Honoka - Twilight Star Circus: Gathering Mists

Description: Preparations for the King of Fighters tournament continue, as Honoka insists that her circus teammate Oboro fight against Zach as well!

The 'sparring match' intended to lead Zach into his new role may have gone a little off-script, Honoka feels. A critical injury would have put an end to the juggler's stage career; luckily, it didn't quite come to that level.

The starlet has been recuperating heavily in the past couple days -- one would be hard-pressed to guess the level of damage that had been inflicted upon her in the battle. But such is the nature of psychic damage, after all -- injure the soul itself, instead of the body.
Perhaps that's why Honoka seems to have taken it a bit harder than she should. She -goaded- Zach's character into stepping things up a notch, after all -- she -asked- him to hit harder, to show him what he was made of. So while it might seem contradictory of her to appear standoffish, even wary of her boyfriend over the past couple days, the fact of the matter is very clear:
Honoka feels threatened by Zach Glenn in ways she'd never felt before.

It hasn't been terribly obvious -- not to anyone -but- Zach, really. She's -acting- the same, physically, but whenever the young performer catches sight of the blonde boy from Ohio, her heart begins pounding, and her skin grows clammy.
And not in the good or usual ways.

The Twilight Star juggler is perched on a set of bleachers under the circus' big top tent. Only a handful of the Twilight Star cast and crew are able to watch this match -- there is much to do before the next showing. The circus is currently parked in a mountainous suburb of Nagano prefecture, a chill breeze occasionally blasting the flaps of the tent open.
And in just a few minutes, a sparring match between Zach and another member of the circus will be taking place: further preparation for the upcoming "King of Fighters" tournament.

Distracted, the customary smile is missing from Honoka's face, as she looks down at the list upon her phone. A conjectural list of the other expected competitors and their teams in the tournament. Lost in thought, she occasionally glances up to the bare packed dirt that makes up the floor of the big top, and to the short barriers which demarcate the 'stage' from the audience section. She hums quietly to herself, the smile coming faintly to her lips as she muses about the other match-ups...

Zach eases himself down in the bleachers next to Honoka. He managed, carefully, to mask his presence from every sense he knew how to, and sets a plastic grocery bag down between them. He is wearing most of the costume that Honoka had provided, the mask resting on the far side of Zach from her. "One of the neat things about growing up in a long line of psychics," he says as he reaches into the bag, and pulls out a pair of bananas. "Is that you learn all the neat first aid techniques." He opens one, and offers the other one to Honoka. He bites into his banana, chews it thoughtfully. "It's the potassium, apparently."

"It... kind of illustrates the biggest difference between me and that other Zach," he says quietly. "The 'family involvement.'"

He is still genuinely sorry about what went happened on the floor a couple days ago. Once he realized how... uncomfortable he had made Honoka after that fight, he had kept his distance. Hadn't pressed. He wanted to give her some time to process things in her own way.

Honoka is distracted -- if she weren't, it wouldn't have been as easy for him to get the drop on her. But as Zach has been using techniques from both his Special Forces training and his family lineage, it's enough to mean that Honoka doesn't notice anything awry.

Which scares the hell out of her. Her heart jumps in its chest as she whirls around to face Zach, one palm interposed between herself and Zach -- a palm which rustles a plastic bag containing an elongated yellow fruit.

Wide eyes and dilated pupils address the fellow psion, the look of accusation transfixed upon him for a few moments, as she quietly pushes the phone back to its holster upon her left hip.

She doesn't say anything, allowing Zach to get his words in as she gradually lowers her guard, eyeing the banana. After someone like Vega manages to sneak his way inside the circus, the thought of it happening -again- has her more than a little on edge.

"A: you... really don't have to sneak around here, Zach... B: Um, now that I'm not on high alert, um... would you say you were -more- involved than the other one, or -less-?"

Honoka turns back towards the stage, slowly unpeeling her banana. She doesn't take a bite -- not yet.

Zach finishes the banana, and goes for a second one. "Definitely more, this time around," Zach says as he peels this banana. "Definitely a lot more." He takes a bite from this banana. "He came into his abilities... really /late/. Usually, the talents start to kick in around puberty. Sometimes a little earlier, sometimes a little later, depending on situations. But nineteen?" Zach shakes his head. "It's pretty much unheard of."

"So he had this... immense amount of power pretty much at his fingertips and not a single clue as to how it really worked, or why he had it. The clues, the learning, those came later. The talent's a pretty rare thing, even still. For a while, he made something of a habit of seeking out other psychics. He'd challenge them to fights, and then he'd proceed to throw down as hard as he could. Partly to test them, mostly to test himself." Zach stares at the circus floor, a faint look of disapproval on his face. He takes another bite of banana before continuing. "Sometimes, he'd learn something. Sometimes he'd teach his opponent something. Near the... the point where the memories stop, he had made a decision. That he wanted to start a school. He'd fill it with students of all kinds. Normal people. Fighters. Chi-users. Psychics." He glances at Honoka. "He wanted to show everyone else that people with psychic abilities were not to be universally feared, and the people with the talent that they did not have to learn about their abilities alone."

Honoka is jealous: of Zach, of his family, of his two lifetimes of learning how to use his abilities. She's jealous that he's achieved a rich and robust understanding of how to wield psychic abilities, not just in a -natural- way, but with the context of multiple generations of psions.
Honoka isn't the first of her line, but due to a simple misunderstanding -- borne of the very same puberty that Zach strikes upon -- she won't get the same chances. All she has are the memoirs her seer grandmother happened to have the foresight to record for her.

Zach may show disapproval on his face -- but he will feel it emanating from Honoka in waves, despite a neutral expression upon her face.

"... It's a nice thing to hope for," replies Honoka drily, taking a bite of her banana. "People with unique abilities -should- feel loved and appreciated, instead of feared and distrusted. People like us have the power to shape minds, to change the world for the better."

She takes another bite of her banana -- clearly not as much in a hurry as Zach is. But at least her tempestuous aura is fading into more of a calm zephyr, now that she has less cause for alarm. The juggler understands that Zach is not trying to gloat or boast -- but rather to communicate his thoughts.

"I hope that this tournament can serve that end too, really. To show the world that anyone can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with giants."

"And now for the part where this all ties in to what happened the other day," Zach say slowly. "I... was kind of drawing on some of those memories. The excitement. The /rush/ of it. He was a fighter partly because it was a good learning experience, and an excellent way for him to release pent-up energy in a way most people could accept. He didn't like the /fighting/ part of it; he preferred to find non-violent solutions where he could. But the unique challenge each fighter presented? He found it irresistable." Zach frowns, a bit of shame tinging his aura. "I got... 'drunk on it' is the only way I can think of to explain it. And I hurt you pretty badly because of it."

He looks Honoka in the eye. "I'm sorry about that."

Oboro doesn't bother trying to hide his presence. Not from Honoka, anyways. It's a sign of courtesy to the ringleader. The Japanese-Korean man is dressed... not-flashily, wearing a long-sleeved black dress shirt, open at the collar, and a pair of black dress slacks, with matching shoes and socks. It's the kind of outfit that one would associate with a gangster, really, and he does somehow give off that kind of air.

He might not be trying to hide but he isn't really -announcing- his presence either; it's second nature to use the shadows to his advantage, even when he isn't utilizing his own psychic powers, and so he might seem to literally melt from the shadows as Zach and Honoka are having their little eye-to-eye.

Honoka calmly and quietly chews at her banana as she listens, staring dully ahead at the big top's center ring. The excitement. The rush. Maybe the other Zach wasn't as nice a guy as she's been led to believe -- maybe the other Zach wasn't as much of a boyscout.
Maybe the other Zach got on Vega's radar for an entirely different reason.

A shudder of fear ripples through Honoka's aura. Unique challenges. Drunk on power -- and the shame that comes with it.
Honoka doesn't need to pass further judgment. She already has said enough, felt enough -- as has Zach.

The fear washes away. Honoka turns her eyes towards Zach, drawing in her breath. "Apology accepted. You... scared me, that's all. It stopped being a sparring match -- and I felt betrayed. Lied to. Part of that's... probably well, the sword doing its job. Invoking the fear of the gods into me."

She looks towards the ring again, downing the remainder of her banana. "Just... keep a loose rein on it. These are sparring matches. We still need to be ready to -fight- in this tournament, after all."
She smiles brightly, reaching over to tousle her boyfriend's hair lightly. "I'll be fine." And in case Zach didn't notice the shadowy zainichi hiding in the shadows, Honoka waves to the knife-thrower, flashing her eager smile. "You two go have fun -- Oboro may surprise you."

The other Zach was on Vega's radar for... pretty much the same reason /this/ Zach was. Though he was definitely no boyscout, either. "I... don't pretend to know if-" Zach stops talking to turn and regard Oboro with a raised eyeborw. The man has Zach's curiousity, as the monster hunter stands face the zainichi squarely. "Round two, then," he half-mutters, nodding once to the man before reaching for the match. He leans over and kisses Honoka on the forehead, local cultural bias against such things be damned, and the puts the mask on.

He regards Honoka with careful respect, slipping into the role once more, as he asks, "Which weapon shall I use this time, ma'am?"

Oboro raises an eyebrow, then glances at Honoka. Well... he knew why she'd summoned him here, after all. It doesn't look like he's armed, particularly, but then, that's one of his many tricks, isn't it? With a little smile he walks out to the center of the big top, taking up one of the spaces, and... well.

It isn't a psychic trick, just pure legerdermain, sleight of hand, that he has a pair of broad-bladed knives in his hands--shaped like arrowheads, gleaming steel--with black edge guards just barely keeping those razor sharp cutting surfaces from doing harm. He stands without any particular stance, looking lean, ready, fluid...

Flipping those knives around in an idle, complicated flourish as he waits. He still hasn't said a word, the young man looking frankly curious as to how this will go.

"I recommend the cutlass you used last time. Let's... work on staying in the character you built up last time, just with... a bit more restraint? You must always be aware of your environment -- and know the difference between the act, and the reality of the situation."

Honoka smiles back at Oboro -- with a hint of apology. This will be rough for the knife-thrower -- especially considering that Zach steamrolled over Honoka in their last fight. But there's something to be learned in the crucible of battle. "King of Fighters will -not- abide fighters with a shred of mercy. So both of you should focus on learning the ins and outs of combat in that setting more than winning."

"Very good, ma'am," Zach half-nods, half-bows, and strides towards the floor of the tent. He walks over to where the cutlass was placed after the last spar, and scoops it up. He whirls the weapon around once, then twice, to reacquaint himself with the balance of weapon.

He then looks up towards Oboro, and calmly waves the man down. "Let us see what we can learn," Zach calls out, and then... waits. His stance is just as negilgent as Oboro's as he looks over the knife-fighter calmly.

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn has started a fight here.

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Zach Glenn       0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn focuses on his next action.

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Zach Glenn       0/-------/-------|

Oboro keeps his expression neutral. He's somewhat familiar with Zach, at least from news reports and his own intelligence-gathering. So he knows. But this isn't a fight to the death--thus why Oboro is using his practice knives, with the covered edges.

Watching Zach flourish the blade, Oboro waits a moment longer, then stills his own grip on his weapons; the right held in a reverse grip, the left in a traditional forward grip. His eyes aren't disinterested, though; he's reading Zach as intently as he can. Well... might as well start it off, hmm? A test of sorts--for both him and Zach. There's barely any movement, or so it seems--light catches on the blade of the left-hand knife as he whips his arm forward and back.

In one smooth motion he's thrown that knife, drawing a bright line of light like some sort of laser special effect, and conjured up a replacement. It's an impressive party trick, but really not much more than that--something so basic, at least to Oboro, that he doesn't even really think about the doing of it.

COMBATSYS: Oboro has joined the fight here.

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Zach Glenn       0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Oboro

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn overcomes Thrown Weapon from Oboro with Thrown Weapon.

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Zach Glenn       0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Oboro

Zach's own blade is blunted, but unused as yet. He watches the knife-fighter curiously, and then the blade comes flying in. Zach reacts almost on instinct, plucking another weapon from the rack. A dagger, probably similar to Oboro's.

Zach flips the weapon into a readied position in his left hand and then flings the blade at Oboro's weapon. Zach must have thrown it harder than his opponent, because Zach's knife knocks Oboro's aside and keeps flying!

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn successfully hits Oboro with Thrown Weapon.
- Power hit! -

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Zach Glenn       0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0            Oboro

Oboro is not the strongest of men, even for a fighter; he relies on his blades to do the damage for him. Additionally, knives are not the heaviest of weapons, easier to deflect than would, say, a sword or a club. The blade slashes by Oboro's face, leaving a thin, red mark--a welt. Had it been a real blade, there would have been real blood. That draws a thin smile from Oboro--not one of hearty amusement, but of irony and cynical amusement. Of course he prefers to take his targets from afar when he can--but knives are a tool for down and dirty fighting.

He's quite familiar with it. He moves in patiently; many knife fighters seem to adopt a sort of 'psycho cutter' style, rushing in to do as much damage as possible while flailing--but for Oboro, precision and skill are his hallmarks. Rather than charge in, he closes at a careful pace, testing Zach's defenses with a pair of quick strikes, left right, designed to leave his guard open for as little time as possible.

COMBATSYS: Oboro successfully hits Zach Glenn with Medium Strike.

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Zach Glenn       0/-------/-----==|=------\-------\0            Oboro

Zach brings the cutlass around to parry the first of the two strikes, but Oboro proves to be faster than Zach expects. He grunts with each impact, stepping away lightly after doing so. He weighs his options, nodding once to his opponent in acknowledgement of the strikes.

Then Zach is back in, close. Knifes are great for close combat; Zach's time with the Corps taught him that. He does not plan to stay there very long. Zach brings the cutlass in low, driving the hilt of the weapon at Oboro's midsection before lashing out with a swift push kick to the midsection to drive the smaller man back again.

COMBATSYS: Oboro counters Random Strike from Zach Glenn with Haze Counter.

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Zach Glenn       0/-------/---====|==-----\-------\0            Oboro

Zach isn't afraid to get in close either--that's good. Oboro fades slightly backwards as Zach comes in; he deflects the hilt strike with the flat of a knife to the arm, fading back slightly more--just enough, maybe no more than a foot--to give him the room he needs to counter the follow-up attack that Zach had planned.

When that push kick comes, Oboro seems as if he's expecting it--he tosses his right-hand knife up in the air, spinning, and, while it's in the air, catches that incoming kick. There's a moment's pause, and then Oboro twists that leg and shoves, dumping Zach on his butt, briefly, just in time to catch the incoming blade, flipping it back into the reverse grip he was holding it in before.

Stepping back one more time, he gestures to Zach--in what may look like an arrogant gesture, though the expression on his face is still carefully neutral, so as not to give any sort of idea of how he feels about this fight right now.

Zach gets dumped on the floor, but the olny expression he has is a wide grin as he brings himself to his feet. He adjusts the grip on his cutlass and eyes Oboro carefully. "Not at all what you try to appear to be," Zach says as he settles into a wide, inviting stance. "But you've got more."

With that, Zach charges in once more before leaping. The arc is high and long, as Zach spins once in an almost lazy turn, bringing the cutlass down at Oboro's shoulder.

Honoka, knowing Zach as she does, would almost immediately notice the uptick in Zach's energy as he goes 'active'. Oboro might as well, if he were psychically sensitive enough to do so.

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn successfully hits Oboro with Dragon's Tail.

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Zach Glenn       0/-------/--=====|====---\-------\0            Oboro

Oboro speaks for the first time, his voice cool. "Everyone has secrets. The trick is in keeping them," he replies. He is quite sensitive enough to feel the uptick in power; he keeps his own carefully under wraps, though Zach is almost certainly powerful enough and sensitive enough to know that Oboro is a fellow psion. When Zach goes into that leaping, arcing attack, Oboro is not fooled--it's much faster than it looks or would appear to be. Now, here's the problem:

Knives are not good defensive weapons. Oboro lays the blades against the flats of his arms and brings them up in a modified defense, but the cutlass is heavy enough, especially with momentum behind them, to crush his guard; the impact is enough to make him stumble back.

"But here's a little secret I'll share," he says--as he appears to disappear in a purple cloud, the haze from which he takes his name--appearing behind Zach and kicking outwards for the small of his back. This particular skill, against the uninitiated, is how he earned the name--against trained, powerful fighters, it is definitely less effective--but it still has some flash to it. He might be just a knife-thrower but there's a lot more to him in a fight.

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn blocks Oboro's Light Kick.

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Zach Glenn       0/-------/-======|====---\-------\0            Oboro

Zach is turning even as Oboro finishes speaking, moving on reflex He brings left elbow in low, catching the kick on the meat near the bend of the arm. He is still grinning that wide, excited grin. Oboro had Zach's curiousity.

Now the knife fighter has his attention.

"/Nice/. Time to step it up a bit," Zach says as he turns to face the shorter man. "Let's see how well you keep up." Zach spins away from Oboro, swinging the cutlass at the now empty air between the two of them. Half a breath later, a golden crescent of energy rips into existence to lash out at the zainichi!

COMBATSYS: Oboro dodges Zach Glenn's Claw Flare.

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Zach Glenn       0/-------/=======|====---\-------\0            Oboro

He's already shown this particular trick--no reason to hide it now. Zach's golden energy crescent rips through the haze, with a sound like a tearing cotton sheet, but there's no 'catch', as Oboro seems to backstep out of nothing a moment later, just past where the haze was. He inclines his head in acknowledgement to Zach--clearly both are far more than they appear.

Still, Oboro is restrained in what he chooses to show; moving with abrupt, liquid speed, he attempts to close the distance he created between Zach and himself, ducking low and lashing upwards with his left-hand knife--

--and a moment later, in the same motion, grabbing for Zach's throat, to use it as a grip to shove him up and off his feet to hurl him backwards.

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn interrupts Armed Combo from Oboro with Soaring Dragon.
- Power hit! -

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Zach Glenn       1/------=/=======|=======\-------\1            Oboro

Zach is already stepping in as Oboro strikes with the knife. A red welt streaks along Zach's chest. The price of doing business.

Zach's cutlass strikes hard just below Oboro's sternum, delivered with a skyward leap that takes Zach nine feet into the air. Zach spins once, slowly, along the mostly vertical course of the jump, before landing lightly on both feet in a very relaxed stance. His whole posture screams an invitation for the knife fighter to attack.

It is clearly a trap. It has to be, right?

Honoka watches quietly from the stands, helping herself to another banana from the bag left for her by Zach. A few other staffers and cast members from the circus filter in and out on their spots on the bleachers, but only a woman of Honoka's approximate size and build dares to go anywhere close to the juggler. Honoka waves her up.

The young woman sits down, and asks a question, which turns out to be nearly inaudible. Honoka's voice is a bit louder: "Haha, no -- I've never seen him move so quickly either. Against you all, he hasn't really needed to..." The juggler is more focused on the fight than her companion -- and she doesn't notice Reika folding her arms, or turning her lips into a mild pout.

Oboro slams into the ground in a cloud of dust; it's only a moment he lays there. Instead of utilizing another psionic trick to get up, he uses the cover of the dust, rolling backwards and popping up. His shirt is shredded, the fine silk not meant to handle stresses like that; he'll clearly have a bruise tomorrow, it's already forming across his chest.

With a smooth motion, the knife-thrower puts away his right-hand knife and runs his fingertips up the forming bruise; his eyes are somewhat thoughtful as he backs up a couple of more steps, then... waits, his gaze focused on his opponent. This may be a test, a spar, but he is not accustomed to taking failure lightly.

COMBATSYS: Oboro focuses on his next action.

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Zach Glenn       1/------=/=======|=======\-------\1            Oboro

Zach takes Oboro's pause as a invitation to press the attack. Glenn lunges in, taking three quick strides to burst out of the cloud and directly in front of Oboro. "Show me more," he all but whispers to the man, the excitement clear in his voice.

And then Zach's left hand lashes out to grab the remains of Oboro's shirt to haul on, and possibly hurl across the circus floor!

COMBATSYS: Oboro counters Medium Throw from Zach Glenn with Haze Reversal.

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Zach Glenn       1/---====/=======|=======\==-----\1            Oboro

Oboro doesn't bother with the knives; instead, as Zach grabs him by the shirt, Oboro locks his hands onto Zach's wrist. When Zach goes to throw him, Oboro doesn't resist--in fact, he adds his own momentum to it, to unbalance Zach. Normally he might let him go, almost like doing a hammer throw--but instead, Oboro slings the man around and towards a nearby cushion wall--cushioned, but still heavy and solid and hard enough to hurt slamming into--and follows him in.

The two impacts are almost simultaneous--Zach's back to the mat wall, and Oboro's elbow into Zach's sternum--repaying him, perhaps, for that smashing attack across his own chest moments ago.

The man known as 'Haze' in some circles uses the momentum earned to bounce backwards, landing about ten yards away from Zach.

Zach's energy levels are quickly reaching a peak as he slams into the wall. He lets out a grunt from the elbow strike before staggering away from the wall. Zach eyes Oboro warily as he takes a deep breath. "That's not nearly enough," Zach says as he takes up another wide stance the blade of his cutlass parallel to the ground as it crosses his chest. Zach's free arm is more or less pointing at Oboro, with his feet wide but firmly planted.

Motes of golden light play about Zach's frame before tumbling to the floor.

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn gathers his will.

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Zach Glenn       2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\==-----\1            Oboro

Honoka frowns slightly as golden energy begins to roil off of Zach's form. She knows that Zach is marshalling energy, but she does have a -particular- concern about the use of the cutlass.
She'd asked him to use it again. She wants to conquer her deep-rooted fear of the ipetam, something she'd heard about from her family and village in any number of legends, but that still doesn't mean she can take in the sight without having a gut reaction to the sight.

Subconsciously, Reika slides over onto the bleacher next to Honoka, bumping her shoulder into the similarly-sized performer, holding out a bag of popcorn.

Honoka quietly reaches into the bag and partakes of the offering.

Oboro quirks an eyebrow. "This is a sparring match, not a fight to the death." He leaves it at that; of course he's not going to go all out unless he has to, though it certainly seems as though Zach is planning on it. This is probably, muses Oboro in a abstract manner, going to hurt. He can only hope to do what he can. It's a moment's thought, and then he's moving in, trading both knives in for just one.

The attack is *almost* a feint; a quick thrusting attack aimed for Zach's leading side, but there's almost no power behind it, and with good reason--Oboro is marshalling his power for something else, as just after that attack is completed he slides backwards, into mist, teleporting away from Zach. Not far--just enough to, hopefully, give him room to see and react to whatever the man has coming up.

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn fails to interrupt Medium Strike from Oboro with Intercepting Strike.

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Zach Glenn       1/-<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\===----\1            Oboro

Zach whirls, taking a rapid (and admittedly wild) swing at Oboro, which misses completely. Zach staggers a little under the impact, grunting slightly. That... will leave a mark. Zach's eyes and mind try to track the man known to some as Haze.

"You can do better than that," Zach suggests, as he awaits Oboro's next move.

Oboro's response to Zach is sincere. "We're here to test each other, not kill each other." The intimation is that Oboro's fighting style--indeed his very attitude--is quite different from a 'serious' fight. Even a King of Fighters match might not quite qualify... after all, it's one thing to fight seriously, and quite another to fight to kill. Killing a fighter, in public view, usually is not the best thing to do from a PR standpoint.

Besides, as he said earlier--he likes to keep some secrets. Even from Honoka. Even from teammates. Perhaps -especially- from teammates. As he well knows, you can be most betrayed by those you trust the most... not that he's an especially trusting fellow. But... perhaps Zach has, in fact, earned a little more demonstration of Oboro's ability. He hadn't considered that. So he nods, and Zach can probably feel the buildup of energy within Oboro. The knife fighter lunges, flipping a blade into his right hand, reverse grip, and strikes with a arcing, low right to upper left slash--and as he does so, what seems a fraction of a second later, he also appears -behind- Zach to mirror the strike in reverse, upper left to lower right.

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn blocks Oboro's Crushing Strike.

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Zach Glenn       2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\-------\1            Oboro

Zach brings the cutlass down swiftly to catch the incoming blade. The impact rings out across the big top. Zach is still grinning; he knows there is more there to Oboro than the man presents. "Still holding back?" Zach asks Oboro, just shy of a taunt.

Zach feels the power coursing through him, all but singing, /calling/ to be used and used in a grand manner. Zach forces that urge down, and instead tries to grab Oboro by the back of the head and driving a knee into Oboro's midsection. A flare of golden light slides along Zach's leg to add even more force to the strike!

COMBATSYS: Oboro blocks Zach Glenn's Charged Combo.

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Zach Glenn       1/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\==-----\1            Oboro

Oboro is not a burly man. But he can still, when properly prepared for it, take a hit. Feeling Zach grab the back of his head, Oboro focuses instead of defense--when Zach's empowered knee hits, Oboro catches it in cupped hands, rather than soft midsection. A jump, neatly timed, lets him absorb more of the force; it looks like Zach hits him hard enough to launch him into the sky, but it's controlled.

Just at the peak of the arc, Oboro flips over--and as he does so, he sweeps his hands out. A knife flashes--but not a steel knife. This is a projection of psionic energy, a purple construct that looks exactly like his knives--and it's falling almost straight down for Zach's head.

It won't cause any physical damage and, with the power that Zach's visibly expressing, probably won't cause that much damage otherwise--but Oboro still isn't quite willing to go all out for a spar.

COMBATSYS: Oboro successfully hits Zach Glenn with Phantom Blade.

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Zach Glenn       2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\===----\1            Oboro

The bleachers shudder as Honoka rises to her feet -- with Reika narrowly pulling the bag of popcorn away in the nick of time. Her hands are balled into fists, and her pink-fringed hair is beginning to flutter about on its own volition along the uprushing eddies of psychic energies. She's... on the verge of losing her temper.

The call of the power coursing throughout Zach is not something she can ignore -- she'd experienced it first-hand in their last fight, and despite her admonition, it -almost- seemed like Zach would have used the technique again, all in the rationale of 'staying in character.' And she suspects he would not be as... attentive about mending the wound afterwards.

But he does not. Not yet, anyway. And while part of her really -wants- him to cut loose, and she -wants- to be there when Zach finally gives in to the toxic, overwhelming power of psychic energy... she's also selfish enough to want to keep her team intact long enough to make a legitimate registration.
For if they do not make it into the tournament, she cannot unleash his energies upon other, more worthy targets.

Zach throws the cutlass forward, making it spin in the palm of his hand as the blade starts to glow gold with controlled power, shattering the phantom blade into motes of gold and violet. And still that grin is on Zach's face. Rents appear in the vest, and loose pants, blood decorating the sands.

Zach flips the weapon into a ready grip, and charges Oboro. He sweeps the blade once, a golden blade forming around the sword. The construct is wide, and long; so much so that the physical sword does not get close to the knife fighter!

As the blade evaporates, Honoka and Oboro can feel Zach reassert the lockdown he generally keeps on his power.

COMBATSYS: Oboro dodges Zach Glenn's Claw Spiker.

[                    \\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Zach Glenn       0/-------/-<<<<<<|=======\===----\1            Oboro

Being nimble on his feet has kept Oboro alive in some sticky situations before--it certainly helps now. He's barely landed when Zach lashes out with that golden blade of energy; only instinct and reflexes allow him to spring back up, pulling his legs up and tucking, the blade lashing just beneath him; had he not pulled his legs in he would have been cut in half, so to speak.

Somehow, he turns that into a backflip, tumbling backwards like a true circus performer. He is pleased to feel Zach's control reassert itself. There's much he'll do for Honoka, but spending time in the hospital is not his favorite. Touching down once more, he converts momentum again, crossing his arms with his blades held in forward grips, slashing outwards with both blades as he closes in on the target.

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn dodges Oboro's Random Strike.

[                    \\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Zach Glenn       0/-------/-<<<<<<|=======\=------\1            Oboro

He had control of his power the entire time, honestly. Sometimes, though, when the adrenaline starts pumping it can get a little hard to hold back when needed. Oboro comes flying in, and Zach feels like it's time to end this spar.

Zach pivots away from Oboro, allowing the blades to cleave air. Zach responds with a swift, but brutal left-handed punch that is somewhere between a hook and an uppercut aimed right at Oboro's jaw!

COMBATSYS: Oboro counters Dynamite Punch from Zach Glenn with Haze Rejection.

[                           \\\  < >  /////////////                 ]
Zach Glenn       1/--=====/=======|=------\-------\0            Oboro

Oboro can feel it too--the flow of the fight demands a climax. Very well; he'll give it one. For a moment, Zach may feel like he's struck solid flesh--but that illusion disappears with a sound like shattering glass. Suddenly, that double image of Oboro is back, mirroring his actions as he performs a series of knife strikes and kicking attacks, a rapid flurry that ends not with both Oboro and his double--but just Oboro--slashing upwards in a great arc to launch Zach off his feet.

Oboro's energy fades somewhat after that--sustaining an image like that for more than a few seconds takes a *lot* of concentration and energy, and even though he's practiced it many many times, it never gets any -easier-.

Zach is sents flying directly upward. Despite the pain that threatens to knock him out, there is still a wide grin on his face. The Dynamite Punch is a fairly neat punch. Powerful, unconventional flight path. But it seems like every time he throws it, bad things happen. Every. Single. Time.

But it's not the only punch he's named.

Zach lands on his feet with a heavy thud, wobbling as he still smiling at Oboro. "Nice!" Zach calls out. "Now it's my turn!"

Zach throws the cutlass upward as he charges Oboro, chambering his right hand. He twists at the hips, shoulders, elbows, and wrist before he skids to a halt in striking range. Zach then drives that corkscrew right straight directly in the center of Oboro's chest. It won't kill the man, but it most certainly will stun the smaller man!

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn can no longer fight.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Oboro            0/-------/------=|

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn successfully hits Oboro with Heartbreak Shot EX.
- Power hit! -

[                         \\\\\  <
Oboro            0/-------/-======|

Zach then wobbles, and falls into a seated position. He tries to stay upright but slumps forward. He reaches out with his right hand, and catches the cutlass, which he then uses to keep himself in a sitting position.

"There we go," Zach all but mumbles. It may not come out all that coherently, but Honoka can pick up on the satisfaction Zach is feeling right now.

That burst of speed is genuinely frightening. Oboro doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting out of the way; he tries to defend against the attack, to take it on his forearms, but all that corkscrewing power blows his guard open in an instant and the shot hits right where it should--right over his heart.

Involuntarily, a gasp issues from Oboro's mouth, a simple reaction to the forced expellation of air, as his heart literally stops for a moment. Zach may fall over--Oboro won't be far behind, his right hand going to his heart for a moment as he falls to his knees, then sags back, almost into a sloppy seiza.

COMBATSYS: Oboro takes no action.

COMBATSYS: Oboro can no longer fight.

Pink highlights flutter about animatedly in utter defiance of gravity, giving the impression of a a rose-colored halo around the star juggler's face. Her eyes are intense, her gaze flitting between Zach and Oboro as the fight culminates in an enthralling finish. Her fingertips clasp together tensely, the rest of the big top clearly forgotten in the rushing tide of emotions.
Reika has risen to stand in Honoka's shadow. She, too, is enthralled by the fight, though her eyes are glassy and her jaw hangs open, slack -- a stark contrast to Honoka's intense, tight-lipped stare.

When both fighters drop to the ground, though, her raven-and-rose colored locks flutter back to her shoulders. After a moment's pause, the juggler strides down the bleachers, each confident footfall raising up an audible clank as she makes her way down to the ground level. Each step brings warmth to her expression, and increased calmness to her aura.
For a moment, it looks like Reika would have followed along behind Honoka, but after several blinks of her eyes, she sits back down with a dumbfounded expression on her face.

"That's enough for now." Honoka's voice is crisp, ringing out clearly across the entirety of the expanse beneath the circus tent. Her earlier trepidation and intensity have faded away, replaced now with cool confidence. "Good work, you two... I think we all learned something here today!"

The performer, folding her hands behind her back, casts a glance to her side, where four of the circus's medical team are already moving into action, ready to bandage cuts and treat bruises and dislocations. She continues speaking, her chin angled primarily towards the cutlass-wielder: "Thank you for giving us both a real challenge, Zach. I'm glad to see you're coming into your own with the character, for one; but also, for bringing an intensity to the fighting that we have tended to... shy away from."

She looks to Oboro with a bright, ebullient smile. "After all, we're performers -- we're not used to actually -hurting- people. We constantly hold back, since we always know that we'll have to fight again in three hours, or the next night. We don't fight to 'kill', or to 'win', -- we only know how to fight for the show of it."
The trick to lying is to act like you believe it with every fiber of your being.

"But it won't be like that in the tournament -- it can't be." concedes Honoka, turning back to Zach. "Everyone in the tournament will fight with different motivations. If we don't take the fight seriously, we'll be at a loss against someone who does." She takes a breath, eyes casting to the top of the tent as she makes a brief admission. "I know I can be... a bit of a bother, at times, but reflecting upon things, I'm glad you didn't pull any punches against me." Her eyes drop back towards Zach. "I probably needed it."

Honoka's smile grows a few sizes as she drops to a knee, bringing herself to the same level as her two companions. Her aura swells again, but this time with warmth and encouragement. "Plus, that was some kickass fighting on both sides. It was a rare treat to see you two throwing down with your hearts fully into it."
The performer angles her head towards Zach, giving him a quick wink on the sly. She knows the point at which he held back -- and appreciates his consideration towards the concerns she'd voiced earlier.

"Now, let's get you two patched up and we can get something yummy to eat!"

Log created on 17:50:54 05/15/2016 by Honoka, and last modified on 06:45:17 05/24/2016.