Robert - Back to Basics

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Description: The Kyokugen Dragon and Tiger reunite -- and of course they gotta fight, because that's what they -do-.

It's been a few days now, since Gato's Kool-aid man schtick ruined a wall of the dojo. As if Ryo didn't have enough property damage to worry about after his own little spar with Daisy that left a Haohshokoken sized hole in the roof. Which was now thoroughly covered in layer after layer of duct tape. Now, Ryo has a new bucketful of rolls of duct tape. Dejected, he pulls off another strip, with that familiar sound, and places it across the giant hole in the wall.

The blonde haired Kyokugen Dragon looks worse for wear. He's shirtless, but bandages cover the vast majority of his abdomen and chest. What flesh can be seen is marked with yellow-green, and purple-red bruises. One of his eyes is swollen shut, and his nose is taped up to help hold it in place. It's fairly clear what had happened here.

As for the rest of the dojo? What students remain are there, doing drills, practicing their kicks, and generally keeping themselves occupied with whatever ridiculous workout Ryo conjured up for them to push them to their limits. That being said, the Kyokugen Dojo has always suffered from a large number of drop outs. Mostly because of Takuma's overzealous training methods. Or his overzealous cooking habit. Now, those numbers seem to have diminished by another half. Some out of fear. Fear that the dojo is no longer a safe place, if someone can just come busting in the walls and assault the master. Others, disappointed that they watched their sensei "lose", even if Ryo actually won the true fight that was happening. Sure. He hadn't overcome Gato in the fight, but he proved the strength of Kyokugen and its merit as a martial art without a shadow of a doubt. So... a pyrrhic victory, at least.

And that's when a stunning work of automotive beauty pulls up into the dojo's parking lot. Clouds of dust spill out in front of the grille of a stunning new Honda NSX, its odometer barely ticking into double digits. The beat-up dojo reflects off the car's mirror-like Nouvelle Blue finish as the car's engine slows to a halt -- a look reflected even further in the mirrored shades of its driver.

Robert Garcia opens the door, pinching the glasses between his index finger and thumb as he lifts the shades up. His goateed face is fallen into dismay as he takes a good, hard look at the larger injuries sustained.

At the characteristic sound of duct tape peeling off of a roll, Garcia looks up to the roof. His look of dismay yields to one of skeptical disbelief. Duct tape? For something -this- size?

He cups his hands to his mouth.
A moment later, a voice thick with a Kansai accent belts out.
"You better hurry, Sakazaki -- I heard there's a storm on the way!"

Robert Garcia looks just as Ryo would imagine -- a complete mismatch with the humble gi of a karateka, in pristine white slacks, a button-down shirt in blue silk to match the car, and a charcoal-colored vest. His long black hair is pulled into a ponytail, swishing across his shoulders as he offers a shrug.

"Need some help up there?"

When Ryo sees the car, out of his one good, open eye, he knows exactly what is going on. He had heard that Robert had been back in town, making the rounds. He had even heard that his friend had made the grade to go to the World Warrior Tournament. That makes his smile, despite the pain in his aching jaw.


Injured or no, the hulking figure of the more ruggedly handsome of the Kyokugen warriors leaps down, landing nimbly with a steep bend of his knees, before rising back up in front of his lifelong friend and training partner. His unswollen cobalt eye looks him up and down, sizing him up, seemingly before nodding his head in apparent approval. "You're looking fit to fight. Heard you'll be joining the tournament."

He looks back, over his shoulder, at the beat up dojo. With his face turned so that Robert can see it, Ryo frowns, but when he looks back, he affects his brightest smile. It looks painful. "Ah. Nah. It's just a small repair. Nothing to worry yourself about! I've got it well under control!"

The injuries from Robert's World Warrior invitation were mostly hidden beneath layers of opulent silk. Surely there's a metaphor lurking there, but that's left as an exercise for the reader. The only one Ryo would even have a chance of seeing some bruising at his chin -- but even that is partially obscured by the goatee.

"Either Takuma got a great deal on an industrial lot of duct tape, or you're goin' for the Guinness Book record for 'Biggest Eyesore of a Dojo!'"

But Robert Garcia is not -just- a terrible critic -- he's also a problem solver in his own right. And that means he's already pulling the cellphone off his belt, flipping the leather case open.

"So what happened, anyway?"
He asks this, while distractedly punching some data into his cellphone.
"Didn't hear any details, aside from rumors an' scuttlebutt. Did you get one of those invites too for the trouble, at least?"

He pauses after another few keypresses, looking up from his phone to Ryo with a smile. "I'm helping you whether you like it or not, this patch job won't last three weeks and you know it."

"It's temporary," Ryo says, about the duct tape and the giant holes in the wall. He shrugs his bared, broad shoulders helplessly. "We don't have the money right now to buy materials for me to make proper repairs. After the World Warrior Tournament, I can use my winnings to take care of it all. I mean, I do construction on my own..."

And of course, Robert pulls out his phone. Ryo feels himself cringe inwardly. The Sakazaki heir truly does love his best friend. His... disgustingly wealthy best friend. But he will never, ever be comfortable with taking Robert's money, or using it to his advantage. He's too independent for that. He's been doing things on his own since he was 10 years old, after all, when Takuma first left them to find his destiny as a fighter.

"Gato. He showed up. Talked down on Kyokugen a lot. He had the wrong idea. I corrected it," Ryo says plainly, another shrug of his shoulders, though it comes with a wince. "In the end, he won the fight, but I won the battle. He knows that Kyokugen is a true form of combat. And, yes. I got the invite."

He reaches out, putting his massive hand, bruised and scraped knuckles and all, on Robert's shoulder. "You know that I can't accept this. It will be fine. It only has to hold long enough for me to get a purse from the tournament. That's all it takes."

"-Your- winnings?"
This evokes a smile from Robert, even as he goes through his phone.

As Ryo explains what happened, that smile begins to fade. The same sort of circumstance -- a random appearance, an unexplained fight, and an invitation. "Gato, huh," he answers, raising an eyebrow. "Wasn't... far off from what happened to me. I was just leaving a wedding at San Georgio, when a Kisaragi showed up. The guy wasn't much for words -- almost ruined the car I was borrowing. Factory sure was pissed when I brought it back with major paint damage on the passenger side." He waves dismissively with his hand. "Left me with some pretty nasty bruises and one of those invites."

He holds up the phone for inspection, now that Ryo's gone and rested a hand on his shoulder. And rather than click on 'purchase' he just clicks on 'save for later.'

"Fine, fine. Let your students build character or whatever. Just don't forget, frostbite isn't something your kids can just tough out."

Garcia laughs, tensing his shoulder muscle. "So what do you make of this Krauser guy, anyway? You think he's up to somethin'?"

"Yeah. I mean, I'm bound to win something, right?"

Ryo is all optimism.

"Kisaragi? That's..." Ryo says with a look of concentration, trying desperately to remember where he might know that name from. His gaze goes vacant, lost in thought. Finally, he snaps his fingers, the look of recognization coming to him in a flash. "Right! Kisaragi is that old samurai guy, right? Wears the hakama and hachimaki?"

That was Todoh.

"So, we were both approached and challenged. We were both given an invite to this tournament. You know what this means, right?" Ryo says, his face and tone of voice growing serious, and grim. He looks across the parking lot, with a brooding look of pensive thought. "They realize that Kyokugen is the strongest style there is. They're scared."

He couldn't be any more serious. But, he shrugs his shoulders, relaxing as Robert talks about the holes and frostbite. "They don't sleep here, anyway. They'll be fine. A little cold weather while training never hurt anybody."

Flashback - Ten years ago in a mountain in the countryside:

A teenage Ryo, training with Robert on a snowy mountainside. Ryo proclaims that his father did this, so he must do it, too. That training for extreme cold would make them super tough. Robert had the good sense to bring cold weather clothes and camping gear. Ryo would have none of it. Ryo got pneumonia and was bedbound for three weeks. He proclaimed that training in the cold was a harmful activity and he would never condone anyone doing it again.


"Krauser? I'm not sure..." Ryo says, frowning as he considers it. "I've heard that the Strolheim fighters are just out to prove that they're the strongest. They seem... bloodthirsty. Ready to kill. But as far as ulterior motives go? I can't really say. It might just be some aging fighter wanting to brag and feel young again."

That's his simple response to the first answer.

"That's Ryuhaku Todo. I'm talking about Eiji Kisaragi, the ninja."
That's Robert's answer to the second, along with a slow shake of his head.

"You were laid up for weeks after our trip to Mount Haruna, Ryo. Cold weather training's done lots o; hurt."
He can't help but smile in response.

Krauser, though... Garcia has more to say about that. "Yeah -- that's how I'm -reading- it, but I can't help but feel they're goin' about it the wrong way. Sending people to just go... rough us up, you know -- there's somethin' more goin' on there. He could'a just sent the invitations and been done with it."

He stashes his phone -- the threat's been made, and Robert showed that he's just as concerned with the Kyokugen Dojo students as Ryo is. "Well, if your hunch that they're testing all the Kyokugen fighters is right, let's just hope they don't decide to start testing your students, too." He pauses. "Or Yuri."

He thinks to himself for a moment, then asks, "What about the old man? Takuma get an invite, too?"

"Oh. Right," Ryo says, shrugging his shoulders. Todoh. Kisaragi. Samurai. Ninja. They all wanted to see Kyokugen destroyed for whatever reason. Does it really make any difference. But, at least now he has a face that he can put to Robert's bruised chin. Sort of. A face covered by a scarf, at least. "...Ninjas."

As Robert gives his thoughts on Krauser, Ryo waves him on to walk and talk, heading back up to the dojo walls, and... stepping in around the lines of duct tape that cover the gaping hole in the wall. What Robert says about sending the invitations makes Ryo nod his head, frowning deeply.

"Father was given an invitation. As I understand it, Krauser handed out invitations to those whom he deemed worthy. Mostly old guard. Men like Father, or Sagat. Experienced and powerful."

He looks up at Robert with that one cobalt eye, and there's real concern there. "I doubt he'd target the students. The whole thing seems to be a fetish about powerful fighters. And the students... they have potential, but..."

He shrugs. "As for Yuri... she's not really around. Too busy with other things, I suppose. Which is good. She should have a normal life. A girl's life. Maybe she's gotten the whole fighting obsession out of her system."

He snaps his fingers suddenly, "Which reminds me. Daisy came back to the dojo. She's... very different than she was when we were children, but... She still has the fight in her. She's just hurting. She hides it well, but you can see it. I think being here is doing her some good. I think she even signed up for some tournament. I don't know what it is. Something about bikinis."

Robert laughs -- while Ryo's always been focused on the here and now, his background in the lap of luxury has allowed him to adopt a wider view of situations. And he's happy to leave the mess of a dojo to Ryo... for now.

"I guess they didn't feel the need to give him an intro exam. Still -- that's some pretty solid Kyokugen representation -- all three of us leading the way!"

He nods quietly -- taking in all the news with a few nods, and a few pensive strokes of his goateee.

"Mm, bikinis. I might have to go check that scene out..." He flashes Ryo a sly grin.

"And yeah. I'm staying in town for a bit. Just in case. Fighting Kisaragi shook me up a bit, but... I can see I'm starting to fall out of practice. Being here might do -me- some good too."

He makes a pointed glance towards the notable bruises along Ryo's skin. "Might have to find me a new sparring partner though. I don't wanna fight you if you're not at your best."

And from Robert's grin, he -might- just be trying to rile up his old-time fight buddy. Maybe!

If Robert was trying to rile Ryo up... He did it. Immediately, the blonde haired fighter seems to swell and bristle. The fire in his... well, his one good eye... immediately sparks with the fire of his warrior spirit. His lips curve into a lopsided grin, and he scoffs. In good humor.

"You're out of practice, playboy! Even when I'm not at my best, sparring the likes of you?! Ha! It'll do you get to get beat up a little bit more! Whip you back into shape, if you're gonna put on a good showing in the name of Kyokugen!"

You really, really, really can't stop Ryo from a good fight.

He takes a few steps back, out onto the open floor of the dojo, and rolls out the shoulder that he has wrapped up in bandages. His neck cranes from side to side, giving off a series of dull, wet crackling sounds like celery being snapped. "Come on, Robert! It's been too long since I've had a taste of Kyokugen's Dragon style!"

Robert cinches the hem of his leather gloves snugly, sauntering out to the middle of the dojo floor. He can't help but grin back at his old friend -- it never was much trouble to get him to rise to the challenge.

"What, right now?" He laughs -- of -course- he means right now. He spares a glance for the sportscar in the parking lot, and decides... eh. They're -right here-.

After tossing his cellphone and car keys to the dojo floor. He'd take his shoes off -- but for a fight of Ryo and Robert's caliber, there's really not a whole lot of point in delaying the inevitable any longer.

"Much too long," he agrees with a grin, sliding out into the middle of the floor.

His stance is loose -- a light bob on the balls of his feet. And he raises his hand in an open challenge, signaling his preparedness: "Age before beauty! Show me your best, Ryo!"

COMBATSYS: Robert has started a fight here.

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Robert           0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Ryo has joined the fight here.

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Ryo              0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Robert

Oh. He was going to play the age card, was he? Alright. Ryo's lips curve, parting into a wolfish grin, despite the aching throbbing in his jaw left over from the very last attack Gato had levied upon him. His eyes, though... While one is all but swollen shut, those eyes of cobalt blue are alive and intent. If his injuries bother him, it doesn't seem like he's going to let them interfere.

"Just remember that you asked for this!"

Ryo's densely compacted form steps back, dropping briefly into his trademark stance. His knees are bent, his center of gravity placed low, while his arms extend before him, one high, the other low. His hands are open, fingers loose and splayed, as if he might be expecting to engage in a spot of grappling rather than full, hard hitting karate.

But just like that, Ryo burst forward, kicking off the matted floor with a puff of dust swirling in a mini-cyclone in the wake of his large feet. He seems to close the distance between the pair of them faster than his size would permit, in a blink-and-you-miss it kind of way. His left fist balls up, knuckles so tight that they blanch, the blood forced out of them and turning them the color of polished bone. It sweeps under, meeting the side of his hip before rocketing forward and up, his aim leading a straight, perfectly linear path up the center line of his training partner's body, and heading on a freight train collision course straight for Robert's rather dashing chin.

But the assault doesn't stop there, either. Regardless of whether or not Robert manages to avoid that first blow, or deflect it, Ryo's following through with the other fist. This time, he chambers it, his knees bending down, coiling his body like a tight spring. A pouncing tiger. And he launches himself up, that right fist cutting the air with a sound not unlike clapping thunder, as he springs heavenward with the trademarked "KOHOU!" shout to accompany the traditional Kyokugen uppercut!

COMBATSYS: Robert auto-guards Ryo's Mouko Raijin Gou.

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Ryo              0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Robert

Ryo's not the only one who can sport a wolfish grin -- Robert's styling gel just manages to sell the look in a much more ravishing way. But just to make sure he takes care of every loose end before fighting, he lifts his gloved hand, sweeping long forelocks out of his eyes in a suave manner that would be certain to drive the ladies wild -- if there -were- any in the dojo at the moment.

"Of course I asked for it! Had to be sure you weren't getting soft in your old age!"

His response is delivered with a cocky, swaggering smile. There's no malice or ill will in his expression; just good, old-fashioned ribbing from a friend he's known forever. As Ryo leans back into his stance, Robert bobs lightly to and fro.

And when Ryo explodes forward, Garcia is ready for him. The Kyokugen fighter knows his partner's approach well -- and doesn't shy away from it, his fists lightly curled as he keeps his shoulders slightly askew from square.

It's at that last instant, when Ryo has closed into range, that he makes his move.
He leans to the side -- but even then, that'd be only part of the maneuver.
He also lifts his left arm, pounding the bottom his fist into Ryo's rising forearm, jarring it off-course...

The riotous uppercut plunges upwards, its course deviating only slightly from the intended target. Garcia's twin forelocks are not immune to the perturbed wind, flying upwards chaotically in the wake of the attack.

And yet -- as Robert notes with his trademark swaggering smile -- it's not over yet. He steps back again -- assured of the uppercut which follows. He watches his partner chambering his right fist for the second strike -- and already has his reaction in mind. He steps backward -- and then plants his right foot upon the dojo floor.

When Ryo's uppercut thunders upwards -- Robert twists counter-clockwise just far enough to take his chin out of the path at the last instant.
A mere fraction of a second later, Robert's shoulder and forearm will shove into Sakazaki's rising arm, the Italian leaning his entire body into the motion.

A tactical admission that Ryo -would- have hurt him, without the pain associated with such...

"Telegraphed..." he notes, his breath slightly ragged.
But that's not all, as he snaps out of the shove to make a grab for Ryo's offered bicep. Should he manage to grab hold, he would pivot just so -- aiming to use his longtime friend's momentum against him, pivoting to redirect Ryo right over his shoulder -- and whirl him ass-over-teakettle to the dojo floor!

"And overcommitted...!"

COMBATSYS: Ryo interrupts Kubikiri Nage from Robert with Tomoe Nage.

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Ryo              0/-------/---====|====---\-------\0           Robert

Robert's as crafty as ever. And as infuriatingly charming, as well. Ryo's first strike is predicted, and avoided with the Kyokugen Kick Master's deft footwork and agile manuevering, but Ryo is, as stated, overcommitted, and he does follow through. His arm is captured as a direct result.

Fortunately, the Sakazaki heir isn't without his own crafty trickery.

Robert expertly uses Ryo's momentum, and in the process does manage to give Ryo's arm a solid wrench. The Kyokugen Dragon makes a sound of pain, as he's flung up and over, though this is exactly what he had expected when his arm was locked up.

The bandaged and broken body of Ryo Sakazaki does little to hinder his own surprising celerity. Where he should be slammed down on his back, Ryo manages to twist and turn, and land with his feet solidly stomping the matted floor. "KIAI!"

Still, with his arm locked up with Robert's, Ryo uses that momentum to bring the suave sophisticate up and over his hip, slamming him, in turn, down onto the floor.

"Don't think I'm too predictable, now!"

Robert is no slouch -- even while abroad, he has taken time out for his exercise regimen, and sparring sessions with a personal trainer. But it's one thing to execute -- but to blend different styles and approaches on the fly is the mark of a true master like Ryo.

So while Robert is able to grab hold of Ryo, just like he had his personal trainer try in his gym back in Italy -- the net result goes a lot differently than he'd had in mind.
That is to say, Ryo isn't really letting -go-.
And Robert sees the dojo spin around him as he's hurled unceremoniously onto the floor.

The better-dressed Kyokugen fighter's lungs expel a large gust of air.

But as soon as Ryo lets go, Robert's feet are pounding against the floor. He kips back up to his feet, raising his hands defensively as he backpedals about three meters away.

"Fair, fair! Always keeping me on my toes, haha..."
His lips curl into a smile.
His ponytail and forelocks whish around as he bobs around, gauging his opponent for the perfect time to strike.
And then he begins -- whirling around in a counter-clockwise fashion as if to spin-kick Ryo.
The motion would fall woefully short, though, if it were just a kick.


Yeah, it's not a kick. In the midst of that spin, a blossom of orange flame had sprung into existence, spinning faster and growing larger as it rolls down his right leg. And when his toe is extended, that ball of flame hurtles outwards as surely as a soccer ball, arcing upward with Ryo's breadbasket as the target!

COMBATSYS: Ryo interrupts Ryuugekiken from Robert with Koho Shippuken EX.
- Power hit! -

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Ryo              0/-------/---====|=======\-------\1           Robert

Having slammed Robert to the ground, Ryo doesn't press the attack, but instead allows his friend and sparring partner the opportunity to get his footing under him once again. The larger, beat up Kyokugen fighter bounces back, adopting a loser stance as he does so, and his footwork being taken straight from the pages of boxing. He shakes out his arms, and then, as Robert halts his own retreat, Ryo digs the ball of one foot into the mat underneath it, gridning it back and forth as he lowers himself to get back into his readied stance.

"Someone has to keep you on your toes! Who gave you the idea that the Zorro look was coming back, anyway?!"

Grinning, from ear to ear, Ryo makes a "C'mon" gesture with one hand, curling and uncurling his fingers.

Robert, of course, doesn't disappoint. He starts that spin, and Ryo has less than a second to play out the scenarios in his head. Is the Tiger going to pounce with a thrusting lunge kick? Is he coming in for a combination? Is he...

Of course. The spark of fiery ki is the signal that Ryo needs, and it triggers a sort of muscle memory, thoughtless response, honed from years and years of being brutalized at the hands of his father's own ki attacks in training.

Ryo lunges back, a small hop leaving his feet skidding across the floor, before gaining traction to erupt forward with a galvanating velocity. He dashes straight towards that ball of fire and fighting spirit, taking it head on with the only truth Ryo Sakazaki has ever known. His fist.


A straight, terribly powerful punch rips through the fireball itself and continues on, aims at Robert's own torso. His knuckles collide with the well dressed fighter's chest, strong and true, ending Ryo's forward momentum abruptly as the culmination of all his might is channeled into his friend.


"The ladies did, Ryo. The -ladies- did."
Garcia's reply was little more than a wink, a broad grin, and a knowing nod.

But as Robert spun around for his kick, he suddenly found the headstrong Ryo right up in his grill again -- the perfect strategy for his apparent goal of playing keep-away!

His eyes go wide as his Ryuugeki Ken slams into Ryo's toughened fist, the carefully-wound orb of chi shredding apart into a wobbling, out-of-control snarl of chi fibers before fading out of existence.

But he won't have the time for much else, before those bare knuckles slam right into his vest, the concussive force blasting him backwards. The fine silk fibers are scorched by the impact, steam rising from the singed fibers as Robert scrambles to regain his footing.

"Not bad, not bad..." he comments, planting one heel on the floor, then the other. "You've been busy practicing, I'll give you that...!"

But that's when the chi begins to surge up within him -- a helix of fiery chi rising from his anchored feet, winding around his legs and then up to energize the Italian's entire body. His hair flutters as if from an updraft, as he flashes a row of perfect white teeth back at Ryo.

"Think you're ready to take it to the next level, though?"

COMBATSYS: Robert gathers his will.

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Ryo              0/-------/---====|=======\=====--\1           Robert

"Heh. I punched through the old man's Haoh Shokoken!" Ryo proclaims, still a bit astonished and proud of that fact. "Multiple times!"

Seeing Robert charking his lazers, as it were, Ryo shakes his head. One thumb lifts up to flick at the side of his nose, and he turns, pacing one circuit, back and forth before Robert, before he brings his forearms up in an X across his chest, fists clenched. Sweeping his arms down, his palms open and he exhales a slow breath. His hands comes to a rest, at his waist, as if he were placing his open palms against a large sphere on the ground before him.

"Two can play at that game!"

A burst of power explodes from Ryo, washing out across the floor, invisible, save for the dust kicked up and spread out in a circle around him. A ring of fiery ki blazes, and a golden light seems to surround him as he draws forth power from the Earth, channeling it through himself to suffuse muscle and bone where it may fail on its own. He breathes in, drawing in that power and holding it in his lungs and in his spirit. He breathes out, letting it flow through him, become a part of him.

COMBATSYS: Ryo gathers his will.

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Ryo              1/-------/=======|=======\=====--\1           Robert

The kinship is strong between the Tiger and the Dragon of the Kyokugen Dojo. Throughout the years, Robert's and Ryo's competition has had only one constant -- that neither fighter would ever be content to let the other be better. Constant and dogged improvement is their mantra.

The competitive spirit shows in as simple things as the brightness of the two auras. While Robert's aura was brightest at first, Ryo's mighty aura surpassed him in no time -- and in direct response, Robert grits his teeth and draws an even greater surge of energy from his surroundings, his skin glowing in brilliant gold.

Would he even be as strong as he is now, without Ryo constantly challenging him? Doubtful.
And yet, if they continue to tap power endlessly, what would happen?
Would the roof blow off?
Would they transform into some sort of supermen?

It's a question that will have to get answered at some other time, for Robert suddenly tenses his fists, bends his knees, and coils up.
And with a single, explosive leap, he bursts forward in a low arc.


He aims to contact Ryo with his extended foot, daring to test the strength of his longtime friend's connection with the earth's ki. Should he land the kick, he'd reverse his spin into a swift backflip -- a spinning disc of blazing, kicking fury, daring to split Ryo right down the center. The backflip would then continue for a second full revolution, whirling fast enough for Robert to gain altitude from the whirl. A crushing onslaught, to pressure his friend into responding in kind.

COMBATSYS: Ryo blocks Robert's Kuzuryuusen.

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Ryo              1/----===/=======|====---\-------\0           Robert

Turn into Supermen? As far as Ryo's concerned, they already are. And with some of the recent spectacles he's displayed of his raw might, he may not be far from the mark. And, just based off of the fact that Robert won himself an invitation to the World Warrior tournament, he's not far behind Ryo at all. And Ryo, technically, lost his fight, in that regard.

Ryo doesn't have time to muse, however. He is focusing, drawing out and building up the power inherent in the earth itself to infuse every cell in his body with power. It's a rush. He feels the pain in his broken and battered body subside. He feels himself renewed and invigorated. He feels at touch with the universe.

He feels Robert's aggressive intent.

Robert leaps forward, his kick like a thrust spear directly for the Dragon's throat. Ryo barely has the time to draw his arms up before him to shield himself from the attack, but he manages it. His forearms sting, bruised to the bone, but he endures that small agony. The sheer force of the assault still pushes Ryo back, his feet sliding on the dojo floor.

As soon as the repulsion from Robert's vicious attack comes to a cease, Ryo's stance shifts, dropping into a wide legged horse stance, his knees bent deeply, at a 90 degree angle, spread far apart. He raises one hand, extending it out before him, hovering just near Robert's chest.


His right fist chambers itself at his hip, and with an alarming sense of power and speed, it thrusts forward, at the same time that Ryo stomps forward with one large, thunderous step. The end result is a brutal, straight punch that uses kinetic linking to bring forth every ounce of Ryo's strength, from the entirety of his body, to a focal point at the end of a fist that is aimed not to punch Robert's chest, but instead intended to punch Robert's spine, THROUGH his chest. In reality, his fist won't penetrate his hetero (?) lifemate, but rather collide into him with the force of a speeding Mack truck, with the intention of sending him flying across the dojo's open space.


COMBATSYS: Robert blocks Ryo's Tenchi Haoh Ken.

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Ryo              0/-------/------=|=======\-------\1           Robert

Once Robert realizes that his initial kick fails to make any serious inroads against the Kyokugen Dragon's steadfast defenses, he makes the decision to follow through with part of the maneuver -- a backflip is probably the surest way he can recover from such an attack, at any rate.

He lands with his feet just slightly further than shoulder-width apart, knees lightly bent.

And Sakazaki is already there, thrusting an open palm less than half a meter in front of his chest -- a threatening gesture Robert meets with crossed arms and a broad grin. But once he sees that the warding palm is just a preparation for the true attack, he tenses, leaning forward.

Ryo's fist will be opposed by both forearms, channeling the leverage of the Tiger's entire body. And he can certainly -feel- the ache rippling through his entire body -- a pain dulled only by the aftermath of funneling the earth's chi throughout him just moments prior.

That grin appears again, even as he's forced to skid backwards across the dojo floor. It's been a while since he's fought Ryo, and yet with the even exchanges, it feels like almost no time at all.

With as far back as he's been knocked back, Robert understands that he'll need to close the distance. Luckily, the punch also left him coiled back and ready.

As he launches himself forward, flames burst into existence across his ankles and feet. He swings his foot in an quick counter-clockwise spin kick at Ryo's guard, an arc of flame sweeping past in his wake. The flames grow in intensity as he reverses the flow of his kick, scything his heel back in the opposite direction. And then the flames part path as Robert performs another momentum shift, plowing through with a third toe kick aimed at wearing down his longtime partner's guard!


COMBATSYS: Robert successfully hits Ryo with Hien Senpuu Kyaku EX.

[            \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////            ]
Ryo              0/-------/-======|=======\=------\1           Robert

Ryo feels the weight of his fist being absorbed by the density of Robert's forearms, and knows that his partner managed to take the edge off of the brunt of the attack. That brings his smile back to his face, even as he continues pushing through, sending Robert skidding back. He, like Robert, muses about how it seems like they haven't lost a step when it comes to one another, even if it has been awhile.

It was this sort of silent reverie, as fleetingly brief a moment as it was, that costs him. He's snickering to himself, pleased at how skilled his friend still is, when Robert launches his counter attack. Ryo tries to bring up his guard, but he had also committed himself fully to the ultimate punch technique, and he was just too slow. He takes the flaming feet to his trunk, feeling the wind expel from his lungs in a whooping sound from his open mouth. He buckles over the kick, his feet lifting from the ground., his arms flailing to either side. Again. And yet again, before he can recover, Ryo is pummeled, and ultimately lands on his back, looking up at the duct taped hole in the ceiling.


His open palms smack the mat, and Ryo kips up to his feet, deftly.

"That's what I'm talking about!"

Ryo doesn't bother wasting time with more words. He simply draws back his hand, fingers tightly curled in, with his palm left open in what is traditionally consider the panther strike position. The air shimmers around it, and motes of sparkling orange light swirl inward, as if pulled into some dimensional vortex only to be trapped and condensed, until it becomes a ball of ki and fire, as blinding as the sun itself.

"Ko'oh Ken!"

Ryo thrusts his hand forward, and the swirling mass of concussive energy launches, searing and sizzling through the air, leaving behind a glistening trail of scorched light in its wake.

COMBATSYS: Ryo successfully hits Robert with Ko'oh Ken EX.

[            \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Ryo              0/-------/=======|=======\======-\1           Robert

Snickering? Robert may not have been able to see it in the midst of his whirling kicks, but the sentiment is nonetheless there. And really -- he can't help but smile with the knowledge. Two grown men, acting like the childhood friends they'd always been, and likely always ever will be.

His final kick sends Ryo flying backwards -- and it's only then that Robert lands, bobbing back into the nimble stance of dragon-style Kyokugen.

He hears Ryo calling back, asking for more. And he sees him drawing back. A tight-lipped smile is his answer to Sakazaki -- as well as a raised left forearm. For one moment, he is thinking with crystal clarity -- he knows exactly what the Ko'ou Ken is capable of.
His right fist curls in anticipation.
He starts to lunge into the blast.

And then, there is a a glimmer of doubt.
Is Ryo -counting on- him to do something different?
He flinches.

The very next instant, flame crash into his elbow -- pointed, but prepared for a reversal rather than mere defense. The wavefront bends, the energy pouring past his elbow like a breaking wave. His silk shirt is shredded into tatters by the searing flames -- and true -alarm- flashes over Robert's face as he pulls his hand back.

But there is no stopping the fury of the Ko'ou Ken -- as the energy slams into him more fully. Garcia is bowled over backwards, his upper body snapped backward far harder than he was prepared for.

His left shoulder hits the dojo floor, followed shortly by the right shoulder, as he rolls back and away.

It hurt like hell.
And there was most -definitely- a growl to be heard as Robert fell -- because it's easier to be angry than to simply give into the pain.
But as the Tiger rises, his left sleeve turned into nothing more than scrap fabric...?
He's actually on the verge of laughing.

"That's what I get for -thinking- too much against you..."

He takes one step forward, eyes casting downward to his tattered sleeve.
He takes a second step forward, accelerating.
And then he takes a third, leaping into the air.


What follows would be a knee, plunging forward at Ryo's chest level.
He would follow into a series of four blistering-hot punches at standing height, each wreathed in the flames of Robert's overflowing chi.
And if those weren't dealt with, he would lean back and piston a series of roughly -twenty- rapid-fire kicks from his right leg, while standing at a perfectly balanced position on his left -- each one hot enough to brand Ryo's bare skin with his footprint.

He would finish off the series of powerful, punishing strikes with a rising uppercut -- one that would see his feet leaving the floor, and Ryo flying into the air along with the force of his fist.

COMBATSYS: Ryo fails to interrupt Ryuuko Ranbu from Robert with Koho.

[                      \\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////                   ]
Ryo              1/---====/=======|======-\-------\0           Robert

Ryo could see it. He could see the gears churning behind Robert's perpetually, and somewhat frustrating, come hither stare. He could see that it cost Robert his momentum. He psyched himself out, and as a result, he got caught up and punished by the most basic and straight forward move that Ryo could make. He was surprised. And he can't help the loud "HA!" that escapes him, though there is nothing of cruelty or maliciousness in that laugh. It is exuberant and genuine.

"Man, you should have seen your face just then!"

And Ryo should have seen his face when he takes a moment to notice what Robert is doing. Because it is priceless.

Eyes wide as saucers. He manages, within a fraction of a second, to mouth silently, the words "oh shit" before he tries to mount a counter offensive. He ducks, bringing himself down, coiled like a snake ready to strike. As he rises from the ground, however, his balled fist never quite makes it with the uppercut to follow through. He manages to spring himself right up into Robert's relentless and dazzling assault. The knee catches him in the face, wrenching his head to the side as spittle flies from his smashed and distorted lips. It staggers him, opening all of his defenses against the flaming fists that follow and then the untold number of kicks that amounts to an eternity served in Hell, in Ryo's mind.

When it's over, Ryo's sent flying a few feet, spinning like a top through the air only to collide with heavy thunk on the floor. A bounce. A skid. And his momentum ceases.


His bandages fall from his body, charred, shredded, still smoldering, as steam rises from his skin and the smell of burnt hair lingers, acrid and thick, in the air. It's clear that he has suffered a terrible beating, as the rigors of this combat have created fresh shades of blue, purple and red over top of faded greens and jaundiced yellows from previously healing bruises.

"Well... at least I know you're going to do well in the tournament..."

Robert's punches are all the retort he needs -- for as soon as they land, the Italian is grinning ear-to-ear. Yeah, he's totally seeing Ryo's face as his accumulated chi is channeled into his practiced sequence of punches and kicks -- culminating in the uppercut that follows afterwards.

Robert's landing on the dojo floor is... a bit more graceful than Ryo's. As he turns back to face the Kyokugen Dragon, the playboy scion of the Garcia Foundation pauses to straighten his collar. It might be a bit ridiculous for him to be worried about his silk shirt when half of it has been scorched to hell and back, but that's part of the Garcia charm at work!

He shakes off his left arm -- still a mess of singed skin and charred silk fibers -- and settles back into his loose stance as he smirks back at Ryo.

"Pfft, we're -both- gonna do great, Ryo! But if that's your way of asking for mercy, I suppose I shouldn't make your injuries any worse..."

Robert keeps his distance, but for the moment he doesn't immediately resume the assault -- after all, this is a friendly spar, not a life-or-death battle!

"You gonna be a'ight over there?"

COMBATSYS: Robert takes no action.

[                      \\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////                   ]
Ryo              1/---====/=======|======-\-------\0           Robert

Ryo brushes himself off, as if sweeping away the dust and grime might actually sweep away the bruises and fractured ribs. He seems to be taking it all in stride. Looking back to his friend and rival, Ryo Sakazaki only lifts up one eyebrow.

"Mercy, Garcia? Do you know what kind of hell we'd catch from my father if he heard us talking about mercy?"

It's good natured. Light hearted. Coupled with another of those grins. His fists ball up, knuckles bleaching white they're clenched so tight, and he lifts them in front of his face in a more traditional fighting stance, almost akin to a boxer. A single upnod is given, a gesture meant to encourage Robert to keep going.

"Kyokugen is about taking everything to the limit and pushing past them. It's nature is the extreme. We don't do mercy, but we're not merciless! I'm only out of the fight when I can't move."

He winks at Robert, and gestures with one hand, beckoning him on. "Come on, pretty boy. Don't keep me waiting."

COMBATSYS: Ryo takes no action.

[                      \\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////                   ]
Ryo              1/---====/=======|======-\-------\0           Robert

Robert smirks in response to the talk about mercy. Sure -- he knows, he knows. But the fact remains that Gato left Ryo in much worse shape than Eiji Kisaragi had left him. And he needed to hear Ryo -say- it before he'd be okay with crossing the line of scrimmage again.

As the Kyokugen instructor goes into his schpiel about taking everything to the limit, Robert is already reaching into his pocket -- not for his cellphone, but for his lucky coin.

The Dragon winks.
And the Tiger responds, by flipping the coin into the air.
Snatching it out of the sky, he slaps it onto the back of his Ko-ou-Ken-charred left hand.
And smiles.

"The odds favor you on this one," he comments, slipping the coin back into his pocket. And as he curls both hands to his hip, he adds: "Just the way I like it!"

His hands glow orange.
And then they glow a brilliant yellow, as energy surges into existence between them.


He slams both hands forward, his right hand high and his left held low.


In an instant, the sphere of energy expands into the size of an umbrella dome. Infused with the sum of his accumulated chi, it races outward -- threatening to slam into Ryo and knock him into the back wall. Though he did hold back -some- of the power -- after all, there's already enough repairs waiting to be carried out here!

COMBATSYS: Ryo blocks Robert's Haohshokoken.

[                         \\\\\  < >  ///////////                   ]
Ryo              1/-======/=======|=------\-------\0           Robert

As soon as Robert says that first part, Ryo knows what's coming. He winces, reflexively, but his broad, powerful shoulders square up, and his defense gets tighter. He has half a mind to go rushing in. To punch through that wall of fiery ki that's going to come at him. Like he had done with his father's own, in their recent bout. Four times, even. But, instead, he simply lifts up his arms and one knee, shielding his face and body from the sheer blunt force trauma of the Kyokugen dojos trademarked ki blast of overcompensation +5.

It washes over him, blasting off whatever remnants of a shirt and bandages still clung to him after the Ryuuko Ranbu that he had endured, and leaving Ryo Sakazaki standing their as ribbons, sparks, and motes of discorprated ki erupt around him, dissipating into the ether before hitting the ground. Steam rises off of his fists, his shoulders, and from his wild mane of unruly blonde hair. From over his knuckles, fierce cobalt eyes bore holes through Robert, boring directly into his spirit.

"That was a good one!"

The Kyokugen Dragon launches forward, full tilt sprinting at Robert across the dojo. His feet pound a rapid cadence on the matted floors, like the sound of a thunderous taiko drum.


As he closes in on the Tiger, he skids sideways on his feet, taking on a traditional karate back stance. He pulls back his right fist against his side once more, and pivots at his hip at the last moment as he thrusts it forward.


That punch, the ultimate refinement of Ryo's powerful technique, is so ungodly powerful that it parts the air with a sound akin to thunder. Provided that it meets its mark at Robert's solar plexus, it generates enough force to kick up a tunnel of cyclone strength winds to pummel the not-so-sharply-dressed-anymore fighter. And if that weren't enough, all of Ryo's prodigous ki is channeled and funneled through that single strike, coursing not into his sparring partner, but through him, only to explode out of his back like the muzzle flare of a cannon.


COMBATSYS: Robert interrupts Shin Tenchi Haoh Ken EX from Ryo with Ryuuzanshou EX.

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

COMBATSYS: Robert can no longer fight.

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

Robert pulls his hands back, taking in a long, steady breath to recenter himself. Drawing out such a gigantic manifestation of chi takes a lot out of him, after all!
Though, of all the people Robert's ever hurled a Haoh Shokoken at... only the fighters of the Kyokugen Dojo are <insert adjective here> enough to ask for another.

His hands are still glowing orange from the exertion; after a moment he claps his hands together, as if he were dusting off two chalkboard erasers outside. Of the two Kyokugen brothers-in-arms, the Tiger flashes a smirk towards the Dragon -- and a simple response, delivered with raised fists, perfectly primed and ready.

"You know it!"

Ryo charges.
And Robert waits, dropping his shoulders and leaning forward, on the balls of his feet. He knows what -he's- going to do -- all that remains to be seen is what his longtime training partner does.

And as soon as he skids on the floor, it becomes obvious.
The fact that he's calling his shot helps, too.

The singularly impressive punch -- the ultimate refinement of Ryo Sakazaki's form -- slams forward.
And in nearly synchronous fashion, Robert Garcia leans backward.
Not from the impact of the strike -- but rather, -aided- by the impact of the strike, bending the brutal linearity of the Kyokugen Dragon's strike into a quite different vector...


Robert feels his vest buttons popping off, the garment splitting at the hem.
He feels his bones shudder, a tremor that threatens to break his ribcage in half.
And he leans back -with- such calamitous, unstoppable force, allowing his waist to be the axis upon which he rotates.
Robert's chest swells, his shoulders and arms rock back -- and he -backflips-.

Ryo will feel it at roughly the same moment -- the knee lifting into his upper chest, the toe of Robert's shoe cracking against his thigh -- a powerful backflipping kick that serves to redirect the might of -both- fighters into one mighty vertical spin.

It would not -- could- not have been as hard if Ryo had not put all of his might into that strike. Only through -both- efforts, could the attack have been so mighty...

And yet -- the backflip has to end sometime.

The fighters separate in midair, as the net sum of Robert's rotational kick is finally conveyed upon Ryo.

And Robert finds himself flipping back to the floor, landing unsteadily on his hands -- attempting with only minimal success to twist his hips so that he lands on one thigh rather than his more vulnerable kneecaps.

"Oooorgh..." he laments from his new vantage spot, sprawled out upon the dojo floor.
His ponytail flops down a few moments later.
Followed by the buttons of his vest, which bounce haplessly and chaotically around the floor.

"... yeah... yeah, I'd say we're... about ready for that tournament, haha..."

He sounds -exhausted-.
But in a good way.
With laughter imminent.
If only he didn't need that breath to -breathe- after such a punishing onslaught.

Perfect moments in time do not happen often. Moments where the stars align, soulmates cross paths, and cats and dogs live together in perfect harmony. These moments, in the infinite span of time, only happen in the rarest of circumstances. They encapsulate some hidden truth to the universe, pulling back the veil of revelation through means of serendipity and happenstance.

This was such a moment.

A fraction of a second. A freeze frame where the truth of these two warriors stands, frozen forever, revealed for all the world to see. The Kyokugen Dragon, wreathed in golden fire as his fist drives into the chest of the Tiger. The Tiger, unwilling to admit defeat, but submitting to the force given, relenting to its power and accepting of it, so that it is therefore channeled and received rather than resisted and shattering. The Tiger's kick, his knee driven deep into the chest of the Dragon, who, in turn, buckles around it, the wall that breaks when the waves crash against it. Two opposing forces. The Dragon and embodiment of Yang, and the Tiger an embodiment of Yin. If but for a moment.

But as all moments must, this moment, too, passes, and the stars come out of alignment. The destined lovers pass one another by on the street. The dog sniffs the cat's butt too long and gets a claw to the snout. And life presses on.

In the Kyokugen Dojo, Dragon and Tiger are both sent flying. Robert to his clumsy flip to skid onto his side. Ryo to land heavily on his back, bounce once and land on his stomach.


Face down on the floor, Ryo Sakazaki's fingers tense, pressing down onto the floor like he's trying to dig in and clamp on. The rippling, densely corded muscles in the tree trunks he calls arms tense and tremble. He tries to push himself up, but decides better of it. Instead, he contents himself to flopping over, onto his back.

Robert's commentary about their readiness brings forth another smile from the blonde fighter. Ryo is too busy gulping in air to try to respond verbally. Instead, he just slowly inches one hand up, shakey, but sure. His fist clenches on last time, and he extends his thumb upwards.

COMBATSYS: Ryo takes no action.

COMBATSYS: Ryo can no longer fight.

Log created on 09:43:18 01/15/2018 by Robert, and last modified on 09:52:40 01/25/2018.