Ryu Hayabusa - The Abyss Stares Back

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Description: The Dragon Ninja confronts Daniel Jack, who he understands to be possessed by a malevolent entity. Things are not what they seem, however, and a tense confrontation gives way to a bittersweet clash of compulsions in which no one wins.

It was her scent.

The temperature outside Sapporo is cold, this far north. Not too cold, but the chill of the night was coiling around within the mountain forests. It was the outskirts, the border between town and country, closer and closer towards the direction of the train station. There had to be a distance, tracking her was... suicide. But it was there, it was her scent, it was her essence. The darkness of the summer forest was not unusual in the moonlight. What was?

Long shadows moving on their own.

The vague shape of humans ebb and flow between the clinging black mist, trailing along paths unseen through the winding mountains. It was a steady scent, a crawling one. A hot wind was passing along, snorts and heaving breaths. Stalking, the stalking of nothing but the faintest wind and shapes. It wasn't important what it was.

But what it meant.

The shape manifests in a single, solid shape, boiling into the form of a man, garbed in silk shirt and pants of tattered grey and purple. It's face was pitch black, a single pool of the abyss. Through it, a maw filled with gleaming white fangs, and burning yellow eyes boil out. The creature digs it face low into the dirt, giving a great, heaving breath. Emotions rush back, a full forced craving for a woman, a familiar woman, a cruel woman, a predator, his prey. The shape shudders, the full weight of passion taking him as he digs his clawed fingers in the dirt. "Honoka..." The shade growls, clutching a heap of dirt as he narrows his yellow eyes in the direction of the Sapporo central station.

"I got you now, scuzzy."

It is a deceptively arguable thing, here in the moonlit shade of night, amidst the cool breezes floating past off the chill mountaintops and darkly mirrored cerulean sea, which stalker this evening is more at home in that shroud. The creature of literal darkness, his form little more now than a shadow of what it had been, a mist-forged beast scarcely holding to a true form, nearly lost to instinct-- or the black-clad slayer who hunts the hunter.

The master shinobi senses the beast that was Daniel Jack long before he lays eyes on the soul-eater. Perhaps a Jiangshi, or some mutation thereof, Hayabusa is not aware that he knows the beast until that line of sight is established, and even then... it takes a moment for the familiarity in his mystically attuned senses to hone in on the truth. Even the best of intentions can spiral one inexorably into darkness, indeed.

Normally, monsters preying on livestock is not a thing that the Dragon Ninja personally investigates. Normally, even a pack of such creatures does not impact an entire nation's beef supply, or hunt other prey across the sea, however. That ravenous and unfilling void within this transformed being of shadow, however, is as tangible logistically as it is terrible to sense-- particularly tinged by the backdrop of horrible, inexorable conflict within its sentient host.

On the last curve of the small mountain road, past a finely curated and humble roadside shrine warded by paper sigils, the shade's passage to the train station is bisected by a dark figure standing stalwart in the middle of the path, clearly waiting... for him.

The moon passes out from behind a cloud, glinting off the silver adornments of the last scion of the Dragon Lineage's battle armor, off the fittings of Ryuken at his back. A vibrant crimson sash reads as shimmering black in the moonlight, the breeze setting it fluttering out to one side as the singular shinobi blocks the pass, arms folded. "It won't be long now, will it?" He muses with only sympathy. Not long at all before the hunger, the darkness within Daniel swallows what is left of him up; before the beast claims more than cattle.

Oh, Daniel was hard to sneak up on.

See, Daniel had enhanced senses now. It meshed well with enhanced moves. He could see, and hear, and smell, and even taste to a supernatural level.

And the fact of the matter, he had -nothing- on Ryu Hayabusa.

Not even a whimper of a scent. Not even a hint. A passing of the cloud, and suddenly, the ninja of ninjas was there. He didn't even notice until he revealed himself aloud. Daniel could have been dispatched, ambushed in a single attack. Daniel only tilts his head, eyes wide, his lips down in a shocked frown.

There were a number of reactions the ex-detective could have done in the face of a ninja master appearing.

He could have pounced, attacked desperately and wildly, tearing into the ninja. He could have hissed and snarled, and disappeared into a slithering cloud, only to ambush him in response. He could have scoffed, staring at the ninja with fierce yellow eyes, unafraid in appearance only.

Daniel's choice was less dignified than that.

".... Shiiiiiit!"



Daniel responds with a jump, that nearly carries him to the tree tops. Not a respectable jump, but the kind of reaction you get popping a brown paper bag next to a cat. Daniel even clings to a branch, twisting and winding around it as he scrambles his limbs desperately. The hungry instincts, the urges of the parasite seemed so far and distant now as Daniel is jolted into sudden, fierce clarity out of the full terror of what is the number on monster hunter, around a Z-list monster like him. Z-List, at least, in Daniel's own perception. "Oh lord have mercy on me, oh god, oh god-" Daniel mutters from the branch, as it begins to snap. The creature, the shade, was shuddering, trembling. Peering down with frightened yellow eyes, Daniel says it bluntly.

"She's talked to -you- hasn't she?"

To weigh just that reaction-- or perhaps in anticipation of it-- likely factored into the Dragon Ninja's decision -not- to allow honed steel to announce his presence for him. That, and something about patiently making decisions with all facets of the consequences thereof considered beforehand that a wise warrior once said. He can't quite recall the exact quote. Something, something, Dark Side.

"Many have spoken to me." the master shinobi enigmatically neither confirms nor denies, "What is it you hope I have not been told, or fear I know?" Hayabusa's emerald eyes are difficult to disern in the dark, at least for the typical human, but they remain intent upon Daniel; narrowed dangerously.

"Honesty may be the only chance at salvation you have now; you must tell me everything. The mercy of the Divine for one undergoing such a transformation is usually a swift death, the loss of control inexorable save for... extraordinary means." Ones he is loathe to undertake. Daniel walked this path thoroughly aware of the risk.

"Power beyond one's ken seldom serves one's purpose." The last of the Dragon Lineage observes with some measure of subtle sorrow, as his hand slides to one shoulder, and draws the legendary katana by its red-wrapped tsuka, the razor-sharp, reputedly unbreakable blade shining like a mirror in the moonlight. "Do you have the strength of will to cast it off? As with a cancer, you will lose healthy tissue to the trial..." Much, perhaps, exists at this late hour to be cut away.

Many had spoken.

How many?

How many will we have to kill Daniel?

The parasite's insidious voice slithers through the shade's mind, pulling at his limbs like a puppet on the strings. Already, orange chi flickers and flashes. And yet, Daniel's mind was surging from the fear. The ninja could be here to assassinate him, to kill him before he can reach her, to torture her and burn down everything she had, and wanted, and wished for, to pul laway her suffering and feast upon it, and her spirits and her souls.


He will kill us.

Daniel swallows hard, as he drops from the branch. He lands without a sound, as he neatly collapses into a pool of shadows on impact, his form bordering on formless, his substance bordering on insubstancial. Reforming a few meters away, Daniel doesn't shake his frightened appearance. But his actions, his behavior was too close a wounded animal, circling and staring at Ryu. "Well, uh, everything is kind of... vague, scuzzy. Ryu." Daniel corrects himself. "The high level is that I went to that Mortal Kombat tournament after the King of Fighters tournament, it was an island tournament, a lot of people died, I had the honor of dying twice. This..." Daniel motions at himself.

"This is what the first time got me."

"I had a lingering parasite still when I talked to you, the nice Fio Tessitore, the doctor... revived it to save my life. It was- I mean, it was generous for the most part. And now she's dead, and I'm this... thing, and I have to find her, and make her mine and consume all the living-"

Daniel suddenly coughs.

The ex-detective stops his pacing, digging his nails into his arm, deep. He was bracing himself, restraining himself. "Yeah, yeah, I... eat pain, and suffering, and souls. It's... a hell of a rush, Ryu. This whole thing is a rush. I can't even think stra-" If you can't think straight, he will kill you. "Well, I can sometimes think straight, it's just, I just need to get this new hunger under control, and then I can get back to my old life. I can work at Interpol, I can fight cr-crime-" Daniel licks his lips at the thought of making his justice right into Honoka.

"But do I really have the strength of will to cast it off?"

Daniel shakes his head, already telegraphing the answer, though he ultimately refuses to admit it. "You remember being a teenager, Ryu?" Daniel grunts, tearing a rich strip of shadow from his skin. "You remember all those hormones, those fresh urges you got? I've... been trying so hard to cast it off, believe me. But I drown in it, I drown in the sensations, the hunger, the ever consuming hunger. I gotta keep fighting it, I gotta, I gotta only hurt animals, torture them, break their bones, twist their limbs, make them scream, and taste their fear, their sorrow, their souls, Ryu Hayabusa. I gotta find a way of satiating the hunger. Because I know, and you know, what happens when I start... start preying on people. I'm not a monster. I'm not a monster. I'm an outlaw, a murderer, a killer." Daniel forces a smile, as he rips another fresh strip off himself. "And then people start getting the idea of putting me down, for my own good."

"Sounds crazy, right Ryu?"

"Not insane, no." Of all things, Hayabusa's matter-of-fact, too calm words carry deep regret that Little is -not- simply mad, losing his mind, drawing urges and conclusions from the ether that mean little to nothing in reality. No, what's happening to Daniel Jack might seem insane to the Detective-- but it's morbidly par for the course in the eyes of the master shinobi he now faces.

"The infection is in fact overtaking you. Your slaughter of livestock does not sate it, even if it no longer screams in your soul for some moments after. You strengthen it, and it subsumes you, more and more. Such a creature will never be sated, its hunger will only grow with its power over you-- your resistance continuing to lessen, as it has, as you take greater pleasure from the depravity and go to further extremes of cruelty." He's seen monsters that feed on livestock to maintain their humanity. ... they don't tend to massacre the poor beasts in ever more creative and painful ways. This is something else, to the Dragon Ninja's eye; something altogether far worse.

"What was done did not save your life, merely prolong it as the incubator to an alien creature." Hayabusa regretfully informs Daniel. "From what I have been able to gather from others, this good doctor.." the words drip dry sarcasm from the monster hunter's lips, "was far more interested in the proliferation of such beasts than the wellbeing of mankind." Some people just never quite grasp the hyppocratic oath.

The deceptively experienced slayer, despite his youth, is keenly aware of the warring emotions and instincts within Daniel. The fear of him, the glimmer of hope that if anyone can help, Hayabusa can help. The ravenous urging to attack spoken in his mind, and by the motions of those shadows. "You are exhausted and your mind will soon give in to its demands, Detective." Hayabusa informs softly, "You will need to relax, let its violence to the fore, let it come for me. I will cut back the infection, and buy you one more chance to make another choice."

It might only be at this point that the hungry, harried predator realizes that it's also being stalked, Hayabusa's placement and timing a careful thing, perfectly spaced amidst buddhist sigils that surround these hills. The shade has stalked within that sacred geometry; even with full control, flight from this confrontation suddenly becomes much, much harder. The last scion of the Dragon Lineage has chosen a battlefield deceptively well for what had seemed like a chance encounter.

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa has started a fight here.

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Ryu Hayabusa     0/-------/-------|

Ryu... touches on a nerve.

It's a raw touch, enough to shock Daniel out of the fear for his existence in the face of pure monster murder. The trembling doesn't stop, no, but the expression changes. From nervous fear, to insult. "It's more than that, scuzzy. Ryu." Daniel corrects himself, a growl rumbling deep within. "I am the infection. It sustains, it remains. I was infected when I met you, and she controlled it. What Fio is," And Daniel made sure to use her name. "Was a woman who was too ambitious for her own good, and ended up with the choice between serving a dark lord and furthering her ambitions, or death. What you know about her is misdirection, misconception, and people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time... and... and..."

"You're wrong."

A deep, black mist unfolds around the detective, lashing around the trees, the underbrush, even towards Ryu's feet. The miasma hangs heavy on the ground, as Daniel snarls, his features burying in the innate blackness of the shade. He didn't quite register escape, someting in him was overtaking him. Not the parasite, no, but Daniel. Inner pain boiling forward, as the detective bellows out at the ninja.

"Fio -loved- me, as much as any -person- could."

Daniel sweeps his arm, stepping forward, the fear suddenly driven away by the pure outrage of the insinuation. "There was no other way, she did everything she could to treat me, to cure me, to control this -thing- inside me! The didn't turn me into some incubator! It was the only way! And when Aranha -killed- her-" Daniel draws in a heaving breath, orange chi boiling up from around him. "- I knew, I knew I had to do anything to bring her back to me. -Anything- to make her mine again. To make her mine!" The feral instincts were overtaking Daniel, as a hunger overtakes. He could just -feel- that ninja mewling and sobbing as his knee was wrenched from its socket. He could taste it. He just had to... push on it. "Just promise me one thing, scuzzy." The shade snarls, orange chi burning on both of his hands.

"Scream for me!"

And Daniel pounces.

Lunging forward, the detective swings his arms around in the familiar pattern, in the familiar motion, with precision and clarity. Most beasts were simply that, beasts. But as Daniel slips amongst the shadows, moving like a blink of the night, the contrails of orange energy follow. He brings both of his arms down in a singular slashing motion, bellowing out the all too human origin of the attack. Monster, shadow, man, Daniel drifted between all three. But as he unleashes the shockwave of orange chi at Ryu, the nature and direction of this fight becomes clear.


COMBATSYS: Daniel has joined the fight here.

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Daniel           0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa

COMBATSYS: Daniel successfully hits Ryu Hayabusa with Kasane Ate.

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Daniel           0/-------/-----==|==-----\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa

"It is a pity the mind that you once had cannot hear yourself now." Ryu laments, his own stoic disapproval at this entire affair even being necessary remaining unmoved by Daniel Jack's passionate rebuttal, the Dragon Ninja's ire thoroughly un-roused at the volatile escalation of their encounter. Hayabusa did ask the shade for just this course of action-- even if the precise nature of the revelations does strike as the first thing to surprise the veteran monster slayer this fine evening.

It's possible that the last scion of the Dragon Lineage spends a bit too long, eyes narrowed, studying that angry gout of chi as Daniel rips it from the air, as it tears towards him-- it's possible that he's simply unprepared, leaving an opening to add insurance that the beast will -not- try to flee, sensing weakness. ... it's also entirely possible that the dark-powered Daniel is simply more dangerous, more chaotic than Hayabusa expected, not susceptible to reason; at least not the arguments the master shinobi tried.

Whatever the truth. the Todoh-ryuu trademark rips soundly across the Dragon Ninja, sending Hayabusa reeling in a momentary forced slide abruptly away from his quarry. "In choosing to serve such entities, one does not further their purpose, but soundly lose sight of it. All the while convinced that the otherworldly Thing that subsumes your mind, your spirit, your very -purpose- on Earth is still -you-."

It disgusts Hayabusa, the first tinge of emotional spike that's not simply pity for the Detective he's shown thus far. It's emphatic, and perhaps a shade or two bitter-- how rarely does anyone in such a plight listen, shinobi? "Fighting harder than one has ever had to fight is an option." The Legendary Ninja observes, as the shockwave dissipates around him, "Finding strength in hopeless finality is an option. Seeking out others' expertise is an option."

Ryu is gone, vanished in a flash, all but flying through the air and down on Daniel in a flash, one hand leveraging outwards to use the Detective's shadowy mass to vault -past- him-- but only just. Landing immediately beside Daniel, Hayabusa twists, driving the point of that mythical katana inward in, plainly, an attempt to run Daniel Little through. The nature of this confrontation is, indeed, entirely clear. "Death true to oneself is an option."

COMBATSYS: Daniel blocks Ryu Hayabusa's Falling Falcon.

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Daniel           0/-------/----===|===----\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa

Todoh-Ryuu Kobojutsu.

"So give me something else? Anything else to bring her back!" "If the only creature that can bring her back to me is a demon king, then what else can I do? I can't even think straight, I can't even function without her. I need something, anyone to cling to, just to get my mind straight!" Even in his most feral state, Daniel couldn't help but escape the martial art, trained to an instictual level within him. He was, by many accounts, the stongest Todoh-Ryuu style fighter, even rivaling his own master. Whether this was before or after the transformation was debatable. One thing was for certain though:

Ryu was not simply fighting a shadow of a man.

Daniel hardly loses his footing as he recoils, circling around. It was approaching the edges, did he feel the overwhelming weight of the wards. "The hell...?" The ex-detective musters as he registers the invisible weight, the kind of barrier pushing back at him. There is no respite as Ryu Hayabusa was repositioning, gone in a flash as he was bearing down. The detective catches the rebound, letting Ryu bound off him harmlessly... by assisting his positioning, as it ended up. As Daniel turns to face the landing Hayabusa, the twist comes too quickly. Daniel can only muster catching the blade, directing it into his torso. And there is a searing pain, as black mist recoils in agony at the fresh wound into the side of Daniel. The shade sucks in a sharp breath of air. The cut runs deep, but even the torso and the hands, distorted by the blade, was already reforming. The boundary of material and mist; the form of the shade was mallable. "It does hear, Ryu." Was Daniel's own lament, as he forces himself at the ninja. "And I'm trapped between unbridled dark hedonism, and oblivion. I can't die, I won't die. I just need more time to get everything under control. Just a little more to eat, just a little more to feed on. And I'll be back to normal, back to serving Interpol, back to the Chief slapping me around, back to Russians kidnapping me. All back to what it was before."

"I just need to wrench a little spirit out of you first, Ryu."

Daniel Jack steps in. The unnatural gait with all too natural techniques did more than contrast; it was growing more clear just how uncomfortable the ex-detective was in his new body, his new form. The attempts for precise steps kept collapsing into mist, the focus of the shade was struggling under a chaotic mind. And yet, the power of the new form just barely compensated for it. As the creature swept in, he was moving with the careful footwork of Todoh-Ryuu, his palms whipping around at Ryu's side. Should he get a grip, the result would be simple: a pivot throw, attempting to hurl the ninja straight into a tree, with all the power one would expect from a shade. Too simple, too direct. Daniel wouldn't admit he was trying to toy with Ryu.

He would admit to wearing him down, however, for the proper climax he so desired .

COMBATSYS: Daniel successfully hits Ryu Hayabusa with Strong Throw.

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Daniel           0/-------/---====|=====--\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa

"Whatever a /demon king/ brings you in her stead, it will not be the same, but a tool of its own ambitions." Hayabusa reiterates plainly. "Any more than what will be left of you will be the man you were. The more you feed it, the less control you will ha--" Toyed with or no, the shade has the Dragon Ninja's number, catching him and drawing him off balance, the shinobi's attempts to regain his own control via momentum seeing him -slammed- harshly back into the resilient trunk of that ancient tree.

Its limbs shudder, aging leaves fall in a fluttering cascade, deceptively relaxed in the midst of such a potentially deadly maelstrom. "Some things, we must learn to let go. It must be starved out, its power exhausted, and sealed away." Isn't it the realm of the supervillain to explain the process to the hero? But, then, Daniel Jack was once a hero, and Hayabusa seems unwilling to easily surrender the notion that the Detective might be an ally in this struggle... rather than another ravenous monstrosity to be slain. Much as it, quite literally, pains him to make the attempt.

At the least, he's getting the creature to rage, to expend that energy it's gathered, that rabid influence it's gained. ... now, if he can simply keep from being the replacement nourishment, the plan will look almost intelligent in retrospect To that end, the Dragon Ninja is on Daniel Jack again in a flash, surging forth in a flash of motion and sliding in low, his own efforts going towards a decidedly unconventional heave -skyward-, seeking to sweep and destabilize the Detective into an abrupt vertical ascent with alarming force applied by the shinobi's lithe limbs.

Force that wouldn't begin to approach the intended follow-up, the infamous monster hunter vanishing for less than the blink of an eye and reappearing above, in Daniel Little's path. At which point Ryu would fearlessly embrace the darkness, in his own special way, drawing the Detective close to his bosom.... and inverting, driving both full bore into the rocky ground in a tight, swift spiral akin to dying in an out of control airplane, with Daniel's head leading the way to impact.

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa successfully hits Daniel with Izuna Drop.
- Power hit! -

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Daniel           1/----===/=======|=======\-------\1     Ryu Hayabusa

"If it means I can stop myself from preying, from killing?"

"My options are pretty limited scuzzy, I can't even fucking control myself!" Daniel seethes, as he sweeps his arms around. Monster, villain, Daniel felt the unyielding pull in both directions. And yet, the monster within was stonger than the heart of heroism Daniel once thought was unbreakable. It was an endless terror for the human in him.

And yet, the monster still had to eat to survive.

Before Daniel can enen finish his approach, the pure agility of the ninja comes to bear, as the hunter is upon him. Daniel instinctively goes for the reversal, the careful actions to reverse the hold, and reposition. But as Ryu embraces the darkness... he is taken up. This wasn't a grapple in the traditional sense.

This was an Izuna Drop.

Smashed into the ground, Daniel splatters. That was the best way to describe it, as the full form of Daniel's skull splits into shadowstuff, spilling across the ground in a pool. The body of the ex-detective was mangled between substance and non-substance, a great inky black smear on the earth. And for a brief moment, that was it. And steadily, the form of the former agent of Interpol returns, slithering back together in mist and semi-fluid, recoiling together away from the Ryu. Daniel would have attempted to flee... but the barrier, the damned barrier, the wards contain him. Rising back up into a broken, twisted human form, the yellow eyes glare back, as he reforms. "Scuzzy," Daniel begins, as he falls back into a human shape. "If I let go, then I'm just another head on the chopping block. For you, for Ayame, for Zach Glenn, for all those miserable monster hunters. Because you're all justified in killing me. I can't let that happen, I have to control this..." Tendrils lash out from the inky pools, as thin threads of shadow form the vaguest web across the so-called 'arena', as Daniel shakes his head, his eyes actually burning now.

"And only Fio can help me."

COMBATSYS: Daniel Jacks it up a notch!

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Daniel           1/----===/=======|=======\-------\1     Ryu Hayabusa

"Your current course does not buy the time you seek, nor provide control. It erodes it, feeds the Other within you. You are acting according to its desires, as it whispers that through it is the only way to get your heart's deepest wish." Again, Hayabusa seems remorseful that this is the case, sympathetic to the plight-- and patient in the extreme in elaborating upon it.

Then again, he buys himself a few moments' breathing room at Daniel's rather profound expense. "It will use you to do the only thing it knows how to do-- ceaselessly kill, devour, consume life while inspiring only agony. Until Daniel Jack has ceased to be, and more than justified in ending you... there will be -no- other option."

Hayabusa shakes his head, narrows his eyes, "You used to be a man of reason. -I- am here to help you, when it would already be justified to end you. And still you argue that what -it- whispers in your ear is the truth." Hayabusa flips high in the air, not even seeking to circumvent that reforming network of shadows and energy, though it looks for a moment as if he will as the Dragon Ninja twists a swift, singular somersault and instead releases a quartet of whirling shuriken.

One high, one low, one right, one left-- Ryu seeks to connect each with a point along the outer perimeter of that bestial mass of hungry shadows that now passes for Daniel's aura, each deceptively small bladed implement etched on one face with an intricate kanji that's no part of modern Japanese-- ninpo runes that burn out as they impact, and while a clean cut might be optimal, the shinobi's deceptive, true goal is simply to make contact with the ritual implements designed to drain and burn out with that same soul-energy that the entity so craves.

To further erode its reserves, and its influence in the back half of their enounter. .... to live up to his promise to help, if this thrice-damned thing doesn't put him down first.

COMBATSYS: Daniel blocks Ryu Hayabusa's Four Rings.

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Daniel           1/---====/=======|=======\=------\1     Ryu Hayabusa

But Daniel was hard to grind down.

The creature was regeneration, reforming, reshaping. He was building himself back to whole; as shambled and ramshackled it was. As the tendrils spread, the web of shadows were formless in the path of the agile martial artist. But the clouds coil, cling. As the shuriken come flying out, the form condenses. Only one of the blades connect squarely, digging deep into the cheek of the now reformed Daniel. The rest take only wisps of the shape, only the spectres of form. It was supressive, burning, locking Down. Daniel could feel himself being ensnared. And yet, even as he was being ripped asunder, the shade was still struggling, still fighting. "I used to be a man of reason, scuzzy." Daniel says, the hint of pain behind his voice. "And then... I stopped. You don't understand, Ryu. I can't be reasonable anymore. I just- I just can't. I have to find how to be reasonable again, I have to find the path. And maybe I need to stop... stop someone. Stop her."

"Or maybe I just gotta hurt people."

And Daniel surges back at Ryu Hayabusa.

Whatever seals that were beginning to pile on, would suddenly receive a backlash of pure chi energy, boiling over from the entire web. A palm strike with the left, a hand chop with the right. The pattern was so familiar, so routine, so predictable. But as the elbow jab comes, so comes the point blank chi slashes. One, then two, then finally three. A relentless, vicious assault, designed to break him down piece by piece. All with the

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa fails to interrupt Ragtime Riot EX from Daniel with Rising Swallow EX.

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Daniel           1/=======/=======|=======\==-----\1     Ryu Hayabusa

Hayabusa is expecting the creature to come at him. To come in hard, to come in fast, to strike to kill. The Shinobi Prince has been in such scenarios perhaps dozens of times before; perhaps -hundreds- of times before. That Ryu Hayabusa still lives is testament to his patience and skill. That Ryu Hayabusa still fights is testament to his courage. It is not the bestial threat that gives the young ninja pause-- but the insistance of a man he, perhaps, once respected in turn.

A moment of doubt and weakness is how the parasite takes a host, how so many monsters worm their way in. -Is- he making a mistake trying to give Daniel Jack a final chance to clambor back to life? -Could- this voidspawn be the one that finally gets its claws in? Runs out the Master Ninja's last continue?!?

Ryuken is meant to meet Daniel's charge head-on, but the shade slithers around it instinctively, surprisingy. In stark defiance of the traditional simplicity espoused in the technique-- and many of its cousins in Todoh-ryuu Kobojutsu. Hayabusa is hammered, driven back by deceptively solid limbstrikes and then blasted, reeling, in that burst of desperate power.

"I came out here... expecting -Daniel- to give me some measure of help with this hunt." The Dragon Ninja admits with a dark but sincere, soft chuckle. "Father always says I am too stubborn for my own good." The legendary monster hunter seeks his breath, to recover his footing. "But it is not for my own good I am here."

Daniel wasn't letting him recover.

No, as the dragon ninja regains his footing, The Ladykiller was already upon him, tracking, trailing, hunting the hunted. Eyes burning with that yellow flame, the tendrils of shadow seem to be drowning the arena, a cascading darkness burning from the detective. Certainly, the simplicity of the technique was obvious. But the growing impact of the presence of the creature, another damnable accusation could be leveled at Daniel.

He was unaware of his own potential.

As Daniel lurches in, he blots out the moon, his fangs bared. "The only hunt I'm interested in, scuzzy, is a hunt that leads me either towards my Fio, or that freaking Dragon Lady. Honoka, you know?" Daniel growls as he lashes out long, snaking limbs at Ryu Hayabusa's arm. Should he get a grip, he would surge at him, attempting to force then ninja back down into an armlock pin. And there, he would wrench, -hard-, attempting to dislocate the arm at the shoulder... and elbow. A crippling move, designed to disable.

As well as maximize the pain.

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa fails to interrupt Mad Jack Crack from Daniel with Art of the Piercing Void EX.

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Daniel           1/----===/=======|====---\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa

Ryu Hayabusa says, "Fair enough."

Even now, at this late hour, the Ninja Prince seems to imagine that Daniel, formidable as the fellow once was, will have a moment of clarity, a moment of reason powerful enough to push past whatever this dark, alien force at his core projects into his ear. Once again, the sensation that he's made a startling error of judgement only builds.

Rather than take even an instant to reconsider his stance, the truth in Hayabusa's words, Daniel Jack lashes out. It's too early for the technique, the sealing will be incomplete at best-- but clearly this otherworldly intruder is far more formidable than the shinobi imagined. His eyes close, a pinprick of chi is clasped from nothingness in a precisely arrayed, flexed hand, a point of light more by virtue of that which it attracts, pulls inexorably into its grip, than the energy itself.

In the first instants, the build is subtle, but blink an eye a moment later, and the whirling vortex of energy has expanded-- nay, exploded to encompass the entirety of the Dragon Ninja's deadly grip. It is a technique of impossible, inexorable gravity, an unnatural force in its own right, wielded now in order to find and stall its opposite number; in service of the metaphysical peace this Realm so richly deserves, in Hayabusa's estimation.

He'll explain all this after he's attuned the essence of the Void to the beast within the Detective-- and it's then that Ryu realizes the truth of his error. His eyes widen. That devouring opposite of a singularity wavers, ceases growing... and then is wrenched from Hayabusa's control to dissipate nigh-uselessly as his arm is twisted, wrenched, and soundly popped from its socket with the agony of tearing tendons and quite possibly, cracking bone. Just in time for the King of Fighters.

Hayabusa doesn't scream, doesn't cry out, merely gasps almost silently for ear, grunts through the pain like a predator turning the threat into deadly action. For the moment, however, the agile Witcher can only gasp out a few, hoarse words, as he kicks and twists unceasingly to break free and prepare himself. "... it's not seizing your mind..." the last of the Dragon Lineage realizes, to frankly, his abject if understatted horror. "... you're... using... -it-."

The otherworldly force Hayabusa tuned into, prepared to lock off from Daniel... it's a nothing, a parasite, a dark little pit that would be contented to nibble at him for years if not decades. "-Your- madness builds this new monstrosity, Detective." The veteran's eyes are momentarily wide. It's always the human beings that shock him the most, after all these years. The kind of depravity desperation, avarice, pride and lust can drive men to. The most monstrous beast he knows. "/What/ happened to you... ?!"

It was a relentless assault.

And it was only to get worse.

In the face of finality, of release, Daniel is unaware of what happened. For the ex-detective, the ninja only made a mistake, only underestimated how dangerous Daniel was. As he takes in that gasp, it washes over the detective, running over him, giving him that hungry rush. Only a taste, but what a sampling it was. As he wrenches hard, as he struggles, he almost wanted to push it harder. But Ryu says it.

'You're using it.'

Daniel actually gives Ryu a brief moment of respite, releasing the ninja as the chi energy around him builds into a towering cataclysm. Orange chi winds around a consuming darkness, as Daniel... takes in the words. Using it. You're using it. Some weight comes with that statement, as Daniel Jack takes a step back. Daniel stares at Ryu, as his eyes continue to burn, that smile melted off his face.

I'm using it?

No, of course not Daniel.

You think this is all you? That you were the one who abandoned your friends on the island for more power? That you so easily took to the nature of the beast, like it was a glove around you? That you sought to face Honoka alone, not for justice, but just for the satisfaction for dominating her, for the power over her? That you failed to even protect Fio Tessitore, instead going out and about like a wild animal, betraying your allies even deeper for that hungry sensation? You really think that's what you are? That you're even able to commit such evil. Oh no, Daniel. You aren't in control. I am. I am in control. And it's going to be so sweet when you make this ninja bleed, to twist him into tears.

Unless you stop me.

And you can't, can you?

"I'm a monster now, Ryu Hayabusa." Daniel Jack draws back his fist, as the shadowy tendrils suddenly draw in, a surging tide underfoot of chi energy. Daniel's energy signature suddenly flares up, a great... wave of energy. "The Ladykiller... thing compels me. It possesses me. Controls me. Drives me. It's not me, it's the thing inside me. I'm the only thing that can stop it. I have to find a way to stop it, Ryu. To stop it from making me doing unspeakable horrors. I just need a release to control it..."

"I'm sorry, scuzzy, but you're the one."

And Daniel explodes forward.

Contrails of black mist and orange chi cascade around him as he fires violently at he launches at the ninja. And with a singular motion; Daniel would hook his fist around into a single punch straight for Ryu's gut. It might end there... except the punch would only be the beginning.

Because Daniel's not slowing down.

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa blocks Daniel's Fantastic Todoh Punch EX.

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Daniel           0/-------/-------|=======\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa

And Daniel carries Ryu off his feet.

Rocketing through the air, Daniel smashes through a tree, using Ryu as the contact point. Razor sharp teeth gritted, he locks eyes with the ninja. "THis all can end..." Daniel continues, as he slams through a second tree, the boundaries of the arena stretched. The energy was waning, consuming by the aura. He fall short of a third tree, landing back on his feet unceramoniously with a groan.

"Just give me a scream."

The ninja's crossed bracers meet that fantastically mighty punch, Hayabusa's emerald green, gold-flecked eyes matching Daniel's intensity unflinchingly, despite the peril that the Dragon Ninja finds himself in. His moment of horror settles into clarity, into singularity of purpose; his mission tonight was a success. He learned what kind of depraved madness drove a creature to torture and feed en masse, clearly building to a much more horrible end.

The last scion of the Dragon Lineage is shaken to his core by both the strike, and that understanding, locking eyes on the shade until the last instant before he would be exploded through that tree. "Your mind has not been subsumed, Daniel Jack." Hayabusa murmurs softly.

Where did the words come from? They whistle as if through the winds, crack as if among the falling branches, the splintering cacophany of breaking wood doing little to stop the shinobi's voice from carrying in something altogether more mystical than any ventriloquist's trick, as subtle as it is intense-- was that tremor from the leaves above, drifting to Earth in a rustling crowd far more gently than the tree they occupied before Daniel punched it apart.

"It has been lost." The grim declaration is far easier to place: it comes from right over the shade's shoulder, in the same instant Hayabusa seeks to leverage Daniel's punching arm, abruptly and gracefully invert in a sharp somersault, plant both booted fit about at the sadistic ex-lawman's midsection, and powerfully propel him backwards right -through- that thick, fallen trunk in return. "There is only one end to the path you walk, and it is not borne of nor condusive to love."

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa successfully hits Daniel with Strong Throw.

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Daniel           0/-------/--=====|=======\-------\1     Ryu Hayabusa

Mind not subsumed?

No, no, Daniel's mind had to be subsumed. These weren't his urges, these weren't his thoughts, these weren't his desires. He wasn't a monster, it was the monster, it was his puppet, pulling on his strings. This had to be real, it had to be. He's trying to make you believe you have agency, Daniel. Make you believe it as he catches your punch. As he disappears. As he sinks into your mind.

Just as he strikes.

Hayabusa seizes Daniel as the detective diffuses. Not enough to slip from the grasp, but the momentum and shape shift, the center off. Not that it matters much, as Daniel is slammed into the truck. Both the trunk and Daniel splinter, the shade moaning in pain. Shuddering, the sadistic creature slithers off the trunk, spreading low into ground, shifting into the shadows.

He can do that too, ninja.

Just not as, like, well.

"I can't take the path it compels me, you dig?" Daniel mutters. "I don't want to be like this, Ryu Hayabusa. But I know I am capable of so much worse. It's just... so easy to start hurting people. Twisting their arms, breaking their wrists. It's just easier now than it's ever been, and I can't stop it when it starts. That's the path it wants me on. So I wander astray from it, scuzzy." Daniel growls. "I am lost in the woods. And any time I stop wandering, prowling? It drags me back on that path. If I have a choice to wander? I will wander until I find a trail, any trail that keeps me sane."

Because you are sane, aren't you Daniel?

The shadow was beginning to surge back at the ninja. The mass of darkness bursts out with a familiar palm thrust, the shape of Daniel reforming. The grimlock teeth are frozen on his face. "I know you want to help me, Ryu." Daniel sighs, as he throws out the follow up hand chop. "I know you want to save me. You'd- you're holding back. I know you are. You're trying to help, and- and if you don't stop thinking that? You'll kill me now." Daniel Jack unleashes another palm strike, before slipping in with an elbow thrust. "I don't know if you can help me or not. But I can't let myself stop. Because if I do?" Daniel Jack finishes with a rising palm strike, aiming right for Ryu Hayabusa's chin.

"I might just kill you, Ryu."

"And that's terrifying."

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa just-defends Daniel's Zoot Suit Riot!

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Daniel           0/-------/--=====|=======\-------\1     Ryu Hayabusa

It's a sad truth of fighting monsters that there's seldom any reasoning with the truly unreasonable, that a sentient being consumed by dark desires and rampant emotion or instinct is seldom even aware of truth when it slaps them in the face; hell, it's hard for the normal person, tribal and hormonal primates that they are.

It doesn't help when the intervention that's staged is, well, entirely wrong to begin with, Hayabusa's initial thrust and creeping realization only muddying the waters in which Daniel struggles and writhes to stay afloat, ironically serving the same current he seeks to escape. "What about this..." The Dragon Ninja softly inquires of Daniel, his calm murmur crisply projected in the night air, even as the beast of shadow lashes out anew, "... is sane?"

The palmstrike meets an answering, short thrust of the empty pommel of Ryuken, jarring impact sent through the sword's mythically sturdy fittings harmlessly. The chop finds one of the ninja's gauntlets, its force transitioning to energy in a clash of silvery auric resistance.

The next palm is driven aside by that same armored forearm in smooth, perfectly time rotation, and the striking elbow? That transfers its might into a similar clash of light and dark chi as Hayabusa vanishes in a flash of silvery-grey, reminiscent of smoke across a celestial light in the pitch-black night. "If you -continue- down this path, you may kill me; or many others." For a moment, the voice comes as if from nowhere, from everywhere once more, whispered on the breeze.

As much terror as this thought may inspire in Daniel, it is of far graver concern to Hayabusa himself in his present plight. Not only for the threat posed to himself should he fail, either. It steels the Illusive Prince even in this precarious moment, the weight of real consequence-- to himself, to others, to Daniel's own soul-- acknowledged on his shoulders. Carried without complaint.

"Trust my expertise, Detective." The Peregrine Falcon perches on a limb far overhead, his inner resolve, his sheer energy only surging higher in these final moments of batte, one way or another. "The path you walk will lead you to the end you fear, whatever the source of this darkness." Hayabusa does not immediately argue it further; in the end, it makes little difference -what- has catalyzed this change.

"Your grief, your pain, they have distorted you, set your course along the angle of your flaws, not your merits. You are in over your head, and you feel yourself sinking, desperately fighting yet feeding that fate by the very nature of such zeal; of such terror. Let me help you back to the light, you know it is only slipping farther from you." Of this, Ryu must have faith-- SOME part of Daniel knows this.

"Don't leave me with no other options than to stop you." There is little overt emotion in the words, but it is still a plea. An almost desperate plea. Of all the evils Ryu must face, that of a conflicted man consumed by trauma is perhaps amongst the most tragic.

"Don't ask me to die trying." That he has long been certain such a fate awaited him at the end of -his- chosen path, and made peace with it long ago, does not make the last scion of the Dragon Lineage eager to meet that end.... at the hands of an ally. At the hands of a man so mad with grief, he's making a monster.

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa calculates his next move.

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Daniel           0/-------/--=====|=======\=====--\1     Ryu Hayabusa

Daniel Jack's rage was becoming quelled.

The feast of pain was filling him. Every attack, carefully danced around and thwarted, was not fueling a rampage for the ex-detective. No, with the moment of clearness, Daniel was listening to Ryu Hayabusa's rebuttal. If he was a true monster, it would feel nothing. But every blow shoots straight to the heart, every word, every misery. He was sensing pain now, but it was despair. Bitter like coffee, but it had it's own aroma. As the final attack is unleashed, he doesn't pursue after Ryu Hayabusa. He hesistates, halts. And finally, without the storm inside him, he sputters aloud.

"I'm stronger than I think I am."

That was the growl from Daniel. Halting words. "I am stronger than I think I am." He drifts. Where was the spirit. There was no voice from the spirit. Where was the pressure? It almost felt like his own mind. But that was impossible. Daniel Jack considers Ryu Hayabusa. A man who was noble enough to stay his blade, with someone he thought he could help. "I can conquer this. I can overcome. I can form my own path. I-" He trembles, as the form solidifies. "Trust your expertise..." Daniel pauses, thinking. Thinking so hard, trying so hard for the clarity. And then, like a black sun over an alien planet, it rises, cascading the warm shadows over him. He sees it. He sees it so clearly now. "I must say, scuzzy, I am going to have to doubt your expertise on this." Daniel says with... precise words, without a growl.

"I don't think you can stop me, Ryu Hayabusa."

Daniel Jack cocks his head aside. "I don't think you can, or Ayame, or Honoka, and Zach Glenn sure as hell can't." Daniel adds that last one with a snort. "I just think back to Ayame, you dig? She killed so many Darkstalkers, how could she even count? I thought I was in over my head, just fading in and out until it's time for my lynching, you dig?" And he gestures a hand at Ryu Hayabusa. "But here I am, taking the most dangerous ninja in the world, and putting him on the ropes?" Daniel Jack chuckles, as clarity washes over him. Dark clarity, but a terrible clearness. "I don't need to be a frightened animal. Fear's just another mind-killer I can't afford. I'm tracking down Honoka... because she's a criminal, and because she may have the trail I need on Dr. Tessitore's soul. Nobody's gonna miss a little scum streak like her; at least, they'll sleep safer at night not knowing what she really is." Daniel gives out a staccato growl. "Agh, jeeze." Daniel sighs. His yellow eyes transfix on Ryu Hayabusa's own. "You know you don't have to do this, scuzzy." Daniel Jack says. "You've given me a ride. I'm feeling great. You think I'm suffering? Look at you. You are stuck between nailing down a cow-killer and vigilante, or letting him get away. I could just walk away, and run into the woods, and try to overcome all this under your guidance. Until the accident happens, and your forced to put me down like a dog. I'm not stable enough to be in a nature preserve, Ryu. I know you want to help me, scuzzy." Daniel doesn't look away, but runs his tongue over his teeth. "But this is something I need to handle myself. Nobody can help me except the good doctor. And trying to kill me is only gonna make it worse. Daniel Jack falls back into his defensive stance. "So what's it gonna be scuzzy? I'm not going to tell you to die trying. But we both don't have anybody who will save us if it comes down to kill or be killed." Daniel Jack shakes his head.

"And I really don't want to have to kill a hero in order to make it out alive."

COMBATSYS: Daniel Jacks it up a notch!

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Daniel           0/-------/--=====|=======\=====--\1     Ryu Hayabusa

"I don't intend to kill you for what you're becoming." Hayabusa too camly illucidates. "Nor for what you haven't yet done, but careen towards surely doing." The clouds pass overhead and moon and starlight return to the battlefield. "And even if you manage to kill me--" a definite possibility in Ryu's estimation, at this juncture. But it changes little. "-- you will never again be free, hunted until the end of your days, your blood upon the blades of the shinobi who slew you." Of this, as few other things, Hayabusa Ryu seems to believe with absolute, unwavering certitude.

Ryuken still waits before him, balanced perfectly to slice in any direction at a moment's notice, the silvery light mirrored in its deep, symmetrically waving hamon. "At the same time, I cannot allow you to do what you are doing; what you are about to do." The offer of aid wasn't really the sort of choice one simply refuses. At least, not easily.

"Even if you manage to triumph, the wards amongst these sacred mountains will outlast me." The Illusive Prince reminds Daniel of this without specifying -how- long, or just what it might take out of him to burst those seams-- no reason to make any path out of this -easy-, now is there?

"And I assure you, I am still capable of stopping this. I cannot let you follow this path alone, Detective." The pain and injuries he's accrued, the mistakes that he's made-- it' far from a certainty, that assessment. But then Hayabusa admits this readily even in the language; the young master is stoic, subtle, but decisively frank. A rare, honest man.

Ryu puts his assertion to action in a flash of motion, as a singular cloud passes across the moon, setting a shimmering, ever-shifting grey glow to the battlefield as the light level vary, and the last scion of the Dragon Lineage seemingly hitches a ride on a moonbeam, a rare light amongst the dark, to translocate abruptly back to Daniel. In seemingly that same eyeblink, the sturdy, enchanted brass kashira of Ryuken slams in towards the bottom of the shade's ribcage.

One thing he's gathered in this fight is a far better sense of the creature he's facing, of the tumultuous wound Daniel's aura has become. The shade may appear fluid, insubstantial, and to some degree it is... but the Dragon Ninja can sense it, his emerald eyes can see it, a surely as the next steps on the dangerous path his erstwhile ally travels. Daniel Jack is far from untouchable.

The initial, unbalancing stroke would be followed up by a swift clinch, back to back, one of Daniel's arms and one of his legs leveraged back painfully by corresponding, dextrous ninja limbs.

The next instant, Daniel would find himself whipped about by that grasp, spun in a tight, impossibly fast twirl that would have no chance to dizzy him before Hayabusa drove that blunt instrument directly into the Detective's spine, and then sought to slice his forcibly knelt form to Earth with a downward slash that draws silver-blue through the air along its crescent-shaped descent.

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa successfully hits Daniel with Mekkyaku - Koryu.

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Daniel           1/------=/=======|=======\======-\1     Ryu Hayabusa

"These wards..."

Daniel was wary. He didn't quite know the extent of how he was trapped. But he could figure it out, yes. We could figure it out. The second mind slips back in. He could be reasonable, Daniel was reasonable. But this spirit was forcing him, forcing his hand. Once he could overpower this other spirit, he would be fine. He just needed to find the focus, the clarity.

And the time.

Ryu Hayabusa wasn't allowing both, as in a flicker, he is on him. Moving swiftly, the shade tries to catch the ninja's arms, to stop the initiation. But Ryu Hayabusa was lightning fast. Bones were for the ex-detective; for his questionable material form, it did seem he had the pieces inside of human. The sharp crack was sound enough of the mortality, the hiss of pain followed by a sharp profanity is all too human. But as the blade comes out, Daniel sputters. "Oh no no no-" The executing slice pierces through, and Daniel turns to mist, collapsing into a pool of black smoke and blood. Slithering around, Daniel bursts up, breaching the surface into a half-formed shape. "Jesus christ." Daniel moans. "If I told you that hurt like hell, would you do -less- of those kind of things? I mean, no offense scuzzy," Daniel states with gritted teeth, lifting his leg up from the mist into a lopsided stand. He thrusts a finger at Ryu's way.

"But who are you to tell me what I'm gonna do?"

And Daniel unleashes the slam.

The very earth trembles as Daniel surges his shadow flames deep into the earth. The earth shakes, and then, splinters, as the dark energy cascades through. THe split turns into an eruption, as tree and rock shatter into pieces. Crushing inwards him, Daniel seizes the pieces, and begins the barrage. Piece after piece of the clearing comes roaring at Ryu Hayabusa, a fearsome barrage cascading forward, daring to overwhelm the ninja in a landslide of pieces... only to end as Daniel, gripping a massive tree trunk, explodes it into a cloud of splintered shrapnel at the ninja.

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa overcomes Mean Business EX from Daniel with Art of the Inferno.
Glancing Hit

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Daniel           0/-------/-------|===----\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa

Daniel points his finger, focuses rampant chi-- and Hayabusa smoothly, reflexively sheathes the Dragon Sword. Perhaps he intends to honor the Detective's request for less cutting of shadow-flesh? "I am the champion of the Celestial Dragons, sworn to defend this Realm and those within it." His hands come together not in prayer, but in a practiced, subtle kata, simplistic yet complex in its execution as his fingertips come together to form perfect, sacred geometry.

The Dragon Ninja murmurs unheard verses in an ancient language to those who listen far more acutely than any mortal being, and dragonsbreath spews forth from his gathered hands, suffuses his aura in a circumference that is, initially, his shield against the first impact of rock, charred and transformed then incinerated in the same heavenly furnace.

One after another fireballs birth from Hayabusa's grasp and swirl their angry flight in orbit about him, each whirling once, twice, perhaps thrice before blasting inexorably towards each incoming projectile.

Treelimbs become a shower of charcoal in a flash of all-consuming cinder, the mammoth missiles of hewn stone Daniel hurls blown to divergent chunks in a firework of red-cored obliteration. The last scion of the Dragon Lineage focuses calmly on the other side of the maelstrom, eyes locked on Daniel Jack. "I am charged with life and death in the mystical balance of our world, Detective."

The last of his summoned fireballs spiral off in twain, turning the shotgun cloud of splinters into ash, and burning through to home inexorably in on their true target. "A sacred duty that must come before even lofty ideals of self-determination." Delusional as they may currently be, Ryu expresses some sorrow over the circumstances.

COMBATSYS: Daniel endures Ryu Hayabusa's Art of the Inferno.

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Daniel           0/-------/-----==|===----\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa

Barrage into barrage.

Daniel was slowing down, piece by piece, the patience of his opponent grinding him down. Daniel's tenacity was reaching it's limit. But the shade's barrage is met in equal power, his improvised storm coming into ancient ninja magic. Daniel advances as he approaches, and as the trunk is unleashed, Daniel is standing fast, as the last of the fire come roaring at him.

And the creature breaks through.

Ripping through the remains of the fire, the enduring offense of Daniel Jack forces its way through. "Yeah, well." Daniel Jack growls. "I'm challenging that claim, scuzzy." He barks, as one of the remaining stumps is ripped up. Clinging on the stump, he smashes the stump at Ryu's chest, attempting to knock the wind cleanly out of him with a vicious followup.

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa fails to counter Random Weapon from Daniel with Mekkyaku - Ryuso.

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Daniel           0/-------/-----==|======-\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa keeps on fighting!

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Daniel           0/-------/-----==|======-\-------\0     Ryu Hayabusa

That Daniel-- or something like him-- comes roaring through the last vestiges of flame does not surprise Ryu. Most of the potency of the Ninpo Art was used simply consuming the clear and present threat to his well-being. The master shinobi is prepared, however, stepping in on the Detective's flank and twisting swiftly about as he seeks to weave through the threat... and instead gets clobbered by the massive tree trunk and the substantial reach advantage suddenly given to Daniel.

The last scion of the Dragon Lineage is bashed back the way he charged, slapped away by the followup, and skids across the grassy ground amidst freshly alarmed wildflowers.

For a moment, it seems as if Daniel has accomplished his herculean task; truly, he is that powerful. Strong enough. Almost strong enough, if he just keeps eating... "Yes.." .. the Dragon Ninja speak drily as he presses a palm to the dirt, pushes himself to his feet in a too-light kip, resting back on agile footing and breathing a deep, fatigued sigh. "I can see that." Ryuken speaks a clear, resonant note as the artifact slides forth from the saya on Hayabusa's back, the sword returning to his hands.

Stump pun here.

As Daniel slams the broken stump of a tree into Ryu Hayabusa, he release it, repositioning. Orange boils over him as the mist diffuses. Daniel wasn't reforming his shape. As he knocks the ninja down, though he... holds off. Not pressing the advantage, not running him down. Just... waiting and watching. And when Ryu Hayabusa rises again? Daniel Jack can only seeth.

"Oh god damn it."

Daniel Jack says warily. He side steps a bit, and then, weaves to the other side. His form was shifting in the moonlight, as he glares down. "Uh, hm!" He grunts, trying to figure out how to deal with a ninja that would not drop. The shade was well past his limit; he could not tell if this was simply because the ninja was toying with him, showing mercy, or... something more. Daniel Jack ignites with fire as his limbs, as he bears down on the ninja. With a swipe of a single arm, a short wave of energy courses out, as Daniel lets out his cry.


COMBATSYS: Daniel successfully hits Ryu Hayabusa with Mikansei Kasane Ate.

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Daniel           0/-------/----===|=======\-------\1     Ryu Hayabusa

When in doubt: Kasane Ate. And let's be fair, practitioners of Todoh-ryuu Kobojutsu do have some measure of commonplace confusion, and a lot of Kasane Ate. It serves Daniel well in this moment, as Hayabusa seeks and fails to slide through the ripping tear, cleaving off the edge of it with Ryuken. His timing off a hair's breadth, the chi rips through his form, tears more agony from him, further punishes his failing physical faculties; and still, the Dragon Ninja makes no scream, grunts his agony through gritted teeth.

Then he continues along his initial course, driving the enchanted, needle-sharp kissaki in for Daniel's chest. It's a shallow cut, should it connect, enough to draw blood, enough to imbue pain-- enough to set Daniel Jack up for what follows.

As if from all sides the Illusive Prince would strike, dancing around the Detective in a flurry of precise, slicing strokes of that razor's edge curving off the tip of the legendary katana, seeking to open the shade in a dozen places in near simultaneous barrage.

With each swift, practiced arc of the moonlit blade, silvery windshear tears along its course, blades of nature's fury accompanying each slash and stab to reave Daniel's form with penetrating edges of pure energy.

His attack executed, Hayabusa would drop to one knee, the blade's point dropping, his breath coming in ragged pants. "If you do not fight for a better way -now-, Daniel... there will be nothing of what you valued left."

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa can no longer fight.

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

COMBATSYS: Ryu Hayabusa successfully hits Daniel with Annihilating Demon.

[                             \  <
Daniel           1/----===/=======|

Kasane Ate was a hammer in a world full of nails, after all.

As the attack comes out, the lines shift again. It was one thing to deal with a monster. It was another to deal with a monster who was a Todoh-Ryuu fighter who was also eager to use the surroundings to smash you with a tree trunk. Switching from beastal frevor to careful martial technique to gung-ho thughouse brutality was a shifting terrain that experienced found downright frustrating when facing the ex-detective. As the slash comes, Daniel Jack adjust his foot work, ready to receive a lot.

But not something designed to purify things like him.

As he brings his arms to catch the slash, he catches too slow. Taking a slice to the chest, it starts to BURN. Daniel struggles as the barrage of blades comes, the shade only managing to deflect a third out of the storm of purifying steel. The shadow shape begins to smear, the blade slicing him to literal ribbons. Until finally, Hayabusa falls to one knee. Daniel Jack holds for a moment, before the whole form collapses into smoke.

And the shadows are dispersed.

The shapes and forms meld into the remains of the clearing, abstract shapes clinging just a little too tight, a little too slow. It tries to reform... and recoils. "Shit." The voice comes out, strained and pained. The shadows shudder, as long arms reach for Ryu Hayabusa, unable to touch anything. It seemed that the shade was banished from his material form, or at least, anything worth fighting. But the shadows continues to lament their fate.

"God dammit, Ryu Hayabusa"

COMBATSYS: Daniel can no longer fight.

Well and truly nailed, Hayabusa finds himself in a state with some overlap in nature to that of Daniel. He takes satisfaction in purging everything the shade garnered from his pain, however; in standing stalwart and succeeding, at least in the measure of keeping his life... and coming through on his warning.

The Dragon Ninja remains resting on three points for a moment, leaning forward on one foot and one knee over a stabilizing palm, the other gripping the ancient artifact sword in a reversed posture. Then he drops back to a more relaxed kneel, both legs bent beneath his frame as he eyes the disjointed shade, its energy tangible to the master shinobi even diminished as it, and he, are.

"There is time in which to see this curse is not damnation." He affirms once more, a final plea to a tormented soul. "Time before you unleash your personal hell onto this Earth, Daniel Jack. But even now you see echoes of it, everything around you foreshadows that ravenous massacre." Oftentimes, the best prophecy is to simply read the writing on the wall.

The night is broken by the spotlight and roar of a military helicopter, a Blackhawk transport sweeping the location with its mounted minigun-- because let's face it, Ryu has called them into harsher extractions-- but no gunfire comes.

"You can continue to indulge your madness and grief, perhaps flee me tonight, Detective... but I will find you again, and fear you will never have a better chance to fight -against- this fate instead. Fight with me, Daniel-- not against me." There's a beat, emerald eyes penetrating to the very core of the entity that lingers in shadow, "Be a vessel that will -know- and be /worthy/ of love when it returns, rather than the cruel wound of its absence."

Daniel was listening.

Despite the pained and dispersed existence, his senses were all too attuned to Ryu Hayabusa. And his warning... What did it mean? His personal hell? No, no, Daniel wasn't going to unleash any hell on anybody. He was fighting to keep that from happening. It was that damned spirit. It had to be that damned spirit. Daniel was the good guy here. It was that Lady Killer spirit. As the helicopter looms down, the shadows recoil in the light. Daniel was worthy, he was always worthy, but he had to find his way. He had to. I had to. I had to find a way. I'm not mad, I'm not insane. I'm just suffering.

And that's the case now, isn't Daniel?

See what happens when you hold back? You'll meet him again, and we'll tear him to pieces. We will make him pain and resentment, a broken toy for our pleasures. We will punish him more drastically than his meager imagination can imagine. We will snap his blade, and draw it deep into his throat. We are like this because of you, Daniel. But we won't hold back next time. We'll make him pay.

No I couldn't.

Yes I could.

It's what Hayabusa came into the encounter thinking, as well. That poor Daniel was possessed, ridden toward ill intent. It's ironic in the end, what some have long insisted, to varying degrees of fairness; that Daniel Jack -is- the Ladykiller. Or at least, very soon will be, even if one is shortsighted enough to write off the massive tremors left from the energy drained and the spirits already tortured on the shade's allegedly controlled rampage towards salvation.

The Dragon Ninja shakes his head sadly as he senses the Detective waffle all the more between unquenchable doubt and invalidated certainty. He draws a pouch from his belt and murmurs a soft incantation of lost words of power over the satchel in his palm. The deceptively simple parcel ignites in an instant, as Hayabusa's breath sends it outwards, a cloud of smoke that flickers luminous in the starlight, that rings savory to the senses.

It's an unplaceable mix of scents in that white smoke, a supernatural concoction designed to purify, to ward against negative energy, to bring one's psyche momentarily in line with the largely benevolent spirits that suffuse all life, that linger favorably especially in this sacred space.

The natural order itself fears Daniel-- and for a moment he may be able to see that flow of energy, that current of life, the arteries of the planet. Be able to sense the wrongness that he himself now fills his space with, that ravenous sadism that tells him all he needs is to press on; to be stronger.

The rotors of the descending transport set grass and flower, tree and leaf fluttering wildly as it sets down in the nearest clearing, but to the detective even that may be drowned out by the warnings screaming from the celestial flow all about him, the most distant, dark point from that loving light of creation that fills all the tiny cracks in everything; all matter is, after all, mostly that empty space of quiet, incredible power.

Death is strange when you are a shadow.

Daniel Jack had experienced death several times now. Or at least, something very similar to it. To be smashed into a smear, where your mind, your senses are scattered into the surrounding environment. Only to gradually reform, reshape into the shadows. An ebb and flow of life and death. Daniel wasn't really dead, he really was alive. But his transformation truly blurred the lines between them.

Passing on, naturally, takes a different character.

As the incense and smoke curls around, Daniel could feel himself relax. The voice in his head that compelled him grew as dim as his own voice. It was relaxing, soothing. The strength of the shadows recoiled, weakening. In his pseudo-corporeal state, he felt his grip on the material to be fading. He felt himself flow, sinking, seeping as the force and pressure seems to give away. He was falling, falling so softly, that he barely could understand or see what was happening. The light was around him, and then, darkness. His presence is purged and purified, as he is subsumed. When Daniel would awake, he would be sunk within the leylines of the planet, a curdled entity clogging the bloodlines of the planet.

Returning back would take some time, it seemed.

It may not be a final death, but in a sense, watching Daniel pass in this way is sadder yet for the Dragon Ninja. To meet his end here would, at least, be abatement to the suffering; that which consumes the grieving detective, and that which the shade he is turning into will surely unleash in the nights ahead.

As Daniel fades, Hayabusa rises, taking final survey of their savaged battleground, a microcosm of the storm soon to hit this island, and turns away. His final words are washed away by the rampant air displaced by the Blackhawk's rotors, but it scarcely matters in the domain of softly spoken prayer. "Farewell, Daniel Jack. May we meet again while there is still something of you to recall."

The hungry creature might well be driven to feed as it reforms, now-- may do something desperate in ravenous, unquenchable hunger. It's impossible for the last scion of the Dragon Lineage to feel anything but foreboding and sorrow as he strides from the encounter, Daniel's overwhelming mourning now drawing an ironic echo; the potentiality of mourning Daniel Jack himself in consequence.

The scenario ends only in the quelling of the immediate threat, passing danger down the line... and perhaps magnifying it. But the Dragon Ninja will be watching; he will be ready, now.

Log created on 19:37:02 08/04/2017 by Ryu Hayabusa, and last modified on 18:01:54 09/24/2017.