KOF 2016 - KOF Finals: Team Interpol vs Psycho Soldiers

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Description: Team Interpol and the Psycho Soldiers face off at Stonehenge for the finals of the King of Fighters tournament. It's noticeably devoid of a large audience and what is up with the strange energy in the area? Also, Team Interpol's leader is notably missing. Will it be the mostly united Psycho Soldiers or will Team Interpol pull out the victory in spite of 'morale issues?' <Winner: Psycho Soldiers>

If you'd asked Haru Sakuraba at the start of this tournament if he thought Psycho Soldiers would end up in the finals, he probably would have bashfully said, 'It would be nice!' which is a very damning-with-faint-praise way of saying 'No, we probably won't, but we'll try real hard!' And yet, here are the finals. And yet, here they are... even if, upon review, it seems as if Athena Asamiya has done all of the heavy lifting on that front, the purple-haired pop star having been in every one of the team's fights to date.

This isn't necessarily _bad_, per se; Athena and Kensou clearly have more fighting experience than either Momoko or Haru by a considerable margin, after all, so it makes sense tactically for them to step up on the battlefield more as the fights get more intense. Still, when the time came for team captains to submit team members for the final bout, it contributed to Haru's feeling that he needed to step up and participate. Some part of him didn't want to make it all the way to the winner's circle, potentially, without him having confronted the idea of fighting someone considerably stronger than he is... and his all-too-brief encounter with Ryu Hayabusa, after Nagase's considerable skill had brought him to the cusp of unconsciousness, didn't count.

While the KoF-provided car took him from the airport at Southampton all the way north past Salisbury, Haru had a lot of time to look at the rolling green plans of southwest England and consider what was about to happen. Some combination of excitement and fear and nervousness, to be expected all things considered. He hasn't met any of Team Interpol in person, he did watch videos of their battles and was duly impressed with their abilities. His opponent, Lita, wasn't among them, however, meaning she would be a complete unknown. For a fighter that relies on tactics and planning rather than pure strength like Haru, this wasn't the most welcome outcome, but he resolved to do his best.

The closer Stonehenge got, though, the more uneasy he was becoming, shifting uncomfortably in his seat, unable to relax. The sky overhead, which had started a bright summer blue, was quickly rolling grey with oncoming cloud cover. No portent of storm, so far as he could tell, and perhaps even a welcome bit of shade in the July heat. But the oppressive gray sky only added to the feeling of nameless tension as time wore on.

By the time he'd actually reached the venue, Haru KNEW deep inside that something was wrong.

For starters, the A303 had been blocked off, meaning that the usual flow of tourist traffic to this famous site was all but gone, and the KoF organizers were decidedly keeping people away. This meant: no audience, nobody allowed but event staff and the fighters. Which was weird enough.

But as he stands near the ancient stone circle, tugging on his black gloves, the Justice student cannot relax. Some sixth sense, some supernatural awareness, is SCREAMING at the back of his mind. There is Something Here. It's in the sudden breezes, the weird lack of people. It feels like the very ground is vibrating in some weird frequency, like the resonant aftereffect of a plucked harpstring. This is what awaits Lita when she arrives: a teenager, dressed in black and gold, with a very anxious expression on his face.

At the time of registration King of Fighters, Lita didn't think that Team Interpol would field her at any point since her strength would be in training them in preparation for their next opponents. With her wide breadth of experience in training in a variety of styles she could give them a general idea of the tactics they could expect with the exception of chi based attacks.

Then came her championship match against MURDERHOUSE that not only saw her lose the title but resulted in a very uncharacteristic meltdown after. While she was dealing with that, her team was protecting her mental state in spite of terrible chemistry problems and in spite of those previously mentioned chemistry problems and bad reputation in the media, the team kept winning.

To her surprise, the team needed her to step up for a variety of reasons that shall not be mentioned here and thanks to a little help from the team leader's connections she was ready.

When she arrives, she's wearing the Delta Red combat single leg body suit in green with something clutched in her hand and bandolier of kunai strapped to her hips and thigh and that ever present sword on her back(the polycarbonate replica in this case). She, on the other hand has opportunity to study her opponent. At the very least, she was able to study what little video footage her mates in Delta Red were able to get their hands on. She clips it to her belt and it's revealed to be a yoyo.

At first, when Lita arrives, Haru doesn't even seem to notice her. He really, REALLY looks distracted, as if he's trying to hear someone saying something very distant and very faint. At one point he even goes over to one of the monoliths, placing a hand on it, giving it a sort of furled brow expression. Is it his imagination, or did something... glow there, for a second? It's not clear if the other Psycho Soldiers are here yet or not, but somewhere deep inside, Haru really wishes they were.

It's only after his sixth sense says that he's not alone here that the Justice student turns around, blinking at the arrival of his opponent. She cuts a striking figure, given the sword and the hair and the... unitard + a leg. Grey eyes widen for a moment, trying to take it all in, before Haru clears his throat and, in classic Japanese fashion, folds his hands together in front of him and bows at the waist. "Ah, you must be Luwanda-san," he offers, trying to smile. It is clear, though, that something is really bothering him. He coughs once, seems about to say something, and is interrupted by the KoF people walking over to the ring and giving a 'let's get this started' hand gesture. One of... some impatience, in fact. Blinking in surprise, Haru gives them a nod and turns to Lita with a somewhat embarassed smile. "I guess they want us to get started."

His fighting stance is loose, not really recognizable as any typical striking or grappling art, but he's clearly ready to fight as the Engrish-y announcer returns for one last go-around at it. "HARU. BASUS. LITA. ROUND WAN... REDII? GOOOOOOOO!"

The young psychic's eyes fixate on Lita, and with only a "Good luck to you!" as preamble, he ducks forward at her in a crouching foreward step, before whipping one arm around, one of his trademark specially-made yoyos sweeping around in the arc of his moving arm, looking to slam into Lita's stomach like a body blow.

COMBATSYS: Haru has started a fight here.

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Haru             0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Lita has joined the fight here.

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Haru             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0             Lita

COMBATSYS: Haru successfully hits Lita with Medium Strike.
Glancing Blow

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Haru             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0             Lita

"I am. It is an honor, Sakuraba-san."

Her short stint as a first a Pro Level Western(Blue when the belt system changed over) champion gave her a crash course with dealing with media. One of the first rules was never giving the media anything they could use against you. Keep it simple and don't look like a bleeding arse.

When the officials start looking like they're getting impatient, Lita falls into a stance that looks more like a military combative than anything else. She takes a deep breath and the announcer starts the fight. She steps forward to attack but it appeared that Haru just happened to react just a little sooner than she did. This in turn forces her to react to his attack instead. As the yoyo swings out, she then steps back just barely getting clipped by the unorthodox weapon.

She takes a look at his positioning. Lowered center of gravity means that grappling might not be ideal right now unless she gets better positioning. She, as a result, moves as she circles delivering a step kick to his leg to test his balance and feel the yoyo wielder out a bit.

COMBATSYS: Haru blocks Lita's Light Kick.

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Haru             0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0             Lita

Apparently, Haru had the same general principle in mind that Lita did: since he didn't rise during his attack, it wouldn't do the Delta Red fighter much good to try and grapple without literally tackling him to the ground, which didn't seem like her sort of maneuver. So instead of rising, he continues to stay in a crouch as the yoyo finishes its arc around, snapping back into his palm with a *slap!* sound. What this means is that he's in good position, when she decides to test his defenses, to deal with her kick in a relatively orthodox manner; he kneels, leaning back somewhat and lowering his torso so that the kick slams into his upper arm rather than the pretty painful target of, say, his shin.

As she disengages, so does Haru, snapping back a step into a standing position, watching his opponent carefully. She seems disciplined, cautious... but there's something about that big-ass sword that suggests she is not exactly the pure tactics type. Either way, underestimating her is probably a bad idea, and so Haru decides to let her come to him, hoping he can deal with her long enough to get a read on her style.

Even as he tries to focus, though, something intrudes... that feeling of a _presence_. Breaking all the rules of good fighting awareness, Haru's grey eyes dart around for a fraction of a second, like he's taking inventory of all the people in the near vicinity. Shaking his head, he turns back to Lita. "Luwanda-san, do you..." After a pause, he frowns. "Actually, never mind. My apologies."

COMBATSYS: Haru formulates a plan of attack.

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Haru             0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0             Lita

An unorthodox defense for an unorthodox weapon wielder. Even still it was a fairly solid defense. She's mentally noting that even if she'll probably won't use it. But then his eye dart around and it seems as though he's not focused on her, at least not at first. Then before she can take advantage, Haru's eyes narrow in on her again.

"Do I what?"

A look of confusion appears on her face even if the eyes remained trained on him. She edges in carefully not wanting to get caught in an unpleasant situation. Then she, hoping that the sudden movement will catch him off guard, she comes in within grappling range and if all goes as planned, placing her body hip to hip with Justice High student and slipping her leg behind his as she grabs his shoulder to send him down to the ground with a simple trip.

COMBATSYS: Haru fails to counter Quick Throw from Lita with Moonstone Tenacity.
- Power fail! -

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Haru             0/-------/----===|===----\-------\0             Lita

He had this big plan, in his head: if she came in close, he would try his hardest to *consciously* use a power which, til now, has largely been instinctive. And despite her question, Haru is focused on doing just that. As Lita closes with him, the Justice student takes a breath, steels himself, and tries to go within, touching that place of power which he has been striving so hard to master these past few months. And for a second, he does it -- as Lita approaches, she can see his body start to glow with the opalescent white trademark of his power, like faerie fire. His eyes meet hers. And then...

He touches something, anyway. Not the center of his power; something ELSE. Something out there. Watching. Waiting.

The white light dies in an instant, Haru's eyes going glassy, and Lita unceremoniously dumps him onto the ground... harder than usual, since he is all but unresisting once she actually does it.

It takes a second before he gets up, and the look on Haru's face is... frustrated, to say the least. A combination of anxiety, upset, and hurt washes across his otherwise usually pleasant-enough features. He got distracted, paid attention to the wrong thing.

The others don't have this problem, a voice in his head says. Just him.

"It's nothing," he says to Lita, taking a deep breath. There's still the whole fight ahead, after all, and she's not likely to stop at a single hip toss.

Lita's eyes go wide as she saw Haru glow white. She's half expecting, in spite of going as fast as she could, that she's going to pay for her aggression but it was too late. She was already in her motion and... She succeeded?

She can't get over the feeling that something was about to happen and she wasn't going to like it but she just barely escaped. There isn't enough time to contemplate her good fortune. Opportunities like this don't happen often.

She reaches, not for her kunai, not for her sword, but for the yoyo on her hip. She has long strived to prove that anything in her hands can be a weapon and she didn't have a chance to prove it in her championship fight and her team had been hiding her for most of the King of Fighters.

She flings the yoyo up high and with a combination of her own strength and gravity brings it back down upon Haru.

Though she doesn't say it, her eyes call on him to prove that it was nothing, and earn her respect.

COMBATSYS: Haru counters Overhead Strike from Lita with Topaz Vigilance.

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Haru             0/-------/----===|====---\-------\0             Lita

People mock Haru all the time for fighting "with a toy." He is generally an easy-going sort, but it rankles; he has seen fighters who use all sorts of creative or unique styles, and yet a yoyo gets dismissed as "a toy." More to the point, it's usually a preamble to dismissing Haru himself as a fighter, because he's not 'rough' or 'tough' or anything of the sort. And then Lita comes at him with a yoyo, and... something in his head snaps. Maybe it's the influence of whatever the buzzing in his head is that's making him anxious. Maybe it's self-directed frustration expressing itself poorly. Either way, as Lita comes at him, he... doesn't look happy.

But what comes after is, in a word, masterful. One hand flicks out at snakebite speed with a yoyo of his own, which he actually uses to hit the one Lita's swinging, the two connecting and then breaking apart with a loud *crack!* noise. But Haru's not done; the OTHER hand *also* comes out with his *second* yoyo, which he uses to snag Lita's extended 'throwing' arm, yanking her close and off-balance before he strikes out a *third* time, using his right-hand yoyo a second time to effectively slapshot Lita's own yoyo back into her face like a high-velocity hockey puck.

It all happens in a split second, and when the proverbial smoke clears, Haru's weapons are nowhere to be seen, the Justice student in a ready stance once more.

"I spent a long time working and perfecting this fighting style. It's not a joke," he says to Lita, clearly upset. "Don't mock me!"

The yoyos connect with a loud crack and her eyes widen. Her arm gets caught and she's pulled off balance. She barely has time to turn her face to the side before the yoyo connects with her face sending her stumbling away.

By the time she can get her feet back under it's her turn to be angry. She takes a deep breath.

Her voice is low but still carries. "If you thought I was mocking you, you're sorely mistaken, Haru Sakuraba. I spent a long time, learning a variety of martial art styles both armed and unarmed. I spent lots of time driving into my soldiers skulls that anything... /Anything/ can be used as a weapon in the hands of skilled practitioner, including a yoyo. If anything, I wanted to show the whole bloody world that I am more than my sword, more than my kunai and that I can adapt. I may not have your mastery level but I respect what you do with what people call 'a toy.'

With a snap of the wrist she coils the yoyo then flings it in a direct flight for his shoulder and then flings it out once more to wrap it around his leg to pull him off balance.

COMBATSYS: Haru dodges Lita's Improvised Flail Attack.

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Haru             0/-------/----===|=====--\-------\0             Lita

Lita compresses a lot of words into a very small space, Haru's eyes on her defiant as she cycles through her rationale. Some inner voice is telling him that how he's feeling right now isn't normal, isn't *good*, but there's also something going on that's very loud and hard to ignore, as well. He grits his teeth, not replying at first, watching the angle of her attack as she comes in on the offensive. But perhaps because it IS a style with which he is very, very familiar, he knows more or less what to do. As the yoyo comes for his shoulder, he ducks, preparing to run *under* it...

...and vanishes in a burst of white lotus petals.

He *reappears* well on the other side of Lita in a similar burst, stumbling as his step falters, and then blinks in surprise. There's that power again... activated by instinct or accident, rather than conscious ability. He turns, preparing to shout something back at Lita, and grimaces, bringing a hand up to his temple, pushing his black and silver bangs out of the way. Lita is right; something IS wrong, and he isn't saying anything about it, but it's also becoming too significant to ignore... and every time he tries to use his powers, his awareness of it gets a little worse.

"Something's... something's not right here," he finally says, sounding a little tired and a LOT anxious. He looks up, gauging the distance between himself and his opponent, trying to figure out what the best approach is. His answer, for right now? Don't use his powers, even instinctually. "I just..."

He trails off, then lunges across the distance for Lita, trying something very basic: to snap a yoyo around her wrist and to yank her down onto the ground with it. Simple, effective, and hopefully unlikely to make him accidentally do something that's going to set him off again.

COMBATSYS: Lita interrupts Medium Throw from Haru with That's Not Cricket.

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Haru             1/-------/=======|=======\-------\0             Lita

And sometimes adapting means leaning on something that she is more familiar with.

The teleport turns out to be a blessing in disguise for the Delta Red soldier. Haru disappearing forced her to abandon the attack before it reached its conclusion. As the yoyo recoils, she slips it back on to her belt. She then makes a motion to move towards the quick release latch on her replica sword. She doesn't go for the weapon right away. Not before her opponent speaks.

Something not right? Is it a distraction or an explanation as to her opponent's behavior? She doesn't have the senses required to know what was off but from a logical standpoint, something was off. It's the King of Fighters. It is supposed to be this huge tournament. Why is there no huge audience? Why is it that there is only staff here?

When Haru's yoyo wraps around her wrist, it snaps her back into the here and now. She resists the yank at first which is a bit painful but then she realizes she should be going with it and she pushes off the ground leading shoulder first into his chest as she takes advantage of the give from coming in closer to slip her hand free from the yoyo. Meanwhile, her uncaptured hand moves to the already unlatched sword pulling it free from its scabbard and then swinging the flat of the blade at his chest like it was a cricket bat bringing back memories of adolescence.

It's a pretty impressive result; Haru is relatively lightweight and goes flying across the available space, slamming into one of the monoliths with a loud *CRACK!* that's going to get the KoF people some stern words from UNESCO and the UK government, that much is clear. The Justice student slides bonelessly down to the ground, landing in a heap on the ground. It takes a while before he pulls himself standing, and when he does, Haru does not look good, a trickle of blood running from his right temple down the side of his dusky-skinned face.

What should he even do in this situation? In truth, he doesn't have much clue, and his breath is ragged as his hand goes to his stomach, pressing inward. A second or two to catch his breath would be nice... but at what cost?

Looking up at Lita for a second, he weighs his options, and then shakes his head, deciding to risk it. His eyes close for a moment, and the hand pressing in on his tummy glows with white light. It's brief, and then gone... but rather than the relieved-looking expression one might expect from Haru using his powers to ease his pain, instead he just looks more anxious.

And Lita, for her part cringes. Yes, she wanted to make an impact but to be responsible for damages to a landmark like that? No. She can already feel the reprimand from Colonel Wolfman coming and she's not looking forward to it.

She brings her sword back in front of her, slowly inching forward ready to deflect incoming weaponry if need be. She watches him touch his own abdomen with that white glowing light and it doesn't ease her worries any bit even if she doesn't know why he's doing it.

She takes a probing thrust not wanting to give him too much of an opportunity to breathe. There's a reason their team got to the finals and she's not going to ease up.

COMBATSYS: Haru successfully aids himself with Ruby Warmth.

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Haru             1/-------/=======|=======\-------\0             Lita

COMBATSYS: Haru dodges Lita's Weapon Jab.

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Haru             1/-------/=======|=======\-------\0             Lita

It's a mixed blessing, that's for certain. Like some of his teammates, Haru has the power of healing, and despite that creeping feeling of dread that barges through the mental door every time Haru taps into his powers, it's still a welcome feeling when that restorative warmth spreads through his body. And perhaps it's something that he sorely needed on more than a physical level; after all, using that power means letting the power of the bodhisattva's soul he's host to flow through him as well, and Guanyin's touch does much to push the negative feelings that have been swirling in his thoughts this entire fight away.

The glassiness, the vacant sheen that's shrouded his eyes passes, as Lita arrives to make her presence known.

A big, flashy evasion wouldn't help in the slightest; instead, Haru sucks a breath in and sidesteps, only a tiny bit. It means that Lita's attack shears past by only a fraction of an inch, the Justice student's hair fluttering as it passes.

"I can explain in a second," Haru says to Lita, deciding to stay close, bringing his hand back. White light gathers there, inside his palm, and again... that awareness of something Wrong™ invades his consciousness, but he grits his teeth and for the first time actively *pushes back* against them, refusing to let those feelings dominate him. "But something is wrong here. We need to finish this... quickly!"

He thrusts that palm forward, looking to explode that burst of opalescent white light in a scattering of spectral lotus flowers, psychic energy slamming into Lita's body unless she can avoid it.

COMBATSYS: Haru successfully hits Lita with Amethyst Clarity.

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Haru             1/-----==/=======|=======\=------\1             Lita

She's close. Incredibly so. The blunt polycarbonate replica shoots right by the teenager. It wasn't something she was expecting. As a whole this fight has been an odd experience for her. But at least it wasn't as emotionally damaging as being forcefed all her failures all at once and beaten to a pulp before she could get herself together.

She can see the white light gathering but the reason she was performing such a conservative attack was that she didn't want to over commit and get punished but even without her being as careful as she could be she can't get away from the explosion of lotus flower shaped manifestations of energy sending her stumbling away once more.

She takes a deep breath and once more goes in with her sword, taking a swipe at Haru's shoulder and then carefully strafing.

COMBATSYS: Haru endures Lita's Random Strike.

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Haru             1/--=====/=======|=======\===----\1             Lita

Lita can strike quite hard; Haru knows this already. But at the same time, he definitely wants to get this fight over with as soon as possible, if only so that he can *focus* for five seconds. He's too distracted to be looking out at the edges of the battle to see if Kensou, Momoko, or Athena are in evidence right now, but he hopes that they're out there, thinking about what's going on. As Lita swings back around to attack, the Psycho Soldier knows that he has to deal with this in as decisive a way as possible. But how?

Watching the angle of her incoming attack, the psychic tactician has a moment of insight. The movement of the Delta Red agent's *arms* and the movement of her *legs* doesn't quite match up, suggesting that even after she strikes, there's going to be movement involved... and that's what he's going to use to his advantage.

Bracing himself for the pain, at the very last second Haru twists his torso so that as the sword hits, the momentum of the blow sends him spiralling *in the same direction* as Lita's strafing movement, meaning he's moving along with her as he snaps out a yoyo to grab her leg. If he gets said grip, Lita is send skyward with a sudden whipping maneuver. Leaping up after her, Haru brings both hands over his head, gathering that white light in both palms, before he gets *over* Lita and then blasts her back down to the ground with that gathered power.

COMBATSYS: Lita blocks Haru's Emerald Vivacity.

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Haru             0/-------/--=====|=======\====---\1             Lita

There's a bit of movement but then her foot gets caught on an odd patch of grass aborting her movement way earlier than she wanted it to be. Her focus goes from mobility to hunkering down in desperation. Try as she might, she's not able to deflect the yoyo away from her leg.

She gasps as she's launched high into air. She experiences, for just a moment, a feeling of weightlessness. And then Haru joins her in the sky and then above. She brings her sword above her using it as a makeshift shield as she's driven back down to earth. She lands on her feet but the energy presses her downwards until it buckles her legs and forces her to a single knee as sweat rolls down her forehead.

The energy finally subsides and she rises to her feet once more. Her breathing is heavy and a drops from her sword for an instant just wipe the perspiration before it can drip into her eyes.

With a nod of acknowledgement, she brings the sword into both hands and then skips forward to meet Haru at his landing point and she swings her sword for his closest leg, then his shoulder, and then the abdomen where she had connected with her cricket styled swing with her sword. Her weight shifts forward at the end of the slash sequence putting a significant amount on her front foot.

COMBATSYS: Haru dodges Lita's Triple Slash.

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Haru             0/-------/--=====|=======\====---\1             Lita

Perhaps thankfully for Haru, he's entirely aware that at the end of a technique like the one he just attempted, dropping onto the ground means he'll be very vulnerable indeed. Lita's sudden charge toward his landing point bears that fact out... but he's thankfully ready for it. As Haru drops toward the ground, one hand comes behind his back... and as he nears the ground, one yoyo snaps out looking to snag, of all things, a nearby small monolith. As a result, the Justice student suddenly grapples away from Lita's incoming triple strike, moving in a highly circular motion so that he is effectively orbiting the Delta Red fighter for a moment.

Pulling the yoyo back makes Haru effectively slingshot his way across the field, sliding along the ground in a low crouch, hand pressed to the ground.

His breathing is quite heavy; this is taking a lot out of him. At the same time, though, the more time and energy Haru has to devote to the fight, the less he needs to spend on dealing with the gnawing feeling of dread at the back of his mind.

Kicking off the ground from his crouch, Haru tries to close with Lita, and then swings both arms forward in an X-like pattern; both of his yoyos swing out in horizontal arcs, in opposite directions and at different heights; he might tag her shoulder, her knee, or ideally both.

COMBATSYS: Haru successfully hits Lita with Random Strike.

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Haru             0/-------/--=====|=======\======-\1             Lita

This entire fight, Haru's unorthodox movements have been confounding her. She had trouble defending against him and landing her own attacks against him. She still had to grin. This was why Delta Red had her join the fight circuits and ultimately had her join the King of Fighters in the first place.

When Haru closes with her, she tries to use the leg she put the weight on to launch herself away from him. However the yoyo catches her on the back of knee taking her leg from under her while the other catches her shoulder. She's sent spinning to the ground.

She latches the sword back in its scabbard and gets low to the ground darting in on his legs attempting to grab the back of Haru's knee with both hands as she drives her shoulder forward into his thigh to take his legs from under him in a textbook double leg takedown. If she manages that, she'll deliver a single punch to his chin.

COMBATSYS: Haru blocks Lita's Random Combo.

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Haru             0/-------/-======|=======\======-\1             Lita

As Haru's weapons come back to his hands, snapping into his palms, the Justice student is already in motion, knowing that Lita won't be content with staying put. He's going to have to defend himself in short order and indeed, her coming assault bears that out quite well. As she lunges for his legs, the Psycho Soldier relaxes, trying to stay loose on his feet. As Lita snags his legs, Haru falls backwards... but just before he hits the ground, he throws out his arms, slamming them palm-down onto the ground. Thus Lita's followup punch sails through thin air as Haru kippups in reverse, vaulting backwards to land on his feet.

Part of him really wants to stop, to reflect, to try to think this through... but right now, the constant low-level push of adrenaline is the only thing keeping Haru focused, so back into the fray he goes, hoping to keep Lita off guard enough to land a few more unpredictable blows.

Running back toward his opponent, Haru again lashes out with his chosen weapon, throwing a yoyo low, as if he were going to slam it into Lita's shins. At the last second, however, he suddenly yanks his hand up, so the yoyo leaps upward, attempting to crack into the underside of Lita's chin like an uppercut.

COMBATSYS: Haru successfully hits Lita with Obsidian Serenity.

[                    \\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////                        ]
Haru             0/-------/-======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2             Lita

The Delta Red Lieutenant grunts as, instead of connecting with Haru's chin, her fist slams into the grassy ground of Stonehenge. She quickly rises to her feet. She doesn't want to be caught flat footed. However, no matter how much she prepared, she could not stop the yoyo wielder from hitting her at will. Her legs are battered and the uppercut with the other yoyo then sends her stumbling once more, this time into one of the stone structures.

She forces her mind into a groove. A mental state where she can utilize both fluid adaptability of the various styles she's learned with the brutal efficiency of her sword wielding style, the one style which she's closer to mastery. She breathes centering herself and then she dashes forward with reckless abandon. She removes the sword from its quick latch once more and launches herself feet first at Haru.

COMBATSYS: Lita successfully hits Haru with Armed Combo.

[                           \\\  < >  ///////                       ]
Haru             1/----===/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2             Lita

Lita clasps her legs on the sides of the Justice High student's head and swings both the sword and her entire body backwards performing what the wrestling promotions would call a Frankensteiner. She uses the momentum to flip themselves both over so that Haru lands on his back. She then raises the sword and brings the hilt of the weapon down upon his head before launching herself in a roundoff to get some distance from him.

Whatever it was that's been keeping Haru going this entire time, it appears to have finally run out. He rolls bonelessly to a stop after Lita's combination attack clutching his head, which was already bleeding before and after all that, is probably much the worse for wear. Groaning in pain, he lies there for a second before he can get back to hands and knees, coughing heavily. He's not exactly on the brink of unconsciousness, but at this point, he's definitely out of the fight, decidedly drained of the energy to keep going.

And that's when whatever it is that's been lurking in the background this entire time chooses to strike.

Devoid of enough fortitude to keep the entire thing at bay, Haru's grey eyes widen considerably, his hands palm-down on the ground, his gaze clearly fixated on nothing. "Don't..." he whispers, voice hoarse. "What is...?" On some instinctive level, he starts to gather one of the only things he think can push back against this... nameless whatever: his own psychic energy. His body limned with pearly white light, which grows in intensity, taking over the grey-eyed gaze, which he turns to Lita and says, simply: "...run!"

Then the entire thing bursts in a huge spherical dome of swirling light and spectral lotus petals, which -- if Lita doesn't get some distance -- is unfocused, raw psychic power.

When the smoke clears, though, Haru is definitively out.

COMBATSYS: Haru can no longer fight.

[                       \\\\\\\  <
Lita             2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|

COMBATSYS: Lita parries Haru's Diamond Resolve!

[                       \\\\\\\  <
Lita             2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|

She wasn't able to hit him often, if she had to be honest with herself much to her frustration, but when she did, she definitely made it count. She then gets a look at the gaze of his unfocused eyes. She gets a bad feeling. That bad feeling is made even worse when her opponent tells her to run.

She definitely didn't need to be told twice. Lita turns away from her opponent and makes a break for it, hurtling over a smaller rock formation near Stonehenge itself. The burst does nip at her heels and she leaps away the blast carrying her into the air until she lands in crouch.

She then walks to the unconscious Haru, removing the yoyo from her belt and placing it in his hand then bowing to him as a sign of respect. She would've gladly shook his hand to if he was still conscious. After that, she takes a deep breath and waits for the next member of the Psycho Soldiers to arrive.

COMBATSYS: Lita awaits the next challenger.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Lita             2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|

No one watching the first round of the King of Fighters final will argue that it isn't on the level worthy of being the leading fight of the tournament climax. Nailbiting moments a plenty as attacks are executed, escaped, and delivered in a professional fashion. The intensity of the venue is made all much greater for the team members waiting on the sides to see how it plays out.

Haru had taken the lead this time, pinning the team's initial momentum on his own developing skills as a fighter. Watching him take to the stage in this world famous location, Asamiya can't help but notice the same distraction that catches the Psycho Soldier's team captain's attention briefly. It is hard to set aside even in under pressure of focusing on such a capable opponent as he finds himself against, and at least for a moment early on, the interference causes a noticeable issue in the young man's precision execution - detail verbally acknowledged by him at one point.

Asamiya can't claim to have ever been to the ancient site before, but nothing in the travel brochures mentioned anything like what seems to be happening in the atmosphere here. Haru seems to recover and his execution of a teleport at a calculated moment brings a faint smile to his teammate's lips. Already, the technique appears to bear a signature of his own power.

But as the fight continues, the sense of anxiety only seems to grow. Even breaths seem to come faster as the final exchanges are executed. His defense against the tension - a point blank detonation of his own shimmering white psychic presence is his final attack. Or so it seems at a cursory glance. That it was clearly an attempted defense that went haywire is easy to see from Asamiya's perspective. Unconscious now, his warning is still transferred and understood - there is something going on when tapping into that psychic potential the team shares in common.

Closing her eyes, Asamiya concentrates, redoubling her own defenses, falling back on years of training under the strict, though rarely lucid eye of Chin Gentsai, she musters enough resistance to push back the disruptive energy that interfered with Haru's techniques. Violet eyes open as she strides out to the open to stand across from Lita. Her mouth curls into a smile, the girl bowing her head as wind across the plains whips at her hair. She is clothed in the similar style outfit she had used throughout the tournament - though considering the fights she'd been through, it is clearly not the exact same one. A short sleeved blouse with red cuffs and collar meets a crimson skirt a little ways above her slender waist. Black thigh high stockings and matching red shoes complete the ensemble.

"It is an honor to face you. Your performance was admirable," the psychic youth declares, lifting her hands, sliding her right left foot back, right foot forward, preparing to move the instant the match begins.

She is aware this is Lita's first time taking stage for the Interpol team. "It seems your team has been keeping a secret weapon all this time," Athena grins readily, able to forget the ambient swell of energy for a moment.

She has already tapped into her own potential, adding to the atmosphere with a second presence that almost seems to fight back against the unseen. The judge barks out the call, the fight is underway.

Drawing her arms back, Athena steps forward, a crackle of rose hued energy coursing down her arms in preparation of being given form. As her hands cross, the power is transferred into a singular sphere that rockets for Lita then as Asamiya opens with her signature technique!

"Psycho Ball!"

COMBATSYS: Athena has joined the fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////                 ]
Athena           0/-------/------=|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2             Lita

COMBATSYS: Lita blocks Athena's Psycho Ball.

[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////                    ]
Athena           0/-------/----===|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2             Lita

There with the scant few dignitaries, officials, technical and medical staff stands one figure that perhaps does not belong properly in any of those categories; a face that Athena would well recognize. A man more elusive than one wielding powers such as he has any right to be, enigma in part even to the formidable psychic, as impeccably dressed as he was on that recent night that he confronted the King of Fighters finalist in Italy. Resplendent in finely tailored, likely one of a kind suit dominated by deep reds and offset by the black shirt he wears, the ensemble accented in ornate silver-grey silk, Kain watches with rapt attention.

His curiosity piqued by both the conflict building before him and the strange energies that now come in conflict with Athena's very essence, the platinum blonde's dark red eyes narrow intently. There is no malice in his presence-- indeed, he's easy to miss, perhaps because of the swirl of power about this place. About the fighters themselves. There's no particular enthusiasm, either-- whereas even the token crowd has no small measure of awe for the fight, Heinlein has only an intellectual's analytical eye, ever applied from a position inobtrusively back from the designated arena... and perhaps by design, the cameras working all those myriad angles.

As a fervent wind whistles its way down from the mountains, keens through the stones, and Kain breathes it in, embraces its call as if it could tell him the secrets of the tantalizing energies he senses catalyzing around him. For a moment, in that cool, fresh air, the scents on it seem to tell him just that fortune, to speak of all they've seen; but it's a passing feeling, a murmur of intuition, leaving behind only anticipation for the unfolding clash; and a tingling on the back of his neck.

"It is an honor to face you as well."

What she doesn't give voice to is the disagreement with the opinion that she is some type of secret weapon. If she had to be honest with herself, beneath any of the bluster she may put on when she's around her team mates, or her squad mates. She is of the opinion that she actually is the weak link of the team which was backed up by her fight record. Defeat at the hands of Daniel Little, and a brutal beat down at hands of Sergei to the point where she was willing to (but unsuccessful) use deadly force in that fight.

With her being both blind to chi or psionics she's ill-equipped to judge or feel the wrongness in the area let alone push back against. All she can do is focus on the person in front of her.

The signal is given to start and Lita doesn't even receive an opportunity to move before Athena delivers her attack. She brings her sword in front of her to guard against the rose hued ball of energy. It drives the replica weapon into her arms hard and forces her to grit her teeth. Still, some psycho power slips past the polycarbonate blade and adds a little to the pain as she slides away from her opponent.

Her mind is still in that groove where both styles work in concert. She takes some kunai from her belt while she holds the sword in one hand and tosses them into the air and then takes the sword in both hands slamming all of them at the Idol with a cricket style swing of the blade before latching the sword to her back and then reaches for the last of the kunai from her belt and flings them at her opponent.

COMBATSYS: Lita successfully hits Athena with Steel Barrage.

[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////                     ]
Athena           1/-----==/=======|>>>>>>>\-------\0             Lita

Her attack executed, Athena keeps her face up, watching the crackling Psycho Powered shot fire toward her opponent as she recovers quickly from her own over extension. Lita responds swiftly - instincts honed by training and experience, Asamiya can tell. Her armaments suggest no fear of violence - if anything, the young woman is armed for a one person war from what Athena can see.

The question is - how will she respond across the distance between them? The advantage of not having been fielded prior to the finals is that most of her style is a mystery. No KOF footage would reveal her techniques, her options, which leaves her younger opponent having to guess at what she is capable of.

Of the threats Asamiya anticipated, a veritable swarm of kunai was not one of them; especially not delivered by way of using that massive sword as a racket! Eyes widen at first as the girl finds herself the target of several angry little blades flying her way. An attempt to escape to the side is thwarted by the extent of the blade storm, small knives finding their home in her skin. Something tells her she's going to wish she wore something several times more /metal/ for this match if that is to be the nature of her opponent's attacks. Grazing slashes slice through cloth easily, leaving thin trails of crimson along her sides and arms. And then there's the second round that Asamiya is even less prepared for, the last kunai sinking into her thigh, pinning her skirt to her leg as she staggers back a step, hissing in pain.

Flashbacks to the ruthless nature of Hayabusa's own style come to mind, violet eyes flashing as she resolves to finish this as quickly as she possibly can before she might become victim even more blood-letting techniques.

Reaching down, she pulls free the blade from her thigh, tossing it to the side - to say that she hasn't any idea what to do with a weapon like that is putting it mildly... best to just get it out of the way. Sucking in her breath, she fights back the surge of pain, focusing instead on the adrenaline it generates. That, indeed, can be put to use.

When the girl moves, it is with a burst of speed that is even hard to catch on film, a crimson and white blur as she bolts in a path straight for Lita. Only two meters out and she vanishes, darting in from the young woman's side, elbow targeting her ribs. An instant later, she's to the left, a spinning kick aiming for her shoulder. Behind and she's sweeping her hand out, a rose hued blade of infinitely sharp Psycho Power slashing from high to low at an angle. Incapable of shedding blood here, yet its effects may be just as decisive if her opponent is unable to escape the instantaneous three hit combination!

COMBATSYS: Lita fails to interrupt Psychic 9 from Athena with Bum's Rush.

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

COMBATSYS: Lita can no longer fight.

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

Lita would be hard pressed to repeat that feat without being in that mental state where her brutal sword specialization and her fluid generalist combative are as one. Even if one went through her non KoF related fights, they would not have seen her do something like that.

As Athena charges at her, Lita moves for her polycarbonate replica sword once more. She prepares for her approach and then Athena disappears. She releases the latch and then swipes behind her to cover her back just in case. Only the flanks are left and she has a 50/50 shot and she charges shoulder first one direction leaving her ribs vulnerable in the other direction.

Her shoulder charge turns into a stumble right into spinning kick targeting that same shoulder she was attempting attack with, exacerbating the impact. The subsequent Psycho Power slash goes through her as she tries to grit her teeth to keep from letting out the agonized scream that is in the back of her throat.

Her body gives out, and consciousness soon leaves her.

Athena comes to a stop meters from Lita, lowered into a three point crouch, feet split apart, left hand touching the ground lightly with her fingertips, her right hand extended out to her side, the last vestiges of shaped psionic energy flickering fast then fading. She's still tense, primed for immediate reaction, ready to try her speed against whatever her capable opponent pulls out next. Blood trickles down her right leg, staining her black stocking. From her shoulder, another drop falls to splash against the ancient, hallowed ground. But Asamiya pays her injuries no heed for now, there will be time to think about such problems after the fight.

It is only as Lita collapses that the psychic combatant realizes that the moment has passed, a brief opportunity to let down her guard. There is no riotous audience here. Only a quiet, dignified crowd off to the side. In her previous fights there was a maelstrom of enthusiasm to draw from while out here at Stonhenge only the air itself seems to pulse with a life of its own. All she can pull from is the intense spike of purpose in her opponent's last attempt and be glad that she won't have to know what was actually planned.

Standing up straight, she runs her hand over a cut on her side, frowning slightly before glancing over toward her teammates, giving Momoko and Kensou a grin and nod. Her expression shifts subtly, turning slowly toward the small audience, sharp eyes falling on the exquisitely dressed, familiar figure of Kain Heinlein. The young rising star would bow her head slightly in his way, eyes meeting his if he's looking, before turning to pay attention to who is coming out next from the other team.

A quick glance makes that... pretty obvious, however, seeing as how only one other person arrived on Team Interpol's roster. Having seen some footage of her next opponent in action, it is hard not to feel at least some trepidation. His opponents... have not fared well.

COMBATSYS: Athena awaits the next challenger.

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

From his seat, Sergei watched carefully. At his table were two soldiers, armed with assault rifles. Next to him were two empty chairs. The one labeled "Daniel Little" was covered in rusty nails.

As his team-mate fell to the ground, the Russian stood up. His burns were just barely visible. He walked up to the stone circle without a word or expression. After this fight things would go on the same way win or lose. Just sitting in different places. All he had to worry about right now was his orders.

And they were to try and win this.

The clouds overhead were of slight concern due to the Darkstalker presence in the tournament. But that was what the AK-47s and the sniper rifle was for. When he faced down yet another psychic star, he simply crouched forward into position.

He thought of all his foes that he faced in the tournament. He thought of all of their fates. He ran forward once the start sounded. As he approached, he lowered himself. He went into a slide on the grass, with his feet first. He was going to catch Athena by the legs and toss her using him legs. He had momentum, and he was going to use it.

COMBATSYS: Sergei has joined the fight here.

[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Athena           0/-------/---====|-------\-------\0           Sergei

COMBATSYS: Athena dodges Sergei's Quick Throw.

[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Athena           0/-------/---====|-------\-------\0           Sergei

Other than a name, Asamiya came into this match with no idea who her opponent is. Fight footage was reviewed to get a sense of what she would be dealing with, but his background, history, and nature were hardly communicated by simple replays alone. But now that she stands across from the stoic soldier, meeting his attention with her own certain gaze, she has a better idea.

An astute observer of people and their natures would pick out some of obvious right away - laconic, tactical, direct. Clearly a soldier or someone with a military background and, judging by the armed men nearby, ongoing ties to paramilitary forces at the minimum. But her study goes deeper still - a scrutiny that passes beyond the limits of mundane observation. He would recognize that for as much he is able to analyzing her nature, she seems to be piecing together who he is as well.

He knows better than to let emotions betray his intentions, and the intense training of his trade has no doubt hardened him to psychic scanning, meaning that his opponent will have to depend even more on her training, martial reflexes, and, at times, instinct to see this fight through.

To gaze at Sergei is to stare into the heart of Winter, Asamiya realizes. And when the judge announces the start of the fight, one thing is made abundantly clear - there will be a blizzard in Stonehenge this day.

Sergei's younger opponent adopts a ready stance - simple, functional, left foot forward, hands raised, left hand held out as if to deflect attacks, right arm drawn back, bent at the elbow, prepared to come in with a harder strike given the proper window.

He offers no words of greeting, no nod of acknowledgement, and Athena hesitates to do likewise, as if even the mere act of formulating a polite greeting might prove to be too much of a distraction the instant Dragunov is already in motion.

He will discover something else about his opponent, however, in his opening slide - she's fast. Her feet are already in motion before the intent of his attack is being caught by the high framerate cameras situated around the monoliths, as Asamiya kicks to the right, pivoting mid-air to land in a slide along the ground. Kicking off the instant her feet touch the ground, she gains another meter of range from him. Does she intend to play a game of cat and mouse, forcing him to chase her around the enigmatic site?

Concerns regarding that approach are put to rest instantly as Athena leaps right back toward him, taking to the air in a steep ascent, the height of her jump already showing her to be a natural acrobat. It is near the apex that she tucks forward, her trajectory shifting into a sharp downturn, as the Psycho Soldier dives right down for Sergei from above. The angle makes it difficult to avoid or defend for most opponents, and the speed is nothing to dismiss. The true threat, however, lies in the wreath of shimmering, rose-hued energy that explodes around the girl - Psycho Power, capable of sending pain down nerves or shocking even the most stalwart minds into relenting.

If she manages to crash through his guard, Athena will finish with a handspring kick the instant she reaches the ground, attempting to kick Sergei away all together in what threatens to be a very convincing opening attack!

COMBATSYS: Sergei blocks Athena's Phoenix Arrow.

[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Athena           0/-------/--=====|=------\-------\0           Sergei

The Russian saw the girl jump into the air. Then he saw her crash down toward him. He had seen this done before, he had done a thing like it himself. Sergei put his forearms up, not to stop her, but to have her keep moving elsewhere. Her feet slid off of his fore arms, but there was something else. He felt a sharp pains going though him. It was her power.

The pain was minimal compared to what Tessitore gave him. He knew this would be a challenge. His foe was the one who carried her team. But the weight of a team is a heavy load to bare. He looked at his foe for cracks in her spirit.

Other then open wounds that could be torn open further.

COMBATSYS: Sergei focuses on his next action.

[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Athena           0/-------/--=====|=------\-------\0           Sergei

Coming to rest with graceful ease, Asamiya is back on her feet in an instant, whirling around, arms already raised. While she was vulnerable briefly during that moment of recovery - the acrobatic attack having some inherent risks to its aggressive nature - even the slightest lapse in aggression is enough for the young fighter to recover. Hands raised, her eyes are on Sergei, noticing immediately that she's been given a window to figure out her next step rather than being pressured relentlessly.

From his study of his opponent, he would conclude a number of obvious things - lithe, fast, she will be evasive a lot of the time. But the resolute spirit in her eyes suggests that she isn't afraid of direct confrontation either. Her spirits seem high - and why shouldn't they be? Her team has made it to the finals of King of Fighters with each team member being given their chance to perform in the matches. But there's something else, an almost euphoric lack of stress of tension in the girl, as if even while fending off foreign energies of this charged location, she is unusually at peace.

Of injuries left by Lita, there are cuts, gashes, and scrapes from a storm of kunai. Asamiya's right leg appears to have received the worst injury - a direct stab in her thigh, the gouge still noticeable through the hole it opened in the side of her crimson skirt. Beyond that, she seems to be in peak health, displaying no injuries of recent conflicts outside of the scope of this very match.

Out of respect for the threat Sergei represents, she doesn't just bolt right back into action either. Her hands open and close, eyes searching his stone-like expression, impressed with how little she can glean from observing this man thus far. Inhaling then exhaling slowly, she calms herself, centering her own focus. She's already hesitated for too long, she tells herself, suddenly on the offense again, bolting toward Sergei with some of that speed he's seen thus far, her arms out behind her at her sides, rose-petal red energy surging along her forearms toward her hands.

It appears to be a direct charge at first - but if the man only guards toward the front, he would find himself caught off guard, as Athena hops toward him, bringing her arms up from behind herself, then... vanishes into a swirl of vibrant pink. He'd have only an instant to realize the technique - instant translocation directly to his right, Asamiya coming down from her hop while swinging her arms forward, bringing a massive sphere of churning Psycho Power down directly over Sergei.


If she catches him in it, she can sustain it for seconds, promising a maelstrom of hurt should he not manage to escape the girl's attack!

COMBATSYS: Sergei fails to interrupt Round Psycho Reflector EX from Athena with Red Alert.

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Athena           1/-------/=======|=======\-------\0           Sergei

He wished for a maelstrom of hurt.

Instead, Sergei felt a new form of agony. He could not only feel the suffering, his senses all were effected.

He saw the most eye bleeding images flash back and forth in front of him. What he heard was an earsplitting, high pitched trill that no normal man could withstand. His guts were churning inside out from the smell and taste. This was beyond normal human senses, beyond words.

From the perspective of an outsider, They could see Sergei getting hit. Then he fell forwards and started convulsing. His vomit was visible on the sides of his cheeks. Blood was coming out of his ears.

This was gonna mean great things for Athena.

From her side of the large, surging sphere of concentrated Psycho Power, Athena can't even see her opponent. It is a momentary blindness, the intensity of her channeled attack in exchange for temporary loss of sight and sense of what her opponent might be. But she knows in this case that her attack connected, that she's trapped her target within the potent psionic assault. Pressing harder into the attack may seem excessive, but the White Ghost is not the first man of this caliber she has fought. She knows full well that it will take more than this to put him down.

It may feel like an eternity of agony for her target as Asamiya leans into the Psycho Sphere, palms out, arms forward, hair whipping about her shoulders as she gives it her all. There is, ultimately, a limit to how long she can sustain the technique without impairing her ability to keep fighting, however, and when she reaches that line, she starts to release the focused will it takes to give it shape. Only... her attempt to end the attack doesn't actually work as the violent orb only seems to grow stronger, energy from the environment feeding into it, twisting it, augmenting it. Her arms straining, Asamiya tries to pull away from it as miasmic green tendrils of an unearthly influence augment its intensity, further adding injury to her opponent.

Eyes widened, Asamiya's arms tremble as she tries to pull away from the vacuum-like force forbidding her from ending the sustained attack when she actually wanted to. Gritting her teeth, she digs her heels in, finally applying her will to the opposite effort, driving a wedge into the sphere and finally scattering it. Gasping, the young fighter staggers back a few steps. Looking down at her hands in wonder, light violet energy crackles over her fingertips, refusing to be fully dispelled even when she puts her mind to it. The effect is alarming on a conscious level, yet beneath her active thoughts, there is a certain sense of exhilaration of her own potential being augmented well beyond anything she had experienced before. She doesn't even feel drained from the attack she did even though it lasted twice as long as she has ever been able to muster it before!

Eyes lift from studying her energy imbued hands to glance toward her opponent. For everything the energy did for her, it seemed to have the absolute opposite effect on him, the man down and convulsing, evidence of severe trauma readily apparent. The sight brings to mind some of her own experiences throughout the tournament - of being menaced by a vengeful wraith manipulating the body of a host-swarmed young man, of being slashed violently by the razor edge of Hayabusa's blade... It it is the hell each and every one of them agrees to when entering the world's arena in an event like this. She cannot feel remorse at a time like this. One false step could decide everything.

Athena blinks her eyes, shaking her head once, standing up straight, her breath recovered. "I'm sorry," she notes, glancing back toward the table where Sergei sat vigil over the previous round, Daniel's notable empty chair hard to miss. "Your team is not unified, there seems to only be discord in your midst."

She sweeps her arms out, foot sliding forward, returning to her ready stance, the energy playing at her finger tips promising more danger to come. She is giving him time to get up - there is no honor in striking a downed opponent. It is also an opportunity to yield, should the stoic man decide continuing this battle is senseless. But she's ready, intending to give him her all. A fighter at this stage of the tournament deserves the best she has to give. Thoughts of a night spar beneath the lamps of Venice come to mind - 'The only real question is just how much of a challenge you warrent.' The question still rings in her ears even now.

Athena's gaze shifts to the enigmatic platinum blonde off to the side. No nod, no smile, just a look - 'I'll show you exactly how much.'

Should Sergei take to his feet, should he not acknowledge defeat, he will find himself under immediate assault. Athena snaps her hands back, arms surging with her force of will made manifest. And then, without hesitation, without holding back, she steps into the attack, arms sweeping forward, crossing over each other, slamming her psychic effort into another cruise missile of surging power. It was meant to be her signature technique - a rose hued ball of Psycho Power launched Sergei's way...

What hurls free, however, is something else entirely - a massive storm of pulsing dark, sickly green and blindingly bright pinks vying against each other for dominance. It is a battle of contesting forces, a gigantic pulsar of vibrant energy at war with itself.

And it is heading right for the White Ghost at superhuman speed.

COMBATSYS: Athena successfully hits Sergei with Shining Crystal Bit EX+.

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///                           ]
Athena           0/-------/------=|=======\====---\1           Sergei

Sergei was just starting to regain his senses after enduring the worse possible kind of suffering. Then when he stood to face the cruel and brutal monster that did it to him, he wondered where she was. All he could see was a green fog. He wandered in the bizarre cloud, wondering what had happened. Then he saw it...

Sergei gazed in horror at what he saw in that green fog. It looked like a wriggling mass of tentacles, entrails, or blood vessels. Worse still, the mass was not a simple lump, it had a humanoid shape to it. It looked like a young girl composed of whatever revolting material it was.

This thing took one of its frayed appendages and lifted it. The finger-like ends were slashed across his burned flesh. He was agonizingly torn asunder by the creature.

Then the cloud faded. Sergei was standing still, surrounded by the stones. He was not ripped apart by an eldritch Athena. He was however bleeding heavily from his ears, eyes, mouth, and nose.

The Spetsnaz could barely tell who or where he was. He did know two things. There was a girl that looked like the thing that just attacked him. And he had a feeling that he should be reducing her bones to gravel.

Dragunov charged in at her with his blood trailing behind him. He was going to knee her in right in the sternum. Then grab her head and jam his knee into her clavicle. Before twisting her around by her arm. It would be followed by a swinging leg over her and throwing her down the the ground face first with his legs bring the force down on her back. He would end it with dislocating her arm. After that amount of time, he would pass out from the blood loss. The White Angel of Death fallen into a pool of blood.

COMBATSYS: Sergei can no longer fight.

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

COMBATSYS: Athena interrupts Pinpoint Fracture from Sergei with Psycho Sword.

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Athena           1/-----==/=======|

The culmination of the collision between the psychic reincarnation of a demigod and the brutal, honed edge of the Spetsnaz commando draws largely only more intent introspection from Kain Heinlein. The wordless glance Asamiya throws his way in the midst of that volatile finish is indeed timed such as to meet Kain's crimson gaze, drawing forth a quirk at the edge of his lips. Her meaning, it's likely fair to say, is at the very least approximated. The biggest surprise in the exchange, which he anticipated to be abundantly brutal, is that Sergei is still standing in the wake of the second psychic maelstrom he weathers.

Standing, and fighting-- at least, as far as his body will physically allow, Sergei's will carrying him into battle well beyond the point where it's wise. That, in Kain's world, deserves the momentary, quiet round of subdued applause he offers for it; for the Spetsnaz's defiance, and for Athena's overwhelming application of psionic might. It's an equation Kain has seen before, but there's an edge to it tonight, ominous for some cause well beyond the setting, well beyond the girl's barely realized, wild ambitions.

For the moment, Kain seems eminently content to stand silent with that foreboding feeling, watching, waiting, considering-- canting his head as eyes that see too much scan through Athena, to the clouds consuming the sky above in their darkness, a wry smirk tracing its way across his expressive mouth. How much challenge does she warrant, indeed? And what of the rest?

Rebounding from the effort poured into her thrown attack, Athena can only stop and watch as the attack - something far larger than what she actually was trying to fling Sergei's way - detonates over the soldier of misfortune, issuing a very unpleasant second helping severely overcharged psionic power. Okay, that might be a bit excessive. It's not the same fighting someone when she isn't entirely sure what kind of attacks she's going to unleash with each effort. Warily, she glances down at her hands, holding them up in the brief moment of time her opponent is lost from her. The crackling energy is gone now as if whatever extra pent up capacity she had collected from the atmosphere here had discharged itself with that last attack. Her expression reveals the girl's own uncertainty, brow furrowed as she glances back up to find Sergei still standing even after everything he has withstood.

That he wasn't bowled over by what she just saw is a feat unto its own, Asamiya's eyes widening with immediate appreciation for what must be pure Soviet fortitude. With a whirl of her hands and shifting of her feet, she's ready again. To say that she's still in fine fighting shape is, unexpectedly enough given the track record of her opponent, quite an understatement. She shakes off the distraction of wondering what is going on with her attacks - there is no time out here in the battlefield for such indulgences when someone like Dragunov is charging your way, born by grit and adrenaline to do whatever he deems necessary in the service of home and country.

Even as prepared as she is, however, he's in past her defenses faster than she can respond, her attempt to weave a guard against his anticipated brutal strike only feeding into his precision crafted combination designed to disable in three excruciatingly effective blows.

His knee slides right past her defenses, delivering an intense spike of pain as her sternum's durability is put to the test, all her breath forced from her lungs in a single gasp. This close to him in action, a trail of blood spraying out in the aftermath of each his movements, she finally comes to realize exactly what this opponent is capable of. He has her by the head, his second knee strike delivering enough of a blow to crack bone in her shoulder.

That she defends at all is a miracle after all that, his deathly grip seizing hold of Athena's left arm with intent of putting it completely out of commission. It is her right that proves to be the issue, however, as in the moment he swings his body up to pull the featherweight fighter to the ground, she's swinging in with her other hand, delivering a paralyzing stab of infinitely sharp, psionic energy in the shape of a blade. It won't draw blood, it won't even leave a scratch, but the result is effectively the same as the teen fighter wrests herself free, staggering back a few steps, violet eyes wide as she looks at the fallen figure of her imposing opponent.

A flick of her right hand dismisses the shimmering power as another wary step back is taken, the young champion still in a bit of retreat from the bloody soldier. This time, however, it's clear that she is the last one standing between the two of them. After a grueling series of close, intense battles, the summit has finally been reached. Lifting her right hand to rub tenderly at her left shoulder, the violet haired victor looks almost to be in a daze.

Almost by reflex, she stands up straight at last, bowing her head respectfully toward Sergei, right arm cradling her left arm. Finally, she does turn, realization that her team made it all the way, her mouth sporting a grin at first as she seeks out her fellow Psycho Soldiers, only for it to break out into a smile in the end.

Out here in the middle of practically no where, the applause is restrained at best compared to the previously crowded matches. The cameras stand silent vigil over the event, and the response from those very few invited to attend in person is completely lost on the surprised Psycho Soldier.

Wincing, she hugs her left arm against her side, trying to keep from jarring her shoulder. That will definitely have to get looked at. Of course, there will be fanfare, and paperwork, and some kind of prize, a ceremony, and that curious promised invitation, and everything else that must come in the aftermath of climbing to the top of such a prestigious mountain. But for right now, Athena Asamiya eagerly returns to the Psycho Soldier side of the venue, looking to share in the moment with her friends and teammates who took the journey with her - as long as said celebrating doesn't involve any hugs, of course.

COMBATSYS: Athena has ended the fight here.

Log created on 20:10:50 07/21/2016 by Lita, and last modified on 23:53:44 07/26/2016.