World Warrior 2018 - World Warrior Round 1 - Baiken vs Ryo

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Description: Baiken and Ryo's World Warrior bracket matches begin with a bang. (Not literally. This time.) Who will come out on top?

The World Warrior competition is a place for the best of the best to show off what they can do. Just being in the top sixteen is a prestige granted to few; placing at all makes you a person to watch, a star of the fighting community, and undoubtably one of the most impressive fighters to currently grace the planet.

Baiken doesn't care.

She's not here for the fame, or even the fortune, though what Krauser is offering intrigued her for several reasons. Not that she's sure she needs it, but she'd like to see what it is. No, Baiken is here for the training. The practice. The ability to challenge people of her skill - and, yes, her superior - and push herself as far as she can be pushed.

She's doing it, ultimately, for herself. Nobody else.

Which is why it doesn't bother Baiken that there's no audience here; she knows it's being broadcast and ultimately the audience is bigger than it has ever been before for her, but she doesn't have to think about it, or play for the crowd, which she hates doing anyway. The only person she has to think about is her opponent.

She looks bored while she waits, but isn't; she's tense, her anticipation at a fever pitch. Part of her wants a drink to take the edge off, though Baiken has decided not to do that. Nor is she smoking. She's just... there, barely moving, single eye half-closed as a breeze catches her empty sleeve and makes it billow.

The World Warrior Tournament is the place to be, if you want to have your name be recognized across the globe as one of the most elite fighters in the annals of history. The glory and recognition for just making it alone is enough to turn a fighter into a household name. It can bring with it licensing deals, sponsorships, and any number of other opportunities that most fighters would never have a chance to see. And truth is that most, much like Baiken, do not care.

Ryo Sakazaki is not one of those people. He cares. He cares a lot.

He has a perpetually struggling dojo to worry about and maintain. A family to provide for. Money. He needs all the money, and it seems like his destiny is a series of breaks and busts that loop infinitely. Perhaps now, with both he and Robert Garcia bringing Kyokugen into the forefront here at the tournament, that cycle can finally be broken. Maybe... just maybe, he can secure his family's future in one fell swoop. All he has to do is give it his best.

But, in truth, he is far more similar to Baiken than might be seen on the surface. Because at the end of the day, he's also doing this for himself. Kyokugen is an art that demands constant pushing. The very name itself suggests that it is an extreme style, and the core principle truth of it is to break all limits that one has by pushing things to the extreme in every facet of the practitioner's life. He is here to push and be pushed. To test his limits, find them, and break them down. He's here to grow stronger.

He comes walking out, the Invincible Dragon of Kyokugen. Mr. Karate II. Ryo Sakazaki. He doesn't look like much. He's not a flashy dresser. In fact, he's opted to wear a very simple outfit for this particular match. A plain, black gi. The sleeves are rolled up neatly, around his elbows. On the left side of his chest, where the gi folds over the other side, is emblazoned the kanji crest of the Kyokugen dojo. On his hands are a pair of weighted, reinforced gauntlets in black. His feet are bare, and the obi around his waist bears the markings of his ranking of mastery within the school. In short, Ryo Sakazaki might, to an untrained eye, seem like a boring, every day karateka, found in every mall across the world.

But to those who know what they are looking at when they gaze upon a fighter, they'll see more. They'll see the glint of fire held in the depths of his cobalt eyes. They'll see the determination in the square set of his stubble lined jaw. They'll see the proud and strong bearing of a warrior tried and tested through countless battles in the way he holds himself, and the surety of his gait.

And then they'll see the surprise when he sees his opponent. The color in his cheeks. The nervousness as he reaches up to scratch the back of an unruly mane of blonde hair. The timidness as he lets loose an uneasy laugh, and lifts one hand to wave.

"Uh, hey there," he says, his voice deep, and masculine, but not so gravelly as to deny him the youth of his actual years. "You must be my opponent today. I wasn't expecting someone... uh... right. So... are you ready?"

While Baiken has no use for fame, the same isn't quite true for fortune.

Money is good. Even Baiken needs money; travelling isn't free, even if it's not always her footing the bill, and searching for That Man requires her to travel. Money is a means to meet her goals rather than an end in and of itself. And Baiken, having no useful skills to trade besides her talents as a monster hunter and a warrior, gets her money by bloody combat.

It's just not why she accepted Blood's invitation to the World Warrior tournament.

Baiken hears Ryo approach before she sees him, because her eye remains closed. She doesn't need to actually look to know what she's going to see; Ryo is quite famous and she can guess what he's going to be dressed in. (As it turns out she guessed the colour wrong, because her memory is a little out of date and she remembers seeing him in orange.)

Though Baiken wasn't smoking, she did have a long strand of grass between her lips. She spits it out as Ryo approches just as the wind gusts, catching it and blowing it away, behind her somewhere. Then her eye opens as she looks up at the man. He's taller than her, but pretty much everyone around here is taller than her; she's used to it. The eye narrows, a moment later, in irritation.

"You weren't expecting what," she says, her voice flat enough that it's more of a statement than a question. "Whatever it is, you're stuck with me."

Baiken switches her stance; from a lazy or at least relaxed standing position to a more directly combative stance. She angles the left side of her body - the one with an arm - toward Ryo, not quite standing sideways but certainly angled. She never precisely indicates she's ready, and she doesn't draw her sword, but the set of her body, the way she holds herself - all of that proclaims that she is not only ready but willing to fight at any moment.

"Oh... uh," Ryo says, and he averts his eyes for a moment. His thick brows come crashing down over his nose, and he frowns. "You're just... Prettier than I had imagined. I've only really met one person who was as strong as they were good looking before."

Looking back to her, Sakazaki seems to have a moment of internal panic, before he blurts out, "That doesn't mean that I'm disappointed and it certainly doesn't mean I'm going to hold back, either!"

Seeing her take her stance, the awkwardness almost visibly bleeds right out of him, though. There's a grim fierceness that settles in over his features as he looks her over. His eyes fall on her sword, and then lift up to meet her one-eyed stare. He doesn't seem thrilled about the idea of facing yet another fighter who relies on steel over their fist, but then, this is the World Warrior tournament. He should expect to be tested against all forms of combat. So it must be.

"I hope that you aren't going to try to kill me with that sword of yours," he says, as he hooks his thumbs into his obi, at either side of the knot, and rolls his shoulders out while craning his neck from side to side, creating a series of dull, wet snaps from his vertebrae. "I have no intention of fighting to the death here."

He slides one foot forward in the dirt, until he's adopted a wide legged, very formal and traditional karate kokutsu dachi back stance, where most of his weight rests on his back leg, with the knee sharply bent, and his forward leg barely so. His hips are turned, facing towards her, but aligned perfectly with his legs, and his back is straight. His arms extend out before him, hands open like two meaty, grasping paws waiting to get themselves locked around her and never let go. But then, he beckons her on with a curling of his fingers, giving a lopsided, wolfish grin and shouting, "ORA!! ORAAA!!!"

COMBATSYS: Baiken has started a fight here.

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Baiken           0/-------/------=|

Baiken's expression is... Well, she's unimpressed by Ryo's admission, let's leave it at that. She also seems content to let him dig himself deeper by blurting out a follow-up without interruption. She does not seem amused.

"Pathetic," she says, eventually. "At least /try/ to keep your mind on fighting."

She rests her hand on her sword's hilt when Ryo mentions it, though she still doesn't draw it. "If you don't want to be killed, fight harder. If you're not ready to put everything on the line, you don't belong on a battlefield. If you're afraid, I'll accept your surrender any time you like... though Krauser may not."

Despite the words, Baiken is not out for Ryo's blood. She's not going to be specifically trying to kill him... but she's not going to specifically be trying /not/ to, either. She isn't going to hold back in a battle like this, and if he's not good enough to avoid being cut down, that's not her problem.

But it looks like he's willing to fight, and her lips curl up in what might be amusement; with Baiken it's sometimes hard to tell. She gives him a slight nod, shifting her weight slightly. She's about to fight, but restraining herself for the few seconds until the sign to begin -

And there it is. A bell. Of course it's a bell.

As soon as Baiken hears it, even before its echoes fade away, she's moving. She rushes toward Ryo, and though he might be expecting her to draw the sword and strike with it, what she /actually/ does is deliver a solid punch; after her rush, she pivots on her foot, delivering a high blow toward his face in a slightly hooked arc. It seems natural, given her balance and lack of another arm to block with, to put her entire body behind the blow, and that's exactly what she does.

COMBATSYS: Ryo has joined the fight here.

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Ryo              0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0           Baiken

COMBATSYS: Ryo just-defends Baiken's Power Strike!

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Ryo              0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0           Baiken

"...So. You're one of those types," Ryo mutters, outright rolling his eyes. "You should learn to lighten up. There's no need for all of that hostility. Just because someone isn't trying to fight to the death over a stupid tournament doesn't make them a lesser combatant. That's not just pointless, it's downright stupid to even suggest otherwise."

As she comes rushing in, putting her all into the attack, Ryo looks... well, much as she did when he complimented her. Unimpressed. He stands there as she draws her fist back, and it's only at the very last moment, that his defense snaps into place, as he folds his arms together, and then wrenches them out in opposing directions, with the upper arm deflecting the punch easily off course with the side of his wrist.

"That whole "I'm a tough, no nonsense edgelord who takes a sword to a fistfight" thing is so overwrought that it's not even funny as satire, anymore. I mean, I'm just sayin'."

With that, Ryo open palm, having been chambered into a fist drawn tight against his hip, thrusts outward, with his palm opening up to clutch at an orb of brilliantly glowing orange ki that swirls and roils like a miniature yellow star. That palm rushes forward, aimed directly at Baiken's face with the intention of driving his ki-infused palm with thunderous, pounding force to shatter her nose.


COMBATSYS: Ryo successfully hits Baiken with Ko'oh Ken.

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Ryo              0/-------/------=|====---\-------\0           Baiken

Baiken feels that the punch is bad as soon as it makes contact - before, honestly; she's been doing this a long time - but not so early that she can safely abort the attack. It impacts Ryo's guard harmlessly, and he uses his strength to push away the blow, causing Baiken to take a step to the side to follow it.

She does not rise to his worse, though her nostrils flare and she seems more irritated than she was before. Not enough to start yelling, or at least she doesn't yet, but certainly not pleased. Of course, she could be (and is) annoyed with herself, too. She's supposed to be better than that.

It's not her anger that Ryo takes advantage of to land his own blow, just skill, but that's enough. The sphere of chi, along with Ryo's palm strike, impacts high on Baiken; she managed to turn her head and raise her hand so that he doesn't impact her nose and break it, but instead hits her open hand with enough force to drive it into her own cheek, eliciting a grunt and forcing her to stagger back after the hit. It hurt, but nothing is broken, and she is only stunned for an instant. She'll have a nifty bruise later, though.

What it absolutely does not do is convince Baiken to keep her distance. She's a step or two further away than she'd like to be, so she advances, looking like she's going to charge Ryo again - but this time she darts past him, whirling with a rustle of cloth from her empty sleeve as she circles around him, ending up behind Ryo. She's hoping she managed it fast enough that he couldn't turn to follow her, and she encourages him to remain off balance and out of sorts by driving her foot at his back, a push kick to keep him unsteady.

She still hasn't drawn her sword yet, so maybe Ryo is getting what he wants. Baiken doesn't use it all the time, after all; she has trained herself in a fluid style that is both armed and unarmed, and it's not like she can have her sword in hand if she wants to punch - she doesn't have a spare.

COMBATSYS: Ryo just-defends Baiken's Mawarikomi!

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Ryo              0/-------/------=|=====--\-------\0           Baiken

Ryo had hoped that, perhaps, his attack would knock her out of that surly disposition of hers, if nothing else. She doesn't seem to show any outward sign of that, yet, however. So, the Kyokugen Dragon keeps his gaze steady on her. Intent on reading her movements and her intentions. After all, she did come out with that vague threat of death, and still does have access to that sword. He's not looking forward to having his blood spilled. Again.

"That won't work," he declares, even as she tries to circle around him, and he deftly twists to keep her within his line of sight. Her thrusting kick is intercepted, again. This time, he catches the heel of her foot, holding it for just a brief moment, before thrusting it aside as if he intended to throw her off balance.

"Maybe you don't know who I am," he says, as steps in, his forward foot placing itself between hers, and the bent knee driven in the empty space between her legs, so that, as he steps forward, essentially all of his body and weight is driving into her, while he pivots his hips and trunk, and drives a fist up, aimed at the top of her abdomen, so that, provided he succeeds, his knuckles will drive themselves like a quartet of spiked ridges into the meaty tissue of her solar plexus. With any luck, it will knock the wind from her.

COMBATSYS: Baiken dodges Ryo's Fierce Punch.

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Ryo              0/-------/-------|=====--\-------\0           Baiken

Swords or not, most of these fights end in blood one way or another.

Many men have tried to get Baiken to act less dour or surly. Many men have failed, and it doesn't look like Ryo is going to be the first to manage it either, judging by her expression when her foot is caught; she might have been irritated before, but now she's actually angry, and she has a target to take it out on.

Baiken hops backwards to free her foot from Ryo's grip, and keeps moving when he tries to drive his body into hers. She isn't going to make an easy target of herself if she can help it, and that's one way where her smaller frame is actually an advantage; the knee comes short, as does Ryo's fist. It comes close enough to rustle her mantle, but not to actually impact against her body.

"I know exactly who you are," Baiken growls, landing low. Her hand slides down to her katana's hilt, which is the only warning Ryo has that the next attack is more likely to be armed than unarmed. She draws it and begins to rise all in the same motion, actually leaping into the air to strike high with a rising slash as she does - and as she rises, the edge of the drawn blade begins to shimmer with pink energy, trailing chi behind it like a banner.

She roars as she rises, a wild battle cry: "ORA!"

COMBATSYS: Baiken successfully hits Ryo with Kuchinashi.

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Ryo              0/-------/---====|======-\-------\0           Baiken

Ryo's fist goes wide as Baiken manages to shift back and just out of his target trajectory. His teeth grit, and he backpedals with one sweeping step, unsure of what to expect coming from the one-eyed bandit.

She draws the damned sword.

Ryo brings his hands up, attempting to catch that blade before it leaves its sheath, but he was too late. She unleashes her heavenly slash, the pink colored chi tracing a line that slices through the shirt of his gi. He's lifted off of the ground, as his flesh opens like a zipper, the cut so clean that, for a moment, the blood doesn't even flow.

But it does as he hits the ground. Not that he pays it any mind. No. She's taken this to the next level, and Ryo's lips draw into a snarling rictus, his teeth gritted, as he retaliates in kind.

From his grounded position, the surprisingly deft fighter twists and turns, so that he regains his footing, though in a crouched position. The thick muscles of his thighs flex, and for a moment, he truly does look like a tiger, feral and wild, ready to pounce. His fist clenches to tight that the knuckles bleach white, and the leather of his fingerless gauntlets creaks quietly as it is stretched over them. Suddenly, he leaps, fist lashing out in a vicious uppercut intended to return the favor that she had just dealt onto him.


COMBATSYS: Baiken blocks Ryo's Koho EX.

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Ryo              0/-------/---====|=======\-------\0           Baiken

Baiken is not necessarily more dangerous with her sword in hand. If she was, she'd always fight with it. But it certainly indicates a more aggressive stance than her previous bare-handed combat. Unlike someone wielding a one-handed sword but who has both arms, Baiken does not have a free hand to deflect strikes with, which limits her options somewhat.

Fortunately, Baiken is very good with her sword, and that makes up for her lack. Mostly.

Baiken flicks blood off her sword, if any adhered, as she lands. The pink glow fades after Baiken's strike, but she does not sheath the blade; she keeps it in her hand, held before her, still with her left side presented forward rather than exposing her entire front.

When Ryo comes in toward her, Baiken is ready. She holds her blade parallel to the ground and /catches/ his fist against the flat of the blade. Not perfectly, as it turns out; with only one hand she cannot quite hold him back, but it's enough to absorb the first impact of the blow and to prevent her from being thrown into the sky. The impact still rattles all the way up her arm - she just doesn't go anywhere.

Baiken reacts by pivoting and whipping her empty sleeve at Ryo. It proves not to be so empty after all as a four-fingered 'claw' flies out of it, the fingers arranged in an X pattern; she's thrown it to try to snag him by the upper arm, and if she manages to get ahold of him she yanks, both pulling him off balance and ensuring that he can't get very far at all away from her while the thing is attached.

COMBATSYS: Ryo fails to interrupt Kabari from Baiken with Koho Shippuken.
- Power fail! -

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

Ryo feels his fist smack steel, and he knows that Baiken has managed to deflect the vast majority of his blow. Cursing internally, the Kyokugen fighter lands, crouched and defensive for what comes next.

She shoots a claw on a chain? Who even does that? Someone has seen Ninja Scroll too much. Still, as she launches it, Ryo spins, pivoting on the balls of his feet. As he comes around, full circle, the karateka throws a lunging punch. He's known to use this to great effect, deflecting or even punching through the attacks of his opponents and striking them in return.

But, perhaps because Baiken was attempting to target his arm to begin with, this time, the technique seems to fail him. He's drawn in, off balance, as the claws bite into his flesh, and he's drawn in close.

Baiken has never seen Ninja Scroll, and in fact she's had the claw for longer than it has existed. Perhaps Ninja Scroll has seen her.

Baiken cannot pull with the chain like it was a real arm, as it has no powered joints and is just a length of chain. Instead, she returns her sword to its scabbard so she can grip the slack of the chain with her now-free hand and yank as powerfully as possible, literally pulling Ryo over to her like she was playing some kind of deranged crane game. The claws don't dig into his flesh directly, but clamp around his arm, squeezing uncomfortably and letting her wrench and twist at his arm.

As Ryo gets closer, Baiken shifts her positioning, dropping the slack of the chain and stepping on it so that he gets pulled down instead of over. She's trying to force him to crouch via the clamping claw - which puts him at exactly the right height for her to raise her other foot in a kick directly toward his face, breaking the hold as the 'fingers' open and ideally sending him reeling backwards.

COMBATSYS: Ryo blocks Baiken's Armed Combo.

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Ryo              1/-----==/=======|=======\===----\1           Baiken

Ryo grunts as he's pulled forward, his feet sliding across the ground as he leans his weight back. She's going to have to work to reel him in. He's a mighty big fish. Still, she does manage it, and while she forces him down, it doesn't prevent him from using his other arm to lift up and block the kick that comes afterwards.

Freed from his constraints, the Kyokugen Dragon looks up at the one eyed warrior with a look that could melt steel beams. He rises to his feet, and falls back into a powerful horse stance. His forward facing arm sweeps around, opening his palm, as he mutters, "Ichigeki hissatsu!"

Stepping forward, and driving all of his weight, strength, and momentum into it, he unleashes an ungodly powerful punch. No frills. No flashy technique. Tried and true, simply harnessing every ounce of strength he has in his body to maximum effect through kinetic linking and sheer, determined willpower.

COMBATSYS: Ryo successfully hits Baiken with Tenchi Haoh Ken EX.

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

Baiken performs a shrugging gesture, and the claw, chain and all, vanishes back up her sleeve from whence it came. It doesn't even make a particular lump once it's out of sight, though there is - now that Ryo knows to look for it - a faint bulkiness about her shoulder that speaks of something not quite natural.

Her kick rocked him even if it didn't take him out. Good, she thinks; it would be a shame if it ended too early. Ryo's louder than she is about certain things, and she thinks he's kind of an ass, but he's a good fight, and that's what she's looking for her. (And, if she's being perfectly honest, she's kind of an ass, too.)

Ryo's return strike is picture-perfect. Stellar. It's something you could put in a textbook and feel good about; it flies with perfect accuracy toward the center of Baiken's mass, hitting home with a meaty thump that just /feels/ right in a way familiar to any fighter.

Baiken doesn't fall.

She is propelled backwards by the sheer force of the blow. One meter, two - she ends up going about four meters, but she lands on her feet in a crouch to absorb the impact of her touchdown, sandals digging furrows in the dirt as she skids the last portion of her launch. A pulse of pain spreads throughout her body, intense near the actual impact point against her ribs and a dull painful throb radiating from it.

But she's still up, and she's still fighting. Baiken seems almost energized by the competition when she slams her foot against the ground, flipping up a green chi block that spins lazily through the air. It doesn't reach Ryo, but it flips up another platform, and that one in turn launches a third, and it's /that/ one he has to watch out for; the wave of tiles is a threat taken together, not individually. "TATAMI GAESHI!"

COMBATSYS: Baiken successfully hits Ryo with Sanmai Tatami Gaeshi.

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

As Baiken is sent away from him, the karateka stands there, poised with his fist extended, before crossing his arms, and stomping backwards with a downward blocking motion, and resuming his stance. He doesn't look like he actually expected Baiken to fall after that attack. Rather, he just gives her that intense, fiery stare from across the distance between them.

But what the devil is this?

When she stomps her foot and flips up... is that a bloody tatami mat? And another?

Ryo is still processing just what the hell is going on as he tries to slip out of the way of the last chi-mat as it flips up. It catches him in the stomach, and he buckles around the edge of it, lifted up and toppled over onto his back.

He smacks the ground, and kips up to his feet. Sparing no time, he bum rushes the one armed swordswoman, and unleashes a blitxkrieg of blows. Fists fly, as the Kyokugen Dragon unleashes a brutal flurry. Punches rain down at Baiken from seemingly all directions. A hook, a cross, uppercut. Even a haymaker. Kicks, too. High and low. Shin kicks, and multi-hitting sidekicks. Alternating. Unpredictable and savage. All the while, Ryo shouts, in his deep, masculine voice, "Ora! Ora! Ora! Ora! OraOraOraOraORAORAORA!!! ORAAAAAAA!!!!"

The end of his blazing assault is punctuated with the signature Koho attack of the Kyokugen dojo, sending Ryo flying heavenward with a rising uppercut, and his hulking form corkscrewing in the air.

COMBATSYS: Baiken interrupts Ryuuko Ranbu from Ryo with Sakura.

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

Baiken doesn't wait around for Ryo to act after she's kicked the 'tatami mats' into the air. She reaches for her sword, but it's not just the sword that she grabs; she actually pulls the whole scabbard free and tosses it upward as Ryo approaches her.

The scabbard spins in the air, dropping Baiken's sword into her waiting hand, but the scabbard itself finishes another portion of its rotation, and Baiken catches that too. Having no hand to catch it with, she does something improbably, arguably dumb as anything, but sometimes when you're her you improvise.

Baiken catches the scabbard /in her teeth/.

Looking slightly wild-eyed, she snaps her head to the side, deflecting a blow with the wooden scabbard. It rattles her, but she twists her head the other way, catching a second. A kick sneaks through without defence, rocking Baiken, but by this point she's ready to strike with her bare blade.

Baiken thrusts. Pink chi builds up on the tip of the sword as she does, forming a straight point; the blade itself isn't very suitable for stabbing, since it has a slight curve, but with the addition of the chi it makes an acceptable piercing weapon. She drives it in, the energy building and building before exploding off the blade in a shower of pink flecks that drift like cherry blossoms, interrupting what remains of the onslaught by blowing Ryo away from her.

Baiken has nothing to say. She can't; she's still holding the lacquered scabbard between her teeth in something that looks very similar to a snarl.

Interrupted in his unrelenting assault, Ryo gets blown back, away from Baiken. More wounds open on his body, he clutches at his bleeding midsection, gritting his teeth and staring at her. He's barely keeping himself standing, but, sheer willpower fuels him. This is the precipice that he came here to experience, though, was it not?

"Heh heh heh," he chuckles, suddenly with a lopsided grin playing on his rugged features. Pushing his limits. And moreover, she had to rely on her weapons, in the end. It's a win win, for Ryo, as far as he is concerned. And a stepping stone towards his ultimate goal.

Mustering up his willpower, the Kyokugen warrior lurches forward once more. He tucks his shoulder in as he bum rushes Baiken, and comes sliding into her like a runaway truck, with a low placed uppercut aimed at her stomach. Should that much connect, again, Ryo will finish off with a leaping uppercut.

COMBATSYS: Baiken dodges Ryo's Mouko Raijin Gou.

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

Baiken looks at it rather differently than Ryo. Yes, she drew the sword, but that's not a weakness. She learned the art of the sword because it was useful for what she needed to do. She's using it now because it's the way she fights, as are all the tricks of her missing arm. She wouldn't actually know how to fight /with/ a second real arm; she never tried when she had one.

Plus, if it's good enough for Blood, it's good enough for her at Strolheim.

Ryo comes barreling in, and Baiken is ready. She snaps her head again, and this time she literally throws the lacquered scabbard at him, with her teeth. It bounces off him, doing no damage whatsoever but functioning, she hopes, as a distraction while she throws her empty sleeve backwards. The claw comes out again, but this time it's not aimed at Ryo.

It digs into the dirt of the training area, 'fingers' splitting off the centerpiece of the claw and locking on like a quartet of small grappling hooks. Baiken barely waits for it to lock in place before she starts reeling the cables in - but this time she doesn't pull something over to her.

Baiken accelerates rapidly away from Ryo, pulling herself across the ground, feet skimming the dirt. She doesn't yank herself all the way to the hooks but keeps herself anchored to the ground some distance away, sword raised. She can't even sheathe it because she tossed her scabbard away, so she improvises.

Baiken cuts a symbol into the air with her sword, a scribbled character written in Japanese handwriting so archaic it's difficult to read if you don't already know what it says. Baiken, of course, is very aware of what it says: Baku.


As she finishes the effect by cutting a rough rectangle around the character to isolate it, the sword-calligraphy explodes with a radiating aura of pink chi. If Ryo so much as touches the aura, he feels his chi being grounded, temporarily sealing it away - and more, as his fighting spirit is dampened, it causes exhaustion. It won't last long, but in a battle like this, instants are often enough.

COMBATSYS: Ryo dodges Baiken's Baku.

[                          \\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Ryo              0/-------/---====|====---\-------\0           Baiken

Baiken tries to escape him, and Ryo gives chase, pursuing her relentlessly, despite the fact that every muscle in his body burns, and every bone in him aches to the marrow. This dogged pursuit, in fact, almost catches him up in the aura of her seal. At the last moment, the gi-clad fighter leaps, his body tucking into a ball and rolling in a series of aerial somersaults to carry him safely overtop of that glowing, arcane sigil.

"Hien Shippuu Kyaku!"

He unfurls in mid-flight, spinning in the air, rather than tumbling, and lashing out with a downward spiking sidekick that rockets him down at Baiken directly, with his lead foot. Before he even touches the ground, however, Ryo Sakazaki twists about with a spinning hook kick, sending his heel hurtling through the air in an arc that leads directly to Baiken's temple.

COMBATSYS: Baiken blocks Ryo's Hien Shippuu Kyaku.

[                           \\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Ryo              0/-------/---====|=====--\-------\0           Baiken

Ryo's flying foot comes right for Baiken's head -

But it doesn't quite connect.

Baiken still does not have her scabbard, so she can't sheathe her sword and block with an open hand; instead she flips the sword in her hand so that it's pointed down, held in a reverse grip like an oversized knife, and catches Ryo's foot with the pommel of her sword and her knuckles.

She feels the impact in her hand; it doesn't quite break a finger, but it comes close, and she's going to really regret this later. But for the moment it holds Ryo off for a moment longer, albeit by forcing her to step back to absorb the momentum, and that's what she needs it to do.

Baiken snaps her sleeve toward Ryo's face. If he's learned from his experiences, he realizes that something is about to fly out and hit, stab, or grab him in the head, and she expects him to flinch away from it.

But it's a feint. There's nothing there but cloth, harmless draping cloth that might slap him but certainly won't hurt unless he gets it in his eye or something. It's a distraction for Baiken to follow through by sweeping her leg, hopefully catching the inside of his ankle with her heel to smash his foot out from under him, followed by a downward stomp at the hopefully-partially-disabled karateka.

COMBATSYS: Ryo dodges Baiken's Medium Strike.

[                           \\\  < >  /////////////                 ]
Ryo              0/-------/---====|======-\-------\0           Baiken

Having his Hien Shippuu Kyaku blocked, Ryo growls to himself, knowing full well that this will only lead to a counter offensive by the one armed swordswoman. He's hanging by a thread here, and even a tap is likely to put him down for the count. He's having a hard enough time just keeping the world from spinning. He has to be careful, if he plans on pulling through with this and winning the day.

She feints with that armless swipe, and Ryo, in his heightened state of defensive paranoia, ducks and weaves like a champion boxer. His back arches, and his feet carry him back a few feet, and in turn, lifting his foot out of the way of her sweeping attack.

There's an opening.

Ryo comes in quick, his clenched fist lashing out with a swift, but fearsome left hook, intended to catch Baiken in the temple as she's recovering from the whiffed kick she had sent out.

COMBATSYS: Baiken parries Ryo's Aggressive Strike!

[                          \\\\  < >  /////////////                 ]
Ryo              0/-------/---====|=======\-------\0           Baiken

Damn, Baiken thinks. Would've been nice to get that follow-through.

Well, she doesn't think it in so many words. In combat, she doesn't always consciously work through her decisions; she operates at a level faster than thought. Her body knows what to do, and she does it. The tricks, the strategies - those she thinks about. But her actual movements? She trains for that.

Baiken scrapes her heel along the dirt instead of slamming it into Ryo's fallen frame, leaving a slightly curved scuff on the ground. It's that opportunity that Ryo takes to rush in, while she's still off balance, and it looks for a moment that his plan is going to work perfectly; the fist whistles toward the side of her skull.

But this time Baiken is prepared, as prepared as Ryo was earlier in the match. He had the advantage early; Baiken knows her stamina gives her the advantage late. As her heel digs into the dirt, she goes low, pushing herself past Ryo. She's short enough, and crouched enough, that she literally goes under his fist and arm, pivoting and extending the line in the dirt.

The last segment of line explodes upwards in a pink pillar of chi as Baiken channels her power through it, pushing her risky proximity to Ryo to its limit and taking a dangerously aggressive stance. No words, this time - she doesn't think she needs them.

COMBATSYS: Baiken successfully hits Ryo with Tetsuzansen EX.

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

Ryo had been certain that she would be a prime target for his punch. But, she proves to be more deft than he had anticipated, as she avoids having her head rocked by his aggressive blow. He's left swinging wide, and turning his face to follow her movements.

That's what costs him. Following her.

The eruption of pink energy catches him off guard, and he's caught up in it. Lifted from the ground, his gi practically left in tatters, the karateka grits his teeth as he struggles in vain to try to stop the flashing of red behind his eyelids, and keep that strange, weightless fuzzy feeling from overcoming his mind, like his head is stuffed full of cotton balls that ring in his ears.

I must use Haoh Shokoken.

It's his last thought, as his body takes over. Ki surges through his veins, lighting them up like tracers of lightning through his trunklike arms. His palms are filled with a brilliant, swirling blue light, which each condense into a brilliant white sphere. He claps them together, even as he starts to descend, and thrusts them outward, and apart, sending a massive wall of swirling blue white light after Baiken, with a tail of misty blue swirls of light trailing behind it like a comet.

Hitting the ground, hard, on his back, Sakazaki's body mercifully goes limp as the black abyss of unconsciousness settles in.

COMBATSYS: Ryo can no longer fight.

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

COMBATSYS: Baiken blocks Ryo's Haohshokoken.

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

Baiken was taking a risk to follow through the way she did. If it /hadn't/ pushed Ryo to his limits to follow her, it probably would have ended poorly for her. It was calculated, but it was dangerous.

It paid off, though, so she can't complain too much.

Baiken catches the wispy remnants of her pillar of chi along her blade, shining with the same inner pinkish light as she strikes. Not at Ryo, who is too far away to hit anyway, but at the swirling wall of chi he's fired at her; she lets out a wordless battle cry as she strikes at the huge blast of energy.

Baiken cannot cut it. It is too big, too powerful; Ryo's mastery of his art is something Baiken cannot casually repel. But she can partially disperse it; weaken it as it plows past her energetic guard and into her body in a huge howling blast. She is picked up, thrown backwards...

...but unlike Ryo, she lands and rolls, still conscious.

There is a moment before she can rise beyond a kneel, but rise Baiken does, breathing hard, her actual arm scorched and blasted from the power. The first thing she does is not check on Ryo, but retrieve her lacquered scabbard, kicking it up into the air and holding her sword up in such a way that it falls on it with a click, sheathing it vertically.

/Then/ she checks on Ryo, but she doesn't think there's going to be any more battle today.

Log created on 15:58:20 03/03/2018 by Baiken, and last modified on 17:55:08 03/05/2018.