Description: The list of final candidates in Wolfgang Krauser's tournament has been released at last. Rather than seeking out his rival Rugal Bernstein immediately, the Ikari Commander known only as 'Heidern' realizes that he is not yet ready to face such a ruthless foe in his current state. Better first to test himself against a man with both skill AND honour - and among the top-ranking competitors, one name stands out above all others: the former World Warrior and Ansatsuken master, Ryu.
The first 24 hours after Heidern received his digital wristwatch were spent analyzing the list of competitors stored within the device, and plotting a course of action.
Considering his history with Rugal Bernstein, one might have assumed that the Ikari CO would make a run directly at the man who murdered his family... or perhaps use Adelheid Bernstein as a way to send a message to the boy's father.
But the mercenary was never one to give into his emotions; and there could be no mistaking the fact that beginning this affair by attacking the Lord of Battle could very well end in Heidern's death, considering the fact that he had spent the past month resting and recuperating from the wounds and radiation poisoning inflicted in his battle against the Justice Gear on Mt. Fuji.
No, to charge into battle against such a ruthless, brutal foe could end in tragedy. He had no intention to let Rugal's crimes go unanswered, but he is also wise enough to know that - in his current state - he would pose little threat to the tyrant.
He must first hone his skills, against a more honourable foe. And in this regard, only one name on the list of candidates /truly/ stood out.
Ryu, the Wanderer... and a former World Warrior, as well. A worthy opponent, one who would not hold back - but who would not go for the killing blow against a fellow fighter, either.
An unbreakable weapon, to sharpen himself against.
Despite being hunted by the Novus Orbis Librarium, the United Nations, and independent bounty hunters across the world, the Ikari Warriors were still capable of deploying their soldiers anywhere on the globe at short notice.
And the wristwatches provided by Wolfgang Krauser made tracking down an opponent an easy matter. They were not entirely accurate, but gave a general vicinity where any competitor within the tournament might be found.
It is this device that has led Commander Heidern to a small Shinto shrine in a forest clearing. Having airdropped into the region several kilometers away, the trenchcoat-clad mercenary traveled quickly through the woods - always keeping an eye out for potential ambushes... second nature, at this point.
Breaking through the brush and into the clearing, he catches sight of the shrine a short distance away. His eye narrows and scans down to the watch secured around his right wrist...
...Ryu must be /somewhere/ in the area. And with him, his first test in this tournament - and his first step towards exacting revenge upon Rugal Bernstein.
Thanks to the wonders of technology, Ryu is not as hard to find as he normally could be. Heidern's watch leads him more or less there. The World Warrior can be found in front of the offering box, sitting in what can only be a pose of meditation.
A faint breeze sweeps through the clearing, and if triggered by that wind, Ryu's own watch gives a faint series of beeps. He looks at the device quizzically for a moment, then over his shoulder. He rises to his feet.
"A strange breeze today," Ryu comments as he pulls himself to his full height. "To bring me such an interesting guest. You must be Heidern," the man says. "Are you here to test yourself?
COMBATSYS: Ryu has wandered into a fight here.
His remaining eye falling upon the form of Ryu, Heidern stops at the very edge of the clearing... he watches carefully as the man turns and faces him, listening to the words offered and nodding slightly at that question, before responding.
"An accurate assessment," states the Ikari CO firmly - voice calm and level as he brings the heels of his boots clicking together, standing tall and straight as his trenchcoat billows in breeze.
Hands remain in the pocket of his coat, as the analytical gaze of the mercenary travels up and down the frame of the Legend standing before him. For a man so practiced at discovering weaknesses within his opponents, he finds /none/ in the stance or bearing of Ryu.
He had truly expected no less; one does not achieve the title of 'World Warrior' - to say nothing of his victories since then - without being a perfect fighting machine.
"The rankings Krauser has provided us with..." he begins, before trailing off for a moment, pulling his hands out of his pockets and tugging on the ends of his leather gloves - one at a time.
"Your name stood out as the one with both skill /and/ honour. The perfect weapon, upon which to practice my own abilities... I have been fighting wars - real wars - for so long now, but this tournament is something else entirely. Not a war as I know it, but a true battle - between worthy competitors, fought with no weapons but one's own fists, and spirit."
One hand shoots out, palm up, towards Ryu - fingers curling inwards in a beckoning gesture as the Ikari CO stands at full attention.
"Do me the honour; I have not faced a man of your caliber in some time. I must be ready, when I meet the one I have joined this tournament to face."
COMBATSYS: Heidern has joined the fight here.
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Heidern 0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0 Ryu
"I am certain I am not the only such warrior," Ryu demures. "But I /am/ the one you sought out." Ryu strides down the steps, throwing a pair of slow and alternating cross-punches to start the blood flowing.
Once he is on the ground he settles into his fighting stance: right hand at chin level, left at the waist with a slightly forward lean. He bounces lightly on the balls of his feet before launching in toward Heidern.
The approach is a fine balance between speed and caution, as his left hand snaps up to throw a quick punch aimed at Heidern's eyepatch. Seems the Wanderer want to give Heidern a good test of his defenses!
COMBATSYS: Heidern blocks Ryu's Medium Punch.
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Heidern 0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0 Ryu
Above Heidern's one eye, a brow is raised in mild shock at the man's humble attitude. It's true, he is not the only honourable, capable fighter amongst the contestants for this year's World Warrior... but in the Top 5, he stands as the sole warrior - aside from this mysterious 'Jubei', who Heidern had no information about - who could be called anything other than a 'villain' or 'monster'.
He certainly was not going to approach Geese Howard or Akuma to test his skills in a first match; for failure against /either/ of those men could easily mean death.
And he is not so proud as to believe he is honestly prepared to face Rugal Bernstein yet... this will be the first battle since his encounter against the Justice Gear - or rather, his first battle against an opponent of greater skill than himself.
Who can say how much the radiation poisoning and wounds inflicted by that walking nuclear weapon have actually affected his body?
"Of course," states Heidern, as he moves into his own combat stance - one hand held in front of his body, fingers curling and uncurling rhythmically as he anticipates Ryu's opening attack.
As the Wanderer lunges in, the Ikari CO's keen eye is still scanning the man for any visible flaws in his motions, any sign of overly exerting himself, or leaving an opening for a counter-attack.
"And yet, your name is Legend - whether you wish it to be or not. Surely I am not the first one to seek you out, for this tournament? I can think of nobody better to test my skills against."
But one would not reach the heights that Ryu has, if he were anything less than perfect in battle. There is no opening for a counter-attack - not without gathering more information first, at any rate - nor does his attack lack the proper caution against a soldier as legendary as Heidern himself.
It's obvious there is some mutual respect, if nothing else.
The mercenary's right arm comes up and blocks the Ansatsuken master's fist, the impact rattling his limb although it remains firm. Underneath the sleeve of his olive-green uniform, a bruise is already forming from that one strike alone.
Rather than backing off and resuming his analysis of the man's fighting style, Heidern reaches out with two hands, one attempting to grip Ryu by the shoulder, the other aiming for the waist of his gi... should his grip stick, the Ikari CO attempts to suplex his opponent into the ground underfoot.
COMBATSYS: Heidern successfully hits Ryu with Critical Drive.
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Heidern 0/-------/------=|===----\-------\0 Ryu
Ryu is slammed to the ground back first with an impressive impact. He rolls away quickly, regaining his feet with a light spring to his movements. "Actually," Ryu admits, "You are the first one to approach me in this tournament.
Ryu steps in once more, throwing a sharp left hook at Heidern's ribcage before firing a lightning-fast right straight at Heidern's face. "Honestly," he says, "I am grateful for this opportunity."
COMBATSYS: Ryu successfully hits Heidern with Joudan Nirengeki.
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Heidern 0/-------/----===|===----\-------\0 Ryu
Rolling back to his own feet, Heidern isn't shocked to find that his opponent has regained their footing as quickly as he himself has - he would expect nothing less from a former World Warrior.
The Ikari CO widens his stance in preparation for Ryu's next assault, but the Ansatsuken practitioner doesn't give him any time to anticipate the next blow.
His arms are moving down to block the swift punch aimed at his ribs; but he moves too slowly for the Japanese man, the fist landing on his ribcage with a brutal impact that shoves the lanky mercenary backwards.
Before he's able to find his footing again, the straight punch cracks him in the jaw - snapping his head back viciously and sending a small spurt of blood out of his mouth and flying through the air.
He stumbles backwards several feet, long stride carrying him away from Ryu as quickly as he can manage - attempting to put some distance between himself and the almost impossibly fast fighter he has come here to challenge.
Finally, his boots dig into the earth once more, as he steadies himself and sweeps one gloved palm diagonally downwards, from chest level, to rest at his side.
"You do not disappoint, Ryu. Then again, I hardly expected you would."
Heidern's remaining eye narrows sharply, staring at his opponent from some distance away - fingers of both hands curling in towards their palms, as his stance shuffles back and forth... that analytical gaze moves up and down the gi-clad body of his foe.
Searching for some sign, some hint of how he could possibly best a man this skilled and practiced. The Ikari CO's own experience leans more towards the battlefield than the world of professional fighters.
Adjustments must be made, if he is to have any hope of defeating Rugal Bernstein when they finally meet.
COMBATSYS: Heidern narrows his eye dramatically!!!
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Heidern 0/-------/----===|===----\-------\0 Ryu
Ryu bounces lightly on his feet, watching Heidern for a moment. The man is obviously here to learn, to observe, to weigh himself against the Wanderer. But he's being passive at the moment.
The World Warrior leaps towards the Ikari Warrior, twisting at the waist and turning an almost piroette before lashing out with one leg to kick Heidern's head once, then twice, then three times! "TATSUMAKI SEMPUU KYAKU!"
COMBATSYS: Heidern counters Tatsumaki Senpuu Kyaku from Ryu with Killing Bringer.
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Heidern 0/-------/--=====|=====--\-------\0 Ryu
Perhaps the greatest advantage that the mercenary General has in his repertoire is his keen analytical ability, learned and honed through decades on the battlefield... spotting weaknesses in enemy formations, detecting ambushes and traps laid for himself and his men, finding the easiest way in and out of a secure location...
...though his usual applications of such a skill are different - in theory - than what one must look for in a one on one fight against a trained opponent, they are not entirely dissimilar in practice.
Learning how an enemy moves when they are preparing to attack, their motions when they are attempting to bait an assault, the micro-expressions that give away the slightest hint of their true intentions... mastering such things have served Heidern well, both on the field of battle and in single combat.
There can be no question that Ryu is quicker, stronger, and a more experienced fighter.
But the soldier he faces has his own tricks, as well - and there is little doubt that his perception, even with one eye, is second to none.
The first kick is leveled at his head, and one of Heidern's arms snap up in a blinding flash - grabbing him by the ankle and tossing the Ansatsuken master up into the air with a grunt of effort.
That other hand, leveled out into a flat palm, is sent thrusting up at Ryu's midsection as he begins to fall back towards the earth. Gloved fingertips strike the Japanese man in the gut, the force behind the lunging strike - combined with the downward momentum of his fall - drive the digits into the man's stomach, likely piercing his iron-like skin.
Holding that position for just a fraction of a second, the Ikari CO swings his arm to the side, looking to send his opponent spiralling away from his position.
Ryu lets out a gasp of pain as Heidern buries his hand into the Wanderer's stomach. The added injury of being flung by that wound did not help matters, as blood spirals from the Warrior's body in his flight. Ryu takes a ragged breath, righting himself even as he is falling, getting his feet under him even as he cups his hands by his right hip. Azure light crackles between his fingers and palms as he takes another breath.
Blood starts to soak into his gi even as the man thrusts open hands towards Heidern. The Ikari CO wanted a legend? Well, here is another one in the form of a luminescent globe of pure chi that comes screaming towards the mercenary!
COMBATSYS: Heidern blocks Ryu's Hadouken+.
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Heidern 0/-------/-======|======-\-------\0 Ryu
The moment the blazing chi begins to form between the palms of Ryu, the Ikari CO is almost certainly aware of what to expect. One of the trademark techniques of Ansatsuken, known far and wide for it's effectiveness in battle; the Hadouken.
And so it comes, crackling and burning the air around it as the projectile flies with great speed towards the mercenary. Too fast for him to evade it entirely; and yet his keen senses have given him enough warning to, at the very least, lessen the impact.
A quick spin on the heels of his boots turns Heidern's body 360-degrees - his olive-green trenchcoat sliding off of his shoulders as he completes the twirl. The article of clothing is picked up by a sudden breeze, to go flying off into the distance - settling onto the ground at the edge of the clearing, where it meets the thick woods of the forest.
Lifting both his arms in a cross pattern in front of his body, a blue energy of his own covers the mercenary's two limbs. The Hadouken strikes the soldier's sleeves, his heels - dug deep into the earth - sliding back several feet from the shockwave of force that the projectile carries with it.
Once the blast unleashed by Ryu dissipates along the chi-covered limbs of the General, he drops his arms back to his side and offers a slight nod across the distance towards the Japanese man.
No words are offered, as Heidern is clearly deep in focus and thought - knowing that the slightest drop in his guard could mean disaster in a battle against such a capable foe. Instead, he simply brings his arms whipping back up, yet again, to form that cross shape in front of his own torso.
And with that motion, an 'X' shaped blast of his own chi is sent hurtling through the air towards his foe. Though his own 'Cross Cutter' technique is less legendary than Ryu's famed projectile, it may prove to be no less dangerous in such a heated battle.
COMBATSYS: Heidern successfully hits Ryu with Cross Cutter.
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Heidern 1/-------/=======|=======\=------\1 Ryu
Ryu brings his arms down jut in time to get pasted by Heidern's response, and is sent tumbling back several feet before skidding to a halt in a low crouch. This has been an intense fight, a difficult fight.
But not one he intends to lose, either. He pulls himself upright, and takes a deep breath and a moment to feel at the wound in his stomach. Painful, messy, nothing critical, though. The World Warrior nods once to Heidern in recognition and waits for the next gambit.
COMBATSYS: Ryu gains composure.
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Heidern 1/-------/=======|=======\=------\1 Ryu
One might assume that Heidern, a man in his 50s, might already be tiring out after unleashing so many vicious, forceful techniques in a row, without much pause to catch his breath. Yet, for a man his age - any age, for that matter - he has an almost endless reserve of stamina at his command. Another ability learned after years spent in the field, surviving on very little food or rest in the middle of extended operations.
Yet another soldiering skill that has been adapted to serve him well in single combat.
A few quick, steadying breaths are all that is needed - after unleashing his Cross Cutter - to fend off any signs of fatigue or overexertion. And then, he dashes back into action - as his foe pulls himself back to his feet and awaits his approach.
He moves quickly, trying to press the attack while Ryu regains his composure... attempting to utilize a own relentless offensive to keep his skilled opponent reacting, rather than giving him the opportunity to mount a fresh assault of his very own.
It may be his only hope against the former World Warrior; keep him on the defense, keep him from fully focusing his abilities to launch an attack on the mercenary.
Lanky limbs carry him in long strides across the grass of the clearing, towards the Ansatsuken master. Reaching striking distance, the Ikari CO plants the tread of one boot into the ground as firmly as he can, twisting his body to send the other leg up in the air - before crashing down at his opponent in an overhead axe kick.
COMBATSYS: Heidern successfully hits Ryu with Steiner Gale.
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Heidern 1/------=/=======|=======\====---\1 Ryu
Ryu doesn't make assumptions based on age, really. Master Gouken kept the Ansatsuken fighter on his toes right up until the Master's seeming death. Ryu crumples under the axe kick, dropping to one knee.
He... He will /not/ lose like this. Will /not/ go down like this. The air around Ryu starts to roil a little as he tenses up.
Then the man launches skyward, throwing a massive uppercut aimed at Heidern's jaw with enough force to carry the Wanderer skyward.
COMBATSYS: Ryu successfully hits Heidern with Shoryuken EX.
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Heidern 1/----===/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>---\1 Ryu
His opponent drops to one knee; and against any other opponent, Heidern might assume he has the upper hand... but Ryu's resolve is legendary, even among those who do not consider themselves 'professional fighters'. The Ikari CO is attempting to bring his leg back down as quickly as possible - hoping to put some fresh distance between himself and the wandering warrior...
...but before he's even able to press that second foot back into the dirt, his foe is rising again - and not simply to stand back up to his feet, but to /explode/ upwards in a sudden surge of energy.
The man's remaining eye widens in shock, a nanosecond before the uppercut sends him skywards - with Ryu's own body following. His neck snapping back, accompanied with a fresh spray of blood from his parted mouth, the mercenary finds himself hurtling back through the air - spinning head over heels from the impressive force of the initial blow.
Heidern strikes the ground several meters back, rolling along grassy clearing before gradually coming to a stop - utilizing the final seconds of the roll's momentum to halt in a three-point crouch, one gloved hand pressed against the earth to steady himself.
Black hair whips in the breeze - his beret lost during the Shoryuken's impact - as his free arm comes up to wipe away a steady stream of blood oozing out from his mouth, now twisted into a vague scowl as he stains that olive coloured material crimson.
He should have expected no less; the Japanese man was famed for such impressive feats in battle, particularly when things were turning against him. It was only a fraction of the power he unleashed upon the Muay Thai Emperor Sagat... fortunately for Heidern, as even that massive kickboxer had barely survived the true strength of the Shoryuken technique.
Lunging back into action, the mercenary rises out of his crouched position into a full-on dash towards Ryu... but rather than assault him directly with a physical attack, he stops short of the Ansatsuken master and sweeps both long arms upwards through the air - a sudden pillar of blue chi exploding out of the ground underneath Ryu's position.
COMBATSYS: Ryu blocks Heidern's Caliburn.
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Heidern 0/-------/-----==|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>-\1 Ryu
Ryu's eyes go wide as the ground around him starts to glow with light, immediately going on the defensive, gathering his own ki around him into a barrier around him to ward off the Caliburn. Steam wisps off of Ryu's body as he brings his arms down to regard Heidern.
The older man has burned through a lot of his reserves, and Ryu is having a difficult time keeping his feet. His hands drop back to his hip, the globe of force gathering as he pulls in some of the stray energy from the dying Caliburn into it. "My turn," Ryu says. "SHIIINNNKUUUUU"
More energy gathers, the grass around Ryu going brown as he pulls in still more energy. The globe grows and swells. Then he launches the sphere of energy at Heidern. "HADOOOOOUUUKEEEENNN!"
COMBATSYS: Heidern dodges Ryu's Shinkuu Hadouken.
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Heidern 0/-------/-----==|>>>>>>>\>>>----\1 Ryu
The first crack in Heidern's neutral demeanor appears when his pillar of energy is absorbed by Ryu's sudden barrier; a small grunt of frustration, accompanied by a frown that passes across his previously impassive face - for just an instant, before it's gone.
After all, he has little time to concern himself with such things, when he is in so close to such a dangerous opponent. When those hands drop back down to the Japanese man's hip, Heidern can guess what is about to come flying his way - even before hearing the shout that comes along with it.
It seems like the Ansatsuken master is beginning to kick things into overdrive, and a wrong move from either man could easily mean a swift end to the battle. They must both operate at peak performance, lest they be struck down in a moment by the other.
Adrenaline pours through the Ikari CO's veins as he feels the gathering of chi between his opponent's palms, easily eclipsing the energy gathered for the previous Hadouken technique...
...but when the Shinkuu Hadouken flies towards him - burning the air with it's blue blaze - the mercenary isn't there. Rolling to the side in a flash of movement that is nothing short of impressive for a man his age and size, Heidern rises back to his feet by Ryu's side.
There is little time for anything fancy on his part here, still trying to regain his footing - but unwilling to pull back and attempt to compose himself, for fear of what his opponent might do with such space and time to prepare a fresh attack.
So, rather than anything flashy, he simply lunges forward with a swift, right-hook aimed towards Ryu's jaw.
COMBATSYS: Ryu fails to counter Medium Punch from Heidern with Tesshin.
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COMBATSYS: Ryu can no longer fight.
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Ryu is already moving, his left arm snapping up to catch the incoming punch, the thrust punch from the right already being chambered. Courses are set.
Heidern's punch slips Ryu's guard and slams into the Warrior's jaw with a thunderous crack. Ryu's eyes go out of focus as his knees go out from under him. The man considered a legend drops like a stone, the air around him going silent after breezing away.
The Wanderer does not stand, does not make any move to take one last strike. Heidern can tell that the man is out like a light.
The force of the impact travels up Heidern's arm, rattling the bones in that long limb as his fist impacts Ryu's jaw at full-speed. No doubt the man hadn't expected him to evade the large area of the Shinkuu Hadouken's blast...
Stepping backwards as the Japanese man tumbles to the ground, his one eye remains narrowed on the man's form for several seconds - half-expecting him to rise again and carry on the fight... when that doesn't occur, the General's shoulders fall in a display of noticeable relaxation at this turn of events.
Though he did his best to not display it, his own stamina was rapidly dwindling from the exertion of his own techniques - and weathering the assault thrown his way by the Ansatsuken master. It is fortunate for him that the fight ended when it did, lest the younger man's resolve carry him to victory.
A stern nod is offered to his fallen opponent, along with a grunt of approval; the man is a warrior, not a soldier, so a salute would be entirely inappropriate in this situation... nor if Heidern one for bowing, even towards individuals he has genuine respect for.
That inclination of his head is the only sign of appreciation he offers, and he can tell it is lost entirely on Ryu in his current state.
Taking a step towards his beret, laying on the grass several meters away, the Ikari CO suddenly grimaces with pain and clutches his chest as he attempts to bend down to grasp it... no doubt his ribcage is bruised, bordering on cracked, from the impact of that devastating Shoryuken.
Quickly exhaling a sharp breath, the mercenary simply grits his teeth together and forces himself to reach down and collect his beret - fitting it atop his black hair with a downward tug.
Several steps in another direction, and he collects his olive-green trenchcoat... rather than put it back on with a flourish - his current physical state not allowing such things - he drapes it over his shoulders, leaving his arms out of the sleeves for the time being.
A final glance is shot towards the fallen Wanderer, as Heidern keeps one gloved palm pressed against the center of his chest.
Did he get lucky? Regardless of how this fight turned out, he knows he is not yet ready to face Rugal Bernstein... but who might he challenge next, to test his abilities?
He will have to return to the Ikari Headquarters and ponder his next move... at least now he knows, he is still capable of fighting as he once did.
Swiftly turning on his heels, the soldier begins to stride - as quickly as his exhausted, injured frame can travel - out of the clearing, disappearing into the thick forest that surrounds the Shrine.
Log created on 17:50:48 02/04/2018 by Heidern, and last modified on 15:36:13 02/05/2018.