SNF 2017.05 - SYFI Battle Fest! REI HAZUKI vs RYU

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Description: After many of the SYFI exhibition matches have taken place, SYFI coordinator Rei Hazuki takes the mic to announce a special treat for the assembled masses: the itinerant World Warrior: Ryu! The press is likely eager to press the laconic Ansatsuken star for comment on his whereabouts for the past few months, but they might have better luck speaking to the fiery-haired Hazuki instead...!

Some things never change and Saturday Night Fights appears to be one of them. Even if history is swept away and the world remade, somebody would think up the idea of having people fight for money on television in as gimmick-y a fashion as possible. When Frei sat down to plan out what should happen in the wake of the SYFI's opening, the idea of approaching the SNF folks with a cross-promotion did give him a little pause. Even in the old world, SNFs could be a little... intense, and a little bit of googling and sifting through YouTube clips proved that in this world the tradition continued and thensome. On the other hand, this would be excellent publicity. "It'd be lovely to get someone nice and famous for the title card match," Frei had said. "I'll be happy to take them on myself. I know I don't look it but I have... some experience."

While it's very unlikely they believed him -- would you? -- what the SNF officials saw was dollar signs; which is to say, the SYFI presented a recruiting ground for fresh young talent, so establishing a good relationship early would be in their best interest.

Little did Frei know that when SNF tries for 'big name', they often achieve some pretty great results.

As it is, the demonstration dojo at the SYFI currently has a pretty full audience, considering the venue. Not every demonstration match for the day has been SNF broadcast, but there's been a few, including a battle involving a local school fan favorite, so the crowd is hyped up, too. There's a soft *thmp!* as Frei steps up to the stand mic, waving at the crowd with a smile as they give him polite applause. "Thank you all for coming today. I hope it's been fun to see a bit of what we do here, and a big thank you to all the fighters who did battle for this crowd and the people watching at home!" On cue, more applause, this time pretty heartfelt.

Looking around the room, Frei continues to speak. "I'm sure a few of you are wondering what exactly my qualifications are for being in charge, here." A few skeptical faces and nodding heads in the crowd show this surmise to be entirely on the money. "I don't blame you one bit for being curious, skeptical, or maybe both. So I decided to be a little selfish and save the best part for myself. For our very last match, I'll be personally taking the field." Some more polite applause, and a few 'ooohs' from that. After all, there's not so many professional fighters in the world that a new one entering the stage wouldn't garner some interest, especially if they've never been heard from before.

"I hope you'll join me in giving a warm welcome to probably the most intimidating possible name our friends at Saturday Night Fights could have given me as an opponent," he says, with a grin that gets a quick laugh from the audience. "Please give it up for the World Warrior... Ryu!"

And with that, he hands the mic off to some SNF crewmen and goes to get onto the actual dojo floor for Ryu's arrival. For Frei fighting has always been a means to an end, rather than something he did for its own sake... and yet, to even his own mild surprise, he finds his pulse racing at the idea of taking on Ryu, of all people.

Many celebrity fighters tend to attach some lengthy conditions to their appearances. Most of the time, it's appearance fees. Some hold their clout over the various organizations to tune almost every detail about any prospective bout to their liking. Others, yet, are mercurial and prone to changing their plans at whim, commanding enough resources that the leagues simply have no recourse if they go back on terms of their contracts.
Though this was an impossibility for some time due to... extraordinary reasons... there was at least one fighter of undeniable talent, incredible focus, untold promise, and rare humility who seemed to entertain the frequent requests by those who find him wherever he may roam across the world.
Bare feet walk at a steady rhythm across path that leads to the demonstrtion floor. There is no urgency to their pacing. Their arrival is an inevitability. The muscular form of a young man appears through the entrance in conspicuous shadow that seems to defy the lighting set up about the demonstration dojo as the legally-named Rei Hazuki introduces a name that some started to fear might have been lost.
As color fills in the silhouette, there can be no doubt. This is him.
His trademark white gi, the color faded somewhat from his last public appearance with the sleeves torn off, could belong to no one else.
Narrowed brown eyes face forward stoically in uncompromised focus, fists adorned with red-hued handguards swaying in uniform with every step. The fists are not clenched so tight to be that of anger, nor so loose as to be meek.
As he makes it down to where he is supposed to stand - notably, no one told him, he just intuitively guesses it based on where his future opponent now stands - the ends of a red cloth bandanna flit through the air as though a cool breeze passes through the room. This is a new detail, compared to the old white.
The cheers, the gasps, the questions that surround him... he should be relieved that he is in the company of those who would wish him no harm. He is surrounded by joy, and not fear... or evil.
The young man does not grow complacent in the company of far kinder environs.
"The answer lies in the heart of battle," is his greeting. Words steady, conviction certain. He knows what he is here for, and he suspects the dark red-haired man whom has both organized this entire demonstration and now stands to fight is also aware of what he's there for.
As fighters, there is no need for a drawn-out conversation of pleasantries as he snaps to the ready stance that captures eyes, hearts, minds, and sometimes history itself. His fists are raised, arms positioned where they need to be at ready. His feet bob up and down where he stands.
He is prepared. The only external distraction he awaits is a signal from whoever is in charge for calling the start - or finish - of a match, as he surveys Frei's every movement.
Frei will get the impression that this is one who will not look down upon him for his mysteriousness, or any preconceived notions of ability - he is under the scrutiny of a warrior who believes himself standing in the company of another fellow warrior.

COMBATSYS: Ryu has wandered into a fight here on the right meter side.

                                  >  //////////////////////////////]
                                  |-------\-------\0              Ryu

Ryu, in the flesh. In his old life, Frei was more likely to encounter Kyo Kusanagi than he was the World Warrior, but his friendship with Sakura meant that he got an early earful of what the mysterious Ansatsuken-studying wanderer was like. Facing him here in person, the sennin is mildly surprised at the placid feel of the man's aura... and the youthfulness of his features. If anything, a stark reminder that this is a whole new world and a whole different set of challenges and experiences. At the suggestion that the answer lies somewhere in the fight, the red-haired man can't help but crack Ryu the faintest of smiles. "Oh, I've definitely found that to be the case," he says, a most informal response to start things off.

But this is also a demonstration match for people who might want to take part at the SYFI, and Frei is determined to do things right. He stands straight, holding one hand palm open and the other in a closed fist, pressing the latter against the former and bowing at the waist. "Thank you for taking part today. I get the feeling people will learn a lot from watching you." That much is definitely true. "And don't feel the need to hold back. I can take whatever you can dish out." A pause, and then a grin. "Just try not to be me TOO quickly, okay?" Hopefully that came across as the joke Frei intended, but some tiny thought flashes a fin in the back of his mind that suggests this might not be a safe assumption.

Either way, as the applause of the crowd dies down, the SNF official serving as MC delivers that guillotine of a word -- "FIGHT!" -- that brings the pre-show politeness to an abrupt close.

"Well then," Frei says, loosening his body into a vague fighting stance. "Let's begin."

From the seemingly formless center of his ready stance, Frei's arms and legs suddenly snap into a more definite one; fists balled, right arm up to his head, left arm forward and at waist height, left foot back, right knee bent. For someone with a breadth of style knowledge like Ryu, it's immediately recognizable as Shaolin kung fu... though the sudden aura of scarlet fire that suddenly surrounds Frei's form is perhaps an unexpected twist.

Driving forward, the sennin snaps a fiery palm toward Ryu's stomach, just in time for the first itself to leap from his body and take on a vaguely human shape of its own that delivers a scything kick through the air, before Frei pushes through and rejoins it, thrusting a double open palm strike at Ryu's midsection once more.

COMBATSYS: Frei has joined the fight here on the left meter side.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Frei             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0              Ryu

COMBATSYS: Ryu blocks Frei's Kindle the Inner Flame.

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Frei             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0              Ryu

They begin.
Almost no one would have a clear idea about the true extent of Frei's abilities. The likeness of the stance to Shaolin kung fu would invite immediate stereotypes and ideas among the experienced. They punch this way, they kick that way.
Ryu does not allow himself to be entrapped by the assumption of one's ability by appearance.
A vertically raised forearm is a guard nearly lifted too high to stop the stomach-level palm as fire washes out and around the point of impact around his elbow. the sparks and gouts of flame coalescing seamlessly into a human-like form.
Ryu's eyes do not widen in surprise, though his mouth opens imperceptibly as he gives up ground to move back and catch the manifestation's scything kick with his arm raised horizontally. Between the brightness of the flame manifestation and the positioning of his arm, this should blind his visual perception from the final step of the assault.
Ryu works on far more than sight. The guarding arm drops as the pair of hands slap up against it.
He has skillfully weathered the kindling of an inner flame, but he is already being pushed back towards the edge of the demonstration floor. Between the three strikes, Ryu correctly surmised there wasn't going to be a clear opening between them. Frei's initial pressure is commendable - it was the first blow that came closest to slipping past his defenses, even before this first taste of where his true masteries lie.
The arm opposite of what he's been defending with is thrust forward with a grunt of exertion, a contrast to the serenity of the sage that stands ahead and center. Ryu's counter-assault is far less visually impressive to behold.
The momentum of this lunging punch carries Ryu forward a short distance, feet sliding against the ground. It is aimed at about abdomen-level, about where Frei's hands would be resting at the end of their strike.
As it comes to the point of impact, there proves an interesting detail should it make contact with Frei at all. Though it seems to have the appearance of a single strike, the way the fist moves there are two prospective points of impact in which their force would be equal.
It is the strength of these two strikes nestled within one continuous swing, that he makes his own first play.

COMBATSYS: Frei blocks Ryu's Kyuubi Kudaki.

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Frei             0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0              Ryu

That the World Warrior should be surprised by the nature of that attack yet have a more or less faultless defense for it doesn't come as a shock to anyone. For his own part, Frei can feel the less visible, less physical side of Ryu's techniques and is definitely impressed by it. Not many people would think of using their ability to read the flow of chi as a method of conscious, active defense, since it requires considerable mastery to do... way more than the flashy summoning of fire does, to put it one way.

Fortunately for Frei, Ryu's return strike does indeed angle in at where Frei's hands still are, and that might be the biggest saving grace for him in this situation. He smoothly transitions from the northern to the southern, in terms of kung fu, adopting the more forceful and solid stance of Hung Ga: he plants his feet, and doesn't move his hands at all, keeping them palms out. What he *does* do is let the force of earth flow through from his feet to his hands, causing them to flicker with a hazy gold-green force. The result, when Ryu's fist slams into Frei's palms, is the sensation of hitting something less yielding, more resistant than flesh... a brief but necessary bit of self-protection on Frei's part, reducing what might have been quite a powerful blow indeed to a noticeable, stinging, but managable pain.

And yet when he looks up at Ryu, it's with a somewhat sheepish smile. "Wasn't sure I could do that on a wooden floor. Just goes to show."

But he also knows that he cannot let up, even for a second, and so the cycling of motions continues. Directed and fierce as fire; firm and unyielding as earth. As he quickly looks his opponent over trying to figure out his next move, Frei spots four gold characters on Ryu's obi: 'fuu-rin-ka-zan,' and grins faintly. Takeda Shingen or Sun Tzu, he's not, but the concept is sound.

With a slight spiraling motion, Frei attempts to twirl around toward Ryu's side where his punching arm was extended, attempting to grab said arm before it can be fully retracted. If he gets that grip, Frei uses the rotational force of his movement to spin Ryu in the direction of the center of the arena before letting go of the World Warrior's arm, both of Frei's own hands pinwheeling forward to release a burst of wind intending to make that pushing technique a little more forceful!

COMBATSYS: Ryu dodges Frei's Medium Throw.

[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Frei             0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0              Ryu

"A battle is no place for doubts." So speaks a young man whom found himself in plenty of places in which to do that, finding a time and place within the rhythm of battle to drop affirmative encouragement as Frei's defense proves unyielding. He does not recoil in pain for the sensation of having struck something harder than flesh. This is the same kind of man who is willing to go barefoot into extreme temperatures, unto dangerous grounds whose features could stab flesh unto themselves.
He is not as all smiles as Frei. His expressions are often hard and unyielding, in favor of channeling every bit of energy, every flex of muscle, into the next part of a fight. The anticipation of the next blow, the capitalization of the next opening, the breath drawn for the next pulse, all of which are asked for and challenged as Frei maneuvers to his side.
There are two other characters on the obi that play into the whole of the quote, as the next stage of their engagement commences...
Swift as wind.
The body language of his lunging punch is deceptive, his body braced for the motion as to make the commitment not be as total as it may appear, as the arm slides back just out of Frei's grip.
Gentle as the forest.
He attempts to work with Frei's own outstretched arm to grab it. The nature of it couldn't be likened to a mere brute force act of hard tugging and bodily hurling him. Gently, he works with the momentum and inertia already in play. If he catches hold of Frei, he tries to fling him from over his shoulder as though part of a greater motion between the way the two of them move in concert as he, too, enacts his own idea to try and bring the fight back closer to the center of the demonstration floor.

COMBATSYS: Frei fails to interrupt Seoi Nage from Ryu with Strong Throw EX.

[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Frei             0/-------/-----==|==-----\-------\0              Ryu

How gentle a forest we talkin', exactly, because the result of the little tableau going on at the edge of the demonstration floor does not look terribly gentle in the way that it ends up.

Ryu's reaction is not unexpected; if anything, Frei probably planned on it. One of the most fundamental maxims of martial arts is that if someone tries to grab and throw you, your best and swiftest defense is to turn their momentum against them. But that goes both ways; a brief struggle for control of the momentum that can result may go in either person's favor. He's not going to be fast enough to get out of Ryu's grip, but he *can* try to turn it to his advantage. With all the force he can muster, the sennin tries to go from the airy dancing of Baguazhang back to the rooted firmness of Hung Ga, hoping to swing the anchor back in his favor and drag Ryu right down onto the floor.

Problem: Frei has no upper body strength (comparatively speaking) and weighs like a solid 20 pounds less than his opponent, meaning that he would have to rely entirely on chi manipulation to pull this off, and there just isn't time to switch his focus. The result is that the redhead goes over Ryu's shoulder, bounces off the floor, and then rolls to a kneeling stop a few yards away.

Getting to his feet, Frei grins at the World Warrior, wiping a hand across his mouth and getting back into that weirdly neutral ready stance from before. "In my experience doubt doesn't care where you are or what you're doing," he says with a smile. "I think it's more important to just push yourself regardless of what doubt says."

After a pause, his grin widens. "I guess that would be a more convincing argument if what I tried just now had worked out, huh?"

Ryu takes a short hop forward following after Frei's flight to move himself closer to the center. The positional advantage he has gained at this moment is significant. There are a wealth of ways he could pursue.
A more committed Tatsumaki Senpuu Kyaku could cover the distance and strike Frei just as he comes up to a kneel. Just standing here alone, one might anticipate an oncoming Hadouken. He might even have it in him to outright leap forward and lead in with a roundhouse kick and go from there.
He does none of these things. Is it hesitation? There is no fear in the Ansatsuken warrior's eyes, watching Frei work up a grin as they pull themselves together from the foiled counterplay.
Ryu holds no further comment to the discussion of doubts and how one deals with them, as he remains in that ready stance of his. Fists raised, body rising up and down as Frei appears to be given some space. His eyes narrow in focus as he takes heed and stock of every muscle movement, every energetic fluctuation that involves the smaller of the two men.
There is no mirth, no disappointment, no fury in response nor retaliation.
Only the absolute faith that Frei still has much more yet to show, and give - it is his eagerness to see more that has him stand at the ready.

COMBATSYS: Ryu focuses on his next action.

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Frei             0/-------/-----==|==-----\-------\0              Ryu

"Not much of a talker, huh?" Frei teases, watching Ryu's actions carefully despite the jocular tone. "Compared to Sakura, anyway." One hopes that Sakura has other things to do this weekend, because there's going to be a lot of explaining to do since she has never met this man in her life. In ready stance, Frei's fingers flex idly, as he thinks this through. He's used to acting on instinct and intuition; after all, unlike Ryu, he came to fighting *after* learning the more spiritual side of things. In a strict martial arts vs. martial arts battle, he's toast. Ryu, on the other hand, likely has a bunch of strategic options available to him at any given moment. It's the sort of thing you develop after fighting so many different kinds of opponents for so long, after all. If he bothered to do any self-reflection Frei would realize he has that skill too, at a lesser level.

His foot taps idly and then, with a blink of surprise as he realizes what he's doing, he hears his own words echo back to him: 'didn't know I could do this on a wood floor.' Hands balling into fists, he nods once, then pulls his arms back, elbows bent, fists facing up. He takes one heavy, swift step foward that's almost a stomp... and as he does so, a circle of 'stones' -- rather, hazy gold-green forms resembling stones -- erupts from the ground, orbiting the sennin. Not so much literal earth, as is the usual for this technique, but a more... metaphorical version.

Advancing on Ryu with a series of steps that combine a heavy forward step with an outward straight movement of a fist, Frei fires off the earthen projectiles at the World Warrior in a barrage, one at a time, until all are in the air.

COMBATSYS: Ryu overcomes Shatterheart from Frei with Hadouken.

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Frei             0/-------/-----==|==-----\-------\0              Ryu

"Between warriors, our fists can say so much more." It is true - Ryu does not tend to get very high marks for showmanship or witty banter.
He has a bad track record with the more bombastic organized fights. Constantly missing dramatic cues, occasional failure to understand the timing in words in which he's supposed to be heading down the walkway to the ring. Staring befuddled at a microphone unexpectedly being put towards his face with expectations to say much of anything.
Indeed, he chooses to be more eloquent with his fists.
Drawing his hands back, he starts to empty his mind and embrace the nothingness that is formed between cupped hands--
There is a momentary delay. He takes note of the nature in which Frei's own manifestations converge and diperse. When he proves more assured of his observation, he resumes the meditation exercise that in turn channels his own power into a blue-hued light that fills the space in-between.
As Frei steps forward with every launched rock, he meets a singular greeting in turn.
"HADOUKEN!" That familiar cry, timed to the thrust of both arms into the space ahead of him to release the famed ball of chi - and not a moment too soon, for a quarter of a second later the very first interestingly hued stone makes contact with a Hadouken that has only barely left his grasp.
One by one, the golden-green manifestations that reflect the very earth underneath this new, polished, sturdy demonstration room floor batter into the sphere of blue so brilliant it could be seen as white. Each strike causes the launched sphere to wobble and contort as opposing manifestations interact.
For every chi stone that appears to evaporate into nothingness following a spray of greenish-gold pebbles, it appears to lose some velocity, some size...
...But the Hadouken does not fade from existence, itself, not until it passes into (or past) Frei's present standing position.

COMBATSYS: Frei parries Ryu's Hadouken!

[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Frei             0/-------/----===|===----\-------\0              Ryu

He'd called it Hadou Souran -- the closest translation being something like 'hadou of mayhem', reflecting its ad hoc nature and the haphazard way in which Sakura's enthusiastic but perhaps not necessarily scientific tutelage had brought about its existence. Back then, Frei had thought there was something distinct, something special about the power that Ansatsuken fighters seemed to share, in terms of chi: that the Hadou was something beyond what was typically understood. So of course, scholar that he was, he sought to master it. It had been a big, unwieldy technique; visually it bore more in common with Kyokugen's Haoushokouken than any technique of Ryu's. But it was perhaps Frei's first real experience attempting to create a technique using what others had taught him... and was a symbol of his friendship with Sakura, besides.

In that regard, it was very precious to him, even long after it stopped being a technique he regularly used.

Yet here and now, it's the tried and true original heading his way, not some chaotic, ill-named copy.

The word 'hadou' literally refers to a wave-like motion, something that moves forth like the tides, surging a bit at a time. But in the pop culture of Japan, that 'wave' often refers to a being's presence in the world, and their expressions of spiritual power. The meaning, in the end, is something between the literal -- a moving wave of force -- and the metaphorical: the undulating waves of one's aura flowing through the space around them. Those gifted with psychic powers can do much with the aura itself, but the particularly chi sensitive, like Frei, can sense quite a lot just by a powerful individual's impact on the flow of life energy around them. Like a fingerprint, they are distinct, personal, identifiable, and most importantly, threaded into everything that person does in shaping that energy.

Facing down the blue-white wave, Frei has no fear... because he has seen into the heart of the man, and thus the heart of the technique as well. Years upon years ago, experimenting with Sakura as he was, his understanding incomplete, what he's about to do would be all but impossible, but now?

Kicking off the ground, he dives INTO the Hadouken.

But rather than strike him, it flows with the sudden spiralling motions of his arms as the sennin spins through the air, not slamming into him, but becoming whorls of blue and white that spin around him like a cold flame. Losing no momentum at all in the process, Frei's forward dash takes him straight at Ryu, the World Warrior's energy stolen, wreathing its intended target, as Frei attempts to bring those pinwheeling hands at Ryu directly.

COMBATSYS: Frei successfully hits Ryu with Scatter the Red Lotus EX.

[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Frei             0/-------/---====|=====--\-------\0              Ryu

The initial Hadouken launch was already as close a call as could be. His caution is initially well-rewarded. His read of the timing for the earthen projections is correct. With a single, efficient motion, he overcomes an entire line of them.
He does not anticipate what comes next. He is caught in a window of timing where he's started to be drawing his hands back - any sooner, and they might have still been there to catch Frei's dash.
There is no 'any later,' as at this juncture it is too late to put forth a meaningful defense as Frei embraces the energy he crashes into with a comfort and acceptance Ryu has never, ever seen. His eyes widen within the (extremely) small frame of time he has to acknowledge this prior to impact.
The whirling hands impact upon his face and upper body in rapid sequence, pushing him back with every blow to a vocal gasp and a spray of saliva as he is hurled clean off his feet. The demonstration floor is so neatly polished as to give his body more slide from the inertia, coming up to the edge.
Coming up to a knee, it is his turn to wipe at his mouth.
He has already witnessed at least two separate forms of chi manifestation through Frei, itself a great feat that is rare even among far older fighters with the same specialization. To see someone about his age have such great power... and show such comfort even against another's.
Ryu cracks a smile. He is that much happier he took up the invitation. (If Ken sees the playback, one could imagine him going up to Frei and pointing out this exact frame on a replay, 'oh man you should've seen him, Ryu was digging this!' What the hell is your secret, man?!)
For someone of Frei's caliber, he feels it would do him a great disservice to halt their exchange of blows to comment on how impressive that was.
Rebounding back towards Frei with a short dash, he comes into a low crouch in which he extends one of his legs outward, resting one of his hands against the demonstration room's floor for balance as a foot moves to strike against one of Frei's ankles.

COMBATSYS: Ryu successfully hits Frei with Medium Kick.
- Power hit! -

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Frei             1/-------/=======|=====--\-------\0              Ryu

That was a once in a lifetime opportunity, a spur of the moment gut instinct maneuver that worked out to the general good. But as one might expect from such a maneuver, it is not exactly repeatable on the fly, and it is -- in terms of what Frei must have put out to make it happen -- front-loaded. This means he lands from that flurry of strikes in a sort of dazed crouch, arms extended, unbalanced. JUST in time for Ryu's kick to register on his mental radar.

He actually only has enough time and mental energy to tilt his gaze toward the Ansatsuken fighter's extended kicking leg and say the word "...welp" aloud before the kick upsets the last of his balance and puts Frei flat on his back on the dojo floor. The impact is made all the worse for his ungainly landing, thanks to being caught entirely unprepared and having no way to right himself or prepare for the fall.

And yet, when he sits up, and then stands up, he's laughing... a sort of helpless, what-can-you-do laughter, but it's genuine. As he meets Ryu's gaze, Frei is smiling. "Well, you've got the speaking with your fists thing down. Feet, too." This fight hasn't been going on very long, but by this point both fighters have done things interesting enough to really get their interest moving. For his part, Frei would rather keep that momentum going, too, and so he doesn't waste any more time. He moves towards Ryu slowly, carefully, his arms moving in flowing circles, a ribbon of water flowing in the wake of the movement, a sinuous elemental serpent. When he gets close enough, he drives in close and sweeps an arm right at Ryu, the water trailing behind. The arm strike is one thing, easily ignored; the water, however, freezes instantly to chains of frost looking to anchor the World Warrior in place for a followup!

COMBATSYS: Ryu dodges Frei's Ebb and Flow.

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Frei             1/-------/=======|=====--\-------\0              Ryu

To the view of the spectators, Ryu's supporting arm pulls up quickly as the low kick is administered. Ryu's right fist clenches and unclenches as it is flexed an imperceptibly short ways past where he typically holds it at the ready - an idea that there might have been another strike in sequence chambered that was decided against in wake of Frei's collapse upon the floor.
Based on the look on his face - which remains focused, eyes narrowed upon Frei as not to discount the value of any move he might make - it seems like he might have missed the joke about talking with his feet. (He's like that.)
Frei moves forth with another expression of his ability to channel the energy of the world surrounding him into elemental form, arms flowing in aesthetically pleasing and eye-catching ways to guide the manifested water.
As Frei sweeps an arm out, the water whips out like liquid whips, snapping like a crashing wave. To this, Ryu chooses to leap forward into the air.
The water caresses his left ankle and tip of his right foot, flash-frozen too late to form an effective prison for the leaping martial artist. The tips of the icy restraints that fail to make the exact mark intended break off at the very tips that made contact. It lightly affects Ryu's forward jumping momentum, seeing one of his knees raise in response to the sudden surprising chill.
The shock of cold against his feet doesn't deter him from his intended assault, lifting up the leg that had alredy been coaxed to rise from the shock of cold to the familiar horizontal position as the other remains limp and vertical.
The lifted leg swings counter-clockwie as he turns himself into a helicopter of spinning kicks, although it is subject to gravity from starting in the air. Leaping at Frei and coming down fast, he's likely to get in about two or three full rotations before the non-attacking leg makes contact with the ground.

COMBATSYS: Ryu successfully hits Frei with Tatsumaki Senpuu Kyaku.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Frei             1/-----==/=======|=======\-------\0              Ryu

On the upside, Frei's strike is in close range, but just shy enough of Ryu's actual body that he's not caught flat-footed by the swiftness of the World Warrior's followup strike. The truth of the matter, however, is sometimes the other guy -- no matter how effective your defense -- has a way around it. And the truth is that despite landing one pretty decent hit on Ryu, it's been Frei who's been taking the punishment in this battle. So even though his arms are raised, his body ready, Ryu's powerful technique just kinda... blows past it, slamming into the sennin's chest and sending him tumbling back across the dojo floor.

Slowly getting to his feet, Frei wipes his mouth a second time, shaking out his entire body in an almost comic way. Part of him wants to talk to Ryu, still; to engage him in a mid-fight conversation, get some banter running. But he doesn't; it's definitely clear that it's not Ryu's method of choice for communicating. Not in the middle of a fight, anyway. Yet the redhead can't help but feel impressed by his opponent, because despite everything that's happened, he gets a very... placid feeling from Ryu. Not that the Ansatsuken fighter doesn't seem to be impassive; far from it. But that he has achieved that rare quality fighters the world over search for: stillness.

For a moment he thinks of the now-famous quote from Yagyu Jubei about being the still water that reflects the moon. He may not bear the name 'Tsukitomi' anymore, but the symbolism isn't lost on him.

So instead, Frei says nothing. He simply nods, and then starts moving his arms in spirals, like weaving cloth in midair, before... turning *away* from Ryu for a moment.

It's all a ruse, though; with a flick of the wrist, Frei directs a burst of air behind him that sends him spiralling in a low arc across the dojo floor so that he lands just a fraction of a step shy of Ryu. Thrusting his arms forward, Frei unleashes the rest of the wind he's been weaving and gathering, shaped into a sphere that suddenly explodes, pelting Ryu with sharp blades of air from a multitude of angles.

COMBATSYS: Frei successfully hits Ryu with The Fourfold Path.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////            ]
Frei             1/----===/=======|=======\==-----\1              Ryu

Ryu lands from the spinning strikes with nary any disorienting feeling. His response upon landing is to suddenly take a short hop back, as if anticipating Frei's recovery to be met with a rapid counterattack.
When there is a small break in the action as Frei re-gathers himself, Ryu brings his hands up behind his head to tighten the tie of the headband, his eyes closed. It's a reminder of just how far his friend went for his sake, so that he could stand here against another warrior as himself - an eternal student, and not someone psychologically being battered into a violent puppet.
The stillness he exudes is hard-won. Easy to lose, harder yet to bring back when the surface ripples under disturbances.
Just like that, his fists are brought back before himself in the combat stance that identifies him, in time for Frei's nod. The nod says all. Frei's coming back for more. Ryu's strategy has largely been passive, maybe even out of interest in seeing the myraid forms that Frei's chi mastery appears to be able to take. An opportunity to cross fists with someone like this is truly precious, indeed, with that much more to learn! Ryu may as well be saying 'thank you' with every motion he performs.
His forearms move up early for the oncoming spiral motions, only to find a lack of impact - a sudden backwards momentum. A feint? Ryu chooses to stand tall against the oncoming attack he perceives will be coming.
Frei once again reinforces that there is much more yet to learn about the enigmatic manipulator of elemental chi as they find a key opening in which to unleash the sharp gales of wind that has been channeled.
Ryu's arms are thrown up and back under the gale force, a cutting sensation across his features as he clings to balance by the very tip of his feet while his entire upper body is thrown back.
The Fourfold Path, in its expression here, proves a trail too difficult for Ryu himself to walk as he overcompensates by leaning forward, leaving himself hunched over with his left arm held low. A miniscule amount of blood starts to come out the left corner of his mouth that he doesn't seem to notice.
"It feels as though the very earth around you is at your command..." He muses aloud. Where Frei credits a stillness, Ryu perceives a wholeness. A cohesive whole, a conduit in which great power comes forth through them. That seems to be the best way to describe it, on short notice...
But there will be time for description later. Ryu's fists raise anew. Frei still has fight in him, and so does he - and he still has plenty left of his 'all' to give!
Leaping towards Frei once more, he leads with a powerful leaping kick with an outstretched arm and bent opposite leg to streamline his form. Landing upright if he is not intercepted, he throws his left arm into an uppercut he leans into for the second part of the combination.
This is topped off as he attempts to grab hold of Frei in both arms and fall backward with his back onto the ground, leading with one of his legs to heft Frei up and toss him across the demonstration floor in a fierce combination!

COMBATSYS: Frei interrupts Fierce Combo from Ryu with All Creation+.
+ Epic Hit! +

[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////                     ]
Frei             0/-------/-----==|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\1              Ryu

Frei really really wants to make a pun aloud about how that wind-powdered attack bought him some breathing room, but perhaps even he has limits on the sorts of stuff that will come out of his mouth, apparently. Well, that... and the momentary respite from dealing with Ryu's powerful strikes is spent actually catching his breath rather than wasting it on puns. In truth every bit of him feels tired and hurt; this has been a hell of a fight, with lots of relentless followthrough and impressive feats. The crowd is eating it up, and a tiny mercenary part of Frei's mind can't help but think that this is great marketing, at the very least. Worth the bruises, anyhow.

However, the World Warrior actually speaks aloud, which -- given his reticence to do so before now -- is notable indeed. Frei blinks at Ryu's statement, momentarily at a loss for words from surprise, before he smiles a little bit. If the word 'gentle' can be applied to a smile on the face of a battered fighter facing his now equally-battered opponent, it IS a gentle smile. "Um, well..."

But there's no time to follow through on that statement, not just yet. The Ansatsuken fighter moves skyward, Frei's green-eyed gaze tracking the arc of Ryu's jump. Whatever it is he's going to do, Frei suspects it's going to have all the same puissant execution as the rest of Ryu's techniques. But he also hears the World Warrior's voice ring in his head a second time: 'at your command'

As the kick dives toward him, Frei's hands ball into fists, arms at belly height, the Hung Ga stance a second time. He breathes out, slowly.

Then Ryu basically kicks him in the face.

To an outside observer it seems like madness to not even attempt to get out of the way, but that's exactly what happens... and the method to the madness becomes apparent when, despite Ryu's clean hit, Frei doesn't *move* at all. The resulting combination the World Warrior planned must, by necessity, rely on the sennin's body being pliant to physics, as it were; otherwise the precise timing and spacing of hits will be off. But despite the bone-crunching impact of hte jumping kick, it's almost like the SYFI head is magnetized to the floor. And as Ryu's fist rises for the upward punch, Frei suddenly leaps into action, a hand suddenly limned by red-orange fire pushing it smoothly aside. "Not command, no."

Ryu had more planned, but now it's too late; he's too close, and Frei is determined to bring every skill he knows to bear. The fire blazes harder to life, a corona around his body as Frei does a full-body dash *through* Ryu, looking to send him stumbling aside. "Communion..."

At the end of the movement, the fiery aura suddenly becomes a liquid blue in hue as Frei spins to face his opponent again, slowly twisting his arms down to the ground. At the touch of his palm to the floor, Ryu is suddenly sent flying straight upward by an erupting geyser of water. "Persusasion..."

Blue becomes whorls of pale green as Frei kicks off the ground, leaping upward like a rising arrow, surrounded by wind, catching Ryu as he rises, before turning in *midair* as he passes and thrusting his palms toward the ground, the same spectral stones from before flashing out to finish this complex elemental combination and send the World Warrior back to the dojo floor at meteoric speed.

Across the arena, Frei lightly touches down one foot, then the other, making one last swirling movement of the arms into ready position. "Never command, though. Never, ever command."

Communion... persuasion... no matter the clarification of language, all those gathered here today are given a greater glimpse into the mysteries and wonders of Rei Hazuki. As the main event of the exhibition celebrating the grand opening of the Southtown Youth Fighters Initiative, all are witness to how he embodies and unifies some of the most intense expressions of nature - seamlessly, without one overpowering the other, even across elements traditionally considered to be at opposition.
Thrown off-balance by the initial dash as immense heat consumes him, he is hurled upward by the chilling torrents of water. The air grows dry save for the lashes of slicing winds as Ryu spirals helplessly, suspended in mid-air by the grasp of Frei's elemental might. Robbed of a sense of how high up he is or what he's doing, the final spike of those spectral stones introduce the World Warrior to the world below to an explosive, earth-shattering impact that sees him lying sprawled upon his back.
The young gathered here may yet come to appreciate one day that what just transpired before them might yet be considered one of the most artfully executed sequences they'll ever get to see in person - and inflicted against one as storied as the World Warrior!
He manages to rise up from a kneel, and a series of pained grunts and heavy breaths as they see Frei stand at the ready once more with a last comment for clarification. (This helps, as for the 'communion' and 'persuasion' parts he was too busy being pummeled to clearly listen.)
Frei gets a prolonged nod of probable understanding, as Ryu doesn't bring his arms up again into the fighting stance. No, they are drawn back in that same famed stance as he leans forward, leading with his head.
His eyes close, as residual sparks of flame flit into nothingness.
His feet do not flinch in the very last of the cool moisture that rapidly evaporates.
A final breeze flits through the ends of the tied ribbon about his head.
The dust born of the manifested golden-green hued rocks gives way.
There is now... nothing.
Cupping his hands, he separates the fingers a bit more than he normally might as he forms the vacuum in between them - willing it to be larger, and larger yet.
Extraneous sounds and distracting sights slowly fade away, coalescing and melting together into a perceptive state that both can and cannot be called noise and color. The nothingness that invites something to come fill it... yes, he must clear his mind further.
Pain, fatigue, and debilitation fade to numbness as his eyes open to regard Frei once anew. Another look into the stillness that defines him.
The light gathering between his hands grows ever larger, ever brighter! It spirals from within the sphere, pulsating between the spectrum of the whitish-blue hues the Hadouken is known for.
Once its intensity reaches a fever pitch, both hands thrust forward with the contained power, to the expected call that echoes through the demonstration room as loud as the symphony of the elements that preceded it.
"HADOUUUUKEEEEEEEEN!!" In the wake of power that gently coaxes from a little bit of everything, comes a great ball of energy that corkscrews from the very void it has been attracted to.
Down to this moment, in some way, it is a contest of Everything, versus Nothing, and the manifestation born of Nothing is taking its swing right back as flecks of energy spiral out from the flying sphere's tail in its path towards Frei.

COMBATSYS: Frei just-defends Ryu's Shinkuu Hadouken EX!

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Frei             0/-------/-----==|>>>>>>>\-------\0              Ryu

In most cultures, what is often called the 'classical elements' rose out of a need to create a mythology for the variety of existence. In their forms and transmutations, many things are encompassed. For the Chinese, the wu xing represent an eternal cycle of death and rebirth that is a wheel turning forever onward. In any of these systems, though, there is one element that is often the most difficult to understand, the hardest to grasp, because conceptually it refers to something that isn't even there. The Greeks called it 'aether' or 'quintessence,' literally 'the fifth essence.' In southeast Asian culture, it's often called 'the void'; in either case, it refers to the 'everything else' of existence. Fire, earth, air, and water... almost everything can be accounted for, in some rhetorical way, by their auspices. But not the expanse of space, the universe beyond our own. To ask a human to perceive it directly is like asking a fish to notice water.

But it can be seen, can be perceived... and thus, molded, shaped, utilized. Quintessence represents the power of formlessness, of 'nothingness,' and thus of infinite potential. Like air or water, it molds to the shape of what contains it. It can be as solid as the earth or as ephemeral as a flame. And because it represents the space between the known, it is *connected*. There is nothing quintessence cannot find, cannot touch. In being Nothing, it is Everything; in being Everything, it is Nothing.

Staring down the cerulean wave of Ryu's power, Frei can only think: maybe there *is* something special about the Hadou, after all.

Yet he does not panic, doesn't waver. Bereft of time to think, or plan, the sennin does what he does best: he acts on instinct. One foot set slightly back, his hands come up in front of him, making a lazy circle as the empowered Hadouken draws closer. Meeting force with force isn't Frei's thing; it just isn't how he operates. But it occurs to him, in the fractional second that he has, that an attack built on nothingness, on quintessence, perhaps doesn't need to be "defeated." Perhaps he can just... well, convince it to be something else.

His entire body illuminated by the blue-white glow, all the redhead can do is mutter, "I *really* hope this works."

Ryu's attack, mere inches from Frei's outstretched hands, slams into some unseen force that seems to be holding it perfectly in place, the attacking having been stopped cold. However, this is only the most surface way of viewing the situation; in fact, the Hadouken is still moving... just very, very slowly, barely perceptibly so. Perhaps more noticable is that, in streamers of colored lights, the elements are spilling off the forward edge of the blue-white sphere. Ribbons of fire and water twine sinuously into a comet's tail, fading into an evporating invisibility toward the far side. Spectral stones swirling in a tide of green make a halo as well. And with each passing second, there is less and less of the Hadouken itself, and more and more of the continually-dissipiating elemental ribbons, making Frei's defensive strategy considerably more clear: he's *actively transmuting* the energy of Ryu's attack into something else on the fly and, as best he can, shunting it harmlessly aside.

From everything, nothing; from nothing, everything.

The last of the Shinkuu Hadouken finally, gently fades away as Frei's hands finish their weaving, intermoving gestures. Steepling his fingers, the sennin brings his hands together, palms just shy of touching, held in front of his stomach, eyes closed. He exhales a long breath.

There is no followup. How could there be? After such an effort, and against an attack of that nature, how could he do anything else but stop, and recover, and reflect?

COMBATSYS: Frei takes no action.

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Frei             0/-------/-----==|>>>>>>>\-------\0              Ryu

The after-match pundits, the print commentators, they would talk at length about how the Shinkuu Hadouken got unraveled in a superior display of strength over what amazing magic makes up the lights, colors, and forms fighters manifest.
This is incorrect. The undercurrent of energy that runs through the world, chi, is a transient construct. The available video of Frei's transmutation of this famed manifestation will be a cornerstone for further study for years to come.
It is a miracle, a breakthrough, and an unforgettable experience. Whoever this young man /was/ before today, it is clear that he will have far more to share going forward.
For the opponent to Rei Hazuki, he stands before a situation where any fighter in his situation would be frustrated... disheartened... even frightened, to see one of their finest techniques defeated thusly.
He has never seen anything like this before. If anything, now he's fighting hard against a desire to stand there and admire it as though part of the very audience! With every passing strike between them, the Ansatsuken student's respect grows further and further yet.
As does that smile. Ken is going to be so jealous.
Ryu hasn't yet had his fill, even as his breath grows heavy, blood lightly seeps, and sweat forms. He can sense it in the mystic before him - the two of them have much higher to climb yet. This battle, he resolves, will take them to the highest point they can yet reach.
With renewed vigor and excitement boiling deep under the stillness that defines him, it is a challenge unto itself that it not disrupt this quality of him as Ryu takes off in a short jog as the spiraling ribbons of elemental manifestation fade away into the aether to once again bring himself in swinging range of the young sennin.
His right fist rises just over his shoulder as he comes in striking range. It is directed at a downwards diagonal arc, threatening to swing down upon them.
Much like the forward abdomen-level lunge punch from earlier in the bout, this strike, too, shares the interesting quality of having two points of impact within one continuous swing of a fist.
Though Frei risks trauma to his collarbone, it can be said that the real threat beyond the fist is in Ryu's nearly unrelenting determination and resolve to get as much as he can out of anyone and everyone he fights.
The next blow is, in its on way, encouragement and reinforcement of this belief.

COMBATSYS: Frei endures Ryu's Sakotsu Wari!

[                    \\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Frei             0/-------/---====|>>>>>>>\-------\1              Ryu

The nice thing about hardword dojo floors: they squeak when you apply force to them, especially if you're barefoot, and especially if the floor itself is new and shiny. Which is good, because it's that basketball court-like *SQRK!* as Ryu starts his attack run (as it were) that snaps Frei back from whatever reflective reverie he's been stuck in after whatever it was he just did. Green eyes blinking open, he trains them on the World Warrior and gives out a quick, explosive breath. "Oh, right. The fight."

How did THIS yutz ever get this far in the fighting world?

While he doesn't feel *physically* exhausted from handling Ryu's assault just now, Frei certainly feels *mentally* exhausted; that sort of thing takes its toll on a person. The sennin is sure he could probably weather Ryu's attack, physically, but he really cannot think of *how* he should handle it right now, and with every fractional second that passes trying to think of one Ryu's getting closer. A situation Frei found himself in just a few moments ago, but *then* he had way more mental resources to spare, even intuitively. So... how to deal with Ryu's masterful fist?

'Walk into it,' apparently. Swallowing hard, Frei is replaying the fight so far in his head as quick as possible and apparently finds something right before Ryu's punch lands. There's the satisfying feeling, for the World Warrior, of his blow landing... but against all logic, Frei is able to keep his ground despite his head and shoulders being forced low by the angle of Ryu's punch. It's his second time attempting to snag Ryu's extended arm during an attack, but if Frei can manage it, he suddenly gives an inarticulate yell and surges skyward, hoping to carry Ryu with him in a spiral surrounded by whorls of wind before releasing the Ansatsuken fighter at the spiral's apex, the wind carrying him away.

COMBATSYS: Ryu interrupts Ride the Autumn Gale from Frei with Shin Shoryuken+.

[                            \\  < >  /////////                     ]
Frei             1/------=/=======|>>>>>--\-------\0              Ryu

For his lesser mass in comparison to the World Warrior, Ryu finds himself once again taken by (pleasant!) surprise as a two-fold blow meant to pry open one's defenses, instead, leads to him being badly over-extended.
Though Frei's demeanor is gentle, the way he seems to navigate the world serene, and the way he carries himself soft, there is a firmness to how he grips the arm.
This is Frei's path to rising ever higher, as Ryu attempts to tug back in resistance. The winds whip around the two fighters as Frei moves to launch the two of them up.
Ryu stomps a foot down to reassert his center of gravity, but it seems a losing battle as the ends of the red cloth tied around his forehead whips violently enough to be smacking at his face.
Teeth clench. One eye shuts from the strand of red fabric whipping him in said eye. He finds it harder to breathe as Frei's victory in the latest tug of war seems assured, as Frei is moments from rising.
So, too, is Ryu.
Drawing back the arm that wasn't grabbed, his fist balls up tightly as air noisily rushes out the cracks. Fingers press into the palm deeply enough that it might even cut circulation, even through the handguards.
It was never a question that Ryu would opt to give it his all. He never gives anything less. No, his opponent might have drawn out even more than his best, today--
There is no further room for idle thoughts, themselves washed out from the air that no longer occupies the space within the fist. His arm is a streak of color as it is thrust into Frei's abdomen to crumple him over - and more importantly, to free the grabbed arm.
The first word is uttered as the now freed opposite arm curls upward in a reserved uppercut. The arm is bent at a perfect right angle, the strike straightening Frei out vertically as the gathering winds widen in size, but lessen in intensity - almost displaced from the sheer impact of the second blow.
Ryu shouts with renewed vigor and force that dwarfs Frei's own from when they initiated their counterassault, the attacking arm going straight vertical as the very power of the rising fist itself lifts him high, high, high up into the air of the demonstration room for the final, tremendous strike.
The Shin Shoryuken - as of yet believed to be the purest form of the legendary rising punch - hurls the head of the SYFI ever higher as the displaced wind manifestations are dispersed as though a ripple upon still water.
Landing back down on his feet, there yet remains an unexplainable draft that sees the ends of the headband gently sway off to his right before coming to a rest at his back.
At landing, his back is turned to Frei - but he quickly corrects this, turning to face where they may have gone with fists raised, and feet still bouncing just as he was when they started.
Even after the Shin Shoryuken, Ryu would not yet count out Frei.

You can compact a lot of facial expressions into a short amount of time, in truth. Frei's too focused on trying his damndest to strike at Ryu before the World Warrior can dig any deeper into a well of what Frei believes must be inexhaustible resolve. This is likely why he doesn't notice that Ryu is planning ANYTHING until the word "Shin!" is shouted, at which point the green eyes widen... and then widen further as all the air leaves his lungs in one burst at the first impact.

For a fraction of a second, though, the uncontrollable expression of pain is replaced by a faint, close-eyed smile.

But then time seems to start again and the sennin is airborne, probably by no small amount considering the irresistable force of the Shin Shoryuken's might; his downward arc is entirely ungainly, with Frei having no energy -- mental or otherwise -- to direct his fall. He lands on the dojo floor with an almost disconcertingly loud *WHAM!*, causing a few people in the audience to wince, the redhead's body an ungainly sprawl. Ryu might be ready for a followup, but Frei sure isn't; it takes a second for him to roll slightly onto his back, where he stops, spread-eagled on the floor, staring upward. If it were winter, one might imagine he was about to start making snow angels.

For a second -- an anxious second for some observers, given the power of the blow that he just suffered -- he is silent, unblinking, but then at last he says, voice slightly raspy: "...thanks."

And then he closes his eyes. Apparently, that was enough for today, for him. More than enough, perhaps.

COMBATSYS: Frei takes no action.

                                  >  /////////                     ]
                                  |>>>>>--\-------\0              Ryu

COMBATSYS: Frei can no longer fight.

                                  >  /////////                     ]
                                  |>>>>>--\-------\0              Ryu

The wandering fighter's stance slows as the seconds pass following Frei's unceremonious reunion with the floorboards of the demonstration floor. It takes longer yet for the adrenaline's effects to fade as the calm of a battle ended registers. All battles have a beginning, a middle, and an ending - no matter how much longer Ryu was willing to go.
He finds himself wanting for very little, as the trappings of flesh are due to remind him how far Frei had taken him. His head is swimming. Sharp pains that have always been present around his left flank finally get their voices heard. Blood continues to seep out the side of his mouth.
Ryu's eyes close as he allows the predictable stimuli to play themselves out. The announcement of his victory, the cheers... it all matters very little, as he takes a short walk over to where Frei rests. By now, he is almost certainly being tended to by medical staff. Ryu probably wouldn't have the space to try and help him up if he wanted to (he does).
He hears the singular word of thanks as he crosses his arms, looking off to the side.
"It is I who should be saying thank you, for the opportunity." The words probably come too late. "We are both young yet... but fighting with you, it feels like I have crossed paths with one who has perfected themselves across an entire lifetime."
He looks up again towards the way out, well past the gathered fans who cheer, the young prospective fighters who are eager to find themselves through battle, the parents who wish to give a healthy outlet to such a physically demanding lifestyle and interest...
"You've shown me I've still got a long way to go yet."

COMBATSYS: Ryu wanders on to find the next challenge.

Log created on 12:54:40 05/07/2017 by Ryu, and last modified on 14:14:54 05/11/2017.