Description: Honoka Kawamoto is just your average Japanese girl living the big life at the big top! Hanging out with her friend Sudo on the biggest performance of her life, she is visited by the incredible science wizard Yoshiaki. Yoshiaki, with his good friend Tomoe, offer to grant Honoka a fabolous wish: They can bring her friend, AY4M3, to life! Using the magic of HitBit Incorporated technology, AY4M3 turns into a real girl like Tomoe, and Honoka and AY4M3 have lots of fun playing together! But will they finish their games before the stroke of 12, when the magical spell will wear off? Hopefully Honoka will appreciate the time she had with her newest best friend! (The cover shows Honoka dressed in a schoolgirl uniform, at the circus. She is escorting in the crook of her arm a blushing and bright-eyed Ayame, dressed in a schoolgirl uniform as well, who has little antennae sticking out of the top of her head. They are pointing at a smiling, soft-faced gorilla in a cage, who is looking in the general direction of them. Nearby, Yoshiaki stands by, dressed in a wizard robe and hat, his arm over a beautiful adult miko. Both are smiling as the two schoolgirls explore the wonderful world of the circus together.) (50 yen)
Yoshiaki really had it all.
The executive of HitBit was a longtime fan of the Twilight Star Circus, as well as fighting in general. And one of the topics of his obsessions, Honoka Kawamoto, had even come to him, and asked for a chance to try out one of his Combots. What was more, she had even gotten him a chance to go to the VIP seats at her show. A private box, high and seperate from the entire common circus folks.
Of course, he was here with his girlfriend.
Yoshiaki and his girlfriend, of course, both enjoyed the Twilight Star circus. In fact, she liked almost everything Yoshiaki did. Except being late sometimes, which was totally baka. But Yoshiaki knew that she could be a little tsundere, and always forgave her, and she always forgave him. Besides, it was very convenient for her to come to the circus, especially for what was happening afterwards. The pair had reached the top booth, the VIP privacy, watching the show. Alone, in their special VIP booth.
Which, of course, allowed some intimate time while watching the show.
Yoshiaki and she were busy necking, kissing softly, deeply. It was so passionate, so intense, that his glasses had long fallen out. He couldn't help himself. Once he saw Honoka swinging so high, so dangerously on that trapeze, the way she bended... he just couldn't stop from throwing himself on his girlfriend. She too was just as passionate, though she was a little jealous because she knew that Yoshiaki had some feelings for Honoka as well. That only served to fuel her own passion towards the baka. Yoshiaki was so much into the moment of love, that he barely even noticed that the show was coming into an end...
And that it would soon be time for him to deliver what he had come to bring.
Despite implications, the heavy curtains weren't completely opaque after all. They did conceal three of the cardinal directions around the six special seats allotted for tonight's guests, with a special mesh netting in front that only -slightly- impaired vision. The curtains did an excellent job at muffling the sound, but it was still possible to hear the cheering of the general admission attendees, and to faintly discern the locations of the "premium" seating directly adjacent.
After all, even if you don't want to be part of the audience with everyone else, it's still nice to know they're present.
Reportedly, it adds to the thrill.
But more importantly, it keeps everyone else from being able to look -in-.
Reportedly, it keeps them from vomiting circus peanuts everywhere.
The section was set aside long before the show. VIP personnel were on hand to provide drinks, refreshments, special services -- and they made sure to step outside the tent once the situation became a bit more personal. Tact -- that's one of the unique properties that brings repeat visitors back to Twilight Star Circus.
Unlike the staff, though, the stars of the Twilight Star Circus have a strict mandate to not be seen within an hour of their showtime. That's not just a rule, it's an operational necessity -- if fans were allowed to talk with their favorite circus stars before costuming and dress rehearsal, the allure would vanish instantly. Crowds would leave in droves. And even if not, the fans would feel let down when their favorite stars reluctantly push them away to prepare. So it's a lose-lose for everyone!
Reportedly, it adds to the thrill.
Honoka's mid-show arrival was... dynamic, as always. Live steel was juggled. Electronic 'poi' were juggled, filling the stage with digital, LED-lit recreations of the previous act, all before climactic combat with the protagonist -- and eventual joining of her side. And for a time, she took her place offstage for the rest of the act, only appearing again for the grand finale.
Fire. Fire -everywhere-. But controlled, because the Twilight Star Circus is nothing but immaculately professional, of course.
The audience was given fifteen minutes to clear out. The special VIP and his guest were provided with free internet access and video entertainment to bide their time. And once all audience members were cleared out...
Honoka Kawamoto leaps down from the rafters, landing directly in front of the VIP tent.
The young juggler is dressed in her stage apparel. Makeup has been re-applied selectively -- she looks just as she had in her first scene.
"Sorry to keep you two waiting."
She almost doesn't want to look into the tent. But it's a prerequisite of the exchange.
Yoshiaki pulls away his girlfriend.
Gasping, he looks at the acrobat as she falls in, his glasses dangling from his one ear. In the shock, he actually -drops- her to the ground. Shocked, he leans over, picking her back up. "Oh! Honoka! Wow! Sorry, I was... erm... distracted! Hah hah! Wow! I knew you were going to come to pick up AY4M3, but I didn't know you were going to be so... so incredible! Wow! Well, if you want her, she's right over here!"
And he gestures to the Combot, sitting in the corner.
He steadies the bodypillow he brought with him back on his knee. The bodypillow is slightly shorter than Yoshiaki, with the image of Tomoe, the priestess from Hinomoto within the Queen's Blade series, Yoshiaki stands up. Keeping the full-sized body pillow erect, he grins wildly, adjusting his glasses. "She's all ready for you, Honoka!" He giggles a bit, adjusting his girlfriend. "Oh, sorry Honoka. Tomoe is just so excited to finally meet you in person." At this point, it may become apparent that Yoshiaki had use Tomoe as the 'model' for AY4M3. The man leans his ear into the pillow, and then suddenly begins to blush wildly. "Oh! Well, I'm sorry Honoka we can't stay around for long. Tomoe has a surprise for him back in the car." He goes to under his chair, and pulls out a tablet. "HEre you go! You can use this to queue up and activate AY4M3! You can use any feature you like!" He gives Honoka a wink, and then suddenly thrusts the body pillow away. He rolls his eyes, as he walks out of the VIP tent.
"Oh Tomoe, don't be so tsun-tsun!"
As she rises to her feet, Honoka just happens to catch the sight of a girl in white shrine-maiden clothing fall to the bleachers. She had hoped to make an impression, sure, but she certainly didn't hope for someone to be unwittingly -brained- to death as a result of a friendly surprise. The juggler reaches both arms out to catch the young woman, though with a gap of roughly twelve feet or so between her spot on the ground and the falling maiden, it's not going to happen, not even for a talented acrobat like Honoka Kawamoto.
Luckily, her concern is misplaced, as the body pillow bounces only slightly upon hitting the bleachers.
Honoka's ears begin to turn red, though her mouth is still agape from the shock of seeing Tomoe fall.
Honoka returns back to her feet, a faint smile replacing the shock from moments prior. A less charitable expression could have been selected, but no other would be suitably appropriate for continuing a business relationship. "It wasn't no bother at all. I'm sorry for y'all havin' to wait so long. Thank you for coming out all this way!" She bows graciously, using the humble gesture as an opportunity to mask the rage on her face. "Every single show we try and outdo our previous performance, so I'm glad you enjoyed it!"
At least the rest of the premium seating section had moved away to ensure even -more- privacy for the intimate couple and their attendant Combot.
Honoka hops up the steps at the notice of the tablet. She bows her head and shoulders once to AY4M3, once to Yoshiaki... and once to Tomoe. "It is a pleasure to meet you, I have heard so much about you." Empty words, delivered with an impressive approximation of sincerity. (That's how you keep the kiddies coming back, after all.) She gingerly accepts the tablet, bowing once again.
And, right then, Tomoe goes flying out of the tent with a huff.
At least, she thinks it was a huff. Maybe it was the juggler's imagination. Rrrrgh.
Curling one arm around the tablet, Honoka waves sheepishly at the departing (?) couple (?!) with the other hand. "I... Have a good evening! We hope to see you again soon...!"
And then she looks back to AY4M3, wrinkling her nose. Does she even want to know what that smell is...?
The juggler looks at the controls on the display. The circus tent needs to get broken down before they will be able to move in the morning, which means she -needs- to figure out how to move this Combot. So... no time like the present. "Okay, how do I get you to move..."
It probably was for the best that she just smiles
With Yoshiaki and his date gone, Honoka was left alone with AY4M3 and the tablet. The Combot is dressed in the same garb that she had been in before, though obviously the clothing damage had been fixed. A somewhat skeletal frame, 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 tablet itself seems to be clean and well organized. There are a number of folders on it; 'basic operations' is the first one on the right. Within that folder seems to be various degrees of offensive sets precompiled to run. 'Aggressive Ayame,' 'Defensive Ayame,' 'Balanced Ayame,' 'Passive Ayame,' Are clearly labeled here. There are three other folders on there; one is 'Advanced operationsm' another is 'Specialized operations, and final one is 'Manual override.' The basic one is already open, it would be up to Honoka if she wanted to open the others. For now, AY4M3 was on standby, unreactive.
Was there even an 'on' switch on this tablet?
Honoka frowns back at the unmoving robot. She's almost positive that she could get the AY4M3 combat platform up and running just by enabling the 'Passive' option, but the fact of the matter remains that the circus tent is, for all intents and purposes, open right now.
And Honoka is not in a mood to turn down for bed just yet.
Not far away, Sudo looks up from the security camera display on his own tablet. All's quiet on the western front, and everyone's checked in. He looks directly over to Honoka, as clearly as if she'd called his name.
She had, of course.
Once Sudo has closed the distance to AY4M3 and Honoka, the juggler sweeps her long forelocks out of her eyes, flashing him a grin. "Help me out for a moment, I wanna try this."
Sudo accepts the control tablet from her. "Okay... what now?"
Unhooking the wands from a small loop upon her costume, she shrugs, pacing out to the center stage. "Dunno. Stand back, press 'Aggressive', and then go toss me some diabolos."
A feral gleam crosses her face as she looks back at the android, her wands rising up to the ready. Sudo, as bidden, keeps his distance, and presses the appropriate start sequence.
COMBATSYS: Honoka has started a fight here.
And the button is pressed.
The robot suddenly spasms. It's eyes light up, the great lamps glowing red. With jerky movements, it begins to rise up, clutching the metal staff. Coming to full height, AY4M3 transfixes its gaze right on the readied Honoka. It holds there for a split-second. Analyzing. Processing. Understanding. It's claws grip the staff tightly.
And there is no hesitation when it strikes out.
The robot rushes forward, moving with surprising speed for its robotic nature. Gripping the staff, it shifts its position towards the base. With that grip, it lashes out with the staff, swinging with with a deft, precise swing aiming for Honoka's neck. Whether it hit or not, would not matter. AY4M3 would step in with the swing, letting it twirl with the momentum. And drawing it in, it would jam the opposite end of the staff straight for the woman's foot, attempting to jam it down hard. No sound, no words.
Just the precise, mechanical actions of a Combot.
COMBATSYS: AY4M3 has joined the fight here.
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Honoka 0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0 AY4M3
COMBATSYS: Honoka fully avoids AY4M3's Fierce Strike.
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Honoka 0/-------/=======|-------\-------\0 AY4M3
Honoka bobs lightly on the balls of her feet as she waits for the button to be pressed. The wands sway with her: she may not have a diabolo in hand right at the moment, but the acrobatic juggler is moving just as fludily as if she had. She stares back at the red lamps of the automaton. And even though it is not a face, she can read the maneuver.
The juggler twists forward and to her right, twisting herself about. Her hands and her wands fly out to either side, while her legs leave the ground in a graceful kick. The first strike whistles over her now-horizontal back, just as the Ainu woman begins to pivot about in midair. One knee rises; her hips revolve about. Dirt explodes in a column as the staff blasts into the ground, but it narrowly misses her lower foot as it too attains flight.
The next time AY4M3 encounters that foot, it is in a high scything arc towards the Combot's neck, as Honoka whips herself around rapidly.The automaton might even be able to detect the exuberant smile on Honoka's face as her foot connects. She aims to continue the momentum, to sling the robot to the ground, and to arc a bolt of psychic-powered lightning throughout the circuits of the Ichijo surrogate.
And it's right around then that Sudo lobs a diabolo towards Honoka -- and possibly towards the robot as well.
COMBATSYS: AY4M3 endures Honoka's Niwen Horobi EX!
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Honoka 1/------=/=======|===----\-------\0 AY4M3
Getting a read on Combot was just like a person.
The tells were slightly different, but they were there. With deft precision against deft precision, the acrobat meets the relentless attack from AY4M3 with careful agility. Overextended, the robot was in perfect position for the counter-attack, with the diablo surging on its way in the face of pure psychic energy. It was enough to intimidate other fighters.
But AY4M3 was aggressive.
The robot forces its way through energy and diablos, the framework snapping and groaning in the face of the mental and physical. There was no empathy, no fear, no emotion. Just a stoic, mechanical offense. This might be a stark contrast to Honoka's other opponents. It might be exactly what fighting Ayame would be like. The Combot, seizing its staff, just hurls itself into Honoka. It spins from the left, sweeping in hard as it rotates into a second swipe. The combination ends with a finishing overhead blow, the relentless charge threatening to overwhelm Honoka.
Aggressive wasn't a suggestion, it seems.
COMBATSYS: AY4M3 successfully hits Honoka with Requiem For Fallen Blossoms.
- Power hit! -
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Honoka 1/------=/=======|====---\-------\0 AY4M3
Honoka could easily have started with the robot on a more leisurely setting -- but what would she really have -learned- from that? Any one of the circus performers could have attacked her for a warmup, but none of them can bring the excitement, the thrill, the -danger- of facing someone at Ayame's level. What's more -- this was the robot that defeated Maki.
The robot accomplished more than Honoka had in the Rumble tournament.
It has value to her.
As the diabolo careens closer, it misses its mark -- for AY4M3 had already fallen to the onslaught of Honoka's psychic lightning bolt. The juggler flicks her wand out lazily, as if to snare the diabolo out of midair. It's a dismissive gesture, and she's fully expecting to follow through with it.
But that's when a human opponent, or one not raised in the Meian Jinja, would have conceded the opportunity to Honoka. When she reaches for the diabolo, she's struck from beneath, by the robot with no fear. The diabolo sails freely, landing upon the hard-packed dirt as Honoka flies back, tackled backwards.
The acrobat stumbles, her footwork falters from the severity of the blow. Eyes widen, mouth hangs agape. And then a second swipe lands, taking the wind out of her as it shuffles her sideways a good six feet. The third blow cracks down upon Honoka's shoulder, tears coming to her eyes as she's brought down to her knees.
It's a setup -- a followup for something, Honoka is certain of this.
Sudo knows. His finger hovers over the button for 'Passive Ayame.'
"Don't you fucking dare--" Her hoarse whisper somehow manages to carry to the Twilight Star chief of security.
Snapping her wand hard to her left, Honoka then vaults backwards, depriving the aggressive automaton of its opportunity for a followup. Her bruised body aches -- and yet, as she lands in a low crouch, a smile spreads upon her face.
"I'm just getting warmed up," explains Honoka, as she rises to her feet again. The diabolo, captured in that one flick of her wand, bobs about in a joyful dance between her two wands. She strafes sideways, keeping her eyes focused upon the Combot's red lamps, wondering how much of the Ichijo girl's attacks she'll be able to read in its next few movements.
COMBATSYS: Honoka focuses on her next action.
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Honoka 1/------=/=======|====---\-------\0 AY4M3
It was pure aggression.
AY4M3 isn't showing any restraint now, any holding back. Every strike left glaring openings; this wasn't a style Ayame had shown in full effect in the tournament; only a piece of the style given to the ultimate extreme. This was an Ayame fighting for her life, the lives of a million. A feral, unyielding Ayame, that seeks only one thing.
As the last blow is evaded, the Combot continues to advance. It was trailing after Honoka, advancing on her. And not as a mere automation; it was twirling the staff wildly, the weapon whistling as it spins. Every motion could be read here. It was pure offense, with glaring, gaping holes in its defenses. The real Ayame wouldn't risk such openings, not without a good reason. And yet, AY4M3 was taking the talent of the miko, and bringing it to the outer extremes. The staff twirls faster and faster, swapping from hand to clawed hand as the Combot forces its way in.
And it suddenly thrusts.
The spinning stops -dead- as it lunges in. A mere jab, a mere drive. With a wooden staff, it could stun. With a metal staff, it could pierce the skin. But what may be unnerving wasn't the wakeup from the thrust; the thrust itself would left it exposed. No, the unnerving effect was what the attack was. It was the kind of blow to break focus. The precise position was towards the face, a psychological target. It was trying to get into her mind.
Was it -reading- Honoka?
COMBATSYS: Honoka interrupts Medium Strike from AY4M3 with Sarak Kamui.
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Honoka 1/-======/=======|=======\-------\1 AY4M3
It's uncontrolled madness -- it's suicidal. It's not the Ayame she's seen the majority of. The moves are right, the tenacity placed, the -form- proper... but the attitude is wrong. The openings are too wide.
It's not Ayame Ichijo.
Honoka doesn't have much time at all to brace herself for the incoming attack -- not at all. AY4M3 is violently intruding upon her personal space before she has time to even bring the diabolo up to full speed. It's spinning, but not fast enough to do what she wants.
With an irritable, tempestuous flick of her wrist, she chucks the whole kit and kaboodle away to her left. The diabolo hangs in midair while both wands snap up and away.
And then one wand snaps back, sharply reversing direction...
Meanwhile, a bright burst of pink-purple energy flares up from her right hand in the moment immediately following the toss. The energy ripples out into a long ribbon, but a sharp tug of her hand to the right causes the ribbon to fold in half. A third motion forms a triangle; a fourth, a square.
With a loud *thock-thock*, the two airborne diabolo wands crack against the automaton's staff, tugging it down and away from Honoka's face. The acrobat's shoulder finishes the job, as the performer launches herself forwards.
Her fist curls up within a cone of concentrated psychic energy. And she drives it forward right into the belly of the HitBit-branded beast. The cone rapidly spins, radiating its energy outwards as the Ainu woman drives her hand forward.
And then the energy explodes outward, in one violent violet violation of AY4M3's personal space.
"Balanced Ayame, if you would, please..." comes Honoka's request, her breath beginning to run ragged as she steps back from the Combot, uncoiling her wands and bringing them back to her defensively. "And then tell me what's in the Advanced folder."
It still wasn't slowing down.
As the aggressive thrust is unleashed, the Combot is exposed for the retaliation. The staff is knocked askew, though it does not leave its grip. Exposed, the Combot takes a full blast at point blank. Blown backwards, it flails 20 feet away, nearly blown out of the VIP box. Landing face down, it's framework seems cut deeply in the torso, leaking hydralic fluid. But it just rises up, and begins to charge at Honoka.
And suddenly, it stops its advance.
Balanced mode was enabled. Switching the staff around, it moves behind it, lowering its posture. And now, it circles around the acrobat. Sudo could see that the advanced folder seems to have much more specialized training roles. One of them is labeled 'Miko only.' Another one? 'Staff only.' Distinctive styles, distilled into singular techniques. 'Ranged only' is another one, indicating only ranged techniques, while another states 'non-special techniques.' But the most distinctive file might be the one labeled 'Experimental.' Non-indicative, except to the experimenter himself. AY4M3, in the meanwhile, continues to circle Honoka, staff wrapped behind its back. Studying. Analyzing.
COMBATSYS: AY4M3 focuses on her next action.
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Honoka 1/-======/=======|=======\-------\1 AY4M3
Leaking hydraulic fluid. There's ways to fix that, she's sure of it -- it's a lot easier to fix something like this than to invent and build it from scratch, after all.
Worse comes to worst, she knows people who can take care of it.
And then the android halts its advance, moving its staff back to begin strafing about. Honoka rolls her neck left, then right. She draws in her breath, forces herself to calm down. The adrenaline is still coursing through her -- it won't stop for a while --but the impending threat to her -life- is taken down a few notches.
Pushing herself to the limit so close to the tournament would probably be a bad thing.
As Sudo reads off the selections to Honoka, the juggler kicks her diabolo off the floor, whirling it around to full speed. She even gets a little fancy with it, flicking the diabolo behind her back for a few revolutions. "Balanced is good for now. Tell me: what's in the other folder...?"
The juggler pirouettes about once, gauging the automaton's reaction. She pirouettes a second time in the opposite direction, asserting that it's still waiting. But by this point, she's close enough.
Honoka twirls about again, going airborne. The diabolo's path describes a high arc, but Honoka takes a much lower approach, bringing both diabolo wands crashing down in rapid succession with an aim at breaking through AY4M3's defenses and quite possibly putting a nasty dent in its upper torso unit.
COMBATSYS: Honoka successfully hits AY4M3 with Random Weapon.
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Honoka 1/=======/=======|=======\===----\1 AY4M3
It seemed that Balanced was not what AY4M3 needed, though.
Carefully striking an offensive defensive balance, the robot waits until the diablos is kicked off. As it whirls around, AY4M3 steps in. Whipping the staff around, as Honoka goes airborne. As both of the wands come crashing down, it brings the staff up... before it is interrupted by a stray Diabolo, which knocks the robot off-balanced. And with that, the battering drive comes, beating and bearing down on the Combot with further framework damage. It's shoulder guards were knocked off now; it was pretty clear that the android was barely holding itself together. Stumbling backwards, it suddenly begins to spin the staff again... and then it does something unexpected.
"Humanity does not have the power to fight them!"
The words that come out are Ayame's own, recorded from... no. Were the HitBits recording everything? "I will be their reaper-!" The Combot continues to speak, as the staff begins to spin faster and faster. Flames begin to erupt from the weapon, actual fire searing out from the whirling weapon. "So that no one else will have to!!" The disc of fire spreads, building to an apex. "I accepted this path!" THe digitized voice belts out. "It was the least I could do..."
And with that, it hurls out a ball of fire, real fire, straight for Honoka.
COMBATSYS: Honoka reflects Final Sunset from AY4M3 with Kamui Atemka.
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Honoka 1/-------/=======|===----\-------\0 AY4M3
A consummate performer, Honoka estimates the state of battle five seconds into the future, in order to place herself correctly in the present. Momentum is a huge factor for both her stylistic presentation and her combat effectiveness, especially against a competitor of such skill, strength, and speed as Ayame.
Accordingly, as soon as the kinetic energy is conveyed from her wands to the metal battleframe, Honoka is already slinging her legs out to counterbalance the momentum, recovering her poise as the metal pauldrons come flying off. Structural integrity was a small consideration in her flight, but not a huge one -- a quick twist to the side is enough to clear her from the liberated shoulderguard.
The droid stumbles backwards while Honoka lands gracefully on the balls of her left foot. Her right foot stretches out, while her left hand lashes out with its wand, returning the diabolo to its acceleration orbit.
"Specialized Operations," calls out Sudo, before he frowns distastefully. "Do you really want to know?"
The juggler's gaze remains fixed upon the automaton as it begins to spin the staff. "I won't ask again."
Sudo gulps. And states: "... Tsundere, Yandere, Dan--"
His words are interrupted by the pre-recorded speech of the Rumble in the Streets winner.
Honoka's eyes go wide -- that... was unexpected.
Honoka rocks her shoulders backwards, sending herself into a quick backflip. The diabolo appears to move in a single line backwards, however, maintaining its apparent focus even as the performer twists herself to a safer distance. A second backflip is executed, with similar grace -- even as the flames begin to lick ever closer to the performer.
Honoka's feet touch the ground again -- and this time, her knees flex. She bounces into the air, leaping twice as high this time.
The disc sails underneath her, engulfing the diabolo and string within its all-consuming flames.
And suddenly the diabolo flares with a brilliant, bright pink light. The blazing circle outshines the flames, overpowering them.
And it swirls around, mimicing the circular motion of the disc as Honoka twists about in midair, seeming to -hover- over top of the disc.
But gravity will not be defied for so long. Honoka has to come down sooner or later, and that she does -- with a rapid mid-air rotation. The disc, reined in and amplified by the whirling psychic energy, twists about abruptly as if it were made of paper.
Honoka's feet touch down a third time. And as gracefully as can be, she sends the white-hot disc -- diabolo and all -- is sent back towards AY4M3 with even more velocity than before.
"Yandere," states Honoka, her voice level and controlled despite the exertion demonstrated by her heaving ribcage. "Color me curious."
Unwilling to believe the speech that emanated from the machine, and Honoka's relative calm, Sudo starts to stammer out a response. But, one moment after Honoka's lips curl into a mild frown, he pushes the button anyway.
COMBATSYS: AY4M3 endures Honoka's Reflected Final Sunset!
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Honoka 1/-------/=======|=======\===----\1 AY4M3
And spontenously, AY4M3's clothing suffers severe damage.
There is no time to escape. As the fire comes, it advances straight back to the firedisc that was launched. Reflected back, the flames consume the miko's skirt and shirt, exposing the naked body underneath of the Combot. The clothing burns away, leaving an exposed chest of a framework of the android. And it still burns, smoldering as the fluids seems to ignite it. It burns blue, as it suddenly drops the staff. Was this it? Was this all that the Combot could muster. One of its eyes falls off, the lamp shattering on the ground. And it takes a step towards Honoka.
"How could you even..."
The digitized voices come, cut up and jagged. "...my entire life. I have put my mind to that pursuit before." The words are Ayame's, spliced and reshaped, a much lower tone before. And yet, as it burns, AY4M3 staggers towards the acrobat. "Why is that you are even participating in this. Why challenge me so?!" The claws snap at the air, reaching for Honoka like an Interpol Detective. It was getting painfully close now, you could feel the heat. "You are about to need an abundance of sugar!"
And then the tentacles come.
The mess of papers ensnare with the wires, pouring out from around the claws. Surging. Enveloping. Drawn from within, they swarm towards Honoka, as the Combot nearly collapses over the woman. AS the paper and wires ensnare tighter and tighter, it continues to speak as Ayame. "You are showing... me... your worth as a... woman. Thank you... The last thing I would do is count someone of your spirited nature out..." AY4M3 continues to burn, as its one burning red keeps transfixed. "Do not feel ashamed... Show me these skills... so that I can see what it means to be this good."
To ensnare her, to tangle her.
To trap her.
COMBATSYS: Honoka blocks AY4M3's Binding of the Condemned Soul.
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Honoka 1/-------/=======|=======\====---\1 AY4M3
Play with fire, and you're gonna get burned. Honoka, for one, plays with fire every day, constantly risking life and limb to thrill the audience and keep them glued to their seats. It's easy for her to be mocking towards the android.
It's a bit more ... disturbing to see the consequences of such a machiavellan attitude, however, as the hakama and haori begin to peel away like tatters, leaving behind garish stains of soot behind along the anodized metal surface. The thing wasn't human before, but now... it starts to resemble a zombie, burning with its brilliant blue hue.
And then, its tortured screaming. Honoka's expression is neutral, guarded -- and yet, the fear resounding from the one other human observer bristles in her periphery. Was it the creepy, tone-shifted voice? Auto-tune's bad enough, but this voice is... dreadfully discordant. Or, she wonders when she glances at Sudo, could it be that the mad Yoshiaki had actually used infrasound for that extra timbre of yandere-ness?
Honoka's glance does not last long -- she raises her wands to the staggering automaton, gritting her teeth. It's moving awfully fast despite its zombie-like gait -- as zombies tend to do.
But then AY4M3 does something zombies cannot, or would not. A mass of spindly cables rush forth. That... -does- make Honoka's mouth fall agape.
The acrobat withdraws, pulling the cord between her wands tight. The morass of cables, servos and paper collapses onto her, snapping and snaring. With Sudo starting to panic on the sidelines, Honoka nonetheless drops to one knee -- and by keeping the cord taut, she's able to keep the assemblage from getting a -full- snare around her.
It sure isn't pleasant, though, being practically buried alive, or having her arms and legs nearly bound.
The key word, though, is 'nearly.' For in the midst of the lurching mass, Honoka finds two weak points. And with pinpoint pressure, she thrusts her wands into the two opposing gaps -- and uses them as levers, in concert with steady pressure from her feet -- to pry the vicelike prison apart at the seams.
It's not much. But it is a start -- and taking advantage of the opportunity, she suddenly curls up and kicks away, leaving her wands trapped in the grip of her mechanical opponent. Her hair is a mess, her form-fitting spandex outfit is ripped in a few places, with a few ruddy scrapes here and there -- but all things considered, she's free -- if disarmed.
Honoka Kawamoto is, however, never -truly- disarmed. Her diabolos are largely just for show -- something concrete to lead the eye of the audience. Her true powers are stored within. Standing free of the assemblage of cables, Honoka brings her palm close to her, fingers spread wide. She sweeps her hand in a wide circle, once at first, then a second time.
She can't resist talking back to the android. "Then, by all means, please don't count me out! Show me what you have left!"
And then she thrusts forward sharply. A bright pink blossom of energy thrusts outwards, taking the form of a spiral. Its psychic energy is not destructive and discordant, as before, but rather a sheer concussive impact, aimed at blasting AY4M3 backwards and to the ground!
COMBATSYS: AY4M3 reflects Ishirishina from Honoka with Fantasy Seal.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ///// ]
Honoka 1/------=/=======|====---\-------\0 AY4M3
"I did not hurt you that bad."
Those were the words of AY4M3 as she leans into the acrobat, as she leverages her way out of the mass of papers and wires. The combot draws its claw back, bringing the wires back into it.... but letting the papers flower at the head of the wrist into a blossom. Pinching them, it sweeps its arms in a ying-yang pattern as Honoka readies the blast of energy. ""You should be careful what you ask for!" It responds.
And the blast comes.
This wasn't an Ayame move. This wasn't an Ayame move at all. And yet, it was so close. The papers blossom out more and more, as the blast of energy riots in. And AY4M3 speaks aloud. "Douman Seiman!" The robot chants in what is a completely different voice from Ayame. As the energy reaches the robot, the papers envelop around the spiraling energy, curling around it as the bud closes around it. For a moment, it glows like a lantern, as the android brings the other hand around to the bud, striking it.
And the papers explode, firing back the blast of energy towards Honoka.
COMBATSYS: Honoka endures AY4M3's Reflected Ishirishina.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ///// ]
Honoka 1/-----==/=======|====---\-------\0 AY4M3
Honoka actually breaks into laughter at the notion of her training automaton lecturing her. Digitally pitch-shifted sass -- using Ayame's exact words, naturally.
"C'mon, Sudo, crack a smile, this chick is hilarious!"
She's still laughing when her attack is effectively thrown right back in her face. An eyebrow raises; her laughter trails off, leaving her mouth hanging partially agape as the attack comes back at her.
Can the robot even -do- anything with psychic energy?
As Honoka's lips curl into a smirk, she begins to charge into the whirling morass of paper and flames. She isn't worried about her own energy being used against her; she might, if she were dealing with a human. But the psychic juggler's telltale signature of pink and purple energies winks out of existence, one fraction of a second before her elbow plows through the gout of flames. Burning embers are shoved aside in dramatic fashion, the fires stoked by the sudden onrush of fresh oxygen as Honoka's forward motion continues without abatement. The Ainu woman had closed her eyes and mouth to keep from breathing in the living flames and ash, but the heat from the blazing papers seem to have done the bulk of the damage.
Her objective: the diabolo wands she had left behind, trapped within the mass of cables. Locating one of her wands, Honoka grips it and pulls sharply outward, with an aim of jerking AY4M3's arm outward with its embedded cable. Her knee flies up with an aim to pry the wand away.
It would not be simple physical damage that she hopes to deal, however; she also intends to apply a fair amount of leverage as she throws herself downward sharply, hoping to pull the Combot forward into a judo throw, using her own weight and momentum against that of the much heavier automaton. "Teyaaaa!"
COMBATSYS: Honoka successfully hits AY4M3 with Armed Combo.
-+- CALCULATED HIT -+-
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ]
Honoka 1/-----==/=======|=======\-------\0 AY4M3
It was a snail crawling on a razor's edge.
As AY4M3 returns the attack, it continues its advance. As the flame and energy bursts back into Honoka, it was only seconds. And yet, the wires, still entangled with the wands, are jerked up. The Combot struggles, fights and pulls. And with the jerk, as the knees comes, it twists away...
And wrenches its arm clear off.
Arm ripped free, it only makes beeping sounds as it is flipped over, leveraged heavily as it is thrown. Landing with a crash, a leg falls off. Steadily, it fights to rise. But as the other arm falls off, it collapses into a spasming heap. Fighting, leaking fluid, its eye begins to grow brighter and brighter. "Ugh... Tch... Ugh... You.... UguuuuuuU~" The light suddenly dies down.
And then, it simply falls silent into a spasming heap.
COMBATSYS: AY4M3 takes no action.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ <
COMBATSYS: AY4M3 can no longer fight.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ <
Ripping off one's own arm is a tactic not typically employed by human beings. In fact, even in her many years dealing with the criminal elements of Japan, Honoka has -never- encountered such behavior before. The arm comes loose, and yet, the tension cables serving as the automaton's tendons and muscles give just enough resistance to allow the machine to be leveraged to the ground in accordance with her original intent.
It's not pretty.
Honoka leaves her wands for now, as one is inextricably interwoven with the mass of cables and wires. She lets go of the limp arm, letting it fall. As the android twitches and stutters, Honoka looks back upon it. At first, she seems pleased: her smirk grows with the pride of a human triumphing over a machine.
And then two key elements of reality set in. The first: the bright red skin of her face and neck feels like it's still on -fire-.
The second: she doesn't quite know how to repair the thing, personally.
The third: It still needs to be moved.
The eye fades out. The battleframe sags. And scraps of cloth flutter to the floor.
Two of the other circus stars, Reika and Mizuho, choose that moments to poke their heads into the circus tent to see what all the fuss is about. Before them, they see Sudo, with some kind of tablet in front of him that looks like it's recording. And they see a red-faced Honoka, with an undressed and vaguely humanoid shape crumpled before her in the dim light, crying out in a demeaned, defeated fashion.
Two cries ring out, carrying across the otherwise silent big top.
As Sudo turns to the two young ladies with an expression of alarm, Honoka expels a sigh, holding up a hand to the two performers.
This will take some time to explain.
COMBATSYS: Honoka takes no action.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ <
COMBATSYS: Honoka has ended the fight here.
It would take some time to explain.
In the parking lot of the Twilight Star circus, inside a white van with illegal-ass window tints, Yoshiaki sits in the back with Tomoe. Normally, one would expect that this would be all we would describe of this, but Yoshiaki happens to be fully dressed, where Tomoe is on the side which is fully dressed. Both are hovered over a -second- tablet, where they can only see the broken feed. Yoshiaki was watching the entire fight from the perspective of AY4M3, watching every blow taken and given.
Tomoe could not watch, because she is a pillow.
Yoshiaki inspects the tablet closer, and then shakes his head. Promptly, he pops out a cellphone. Adjusting his cokebottle glasses, he calls a certain number, and waits a bit. "Hey, boss?" He begins, overviewing some secondary statistics. "I just checked over the test run of the new portable scanners? Not gonna work. AY4M3 had only a 20% recording rate at best; if we used this data to fill in the gaps of H0N0K4 we'd actually backslide on her progress." Another pause. "There was one other guy standing by, but he didn't even really do anything. They swapped modes, but I saw no changes in the recording." Pause. "Look, Lee, I am just as upset about this as you are, but I told you that if we wanna record fighter information without the devices, we are gonna have to start out with the full body scanners, and then move to portables." Yoshiaki pauses a fourth time. "Oh sure, she's here. One sec." He pulls away from the phone.
"Lee says hello, smoogieboo!" He says to Tomoe.
Log created on 22:01:33 05/27/2016 by AY4M3, and last modified on 19:28:03 06/06/2016.