Mortal Kombat - MK Round 1: Athena vs. Akuma

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Description: It's seldom the elder gods get to see purity of purpose meet purity of spirit. ATHENA ASAMIYA. You'll fight the master of the fist, AKUMA. You'll fight in the pit. Let us see which falls by the wayside.

"In the end, all strength will return to one. The strength of heaven and hell, gripped in a single fist."

Finally, he has found the source of the emanation that he felt that day on the mountain with the oni. They say that he came alone, on a boat stained with the blood of other chosen, those too weak to survive the journey. This place, he felt, was at the precipice of something else, something closer to the next life than even he himself knew. He could taste the electric charge in the air, the ragged split of space. His lips curl in derision.

It doesn't matter how close it is to the afterlife.
The blood here is old, the scent of battles ages past.

That was the only boundary that mattered. In the distance, there is more. Blood is being drawn. It is the closest to the ancient battlefield that the killing intent in his bones longs for. Soon, these grounds will be consecrated in it as well. "The purest expression of the nature of the thing itself..."

The master of the fist stands, body relaxed as he considers the abyssal drop over the edge of the bridge on which he waits, sussing out the approach of his opponent. Relaxation seems to ill fit him--though he remains in a state of contemplation, he is not at all a creature of ease, and peace has fled him a long time ago. The demon's hands reflexively fold into fists even as he centers himself. His patience is a ragged thing, as worn as it is titanic. Even the force of this can be felt, spread out and under tension like the great sails of a ship whose cloths have seen the run of the entire ocean. An ocean of fire and blood. That is the feeling that unspools from the fighter, and it does not take a spiritualist to feel it as much as choke on it.

The Satsui no Hadou coils venomously.

"I sense the indignity of heaven boiling before me. Under this killing moon, the destiny of hundreds will be decided," Akuma declares, in a calm voice yet soaked for years in rage. "And at the end of it, their strength will reside in the fist of one. Flee if your spear is not sharp. Flee if your shield is not polished. Flee if your mind is not strong. Flee and survive. If you do not stand ready to commit disaster with your fist, there is no point in standing at all!!!!"

In this, he speaks long before anyone has even set foot on the ancient stone bridge. But regardless of distance, he will be heard. Because he speaks as if words were hammers, the battering blows of them felt in the stone beneath the feet, in the bones behind the muscle, in the soul under the mind. Because there can be no room for manner, no room for discourse. He turns, hands opening with the audible creak of the hemp binding them.

Because when and if that girl comes within his view, Akuma will fight.

COMBATSYS: Akuma has started a fight here.

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Akuma            0/-------/-------|

In the end, only two of the victors came. While they stood together at the top of the known world, champions of the largest Team Tournament in broadcast history, the Psycho Soldiers would not continue on to the next stage as one. Each was extended an invitation along with an emblem of their right to attend a secret fighting event that they had never heard of before. This exclusive event promised battle distilled down to its most fundamental elements, free of the media blitz, the glamor and pressure of cameras and interviews. The offer spoke of matches that would have the power to shape the world, yet the world audience would never even know they took place.

It was just as well. Athena Asamiya enjoyed sharing the experiences with audiences circling the globe, taking in their adoration, their excitement, and amplifying it tenfold into an intensity that few professional fighters could rival. But she also knew, in the quiet moments between grand venues where she was allowed to be honest with herself, that those audiences could not truly understand the heart that beats in the chest of those who number among the fighters.

But while four triumphed, only two would come. Sie Kensou, the plucky but distracted martial artist that bombed his match in the Semi-Finals, knew he had to redouble his focus on his training before he would be ready to stand alone on the battlefield. And Haru Sakuraba, the young Team Captain that pulled through clutch moments also needed time to reflect on the barriers he broke through in his own intense matches before he would be ready to test his growing potential again.

Athena Asamiya, an idol of the fighting world, a prodigy that exploded through the league ranks while also succeeding under the nearly impossible demands of Justice High, would come. While the King of Fighters tournament had been the forge in which metal is made malleable, she sensed that the island at the other end of a long journey via boat would be the anvil upon which her future would be honed to a razor's edge. She had attempted to dissuade Momoko from making the trip with her in spite inviting the energetic girl along to every other event she had attended since entering the professional world, but her desire could not be curtailed and thus she arrived at the island with her young friend and protege in tow.

Upon arrival, everything changed. The island that would play host to this event was steeped in pain, agony, and loss. And as she learned, little by little, the stakes of this event were far greater than she had ever imagined. Of course, she had heard of those underground tournaments - blood sports - where life was wagered on the cheap and victory could never come without extensive loss for another - but she would never participate in such things... But as she came to understand the magnitude of this event, if one could even fully fathom it, she knew she had to fight.

'Would you not die in battle for your convictions?'
'Convictions not worth dying for... are not worthy of being called convictions.'

In the grasp of Kain Heinlein, the words flowed easily from her lips. Even though she had already learned he had the power to put such bold sentiments to the test, she did not feel her life was being bartered for it.

On this island, she was being given a chance to show that it was more than empty words. The Divinement had proclaimed match after match, a ceremony she had endured with held breath, as dozens of individuals were told of their pending fate.

'Akuma - devil.'

To bear a moniker such as that, one must either severely overestimate their power to enforce their will... or they must truly merit it. There is no in-between. As she looked around the room, eyes and thoughts tracing over countless individuals, some who might be considered devils in their own right, she could not find the one she was to face.

Yet, even as the proclamations came to an end and many wandered off to eat, rest, talk, or practice in preparation for their own bouts, she felt drawn to answer the call immediately, a sense urgency washing over her that insisted she act without the slightest delay. Operating on impressions rather than knowledge, she moved through the grand palace until she came to a mighty gate that opened to the rear of the complex.

A legion of voices called out to her as she stepped out onto the stonework landing overlooking a Great Abyss that divides the island in two. From its depths arose countless voices, felt, not heard, accompanying a howling wind that rushes over the bridge, keeping the hard surface clean of dust or debris.

She pauses, wincing, her right hand lifting to rest against her temple. Elsewhere in the world, her psychic barriers were among the strongest that existed, able to block out the masses and powerful minds alike. But here, the unseen weight bearing down on her mid transcends any Earthly experience. Gasping, she drops to a knee, her left hand against the cool stone, violet eyes closed.

But then another voice trumpets forth, loud enough to drown out all others - felt thrumming in the ground beneath her feet, perceived in the air whipping through her black-violet hair, sensed in her rapidly beating heart. 'Flee if...' Flee if her convictions are weak. The message is clear.

Gritting her teeth, she stands upright, hands clenched at her sides, controlling her breaths in order to calm herself. She stands, one step away from moving on the bridge itself. She has forgone the glamorous outfits of her public fighting career - the dresses, the skirts, the sparkling sequins. This arena is no place for those. Instead, she wears a simple Kung Fu uniform, white trousers worth beneath a crimson Chinese-styled vest with a golden sash worn about her waist. Her feet covered in soft black slippers, her long hair left to hang free but for the crimson comb behind her bangs. Affixed to her comb on the right side of her head, just over her ear, is a golden star that glimmers with its own light against the coming darkness. Within it burns a power she has only barely started to understand within the confines of this island prison.

She steps out onto the bridge, paying no heed to the black pit to either side. '...commit disaster with your fist...'

The girl clenches her right hand. She sees him now, at the center of it all, an essence of pure purpose, more than a man, an idea. Her ears roar, deafened to the sound of the wind, as she picks up her pace, charging for him now. This is not a being who is eager to hear her words - it is violent purpose his challenge demands, and she will answer. On her fourth step, she breaks into a sprint. There is a shockwave that radiates out from her, pushing back against the monstrous presence, carving out an island for herself in the arena of will as she releases her own barriers to devote her all to the fight.

She takes to the air - a tactic not without inherent risk over such an incredible height - before flipping forward at the apex of her ascent into a steep, tumbling dive for her adversary. As she plummets, her body is wreathed in a vibrant aura, the girl becoming a small sun in this dark world, of will given form, of emotion forged into a weapon; she would seek to crash into him and through him, sliding into a handstand kick meant to complete the greeting her mouth could not speak.

It has begun - the fight for her life - Mortal Kombat.

COMBATSYS: Athena has joined the fight here.

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Athena           0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0            Akuma

COMBATSYS: Athena successfully hits Akuma with Phoenix Arrow.

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Athena           0/-------/-----==|=------\-------\0            Akuma

The wind cuts across them both.

He is dressed for battle--as he is always. The midnight dogi was ripped to tatters by the black force that even now ambiently crawls from the lines in cut muscle. It would need to be replaced eventually--the rigors of battle were too much for most of his clothing. Fighting gloves had long since been torn apart by the force of true hadou--he had taken to the lines and rigging of sunken ships long ago to contain his fists. His hair flares bright red, as soulless red eyes bear down on the challenger. The demon's hostility read in his spirit as plain as it might be in the world. She drops to a knee.

And his rage redoubles.

There is no respite, no succor, and no mercy from his judgment. The slightest suggestion of weakness is enough to earn endless enmity. His glare is inhuman, meaning nothing but destruction to everything it meets. It falls squarely upon that woman's shoulders, suffering the weight of his full scorn, as heavy and unforgiving as the falling axe.

In truth, most so-called fighters would have given up there, choking on the air itself at the foot of the battlefield. It takes an aragami's will to stand underneath such an assault, and even more to step forward. In this, the only invitation is from the abyss on either side of the bridge. On the battlefield, you are neither wanted nor needed. The only way to earn its respect is to take it by force.

Akuma's hand raises, his opposite arm flexing as the bindings around his palm are tightened with a slow, meaningful tug. It might as well be the baring of steel. His eyes never leave her--as she stands, then walks, then runs. He can sense a strength in her that entices the dark force within. The only strength he will recognize. The mortal truth: kill or be killed.

He steps back into a fighting stance when she leaps overhead, the ball of his foot daggering the worn stone with force, his arms raising in defense. In a moment, he is ready. When she slams into him, it is less her body and more the otherworldly skill she wields that drives him back, slender legs spearing into him as she attacks through his line of defense, drawing blood. His breath hitches in his chest, his eyes widen.

Yes. This will do.

Skidding back on his waraji, his toes curl, gripping through the straw to exert tension in the stone and slow his reverse inertia. His eyes wide, he roars aloud, raising one hand. Energy crawls from his body, but none of it is focused behind his hand. Instead, something focuses deep within him. The schism between his concern and regard for those within him, the last vestige of honor and humanity left. If his care and concern for human life was lower than any other man's, the focus of energy that wells within him sharpens it to next to nothing.

It is in that instant that he opens his hand and tries to cut Athena in two with the narrow side, starting at the shoulder and going through the hip. There is no energy focused in his hand. But he goes through with the motion, stepping into it with full authority. And when his hand strikes stone, the stone itself will crack beneath the weight of the blow.

COMBATSYS: Athena equips a warm Yellow Soul Shard.

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Athena [E]       0/-------/----===|=------\-------\0            Akuma

COMBATSYS: Athena channels the fortress of the steel will.

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Athena [E]       0/-------/----===|=------\-------\0            Akuma

COMBATSYS: Athena blocks Akuma's Zugai Hasatsu.

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Athena [E]       0/-------/--=====|==-----\-------\0            Akuma

As The Divinement played out, the psychic martial artist had begun to wonder - who in that room were truly killers? There were many who fought with lethal weaponry - guns and swords being the more mundane among them - but how many would put ply their arts to the taking of a life? She had never considered it from that angle. Even as she had struck down the Soviet Angel of Death in the finale of King of Fighters, she had not felt an iota of killing intent. In the banquet hall, she was not always sure about each individual.

Here on the bridge of the condemned, there is no room for doubt. He may not be bathed in the blood of those who had the misfortune of thinking themselves fit to occupy the same sea vessel as the devil himself, but the essence of death hangs heavy around him all the same. For an instant, they are in contact, the brunt of her attack coming from that shell of phenomenal potential she's tapped into for this fight followed by a swiftly executed but far more mundane handspring kick to create a measure of space between the two along the length of the bridge.

But there was another contact felt - she thought the two alone here; no audience, no referees to officiate, no judges to adjudicate. No one beyond herself and the Beast of Battle himself. But when her psychic will burned bright, her awareness found others, their proximity immediate, their location just over her right ear, housed in the golden star affixed to her comb. Why could she feel others there? There was no time to find an answer as she focused on controlling her landing, sliding to a stop in a half crouch.

Immediately, knowing she would be under attack, she kicks back, rolling to her feet, arms raised out in front of her as she slips into a ready stance, her loose crimson sleeves draped over her arms down to her elbows, her slippers sliding along the stone. Immediately, her focus returns to the presences over her right temple, housed within the golden star. Was the yellow gemstone she had received as a token of her invitation responsible for this? Was this the boon from the gods the old wizard spoke of? The crystal was left in her room, she had not realized its importance... yet she knows now its purpose has been moved to the decoration adorning her hair, a precious piece she had worn since the day she first met Sie Kensou and Chin Gentsai.

The effort happens in the quarter-second she secured with her strike and retreating roll, her mind reaching out to touch the souls in her star, only for them to recoil, radiating pure rejection that can't be mistaken. But at the same time they withdrew, she felt power, potential, a promise of strength if she but extended her thoughts a bit more forcefully.

'I need your help.'
'We will not grant it.'

Eyes flick to Akuma - already he has closed in, arm raising with the power to crush mountains - if those in her golden star have the power to aid her, then she must insist.

'I'm sorry... it is necessary.'
'Then be condemned alongside those who put us here!!'

The emblem on the side of her head bursts with golden starlight as the girl exherts her superior will over the trapped souls, the light easily visible in the grim dark that has settled over the abyss over which the two battle. She snaps her arms back in front of her body, bracing herself against the avalanche strike to come.

'Forgive me, I need more!'
'We forbid- ARGH!'

Once more, the young fighter extends her will, pulling from those entities she senses, wresting, even against their consent, a portion of their power in her moment of desperate need.

A fierce cry of fury echoes in her head as golden light courses over her arms the instant Akuma's knife hand crashes into them with bone shattering strength. But for the reinforcement she claimed as her own, the very bones of her forearms would have been pulverized. Even as is, she's sent reeling, sliding back along the bridge, guard utterly broken, the half-length sleeves of her Kung Fu jacket frayed and tattered by that singular strike. The very bridge itself trembles from where his strike finally lands, crumbling chunks of rock breaking free and falling into the black pit below.

Agony courses along her arms, pain that warns her of how close she came to being destroyed by that singular, perfected strike of immense power. Is it any wonder then that she flings her arms back behind her, aiming to attack from the two meters of distance she was driven away, rose hued energy, intermingled with tendrils of shimmering gold, course down the Kung Fu artist's limbs. A step forward, a sweep of her hands to pass them over each other, and a significant sphere of churning Psycho Power is sent hurtling toward the devil.

'We will see you die like all the rest!'

COMBATSYS: Akuma blocks Athena's Psycho Ball.

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Athena [E]       0/-------/-======|===----\-------\0            Akuma

There is no such bauble at the monster's call.

Truthfully, there is no one willing to get close enough to him, or to seek out his lair on the island. He does not acknowledge the mindless, faceless guards, and there is nothing in him that needs nor wants for any sort of hospitality they offer. He is here only for one reason.

He strikes her once, with the intention to cut her in twain, and a gold light intercedes. Even then, by the time he stops, the blade of his hand is buried half an inch in fractured granite. The old cut stone is tougher than he would have expected. But the diaphanous, willowy prodigal remains incomprehensibly whole. The old warrior tilts his head, the crown of fire lining his skull shifting imperceptibly with the motion, lost in the rills of cutting wind that also cut across his dogi. He cants his head just so, as if he can hear the voices at war within the young girl's head.

Like he can see straight into the heart of despair and bloodlust.

His own mind is a battlefield long since resolved. Blood and bodies litter the shore, broken blades scattered amongst the husks of ruined and beached ships. Cannons sit in decay, some missing wheels and some whole, their open breeches long since discarded by the battered and ruined bodies that once were their gunnermen. Only one battlefield of many, the eerie calm that settles after the sky has long since been burnt black by smoke. A haunting call can be heard, and a bird lands on a rotted wood post in cruciform. Lashed to that post is the body of a soldier, his jinba-ori long since cut ragged and stained by the rigors of wholesale defeat. Though his treatment speaks of a former commander, if he had any importance there is none any longer. The bird jabs into him experimentally. His face cannot be seen, hidden behind a full helmet and mask. A pair of swords cross in the ground in front of him, and he sits as still as if he had died ages ago.

But he shifts, and he still lives. Such is the mind of the man who kills.

"A black wind howls," the warrior seethes, anger focusing to a razor edge at the golden light that impeded him. His movements are fluid, practiced. He rises as if he had meant to all along, dragging his iron hand from the walkway's wound. Energy begins to churn through him as he raises that same arm, and cuts into the scintillating wave of energy barrelling into him, his open-palmed uppercut burying to the elbow into the cascading force. Dark energy rips into the sphere, and the violent demon guts it like a thrown fish, his arm coming away slicked in fresh blood.

As the energy crawls across his form, the man in his mind starts to be eaten away by the chaotic black flames, a cold shiver passing over him as the flames leave only bones in their wake.

Akuma transitions quickly, his waraji sliding across the stone as he whirls into the block. Energy churns around him, and he launches into the air towards the psychic champion, his leg ripping agony from the sky itself as he cuts towards her in a full whirling fortress of darkness, slicing in half the space between them in an instant and putting her at mortal odds against his assault of scything kicks. Three steps, three blows, and a final crushing assault to the throat, a wall of black force carrying him towards her, forcing them together, and threatening to blow her off the bridge in an instant.

The energy he brings to bear, it is the same serpentine thing inside his mind. It is beyond a fire. It is a cold killing force. A thing that erodes the meaning of life and survival itself. It accompanies none and transcends words entirely. There is nothing to say when nothing has meaning but this.

COMBATSYS: Athena dodges Akuma's Tatsumaki Zankuu Kyaku EX.

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Athena [E]       0/-------/-======|==-----\-------\0            Akuma

Never before has Athena Asamiya found herself so utterly besieged on all fronts. On the bridge before her, a man seeks to erase her, first by indomitable will, and second by power beyond any she had ever faced. At first, she mistakenly imagined he fought as if this bridge was his domain and she the unwelcome invader. But she knows better now, having hazard the chance to open her own awareness further, at the risk of being overwhelmed. His domain is the field of battle, wherever it may be, and the destruction left in his wake his legacy.

Voices scream in protest in her mind, furious at being called on to lend their strength to hers.

'False Champion.'

At first there had been a fourth voice but in its place echoes silence now, its essence devoted to the life saving defense against the murderous strike an instant before.


Yet she cannot spare even a thought for the scornful trio as her foe pierces her power with his flesh and blood, scattering the energy to the air before it amounts to any further threat. If it slows him at all, it would be difficult to perceive. as his forward momentum returns him to threatening proximity in an instant. His feet become the thresher's scythe, the reaping whirlwind at the center of it all driven with enough force to shatter her skull or break her neck. The sharp edge of a helicopter's blade would be less lethal than the cyclone of death the devil brings with him.

'Again.' she pleads.
'Never.' she is answered.

But this is not a negotiation, nor a request, even if that would normally have been the gentle warrior's approach. Menaced with a fatal plunge from the bridge itself, she extorts the malcontent souls once more, robbing their energy by the strength of her own Psycho Powered anima. The last time, she had to become stronger than the mountain to survive. Now, she must be more elusive than the wind, for even the air itself is being rent by the murderous force of his attack.

'When alive, we were stronger than you will ever be. You will die like all of us!'
'To think you can stand where we failed...'
'Such insole-!'

A surge of emotion is enough to quiet the riotous souls, her attention focused on the moment of do or die. No retreat can be considered, given the forward movement and wide swath of his power. The only option is forward. To the mortal eye, she teleported, feet on the bridge at one moment, then the girl airborne over him the next. The demon would know better. He would have seen it. The instant she sprung up and into the maelstrom of violence given form, her body twisting, folding nimbly, the girl navigating the instantaneous window of space between the first and second strike to flip up and over him.

Upside down over him, her Kung Fu tunic fluttering with the surge of movement, she extends one of her arms, arm bared beneath a tattered sleeve, aiming to plant her hand against the shoulder of Akuma. If she caught him off guard, if there was even the slightest lapse, he would be subjected, however briefly, to HER will as the slender martial artist would continue her flip to land feet first against the ground, and her deadly adversary would be flipped up and over by the touch of her hand and a thrust of powerful telekinetic force to slam him face first against the bridge with the force of the gods themselves.

COMBATSYS: Akuma full-parries Athena's Psychic Bit!!

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Athena [E]       0/-------/--=====|====---\-------\0            Akuma

Jugulars have been severed with less.

As the whirling fortress cuts through the air, his scything kick meeting only the emptiness of the void, Akuma growls, an imperceptibly low sound, the rocks tumbling down the mountainside. The weakness of the Tatsumaki is the same strong rotational force that gives it its catastrophic strength. While advancing in 360 degrees, it is difficult for the user of the killing art to orient, direct or even really to see their opponent.

That is the schism between novice and master.

The young girl held herself as a champion of the daylight, the sort of person who is accustomed to winning, to success at any cost. Anyone else would have shied away and fled from his killing intent. Many lesser have deigned to occupy the same 'space' as he and paid the price. Even the slightest indecision, the slightest hesitation in battle would be lethal. The only way she was even able to walk out onto the bridge was by being a champion.

But the ideologies end there.

Akuma has no problem tracking Asamiya from the center of the hurricane. It is not by simple eyesight that he tracks her--eyesight having been made pointless by the murderous gale between them, if not her speed alone, burgeoned on by the ghosts of those long since past. His is one of absolute focus. Her movements are less seen and more intuited at the saccade level, where the faintest twitch will reveal an entire scheme. She cuts into the second and splits it, navigating the brutal wall of waves as she flips free from a kick that has taken the head from a man's shoulders trivially. No less has been made of dancing with the guillotine.

To say that Akuma is taken unawares by the starlit champion's subtle attack is a bit of a misstatement. While the demon tracks her with only minimal difficulty in the midst of the cutting degree, the power of Tatsumaki is that it draws an enemy into the center of the technique. Though only the Shinkuu Tatsumaki Senpuu emphasizes this trait, the Zankuu's scything chi also makes use of this enormous compression. This means that those who are able to navigate the killing flow have just the faintest hope to just barely touch the originator of the technique.

His soulless red eyes narrow.

Energy breaks and clashes violently as the master of the fist is ripped free from the whirling mayhem below as a strong will breaks his technique in that instant of instants. He is thrown through the air, sent hurtling in a meteoric descent towards the ground, burgeoned on by a divine will threatening the centuries of martial prowess dedicated to developing the peerless arts of Ansatsuken. The blow would be crippling. A god indeed. And if ever there were a thing to kill a god, it would be a demon.

Akuma steps amongst the broken bodies in the war torn battlefield of his own soul. The crackle of distantly burning fire fills his senses, and his grim glare cuts across the man burning at one end of the battlefield. That man, still living, barely croaks. Save me. The master of the fist wordlessly raises a hand.

And then everything shatters.

Instead of changing his strategy, Akuma whirls into a second set of brutal kicks, targetting the invisible traces of will and force on his body, ripping the intangible free with a demonic hammer of slaying might. He brutally rampages onward, killing the idea of being able to control him with a touch alone, stabbing it in the womb where it grew in ill conceived origin. The dream is dead, and the demon is free. He rises. He attacks the idea of the thing itself, and as he whirls, he rises, the physical law of men cut down with helical blades of black force. He rises straight up, and the churning curtain rises with him, until he raises a hand, arm like a scorpion's tail. Scores of feet above the bridge, he floats in the air knees bent, the gale of black force whirling around the corona of black contained in his fist. The clouds above churn, the rills of power from the black sun flailing them into an aggrieved curl.

He doesn't know where that power is coming from.
But there is nothing I cannot destroy. "MESSATSU....!!!"

He unleashes a sphere of his own, his body slung back from the force, the tank-sized black light of murdering intent sinking with crippling finality towards the bridge. There is only one outcome for this. If that blast lands, it will crush the bridge into fragments, splintering the path all along its run and sending entire swaths of the path tumbling into the abyss, old stone smashing against the blade-lined pillars supporting less-affected areas of the bridge. Even in a place such as this, there is no man-made construction that can survive the killing fist.
Heedless, the dark hadou descends.

COMBATSYS: Athena channels the fortress of the steel will.

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Athena [E]       1/-------/=======|===----\-------\0            Akuma

COMBATSYS: Akuma successfully hits Athena with Messatsu Gou Hadou EX.

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Athena [E]       1/-======/=======|===----\-------\0            Akuma

Hope is a treacherous thing to cling to in a fight such as this. On this Bridge of Destiny, she's fighting the Avatar of Destruction, a force as immense and unstoppable as the cataclysmic power that created the galaxy itself. Where this demon came from, how he came to be on this island - these things are incomprehensible to the child just as the ways of the adult world are mysterious to an infant. All she knows is that he exists, and for a fleeting instant, clings to the hope that she has captured the wielder of the murderous fist.

Landing, she knows he is above her without having to look, and that thin silver of faith shatters to dust. Some, like Kain Heinlein, can mask themselves from her sense - a curious ability rarely encountered by the gifted prodigy. But there is no concealment in effect here, no smoke screen, no deceit. Standing up, she pivots - he remains in the air as he had simply conquered the concept of gravity in the same vein as all other conquests. The air around her darkens - a black night rendered even more bleak, but for the golden spark over her right temple.

'You will die.'
'Join us.'

She has danced with death every second of this battle. She accepted that when she charged out onto the bridge rather than retreat into the palace and surrender all pretense of being willing to put her own life on the line for the rest of humanity. Teeth grit, the meteor of killing chi perfected is driven her way without reservation, without mercy.

Its angle is dangerous, the bridge precarious, the young fighter left with no avenue of escape available to her. She is not without the ability to defend herself, however, even in the face of such incredible destruction. Arms snap up, pacing through her ready stance as she stomps her left foot forward, sweeping her hands out, palms toward the malevolence seen more with her mind's eye than not. This is not a time for half measures - her arms explode with rose hued energy that rips down her limbs and detonates outward in front of her, forming a burst of shaped will to be her only defense against the impossible.


Again she wrests power from the ornament as thin tendrils of diaphanous, golden energy wreath their way into the sphere-like barrier in the path, snuffing out another voice of unrelenting criticism. This time, she doesn't even have time to feel the slightest remorse. She knows it is enough to spare her, not enough to put a stop to the ebony sun that descends upon the bridge.

In an instant, her projected power and that of the coerced soul is overwhelmed and then she is gone. Given the angle of impact, it would be reasonable to expect her swept clean off the bridge, left to join the long dead in the deep pit.

The bridge shudders then explodes, massive chunks of stones flying out in every direction. The entire causeway between the pillar beneath where Asamiya stood and the path back to Shang Tsung's palace plunges into the black, fierce piece by piece, then as a collective whole. It is several seconds before the rumble of destruction roars back up from below.

The powdered stone at the point of impact is cleared quickly by the relentless wind moaning over the abyss and there Akuma's young opponent stands, having not been dislodged from her place after all that. That the bridge beneath her feet did not join the rest in the condemned plunge is only because of the mighty pillar that exists directly beneath where she stands. To her right is the gap, and to her back and front there is the coward's way out of this inescapable fate. There will be no retreat to safe harbor, no backing out.

Violet eyes piece the darkness to glare back at him. Her crimson Kung Fu jacket is broken open, the sleeves destroyed, the garment hanging open in tatters to reveal the rose pink short sleeved blouse worn beneath. Her pants are destroyed below the knee where blood rolls down bare shins, her mustered defense having been able to afford no protection there in favor of protecting vital locations. Her hair whips over her right shoulder, blown from behind by the relentless gale.

'You see? You are nothing.'

The girl grits her teeth, bringing her arms back, limbs trembling.


The first word out loud spoken since arriving. "More."

Lifting her hands out to her sides, she lowers her head, closing her eyes, lifting her palms slightly. Her body begins to close as large, violet spheres of obscenely compressed Psycho Power are wrenched into existence, weaving about her in a helix pattern of psionic defense. She cannot hit him before he lands. There is not time enough to build the power she needs to land the decisive blow.

Her body glows as every iota of her potential is forced to the surface, swirling about her, a violent aura few would brave. Lifting her right hand over her head, eyes still closed, the gifted youth begins to collect the entirety of her power into a pin prick, a black hole of immense density. She has used all the time she can manage - this is when she will be most vulnerable, there is no room to hesitate.

Opening her eyes, she looks up, the dark violet sphere over her head expanding slightly as her ability to keep it so compressed begins to wane under exertion. Once more she pulls greedily from the recalcitrant spirits, once more honey hued tendrils of vibrant energy encircle her own.

She sweeps her hand as if issuing an Emperor's Edict, her hand dropping, finger pointing to unleash psychic hell directly for the devil in the war torn clothes, her purpose unwavering. She came to prove herself only to find that Earth needed champions. Maybe she will be that champion.

COMBATSYS: Athena channels the veins of the burning blood.

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

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

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////               ]
Athena [E]       0/-------/---<<<<|======-\-------\0            Akuma

The battle reaches a fevered peak.

Trails of smoke stretch off into the black as the pathway crawls with malevolent black lightning, the aftereffects of the deadly Hadou still lashing venomously at anything living it can touch. Even moss collected on the underside of the path turns black and burns away as the energy crawls across it. Such is the strength of killing intent.

Akuma drifts there in the air, his body still subject to the opposing forces of his own attack. Slowly, the forces of gravity take hold and the demon begins to fall back to earth, his body slowly tumbling end over end as he lets himself freefall. Featureless red eyes long since bleached by blood focus on the young champion, standing against his attack, only so because of the command of that twilight energy, honey and black interweaving to form a consecrating blast. To withstand his Hadou and respond in this means.

It would be a good fight.

He limbers up as the coruscating black, counterpoint to his own murderous blade, engulfs his position, just as he lands in it. He never actually touches the ground, the power ripping through the air beneath him, scouring the sandstone clean as it batters into him, his martial form knitting together, crossing arms just as the fire-haired demon is blown into the abyss, with no grounds to anchor himself against. The matter could never be decided so simply. Could it?

As Akuma stands on that war torn battlefield, the man burns next to him. He begs. He pleads to be set free. "It is a warrior's place to die in glorious, agonizing pain." The master of the fist walks by, striding amongst those long since dead. Time seems a mutable thing in this place. As long as he pays any mind to that man, he is alive. The moment he focuses on more important things, that aging warrior is in various stages of decay. A haunting moan pulls at his attention.
He slowly comes to realize that those bodies he walks among are still living as well.
"Is this the source of that power?!" Akuma rages. A cacophony of souls churn at his words. They plead with him. They beg him for freedom. "Disgusting worms," the master growls, acid bile dripping from every word. "You wish to be saved? You are not even fit to bleed on the grounds of my battlefield." He raises his hand, the dark power crawling through his grip. The more he chanels, the further those pleading men and women go from ever having been alive.

The sentiment, while not spoken directly crawls through every synapse Athena has, a clarion declaration heard in every sky between here and home. The rage and intensity of the will is enough to make his intentions plain, even when it emanates from the dark, cold black.

Akuma lands brutally on a spike mounted to a pillar some stories down, his foot cracking the ancient blood-stained blade. Balance born from years of surviving the most brutal battles coalesces, and he raises on that one foot, entering a martial stance. A creature--incomprehensible, vicious, the killing intent made whole--beckons to him. As Akuma looks on it with bloodsoaked eyes, that old soldier has laid dead for centuries. Akuma strides towards it.

In the end, he suspects Asamiya. Someone who wields power as if she has long since become used to it. Someone who is accustomed to wielding the blade. Akuma knows what she is doing now. He knows. Wood flakes trail into the abyss. He moves. It takes him three strides from where he is to close the space between them. He sees something brutal in her heart, the same thing that lay at the center of all men's hearts.

From Athena's perspective, the ground shudders, imperceptibly. Then it lists, the walkway cracking as it succumbs to twisting forces. A cataclysmic impact ruptures the foothold from beneath Asamiya, as the pillar upon which she stands is reduced to splinters from beneath. A series of blows that strike harder than the most incomprehensible iron shears the tree-thick stone in twain. At those speeds, even the mountains are made of water. In an instant, Akuma bursts through the bridge in a single kick, sending the bridge skyward in fragments. Geysers of stone fragments erupt from below. Energy seethes all about the demon, and the wood flakes off of one of the beads in his juzu. It reveals a red jewel, flaring bright with subordinated injustice and rage.

She wields power like an old friend.
All that remains is to throw her into the forge.

COMBATSYS: Athena channels the fortress of the steel will.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Athena [E]       0/-------/<<<<<<<|===----\-------\0            Akuma

COMBATSYS: Akuma knocks away Athena with Tenshou Kaireki Jin.

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

She stands on the severed ruin, stone continuing to crumble away around her as piece by piece the massive construct yields to the titan of strife's destructive might. Her right hand remains extended for a while, an ephemeral trail of latent Psycho Power left in the wake of the komet she hurled into the path of her equally laconic adversary. Her left hand is clenched, bent at the elbow, held up tightly against her side, ambient energy flowing around her form as the residual potential she had pulled to the surface begins to bleed off. Countless opponents had been felled by an attack of that magnitude, even without being augmented by the shackled dead that she pulls from without hesitation now.

Standing up straight, left foot forward, she straightens her arms and opens her hands, panting for breath as she remains ensconced on the corner of the bridge still supported by the massive stone pillar that vanishes into the blackness below. Hair blown about her shoulders, her worn jacket flutters in the strong wind that rips over the bridge, blowing away the new cloud of dust formed by the violence made manifest. At her feet, a small radius of stone remains untouched by the lingering killer's Hadou, a faint violet glow seeming to keep it at bay, if but barely, lest the lone living being in sight be extinguished as well.

And alone she seems to be, were one to observe the aftermath of the two cataclysmic attacks. The slender, defiant young fighter of seemingly infinite potential perched on the broken end of the vast stone edifice. Her opponent is no where to be seen, struck down in his descent before his feet could even torment the shattered bridge further. To any who appreciated the mere concept of hope, the present scene would seem to allow for such. That in the end, she stood against the demon at the pass and remains alive while he has plunged into the dark places from whence he must surely have come.

But the weary warrior knows better. This close, there is no way she could not possibly know of his presence. Even over the persistent ringing in her ears, the howl of near gale-force winds, and the climate of murderous intent that lingers in the air around her, she knows that she is still besieged by the most dangerous being she had ever faced. There would be no peace, no halcyon respite; such was reserved for those fortunate to not be caught in the battleground of this man's killing intent.

One moment and she has an impression of where he is - that by some means he has prevented the fall. The next instant and every nerve in her body is on fire, senses overwhelmed by an explosion of incomprehensibly intense rage. She winces, hands drawn back, pressing to the sides of her head as she leans forward, eyes squeezed closed. How eternal his wrath must be to manifest as such, how timeless his animus. To be caught even in the proximity of it is to be burnt to ash over the surface of the sun itself.

'He comes for you...'

The last voice whispers, the lone survivor of Asamiya's ruthless harvest.

'This will all be over soon...'

"Perhaps. For you."

The reaper extends her right arm, curling her hand upward, then clenches her fingers closed. A crack of thunder, a golden flash, and her fist is wreathed in another sphere of brilliant light. She would not go quietly, and she would not leave any recourse unpursued. The stakes have been made clear. Not in the banquet. The ceremony that allocated the battles. Not in the reverberating words that greeted her at the bridge. The ramifications of her choice have been communicated by every instant of this unending conflict she chose to enter.

But the critical voices that screamed into her mind? Those have at last been silenced, the last subjugated to her will as she presses her left hand into the essence that lingers and then moves her arms apart, creating a shimmering golden shield befitting a goddess's armament. An intake of breath as she pours her soul into that barrier before taking a desperate leap straight up into the night's sky.

In the same instant, the world around her erupts as the destroyer ascends with immortal speed. Stone fragments of ancient construction pulverize against her barrier, a storm of dust and fractured debris heralding the arrival of his singular, devastating kick. An enclave of demolition engineers would be unable to architect the desolation with the magnitude of the blow. Though his foot crashes through the barrier, the miniscule force lost as a result might have been just enough to make the difference as the battered fighter is ejected from her place in the sky and sent flying in an arc along the half of the bridge that has yet to meet its demise.

Sailing backward along the surface of seamless stone, Athena snaps her arms out to her sides, pulling the scattered power of the golden rose back under her command. There is no time to be scared, no time to lose herself to panic, no time to even think. She had tasted the essence of fighting a year ago when nearly broken in two by one Lee Chaolan. And now she drinks thirstily from the fount of battle itself. For a dangerous instant, the psychic's barriers are dropped and she takes in the entirety of the killer's presence around her, weaving it in and through her own psyche to seize but a blinding drop of its power.

There is an echo in her heart, a shard of divinity touched by the essence of Hadou. Violet wings of ephemeral energy snap out from behind her back, correcting her careening fall into a controlled feet-first landing, skidding back meters along the rough stone, the soles of her slippers ripped free in the process, leaving a slick of blood beneath her feet.

Violet eyes, glowing with the energy clashing within, fix on the living epicenter of wrath and ruin as the dark wings fold around the girl.

And then the bridge is consumed by the birth of a new sun, a supernova of gold and rose, encircled violet forked lightning, crackling outward in an instant. It promises nothing shy of extinction and it is into that corona he would have to thrust himself to find the source this new dawn and put a stop to it.

COMBATSYS: Athena successfully hits Akuma with #Psychic Medley 13 EX#.

[                         \\\\\  < >  ////                          ]
Athena [E]       0/-------/-------|=======\-------\0            Akuma

The void erupts in a geyser of anarchy.

The neverending conflict was something that extended through every vein of the island here. It was in the blood of the island, in the salt of the sea, in the mist in the air--if he so desired he could breathe it in in great lungfuls for an aeon and the metallic tang would never quite clear from the taste. Even becoming a terrible thing, Akuma has found something worse. The 'limit' of his goals lay further than he'd ever thought probable.

That burning wasteland twists and warps to his will. Those who have been granted a second life--bitter, spiteful souls--have been burned to nigh ash, their blackened skeletons shifting against the unearthly fire that scorches the earth around them. In this world, there is no connection the violent sage shares with the soul lashed to the post--that man has been reduced to nothing ages ago. In the whirling chaos of the sky, there is nothing in him that cares for souls, lost or found. Against the Heaven-taming might of Satsui no Hadou, they would all be purified.

Akuma rolls in the air, smoothly transitioning from a shattering blow into an inverted landing, a great section of the ruptured path twisting slowly in the void as the master of the fist mounts it as a viable battlefield. For one vertiginous instant, the time it takes for gravity to lay hold, the path floats in the void. Regardless of where the battlefield is, his stance is iron. From his inverted place, Akuma looks up, towards Hell.

Beneath him, an angel of that hell blooms.

Destruction is a sinuous thing. Akuma's soulless red eyes focus on the unfurling wings of black above. He can sense the 'killing intention,' the sense of a true mortal battle, within the young girl. A power, different from his Hadou. A bleeding goddess, reaching out for anything and everything that will save it. She grasps onto the dark tendrils of Satsui no Hadou, pawing at the scales of the great snake. And then, the true meaning of chaos winds its way into her power.

Energy builds up within her again, the nova of might crawling livid with true killing intent. When she runs out of everything else, she grips onto the truth. That barest hint of darkness is worthy of his attention. Worthy of the barest hint of his acknowledgment. On that foundation is something worthy of being built upon. The only truth a real warrior will ever know.

There are simpler ways to end this.
But none of them will accomplish his desire.

Akuma splits the path in the sky with the sundering charge, his brutal dive cutting directly towards the killing angel, into the storm of her power. He relies on his speed to circumnavigate death, but even his body succumbs to the rending force. His dogi shreds, his muscles shred, the gums of his knife teeth shred. The force flays him to the bone. But Akuma lances into it, regardless. He leaves nothing left of his own, as he wills to being the killing might, burgeoned on by his own brutal excoriation. It builds all into one vicious blow.

In the end, he strikes as a lightning bolt. One fist to pierce directly into heaven and hit the desperate tenshi not in her body, but in her spirit, speared through with twisted Hadou. He will strike her so hard that the earth beneath her is branded. And at the end of it all, if that blow rings true, he will cleanse every earthly doubt she has left in her soul with nothing short of a river of pure agony. It will be instantaneous.

The stone beneath her feet will burn from the impact, purified and consecrated without limitation. Whether in blood or in fire, the holy mark of heaven brands the ground, rendered into an inexplicable obscenity. The only obscenity worth looking upon.

COMBATSYS: Akuma can no longer fight.

[                         \\\\\  <
Athena [E]       0/-------/----<<<|

COMBATSYS: Akuma knocks away Athena with Misogi.

[                                <
Athena [E]       1/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|

The way of cowards would have suggested a retreat from the blossom of divine scourge that consumes the remaining length of the bridge. The way of the cautious would have suggested waiting it out - for surely such a psychic storm could not possibly be sustained indefinitely; an opportunity to strike free from harm would have to manifest eventually.

The tyrant of battle chooses neither, surging back into the expanding star without fear, without hesitation, his purpose made manifest with his fist, just as it had ever since he started along the path to pure purpose an eternity ago. Looking upon the demon that descends through seven levels of hellish divine reckoning, one can only wonder how he could have ever been but a monster. The idea that he was born and grew to adulthood just like any other person to have ever lived seems preposterous. Surely, he has always existed, the one consumed with might.

The twisted halo of divine wrath presents the plunging demon with a unique experience - how long has it been since he tasted the potential of death? Issuing it equally against the worthy and unworthy alike, when did any of them threaten to transform him into a falling star of pure eradication?

Upon the ruined battlefield, he has, for a fleeting moment, a visitor. A being painful to look upon - but when has the blood-eyed warrior ever feared agony - a figure of light, her head bowed, looking upon the lashed man. She lifts her head and looks toward him and instantly knows the profane sanctification he promises to deliver with his fist. Of Athena, the Greeks wrote that she was calm, slow to anger, of even temperament... until at last her wrath was kindled and war became her weapon. In that instant, her wrath is known. She takes a step forward - she will stop him here, out of sight from scrying eyes... But he is the master of this place and in her vain decision, the intruder scatters to ash in the still air.

Below him, Asamiya stands, lifting her arms in a futile attempt to defend against inevitable. Worlds have been shattered by less force; what hope is there for the nascent angel to survive? Even as she moves, she knows it is over, that this is how her story ends - the ultimate period of the last page of the final chapter. A moment of discovery cut short, a life of potential ended.

A tremendous force crashes into her in the instant before his thunderous weapon collides, sending the delicate mortal flying backward through the air, a puppet with its strings cut, her body numb but for her ability to see.

There, beneath the demon's armament of flesh, bone, and blasphemous lightning, a golden feminine figure braces for the impact, her arms raised in the same way Asamiya's had been, the wispy shapes of her feet pressed against the section of still standing bridge. Her wings, infinite in length, unfurl, and upon her head is an armored crown of authority. The discarded girl blinks, her vision blurring as she hurtles toward the castle landing far across the abyss, actively disbelieving yet not at once.

Akuma's fist collides with the soldier of light that meets him in war and for an instant Asamiya sees Athena's guard hold true.

But beneath the purification blow, before the bloody sanctification he promises with his scorched hand, kingdoms have crumbled.

The glimmering intercessor, the mediator for the young battle maiden's life, falls as well.

It is the last thing Asamiya sees before her eyes close, her own trajectory taking her broken body beyond the range of the obliterating impact - the divine arbiter of wisdom and sound judgement collapsing beneath the Misogi, her form scattered to a billion motes of blinding light.

What was left of the bridge is vaporized upon detonation, debris and rubble raining down into the abyss as Asamiya crashes to the landing outside the gates of Shang Tsung's palace, tumbling several times before coming to a rest.

She pulls up onto her hands and bloodied knees, head bowed, her mouth open to release a soundless cry of anguish, crimson spilling from her lips, tears pouring from her eyes at the sense of utter emptiness that consumes her heart and soul. All the energy she had displayed in the battle is no where to be seen, the golden star at the side of her head dim. Her mind becomes a sickening storm of dawning comprehension, the cost of her stand on the bridge communicated through the undeniable loss she feels.

Forcing herself to kneel, hugging her arms over her body, the tormented soul - experiencing true loneliness for the first time ever - looks back out over the abyss, at the few upright pillars of the devastated bridge, skeletal fingers of broken stone, the only memorial of the horrific loss inflicted here.

Of the friend she never knew she had, and of the preeminent destroyer that felled a goddess, nothing can be seen.

COMBATSYS: Athena takes no action.

[                                <
Athena [E]       1/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|

COMBATSYS: Athena prepares to take her last stand against Akuma!

[                            \\  <
Athena [E]       1/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|

COMBATSYS: Athena has ended the fight here.

So, that was the core of it...

Something else is here with him at the precipice of all out war. It is only then that the limitless sage realizes that the hellish angel is far more than even he surmised. He doesn't even need to look up to know, as searing light boils at the ideas of flesh that compose his will in that twisted space.

"The goddess of victory..." Akuma recognizes, even though he may only be greeted by silence by a creature beyond words. As a sage who sought out the root of all power, it is no great revelation that he would know the name of every god known to this world, from Izanagi to Ra. They are the creatures and beings hiding in the bindings of the world from man, and among those he wishes to battle the most. When they come before him...

"There is no place in the world for wisdom," Akuma snarls fiercely, smoke fleeing before the force of his voice. "No place for law. For civilization. Your life's work disgusts me... abandon everything you patronize meaninglessly, or be cast into the endless abyss!!!"

In the end, she stands against him. In some vainglory expression of hope or misplaced rectitude, Akuma is stalked and assailed by the patron of the young woman who strode out bravely onto the only true battlefield in this world. When no one else will on this island of the damned, a golden goddess still stands up for the order of all things, for the life of a champion. She is the goddess of all those things, and of strength, and of victory. It is the only reason why Akuma even bothers to warn her.

Right before his purifying blow collides through the twisted space of his own mind, through the corona of light, through shield, through soldier, and through priestess. There is no room for anything but the truth of battle. The unbridled mayhem of the fist is her gift for grasping even the slightest hint of the darkness within. A virginal goddess patron stands in opposition to the truth of the endless fist. And a virginal goddess is cast down to the stone beneath its weight. There was light, and now there is nothing. For him, there was never any other conclusion.

Akuma's fist meets the earth, but the bloodslaked has ceased to pay attention to what happens thereafter, his view constricted to a spear's focus. How long has it been since his body was actually tested like this? How long has it been since he's tasted his own mortality? It is something he wishes to drink in. Can this woman provide him the truth he desires? His blood pours out freely from his landing, from the ragged mess that has become of his body, ribbons of flesh raised around iron muscle and painting shark teeth a pinkish hue. A constellation of injury curls around his arms and waist snakelike, his chest sundered by light. Anyone lesser would be dead. The stone crumples beneath him, a slow giving rumble.

But he wishes for more.

Slowly, Akuma stands, forcing his body to subordinate itself. The shinigami casts its shadow over him. It is an invigorating sensation. He stares across the crippled battlefield, with eyes that shouldn't be working at all. In a pool of his own blood, he stands, his ragged waraji soaking up crimson. What's left of the goddess is falling into the abyss, the bright scintilla of hope drifting into the dark. The sage feels the stone crumple beneath him further, the ground beginning to tilt. His hands open, the tension finally draining from them. He keenly focuses on what's left between them. The star that the goddess fell to protect. Slowly, he spreads his arms, welcoming.

"Know the truth of despair... embrace the freedom of rage... and when you find the darkness.. YOU WILL FIND ME!!"

That is the end of it. With no more ground to go to, the bloodied demon sage falls into the deep, unforgiving black. His body tumbles in the freefall, and tons of rubble follow, chasing him into the dark. The gates to Hell take what seem like forever to close.

And when they do, they close with a cacophonous rumble.

Log created on 18:36:20 09/17/2016 by Athena, and last modified on 00:46:09 09/24/2016.