KOF 2017 - B7 Qualifier Match: Team USA vs Bloodletters

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Description: It's Team Bloodletters vs Team USA in a competition to get past the prelims of the King of Fighters tournament. Lotus and Zabel live up to their team name, attempting to literally paint the town red with the unwilling assistance of Senna and Ken, but Team USA isn't about to let a few horrible monsters ruin their day. (Winner: Team USA)

Fuckin' Masters.


"Hey so you got this right? This Zabel dude? I gotta make some phone calls, arrange for some things. And I think Sean got himself in some trouble..." Ken gave Senna the big grin-and-wink, -and- the cocky finger point.

"Don't worry, I'll be back before you know it!"

At least Ken's people gave her a dossier to read. She didn't -read- it, really, skimmed it, enough to know that the guy's... one of the Darkstalkers? And has electric powers or something. Hell with it.

At night, the Stanley Bridge is lit with powerful sodium lamps, the sound of the sea crashing underneath a constant chord for life around the area. There are towers at either end of the bridge... and for King of Fighters, it's been blocked off, with stands put into place on either end and some along the sides, and even more lights throw sharp white light everywhere. It's designed to make a person feel small, and even though the King of Fighters signage is cheery and bright...

Senna doesn't appear to give a good goddamn. Ken's people tried to get her into some branded gear, and truth be told it'd probably help her fight better or something like that. But she isn't about that, and she told the guy off with a pair of upraised middle fingers. So when she stalks out onto the bridge from the side designated for Team USA, she does so in her standards. Olive green tanktop with a black sports bra underneath, hands wrapped in medical tape, with a little extra cushion on the knuckles, worn black denim jeans and sturdy, steel-toed boots.

Theatrics? None from her; however, Ken's side sets a snarling, guitar-heavy track playing as she walks out, something to hype the crowd.


A pair of cloaked figures make their way up the bridge, emerging from the shadows at the edge of the bright lights. One of them appears about average height, but the other is massive, over 8 feet tall and with ridiculously broad shoulders. Somewhere someone found a cloak in his size, and so both figures are completely shrouded. The shorter figure pauses for a moment when Ken Masters's chosen music begins blaring out, and the larger figure nearly stumbles into him. The shorter figure then begins striding forward at higher speed, with the larger trailing after him.

A hand with unhealthy looking bluish skin emerges from the shorter figure's cloak, holding a wickedly spiked guitar by the neck. The figure begins turning the guitar with deliberate pace, the cloak moving as his other arm begins rising... and then a chord blares out, battling against Ken's music, as a blinding light emerges from within the cloak. As the light fades, tattered, smoking shreds of the cloak are drifting down around a horrible monstrosity holding a guitar, Zabel grinning madly at the audience.

The music clashes with the already playing music, then swiftly changes to play off of it, before another ear-splitting, lingering note... On which Zabel whips the guitar around, sending it flying and crashing into one of the speakers with an explosion of sparks. "You don't need to bring your own music, the show is already here!" He cackles, while the larger, still cloaked, figure lumbers off to one side.

The zombie strides forward, head tilting to an angle that would be painful, if not impossible, for a living being while he peers at Senna with his glowing red eyes. "Sure, you're up for this?" With no shirt, the missing sections of his torso are rather obvious, and he causes his rib bones to shift and briefly clench, highlighting his monstrous state.

It's traditional to have some banter before the fight, isn't it? Like at the weigh-ins when she used to box.

... Senna never had any patience for it. Or really, much skill for it. She's not dumb, but she'd rather war with fists than with words. Musicians would appreciate the way Zabel got in-tune with her theme song/intro music; were Senna in a more contemplative mood, she'd probably agree. But...

"Ugh. Yeah, you're definitely one of those guys, huh?" she says, not sounding dismissive, but kind of bored already.

"Look, man. I ain't here to jaw. I'm here to fight. So, if you'd kindly..." She sounds almost courteous, with just an edge to her voice, as she checks the wrappings on her hands and fingers, then clenches her hands into fists and slams them together once, just to see how it feels. Though it probably looks like posturing.

She's okay with that. She does take a moment to appraise the larger figure and she just shakes her head. That's out of her paygrade, probably. Let Ken handle that.

And then back to the present, as she raises her hands into guard position, sliding her feet out to let her have a lower center of gravity, upper body swaying back and forth purposefully.

COMBATSYS: Senna has started a fight here.

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Senna            0/-------/------=|

Zabel twists his head back to a more normal looking position, still grinning at Senna. "Oh, so you're a tough one, huh? Think you've seen it all, nothing shocks you?" He laces his fingers together, cracking the skeletal joints with a long and loud series of pops. "We'll see about that. See, we're here to show you normal folks that you're getting a bit full of yourselves. The night is dark and full of terrors, you know? Time for a bit of a reminder!"

The zombie doesn't go for subtlety here... it's pretty obvious that he's ready to go when he begins charging toward Senna. He leaps into the air, sending himself into a drill spin with his legs extended toward Senna. At least, they start out as legs. As he approaches, they sort of... erupt into a mass of writhing flesh and wildly angled spikes of bone. All the while still spinning at speed, of course.

COMBATSYS: Zabel has joined the fight here.

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Senna            0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0            Zabel

COMBATSYS: Senna blocks Zabel's Loudness Screw.

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Senna            0/-------/-----==|=------\-------\0            Zabel

Senna smirks at Zabel. "Wouldn't say nothin' shocks me," she replies. Once upon a time -she- was one of those scary things in the night... relatively. Depending on who you were. Now, of course, far scarier things exist on Earth and other places.

Proof in point--Zabel turning his legs into some sort of bone-and-flesh buzzsaw. It actually takes a bit of skill to defend against this--if Senna just put her arms up she'd get shredded. So she backs up and deflects and deflects and manages to get by with some scrapes. Sure, they're bright with blood, but it isn't dripping yet.

"But bein' scared ain't my style," she says. Surely it isn't Zabel's either. So he should be able to understand. Actually, it helps a little that Majigen invaded the world when it did; gave her time to get used to the idea of zombies and werewolves and all that shit. If this were her first time encountering Zabel she might just drop her hands and say 'fuck no'.

So the arms stay up, and she fires back, stepping in, staying close, tensing her right hand as she hammers it in towards Zabel, a quick one-two double hook punch, the first a short hook, opening and set-up for a longer hook that sees her turn into it, crossing her arms over for a moment at the end.

COMBATSYS: Zabel blocks Senna's Double Hammer.

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Senna            0/-------/------=|==-----\-------\0            Zabel

Zabel brings up one boney arm to deflect Senna's punches. It moves under the force of the impacts, but other than that there's little to show that the zombie is actually affected by it. "Got some style, but you're not gonna get anywhere like that! Hope you got something more than fists up your sleeves!"

Drawing back from Senna for a moment, Zabel begins circling her, moving quite speedily for someone who seems to be lacking in some of the muscles and tendons that would be required for such fluid movement. "Sure, just punching can make a point. Make a good impact on a person's face, and they'll remember it for a while, yeah?" The ghoul grins. "But you can make them remember it longer if you kick it up a notch!" And with that telegraphing, he twists his body and throws a haymaker at Senna's face. Something she's surely got plenty of experience dealing with. But perhaps not so much experience with the incoming fist sprouting a series of long, nasty looking bone spikes.

COMBATSYS: Senna dodges Zabel's Crushing Strike.

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Senna            0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0            Zabel

Magic. Crazy shit, huh? Senna shifts, turning to keep Zabel in front of her. Of course, he can probably attack from some pretty crazy directions, far worse than any plain old human martial artist could manage, but she doesn't know that yet... but she might get an idea now. The haymaker -is- something she's familiar with, and that lets her weave to her right--and just in time, as those bone spikes hiss through the air where her head was.

"_Jesus_," she exclaims, as those bones would've impaled her face. But she doesn't sound scared. Actually... she's starting to sound a little interested.

"Man, you might be the most interesting fight I've had in a long time," she remarks. As to whether she has -more- than just fists? Nope. No talent for the mystical shit, no patience for it either. She does kind of regret it, but she'd feel goddamn foolish now meditating or going to some ancient master and saying 'teach me' and having to wax on, wax off, or any of that crap.

So she makes due with what she's got. Fists, boxing skills... and anger. Stepping in, again, she engages with Zabel, throwing a combination this time, a classic one-two three, two quick left jabs followed by a right cross--seen a million times, not just in the boxing ring, but in gyms everywhere.

COMBATSYS: Senna successfully hits Zabel with Medium Punch.
- Power hit! -

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Senna            0/-------/-----==|====---\-------\0            Zabel

Zabel barks a laugh. "Oh, you ain't seen nothing yet. Don't get too comfortable, though. You might not be having fun by the time this is do-" And then he gets cut off by a left jab. His head jerks back, recovering just in time for another quick blow, followed by a punch that sends him reeling to the side. The zombie stumbles for a moment, but pretty quickly manages to catch himself, turning back around to face Senna. Clearly the impact got through to him, but there's no bleeding, no signs of anything starting to swell or any of the other usual signs of injury.

"Well, at least you've got some power going. But this just isn't going to work. Nothing personal, but I'm gonna have to paint this bridge red." Still grinning, Zabel lunges forward Senna, but suddenly drops into an extremely low crouch, still moving forward. He then lunges upward, attempting to carry her up into the air before slamming her down into the pavement and falling toward her with spikes erupting all over him.

COMBATSYS: Senna blocks Zabel's Skull Punish.

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Senna            0/-------/-----==|=====--\-------\0            Zabel

Shit, man. Ain't nothin' comfortable about this. She is fighting a blue zombie with teeth in his chest and extendable, sharp bones and he sounds like a goddamn British mod rocker or something and absolutely none of that is actually okay. Win or lose, when she gets back to the Masters Foundation jet? She is grabbing a fifth of Ken's best rye and taking it to her cabin and she is drinking it all.

But for all that, she's never been one to fall apart during high-stress times. If she were, she wouldn't be here in the first place because she'd never have persisted in learning how to fight. Zabel's moving fast, and Senna doesn't like her chances of getting away clean--so she uses another boxing skill; she turtles up. Yeah, he grabs her, but she tucks arms and legs in and twists, avoiding the worst of the spikes--though she still comes away with some bloody furrows carved in her, and a nice slash in her tanktop.

Fortunately, they're just Army surplus, she has like six in her duffel already. A quick, violent writhing struggle pops her free of Zabel's grasp and she rolls away before popping up to her feet. Reaching down, she touches the wound across her side, coming away with a bloody fingertip. Well, fuck. It's like fighting a knife fighter, except he *is* the knife.

"You're a real piece of work, man," she says. Could be complimentary, could be insulting. Well.. he wanted to give a hug, so she'll do the same. Sort of. She reaches out, too, attempting to grab Zabel by the upper arms--and if she does, instead of remaining in the clinch, she'll pull backwards--surprisingly strong for a mere human--and attempt to throw him forward in the direction he's facing, past her, where she can give him a good solid thump to the back of the head.

... wait, does he even have brains to rattle? Well, it's worth a try anyways.

COMBATSYS: Zabel blocks Senna's Swing Shot.

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Senna            0/-------/-----==|=====--\-------\0            Zabel

Zabel gets grabbed by the arm and flung forward, but what follows is decidedly not normal. His shoulder joint makes some unsettling noises as he twists around to leave himself facing Senna, arm twisted around at a disturbing angle. That might not be enough to throw off her punch, but it does put him in a position where he can use his other arm to deflect it. He whips his twisted arm around and over his shoulder, and with another disturbing noise it rotates back into place. He flexes his fingers a few times, and then seems perfectly fine.

"I aim to be memorable. Even without the scars to help." He laughs as he leaps at Senna again, flipping forward to bring a leg swinging up and around for a falling axe kick. And then he brings the danger factor up from 'knife fighter' to 'psycho with power tools', as a series of bone spikes erupt from his foot and shin and begin rotating with blurring speed, turning his foot into a bone buzzsaw.

COMBATSYS: Senna dodges Zabel's Skull Sting.

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Senna            0/-------/-----==|======-\-------\0            Zabel

Okay. Banter time is over. Not that she was doing particularly well in that segment, as the instant twitter voting will agree, a clear 70-30 for Zabel showing in the bottom ticker feed on the King of Fighters broadcast. Besides, shit's getting serious. She doesn't know just how sharp those limbs are, but the buzzsaw affect is.. .arresting.

For a moment, and then she shakes her head and backpedals rapidly, vacating the area just in time for that buzzsaw leg to tear through some of the asphalt. Yeah, Senna's not winning any presentation awards here--her style is pretty plain even against other fighters, tailored for efficiency and brutality, not flashiness--but it's even more evident here, with Zabel's buzzsaw legs and extending bones.

Still she can't stay at range, can't relax a little. For one thing, he potentially outranges her; backing off the way she would against another boxer could just mean that she gets trapped by having to come back in while avoiding flurries of long-ranged attacks she can'c counter. For another, a long fight favors Zabel. She's going to mess up, sooner or later, and then she's going to be in for some real pain. She's been cut before--knives, the occasional sword--but nothin' like -that-.

And she wants to -not- get cut like that. It's a psychological reaction, but an understandable one. So she's back in there, feinting with another left jab, and then bringing her right hand--dominant hand, of course--around and over, trying to throw an overhand punch right into the Rock Zombie's brainpan.

COMBATSYS: Zabel dodges Senna's Hook Punch.

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Senna            0/-------/-----==|======-\-------\0            Zabel

For his part, Zabel is starting to think that maybe he's trying too hard to go for a devastating injury. Sure, he's gotten some good cuts in, but Senna is proving pretty adept at keeping out of the way of the heavier blows. It might just be a better idea to slice her up a bit more, and let stamina work to his advantage. As the one who doesn't need to breathe, or even need to have blood, Zabel has a pretty good advantage when it comes to endurance.

Despite putting a pretty good gouge in the pavement, Zabel doesn't get stuck, the bone blades easily retracting back into his leg without leaving any signs, given that the legs of his pants started out pretty tattered to begin with. And without being lodged in place, he's able to move to deflect Senna's punch, and then suddenly have his neck snap to one side, letting her right fist sweep through the air it was occupying moments ago. The ghoul gives Senna a sideways grin and then begins raising both hands... as a distraction, while one of his ribs suddenly straightens and extends outwards in a stabbing motion.

COMBATSYS: Zabel successfully hits Senna with Medium Strike.
# Disabling hit! #

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Senna            0/-------/---====|=======\-------\0            Zabel

She's gonna curse herself, later, for being taken in by that trick. And she's going to curse right now, out loud, because goddamn if getting stabbed by sharp bones doesn't fuckin' hurt. She bites off a scream as those ribs puncture her torso; a chance twist in attempting to avoid it means she doesn't have actual internal organ damage, thankfully. Not that she's thanking anything right now.

"MOTHERF***ER!!!!" is her scream of pain, as she grabs those ribs and pushes herself off of them, before they can retract even, blood staining her tanktop, turning that olive drab into near-black.

She's -definitely- angry now, her eyes alight with pain and the aforementioned anger, and despite the sharp immediate pain, she doesn't hesitate to come in again. She's angry but not unfocused--she's not a rage machine like Bison. If she tries to cover the wounds, she's going to open herself up for more--so she charges in and starts throwing a flurry of left jabs, similar to the three-punch combo from earlier, except these jabs are coming fast and furious, a full several-second flurry of jabs that ends with a right hook, again Senna stepping into it to drive her body weight behind the punch.

Bleeping courtesy of a very quick-fingered live editor at the King of Fighters' remote production facility.

COMBATSYS: Zabel counters Shotgun Driver from Senna with Death Phrase.

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Senna            0/-------/=======|=======\=------\1            Zabel

Zabel's grin grows wider at Senna cursing in pain. This is the kind of damage he was sent here to do, after all. If there's not plenty of blood being shed, he's not living up to his orders. If she completely lost her temper or began freaking out that would be ideal, but focused rage is still something Zabel can deal with. Probably.

He backsteps as Senna comes in towards him, and a shadow at his feet suddenly begins to swirl and move, taking on a purple tint. And then, oddly, even compared to the rest of the fight... a guitar leaps up out of the swirling shadow and into Zabel's hands, just as Senna is closing the distance. The zombie's hand falls to the strings, unleashing a noise so devastatingly loud that it's felt more than heard. Especially felt by Senna, as the sound waves emitted from the guitar have enough force behind them to not only stop her forward momentum, but send her flying backwards.

Senna is blown away by that otherworldly shriek, and when she lands, she lands hard. She can't quite hear right, shaking her head to try and get the ringing out of her ears. Mother*fucker*. And look at that smug fuckin' grin on that zombie's goddamn face.

Senna spits some blood onto the street, and takes a moment to twist her neck back into proper configuration. That shit hurt, for real. Of course, Senna knew this wasn't some game. The cuts, the stab wounds... it's all obvious. It just means she has to take it more serious now.

"Right," she mumbles to herself, tightening her fists. Back in. There's no running, no calling time out, nothin' like that. And that's the way she prefers it. She might be morally bankrupt but she's not a coward. She doesn't rush in, but she isn't sidling either, taking a good pace to get in towards Zabel, not taking a straight-line approach but bobbing and weaving as she goes, until, from just about two arm's lengths away, she goes into a forward dash, coming in low and then coming up--leading with the bony part of her forehead, aiming it right at Zabel's chin.

Headbutting is not, -per se-, taught in the Marquess of Queensberry's rules, but Senna's a long way from the formal confines of the squared circle, and has been for years. So she knows how to throw a headbutt.

COMBATSYS: Senna successfully hits Zabel with Headbutt.
- Power hit! -

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Senna            0/-------/-======|=======\====---\1            Zabel

In his ghoulish form, Zabel does not actually have a nose. This is relevant, because if he did it would probably be broken after having Senna's head slam into it. Zabel's head snaps back from the impact, leaving him staggering backwards and staring up at the sky for a moment. He doesn't need to shake his head to clear it or anything like that, though; once he gets his balance back, the red glow of his eyes is immediately focused back on Senna. "Call that a headbutt? I've seen people get hit worse than that in a mosh pit!"

Zabel begins twisting his body at the hips, rotating to a degree that is probably not possibly for a normal person... and then the lower half of his body starts to spin back in the other direction, rapidly picking up speed until it's a blur, leaving Zabel like a top with spikes sticking out of it. And then... he goes airborne, zipping around wildly, cackling as he flies in crazy loops around Senna. There's then a crackling noise as electricity begins to spark from his body, growing in intensity and occasionally lashing out and striking a bit of nearby equipment. And after several more moments flying around like that, without warning he suddenly changes direction to veer right at Senna.

COMBATSYS: Senna blocks Zabel's Death Voltage.

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Senna            0/-------/-======|====---\-------\0            Zabel

Jesus Christ. She's gonna take -two- bottles of Ken's best liquor at this rate. Probably while -he's- fighting this demonic zombie rocker fuck. Senna does her best--tightens her defense, wheeling around to track Zabel. And her best, at least in this case, is enough--barely. When the zombie comes in for the attack, she's ready, grunting deep as the impact and the electricity combine to drain her anyways.

"RrrrrAAGH!" she snarls as she finally breaks free of that electricity. Her muscles are twitching, stubbornly, reacting to the impulses as they run through her body.

"Dammit," she growls, lunging forward. She's a boxer, not a grappler, but it isn't any great technique to try and grab someone by the shoulders, step past them, and just fling them to the ground. An act--an attack--fueled more by anger than by technique, really.

COMBATSYS: Zabel blocks Senna's Quick Throw.

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Senna            1/-------/=======|====---\-------\0            Zabel

Even though it doesn't make him dizzy, it still takes Zabel a moment to recover after an attack like that. At the very least, for his feet to stop spinning so that they can get a firm grip on the ground. And he was expecting Senna to be occupied for a bit longer by the effects of taking that hit.

And so there's an opening for her to grab his shoulder and fling him at the ground... but it doesn't work out the way she would hope. He falls toward the ground, but bone spikes erupt from his elbows, shooting down and piercing the ground and stopping his fall about halfway. He grins up at Senna before tensing up, then lifting himself into a flip via his elbows, retracting the spikes as he whips a rising kick up at Senna with sharp, pointed toenails.

COMBATSYS: Zabel successfully hits Senna with Light Kick.

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Senna            1/------=/=======|=====--\-------\0            Zabel

She's beginning to tire. She's been bleeding out from wounds large and small, and the electric shock, not to mention just getting pummeled. It isn't like she doesn't see the kick coming. She just can't move as fluidly as she would like; she flicks her head back but not far enough, the toenails slicing past her chin, opening up furrows that start to bleed immediately.

She is looking a fright, to be sure, but she doesn't even notice the wounds, focused as she is on Zabel. On not letting this fight end like this. On just getting hands on him and unloading a few good punches. Adrenaline helps her put aside everything else for a precious few moments as she surges.

No tricky movements now, just pure punching, driving in for a left-right body blow combination, then staying in front of Zabel and attempting to grapple him with her left hand, to hold him in place for another pair of punches, to end with a sharp, downwards-snapping headbutt.

COMBATSYS: Senna blitzes into action and acts again!

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Senna            1/------=/=======|=====--\-------\0            Zabel

COMBATSYS: Senna successfully hits Zabel with Rapid Combo.

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Senna            1/------=/=======|=======\-------\1            Zabel

COMBATSYS: Zabel counters Violent Clinching from Senna with ES Death Phrase.
- Power hit! -

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Senna            1/--=====/=======|=======\===----\1            Zabel

As Senna comes driving in with her body blow combo, a shadow swirls at Zabel's feet again, once more launching up a guitar for him to grab. But Senna's time is better than his this time, and her fist knocks the instrument aside, leaving Zabel with one arm flung out wide, still clutching the instrument. Although Zabel's torso makes for a smaller target than many people's, it also allows you to drive in some pretty deep blows, and the zombie gets staggered back, the tip of one of his ribs snapping off with a loud crack.

"Enough of that!" Electricity surges down Zabel's arm and engulfs the guitar as he brings it swinging back in front of him, smacking Senna's grasping hand aside with a crack of electricity. And once more he plays a note of devastation, this time powerful enough to actually crack the surface of the bridge, sending jagged lines out in a circle around Zabel and sending small bits of rubble flying through the air along with Senna.

Blown away again, Senna flies back, landing on her shoulders. Gasps from the crowd--"That's gotta be it, right???" "Crap is she -alive-???" as she lands. There's a crunch that speaks to at least one broken bone, probably a collarbone, and all is still for about a second. And then she twitches, and pushes herself back up to her feet. Bloodied, bruised, shocked, punctured, scuffed.

She wasn't a sight before, to be sure, looking rough on her -best- days, but now she looks about halfway to being a Darkstalker herself. And there's some sort of sound coming from her. Like a growl, only not quite feral. Until she starts charging, yelling almost incoherently. To the viewers at home, it's just bleeped out. To the spectators and Zabel, it's a gloriously rich potage of curses strung together.

*How* she's still on her feet, no guesses, but she is, even with the light already fading from her eyes, as she bursts into a wild thrashing--punches just firing off, jabs and straights and hook punches, a storm for Zabel to weather for a few seconds, ending with a most un-boxing-like double-fisted poleaxe--the end of which would make her fall flat on her face, connected or not.

COMBATSYS: Senna can no longer fight.

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

COMBATSYS: Senna successfully hits Zabel with Gatling Knuckle.

[                        \\\\\\  <
Zabel            1/=======/=======|

Zabel smirks as Senna drags herself to her feet, though the grin fades as she manages to launch herself forward into a wild charge, even in that state. He still doesn't seem to think she's actually going to be able to stay on her feet long enough to reach him, up until the point where it's too late for him to do much about it. The ghoul gets driven back as his body is hammered with blows, before he finally takes the heavy double-fisted blow from above, sending him slamming face-first into the pavement shortly before Senna collapses to it on her own.

For a few moments it looks like neither of the fighters will be getting up, but then there's a flare of red light from the pavement around Zabel's face. He slams both of his palms down on the ground, pushing himself up to his knees and then climbing to his feet. He doesn't tend to bleed much, but there are definitely some visible abrasions on his flesh, and he has to run a hand across his face to dislodge some small bits of concrete. But he's standing, which is what matters right now. "So who's next to get their blood spilled?!"

COMBATSYS: Zabel awaits the next challenger.

[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Zabel            2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|

o/~ Let's get ready to rummmbbble!! ( https://youtu.be/tz2dwc941QU )

Let's be clear about one thing: Ken Masters arranged for a hell of a lot more than the one destroyed speaker to put on his little show tonight, and Senna's intro? That was just the beginning. There are no less than a dozen guitarists and two drumsets occupying the side of the bridge arena roped off for Team USA, and they are, once more, fearlessly shredding.

The lights lining the bridge go out, as the blue ones illuminating the water begin to cycle and flash with the rhythm. A bank of flatscreens arrayed around the luxury RV that carried the fighters here kick to life, this time not showing a montage of Senna's training and moves-- but Ken's.

o/~ Feel the fire, he's entered the ring.
His mindset only knows how to win.
America's fighter will break you in two.
You will feel all his powerrrr!!

The high-def screens show not only Ken's legendary attacks and highlights of past fights, but clips of his currently popular extreme reality show, Ken Masters: The Fastest Man Alive, which involves a myriad of decidedly risky looking stunts and feats, like launching himself from taut line to taut line while dodging cannon fire above a canyon, or 'walking the lava', leaping from safe point to safe point faster than even convection can catch up with him. It's been quite the moneymaker-- the audience loves it!

o/~ The champion warrior Ken Masters will now brand his name in the back of your head...
Yeah, you'll feel the floor again.
Unleashing his hell, you will not even hear the bell.
Maybe you're strong, but you don't stand a chance!
Feel the power of a warrior! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!

The crowd pumps their fists, the photographers catch all the angles, and Masters lifts his own fist in time with the call to battle as he strides into view to cheers of adulation and lust. He's been here awhile-- but every good showman knows not to upstage his allies. Or at least, to wait his turn to do so, with the kind of show his partner put on, costing the odds makers in Vegas a -lot- of money... and making Ken more than a little.

Clad in a crimson gi and black accessories, Masters takes his sweet time striding to the line. He shakes a couple hands, he grants a couple grinning pictures, he lets the rock hype him up; and the flatscreens advertise his work.

Stunts and fights give way to an enigmatic black and red graphic, the flaming fist that's come to be a logo for Ken's own productions. It asks simple questions: 'Do YOU have what it takes to make mincemeat out of the Master? Are you brave enough to find out?!?' ... And then: 'Coming this Fall: THE KENFRONTATION.'

o/~Behold here comes the son;
Believe it he was born to be the Chosen One;
The call is for a warrior!

Masters hops the barricade, cracks his neck, and grins a wolfish, toothy grin at the beastie he's lined up against, like he's not intimidated or weirded out in the least (but let's be fair here, Zabel? Definitely weird). "Not bad boney. Time for me to put you through the paces, though. Keep up with -this- dance, and I'll really be impressed. HADOUKEN!!"

The blue-white sphere of wildly flaring energy is shoved forward by oppositionally locked, flexed hands, propelling a whirling orb of pure spiritual force across the span that yet divides them in an instant. As Ken joins the fray, and one set of riffs ebbs, an entirely familiar melody goes up in tandem from the Team USA Guitar Army.. ( https://youtu.be/pumteMRAmQA )

COMBATSYS: Ken Masters has joined the fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Ken Masters      0/-------/-------|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2            Zabel

COMBATSYS: Ken Masters successfully hits Zabel with Hadouken.

[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Ken Masters      0/-------/------=|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2            Zabel

Not that he'd be saying anything about it, but Zabel recognizes that Ken Masters is an accomplished and dangerous fighter. And he took more damage in the fight with Senna than he might've hoped. Even if he doesn't look all that much worse than he usually does, the energy that keeps him running is starting to dip low. But he's still got a bit in the tank, so he needs to try his best to get in some real damage while he still can. And so he charges headlong at Ken as the other man hops the barricade. "Unless your fighting is better than your music, I'm not worried!"

Zabel rams into the Hadouken at speed, failing in his attempt to deflect some of the damage. But he keeps running after a brief stumble, emerging from the blast with wisps of energy trailing from him. Sparks of energy flicker over the zombie as his muscle mass suddenly increases, giving him several extra inches of height and significantly more bulk as he reaches out and attempts to grab Ken with one hand...

COMBATSYS: Ken Masters blocks Zabel's Hell Dunk.

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Ken Masters      0/-------/=======|>>-----\-------\0            Zabel

And when he manages to get a grasp on Ken, Zabel follows it up with a series of spiked punches from his free hand, aiming to hammer Ken's body. As he does so, the ground beneath the two of them begins swirling with purple energy. Zabel stops punching for a moment to attempt to lift Ken up over as his head, as Zabel's normally small minion Le Marta emerges from the ground. Except instead of a little impish creature, Le Marta's maw has expanded to be easily large enough to contain a grown man, and full of gnashing teeth. And that is what Zabel attempts to hurl Ken down into. There's no room in the creature for a person to actually be /swallowed/, but certainly enough room for an unpleasant mangling.

WHAM. WHAM. WHAM! As Zabel comes hurtling through the Hadouken and grapples Ken, it takes all the Blonde Battler's wherewithall to weather the onslaught, meeting hurtling spiked fist with a flexed elbow, twisting half-free of the grasp in time to catch the next on a suddenly bleeding, but nonetheless ironclad forearm, before the rest meet a rhythmic alternation of flexed guards and swift steps as Masters wrenches himself free of the clinch, and kicks off into a high, graceful backflip clear of the storm-shrouded maw that is unleashed where his poor, bare feet had been an instant before.

It's a painful exchange that even expertly defended will leave painful bruises, ample reminders tomorrow-- and hey, it was -his- song that promised -that-! Turnabout is fair play, some would say! The young champion kicks his way back to the floor a very short span away, accelerating his landing into a forceful, three-point crouch as amber eyes /snap/ back up to lock onto Zabel, and that wolfish grin returns. "Funny, I was holding onto that same burn."

The pain, the challenge, the sheer fury on display-- his nature may be quite different from the undead rocker's, but the infamous Zarock is hardly the only one fueled by it. To those sensitive to such things, the Blonde Battler's inner fervour -spikes- in an uncanny instant, his breath quickens, his heart races on adrenaline born of exhileration rather than dread... and he -launches- himself full bore back into the fray with nary a moment's hesitation.

Wheeling airborne in half an eyeblink, the Ansatsuken expert's right leg whips outwards and around in a perfect display of one of his style's elemental cores: that of a hurricane. Balanced perfectly as if on internal gyroscope, Masters whirls into kick after kick after kick, his lashing limb a rotorblade of whirling doom. "TATSUMAKI SENPUU KYAKU!!!"

COMBATSYS: Zabel fails to counter Tatsumaki Senpuu Kyaku EX from Ken Masters with Death Phrase.

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Ken Masters      1/-------/=======|

COMBATSYS: Zabel can no longer fight.

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Ken Masters      1/-------/=======|

Zabel's body shrinks down to normal size shortly after Ken escapes him, unable to keep that intensity of energy flowing for long. Le Marta chomps a few more times at the air, then withdraws into the ground and vanishes with an unhappy grunt. Zabel shifts his feet on the ground, the lights in his eyes flickering for a moment as the energy pumping him up fades away. He's still on his feet, but moving a bit sluggishly... too slowly to get out of the way as Ken comes in at him with the whirlwind.

Once more the swirling energy at the ground provides Zabel with a guitar, but as his hand is falling to the strings Ken's foot smashes into it, driving it against Zabel's body. The guitar flies away and vanishes as Zabel gets smacked around, easily launched into the air. With such large chunks of his body just plain missing, he's pretty light for his size. He's finally flung off of Ken's foot, skidding along the ground for quite a distance, before finally grinding to a halt near the edge of the bridge.

After several moments it becomes apparent that Zabel is not going to be getting back up on his own power. The massive cloaked figure that has been waiting on the sidelines trudges over to Zabel and leans over. A massive hand, with an unhealthy pallor not that unlike Zabel's, is revealed as the figures grabs Zabel, easily hefting the unmoving rocker up and over the figure's shoulder. It then turns and looks behind it, apparently searching for someone.

Ken lands out of the whirling whirlwind inferno, last vestiges of flame dissipating from his bare foot as he touches down with remarkable agility, almost immediately adopting a ready stance and twisting to face the direction in which the Death Rocker was flung-- truth be told, there's a moment Masters looks almost disappointed when Zabel does -not- get right back up and rejoin the fray.

It's only a moment, however, any disappointment quickly replaced by celebration, Ken's fist pumping in the air as the crowd once more chants FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! The Guitar Army does their thing, interspersing a reprised version of Ken's theme with the chanting, as Masters paces the bridge, posing for photographs, clapping a few hands across the barriers, and generally getting himself pumped back up as he catches his breath.

"Good work lady." it's the most subdued he gets, as he passes Senna and the medics, a warm and heartfelt whisper of congratulation to the likely still half-comatose pugilist. "Damn good." The cameras catch a clasp-- a gentle one-- to his partner's shoulder as medical staff clear her further from the battle.

"Alright!" As he turns to face the opposing side of the bridge, the Blonde Battler is once more boisterous "What else you got?!? I demand a Dracula, or at least a Were-Hog!!"

COMBATSYS: Ken Masters awaits the next challenger.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Ken Masters      1/-------/=======|

"A were-hog!? Gimme a break, Masters!".

Looking up, hanging from part of the bridges upper structure, is Black Lotus. Grinning like a lunatic (which she is), she LEAPS, landing solidly on both feet and dropping to one knee, the sounds of bones breaking in her leaks to accompany it! Slowly, as she stands, her bones can be heard knitting back together at a rapid pace.

It sounds absolutely disgusting.

"Everyone knows were-hogs are extinct now. After all, who DOESN'T love bacon? and with how BIG those fuckers get, thats a LOOOOOOOTTA tastyness to let run wild!".

Casually Lotus reaches back and unsheathes one of her bigger knives "Now..... i believe we had some shenanigans to continue now that you've beaten my partner into submission....". She does the classic move of running her tongue along the edge, intentionally making a little cut so a bit of red dribbles down her arm, the wound sealing seconds later "Shall we paint the bridge red together!?". She stands there a moment, staaaaring at him, giggling at her own words...

Then, in a blur of motion, she LEAPS at Ken, eyes as wide as her grin, attempting to leap ON him and stab her blade into him to maintain her balance!

COMBATSYS: Lotus has joined the fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Ken Masters      1/-------/=======|-------\-------\0            Lotus

COMBATSYS: Lotus successfully hits Ken Masters with Catch the Prey.

[       \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Ken Masters      1/--=====/=======|=------\-------\0            Lotus

Or, you know, send out another breaky, melty not-corpse sort of thing. Ken can get behind that too-- and hopefully land a couple kicks while he's there. The intimidating display draws more of an aghast reaction from Mr. Masters than a terrorized one, the Blonde Battler's face momentarily twisted to sharp disgust as Lotus, well, arrives if you want to call it that, and whips out that nasty blade.

Then, Ken smirks, with characteristic overconfidence, as it turns out. The precise leap comes with perfect timing to slip past the Blonde Battler's expert guard and stab -deeply- into his left torso, right near the shoulder. "Holy Jesus OWmygodwhathte--!" He articulately enunciates as Lotus painfully perches on that wrenched blade. Rather than try to shake her off, however, both arms reeeach for the violent little cuss as he seeks to yank her in closer... and life a knee -sharply- to Lotus' ribcage in turn.

"Could've..." and again, that knee would rise, "At least..." It's a buffet of kneestrikes! Three kneestrikes, four kneeestrikes, ah ha ha ha! "Waited for affirmation!" At the culmination of the brutal flurry, Ken's intent is to sharply twist, and -hurl- Lotus clear, nearly as violently as she arrived! Paint the town red? There's not much choice, is there!?

COMBATSYS: Ken Masters successfully hits Lotus with Tsukami Nage EX.

[       \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////      ]
Ken Masters      2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|======-\-------\0            Lotus

Despite her best attempts, Ken gets a firm hold on the crazed Lotus, and knee-strikes commence! She gives a gasping pained laugh or squee with each hit, though whether its to control pain, or delight in it is uncertain. What... fun would.... THAT BEEEEEEEEEEE!" with that she grabs her other knife and draws it with her free hand, and swipes up at the side of his neck, aiming as close as she can for the artery! In the same motion, she wrenches the other weapon free of his body in as messy a fashion as she can!

In the same motion as all this, she attempts to leap away, to land 15 feet or so from him to both survey the damage as well as recover her own bearings!

COMBATSYS: Lotus successfully hits Ken Masters with Exsanguinate.

[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////      ]
Ken Masters      1/---<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\-------\0            Lotus

Ken can certainly understand taking joy from battle-- but this is just ridiculously over the line twice! Perhaps it's disconcertion that drives the next instant, or perhaps Lotus' uncanny ability to stay right -on- him after being flung clear, but Masters finds himself gushing considerable blood from the first wound and the second, precise one to his neck-- which may not be draining the jugular, but the pain and crimson resulting from the swipe make it hard to tell.

"What. the. -HELL-." Didn't one of his attaches read him something about being disqualified for attempting to kill other fighters? Maybe he should have listened when the told him the rules! Too late now, the Blonde Battler doesn't back down, anything but: as Lotus seeks to put distance between them the young champion is on her in a flash, charging several surging strides forward with defiant momentum and launching himself just high enough into the air to whirl through a singular, blurring rotation that sends his right leg lashing out with a whip-like crack squarely aligned with Lotus' skull.

The path of that jackhammering kick is augmented by a roaring rush of meteoric flame, drawing a brilliant plume of luminescent conflaguration along its path, and ideally, all around Lotus' head and neck! "KYAAAH!"

COMBATSYS: Lotus blocks Ken Masters' Senpuu Nata Otoshi.

[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Ken Masters      1/--<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\=------\1            Lotus

Lotus brings her scrawny-looking arm up, allowing it to take the impact of the kick with an audible CRACK! The sound of the damage reknitting itself can be disgustingly heard almost as soon as the attack is finished. Lotus seems oblivious to this as she griiiiiins at Ken again "Whaaaaaat? Not used to seeing your own blood? It's ssooooooo pretty you know!"

With her other hand she brings the pommel of the dagger in her free hand down towards his head!

COMBATSYS: Ken Masters issues a challenge!!

[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Ken Masters      1/--<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\-------\1            Lotus

COMBATSYS: Ken Masters interrupts Crushing Strike from Lotus with Shinryuu Ken+.

[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Ken Masters      0/-------/-======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2            Lotus

"It's rare enough." Ken notes with a cocky, wolfish grin, even as the blood dampens, darkens his already-crimson gi top. "But if that's the tempo we're dancing-- guess I better step up!" The Blonde Battler touches back down in a crouch, and with as light as Masters is on his feet? The wise fight fanatic deems it an intentional feint in an instant, the young champion not so much landing hard-- as eagerly coiling, ready to strike.

"And if you're so intent on making me prettier than I already am---" by this artist who paints with only one color standard, anyway, "Which means -you're- going to have to show me something special, hah! -- and FAST!"

The pommel strike apparently doesn't pass muster on that count; it comes down, glancing off Ken's decidedly hard head for just a scant instant as a column of flame consumes both fighters, and Ken -explodes- upwards.

Lotus would be driven before him, launched by a singular, spiralling uppercut that reaves like a warhead in an enduring, devastating ascent, a plume of flame coiling around Ken's tightly twisting form and bleeding off below him as the evolution of his style's legendary Rising Dragon Punch tries just... just a -little- bit harder to push the limits of Lotus' uncanny resilience. "SHINRYUUUUUUUKEN!!!!"

Lotus screeeeeeeeeeeams as shes cooked nicely by Kens flames! Landing hand and rolling to her feet, it's clear that even her frighteningly fast regeneration is having trouble keeping up with the damage, as shes covered in second and third degree burns. This is saying nothing of the large dent in her torso where the actual impact landed.

Shaking, teetering, Lotus seems lost in a blood frenzy of sorts as she races in close again with a cackle of maddened glee, blinking around Ken as she slashes at him from various angles and directions, almost seeming to disappear from view between each attack from raw speed!

COMBATSYS: Ken Masters blocks Lotus' Slice and Dice.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Ken Masters      1/-------/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2            Lotus

Each flash, each slash, finds meaty contact-- but perhaps not the deep, fleshy penetration Lotus' frothing bloodlust demands. Instead, it's shallow cuts across muscles hardened past what most consider humanly possibly, squarely aligned, flexed arms intercepting each strike, from each angle.

Time and again, Masters twists in perfect tandem as if gifted with precognitive certitude to meet each angle of attack, each stabbity stroke in turn. One sparring glove is slashed, grasing slices are torn into resilient muscle-- but it's as if he's parrying with a weapon of his own, for all the good it does Lotus.

"No, no..." Masters tuts teasingly, that wolfish grin resurging in full, "That's not what I meant at all. More..." The last stab is caught between gloved palms, deflected aside, and then Ken is on her in a flash, "like... THIS!!!" The onslaught opens with a sharp rotation into a brutal roundhouse, aligned squarely with Lotus' skull once more and intended to squarely disorient his blood-lusting adversary.

Such would make it all the more easy to continue the flurry, which consists of a gracefully twisting, deadly dance of orbiting fire and lashing heels, one leg and then the next delivering a quintet of formidable flaming roundhouse kicks with every turn, and should Lotus be caught up in that combination punishment? It doesn't end until she takes a ride up, up, and away once more, this time riding a whirling series of kicks in a storm of fire as a rising hurricane kick finishes off the elegant ensemble. "ORAORAORAORAORAAAAA!!!"

COMBATSYS: Ken Masters successfully hits Lotus with Shippuujinrai Kyaku.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /                             ]
Ken Masters      0/-------/-------|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2            Lotus

An opening is spotted, and Lotus goes for it! She attempts to sink her teeth into Kens neck just as he stops to perform his attack, injecting a highly potent toxin into his bloodstream if successful.....

Hit or miss, things don't go well for her once he does so. She is given a sound beating in the hurricane of kicks, and is dragged into the air for the finale! The last hit sends her flying into the metal railings along the side of the bridge, which bends from the impact.

Despite all the injuries, Lotus is clearly still alive, and still giggling softly to herself in gasped and broken bursts..... despite the obvious signs of her body healing itself, it's clear the damage is enough that for now, she won't be fighting anyone for awhile.

COMBATSYS: Lotus can no longer fight.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Ken Masters      0/-------/------=|

COMBATSYS: Ken Masters dodges Lotus' Deadly Kiss.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Ken Masters      0/-------/------=|

It's an abrupt turnabout, a carnival of violent spectacle and reaving kicks-- the conflagration may not be QUITE the red than Lotus was going for, but it's what she gets nonetheless. Ken is surprisingly light on his feet, weaving deftly to the side as he brings that first kick around-- then again, it's rather hard to get one's face inside someone's guard -while- they're cleaving you in the face with an extended leg.

Masters breathes a subtle sigh of relaxation as he lands in a far more gentle stance than the bloody bloodletter in that cackling heap, and shakes his head in some lingering disbelief. Then, the Team USA Guitar Army begins jamming, and swaying, and Ken grins warmly, offering a fervent peace sign to the crowd as they cheer his name.

"Thank you all! there's just one mre thing-- SENNA! SENNA!" Ken appends to the chant, borrowing the announcer's mic and executing a series of fistpumps, quickly and naturally influencing the gathered fans into another round of raucous applause and cheering for his sidelined compatriot, and her remarkable show tonight. Even the... let's be kind and say weirdos from Team Bloodletter get a firm thumbs-up, a grin passed amicably to the opposing side of the bridge in respect for a hard-fought faito.

When the announcer gets his microphone back, it's a foregone conclusion. "The Winners, and advancing in the King of Fighters Tournament-- TEEEEAAAAM UUUUUUUUSAAAAA!" The wild volume surrounding the bridge only rises. GIT STOKED.

COMBATSYS: Ken Masters has ended the fight here.

Log created on 22:37:53 08/12/2017 by Zabel, and last modified on 19:50:20 08/15/2017.