her baton had hit a moment earlier.
COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn overcomes Ishirishina from Honoka with Blast Punch EX.
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Honoka 1/------=/=======|===----\-------\0 Zach Glenn
Zach's eyes flicker with a moment's uncertainty behind the mask. That /did/ hit harder than he meant it too. However, Honoka said to keep going. His body language betrays nothing as he follows through the sword stroke. He slides to a halt even as he senses the build up of energies. He lets out a sharp yell as he reverses his rotation.
A flicker of golden light dances down the blade of the cutlass as Glenn brings up back up in a wide uppercut-like motion. As the sword reaches the level of his sterum, the light seems to slip off of the weapon to intercept and then cleave through the incoming wave of energy!
COMBATSYS: Honoka fails to reflect Blast Punch EX from Zach Glenn with Kunne Chup Kamui.
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Honoka 1/------=/=======|====---\-------\0 Zach Glenn
To give up a fight just because of a little bloodshed just isn't fair to the audience, after all. It's... true, she's definitely going to need some medical attention after this, but Honoka hasn't fought Zach in quite some time -- she -wants- to see how he's improved over the past few months.
Which is why she focuses on her boyfriend as he cleaves through the energy wave, blasting the energy into two roughly equivalent showers of flower petals. The golden energy continues onward, and Honoka pirouettes away from it. Her empty hands both flare with pink energy, leaving behind the impressions of dahlia petals in their wake as she moves about. The intent is that the petals would capture the blade of energy flying her way, sweeping it into the wavefront of their own transit -- but the blade cuts through these as well, slicing them in two as the spectral blade impales Honoka in the ribcage.
The performer staggers close to the ground, bracing herself as she twists back around to face Zach. A determined look appears on her face as she looks back up at him: "Remember -- you're not Zach right now. Embrace the performance. Never forget your audience." Which is to say, again: don't stop.
Zach pivots on one foot, drawing the sword back in a wide arc, bringing the hilt in by his hip. He lets out a long breath, centering himself. Trying to put himself into the character of... whatever this character is. It's not Zach. Not the monster hunter. Not...
Zach blasts forward before leaping once more. He pivots in the air once more, bringing the cutlass in a wide circle before bringing it down hard on Honoka's non-wounded shoulder. It's a little slower than that first swing, but it's also a bit heavier this time around!
COMBATSYS: Honoka blocks Zach Glenn's Power Strike.
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Honoka 1/------=/=======|====---\-------\0 Zach Glenn
Honoka uses the opportunity to kick down at her batons. The fire had been snuffed in the fall, but the batons are still powerful weapons in the hand of a skilled juggler like Honoka, after all. Grinding her heel against the pommel of the nearest baton, she snaps it airborne and snags it out of the air, repeating the process with the second baton.
She can sense the difficulty Zach has in finding his character's voice -- she empathizes with him in that, of course. It takes time, and unlike all the performers here, Zach has... less practice.
The performer flashes him a reassuring grin. The batons twirl upwards, and this time, the sword is met by crossed batons -- leaving nothing to chance. She strains from the effort the defense places upon her wounded arm -- it won't stop bleeding till she stops taxing it, of course -- but manages to spin away before the cutlass can make another attempt at slashing across her.
"Good, good... but did you pay attention to where my other baton fell?" Honoka's smile takes another beguiling turn as she pivots forward, aiming to catch Zach in a pincer attack -- both batons aimed to scissor down upon his middle. And if he's not careful, he could find that the third baton is actually underfoot...
COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn interrupts Crushing Strike from Honoka with Soaring Dragon EX.
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Honoka 1/-----==/=======|=======\-------\0 Zach Glenn
Zach's eyes flicker to the baton behind him, and then the baton under his foot, and spins once more. "It's not enough," Zach murmurs as the blade flashes in a wide arc. The baton coming from behind slams into his flank. The other two get batted aside by the sword, which then screams towards Honoka's chest. The momentum of the swing is enough to carry the swordsman off of his feet.
Zach twists the blade slightly; he wants to strike Honoka, not disembowel her with it. "This isn't enough to get my blood pumping," Zach says quietly as he lands lightly on the balls of his feet in a ready, if somewhat negligent-looking stance. "Give me more."
Disembowlment is pretty much a guarantee of never receiving a friendly callback, it's true. Honoka is caught off-guard by the sword slicing across the front of her camisole shirt and vest, sliding effortlessly through the first and leaving threadbare fabric in its path across the second. Upon the flesh now visible from the parted fabric, a crimson line catches the eye, matching the color now smearing its way across Honoka's tear-stained cheeks. She's... finding it easier to -act- injured when she actually -is-, after all...
Sudo makes a point of looking away. Honoka's far from indecent, but it's still frustrating to watch the star juggler get beaten so soundly...
"You want more?" asks said juggler, as she warily paces backwards. She doesn't approach -- she simply raises her batons. And between them, the petals of an ephemeral pink flower begin to whirl about in a furious cyclone. It spins ever faster, until the petals resolve into a distinct star-shaped pattern.
In the next instant, the embarassment and anguish floods out of Honoka, weaponized into a horizontal column aimed squarely at Zach -- a force powerful enough to bowl him over into the nearest set of the uneven bars used by the acrobats to practice. It all happens so -fast-... though perhaps that's due to not needing to spin diabolos around into a star cradle...
"Come and get it, then..." she beckons, with a challenging glint in her eye.
COMBATSYS: Honoka issues a challenge!!
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Honoka 1/-----==/=======|=======\-------\0 Zach Glenn
COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn blocks Honoka's Nochiu-o Kando.
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Honoka 0/-------/----===|=======\-------\1 Zach Glenn
Zach sets his weight, and spins the cutlass in the palm of his hand as if to form a barrier. As if to augment that idea, golden energy slips along the length of the weapon, dispersing most of the incoming attack. Bits of the energy get through, rips appearing on the vest and pants. Honoka's efforts are also rewarded with little bit of blood. The swordsman's efforts to stop the blast were nearly perfect, but not /perfect/.
"Just like that!" Zach shouts, his excitement evident, before charging in. "Give me more!" The swordsman plants his feet as rotates at the hips, bringing the weapon in low from his left hip. It's not straight upward in motion; there is a slight hook to it. Nevertheless, the angle is a bit odd as Zach twists the blade once more in order to slam the flat of it in Honoka's ribcage!
COMBATSYS: Honoka interrupts Dynamite Punch from Zach Glenn with Niwen Horobi.
-+- CALCULATED HIT -+-
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Honoka 1/-----==/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 Zach Glenn
The descendant of a line of Ainu shamans stares back at the man with the cutlass. She knows it's Zach, both intellectually and spiritually, but his mask aids in the illusion of a wholly different sort of man: one who delights in delivering pain, and passion.
It is an unexpected delight to the emotional predator, and not -just- because she gets to see the man's costume get peeled away even further from her attack's blistering onslaught. The redness in her cheeks stays affixed in place as surely as she'd painted it there, as she draws back and raises her batons in a defensive gesture, crossing them a fair distance before her.
When the masked mystic makes his approach inward, Honoka twists to her side, snapping both of her batons towards the blade. Sparks fly as the cutlass is redirected, though the turned blade gives her some difficulty -- particuarly because the blade scrapes across the batons and cuts into her left shoulder.
One baton twists rapidly out of her hand, blurring the air as it spins off and out of control.
But Zach won't have to worry about that, because he'll be dealing with Honoka as she rushes forward, shrugging the biting sting of the blade out of her way so that her right palm can close the distance to the base of Zach's neck.
Her hand clenches down upon it, a sadistic glee lighting her eyes as she wrenches the man -away- from his sword and jerking him suddenly backwards and to his left. She practically leaps onto him at that point, releasing the chokehold as she uses her palm - now upon his sternum - as a fulcrum.
Or, perhaps it's better to say that she uses it as a grounding point. For a bolt of lightning sears down from the heavens, jolting into Zach from above. The cast and crew cover their ears from the thunderclap that follows -- but Honoka simply hops backwards, retrieving her fallen baton with another deft snap of her foot. "More, more intensity! Yes, let's dial things up a bit more!"
And yet -- the raspiness in her voice =isn't= a typical element of Honoka's performances. She hardly ever speaks at all with the official circus performances, after all...
Then again... this isn't exactly 'official'. It's all about that... mysterious invitation that Honoka received not too long ago.
Honoka's assumptions are a bit off. If Zach were presenting as one who delighted in delivering pain, he would not have reduced the impact of the last pair of strikes. Passion is most certainly there. This is a man caught up in the thrill of a fight between equals, or close enough to it.
Zach has not had a lot of time to learn swordplay. He was something of a novice when he first came to possess Drynwyn. On the other hand, the lessons that he has had have been intense. The one thing he has certainly learned is to never let go of your sword. Zach keeps his grip, even as Honoka slams power through his frame. The swordsman lets out a roar of pain. He lies there gasping for air for a second before all but leaping to his feet. He stares at Honoka, the glint in his eye apparent even from behind the mask. There is a look of pure excitement in the grin on his face even as he tries to get air into his lungs.
"Good," he rasps. "I show you the gift of the ancestors," he declares, before sweeping his sword upward. He brings the weapon down, sweeping the blade's tip near the ground at his side.
Where Honoka created lightning from the heavens, Zach's technique resembles liquid fire bursting from the earth, and it all but swallows the makeshift fighting space.
Zach sheathes the weapon. "Strength."
COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn successfully hits Honoka with #Drynwyn+#.
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Honoka 1/--=====/=======|-------\-------\0 Zach Glenn
The Ainu-Japanese woman has been around Zach long enough to know that what he presents isn't -exactly- what he feels. It's close, and he is a good man deep down, but he is not pretending to be that person now. He is acting a role -- something that the Twilight Star cast carries out every show.
She knows the difference, to say the least. And this is a magnificent act -- Zach has a place on the stage, despite her initial concerns.
She smirks back at Zach on the ground as she twists her batons about, preparing for another defense. She believes she has the advantage here.
But then the /ipetam/ is brought to bear. Honoka stares back at the golden blade, her confidence fluctuating rapidly. The batons stop twirling, her knuckles going white as she clutches them tightly in her hands. Her eyes reflect the golden hues of the sword as Zach brings it aloft. Her feet attempt to move -- and yet, fear roots her in place as surely as a bear trap staked into the earth.
Hard-packed dirt is loosed as the sword carves a gully into it. Amidst a shower of dry dirt erupts the liquid flame of the legendary technique -- flame that crashes into Honoka, searing her straight through the flesh with its keen psychic edge.
The woman is blasted backwards, her spine flattening against the plywood side of a stage ramp. Her head lolls forwards, eyes glassy, her lips curled back in an expression of abject terror. A golden line continues to smolder, seared through her clothing, pulsing with the energy as it rapidly boils off.
Knees impact the ground next. And then she flops over onto her side, unconscious.
COMBATSYS: Honoka takes no action.
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Zach Glenn 0/-------/-------|
COMBATSYS: Honoka can no longer fight.
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Zach Glenn 0/-------/-------|
Zach lets out a held breath then blinks slowly, almost as if trying to get his bearings as the adrenaline drains from his system. He sees Honoka drop, and his breath catches in his chest. He runs towards Honoka, the sword falling to the ground even as he rips the mask from his face. "No no no," he whispers as he drops to his knees and slides to a stop next to Honoka.
His hands are already moving on reflex, yanking his vest free and repurposing as bandaging, even has he mentally prepares his energies to help Honoka work clear of the damage. "No no no," he whispers, barely audible over the tearing of cloth. "Oh god," he almost prays.
COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn has ended the fight here.
The Ainu woman continues to shiver, her mind locked within an endless loop of horror at the thought of an ipetam, the soul-devouring sword of legend, being used against her. Against -her-. The one weapon of Zach's arsenal she feared most, all because of its likeness to those told of in the yukar from her home village.
Sensing the end of the fight, Sudo and the medical staff hasten over to dress Honoka's wounds. Her arms and torso demand the most urgent responses, for the bulk of the legendary Drynwyn's damage was dealt to the body, but to the soul.
The soul shivers, as well: her shock should be clear to the fellow psion, a thick and dense fog in the air that clouds judgment and demands attention, giving nothing in exchange. Honoka is, for a brief time, trapped within a nightmare of her own making -- torment.
The tearing sound wakes her. Honoka's eyelids flutter open. Cocoa-colored irises look up into Zach's, flicking about... searching the expression on his face.
And seeing that the mask has been discarded. She forges an apologetic look to him -- all traces of her sadistic self banished, discarded in favor of a more honest appreciation.
"... You broke... character."
Sudo frowns. Not like he doesn't frown most of the time anyway. He reaches into his jacket, and draws out an envelope with a wax seal -- already broken. "Did you two talk about this yet...?"
"Yeah, I did," Zach says to Honoka. "Sorry, not sorry." His hands are moving quickly, helping the work of the medical stuff. "I /am/ sorry that I got a little carried away," he then apologizes. He glances up at Sudo, to answer his question.
"Yes," he says to Sudo. "It's the reason we were doing all of this," he jerks his chin towards the arena, his hands still doing first aid. "I got one as well. There's going to be more to this tournament than just this tournament. We both needed to see if we were up for whatever is going to happen."
Honoka flashes Zach a wry smirk at both his non-apology and his apology. She can appreciate the sentiments expressed: if it weren't for Zach's caring nature, she wouldn't have entrusted him with the knowledge of the invitation.
Sudo looks concerned, but placated by the explanation. As much trust as Zach has won from the Twilight Star security chief in the past, the black-garbed man still looks to Honoka for guidance, his arms crossed sternly.
"Yes," agrees the juggler, with only the slightest hint of the dark demeanor she expressed earlier. Medics are going to work on the deeper wounds, allowing her to sit up. Spatters of blood are scattered about the dirt floor, but that's nothing unusual. Honoka takes a deep breath; it will take a while to undo the stresses of the fight, but that's nothing unusual either.
Stretching out her fingertips to keep the circulation flowing, she concludes, "Well, we may need to workshop your persona a bit more... But I think the Twilight Star Circus team will do just fine."
Log created on 21:16:51 05/07/2016 by Honoka, and last modified on 10:03:57 05/09/2016.