Mortal Kombat - MK Round 4: Honoka vs Rose -- Mongoose vs Serpent

[Toggle Names]

Description: "The final rounds will be pre-determined, as my duties as arbiter have, as I've said, drawn mine attentions... elsewhere. Of all, this round you will be battling for stations, of which there are six... The winner of the title of MONGOOSE will battle SERPENT."

Ever since her first encounter with the big-chinned dictator, the fearsome toothed grin had been indelibly printed upon the psyche of the Ainu puppetmaster. Each step taken was tainted by the fear that she could once more be held accountable by the horrifying presence -- forced to maintain a false front of obeisance to a man that she feared -- hated -- more than nearly anyone else in the world. A man who represented the darkest shadow of humanity, the urges to completely subjugate the minds of others with total disregard for their own desires and wishes.

It is not to say that the Ainu shaman would not do the same, given the opportunity. But rather, she insists to herself: she is better than that. She brushes at her bare arms, the faint remnants of her brush with the violet-tressed Psycho Soldier still visible as ruddy splashes of color along her fair skin. Her long Ainu attush has been worn bare in some places, and the shoulder seams have been hemmed up, making it look as if the tribal-styled robe was -supposed- to be sleeveless.

She wrinkles her nose in disgust. The thought of confronting Vega as an "equal" in this farcical tournament had crossed her mind more than once. But never has it been more of a pressing issue than right now, as the Scarlet Dahlia finds herself standing once again under the light of a silver moon, once again in the courtyard of the Tyrant Sorceror, once more presenting herself for the edification of an unruly, bloodthirsty audience.

The last time she fought here, she was able to stay their bloodlust long enough for Athena Asamiya to make her safe retreat. But she could not remain in the presence of such singleminded individuals -- the overwhelming hatred and loathing from the allies of Outworld was almost too much to bear. They had come to see one Earthrealmer tear another apart, and they left disappointed.

The situation is nearly identical this time, with two glaring differences.
One -- her intuition is screaming at her: Vega is close.
Two -- She knows much, much less about her intended opponent, save for the broadcasted fights, and the distant memories gleaned from the subconscious recollections of a certain Zach Glenn.

The Dahlia strokes fingertips through her raven-black hair, nose continuing to wrinkle at the sensations in the air. The unmistakable scents of the unwashed mashes -- murderers, hooligans, criminals of all shapes and sizes. Her lips part, an exhaled breath forming ice crystals in the crisp air. She tries to ignore the dimpling of her skin in response to the chills, casting her eyes across the courtyard. There is a -reason- for her intuition to be firing off, and she has not yet placed why.

Her fingers splay apart, plucking thin golden strands that emanate from the soul gem hung upon her sash. The circular ornament radiates with a honey yellow glow -- it could be brighter, but the Dahlia has distributed some of her soul energy to the companions arrayed around her.
Behind her, the silvered moonlight tints crimson as it falls upon the profile of a furred creature -- a mighty bear, easily twice the height of the Ainu shaman.
Arrayed behind the pair are a half dozen soldiers in Ainu armor, their forms half translucent.
It would be easy for those in the crowd to ignore any of the seven attendants due to their transparency, but to someone gifted with a sense of psychic sensitivity, their inexplicable bond to the Ainu woman standing in front of them would be quite unmistakable -- her presence is intermixed with each of them as tightly as with the glowing soulstone upon her sash.

The shamaness now bearing the title of "Mongoose" exhales another breath, the tip of her tongue darting out to moisten chapped lips. She has been reviewing the mistakes she'd made in previous encounters. Turning over the misstatements made. And she knows full well that her well-coiffured opponent may very well be -less- hospitable to change than anyone she's ever faced before.

Is Vega near by? It depends on how you define matters.

Rose has not been plagued, at least, by the same sort of bloodlust that others have: perhaps it is a blessing, or perhaps it is a curse, although it has led her this far. Her outfit could be mistaken for any of a dozen ninja female figures who have haunted the ranks of Kombat. Her scarf and her hair, less so. Somehow, she has kept her hair largely together, and her scarf is completely spotless -- thus far.

As she approaches the Ainu woman, she looks past her - easily seeing, perhaps, the figures behind her. The soldiers are understandable, and though Rose sees them and does not miscount them, they do not hold her attention in the same way as the bear. The bear, perhaps peculiarly, makes her smile.

And so it is that Rose, who has, perhaps, that maddening sense of being surrounded by, near to, /of/ Vega radiating outwards, stimulating Honoka's awareness quite soundly... is smiling, when she looks at the other woman's face.

Perhaps that smile has an echo of that other face.

Rose's voice, at least, doesn't. "Then you are the mongoose," she states, shifting one heeled foot forwards, "and I am the serpent. That's how it is? Then let us proceed."

The smile fades. "I fear there is little time left."

COMBATSYS: Honoka has started a fight here.

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

COMBATSYS: Rose has joined the fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Honoka           0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0             Rose

COMBATSYS: Rose equips a shining Malachite Soul Shard.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Honoka           0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0         [E] Rose

COMBATSYS: Honoka equips a supreme Honey Yellow Soul Shard.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Honoka [E]       0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0         [E] Rose

The bear had been... surly at first. But once Rose smiles back at the beast, it draws back, closing its lips and drawing up defensively. She knows something -- and the spectral, half-transparent beast seems to recognize the challenge to its presence, and to that of its owner.

The figure called Rose does not appear to stand out in any particular way, aside from the gravity-defying coiffure or the yellow scarf: her dark-hued outfit could be as easily forgettable as anyone else's here on this island, apparently equidistant from both the Ginza district and Fifth Avenue. To the layperson, Rose should only stand out in the stature of the opponents against whom she was placed.

But it is for those very reasons that the psychically sensitive Dahlia is cursing under her breath. The scent of Vega is one thing. But as the mysterious Italian woman strides towards her in those alluring heels, her casual gait is in stark opposition to the formidable presence crowding in upon her senses. None of her spies on the island were able to convey this information to her -- indeed, none of them would have been able to sense any difference at all, without engaging in combat.

The smile is offputting -- the last emotion she would have expected to see upon someone with such obvious descriptors of power.
The Dahlia, for her part, draws back -- as wary as the namesake of her title when challenged by the namesake of Rose's.

"The Tyrant Sorceror has an flair for the dramatic," notes the Dahlia with a dry tone, as her wary eyes cast glances back and forth across her form. Her scarf ... her eyes... the green gem dangling from her neck.
The Dahlia grits her teeth. That's probably it, she surmises. She'll have to chew out what few spies are left for leaving her with so little to work on. In all honesty -- she had expected Athena to best her, even with her considerable advantages.

The soul gem at the Dahlia's right hip begins to glow brighter and brighter. Drops of glistening honey begin to seep outwards, tracing long trails along her form. Each trace begins to adopt a veined path, giving further definition to the thin, acrobatic musculature concealed beneath the shapeless robe.

The Dahlia's left hand drifts behind her hip. The sound of a chain jangles there, and a moment later, the source of the sound becomes apparent. A three-sectioned staff slides out, the two sections falling loose, swinging to and fro.

"It is as you say."
The Ainu's expression is cold, as she has forced calm over her appearance.

"The fate of Earthrealm hangs in the balance. Let us waste no further time, then, mm?"

Her forehead tilts to indicate a vector beyond Rose's right shoulder.
A moment later, she indicates a path beyond her left.
The spectral soldiers tip their heads in a quick salute, before vanishing from view. The Italian tarot reader will no doubt be able to sense the new locations of the six soldiers, positioned in a wide arc behind her, arrayed just out of her peripheral vision.

Unlike in earlier fights, though -- two of the soldiers will be given the immediate command to strike, lancing their spears towards Rose's back.

The Dahlia, true to her word, is not waiting to strike. Her body -- already beginning to glow a faint gold from the influence of her soul stone -- is surging forward with incredible speed to bring the long reach of her sansetsukon to bear. She swings it like a flail, serving a dual purpose -- to test Rose's guard, and to attempt to take advantage of any deficiencies. Should the Dahlia's gambit prove successful, Rose would find her arm ensnared by the three-sectioned staff -- and she would subsequently find herself pulled towards the Dahlia's aggressive strikes -- pulled into close range, to where neither kombatant's weapons would prove to be especially beneficial.
But most importantly -- Rose would be pulled off-balance, as the Dahlia attempts to drag her forward and possibly slam her face into the courtyard with the aid of her spectral soldier's momentum.

COMBATSYS: Honoka channels the strength of the killing fist.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Honoka [E]       0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0         [E] Rose

COMBATSYS: Rose channels the spread of the lightning nerves.

[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Honoka [E]       0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0         [E] Rose

COMBATSYS: Rose blocks Honoka's Kohumumatki.

[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Honoka [E]       1/------=/=======|=------\-------\0         [E] Rose

"So he does," Rose replies, murmuring. She recalls, of course, how she found out that perhaps she cannot die. The glistening honey-yellow glow rises upwards, and Rose's pendant of malachite sparkles as if in reply.

Is not fighting, in its way, a form of communication?

Well, you can communicate a lot of things. Rose feels the soldiers circling round her, and when they come towards her, she throws herself forwards as if to tumble away from the incoming spears of the soldiers. This works, more or less; she cartwheels, but directly towards the Dahlia and her staff, whose lashing wraps round her arm and pulls it in.


Rose appears off balance, but her scarf is on her other arm. The yellow strip of fabric undulates as if on its own volition, which may not be untrue; it slaps against the ground and Rose herself pivots upwards, still wrapped up in the chain but, given her pendulum-like motion up and above Honoka, not restrained closely. Certainly, she isn't eating the pavement (at least, not yet).

Her hands come up, though the chain-staff-wrapped one is restrained somewhat. Her palms orient outwards as she aims to put each on either side of the Dahlia's head and send a surging ripple of that coruscant light not just through her body but through her very brain! Bright, colorful, synaesthetic...

And hopefully, disabling. "Hah!" Rose says as she flies.

And the worst, perhaps, is that the bear has to watch.

COMBATSYS: Honoka blocks Rose's Soul Drain.

[   \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Honoka [E]       1/------=/=======|==-----\-------\0         [E] Rose

The Akatsuki Shadow Advisor relies heavily upon surveillance initiatives to provide leverage against her opponents. Any meeting initiated by her is undeniably preceded by weeks of surveillance, both from the Dahlia herself and by her innumerable support staff.

In the rare case in which she lacks actionable intelligence, she takes the initiative to conduct her own reconnaissance. And in this case, that means probing her opponent's defenses to glean how she reacts under pressure -- a blistering assault that would be more than enough to take the fortuneteller out of any particular comfort zone that might exist in the full view of a violence-hungry crowd. Standing still in the midst of eight equally-motivated combatants would be a death sentence.

The Dahlia's opening gambit seems to have been successful in a reconnaissance measure, but less so when it comes to its intended efficacy. Indeed -- it seems to be counterproductive in a measure as Rose seems to be leveraging the weaponry against her -- for while the chain serves to bring Rose closer, it also pens the Dahlia into a particular course of action as her arm is tugged towards Rose's awaiting grasp.

This will not do.

A keen master of her own weaponry, she opts to relinquish the tool for a moment, rather than be drawn into a trap. With a flick of her wrist, she sends the loose end of the sanjiegun flying upwards, aiming to unravel its hold upon the fortuneteller's arm. In the same fluid motion, she twists about in a tight pirouette, bringing both of her bared forearms upwards into the inverted Rose.

The coruscating waves of energy ripples outwards, slamming the Ainu shaman's arms downward -- a move reflected in the acrobat's knees bending slightly to accomodate the downforce. A shockwave of psionic pressure is loosed, blasting the shaman's raven-black hair outward as surely as if smacked with a burst of air. This is not meant to injure, but rather, dampen the effect of the psychic attack, redirecting it away.

Staggering, the Dahlia reaches out with a hand, snatching the formerly-attacking end of her sanjiegun out of midair -- the true purpose of lingering within close range. A faint smirk crosses her lips as the weapon is brought to heel, carving a lateral arc to steady its chaotic jangling.

It is good that Rose is keeping track of the bear, though. Because, half an instant later, the bear has broken into a full-on gallop. The beast takes flight, tucking his head low as it aims to ram his massive shoulder into the inverted Italian.

The Dahlia, though, is not content to let the bear do all the work, though. Having already been lowered to the ground, she aims to snap out of her crouch into a forward flip -- particularly one intended to slam her heel into her opponent. The Ainu's form is engulfed by a burst of golden flame -- her limbs smear with golden light as she seeks to make her crushing kick slam Rose into the rushing bear cannonball.

COMBATSYS: Honoka channels the glare of the vicious eye.

[   \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Honoka [E]       1/------=/=======|==-----\-------\0         [E] Rose

COMBATSYS: Honoka channels the strength of the killing fist.

[   \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Honoka [E]       1/------=/=======|==-----\-------\0         [E] Rose

COMBATSYS: Honoka successfully hits Rose with Fierce Strike.

[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Honoka [E]       1/---====/=======|======-\-------\0         [E] Rose

Rose is loosed from her chains. Normally a good thing, in this case it does not go as well as it might. Rose's projected force does not smash through the brain-pan of the Dahlia as it so often has against people she has faced here; she lands in a three-point crouch, the pendant of the soul shard twinkling as it swings.

And then: A bear.

Rose throws herself forwards as the bear lunges towards her. Is this due to the noted propensity for suicide on the part of middle-aged Italian women? This is the common wisdom, lately refuted. The bear's incoming lunge of brutal assault is missed-- or would have been, had that been all that was there.

O, tempora! O, mores! As Rose dodges away from the bear, she is struck by the Dahlia's heel, much as the mongoose strikes the serpent: it does, in fact, dig into her chest with that golden heel hard enough that her opponent may get a signal look of pure agony to go with the satisfaction of stopping Rose's momentum -

And sending her back into the bear.

Rose is smashed into, hitting the arena floor hard enough to ragdoll. From her motions, her spine ought to have broken, and perhaps if she were less infused by the sheer effusive force of Soul Power, it would have; as it is, she hits the ground, twitches once, and struggles to resume her feet, dizzied momentarily. One hand goes to press against her forehead. It looks slightly lined, but maybe that's just dirt. Or a scratch full of blood!

Rose coughs. "We so often say 'interesting,' in moments like this, don't we?" she says.

Then she says, "SOUL SPARK" which is accompanied by a snap forwards of her faithful yellow scarf, the shimmering saffron cashmere rippling as the power comes from her, down her arm, through the cloth, and then forwards -- towards her foe with steadily accelerating speed!

Or perhaps... into the bear.

COMBATSYS: Rose successfully hits Honoka with Soul Spark.

[       \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////           ]
Honoka [E]       1/---====/=======|=======\-------\0         [E] Rose

The Scarlet Dahlia's strength lies not in her muscle and bone, but in the way in which she uses her mind to actively control the battlefield. The souls and weapons are at her command -- tools which can be deployed and then allowed to lie dormant until the manner of their employment proves to be difficult for an opponent to deal with. So it is that the Dahlia has chosen the specific Ainu spirits who benefit her most; they may not be the strongest or the fastest, but they provide the Ainu general with the most flexibility with which to solve any problem at hand.

Even if it is a bear.
Bears are pretty highly regarded in Ainu culture, but still.
Pretty much everyone understands the essence of a bear -- let a sleeping bear lie, such and so forth. It was a simple enough creature to press the crimson-tinged spirits from the Interpol into imitating -- a construct that allowed them a measure of mobility mixed with the level of control proven necessary for the Dahlia to abide the chaotic creatures' presence.
The shadow bear tumbles about after his impact with the Italian, his claws carving ravines into the floor as he scrabbles around for stability. Fog spills from its maw as he stands, growling intently at Rose.

The soldiers, too, stand in wait -- constantly repositioning themselves with flits and blurs of motion to retain their position behind Rose's, firmly entrenched within her blind arc. In a normal match, the Dahlia would have to accomplish a similar effect with either inanimate objects or willing flesh-and-blood accomplices, but here on the island, empowered by the soulstone gifted to her by the kamui above, the powers she wields are even more responsive, requiring only an instant of dedicated thought.

It's a number of things to keep track of.
And sometimes even the master juggler misses a beat.

"You'd prefer quiet, then," she comments with a mild glower, springing back from her backflip with a whistle of her sanjiegun -- a swipe with the dual intent of clearing the space around her and providing the acrobat with a measure of balance. In her onstage fights, she says nothing at all -- the intention, of course, being to deliver a beatdown of a physical variety rather than a linguistic one.

But... perhaps Rose is not concerned with outward appearances in the same manner. The Dahlia can appreciate the spectacle of the blotch of crimson across the fortuneteller's forehead -- but gives it a bit too much thought.

Tracking so many other things, she does not have an appropriate countermeasure for the celerity with which the psionic flames rush outwards to her. Eyes widen, as the Scarlet Dahlia finds her dive to the side slowed by the weapon spinning at her side. The soul energy slams into her, forcing her to drop to one knee as the discordant thoughts ripple through her nervous system, conflicting imagery overriding her mental picture of the battlefield. Her eyes screw shut, and her lips curl into a sneer, as her free hand goes to her head -- her other hand pinning the spinning sanjiegun before it can cause any collateral damage to her.

Hoarse whispers tumble from her lips as she requests a status update from her subordinates -- and with that, her eyes open, gleaming with golden energy. The droplets of honeyed energy begin coarsing across her form with a bit more rapidity, as she leaps back to her feet, shadowed by the jangling sanjiegun at her right.
With a measured exhale, calmness sweeps back across her face -- save for the narrowed eyes she reserves for her opponent.
"I never was much one for talking in fights."

She leaps forward -- and her moccasins touch the ground an instant later.
The next time her moccasins touch the ground, she has abruptly leapt to a distance of only one meter from Rose, her form trailing with smears of golden light. Her left hand lurches out for Rose's scarf, aiming to pull her close...

COMBATSYS: Rose blocks Honoka's Iomante.

[       \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////              ]
Honoka [E]       0/-------/----===|=======\=------\1         [E] Rose

The Dahlia's left hand, blurred from the sheer speed of her motion, erupts with a leonine ferocity, fed by a line of veins running directly into the soul gem, wreathed in a mane of golden energy as it grabs hold of Rose's dark-tinted couture. The danger here, though, is in the -velocity- -- for the Ainu woman is still rocketing forward with her shadow-stepped momentum as she holds on tightly.

Her sanjiegun whistles sideways as a followup, but it is not for speed but power as all three sections are clutched tightly in her right hand. A blistering array of strikes is delivered towards the face, shoulders, and neck in an attempt to bludgeon her way past Rose's guard. The power would continue to grow in her left hand -- psychic power growing at such a furious rate that it would be poised to lift Rose right off her feet into the air...

Ah, that honey-sweet energy is rising. Rose spots it even as she lands, her hands going to her hips as if on reflex. "Now, now," she says. "We can have a conversation. I just like to mix things up a little. How long have you been fighting in this--"

She's coming. Rose finishes exhaling out, "Tournament--" but she already has to move herself. The Dahlia seizes her scarf, but the scarf itself bucks underneath her grasp. Rose sucks in a deep breath as she's drawn forwards, the scarf billowing outwards, shimmering like yellow foil of refulgent invincibility!

But that's not where the threat is coming from. Ah, Rose thinks as she's pulled inwards and the blistering blows come down, one striking her across the cheekbone with a loud CRACK, another smashing into her collarbone: That was the feint.

Her unsheathed arm comes up, warding off some of the force of the strikes - or at least displacing them into her arm, though as the Dahlia's fury grows, the impacts start to become more energy against energy rather than wood against flesh - Rose is drawn upwards by the steady trajectory of those cumulative vectors. She stops resisting - a breakthrough?

Not quite. Rose lets herself rise, but as she does she snaps a sparkling kick towards the Dahlia's midsection, as much to send her propelled backwards (and away from further beatings) as to try and put a dent in her foe's clavicle.

Though, well: not entirely against the clavicle-dent scenario. "Hnh!" Rose manages to say afterwards, but that flurry of blows seems to have put HER out of the talking mood, too.

COMBATSYS: Honoka channels the fortress of the steel will.

[       \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////              ]
Honoka [E]       0/-------/----===|=======\=------\1         [E] Rose

COMBATSYS: Honoka blocks Rose's Medium Kick.

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////              ]
Honoka [E]       0/-------/----===|=======\=------\1         [E] Rose

The Dahlia's onslaught tapers off as soon as she realizes her aggressive, unrelenting assault was being counteracted by the Italian's patience and wisdom -- nerves of steel making up for the few gaps in her steadfast defense. Accordingly, the floral petals of the Ainu woman's energy had already begin to flutter away from the central blossom as Rose is drawn upwards.

Perhaps the Dahlia had been going about this fight wrong -- trying to fight the fortuneteller in a one-to-one exchange of soul power would likely fare poorly for the younger of the two. As much as Rose can allow the energies to rise upwards, she can also cleave through the gravitational pull, her heel slicing right through the wavefront in a shower of sheared petals towards the Dahlia.

Determination writ across her face, the Scarlet Dahlia twists her honey-hued hand into the blow while taking a step back, meeting the strike head-on. It is not a perfect defense -- the Italian's heel cuts through the golden soul-shielding with a spray of crimson, jarring the Ainu woman's hand aside in the result.

The same hand is curled inward as the Dahlia swings around, her lips curled back in a mix of enmity and pain. Her opponent insists on asking the questions?
"As long as you have!" she cries, the anger seeping into her tone as the golden energy creeps into the wound, sealing the bulk of the cut before more blood can be lost.

She narrows her eyes, extending her senses outward.
The bear is still drawn back, holding still for now as it keeps its gaze locked onto the fortuneteller. Its mouth hisses, the mist spilling from its cavernous maw.
It appears to be talking to the Dahlia.
In fact -- one thought causes her eyebrow to raise.

"If you insist, though -- perhaps you can illuminate me as to the rationale behind giving Daniel Little a third chance to foment fear and distrust through the Earthrealm forces."

Her injured left hand makes a tiny sweeping gesture -- and two of the soldiers slide into Rose's view, taking positions behind the Dahlia. She leaps forward -- and the two soldiers are suddenly streaking forward, carrying their general forward as she brings the sanjiegun high. One violent downswing brings the tripled-up sanjiegun downwards at Rose's clavicle. The reverse swing would slam the opposite end of the weapon into Rose's sternum, while a third would crack the weapon upwards into her chin. The key element of the attack is the cerulean soldiers' celerity, though -- the Ainu shaman's momentum alone would carry her past the Soul Savant...

But the jangle of the sanjiegun's chains would prelude that which would come next: the weapon unfurling, its chain wrapping around Rose's ankles. And the Dahlia's speed would carry her further, taking Rose right off her feet and skipping her across the courtyard.

COMBATSYS: Honoka channels the glare of the vicious eye.

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////              ]
Honoka [E]       0/-------/----===|=======\=------\1         [E] Rose

COMBATSYS: Rose channels the fortress of the steel will.

[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////              ]
Honoka [E]       0/-------/----===|=======\=------\1         [E] Rose

COMBATSYS: Honoka successfully hits Rose with Shitumbe Marapto.

[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Honoka [E]       1/------=/=======|=======\====---\1         [E] Rose

Ah good, Rose thinks. Time, at least, has not been distorted. Then she sees the bear, and how it speaks to the -- hm. That's never good, is it? Very few good things come from heeding the words of a bear, other than her gaining a moment to prepare herself.

The pendant at her neck gleams. "Rationale?" Rose asks, brow furrowing.

Regret fills her. Did she make an error there? Has she followed the wrong path? And then she is given a shock - for she has made a mis-estimation. Rose had assumed that the soldiers would function independently, manifestations of the power of the Dahlia or perhaps the shades of those she had slain. Instead, they BEAR HER UP -

It always comes back to that word, doesn't it?

- and in she comes. The blow against her chest makes her crumple and the blow upwards does send blood flying out of her mouth as she hunches downwards, especially when she's smashed in on the counter-counterstroke and her head twists backwards. For a sick moment she wonders if her head's about to come off her spinal column, in a sort of bloodily anticipatory way, but she is not so lucky, no.

The chain wraps around her ankles. Hurled as she is, Rose does not tumble - instead, face-down, she skids across the arena floor, leggings tattering and agony drawing out an alto groan of dismay as she's given the dubious privilege of range. She lands, in dust and blood, having shed one of those frippy shoes along the way.


Rose's leg twitches once. Twice.

She kicks loose her other shoe. Pushing herself upwards, shaking slightly, Rose says, "To foment... fear and distrust... throughout the Earthrealm forces? My dear lady, I barely understand what you speak of... I have walked alone through this miserable routine of bloodsport. It has already done what I had thought impossible. One who is far worse than that man could possibly be has died..."

Rose pushes herself up to her knee, then to a crouch, then rises upwards, turning round to face the Dahlia as she does.

"And he pleaded with me, to remember him after his death. I regret that you disapprove of what I did," Rose concludes, with a momentary swagger and a hand going to her hip as she reaches her full carriage again. "But the act came from a place of mercy."

Rose's arms come up as she keeps stepping forwards. Light flickers around her, subtly. "A thing, I suppose, against the spirit of this place..."

The flickers focus, coming together around her. The Dahlia's sensitivities no doubt will let her see the forming eddies of Soul Power before they spark to shimmering pastel visibility. Not one but two, rotating around Rose as she closes the ground, the shimmering orbs not dissimilar to her Soul Sparks: But, of course, now they're around her, whirling to move against those who might intrude.

Rose herself starts /running/. Her own action beyond this manifestation is much simpler: to try and strike at the Dahlia several times with an erupting violet-green light around her arm and conclude with an effort at a hip toss. But the real action, of course, are those spiralling balls of death!

Soul. Not death.

COMBATSYS: Rose channels the strength of the killing fist.

[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Honoka [E]       1/------=/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2         [E] Rose

COMBATSYS: Rose channels the glare of the vicious eye.

[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Honoka [E]       1/------=/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2         [E] Rose

COMBATSYS: Honoka channels the fortress of the steel will.

[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////                     ]
Honoka [E]       1/------=/=======|-------\-------\0         [E] Rose

COMBATSYS: Honoka blocks Rose's #Soul Satellite#.

[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////                     ]
Honoka [E]       1/------=/=======|-------\-------\0         [E] Rose

Don't count the bear out yet. The Ainu treat the bears like family. ... Well, kinda.

The Dahlia pirouettes away as Rose is hurled across the courtyard arena. The audience pumps their fists upward in riotous cheering, happy to receive the boon of bloodshed in contradiction to the thought of two Earthrealmers who might otherwise have had no intent to visit harm to one another.

One moccasin touches down onto the courtyard floor, then the other. The turning momentum is halted by a well-timed snap of the Ainu woman's sanjiegun. The flecks of crimson freshly painted across her elmbark attire -- Rose's blood, loosed from the prior attacks -- are the true reason for the Scarlet Dahlia's colorful moniker. But it will be sadly difficult for the eager audience to make the connection, as the droplets are all but invisible next to the brilliant glow of the golden veins networked across the Ainu shaman's soul-empowered body.

Rose rises -- and the Dahlia responds to her clarification with a disbelieving frown.
She does not seem willing to contest the thought -- mercy is, after all, the reason the Dahlia had chosen to put Daniel out of his misery, and draw some of his tormentors under her wing.
"I can only pray that your mercy does not doom us as it has the past nine tournaments."

She narrows her eyes at the eddies of Soul Power beginning to form. She lets out a whistle.

The bear springs into action, leaping forward. He does not aim to charge into the rushing Rose -- rather, he leverages his considerable girth towards the Ainu tusukur herself. But rather than bowl her over bodily, the ursa vanishes a moment before impact.
A split second later, the bear's strength has been added to her own.
The flocked crimson fur sprouts out from her elbows and forearms, knees and shins. The fearsome, snarling maw frames her own facial features, as the shaman wears the shadow bear as if it were a divinely-charged pelt.

As Rose rockets inward, the tusukur raises her left forearm into the blow, heading the strike off at the pass. Her arm shudders backwards, but the flocked fur of the bear avatar remains steadfast.

WHAM. One soul satellite slams into the ursine maw. Splashes of amethyst and viridian energy splatter across the fur, as the bear spirit howls in agony -- and yet, the Dahlia moves beneath the protective shell of ursine armor.
Still, the onslaught from Rose continues -- and still, the Dahlia moves to defend, forcing the bear spirit's flesh to take the heat of each of the strikes while only a fraction of the impact is passed along to herself. In each exchange, the Dahlia's body moves as if a skeleton tethered to the translucent bear by a faint tapestry of golden threads: the bear moves more like a marionette than an actual bear. Each block from the Dahlia is mimicked by the bear -- if it had bones, they would be stretched to the breaking point from each of their tamer's defensive postures.

WHAM! Another spirit orb slams into the bear from behind, a similar gout of purple and green decimating its upper torso. The crimson shadows wear thinner from impact, gaps visible from both substantial impacts, as the satellites continue to orbit in diminished fashion.

The look of madness is present upon the Dahlia, though -- a look of giddy delight, in the midst of a sea of the bear's howling agony.

But even that cannot stand long -- as the much diminished soul satellites whirl around for one more pass. The bear can no longer hold together -- chewed apart from the head, and the center, it begins to falter. The Dahlia's grin begins to falter as well, for while the satellites have done their work at tearing away her defenses, the bear will need a moment to regroup. She exhales sharply, pulling free of the bear for the last motion -- as Rose grabs her for the hip toss.

It is here that the Italian fortuneteller may see the acrobatic training come to play, as the Twilight Star leans into the toss, hitting the ground with her shoulder and rolling away, even as the shadow bear bends over backwards, nearly broken in twain from its ardent defense of the Ainu spirit-general.

"While you claim to see into the future, I have learned from the past. Both as it pertains to Daniel Little -and- this tournament."
Both Outworld and the Interpol investigator are too persistent to be trusted.

The Dahlia rises back to her feet. The soul stone at her hip is no longer shining with such egregious brightness. But while her bear whimpers, its spine and joints cracked, the Dahlia's fatigue is shown more in her slight listing to her left side -- favoring the sanjiegun in her right.
Until she tosses the sanjiegun into her left hand, the three segments collapsing within her grasp.
She flashes an invigorated smirk at Rose -- a smirk that flashes bright for a moment with a brief surge of power -- a surge that starts at her head, and ripples its way downward to her knees.
"For now, we must let their deaths count for something!"

The ripple hits the ground with a burst of light And the Dahlia launches forward again -- this time leading with her outstretched right hand. Should she reach her goal of coiling her fingers around Rose's neck, her momentum would carry the pair to the ground -- with the Dahlia pinning her to to the ground.

A bolt of lightning would crack out from her outspread hand -- a bolt of lightning powerful enough to flash a pink-hued glare across the faces of the audience.

COMBATSYS: Honoka channels the strength of the killing fist.

[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////                     ]
Honoka [E]       1/------=/=======|-------\-------\0         [E] Rose

COMBATSYS: Honoka channels the glare of the vicious eye.

[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////                     ]
Honoka [E]       1/------=/=======|-------\-------\0         [E] Rose

COMBATSYS: Rose channels the spread of the lightning nerves.

[            \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////                     ]
Honoka [E]       1/-------/=======|-------\-------\0         [E] Rose

COMBATSYS: Rose deflects Niwen Horobi from Honoka with Soul Reflect.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Honoka [E]       1/-----==/=======|==-----\-------\0         [E] Rose

The ripple of light comes towards her -- the Dahlia launches -- and Rose simply and directly crosses her arms, tilting her head downwards. That hand makes it towards her neck JUST as her scarf rises up, twirling around her neck as if to protect Rose from a sudden chill --

And why shouldn't it? Where else would a scarf belong?

Nonetheless it GLOWS now, not merely conveying light but illuminating like a glass tube made vacant and filled with carefully chosen neon cases and then touched with yea many volts and amps of electrical force. Touching it stings, though not much, for the focus is on repelling - expulsive pressure, sending the Dahlia twisting past Rose, her fingers running over a momentarily super-slick surface that expands even as she touches it.

The lightning crashes...

Rose is unfallen. Though she does, perceptibly, sway afterwards. Her insouciant attitude fades as pain crosses her face, which looks rather ashen. (The other reason for makeup, even in battle.)

"... I'm afraid that you've - lost me. But perhaps in this arena, arguments have nothing whatever to do with reason, or even with emotion... only force can settle matters."

The Dahlia's surging flight is redirected with a swiftness she had not anticipated -- the scarf, obeying commands from the Soul Savant just as effortlessly as the soldiers and the bear marching to her own call. The simple piece of cloth, embodied with soul power, entangles itself around her glowing hands, searing its way through her nerves. The acrobatic Dahlia is ensnared, hurled about on a higher arc, and left to her own devices.

If it were as simple as it looked, the Akatsuki Advisor would have had no difficulties in snapping out of the blow. But her nerves are fried -- her body pulled taut as all the muscles contract at once. The sanjiegun falls from her grasp -- chain clanking, the lacquered wood staves clacking as they collide with the courtyard floor. The veins of golden energy fade to almost invisibility, so intense was the shock to her system. Her body moves as solidly as a brick, frozen in position as if by rigor mortis, for a painfully long period of time.

All the Dahlia can do is watch through her fixed-open eyelids as the world revolves around her, her muscles unwilling to respond.

The thump of the earth jars her body back into autonomous motion. She rolls limply on the floor, carried forward by her own momentum. Her flesh was momentarily deadened to the impact, but at least she is no longer completely immobilized.

No -- as those words from Rose float back over to her, the Dahlia curses under her breath. The veins radiate outwards, the emptied vessels of soul energy refilling with brilliant intensity. The spirit soldiers are illuminated in the sudden upsurge of light: five warriors lending their strength to bring the Dahlia back to her feet.

That she should have spent so much time -talking- about her plans rather than actually doing something... no wonder she had been shaken so! The Dahlia quakes with rage at the realization that Rose is... questioning her! Just like the others -- demanding her to hold herself to lofty morals like 'honor' and 'mercy,' complacent to watch the flock of humanity as they are slaughtered for the whims of Outworld!

She scowls with disgust, her features ablaze with golden intensity. Her hand stretches outward. The sanjiegun lifts into the air, ferried back to her by the sixth spectral soldier.

"It doesn't matter," she declares, her raven-black tresses tossed about in a rising torrent of psychic force. Moments before, she was enraged -- but now, she is refreshed with a renewed sense of purpose. Her lips curl into a cruel, confident smile.

The soldiers stand apart from the Dahlia, their weapons stowed upon their backs and at their hips. Their hands curl backwards, as their own force is marshalled as well.

"Let us finish this now -- so that the mantle of history may fall upon the rightful victor's shoulders."

The soldiers thrust their hands forward -- a tsunami of psychic force hurtling the Dahlia forward in a low approach, her knees hovering just a centimeter from the ground. The sanjiegun looses a keening cry as it cleaves an upwards arc, aiming to shatter bone as it streaks its way towards Rose's upper torso. A pirouette, and the long weapon scythes around to strike again, crashing into a shoulder. A third, a fourth, a fifth strike is delivered, each blow enough to break the skin and leave a most horrid complexion in their wake.

It would all culminate towards a final strike, surely.
But the orchestra of pain would conclude about half a second before expectations, as the Dahlia's knee snaps outward, providing a fulcrum around which the Italian can be whipped about -- towards the ground.
There is kind of a theme at work here.

COMBATSYS: Honoka issues a challenge!!

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Honoka [E]       1/-----==/=======|==-----\-------\0         [E] Rose

COMBATSYS: Honoka channels the glare of the vicious eye.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Honoka [E]       1/-----==/=======|==-----\-------\0         [E] Rose

COMBATSYS: Honoka successfully hits Rose with Urara Kando.
- Power hit! -

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /                             ]
Honoka [E]       0/-------/------=|=====--\-------\0         [E] Rose

It doesn't matter?

The soldiers render their attention and the Dahlia smirks with her growing power. Rose feels a premonition of despair. The malachite around her neck is not shining any more - it, too, is spent, at least for now.

'Now,' of course, implies a 'future,' which may not be the case. When she sees the soldiers thrust their hands forwards in unison, Rose wonders bleakly - have I erred? Did I not see this? Have I come unstuck, out of balance - am I just an echo now, with THAT MAN's demise -

Weary and sore, she does not do more than stiffen up as the weapon smashes into her. Rose's rib cracks, actually cracks this time; the second blow, to the shoulder, makes her start to spin. More come down, ripping into skin and filling her with agony. She twists round, raising her arm. Her scarf flares to light, to life, preparing for a final blow --

It doesn't come the way she thinks it would. Rose wonders for a moment if that knee coming in to strike her in her abdomen will truly reach the interior side of her back - for it certainly feels that way - blood flies from her lips as she goes flying.

She does not control her roll. She does not brace herself with Soul Power. Inertia gives her the dubious blessing of rolling to a stop instead of skidding, which might spare her some abrasions.

This time she does not get up. Or speak; or even, indeed, groan.

The Scarlet Dahlia has been taking a pragmatic view of the entire tournament thus far. People live, people die -- and in the end, once someone is eliminated from the tournament ladder, they are vulnerable to defeat, no longer shielded by the defensive barriers of the soul stones, no longer protected by the tournament edicts. They may have lost the right to progress in the tournament proper, but a multitude of loopholes ensures that the fallen may still enter in kombat with those who retain that right.

It is for that reason alone that the Dahlia deemed Sergei Dragunov and Daniel Little as risks to Earthrealm's success -- their flexible morality and questionable loyalties made them unacceptable wild cards in this game with far-reaching implications.

That a fortuneteller like Rose could profess ambivalence towards the future ramifications was enough to incite the Dahlia to rage -- an emotion which would empower each of the Dahlia's strikes, power enough to overwhelm the Soul Savant.

And in the wake of the attack, the Dahlia stands apart, unwilling the press any further. Gleaming with the yellow energy, she steps back -- her glowing feet hovering a good foot or so above the ground. The sanjiegun is lifted about, its chain whistling an arc towards her left hip, one moment before she stops it with an upraised hand.

"Rose," she begins, narrowing her eyes to look down at the Italian. At the beginning of battle, her defenses were considerable -- indeed, without the foreign powers of the shining soul stone at her hip, they would likely be more than adequate to rebuff any attack the Dahlia could sling her way. But now... she senses weakness, fatigue -- an opportunity to speak at more length.

The audience's cries meld together into a dull roar -- their bloodlust knows no bounds. In this battle, the mongoose -- immune to the venom of the serpent -- stands victorious. The Dahlia's dominant position is undeniable now -- if not for the malachite pendant upon the Italian's person, she would have the opportunity to cast the finishing blow. But the audience does not know this -- all they see is one soul-enflamed woman standing over another.

Just to allay any doubts as to her confidence, the Dahlia calmly retracts her sanjiegun, stowing it back upon the loop of cloth upon her sash -- in open defiance to the cries from the crowd.

"You have done me a great honor in fighting with all your strength. But I have two more favors to ask of you, as this war with Outworld rages on."

The Dahlia frowns, moistening her chapped lips with the tip of her tongue. It is never fun having philosophical discussions with someone on the verge of consciousness -- how much of this can Rose actually hear? It would be a simple matter to ascertain, if not for the psion's formidable subconscious defenses.

The Dahlia draws in her breath. And with it, the golden power sheathing her form ebbs, the flow reversing to draw the majority of the energy back into the supreme soul shard. Her moccasins tap down onto the courtyard floor once more.

An official, standing in lieu of the Tyrant Sorceror, declares a victory.

And only now, with her powers ebbing, do the bruises and cuts across her bared arms and flesh become apparent. Only now is it possible to see the worn fabric, nearly the same shade as the base color. Only now do the spectral soldiers begin to fade from view, their essences conveyed in golden threads returning to the soul shard. And only now do the crimson tendrils of the bifurcated bear begin to flutter away like dandelions on the breeze, the light contained within them similarly returning to the shard.

The Dahlia drops to one knee, all vestiges of ire having faded from her expression long ago.

"I will need your advice for the battles ahead," she states -- hoping that her words can cut through the fog of battle fatigue.

"And I will ask for your strength, as I have gathered the strength of those before you -- solely to better our chances in the final rounds of this terrible tournament. I pray you can find it in your heart to trust me that far."

Rose does not answer. Perhaps she is dead or comatose.

No. Her right eye opens and turns towards the Dahlia. She struggles, but her mental powers are great. Even if she missed the first word or two, she can, perhaps, grasp the gist of what it is that she is being told. She does not rise up, not right away. Her lips are slightly poutier than usual thanks to the repeated blows, but she attempts a smile.

"... You seem much nicer like this," Rose manages to murmur, her voice thick. "What a shame that instead I had to meet your guard, and your bear." She takes in a deep breath which makes her wince.

"... Before I answer you, yea or nay... I ask you to explain yourself, Miss Mongoose."

"Tell me - as clear as you can - who you mean... by 'our'." A vague wave of one hand, a twitch of the scarf. "In your own words. I will listen. I am not prone to argue."

The Scarlet Dahlia showed some sign of concern as Rose continued to lie with her eyes closed -- but once the Italian began to answer, she flashes her a commisserating smile.
She's not -all- fire and brimstone, murderous bears and emotionless soldiers.

The smile parts into a more amiable grin.

"I will explain as best I can, Miss Serpent. I represent a collective of warriors, both those here of their own volition and those brought here against their own will. Our ranks include Zach Glenn, a demon hunter. Aranha, a martial artist specializing in parkour."

Her smile reaches an uptick with the following admission.
"... Nakoruru, the Ainu Stormbringer. And an array of others of less household names. And, to a lesser extent, Athena Asamiya, my most recent opponent in this tournament. Together... we have agreed to pool our resources. They have rallied behind me -- for without their strength, I would not be able to stand against Outworld as I do now."

"Heh," Rose says. From her expression, it seems she is satisfied, if perhaps not enraptured. Maybe it's the broken rib, though.

"Very well, then: I will do what I can, even if I suppose my time here is done. How shall I - Hm? I fear it would be easier," Rose grunts, "if you were to take this pendant from me yourself. Dear God, am I sore."

But at least, she thinks, I'm not dead.

Log created on 18:53:21 01/01/2017 by Rose, and last modified on 11:59:08 01/04/2017.