Description: No-Brand Heroes and Psycho Soldiers face off in the qualifying round of King of Fighters. The personalities and fighting styles keep the match fun for the fight fans, but when did this turn into a horror movie!? <Winner: Psycho Soldiers>
The participants of the Howard Arena are about to get their socks rocked. They're about to witness one of the greatest matches in fighting history! Of course a certain Himeko Kashiwagi has plotted and planned to make as memorable entrance as possible, so when the announcer first introduces 'Hurricane Hime', he's cut off by the shrill tweet of a whistle that, natually, confuses a good number of spectators.
From the speakers an old Batman-Fight style theme blare from the speakers and six teenage boys dragging confetti cannons behind them line up to make a path for the leader of the first match. Not long after the masked one known as Hurricane Hime, clad in a pink and white, seifuku-themed superhero costume dashes to the center of the arena and each cannon that she runs by fires off brightly colored paper into the air! Following the final set she drops to her knees and POWERSLIDES.
... Unfortunately, she doesn't quite slide long enough to reach the center of the arena. "... Oh. Uh.. Aheh.. Well that's GOOD ENOUGH!" she declares as she gets to her feet, dusts off her knees, then jogs over to the center. "Ladies and Gentlemen! Hurricane Hime has arrived, and my fist hungers. IT HUNGERS! Who will be the first to feed my need!" ... "TO READ!"
There is a man, Australian, that is currently cheering for Himeko loudly. There are pom-poms in his hands.
Today I took part in the King Of Fighters Tournament! There was Himeko, the leader, who so kindly allowed me to take part! I can't remember all of it, but from what I remember, Himeko did an amazing slide....
And currently, Zappa is cheering for it - he is the team spirit, after all - that's what he joined as! ... A fighter? Of course not! he's a lover, and a cheer-er. And there's this whole important thing Himeko wants to do as well. "Go Go Hime-ko! They can't stop you, they're too slow! If they holler, let them go, Hime Hime Mekka-Ko!"
Out of sight on the other side of the stage, the first contender for the Psycho Soldiers team debut watches the flashy display in silent awe. Momoko's mouth hangs open for a few seconds as a super hero power slides onto the stage amid whistles, theme music, and confetti showers.
"W-wooooah... and I didn't even bring a kazoo..."
She makes a mental note to totally bring some banging fireworks or something to their next match! Too late for regrets now though, it looks like she's being called out! Wiggling her body like a dog shaking out its fur, the tiny girl attempts to likewise shake off the last minute jitters wracking her nerves. She's no stranger to performing before a crowd but now she's part of a team! There's pressure and stuff! Swallowing those doubts, Momoko takes a deep breath and puffs up her chest!
Taking off at a dash, she plows onto the stage at full speed. She ponders how best to make her entrance, waffling between several options until the last second. For an few terrible moments it looks like she might simply barrel right into Himeko! But with a deft little snap of her foot Momoko's body leaves the ground in an acrobatic twist that carries her up and over her competitor, whiffing her by mere inches. A stream of pink-hued energy in the shape of tiny short-lived stars trails behind her feet as Momoko arcs through the air to land as easily as a cat.
"Momoko will take your challenge," she exclaims, resting one fist on her hip while pointing with the other. "I totally have the biggest collection of manga ever! It's like... soooo big! You'll never run out of things to read!"
Waiting alongside Momoko, Athena Asamiya can't help but grin at the entrance of the other team's first fighter. Clasping her hands together in front of her, she feels the nervous energy simply radiating out from her tinier teammate. "Just do your best," she encourages, "Then there will be no regrets."
An instant later, and Momoko is gone in a dash, rising to the challenge by improvising her own epic entrance. There is a moment where it is unclear exactly what she is going to do and her supportive teammate sucks in her breath, pre-cringing in anticipation. But the little dancer's dexterity and showmanship sees her through into a clean, fancy landing and Asamiya exhales with relief... until Momoko talks up how awesome her manga collection is and the Psycho Soldier covers her face with one hand and sighs softly.
"Heh heh," Hime chuckles to herself as her un-cursed hand is raised to her chin and nods in a most approving manner following the cheer. It isn't the greatest she's heard but she can feel the heart, she can feel the spirit and that's all that really matters! "Well done!" she murmurs, "My fist has been temporarily sated.. It was clearly the right decision to make him Head CheerReader-- Huh?"
Ah, that's when Momoko enters the scene. Himeko can't say she's entirely surprised, but she can't help but feel a teensie bit disappointed that Athena won't face her first. Surely her strategy is to weaken her first? Well first things first, Hime looks taken aback and even takes a single step backward in concern of a most horrible collision, only to find herself instead witnessing a rather impressive display of acrobatics and energy. SHe turns around to face her opponent, first with a stunned expression, which only remains increasingly stunned following Momoko's gushing over manga.
Her lip twitches.
Her brow twitches.
Now, thankfully Himeko has enough not to be *offended*, per se, this is just an issue of Momoko needing to be guided with a gentle hand... But in this case, the gentle hand is a whistle brought to her lips. *FWWWWWWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET*
"No!" Himeko berates as she wags her finger. "nnnnnNNO! Manga is an amusing form of story telling, but it isn't *real* reading! Fight me!" Bro!
COMBATSYS: Himeko has started a fight here.
COMBATSYS: Momoko has joined the fight here.
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Himeko 0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0 Momoko
Those who know a little about Kain Heinlein might find this an odd match for him to attend, to choose to sponsor in Howard Arena as a spectacle to promote the King of Fighters tournament-- the man's not half as famous as some of the world's current crop of champions, but when he's stepped into the ring it's with acumen and raw potential that adds to the businessman and philanthropist's enigma... and perhaps speaks to his motives. Those who know Kain a bit better would not be surprised at all. These competitors are an odd mix-- some of them might be the great fighters of tomorrow by sheer prodigious talent, some through diligence and skill, others... well, the chaos of true and spectacular characters will only harden any edge that survives the forging.
So far, Kain does not look disappointed-- though indeed, from his seat in the front row, at eye level with the epic battlefield and its unfolding competitors, it's hard to be unmoved. Waves of applause accompany various shouts of support and anticipation, and Heinlein joins them, applauding fervently as his dark eyes scan from the waiting teammates back to the two imminently facing off, the smile on his face subtly broadening as the fight fans all focus in as one; casting a tangible, intense energy across the stadium as surely as that gathering within the fighters themselves.
"So let me get this straight."
The words come from Sie Kensou, who had just endured going through the lines, just endured going to the food court, and now, was standing right here, ready to pick up the food. And right now, as the fight was starting, Kensou was MISSING OUT on being with Athena and Friends, missing out on the big opening moment. And why was he missing out?
"You don't have baozi."
Kensou raps his knuckles on the counter. He breathes in hard. He exchales hard. The dazed-looking teenager working on the other side of the counter just gives a head tilt. Kensou waits a moment, and then realizes that was a nod. He raps his knuckles again, and the clerk seems to be roused into giving a real answer. "Well we have dumplings. Like, pot stickers? That's basically the same." Kensou shuts his eyes tight, giving a shuddering inhale. "I..." He struggles, trying to form an answer. "I..." The clerk blinks his eyes twice.
"... Fine I'll go with the pot stickers, along with everything else."
Kensou returns back to the sidelines, carrying bags of food; one in each hand, on on his chest between his arms, and a bag held by the teeth. "Mmph" He grunts, motioning at Athena AND the side-lined No-Brand Heroes members. He didn't have to make a meal run for everyone here. He really didn't. But what kind of Psycho Soldier would he be if he didn't go out of his way to help everyone. He make a motion at the Aussie, grunting again. "MMmmmmph!"
They were going to help him now though, right?
Momoko's puffed up chest and energetic showmanship both deflate visibly as she's rebuked with whistle and words! She cringes at the sharp noise but the real damage is in her expression. Both of her eyes widen and get a little glossy, like a puppy who's just been kicked, body wilting like an unwatered flower.
"W-w-w-whaddya mean it's not /real/ reading?" She looks down at the ground and drags a bare foot back and forth while clasping her hands behind her back. "But I really like manga..."
Wait, that's not the issue here! Focus, Momoko!
Shaking her head wildly, the tiny dancer seems to regain her spirit and frowns harshly at the masked girl who dared to impune her fine selection of classical comic literature! "I don't have to listen to you! I'll read what I want! We're totally gonna throw down!"
She immediately drops into her fighting pose, her slender body shifting back and forth to a tune only she can hear. Her feet slide back and forth across the smooth surface of the arena floor in a subtle swaying dance step but she pauses long enough to lift one leg up and strike a martial arts pose while pointing dramatically at Himeko.
"Prepare to face the wrath of all the mangaka's spirits that you've insulted on this day!"
Skullomania has seen many tournaments happen since the World Warrior Tournament popularized the sport of fighting, and he knows about them to know this: they are getting more violent, more dangerous, and more mysterious events are happening behind the scenes. From his years traveling the world (Southtown) and attending elite universities (Osaka State University) while studying criminology (advertising), he knows something is amiss. What sort of nefarious organization would make something so violent such a spectacle, risking the health of others and influencing the dear, dear children to such depraved acts? At the very least, it encourages things like the beating he took at the hands of that older girl when he was in kindergarten, the one with the Hello Kitty t-shirt.
Skullomania's elite mind for automobile sales tells him that these products that various promoters are selling aren't the real picture. Something is happening in the factories, in the unions, in the corporations, in the circles of power behind the corporations, even within or against the peace loving governments of the world. He knows that any potential spectacle like the King of Fighters tournament has an ulterior motive. And how does he know?
Half an hour ago:
Skullomania sits in his apartment, playing Crazy Battle Bone Fighter, a video game about a world fighting tournament held to determine who is King of Wales, produced by a Japanese gaming company who Skullomania finds very clever for devising the takeover of such a realistic sounding fictional land. Imagine, a country named after a delicious treat! Then, his alarm clock on the wall goes off, a 'meow' electronic loop from his Felix the Cat clock. He puts the video game down, and nods. It's time to fight! And minutes later, he's in his Honda Civic speeding through traffic, knowing that the citizens of Southtown will be comforted by their hero rushing towards Howard Arena in his slick 'Skullmobile', dressed in his skeleton costume. Sadly, he couldn't talk Detective Shin, his ally in Southtown PD, into giving him a police siren.
"NNGGH!" Himeko finds herself taking another step back in response to Momoko's disappointement and is that.. That might very well be a bead of sweat falling down the side of her face! For just the briefest of moments the young saikyo student considers the idea of apologizing when suddenly she has a flashback. This... This sensation. Yes, she's experienced it before- It isn't the exact same, but the foundation is there, "No *way*," she mutters under her breath, even though Momoko does appear to channel that disappointement into fighting spirit. "This fighting spirit.. Could it?"
"No, I have to focus; this hill... THIS is the hill that I choose to die on!" Himeko declares in return. While she didn't exactly mean to insult mangaka, per se, the stakes have suddenly become higher! Hollowing the signal of the matches start, Himeko rushes toward her opponent, hops into the air, then throws both feet foward in a classic, yet graceful flying drop kick, "This is for your own good, Momomo! Repent!"
COMBATSYS: Himeko successfully hits Momoko with Medium Kick.
- Power hit! -
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Himeko 0/-------/-------|===----\-------\0 Momoko
Bellowing her defiance, Momoko got so caught up in the moment that she forget she's actually in a fight here. Her eyes widen in that short moment between when she realizes that Himeko is going to plow right into her and that there's nothing she can do about it. Falling back on tried and true instincts, the tiny girl lifts her arms to shield herself from the worst of the blow but catches both feet right in the chest. The impact blasts the wind right out of her and she rolls backwards on the arena floor like a tumbleweed.
"That... that proves nothing," she gaps after a few seconds of lying on her back and breathing heavily. Okay, it proves that Himeko can deliver a pretty good kick but she isn't letting her know that!
Pushing back to her feet, Momoko shakes herself out a bit then drops back into her dance-step and frowns at her opponent. "You may have struck the first blow but I won't give up so easily! Have at thee!"
Leaning forward, the little firecracker breakers into a run, both arms held out at her side like she's pretending to be an airplane or something. It's for balance, shut up! Like before, she sets herself on a head-long collision course for Himeko but instead of going up, this time she goes below. Dropping down to the ground in a controlled fall, Momoko rolls several times to close the gap and then unfurls like some kind of flopping cat. Her feet snap out towards the masked meanie's ankles and more of the shimmering psycho stars burst to life around her tootsies, giving the thrust an inordinate amount of oomph.
COMBATSYS: Himeko blocks Momoko's Phoenix Arrow.
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Himeko 0/-------/------=|====---\-------\0 Momoko
How.. Deliciously dramatic. It kind of hurts Himeko because, if she were in her opponents shoes, she would likely have delivered a powerful 'never' of her own. Alas.. Alas. Upon impact Himeko drops to the floor, kicks her legs, and ends up twirling back up to her shoulders... Then back onto her stomach. It's ok. She'll get that move one day.
After pushing herself to one knee, there is just one question to ask. "... Did you just say 'have at thee'?" And lucky for her she's in the perfect position to defend herself against her opponents tumbling attack. There's no wisecrack about the execution, but the impact does still knock her onto her duff, and she quickly shakes out her blocking arm as she cringes. "Rrgh! This technique.. I -know- it," she grumbles to herself as she fighting tape about her forearm unwravles.
With a quick step forward, Himeko throws her fist forward, and the tape explodes into a brilliant golden chi as it takes the shape of a spinning drill that she attempts to slam into her foes midsection, then take a step backward. "ORYAA! So you're a practitioner of 'Moe Moe Kyun'!! Interesting!"
COMBATSYS: Momoko fails to interrupt Irony Punchuation from Himeko with Aumada Materu EX.
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Himeko 0/-------/-----==|===----\-------\0 Momoko
Blocked! Impossibru! Athena's mighty technique cannot be stopped! Maybe she did it wrong...
No time to ponder the specifics, her opponent isn't letting up on her facist attack on quality entertainment! Rather than hop back to her feet, Momoko attempts to flow from her totally agile and graceful flop on the ground straight into a counter attack! She won't see that coming! The tiny girl's leg snaps up right as Himeko winds up for her punch, aiming to catch the masked marauder right in the chin with her heel in yet another daring display!
Except she flubs the timing completely, leaving her backside completely exposed to the drill when it comes zipping in. A shriek that could charitably be called 'blood-curling' fills the arena for a few terrible moments and Momoko goes flopping down to the mat once more both hands pressed gingerly against her smoking tush.
"Party foul! Breach of conduct! TIME OUT!"
O- Oh.. Oooh no. Himeko probably looks the most horrified of the incredibly unfortunate kancho attack, and very quickly raises her hands in surrender as if signifying it wasn't -her- that did it. Well.. Ok, she did, but it wasn't on purpose! ".. Uh.. Eh-heh.."
No one's going to call the ethics police on her or, like, smear her name on tumblr or something, is she? This isn't the kind of press a lovable mascot needs! "H- hey, come on, it isn't like that.." she protests with a weak smile. "Technically it was your fault for having such a big target."
COMBATSYS: Himeko takes no action.
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Himeko 0/-------/-----==|===----\-------\0 Momoko
Under normal circumstances, a young delicate flower such that is Momoko would take offense at the accusation of having a larger than normal backside. However, there are two things that keep her from flying into a comical if stereotypical outrage. One, she's still in too much pain to comment. And two, she's actually pretty happy to hear that someone thinks she's got a shapely bottom! Yaaaaay! ...ow.
Momoko responds by muttering something unintelligible under her breath but remains prone for several seconds while she attempts to recover the scraps of her dignity. Eventually, she manages to push back to her feet. Wincing, she takes a few ginger steps then moves back to the middle of the arena, clearly moving a little more stiffly than before.
"A-alright...uh... time in... I guess." She points at Himeko. "I mean, YOU'LL PAY, VILLAIN!"
COMBATSYS: Momoko gains composure.
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Himeko 0/-------/-----==|==-----\-------\0 Momoko
Sure, that's.. One way to look at it. For the moment though, Himeko is a little more concerned for her own reputation and can't help but be a little flustered. With Momoko back on her feet and declaring the fight back in action, a relieved sigh passes her lips, "All right. But I'm calling it now, no more time ou-"
The word rings in her mind, and her cheeks burn dark as she clenches her hands into fists, "Ok, that's it! You don't need a beating, you also need a *spanking*! And I'm going to give you both, you.. You...!!"
The saikyo student closes the distance with but a few steps as she tries to take hold of Momoko's arm, twirl around, then flip and slam her opponnet hard onto the ground, "Manipulative moeblob!"
COMBATSYS: Momoko endures Himeko's Quick Throw.
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Himeko 0/-------/-----==|====---\-------\0 Momoko
"Stop calling me fat, you... nerd!"
Momoko counters the accusation with some poignant wit. Whatever the heck a moeblob is, she sure isn't one! Probably. Right? Right! However, she is still in a fight with this weirdo so she can't just take that kind of thing lying down!
Or can she?
Devious plots begin to form in her mind, terrible terrible plots. As Himeko rushes in for the grapple, Momoko feigns a dodge and allows herself to be caught. "Augh, noooo..." Her acting is... pretty obvious but in the heat of the moment it's sufficient. She feels her arm being twisted as the veiled villainess pulls her into the familar beginning of an overhead throw. However, rather than rolling out of it she actually leaps into the move and takes control of the fall, landing with proper form on her back and diverting the worst of the impact into a roll. It still hurts pretty good though.
But more important is what she does while falling down. Twisting her midsection around at the apex of the toss, Momoko lashes out with her legs in an attempt to snag Himeko around the neck in a vice-grip turning her own aggressiveness and spite against her!
COMBATSYS: Momoko successfully hits Himeko with Iyan~.
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Himeko 0/-------/---====|=======\-------\0 Momoko
The announcers hyping the fight play-by-play for viewers at home (and those with one or more ears on their King of Fighters smartphone app) quickly shift from building up the skill and strength of the initial exchange, and then the chivalry Himeko shows her (shrieking and thankfully not personally mic'ed) opponent... to a segue on fierce rivalries, moodswings, and kids these days.
In his home, an old fellow watching in his sweat pants nods in agreement, even as he yells to his wife about the damn millennials at the damn fight not even paying any damn attention to it, buried in their phones; simply unaware it ENHANCES the experience, jeez. All sorts of stats and shifting projections are available live from the tournament's expert analysts, after all.
The audience is right there with the contestants, however-- vocally approving of the show of HONOR even as they chanted for the renewal of violence, and celebrated it when it came, excitement only building with the sudden burst of apparent antagonism. Look we're all hypocrites, don't judge.
'You nerd!' "HEY!"
Geez, does her opponent even *know* what a moeblob is?? Himeko has an inkling suspicion she doesn't. In fact, she probably doesn't even know the difference betwee- Ok tangent over. What's important here is that Himeko is unable to help herself and is about to state the definition highest voted on urbandictionary.com, "-Actually-," when Momoko isn't done just yet, "Grk!" Momoko gets her lock all right, and the momentum is more than enough to send the pink-clad teen tumbling somewhat ungracefully to the ground with a painful sounding WHUMP.
"I'll nerd *you*!" she retorts, as she rushes forward with her fist raised, looking as if she's going fora haymaker blow. But.. It's a feint! If she can time it just right, Himeko not only slips behind her foe, but locks her arms about her waist then lurches backward to perform a schoolgirl classic suplex! However she keeps hold so she can kickflip over Momoko and deliver a second for good measure, "Take! .. This!"
COMBATSYS: Momoko dodges Himeko's Rolling Journal Suplex.
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Himeko 0/-------/---====|=======\-------\0 Momoko
The amazing banter on display here has somehow managed to regress even further. Momoko kicks her feet up into the air and pops back to a standing position with incredrible ease, moving with such speed that she's upright even before her opponent can regain her senses enough to start taunting again.
The fake out punch sails harmlessly past the elusive little capoerista but instead of falling into the trap laid by her aggressive attacker, Momoko hits the deck with a swift duck, slipping right through Himeko's fingers in the most literal fashion. The swift evasive manuever forces her to shift between stances a little too quickly to land on perfect footing but nevertheless she presses her momentary advantage and lashes out with one foot, driving it back and up towards the other girl's midsection in a sharp thrust.
COMBATSYS: Himeko dodges Momoko's Snap Kick.
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Himeko 0/-------/---====|=======\-------\0 Momoko
Hmmn. Unexpected. Momoko may be craftier than she appears, and Himeko might be impressed if she weren't annoyed. On the battle side of things, she's determined that she needs to make every strike count, but on the verbal battle, Momoko's really got her on the ropes! When her foes kick comes upward, Himeko leans back Neo-style (but dodges a far less number of bullets) as she protests,
But rather than press the theoretical advantage, she takes a moment to work out Momoko's next move. No, she goes beyond that and calculates EVERYTHING. "Maybe if you spent a little more time reading Dragonball Z and more marital arts books, that would have hit!"
Hmmn. Unexpected. Momoko may be craftier than she appears, and Himeko might be impressed if she weren't annoyed. On the battle side of things, she's determined that she needs to make every strike count, but on the verbal battle, Momoko's really got her on the ropes! When her foes kick comes upward, Himeko leans back Neo-style (but dodges a far less number of bullets) as she protests,
But rather than press the theoretical advantage, she takes a moment to work out Momoko's next move. No, she goes beyond that and calculates EVERYTHING. "Maybe if you spent a little *less* time reading Dragonball Z and more marital arts books, that would have hit!"
COMBATSYS: Himeko focuses on her next action.
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Himeko 0/-------/---====|=======\-------\0 Momoko
Momoko fails to receive the satisfying thump of her foot smacking into nerd stomach which prompts her to quickly roll forward incase her opponent attempts to use that whiff to her advantage. Instead, she backs off to taunt again. Geez, it's like this chick was taught by Dan or something.
"And maybe if you were less stuck up and read more manga... we could be friends or something... I dunno..."
Momoko looks sheepish for a moment, maybe hopeful? But it's short-lived optimism. There's no time for love on the battlefield! War is hell and she's hungry! SO BRING OUT THE MENU!
"But now we'll never know!" She stands up straight and puts on her game face. "There's no turning back! Prepare yourself for righteous vengence! Hiyaah!"
Leaping forward with a quick series of spring hops, Momoko closes the distance between the two combatants in a flash and lunges into Himeko. She pirouettes on one foot like a ballerina as she closes in, thrusting her other leg out so that it swings into her opponent with all of the leverage and speed mustered by her charge!
COMBATSYS: Momoko successfully hits Himeko with Spin Kick.
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Himeko 0/-------/-======|=======\-------\1 Momoko
"Heh heh," Himeko just grins as she comes up with a flawless strategy. Absolutely flawless! But the smile faulters just a bit in response to her opponents words. At first she linefaces, but then she frowns. Which shifts entirely into an expression of pain once foot is planted with serious force that makes her blurt out, "nicehit" as she both doubles over as well as stumble back.
She manages to regain her footing and reaches behind her to tear several sheets of paper from her trusty Trapper Keeper. "Hello!! I'm not 'stuck up', ok!" The sheets are tossed up into the air before she rushes forward and hops unleash a jump-kick upon her foe. As for the papers, they're consumed by chi and dart toward Momoko as well, attacking her from the sides like heat seeking sheets of destruction. "*You're* just stubborn!!"
COMBATSYS: Momoko blocks Himeko's Follow the Reader.
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Himeko 0/-------/-======|=======\==-----\1 Momoko
Momoko peers at the sheets of paper like an owl that just spotted a singing bear, her expression clearly bewildered as she tries to puzzle out what the heck is going on. Seriously, what is she doing? Is this supposed to be a distraction? Some kind of in-joke. Maybe a...wh-ho-ho, that paper is on freakin fire!
Unable to react to this weirdness with anything clever or fancy, she simply curls up into a defensive ball, lifting her leg up and wrapping her arms around her body for protection. The kick lands solidly against her Fortress of Protection, slamming heavily into the upraised leg-shield. The blow knocks Momoko completely off her feet and she flails wildly as she falls onto her back, turning the flop into a controlled roll at the last second and bringing her arms up to ward off the chi-papers. The darts slam into her exposed skin with sharp pops of energy and she recoils from the blasts with a high-pitched yelp.
"Ow ow ow! Jerk! I am /not/ stubborn! You just don't know good art!"
Shaking out the sting still lingering in her arms, Momoko steps forward to unleash her own rebuttal in the form of another kick! Except this time, she gets fancy. Thrusting her foot out in a high jab at Himeko's arm, the dance-fighter intentionally angles the strike so as to glance off her shoulder. While it might look like a near miss, the real intention becomes apparent when she snaps her heel back in, attempting to hook Himeko's body and send her tumbling to the floor like a chump!
COMBATSYS: Himeko endures Momoko's Kick Combo.
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Himeko 1/-------/=======|=======\====---\1 Momoko
"Sigh.." Himeko's brows furrow as she keeps her focus upon Momoko. Not frustrated with her defense, no, that's actually pretty impressive! She's more annoyed by Momoko not understanding that the saikyo student is right! "Ugh, that isn't even the point!" she protests, and wouldn't you know it, Momoko's kick connects! However it seems it was anticipated as she just so happened to be leaning into the same direction!
So with a sideward tumble (as well as with another wince), "You just activated my country feet!!"
Suddenly her body glows with her own fighting spirit, and Himeko seeks to land a forward punch right toward Momoko's belly! This is followed by a flurry of kicks, knees and other strikes, finalized by a big wind up, fighting tape once more aglow with energy before a big uppercut, "ORYAAA!"
COMBATSYS: Himeko successfully hits Momoko with Hisshou! Shin Sho Hou.
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Himeko 0/-------/------=|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 Momoko
Momoko takes a step back attempting to put distance between herself and Himeko but the manuever isn't quick enough to avoid those walkin' boots. Himeko's punch lands squarely in the small girl's exposed tummy and she doubles over, eyes going widen as the wind is knocked out of her.
What follows is an unhealthy dose of Whoopass(tm) which is something that Momoko has been strictly trying to avoid in her diet! It seems that Himeko brought a few spare cans and she's intent on sharing. The flurry of blows bounces the capoerista around like some jobber in an MMA tournament until the final blow slams into her chin and sends the girl sailing through the air like a cannonball that comes crashing down on the far side of the arena.
For several long seconds, Momoko doesn't move, her body still, her senses absent. It looks as if Himeko may have delivered a straight knock-out beating all in one go. Could this be the end of the first round? Will the book nerd claim victory over our intrepid heroine? Stay tuned, next time on-
Unleashing a gargling cough, Momoko interrupts any lines of thought that may have come to an early conclusion that she was down for the count. Battered, yes. Bruised, sweet Athena, the bruises. But broken? Not yet. Not... yet!
With every inch of her body aching, Momoko slowly pushes to her feet. The effort of rising takes all of the strength she can muster and she wobbles a few times before finally getting upright. Turning to face Himeko once more, she narrows a single eye at the girl, the other already swollen closed by a rapidly expanding black splotch of a shiner. She stands there, slightly hunched over from the pain, and gives her opponent a fierce grin.
"Y...You want to know... what I learned from reading... manga...?" She says, her voice soft at first but slowly growing in confidence and strength. "...let me show you."
Taking a deep breath, Momoko draws her arms in towards her side and suddenly stands up completely straight. Her head is thrown back, mouth falling open into a ferocious battle cry that lingers far too long. Brilliant pink light flares up in a shimmering aura around her body, a halo of energy so radiant and pure that waves of psychic pressure press against everyone present in a palpable torrent of raw emotion. Bursts of shimmering stars erupt from the envelope of power shooting off into the air to explode in spectacular fashion that turns the air around her into a kaleidescope of light and sound.
After several seconds of this, the psychic warrior slowly lowers her head back down to glare at Himeko with the most try-hard badass expression possible, eyes narrowed into a stern glower that practically radiates contempt. She turns slightly to the side, purposefully bringing her palms together into a cup-shape at her hips as she sucks in a breath and begins to forcefully call out strange but somehow familiar sounds.
A sphere of intense pink energy winks into existence within her enclosed palms. Though no bigger than a marble upon its birth, the ball begins to swell and grow with each new syllable that Momoko yells, streams of eye-searing light shooting out in thin rays from between the cracks in her fingers as if she can only barely contain the power held within.
The scintillating ball of light swells yet again, now much larger than her hands. It pulsates in a steady rythmic beat that quickly intensifies with the escalating pressure of the presence that Momoko projects upon the arena. The light itself becomes so intense that gazing directly upon it is nearly impossible, it's shimmering pink hue only vaguely visible at the outer edges of a white-hot molten core.
Momoko pauses for an instant, the corner of her lip turning up into a faint knowing smirk, and then with a final sharp inhalation, she belts out the last of the famous word of power and thrusts her hands forward in unison.
The radiant sphere of pyschic energy that had been building up into a rather disturbing crescendo finally reaches its peak and with the forward motion of the girl's hands it is unleashed upon the offending fool who dared to question its power! A beam of raw and terrible energy explodes across the arena in the blink of an eye becoming a lance of pure seething mental outrage. It carries with it the core of her being, all of the emotions that make the entity that is Momoko - her love, her anger, and all of her sorrow! A weapon against which there is little defense.
"All -right-!" Hime cries, her wild uppercut followed by a wink and a thumbs up. With things, naturally, turning up Himeko, she can't help but feel good and strike a pose! However... Things suddenly, and rather abruptly, get real. She thought this match was over, really, so when Momoko doesn't fall over, and instead decides to start powering up something fierce, Himeko finds herself stunned. Is this... Is this *happening* right now??
Of course Himeko knows the reference but she would have never imagined that it would actually be.. You know.. A -thing-. But more imporantly things are about to come FULL CIRCLE. "... What in the world??!" It's... It's the pinkest attack she's ever seen in her life! "ZAPPA!" cries, her narrowed eyes locked upon her opponent, "What... What does the scouter say about her power level??"
Zappa's mouth hangs open! He has been cheering for Himeko for /so long/ and /so hard/ and it seems to have been making ALL the difference! Look at it! How brilliantly she shines in her glory! Yet it is not quite to be, for Momoko begins to EXPLODE in bright lights, ALL over! It's honestly too much! Too too much! Which means it is exactly so much! So much power! Spheres of bright energy fill, as well as more energy. Why, there's just so much energy! Zappa's mouth hitches, beginning to drop, his jaw nearly hitting the floor as he watches! Why, it is incredibly ... incredible!
It is when Himeko asks that Zappa finally responds.
"It's... IT'S OVER 9000!" He declares, eyes nearly bugging out of his head as he clasps his hand around the pom-poms, his drink that he has in the hand crushing it and exploding it all over him!
COMBATSYS: Himeko just-defends Momoko's Esper~!!
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Himeko 0/-------/------=|>>>>---\-------\0 Momoko
"WHA- pp-- PPPHHT!!"
Himeko can't do it.. She just can't. She's rehearsed the line at least seventeen times and each time she could never finish her line without bursting out with laughter. Now, it helps that there's a massive beam of death energy headed her way, but her cheeks still puff out and her eyes start to water. 'Why am I cursed to be so HILARIOUS?? I'm going to blow it.. I'M GONNA BLOW IT!!' she thinks to herself, just moments before she's lost within the beam of power, likely reduced to a mere skeleton.
Or so one might think
One the brightness of Momoko's Esper~ calms, and the wave eventually dissipates, the Saikyo Student can be seen crouching and trembling behind a half-dome of of smoking and horribly singed paper, her hands over her head. "*ppfffft* *snnnntk*" Alas... She blew it. But the fight must go on! Desperate to keep her composure and lip consistantly twitching, Himeko stands and hoists her impromptu paper ma-chi and, with a grunt, lobs it right at her opponent! "HYAAH!"
COMBATSYS: Himeko successfully hits Momoko with Large Thrown Object.
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Himeko 0/-------/-----==|>>>>>>>\-------\0 Momoko
Momoko stands dramatically posed, her hands still outstretched before her as the vast psychic energy wave evacuates in a single focused blast. Though those watching may have expected vast devastation in the wake of the terrible beam, the arena is completely untouched, its vaunted battlefield unscarred by the tremendous assault unleashed. Such was not the purpose of the attack that she had crafted for that sort of damage would have required the state of mind which would allow her to cause such pain and suffering. Even with its focus limited to only living targets, her foe would have not experienced the sort of agony that the grandoise build-up and flashy lights indicated. It was a sham, a piece of showmanship meant to overwhelm her senses and simply knock her out. But it would seem that Momoko's reservations will prove her undoing here.
The girl doesn't move for several seconds, her shoulders heaving as she breathes heavily from the exertion of unleashing such potent psychic energies. Psycho Soldier she may be but that sort of display takes a whole lot more power than she can put out on a normal basis. Already battered and weary, she is simply too exhausted to do much but take it on the chin when the massive ball of chi-infused paper comes flying her way.
Momoko hits the ground hard not even managing to turn it into a controlled fall this time. She just kind of falls over and flops onto her back, wincing and wheezing. Atleast she put up a good fight, right? Gave a good show? Aww, who's she kidding, she got totally trounced. There's no way Athena's gonna be proud of that poor display. But... but she might have a chance for one last shot.
Closing her eyes, Momoko focuses her energy, drawing on the raw psychic potential of the massive crowd. Their excitement and passion is a fuel source for her and she siphons it away in tiny bits from each and every person until she has what she needs. Pushing herself up into a sitting position with one hand, she peers across the arena at Himeko, still trying to compose herself after that ridiculous display. Not that Momoko can blame her. It was pretty funny if you think about it.
"But... I'm still... not done... yet..."
She grins and extends her hand towards the distant girl. The pinkish light returns to engulf her palm though not nearly as flashily or brightly as before. Just a subtle pink glow that swirls around and around in a lazy whirlpool. Gathering her will, Momoko extends that power towards her opponent, a shifting and twisting eddy of invisible energy that, should it take hold and prove strong enough, will simply teleport her straight up into the air several dozen feet. Then gravity can do the rest.
"Bippity, bopitty... boop!"
COMBATSYS: Momoko can no longer fight.
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COMBATSYS: Himeko blocks Momoko's Ohashi Samaninacchae.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\ <
"... Um." Momoko's tenacity is enough to get Himeko to stop laughing. In fact, she's starting to look a little worried right now. As far as she had planned out, there shouldn't be a little bit of energy left inside of Momoko! So now she's stuck with quite the difficult problem with her own energy reserves. If she could somehow evade the next attack.. Or maybe she shouldn't risk it, especially since the little ones energy attack is crazier than even she's used to. One moment she's on the ground and resisting... *something*.. The next she isn't. In fact she's in the air.
"W- WAAH!" However she still has plenty of paper to work with! SHe throws a whole punch of the gently glowing paper below her that, for a moment, takes shape of a very shoddily designed slide. She only gets down halfway before it utterly collapses and hits the floor, buried.
"... I'm ok!"
Himeko, for the record, says this as she sits up and gets to her feet.
COMBATSYS: Himeko awaits the next challenger.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ <
COMBATSYS: Athena has joined the fight here.
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Himeko 0/-------/---====|=------\-------\0 Athena
Truth be told, it is hard to watch from the sidelines as the fight plays out. Not at all related to Momoko's performance, however the talented young fighter might feel about it... it's simply that she isn't out there, fighting alongside her teammate, being there to support her when she falls, or intercede on her behalf when a painful looking attack comes her way. To share in her successes or give her strength to weather her failures, that is where Athena wishes she could be if the fight logistics allowed for it.
Instead, she's forced to wait on the sidelines, accompanied by two fellow Psycho Soldiers and friends, wincing, cheering, cringing, and holding her breath throughout the fight. The teen fighter grins as Momoko demonstrates her own take on the Phoenix Arrow, she laughs softly into her hand at the banter between the two on the stage, and she gasps in alarm when the agile fighter cries out in pain. Asamiya rests her hand behind her head and looks at Kensou sheepishly as the fight seems to escalate into a bit of a confusing yelling match with wit being sacrificed on the altar of hurt feelings. She watches silently as her partner unleashes what appears to be a huge attack, realizing that she poured too much into it to react to Himeko's counter attack.
The fight is over. The youngest Psycho Soldier has given it her all but that's as far as she's going this round. On the sidelines, a glance is given Haru - the desire to have an excuse to get into the ring is plainly visible on Athena's face but he is their team captain and his decision in the heat of the moment will be respected.
He makes the call and in an instant she is gone.
Momoko might be wake enough to feel the arms wrap around her as a swirl of vibrant, pink energy sparkles to life in the shape of a vortex in space adjacent to defeated fighter before the next fighter seems to step out onto the stone platform. Hefting Momoko easily, she is gone an instant later, consumed by another explosion of vibrant pink energy.
Off to the side, along with the other two Psycho Soldiers, Athena carefully places Momoko down, "You did good out there. I know you can do even better in the future. Now it's my turn to do my best... Thank you for leading the way, Momoko." Entrusting the care of their teammate to her allies, Athena is gone once more an instant later, this third teleport resulting in her shimmering form solidifying a half second later standing a few meters in front of Himeko.
For the event, she has chosen a white, short sleeved blouse with a red collar and tie. A matching red skirt meets thigh-high black stockings with red boots on her feet. A red hair ribbon keeps her long, violet hair out of her face and behind her ears for the most part. Clasping her hands together, Athena bows quickly then spins on one foot, right hand raised in a fist which she pumps once. The energy of the massive arena crowd is almost overwhelming. If it wasn't for her training in blocking so much of the outside influences out, it could too distracting.
Instead, she manages to let just enough through her psychic walls to empower her and in doing so, echoes the energy outward. "Hurricane Hime!" Athena exclaims before inhaling deeply, closing her eyes as she stands up straight, arms at her sides. Tapping into her inner potential requires only an instant. Violet eyes flash open, her mouth in a broad, energetic smile, "It is an honor to face you!" She stomps her right foot forward, getting into a ready stance, and an invisible pulse radiates out from the girl - a force unseen to the eye but no doubt felt to those sensitive to such things all the same. The aura around Asamiya is positively crackling with invisible capacity.
"Let's do this!"
It is with a run and leap that she takes to the air - Himeko saw Momoko's version of the attack, but can she handle the original!?
Athena flips forward into tight ball, her body shrouded in rippling Psycho Power as she dives for Hurricane Hime. "Arrow!" If she connects, she'll slide into a follow up kick, sweeping both legs out with remarkable force in a bid to potentially send the young hero flying!
COMBATSYS: Himeko fails to interrupt Phoenix Arrow from Athena with Koryuken.
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Himeko 1/-------/=======|====---\-------\0 Athena
While Himeko doesn't see a lot of her own, there is certainly something to be appreciated when it comes to comradere. It's different, the kind that she's witnessing, and its at that moment that Himeko sees the difference between the Psycho Soldier team and her own.
On the other hand, it isn't really as entertaining as her team, in her not-so-humble opinion. They're a collection of high spirits, cool gimmicks, and solid fighting styles. Everything else is just fluff! ... Uh. Right? 'Hurricane Hime!' Athena declares.
"PRESENT!" Himeko responds, and finds herself a bit surprised to be greeted with such respect! So flattering, in fact, she ends up rubbing the back of her head as she gains more meaning from it than probably intended. "Ah ha ha.. I'm honored to have such a high profile fan..."
Then the match begins! The moment Athena takes the skies, Hurricane Hime knows what she must do. "But don't expect me to go easy on you!! KOOOOOOO-" The most incredible counter-attack in history.... Was not going to happen at that exact moment. Perhaps her timing was off, but the next thing she knows she's hit the ground and is abruptly assaulted with pure, undistilled PAIN, "AUUUUUURGH!" she cries following the kick that, indeed, sends her flying back a good bit and, luckily, manages to somehow and someway not crash against one of her own cannons but instead barely get to her feet and slide juuuuust close enough to barely touch. "..... N- Not bad.." she hisses as she stands once more, right hand favoring her left side. "You've got moxxy! But my fist isn't satiated just yet!"
The energy shrouding her form has dissipated by the time the Psycho Soldier slides to a stop, her feet once again beneath her. Pushing herself up to standing, she hesitates to apply additional pressure for a moment. In order to gain ground for her team, she will need to come out ahead in trading attacks with the bold pink-clad fighter she faces now, but she isn't about to kick the other girl while she's down to get there either. It's hard to hold still, however, her own energy resonating with the enthusiasm of the crowd, and after a moment, she's rushing forward at an angle that brings her closer to her opponent without charging directly into her.
There is no denying the potency of Asamiya's attacks. When she first started public fighting, her rise through the ranks was remarkable - mostly, fans observed, due to how powerful those visible energy attacks appeared to be. Her martial arts weren't shabby either, even if they didn't seem to pack the punch of many of her peers.
"Thanks!" she exclaims at Himeko's declaration. "You've done well, yourself. Momoko-chan is quite a capable fighter in her own right." She slides to a stop, coming to rest facing Himeko from the right, arms raised, bent at the elbows, right hand clenched. "But I guess I should expect as much from a super hero of reading." she grins, her hair and skirt swaying with her swift movements.
"I'm glad you can keep fighting. Both our teams deserve everything we've got. Here I come!"
She launches back into attacking then, closing distance in what seems like an instant. She keeps her Kung Fu simple but effective, leading in with a left elbow, her forward momentum giving it strength as she tries to drive it into Himeko's sternum. She would continue with the speed into a right hook to finish it off!
COMBATSYS: Himeko just-defends Athena's Fierce Punch!
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Himeko 1/-------/=======|====---\-------\0 Athena
Gotta get back into the game! Himeko slaps her cheeks, shakes it off, and has one hand raised a bit higher than the other to slip back into her stance. It's time to step up her game, and she doesn't have a whole lot of time to do it! She has to admit though that she's a teensie bit surprised that Athena isn't all up in her face again- If the heroine had the ability to teleport she'd surely be doing that all the time! Maybe.. Just maybe Athena didn't want to be anywhere near the cannon. ".. Heh." Smart move.
A very smart move indeed.
"She is pretty talented, but you know;" in Athena comes, and it's fast.. It's.. Really fast! Himeko doesn't even realize that her own body has gone into autopilot, snatches a good several bunches of index cards from her holder, then creates a rainbow-like arc the the idol's fist ends up slamming into instead of her intented target! Mind, it only holds up for so long, but once the 'wall' crumbles, Himeko's already shifted off to the side with a grin. Holy crap! She didn't know she had it in her! "Ho -hoh-! Like a bullfighter, I move with the greatest of ease!"
Now that she finds herself in a more favorable positon, Hime seeks to take advantage reaching behind herself and then producing a somewhat larger than average paper fan. You know, like the ones in the comedy routines! However once she swings in an upward motion toward Athena's chin, twirls, then thrusts it into her gut, her foe would come to find that it's far more solid than it appears. "But as I was *saying*; as her responsible *adult*, maybe you should broaden her reading materials!"
COMBATSYS: Athena instinctively blocks Himeko's Paper View.
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Himeko 1/-------/=======|=====--\-------\0 Athena
"Huh?" It isn't the most eloquent expression of surprise as her fist smacks dead on into the multi-colored arc of cards. She isn't sure Master Gentsai will let her live down having her Kung Fu punch stopped short by slips of paper, but there will be time for dealing with those repercussions after the fight! The cards fall away and the energetic fighter is already reacting, preparing to defend herself from a potential counter attack.
After getting her punch stopped by paper, she knows better than to underestimate the fan that is produced a moment later. Let's just give it the benefit of the doubt that it is a legitimate weapon, all appearances to the contrary! Her left arm lifts, colliding with the swing before it manages to deliver a staggering blow to her chin and when the second swing comes, she's already skipped back out of range.
"Mn," she considers at the earnestly offered advice. "I don't have any time for reading outside of my Justice High course work... just how do you do it, Hurricane Hime?" Another skip back is taken, the girl landing on a spin on her right foot, her arms snapping back behind her as she pirouettes. By the time she comes out of the swift, graceful motion, she's swinging her arms forward, each limb infused with a burst of that potent energy of hers.
Given her past performances, it comes as no surprise that there are many fans in attendance that know Asamiya's style of fighting quite well. It might be a surprise for some then when an audible portion of the audience announces Athena's next technique right along with her. It comes hurtling toward the Paper Shaper at incredible speed, a large, churning sphere of directed psychic assault.
COMBATSYS: Athena successfully hits Himeko with Psycho Ball.
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Himeko 1/---====/=======|=======\-------\1 Athena
Dammit. Dammit dammit DAMMIT! DAMMIIIIIIIIIIIT!!
"Shoot!" Himeko briefly berates herself when she realizes she could have busted out with an incredibly stereotypical kung-fu master quote when she blocked that attack. Auugh. That just goes to show that she still has a long way to go before she's a taunting master. Oh, but Athena deftly defending against her fan attack is a bit disappointing as well. On the bright side, she didn't have a quip ready either.
Come to think of it, it's been a while since she's had to fight this intensely. Athena may very well have pushed her to her limit even if she were her first opponent. And yet if that weren't surprising enough, she finds herself taken aback. Athena? Looking to *her* for advice on keeping up on extra reading? "Ah ha ha! Well! You've asked the right person!" she very proudly replies, "You see-" And suddenly everone calls her a psycho ball! "... WHAT! How dare you!"
Comedic timing. She's still got it! But what's less funny are her options. She's still not quite at the level of training to throw her own potent fireballs just yet, so there's an incredible temptation to slam her fist against it- She instead opts to try to take it head on, but it's just.. Too great! The energy breaks her guard and sends her onto the ground then sliding along her back until she skids to a halt.
So... Draining. Somehow she finds the strength to get to her feet. She's got enough in her for one more attack she thinks, and she's got to make it count, "I'm just kidding, of course! I'll tell you right after these words! Oooooraoraoraoraoraorararara!!" then she bursts forward in an attempt to land the same flurry of blows she unleashed upon Momoko. Knees, kicks and fists, finished off with a winding uppercut assisted with a small burst of chi. Hit or miss, she twirls in place three or four times before she falls face down to the ground.
"Actually, I- I'll get.. Back to you on that.."
COMBATSYS: Himeko can no longer fight.
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COMBATSYS: Athena dodges Himeko's Hisshou! Shin Sho Hou.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ <
The attack executed, Athena Asamiya slides to a stop once again to wait to see whether her stalwart opponent has more fight left in her. The exchanges have been lightning fast from the moment the second Psycho Soldier combatant teleported into the ring. The energy radiating out from the violet-haired fighter is palpable as she takes in not only the power of the crowd, but also the radiant energy of her creative and resolute challenger.
"I could feel how serious reading is to you from the beginning," she observes as Himeko forces herself to her feet to dish out one last attack. "I find myself inspired to set aside more time for it." She lifts her gloved right hand, pumping her fist once in determination, "Whatever it takes!"
In an instant, she is set upon by the pink heroine and Athena is forced to weave, lean, duck, and slip around a relentless assault. Behind each strike is a determination that cannot be discounted. Even after all she's been through, facing off against two fighters, the the hero of readers around the world still has fight left to go.
When the chi-laced uppercut comes, Asamiya is finally forced to retreat, her arms swinging out to her sides, her form flickering as she vanishes backward, sliding to a stop a couple meters beyond the reach of that defiant last strike.
Himeko falls to the cold stone of the Howard Arena stage and Asamiya finally pauses. She waits for several seconds to be sure before finally exhaling, bowing her head and closing her eyes, allowing her focus to pull back from the champion of bookworms. When her violet eyes open again, she is smiling, folding her hands over her lap as she bows forward, "Thank you, Hurricane Hime, your passion for the written word is an example we can all stand to learn from."
Standing up straight, the Psycho Soldier clasps her hands behind her back, taking in a deep breath then a slow exhale. Her expression is glowing, her enthusiasm for the event plain to see. Not only has she had the chance to meet someone interesting, she's here fighting with her friends as a team - something the four of them had never done before. Even at rest, there is an aura of boundless energy as she turns slowly to sweep her eyes over the gathered audience, the dedicated fight fans that make experiences like this a possibility.
COMBATSYS: Athena awaits the next challenger.
Covered entirely in soda still, drip-drying, the clothing that Zappa has on is being combination towled off with undersized napkins as well as with awe for Himeko! How Himeko dashes forwards to assault Athena, oh BEAUTIFUL Athena! Why, of course he had a cd of her! Many, actually. All kinds, to note. Of many languages. A poster too. Why, Athena is just .. a dream girl!
"H-Himeko, you must forgive me, I have to cheer for Athena!"
Such traitorous actions! Yet it does not matter long after, as Himeko is called a ... psycho ball? With Himeko attempting to stop the psycho ball, Zappa's mouth once more again begins to drop - especially as Himeko finally spins in place and then falls face on the ground. Such power. S-Such strength! "H-Himeko down just l... like that!?"
If she was taken out like a gnat on a windowsill that was ALSO electrified, Zappa shakes his head. "Lovely Athena, s-so close... and s-so strong...!" His knees shudder, weak, as he looks over to Skullomania. "I... I can't go out there! I.. I don't know what to say, I d-don't know what to do!" He declares, hands grasping at his hair, "I ... I just can't face her! She's so strong, I won't stand a chance... but if I even harmed a single hair on her head, I'd never forgive myself....!"
"I .. I feel so faint...!"
Zappa's world is swimming, pom-poms hanging on dearly, as does the rest of his incredibly odd clothing. All of it charms - good luck, love charms, and even anti-bad luck charms!
Skullomania watches silently as Athena dispatches Himeko with efficient grace. She is strong in the ways of the Magnets, and clearly knows how they work. As for those rapping gangsters that the neighbors listen to, they will only ponder what magnets do, as Skullomania sits awake at night, hearing their vile lyrics and haunting him with dreams of psychopathic clowns.
As Zappa faints, Skullomania catches him in his arms. "Zappa, no! You must fight! Hurricane selected this as your battle, your fight! You cannot run from your fears, Zappa, you must accept them!" He has heard this one is possessed by a spirit. That means Skullomania must use his special plan, which he concocted last night from reading Tales from the Crypt after taking it out of the library in front of a very displeased librarian. In his civilian identity, of course, nobody must suspect that Skullomania and the used car salesman are the same man! He sits Zappa down, and reaches into his belt, pulling out a rattle.
"Hashahashahasha!" Skullomania intones, shaking the rattle in Zappa's face. "I summon the devil's from the deepest, darkest reaches of your soul, to come out and fight! Come to me, dark demons, and battle the forces of light! HASHAHSAHAHSHA!" He shakes the rattle louder, and begins to dance around Zappa on the stands, his hyperdextrous flexibility enabling him to jump up and down the stands around Zappa, making quite the spectacle. But Skullomania knows, in his heart, that plunging Zappa into darkness is their only hope of winning this match. For Skullomania scares the villainous. And a ghost? They scare the purehearted. Skullomania knows this is a darkness on his soul that he can never remove, but even the greatest heroes had hard times, drinking and drugging at Ivy League schools on their rich, politically connected family's backs, or using the Arkansas state police to recruit women for them, or even being seduced by Rita Repulsa into fighting his friends. "Come on, Zappa!" He slaps Zappa across the face with the rattle.
"Let me see your war face!"
"I can't...." Zappa is /almost/ fainting, and caught, Skullomania's mask and outfit swimming in his vision as it spirals out slowly into darkness. "I ... I can't fight her she... I ... Athena is the best...!" He declares. What chance did they have?! What chance did HE have?! It is not long after that that Zappa is out of it, head hanging back and body limp in Skullomania's strong grasp. A weakling, worthless as he was, hangs in the midst of Skullomania's grip even as he tells him to fight. Already, Zappa had given up!
The chanting does nothing, in reality. Unbeknownst to Skullo, something stares at him from behind the skin, burning eyes that are almost indetectable. Summoning the devil from the deepest darkest reaches? It is not even Skullo's words, or decisions, that would cause it. It was, however, trapping him in a no-win scenario. One where he will undoubtably will succumb.
Succumb he does. Being thrown about with Skullo, flexible as Skullomania is, there is a slap - a slap that echoes across the arena as loud as a thundercrack, with Zappa's face twisting a full 180 degrees. Skullomania has killed a man.
Diary, I was to fight, or at least meet, Athena! I could not imagine such a greater moment! How nervous I was, the man tried to give me a heart to heart exchange, but I wasn't having any of it. Athena... oh perfect Athena, a pure angel among those who have sullied themselves for fame! I would never forget our meeting! ... But I lament, dear diary, that I did. I remember none of it.
The head turns another 180 degrees, neck twisted entirely around as Zappa's eyes roll back and head swells up sizably. His feet disappear, so do his legs. Infact, it is just a tongue and Zappa is now /all face/. It screams, a scream that can only be had without the bottom half of it's jaw. Only then does it move, throwing itself towards the stage in a lunge towards Howard Arena's main stage, crashing down and bouncing, reforming into a more human shape, body not even facing Athena, twisted and bent backwards so that empty, white eyes stare upside down towards the idol.
"Athennnaaaaaaaaaaa Atheeennnaaaaaaaa ATHENAAAAA ATHENATHENATHENATHENAATHENAATHENAATHENAATHENAAAAAAAA!" It gibbers.
And then /literately/ throws itself at Athena without any other notable warnings, body seemingly tossed haphazardly - because it was. S-ko chucking her and the form of Zappa towards Athena, arms stretched out as he spirals.
COMBATSYS: Zappa has joined the fight here.
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Athena 1/---====/=======|-------\-------\0 Zappa
Skullomania slowly edges towards the exit, his back to the wall, staring straight forward. The things he does for justice.
COMBATSYS: Zappa successfully hits Athena with Aggressive Strike.
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Athena 1/-======/=======|-------\-------\0 Zappa
Athena waits on the stage as, ah, deliberations take place about what is supposed to happen next. The fallen Hurricane Hime is helped back to the sidelines by helpful staff and Asamiya is left wondering what is happening as seconds start ticking by. Not one to leave the crowd disenfranchised, the natural performer begins to pass the time by paying more attention to them for a moment. As if singling out individuals in the massive stadium seating, the young fighter rotates through polite bows, snappy solutes, cheerful victory signs, and even heart-hands gestures to no one in particular. Light in her step and quick to shower affection on different angles of the crowd, the show boating is completely out of hand. She already knows Master Gentsai will have something to say about this later, but that's a problem for Future Athena to worry about. Current Athena is enjoying the reciprocal generation of emotional enthusiasm and momentum between her and closest tens of thousands friends.
The sheer volume of sensational input might be why she is blind to the mental conflict taking place on the sidelines. That is until it becomes impossible to miss. It isn't the mundane sound of the slap that pulls her way from her improvised performance, but a dark chill, a horrific and inexplicable force that crashes against her psychic walls. Pausing, Asamiya turns toward the other team just as an inhuman scream blasts out over the arena, silencing all other sounds.
Something leaps onto the stage - given its posture and method of movement, it doesn't even immediately register as being human. Athena recoils, drawing back as she takes in the gruesome sight of the twisted form. As she's been trained to do, she attempts to concentrate her awareness on the individual she's facing, forming a subtle, psychic link, a tendril of thought that gives her insight into their intent and fuels her own bursts of potential.
A process she immediately regrets. No amount of bracing prepares her for the bewildering explosion of personas and psyche's she finds herself confronted with. While the Psycho Soldier raises her arms to defend herself, her movements are halting, lacking the grace and control of her bought with Himeko. "N-no, what is-"
The spinning assault collides with her cleanly, sending Asamiya staggering to the left, struck not simply by the physical limb of her supposed opponent but also by the essence that drives him. The effect is immediate and apparent - the mood of the aura radiating out from around the girl flipping like a switch. Sucking in her breath, she tries to shake off the confusing residue of an unnatural presence.
Show Time is over. Catching herself from her stagger, Athena whirls back on her opponent, both arms already wreathed in gathered psychic energy. Drawing them up behind her head, she leaps forward, intending to close distance and face Zappa directly head on. By the time she lands at near point blank range, the amount of energy she's built up over her head has grown to be larger than its creator. "AaaaaAAAAH!"
Swinging down with both arms, she tries to bring the crashing, crushing sphere of hyper compressed Psycho Power directly over Zappa, potentially encasing his entire form within it and hiding him from view from anyone for an instant. Asamiya would sustain the attack as long as possible - the reflex action born more of a panicked reaction than tactical execution of techniques. She really wants whatever just touched her to /go away/!
COMBATSYS: Zappa blocks Athena's Round Psycho Reflector.
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Athena 1/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=------\-------\0 Zappa
The mass and emnity of Zappa crashes against Athena as she staggers to the left, and the man meanwhile crashes to the /floor/. he hits hard, body splaying entirely out as if he was struck by a hammer and laid out. It's not entirely incorrect, though Athena would soon learn that such things are ultimately normal for Zappa - not to say that makes them any less horrifying. He just goes through these motions through the fights, is all! ... None of them, of course, his choice.
As Athena whirls back, Zappa rises in a most unearthly way, body bending so strangely that he must not have a spine. There is a snap. Oh, no, he has - had a spine. It sticks out until his body pulls and reforms up along it, once more staring at her in the way he had before. The swarm of energy over her head sweeps forwards, towards Zappa. The man's eyes, blank, stare at her in a limited display of fear. That is to say, not once does he seem to /do/ anything in response.
Not even as the crashing and crushing sphere of the psycho power strikes him and swallowing him whole. The impact comes down towards Zappa, a pure blob of energy that crashes against him and flattens him, the mass of Zappa bending to the force, apparently breaking as he is forced against the ground. Parts of him start to spread out from the force, as if it was ripping him apart - as if Athena was tearing apart a poorly stiched together doll.
Until it comes - a dominant force in the mass that is Zappa.
There's a sudden push-back of psychic energy, tainted as Athena had already figured out. Whatever it is, in particular, pressing hard against Athena as she tries to push Zappa away. "Scream." The voice comes in return, "Scream! SCREAM MORE! MORE! ASAYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" The gibberish comes from a mouth hanging completely open, tongue hanging out of it as the body wriggles and writhes under the force and then manages to press hard against it. Worn body beginning to knit itself together from the touch of something unseen, much like fire welds metal, as Zappa begins to push back - "COMERISERISERISEUP! DOOOOOOWN!"
Zappa, having risen against the assault, suddenly crashes backwards for apparently no reason. Then rises. WHACK. Straight into the energy. Crash. WHACK. Crash. It would be comical almost save for the third time there is something ... more. Hands raise upwards and attempt to clasp about Athena, to slam her against the ground of the arena before Zappa's body nearly bursts open.
Centipedes, three of them, rip from his body and spiral, eyes on every segment, teeth as well, before they spiral down towards Athena, intending to do the very exact thing in reverse to her.
S-ko, hands lsipping over the scorched flesh, smiles down upon this. "FALSE IDOL!" Zappa wails, S-KO happily adding her own commentary.
Athena is an example that she ... hates, to say the least. Why, to sell her fame for such a life. However strong she is and she reduces herself to /an idol/. The unrestrained rage from S-ko is quite palpable.
COMBATSYS: Athena interrupts Medium Punch from Zappa with Super Phoenix Infinity EX.
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Athena 0/-------/-<<<<<<|=====--\-------\0 Zappa
Nothing about this exchange makes any sense. Pouring her formidable power into a single, point blank psychic blast is usually one of her most reliable, fight swinging abilities. Not that she was consciously weighing that when she did it, reacting on reflex to the dread threatening to take hold in her mind. Better to act than to be immobilized - that thought she is able to get through at least.
Yet for all her effort, it barely seems to slow her opponent. It's as if her psychic efforts are being mostly shrugged off - they do not typically cause debilitating physical damage... and if whoever is tugging the puppet strings of the young man doesn't feel the pain or fear like a mortal would, then maybe her attacks don't really have the teeth they would against most people? She responds by pouring more effort into the churning sphere even as Zappa keeps walking into it - the force pushing him back, but none of the accompanying pain that should be causing him to reconsider what choices in life brought him to this very moment in time.
Arms extended forward, her entire body dedicated to the idea of blasting away the creatures trying to get closer to her now, Athena is in no position to defend herself. Grasped and then flung against the ground on her back, her attack scatters, the psychic ball of normally dangerous potential expanding outward as her mind is no longer able to give it form.
The panic Athena feels as she is stuck staring up into the face of nightmare is palpable, potentially contagious even, though she would do everything her power to prevent that were she to have the wherewithal. The teeth-armed, multi-eyed centipedes erupt out of nightmare and out of the body of the broken man standing over the fallen idol. Violet eyes wide with panic, her hands slam out against the stone surface beneath her-
The counter attack comes so fast, the transition would have been invisible to all but the most perceptive eye. One moment she is on her back, just starting to sit up, heels pressing against rough stone as she tries to desperately move out of the path of the otherworldly assault. The next instant she is launching upward at an angle, her entire body encased in brilliant, pink energy. Much of the scattered power from her last attack is drawn back under her command as the Rising Phoenix takes to the air following a bodily collision course with the living puppet.
The trajectory would take her a number of meters into the air before she reaches the apex, her arms extending out at her sides, her energy following suite to create vibrant, ethereal wings. The image lasts for a fleeting moment before Athena drops back to the arena floor, the residual Psycho Power lingering all around her, a canopy of a million tiny pink stars. Whirling on her feet the instant she lands, she's already on guard, arms raised to a defensive posture. Her breaths are coming too fast, her violet eyes still wide, and all conscious thoughts of stabilizing the cycle of panic taking hold are barely registering. "This can't be happening, this can't be real, this can't be happening," she murmurs to herself, making every effort to keep from being shaken to the point of paralysis.
She thought she was in a tournament fighting event but somewhere along the way, she most definitely took an ill-fated turn into the Twilight Zone.
The centipedes twist and turn as they aim to dig into Athena, a breathe away from digging into her! Yet that is all that is necessary.
Upwards Athena launches, a brilliant pink energy that collides with the mass of emnity that is Zappa, picking him upwards and tossing him, sending him cartwheeling, pinwheeling through the air as an unearthly groan of pain(?) is let out from his mouth. The puppet's strings are all but cut as the massive eruption of psycho energy manages to impact into him directly, swallowing him up a second time. This time when he lands, crashing straight to the ground, it is not so easy to shake off. The body on the ground, after impact, begins to writhe and flop like a fish. His back arches off the ground, all but smouldering from the massive amount of energy that had met him head on and engulfed him. Not that Zappa will recall. S-ko is quite displeased - but the puppet is still holding together. Still /reacting/. That in itself means her vengeance isn't quite yet finished. With another wail, this one of pain, Zappa flips onto his front, head smashing against the ground and ... flattening. Teeth clench onto something metal as an unseen hand pushes his head into the ground, pushing it even further down, before dragging it up by the hair - Athena able to see, quite clearly, that something seems to be happening of the sort.
In that mouth, a blade. A razor, to be precise, as if half the blade was anything but neatly sawed off, which folats in the air besides Zappa as he crashes down once more.
Not for long, of course. "Nnnnnnottttttttdone, NOT DONE WITH YOU! STAR OF THE SHOW! YOU'RE THE STAR! DANCE! daanceADAncEDAAAAAAAAANCE! WITH! ME!"
The braying, writhing corpse, is hard to dance with. Or it would be if it suddenly did not rise from the ground as the blade twists around, neatly impaling Zappa through the mid-section as he twists about, body splayed out, empty eyes wide, atop the blade. The blade which continues, actually, straight for Athena as she sits in that ready stance, attempting to be ready for literately anything that came forwards from Zappa.
Maybe she would be ready for this too.
As the blade shooting across with Zappa almost within it grows close, it tears straight through the puppet. Twisting and turning it elicits a spray of blood to perhaps offset Athena's instincts for a moment as it twists outwards, spinning to satiate its thirst once more with her own instead of Zappa's.
There is a clear difference as well in Zappa - the damage no longer being repaired upon the body. Wounds sticking open, energy starting to grow unstable, swelling.
It might be a matter of time before it all breaks down.
COMBATSYS: Athena dodges Zappa's Itasou Tte Iu Ka Itai.
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Athena 0/-------/<<<<<<<|=====--\-------\0 Zappa
The most baffling thing to the psychic fighter is not the pure, refined terror the images playing out before her eyes deserve... but rather the raw, unadulterated animus radiating out from the nexus of loathing that is her opponent. She has never seen this man in her life - while it is risky to assert that with absolute assurance most of the time, in this case it is something she has no doubt about - she WOULD remember. She'd never even heard his name prior to seeing the list of people on the opposing team. So why this hostility? The attacks coming her way are not ones born of a desire to win, a thirst for triumph in the face of challenge.
Instead she feels, stemming in through the fractures of her own psychic defense, a voice of fury, an echo of fear, a sense of helplessness, and an unyielding resolve to press forward no matter the damage inflicted to oneself. Nothing about it aligns with emotions she had felt before, either personally or vicariously.
Her mind is fogging over. The sounds of the stadium are dead to her, filling her ears is the roar of deafening wind that blocks out any sounds other than the threats and demands of the other presence in the ring. Her mind has blocked out everyone outside of that thing that she vaguely recalls being called 'Zappa' and herself. It is all she can see, all she can process, as she redoubles her efforts to block out as much of the presence of that other being as possible.
Advanced upon, blood spraying everywhere, she moves as if mesmerized, eyes wide, unblinking, her movements swift but smooth and detached from the lively momentum she had displayed earlier. Leaning, weaving, she circumnavigates around the gruesome, bloody blade. Her escape is clean though the crimson spray staining her blouse and right cheek would make it hard to tell at first. Another lean around the bloody razor leaves several strands of violet hair scattered into the air as it narrowly misses claiming an ear.
Hands clenched tightly, she exclaims back, her voice trembling, raw with emotion, "Why do you hate me so much?! What did I ever do to you!!" She retaliates in the only way she can think of right now - she tries to will the creature away. Stomping her feet, clenching her hands at her sides, Athena Asamiya applies her psychic potential in an attempt to telekinetically blast the amalgamation of wills that is Zappa clear across the arena!
COMBATSYS: Zappa fails to interrupt Super Psychic Throw from Athena with Raou.
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Athena 1/------=/=======|=======\-------\0 Zappa
The blade, shorn off, spins freely before the form of Zappa, stopped in a pose not far from Athena. The blade spins, coating some of the audiance with the horriffic stench and smell that may be hard to wash off later, much less forget, yet Athena manages to pull herself free and around, twisting to only cleave the very hair the is upon her head. Zappa would never harm her, not even a hair on her head - but this is not Zappa. Whatever it is, they are more interested in the removal of Athena. No matter what it takes.
Which is quite obvious as Athena twists around to face Zappa, whose head does not so much turn towards her as it does SNAP. A terrifying crack of his own neck as it faces forwards and up in a simply impossible way, eyes still blank and white. "IDOL. FALSE IDOL! FEAST OF EYES. FEAST OF FLESH!"
There's a brief moment after that gibbering that part of the body of Zappa, his chest, tears open - and another head bursts from it. It's also Zappa - it probably doesn't help the atmosphere. "You want to know?" There is a union of laughter, unhinged and coherent but both 'belonging' to the same mind, not Zappa's. "I'LL SHOW YOU." "I'll show you." "YOUUUUUHAVETOSUFFERLIKEWEDID""You have to suffer, like we did." "THENyoulllllKNOOOOOO""Then you'll know."
As Athena sends towards Zappa a sudden eruption of energy, a swelling of psychic energy, she is not the only one to do so. "RAOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOU." "Raou."
A lightning bolt strikes the middle of the Howard Arena, crackling right through Zappa, whom falls forwards. Erupting all around Zappa, the form stares forwards at Athena - a being of electricity, a knight that shimmers in the energy that is drawn from Zappa, his body fueling this sudden seance, as it always does. "Thou has need of mine power!?" It declares, asking of no one, as the massive will begins to overtake Zappa and the energy. A gauntleted fist, easily the size of Athena, roars forwards in resistance, swinging hard towards Athena in a way that aims to power through the force put forwards.
However massive the burst of energy was, it was too late, though. Energy begins to peel off the layers of armoring, destabilizing the fist of Raou and causing it to wear away, sweeping both Zappa back, causing the form to tumble and crash into the edge of the arena, and vanquishing Raou. As easily as it was tossed backwards, limbs twist and turn, acting much like a water-wheel as his head remains stable, unmoving, body twisting and wrenching before he writhes back to a stop, staring at Athena, wide eyed.
"Not. Enough. NEVER ENEOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUPHHHHHH!"
Why did she demand answers from them? Nothing that comes in response is remotely helping the situation. False Idol? A feast of eyes? Can such hostility toward an idea translate to directed hatred of this magnitude? Does she represent something to the angry, mocking voices? All she's ever tried to do is her best, to give her all to every endeavor she sets her heart to. Why should she be hated for that? Is it seething jealousy that fuels the rage?
A moment later and it is a contest of wills, her own outward blast of invisible telekinetic power pressing against her opponent, no, her enemy with everything her young mind can muster. Eyes closed, teeth clenched, hands held in tight fists, Asamiya pours her strength into trying to force space between her and the riot raging in the body of that man. Zappa was it? Is he part of this swarm of spirits or has he been entirely abolished from having any say over these events whatsoever. At the very least, Athena considers, one can hope that he can't /feel/ the trauma being done to his body. The wounds opening are not closing up like before, the damage seems to only intensify and persist. Is he living through this nightmare from the other side of the equation?
It is this thought - the heartfelt concern for the soul of the man she was supposed to face off against - that fuels her last push against the armored tyrant of electricity and gives her the strength to finally force him away before his gauntleted fist manages to crush her. Finally, Zappa is blasted away, landing in a heap near the edge of the arena, and Athena gasps for breath as she relents. The crushing telekinetic pressure from moments before fades, the vacuum of presence left behind replaced by a rushing calm.
Across the way, Athena opens her eyes, her hands still clasped at her sides. "What are you doing to that man? I can't understand everything you are showing me, but I can see torture for what it is," she continues, violet hair whipping about her shoulders as dangerous potential begins to grow again. She's working on controlling her breaths, trying to steel her resolve in the face of the inexplicable horror. She knew she had been getting trained for a purpose - to fight against the dark elements of the world - but now she realizes that until now, she never even had the slightest idea of just how bad the world could be.
"Whatever his flaws, his crimes, you have no right to do this to him!" She has to put an end to this match, if it goes on any longer, her opponent's body is simply going to fall apart under the supernatural strains inflicted on it. "This nightmare ends now!!" Maybe she's talking herself up, trying to break through the panic that drove her every step from the moment this round began, but for at least this moment, her determination is abundantly clear.
Until now, her aura had been something unseen yet felt. But now it is something visible to the naked eye - violet Psycho Power fluctuating around Athena - small forked bolts of lightning, swirling purple flames of Psycho Power given form around her feet. Her hands are clenched, her stance made sure, feet apart just far enough to give her leverage to brace herself.
There can be no doubt she is building up for something bigger to put to rest this tortured assault once and for all.
COMBATSYS: Athena focuses on her next action.
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Athena 1/------=/=======|=======\-------\0 Zappa
A harlot who used her good looks, who preys on the adoration of men. MEN. Of all the people, beings, or creatures to be subserviant to. The very BEINGS that lust over her form with their gazes, the very monsters that put themselves above others, their wants over THE VERY LIVES of others. As such, S-Ko has a prime hatred of them. For Athena to sell herself, an idol, into the gaze of them... for such a cushy job and ... it erases everything that S-Ko has had to go through! THE SUFFERING SHE ENDURED.
All of this is not something that could be forgotten.
"IT DOESN'T MATTER." The response for once is quite clear. "HE'S PART OF THE PROBLEM. YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM!" The voice, angrily accuses Athena, even as the dangerous energy around Athena begins to swell. Zappa, or the being that is controlling Zappa, doesn't /care/ for the hosts well-being. It makes things, likely, a bit difficult. Yet she declares it will end. "OR WILL IT BEGIN, FOR YOU!?" With Athena flaring up in energy, the aura swells outwards - stance causing a swirl of energy. It is not that S-Ko doesn't notice it, it is impossible not to as the form of Athena stands, preparing.
Writhing in either pain or pleasure, Zappa is barely able to stand up. It is with very little urging that S-ko manages him to walk up towards Athena, the slowest of walks, potentially, possible. A mockery of human, doll-like, it is, as it stands, empty eyes staring at Athena. There is no energy build up. There is no swelling assault that threatens to swallow Athena. Even with the horrifying oppression that Athena can put forth compared to the host, S-ko forces him to walk forwards, his top-half bending due to the sheer force.
It almost looks comical, like a wacky inflatable tube man.
The comedy ends with a stark change from all the previous fights. Zappa suddenly goes rigid, standing tall, as his chest begins to swell, a handprint within visible, before it tears out with the next. A woman, or what could be a woman, reaching out from the man, head and top half suddenly lunging, though not really bursting from him. As if a light-switch was flipped. The ragged woman in a dress ages old, hair dirty and damaged as if mud and dirt had caked on it. All of it covered her eyes - and yet it flashes before Athena, a hand reaching out from Zappa towards her - intending to grasp.
It would be in Athena's best interested it does not touch her.
COMBATSYS: Athena interrupts Kowai yo... from Zappa with Psycho Sword EX.
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Athena 1/-======/=======|======-\-------\0 Zappa
The grasp touches Athena.
A thin grin would be visible between the hair, a ragged one, caked with blood from the lips beneath it.
If Athena had felt the enmity before, had felt the emnity before, there would be a sudden swelling that would dwarf it all previously. So strong it was that her very vision may fade to darkness, as the main affliction from Zappa would threaten to transfer to Athena. A howling, piercing scream that comes not from Athena but from the woman who would have touched her. One that had occurred long in the past from something that would simply not die. Be it created from a horrible experiment, a GEAR that simply lodged itself in the first being it found, or simply a scorned spirit, S-Ko's hatred extended far beyond the current host for crimes that would flash so briefly in Athena's mind they made no picture and would fade to static.
Static that is suddenly broken by an eye, blinking, staring - attempting to dig into Athena as it dug into Zappa.
Athena would find the static in her ears growing louder, the static in her mind so wide-spread that it left no room for anything else, crowding out everything. If she would not fight back, the static may be all she ever will know before it all fades.
The field of energy around her positively crackles with potential just waiting to be put to use. She stands opposite to the anger directed her way, having long since forgotten that this was the first of multiple competitive matches to come in the King of Fighters tournament. All she knows right now is this battle between her and the hosts of hell entombed in that broken man's body. Fists clenched at her sides, jaw set, lips pressed into the faintest hint of a frown, she looks the picture of prepared defiance, her hair whipping around her shoulders, compelled by the energy that answers her powerful will.
It would take a closer look to realize that beneath it all, the beleaguered Psycho Soldier is trembling, her arms shaking even as she tries to fight it. Any moment now, her resolve could shatter, her ability to continue break. She cannot begin to comprehend the miasmic forces at play within the flesh of that man... how can she hope to fight them?
The voices alone threaten to shake her to the core - the spite they bear is raw in its antipathy for her. Once again, the puppet master tugs and pulls the strings necessary to send the broken man shambling her way. She watches, waits, looking for the attack - another blade? A horrific projection of some other disgusting creature? A glowing spirit commanding the elements? She has to wait, she needs to strike at the right moment - she might not be able to build herself up to this point a second time...
Everything about the encroaching threat is the opposite of her own stance - no aura, no lightning, no visible Psycho Power waiting to be shaped and given purpose. Then why can she not breath? Why is she not even sure her heart hasn't forgotten to beat?
After all that, it is with paralysis that she greets the incoming reach of the arm that should not be, eyes fixated on the shape breaking free from the body of its host. She should run, jump, teleport, /anything/ that gets her away.
Little did she know that her final defense would be in her mind, face to face with her accuser. Her mouth agape, her knees begin to buckle, her arms relaxing as her fists unclench. The roaring in her head is deafening, the pain that accompanies it overwhelming.
She will fall. All of her training never prepared her for something like this. She can't see anything - the world is dark, before it was her verses a host, now it is the lone Psycho Soldier verses an embodiment of hatred shaped by will. The tournament is forgotten. The man she was fighting against no longer a thought in her mind. She is face to face with the eye of judgment now and from it will no weakness be hidden, no fault forgiven. Did she deserve whatever happened to her now?
Her friends - what would they- no, for them, she has to fight this further. Adrenaline fuels the last desperate motion of a counter strike, her right arm snapping back at her side, fingers extended to a knife-hand.
All of the ambient Psycho Power she had been preparing is drawn to her limb, racing into it like lightning to a lightning rod, cracking as she refines it into a precision weapon.
"I'm sorry. Not today..."
A forward lunge, her right hand snapping out, forming the focal point of a precision blade of vorpal sharp Psycho Power as she spears it straight into the chest of the ghostly apparition, pouring all of her will into a single, definitive strike.
"You must understand, now, YOU MUST. Why YOU can't exist! Why your EXISTANCE is a problem." The voice, staticy, attempts to say. It is responded to equite eloquently.
Spoken from a woman who had faced down the onslaught of the hosts and spirits and the unknown, in S-Ko's case, that resided within. All she states, at the end, is that she is sorry. Perhaps another day. Perhaps. The jagged blade of will slams into the ghostly apparation, S-ko being driven back, arms releasing, vision immediately clearing about Athena and her boundaries, the static disappearing as if a switch was flicked, with the cause of it retreating into the host - for once making its presence known. For once, wounded.
The form of Zappa is now exactly like a ragged doll as the impact takes him, tossing him backwards, throwing him away from Athena with a force enough to make it /quite/ clear that it was over, the body skidding and rolling to a stop without any words to go with it.
It was clear to the damaged spirit? Being? that S-Ko is, that her presence was limited, the body not strong enough. The spirit willing - such a strong 'force' before them beyond anything that was seen before, met before, that was not already demonic and known. Other forces were known, other creatures as well - but the 'heroic' idol that had so interrupted her own end were more than enough. At least... for now.
The smouldering of the man's body stops, any shimmering or billowing energy twisting around him coming to a stop - and he lays out in a normal human fashion as well, limbs unbroken, body unblemished... mostly.
Which would accomplish two goals for Athena today!
Zappa would wake up, later, in excrutiating pain and without even a single autograph! ... Clearly he had tripped and fallen straight on his face, down a flight of stairs and straight under a mob of people, trampling him.
COMBATSYS: Zappa takes no action.
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COMBATSYS: Zappa can no longer fight.
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The attack delivered, the spirit driven back, the host finally falling, Athena staggers forward. The residual power coursing over her limb loses form, expanding rapidly and fading away all together. The aura of potential she had been building is gone, her vision cleared.
Her heart continues to race as she works on controlling her breaths and little by little, the cacophony of the real world begins to overtake the roar ringing in her ears. She looks bewildered at first, confused as to what she's doing or why she's there. Violet eyes blink rapidly as she takes in her surroundings, experiencing the kind of disorientation often associated with waking from a nightmare at the wrong time of the day.
Her breaths are coming slower now, her eyes continuing to lack that focus as if all she can do is replay in her mind the fragmented memories of what she just went through. But as she glances around, she begins to catch back up with the presence and an unmistakable expression of relief works its way into her face.
Standing up straight, she turns to wave to the crowd, alternating bows of gratitude and waves of acknowledgement to the crowd. The announcement going on over the speakers is completely missed by her as she makes her way toward her teammates off to the side.
It will be some time before she can sort through her mind about what happened this day, how her matches went from enjoyable to appalling, and how she looked into the eye of a wraith and managed to fend it off. All she knows right now is that she survived it, and that whatever she experienced, it's behind her now.
COMBATSYS: Athena has ended the fight here.
And suddenly, a cold hand lands right on her shoulder.
"Athena!" Kensou exclaims, his palms sweaty and cold. Likely from holding that big gulp from the sidelines. "Athena, are you all right?" Kensou wasn't a hundred percent sure what was happening, especially once it became obvious that Athena was fighting a sp-sp-spooky ghost. But after that... that thing did someting to Athena, Kensou through down his big gulp and horrible fake chicken stuffed dumpings, and bolted over to the edge of the ring. And was dancing, nervous, panicked. He needed the fight to be over, and when it was finally called... he was there for Athena. His eyes were soft, he could still sense that lingering presence of fear.
"Are you okay?"
That was... hard to watch.
The Himeko/Momoko battle was one thing; Himeko may be unorthodox, but she was hardly terrifying. Whatever it is that Athena stepped in to the ring with after, however, was something else. Not just in the sort of strangeness that any person would notice, watching the two battle, oh no. Whatever dual soul resides in Haru's body felt somewhere between a deep sadness and genuine... revulsion? It took all Haru's will just to keep his eye on the fight, and even when it finally comes to an end, he's still left sitting wide-eyed in his seat while Kensou has already leapt to his feet to comfort and check on his teammate.
Even as Kensou is already at her side, asking about her state of health, Haru is in the distance, watching the two from the edge of the arena, fingers curling and uncurling in anxiety. He wants to leap up and take part, but some part of him -- the part that makes his grey eyes fix briefly on Kensou and, more importantly, the feelings Kensou radiates like a torch -- decides to stay on the sidelines and watch, for now.
She starts at the hand landing on her shoulder, but otherwise doesn't react beyond turning around to face Kensou, eyes blinking in surprise at him having snuck up on her. She must be still out of it after all she went through. His concern is immediately registered however. What... what did that fight look like to everyone else? Did they see the things she saw, hear the things she heard? It's in that moment she realizes how horrific it must have been from the sidelines. How would she have felt to watch any of her friends face something like that?
She breaths in then exhales, lifting her own arms to rest her hands on both of Kensou's shoulders in return. "Y-yeah, I'm okay. That was... well, that was something, right?" She lifts her right hand to rub at her temple, wincing a little. "Just a lingering headache. It will pass."
She glances back across the stone stage of the Howard Arena, eyes resting on the fallen, yet in tact form of her opponent. "That man... this cannot be the last we see of him. There is... a lot of work to do, I understand that more now than ever before."
The thoughts expressed, she pulls her hands from his shoulders, "But I know we can face it together. Working together as a team... this event was just the thing we needed."
Eyes settle on Haru and she gives the young man a smile and nod of acknowledgement, reading the tension visible in his eyes. Given the ties they have, an ordeal for one can be an ordeal for them all. But at least they have each other to share the burden. Stretching out the last of the tension from her shoulders, Athena releases one last exhale. "Come on, I want to see how Momoko's doing."
Log created on 17:26:01 06/04/2016 by Momoko, and last modified on 14:00:00 06/10/2016.