Circuit of Champions - SNF: RED MASTER BELT FIGHT

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Description: Two-time KOF Contender, Lightning Spangles Co-Star, and Twilight Star Circus juggler Honoka Kawamoto makes her move for the open Master slot, bringing her diabolos to bear at Neo*Geo Land once again. The master fighter has earned her credibility. But what about her opponent, top-tier ninja Andy Bogard? Honoka's team, the Heirs to Legend, managed to tear down Andy's brother, but the performer herself had remained clear of the battle. Moving forward to make a claim for the Master Belt, will Andy bring more accolades to his family name? Or will it be Honoka who adds another accreditation to her growing portfolio?

The bright lights of Neo*Geo Land are a haven for teens with an excess of spending cash and free time. The higher levels of the multi-story video game Mecca are about half the rated capacity -- pretty typical for the early evening hour. But the lower levels are brimming with a population that is -not- the norm: audience members hoping for a sight of the next fight in a revitalized Circuit of Champions!

Honoka Kawamoto can certainly appreciate the appeal of a video game arcade like this. Certainly she's visited the place with her friends. And even the less committed of her fans would likely remember her last appearance outside the arcade -- a thrilling, punishing bout between herself and Duke that left her in urgent need of medical attention. She's feeling -much- better now, at least.

The juggler sweeps pink-highlighted forelocks away from her face as she steps out of a long black limousine that pulls to a halt just outside the arcade. She turns her eyes to the bright flashing lights of the arcade, a captivating smile curling her lips. The performer smooths her purple jacket across herself, reaching into the pockets and retrieving two similarly-colored diabolos as she makes her way past the security cordons squaring off the barricaded intersection.

The similarities between this evening and her fateful last encounter here are striking. And yet, she finds herself invigorated with anticipation, all the same.

The diabolos slip from her hands. But before they can smash themselves across the pavement, the juggling props are caught by the lash of a long cord. Wands extend from each of the juggler's hands, allowing the performer to keep the round yo-yo-like props in a constant and steady orbit.

"Where, oh where, can my challenger possibly be...?" she calls out into the crowd, a hint of amusement on her face. She knows full well that the throngs of people -- both within the Neo*Geo Land and massed around the squared-off "ring" in the center of the street -- are watching her every move.

More than that -- the soft-spoken performer -thrives- under the attention.

Andy is, in theory, at least, quite the opposite of the juggler. Video games were something that were not quite foreign to him, but never stuck with him the way they had his older brother, who, rumor has it, frequents this place regularly. No, for Andy, his childhood had been cut short too early by the tragic murder of his father, and so those formative years of being in front of the console or locked in the arcade never really got to him. He was always the pest of a little brother claiming that dad told him it was his turn on the xbox. That, of course, never worked.

Also, Andy is not one who thrives under the spotlight. He fights to test and refine his skill. He doesn't care for the fame or fortune that comes with it. In fact, there are those days when he misses the good old times when these sort of affairs took place in the back alleys, the abandoned warehouses, the secret arenas. Times when street fights were secret events, only open to the privileged few who had the money and/or connections to let them know when and where the next fight was going to go down.

Those were the good times.

But all things change, and so, too does Andy Bogard. So here he is, among the throngs of onlookers, waiting to have their chance to watch legends and heroes pit their might against one another and speak to the truth of their fists. He blends in among them, unseen and unknown, despite his near legendary status. It's an art, this sort of disguise. An art of presentation, of becoming unassuming. Nothing more than a mundane person. One of the crowd. And this mundane man pushes his way through the teeming masses, approaching the barricades of the squared ring, and leaning against them as his opponent plays to the crowd.

"Here," is his simple reply, barely raising his voice to be heard above the cacophony of voices. He leaps, practically fading from sight in a flicker, while high overhead, his clothing flies off, jacket, shirt, and jeans all fluttering to the ground as his spiraling form comes careening back to the earth in a gymnastic display that leaves him landing nimbly on tabi-clad feet.

The blonde warrior is clad in his battle gear. A form fitting, sleeveless shirt of mail clings to his chest, the shinobi kusari katabira as dark as midnight. Over that, he is adorned in a shozoku in white, with a pattern of black flames, lined in crimson. This pattern extends to the kusari kote wrapped about his wrists and forearms. A black silk sash is wrapped about his waist, knotted at the side, and the ends dissolving into a golden sheen that seems almost splashed on.

Slicking back the mane of flaxen hair that drapes about his shoulders, he flicks it out and behind his back, before cracking his neck from side to side. He seems unphased by the crowd, the noise, the flashing of bulbs as pictures are taken. As if they don't exist. He can, at least, tune these things out. Much better than he can tune out dogs, at least. Damnable things.

Honoka had a decent childhood... until it got ruined and she found herself at the Twilight Star Circus instead. The public knows her as a clueless country bumpkin from Hokkaido, but none of her interviews ever seem to delve into her tragic past. Seems like the interviewers always find more interesting questions to ask, for some reason.

Honoka was facing away from Andy when he makes his appearance. And as she hears the voice, she twirls around to face it, sweeping the diabolo cord around her in a lazy circle, tugging the orbiting diabolos around with her. As her tinted forelocks settle back into place, it becomes clear that she has no trouble orchestrating the motion -- even in the midst of a fight footage, it seems the master is always in perfect control of her juggling props.

Perhaps she knew he was there.
Or perhaps not, if the look of surprise on her face is any indication.
It's impossible to know for sure the motives of a consummate performer like herself.

While some members of the ravenously seek claim to the enigmatic, warrior's discarded clothing, Honoka offers a beguiling smile to the crowd that chooses to watch her instead. Baggy jacket sleeves bunch up around her elbows. A black, scoop-necked shirt seems appropriate for the casual look she seeks to convey, as does a pair of comfortably-snug gray shorts. Charcoal grey leggings serve to keep her legs warm against the chilly springtime air.

Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh. The diabolos carve their path through the air -- and just for variety, one is tossed into a high arc over her head, caught effortlessly a few moments later.

"Bogard, hmm...? I sure am sad I didn't get the chance to fight your brother. But I'm sure you're... just as good as he is, hmm?"

A PFW official, clad in a white-and-black referee shirt and black slacks, steps into view on her left. Honoka spares the ref a brief look, as an announcer stationed on the curb nearest Neo*Geo Land runs through his schpiel.

"I suppose that's what we're about to find out! Good luck!"

And just like that -- the Circuit of Champions match for the Red Master Belt begins!

Once again -- a diabolo sails high into the air. But where it drops will be a bit of a mystery, as Honoka is seeking to whip her diabolo staff forward! The loose wand will flare with a brilliant pink glow, snapping outward like a venomous snake! The wand will seek to coil itself around Andy's wrist and pull him in closer -- or at least prevent him from undertaking another impressive leap!

COMBATSYS: Honoka has started a fight here.

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Honoka           0/-------/-======|

COMBATSYS: Andy has joined the fight here.

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Andy             0/-------/-------|======-\-------\0           Honoka

COMBATSYS: Honoka successfully hits Andy with Kohumumatki.

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Andy             0/-------/-----==|=======\==-----\1           Honoka

"Seriously. Don't even start," Andy says when she starts taunting him about his brother. He's not in any mood for playing the head games. He's here to fight, and to better himself and have a good match. That is not the foot to start on. The steely cold look that settles into his eyes only serves to convey the seriousness with which he takes the matter.

And then they're starting. Andy hasn't faced many opponents that use such strange implements in battle before. It's a good tactic, truth be told. It's hard to predict where the attack might come from. As it turns out, it comes not from the diabolo itself, but from the linked wands that she uses to roll it about. Andy had anticipated her tossing the cup at him, and was prepared to dodge it. Not the attack the follows.

His wrist captured, The Human Weapon is jerked forward, pulled towards Honoka. He actually rolls with that momentum when it happens, and launches himself forward at her with all of his speed.

He moves so swiftly that he might even disappear for a brief moment, becoming a blur of ebony and ivory and gold. His hair sweeps behind him, fluttering in the wind from his inhuman velocity, and that momentum only comes to a close as he invades her personal space, skidding to a halt while attempting to drive his elbow deep, deep, deep into the meaty, soft bits of her solar plexus, just underneath her sternum.

COMBATSYS: Andy successfully hits Honoka with Zaneiken.

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Andy             0/-------/---====|=======\==-----\1           Honoka

He interpreted the remark as an attack? Honoka's eyes widen in surprise, and then lower in apology as she pitches forward into a bow.

"Ah -- s'cuse me. I wasn't tryin' to diss, I got nothin' but respect for you two." Her Hokkaido accent would appear to be in full effect, the polished sheen of the performer coming off in her sincere-sounding apology.

And yet as she lifts her eyes back to Andy -- it's clear that within this beguiling performer beats the heart of a warrior, capable of a much more potent offense than mere words can provide. The diabolo cord seethes with brilliant purple glow -- a glow that seems to burn through cloth, searing directly into the pain receptors. And in almost perfect synchronization with her wand strike, the tossed diabolo will clack against Andy -- further reminder that the performer has a rather large bag of tricks at her disposal.

Her withheld diabolo is spun about on a raised index finger as she winches in the diabolo cord, attempting to keep the cord taut as she pulls Andy closer. It seems he wants to hasten this process though, slackening the glowing cord as he thunders forward to close the gap. Honoka's leeway to deal with the attack is limited -- a hastily raised elbow is not in place quickly enough to ward off Andy's elbow as it slams into her solar plexus.

Normally quiet during her fights, her piercing cry is most certainly -not- so now. That hurt her quite a bit -- and what's more, it knocked the agile acrobat back a good meter or two before that cord pulls taut again! But as her sneakers scrub against the pavement, the wounded warrior attempts to make the best of her hold -- tugging backward sharply with an aim to use Andy's transferred momentum against him! She'll seek to whip the cord around -- with Bogard's arm still attached -- with an aim of pulling him through the air! The ideal case would be to torque his arm out of whack as she skips him across the pavement -- pumping a full dosage of Psycho Power directly into his nerve endings!

COMBATSYS: Honoka successfully hits Andy with Medium Throw.

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Andy             0/-------/=======|=======\====---\1           Honoka

Yeah. She felt that. Good. He almost felt bad for her. Almost. But, there is still that pang of indignation burning in the center of his gut for telling him that she would have prefered to fight his brother. That's what it always is. Terry this. Terry that. Terry's so wonderful and legendary. He would have defeated Terry last time they fought, if the organizers hadn't rigged the fight in Terry's favor by putting them in a place surrounded by hellhounds!

Still stewing in his own anger, Andy momentarily forgets that he's wound up by the cord of Honoka's diabolo. He feels the jerk, wrenching his arm, and he tries to resist against it by ratcheting his arms up, pulling back and denying her leverage, but he's already off balance before he's able to do anything. He's lifted up, off of his feet and flung across the pavement as she wracks his central nervous system with jolts of pain through her psycho power.

"Aaah! Shimatta!!"

He twists about as he bounces off of the pavement, and lands on his feet, only to bounce heavenward with another of his trademark acrobatic leaps. This one, he holds his arms close to his chest, his body straight out as he both flips and corkscrews simutaneously. But, he seems to "land" upside down on one of the streetlamps, ki infusing his feet to give him just a moment's "cling".


His knees bend to his chest, and forcefully, he launches himself at the purple clad performer, swooping down on her like some great bird of prey, in an attempt to drive his elbow past her defenses, to shatter them.

No sooner than his feet touch pavement, they leave it once again, as he forward flips at the young Ainu fighter, attempting to drive his heel down atop her skull in a move that is not too far off from a trademark move in his older brother's repertoire. The Crack Shoot.

But, succeed or fail, Andy is a blur of motion and the assault continues, landing from the flipping dropkick and rolling forward, immediately into a single somersault, from which he rises with an upwards jabbing open palm strike, his hand surrounded by a trailing nimbus of blue ki energy. The attempt is to, once again, push past her defenses and keep them sufficiently suppressed, so that he can leap upon her, with his hands around her throat, and his feet digging in to her body for grip, just above her hips.

Should he find that purchase on her, he'll swiftly raise one hand, letting it ignite with vibrant blue ki and condense into an orb within the palm of his hand. This, he smashes against the side of her face, before he pushes of with all of his might into a soaring backflip and lands with a sliding stop. Swiftly, he clasps one hand over the other fist, as if he were bowing to her. Instead, however, that bomb of Ki he had smashed into her face erupts like a violent explosion.

COMBATSYS: Andy blitzes into action and acts again!

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Andy             0/-------/-======|=======\====---\1           Honoka

COMBATSYS: Andy successfully hits Honoka with Genei Shiranui - Uwa Agito.

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Andy             0/-------/-======|=======\=====--\1           Honoka

COMBATSYS: Honoka dodges Andy's Bakushin.

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Andy             0/-------/=======|=======\=====--\1           Honoka

Honoka thrives on emotional currents of all kinds. The emotional highs can be just as much of a benefit to her as the lows, depending on the effect she wishes to achieve. In this sense, she considers herself to be a conductor of sorts. She swims in the reaction of the crowd to her apparent vulnerability, reaping the rewards of her pained cry as a bitter salve for the pain welling up in her solar plexus. Sure, it hurt -- but she can appreciate the audience at her back.

Likewise, the psion is able to benefit, at least at a low level, from the Bogard brother's indignation. It may fuel his blows -- but in a way, it also fuels Honoka's, bathing her in the rich glow of anger, strengthening the psychic power coursing along her diabolo cord, animating each of the lithe performer's movements.

For, without a robust palette of emotion, Honoka would be left with a blank canvas.

She can sense the martial artist's pain as she flings him about -- it's enough to curl her lips away from the pain of her solar plexus attack into more of a faint smile. But she is a bit more surprised, as her diabolo cord untwines from the spinning, that her opponent is able to vault as high as he does. The smile fades back to neutrality as she curls the cord back to the ready, whipping her twin diabolos back into orbit, turning her eyes up to the blonde opponent.

By the time Andy hits the pavement, she is ready -- and the diabolos swing in front of her in a figure-8 pattern.

Her brow furrows as the fighter leaps towards her. She hops backwards, diabolos trailing her motion -- and yet, she underestimates the rate of his travel, finding a tabi-clad foot cracking down onto her head. She twists about from the blow, the diabolos swinging wide in the process.

But when Andy seeks to follow up on that strike, he will find that the Ainu woman is a bit quicker to react. Emboldened by the strike, Honoka puts the fuschia aura of her psycho power to a different use, infusing it throughout legs and feet as she crouches low. When Andy jabs forward with his palm strike, it will fall ten centimeters short -- slamming into a shimmering afterimage of the acrobat as she vaults backwards, disturbing the air current and the illusion in her wake.

The Ainu-Japanese woman draws in her breath in mid-air, breathing a sigh of relief at her luck as she lands a fair distance back. It's clear from her sagged stance that the battle is wearing on her -- that solar plexus hit was -not- light, after all! But that won't stop her from charging forward, aiming to latch hold of Andy's mesh shirt with her left hand.

It's... rather -remarkable- how fast Honoka is moving, in all actuality -- as if she can be in two places at once, her form lit by the vivid intersection of spotlights from Neo*Geo Land.

She would toss the diabolos into the air -- allowing them to fall where they may. Both of her diabolo wands will be curled into her right hand -- and regardless of whether she managed to grab him or not, she would spin the wands into him like a bludgeon, bashing at his face, neck, and sternum in a brutal series of attacks...

COMBATSYS: Honoka successfully hits Andy with Iomante.
Grazing Hit

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Andy             1/------=/=======|==-----\-------\0           Honoka

Having narrowly escaped what was sure to be a blistering series of attacks from Andy, the psion has made the decision to unleash one of her most punishing series of blows -- a symphony of pain that would seek to put a decisive end to the fight. But one thing she had -not- counted upon was Andy's speed and agility -- such that in the midst of her strikes, she's no longer able to keep him in the range of his attacks. But that's to say he's completely immune from their effects -- for even as Andy retreats he will be likely to feel something akin to a gravitational wave pulling him upward, like a giant hand wrapped around his body and drawing him in, before he's able to break free of the event horizon.

It's not hard to see that Honoka seems to be a -little- disappointed at that - but she's quick to replace the look with a smile for the cheering crowd.

It's wearing on him, just how fast she seems to be. Grating on him. He's putting all of it into striking her, and yet she manages to avoid and deflect, while continously getting the drop on him at every. Single. Turn. Is she really this strong? Is she seriously stronger than Terry? He was certain that unleashing the full force of his speed with that blitz attack would put an end to this fight once and for all, and yet... and yet it barely even affected her. He barely managed to touch her with anything.

Meanwhile, she manages to counteract him, rushing in with that seemingly unstoppable barrage. Andy is struck, again and again, and again, until he's battered and bloodied, but he does his best to duck, weave, and roll with the blows. He manages.... to mitigate some. And keep standing.

He slips to the side, and comes in with a backfist, aimed at her temple. Should that hit its mark, he follows through, spinning back inside to face her with an elbow strike to the other side of her jaw. The next follow through is a palm strike to attempt to open her up as he unleashes three large, bright crimson blasts of ki directly into her stomach.

COMBATSYS: Honoka blocks Andy's Hishou Ryuuseiken.

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Andy             0/-------/-----==|==-----\-------\0           Honoka

A good performer is able to sweep the crowd off their seats -- to carry them along with her into the crashing waves of emotion. The cheering throngs might not see what Honoka Kawamoto was just capable of, but it's likely that the cameras would be able to discern the blurred images of Honoka's motion as separate from the motion of her own body. She is not, in fact, as swift as she seemed to be in that moment -- in all reality, she only needed to jump half as far as she appeared to. So her followup took half as long as one might have expected -- long enough for the reality to catch up with the illusion.

Her strength, though -- that is every bit her own. Her wand strikes are not those of a mere juggler, but rather those of someone who has spent many months practicing Escrima. Her slight strength is magnified tenfold by the length of stick -- and amplified many times over and above that by the force of her will. But without a firm grasp on his shirt, she's unable to get enough grip to whip him into the second phase of her attack sequence -- and Andy Bogard proves in his skillful evasion that he is just as worthy of claiming the Red Master Belt.

She draws in air through clenched teeth as she steps backwards, her accumulated psychic force dissipating with a low rumble. Two clacks can be heard behind Andy, one on either side -- the juggler's diabolos, rendered inanimate and unable to answer her summons. The diabolo cord is whipped around -- and Honoka raises both of the weapons in an Escrima stance. When the backfist hurtles towards her temple, the lithe fighter leans away, intercepting the backfist with crossed staves. When Andy reverses sharply into an elbow strike from behind, the Ainu raises her own elbow, absorbing the blow on her upper arm and shoulderblade.

But when he whips in with his palm, she leaps backwards, the rosy blasts of ki meet an equal but opposite blossom of force. Some of the energy continues onward, forcing a pained yelp from Honoka as the energy slams into her stomach. But -some- of the mitigated energy blisters away into a storm of illusive dahlia petals, staining pink and fuschia in the process.

Kawamoto lists sharply to one side, screwing her left eye shut. The powerful series of blows seems to have made its mark on the psion -- she's certain that she wouldn't be able to handle many more like that...

Which means that striking back now, and striking back -hard-, is of the utmost priority.
She shuts the pain out of her mind, letting the coursing adrenaline take over.
She falls back upon instinct.
Kawamoto spins around, bringing both of her wands low.
And then sweeping herself into the air for a rapid pivot, swinging them both high.
She twists out of her spin, scything the weapons downward at Andy's temple, hoping to stagger him downward.

And if she manages that, she'd reverse direction sharply, adjusting her grip on the weapons. She would bring them both forward, slamming the broadside into Andy's chest for a concussive shock powerful enough to make the heart skip a beat! And if he attempts to avoid -- hopefully he will have remembered where those diabolo land, lest he find one of them underfoot...

COMBATSYS: Andy blocks Honoka's Crushing Strike.

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Andy             0/-------/----===|==-----\-------\0           Honoka

Again, honoka proves to be swifter than she appears, as she raises her wands in order to absorb the brunt of his assault, and mitigates the force of his powerful ki blasts with her psycho power, creating a dazzling display of flower petals for the crowd. That attack drew upon most of his spiritual power, leaving him drained. It doesn't help that his physical body, too, is near its limit. How can he end this?

She's coming in, and Andy does not, in fact, attempt to evade the incoming assault. Instead, as she whips around with those staves aimed for the side of his head, Andy lifts one arm, accepting the collision against the hard bone and protective padding of his gauntlets. It stings, and he's fairly certain that he has a hairline fracture to take home as a souvenir, but if he had taken that blow to his head, he knows he'd have been done for.

So, before she can pivot and follow through, Andy throws out a swift kick, a roundhouse, pivoting on the ball of one foot as he sends the other out in an arc with the ultimate destination of Honoka's temple, if for no other reason than to put a bit of distance between the two of them.

COMBATSYS: Honoka fully avoids Andy's Light Kick.

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Andy             0/-------/----===|===----\-------\0           Honoka

Honoka's landing is perfect, and she appears to be perfectly synced with her opponent. All she has to do is follow up with that whirl and she'll be able to turn her blocked attack into a fresh opportunity...

And that... is when she finds that Andy Bogard is worth every iota of his fearsome reputation. She realizes it a moment before it happens -- a whisper in the wind, a betraying thought that comes to mind. A warning that following through would be quite painful indeed. And yet, as her fluttering forelocks show, she's all but committed to slamming her wands right into his chest.

She shuts her eyes in anticipation.
This is -never- a good idea.
And yet, in this case, it's necessary, for her to rationalize the -intention- rather than the crude matter, the confusing whip of loose fabric.

Her right hand continues its forward thrust with the wands, though the stroke is pulled short.
Her other hand drops -- along with her shoulders. Her head snaps sideways, anticipating the kick. And Honoka lunges onto her left knee.

It's close enough that her locks of hair will be caught by Andy's kick -- batted about helplessly in the air.
If her hair were any less than silky smooth, it would have snagged.

"Not bad..." she finds herself commenting in surprise, as the fingertips of her left hand touch down upon the asphalt. Andy's attempt to clear the space missed by mere centimeters -- and the predator is still in range, her wands dropping along with her lowered center of gravity. But here, she has coiled up -- and Andy may still be open from his roundhouse kick.

In a surge of speed, she aims to crack one of her wands against his load-bearing knee. The other will release on impact -- and the clacking stave will likely hit the ground afterwards. But if all goes according to Honoka's plan, her rapid rise back to her feet will pull the cord taut, entangling the whip-like weapon around his ankle and shin.

And that is when she would raise her knee into Andy for a swift strike, and then another! But with her opponent caught in the snare, she would seek to slam her palm into his abdomen. It might seem like she was copying Andy's earlier attempt on her own stomach -- but this is a technique all her own: a brutal, concussive assault of psychic energy aimed directly into the core, that will leave an ache in the soul hitting far more powerful than a palm strike alone. "HAAAAAAAH!"

COMBATSYS: Andy dodges Honoka's Seta-pagoat EX.

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Andy             0/-------/----===|=====--\-------\0           Honoka

Andy barely expected to catch her truly off guard by the kick, as swift as it was. It wasn't meant to be anything more than a peck, even if it had landed. It was designed to help him gain some breathing room and regain his composure. And sure enough, he feels his foot fly through nothing but air, as Honoka nimbly ducks down to one knee to avoid it.

But, he's learned. Perhaps too little, too late, but he has learned. She's not going to let the advantage of their proximity go to waste. So, his eyes never leave her, not even to blink.

It comes.

She lashes out for the leg that he's used to ground himself, even as he kicks. It's a smart move, and one that might have taken another by surprise. For most, it would possibly even be a fight ending blow, disabling the knee by dislocating or even breaking it. But Andy? Andy is a ninja who has the ability to move with the celerity of the wind itself. He's not quite so easily taken in.

Much like his kick, her strike at his knee will find nothing but the air, as Andy uses that leg to send himself leaping, not high, but into a graceful backflip, his arms extended out to either side, until the moment when his feet clear the peak of his jump, and his body is nearly horizontal to the ground.

A flicker. Nothing more. His arm moves like a blur, as if he were throwing a weapon at Honoka. If her eyes were fast enough, she might even see the momentary flash of a kunai, before it embeds itself in the earth just between her legs.

But that's not the attack. The attack comes in the small eruption of vibrant blue ki that flares from the small, dark blade, like a miniature landmine, intended to knock her off balance, just as Andy's backflip comes to a close with his feet firmly planted on the earth once more.

COMBATSYS: Honoka fails to reflect Kunaidan from Andy with Tokap Chup Kamui.
- Power fail! -

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Andy             1/-------/=======|=====--\-------\0           Honoka

One wand snaps out. And the second wand snakes out afterwards, clacking across the pavement. The evasion happened so quickly, the psion wasn't even able to read the thought.

The juggler's locks settle in the moment afterwards. Her fist flares with carnation-hued energy, gathered in preparation for a follow-up strike that will no longer come.

Not bad, she thinks. And yet, repeating oneself in a match when both she and the blond ninja have stoic reputations to uphold is... unnecessarily redundant.

The acrobat starts to rise back to her feet.
And then she sees the glint, the flicker.
She snaps into motion, pounding her wand into an open left palm.

The whip-like cord responds in kind, fuschia light crawling down its length.

Honoka rises to her feet, tugging her right hand upward -- snapping the 'whip' upward.

She was off by an instant -- her reaction too fast to interpose the tendril of Psycho Power in the path of the blade, too slow for the heft of the wand to strike it. Either point of contact would have allowed her to ensnare the blade and send it back on its way to Andy. But with neither...

With a scowl, Honoka realizes instantly that she missed. She must identify the projectile -- was it a knife? A rock? A pellet?

All of those -- and -then- some. Cerulean chi erupts like a geyser from the point of impact, an explosion powerful enough to knock the acrobat back to the ground with a shriek of surprised pain. When the light dims, the audience will find her dropped to one knee, one hand clamped upon her calf muscle. Her teeth grit together in agony, as the sensation sears into her flesh.

She casts her fiery gaze over to her ninja-leaping opponent. This is the final stretch, now...

Had she tried to deflect the kunai back at him? The small projectile was hardly a target with such a weapon as hers, as tiny as the thrown blade is, and then factoring in its velocity, it was a nearly impossible task. Still, she's been dominating this fight, so it isn't like she's prone to mistakes. He got lucky for that misstep, and is certain that he'll be hard pressed to find her open in such a way again.

Having landed his aerial backflip, The Human Weapon darts forward, trying to capitalize on his advantage. He closes the distance to her, and reaches out, trying to find a handhold on her purple jacket, and use that as leverage to wrench her up from the ground, while sliding a leg between hers to help bring her off balance.

Should he succeed, he'll lift her up, using his shoulder and hip to help hoist her off the ground, and fling her over, and slam her back to the pavement underfoot.

COMBATSYS: Honoka blocks Andy's Fast Throw.

[                      \\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////                   ]
Andy             1/-------/=======|======-\-------\0           Honoka

If it were not for her overconfidence, perhaps Honoka might have been able to wrest the chi-laced kunai into a more punishing trajectory. As it is, though -- she's feeling first-hand the effects of just how much juice the Shiranui student had pumped into it -- and the searing pain isn't about to wear off any time soon.

The time to wince is later, though. For a true fighter, discipline and a heavy dosage of adrenaline can block the pain -- and that's just what Honoka does, slamming her palms into the pavement, pushing herself up. She's not ninja-quick, but she is fast enough to make it so that Andy isn't doing -all- the lifting -- in fact, by the time he's able to grab hold of her jacket, she's practically already airborne!

As it is, the acrobat has control of the motion. Sure -- she gets slung over his shoulder and hip, but between her own imparted momentum and the looseness of her jacket, she's able to spin around in mid-air to such a degree that she can land her sneakers on the ground before her dear back -- arms splayed out to either side for balance.

She is still clutching those wands though. And as she lands more gently than intended, she uses the shift to break free of the Bogard brother's hold, kicking back to her feet and twisting to face Andy in the same fluid motion.

And that is when the onslaught of furious swings begins. A basic Escrima opener is to rap the staves in a right-left-right pattern, before lunging forward with a reverse stance to mirror the attack. But a key difference is that normally there's not a line flying around between the two sticks -- and Honoka knows how to use that extra length to increase her reach.

Her rapid-fire swings are predicated on battering Andy's arms out of the way, clearing a path to his face and upper chest. But, rather than go for a sucker punch, Honoka has something else in mind -- looping her hands around Andy's waist, and then inverting him rapidly for an o-goshi styled hip toss! "HAAAAA!"

COMBATSYS: Honoka successfully hits Andy with Urara Kando.

[                                < >  ///////////                   ]
Andy             1/---====/=======|====---\-------\0           Honoka

Andy flings Honoka, just for her to manage to acrobat her way out of really feeling it. What is it with this fight? He's only been able to land two solid hits the entire time! Even against his brother, he had managed to catch him off guard enough to actually do some real damage. With this girl, he's just an amatuer, flailing about hoping for something to stick. It's a mess.

And she's always ready to punish him for it, too.

He sees her coming in with those sticks a flailing, and he moves to slip sideways, out of the way of them so that he might be prepared to attack her from a flanking position. However, her use of the extra length throws his timing off. His defenses are opened, and he's grabbed hold of. He's flung over her with that hip throw, and slammed onto his back with enough force to knock the wind out of his lungs involuntarily. He's fairly certain that he heard something snap, and the fire in his side tells him that it was likely a rib.

"Dammit!" He shouts, after noisily drawing air back into his lungs and suppressing the panic of trying to fight for it. He rolls over, onto his knees, and then rises up to his feet once more, half slouched, and barely able to stand on his wobbling knees. Clutching at his ribs, Andy grits his teeth.

"It's not over yet!"

He breaks into a dash, though his once legendary swiftness is robbed from him, due to the burning in his lungs and the grinding of bone against bone every time his movements cause his ribs to shift. Still, he tucks in his shoulder, fighting through the pain, so that he can slide in to Honoka with all the might he can muster, using his legs to direct some of that momentum upwards, with the intention of launching her through the air.

Should he manage to take her by surprise, he'll follow through with a forward handspring, pushing off with his arms to launch himself after her in a dropkick like some spiraling corkscrew missile of flame and fury.

COMBATSYS: Andy can no longer fight.

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

COMBATSYS: Andy successfully hits Honoka with Zanei Shikou Reppudan.
- Power hit! -

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

The psychic mastermind has had a number of opportunities in her fight career. Fighting the US Martial Arts Champion. Fighting -- and in a miracle, triumphing -- over the World Warrior and his understudy. And, unbeknownst to the public at large, she also saved the world as the victor of Mortal Kombat.

But through it all -- she is only human. Each advantage is coupled with a corresponding weakness. Her above-average offense is paired with below-average defense. Even confidence, her greatest strength, proves just as often to be her own downfall.

Confidence is what allows her to plunge forward with what could be taken with a bread-and-butter assault, only to switch tactics into a quite different follow-up. Confidence allows her to keep pressing forward, even as Andy rises back to his feet -- when a more wary fighter might bide their time, and allow Andy's injuries to keep stacking up.

Confidence allows her to respond to the call of 'It's not over yet!' with a bold smile -- "Show me."

Confidence brings about a chuckle, as she sees Andy sliding towards her. A maneuver weighed down by accumulated injuries. An attack easily avoided by someone with her skill. Her hands flare with fuschia fire, spilling out from her fingertips as it pools before her. An uneven disc begins to form -- but with her skill, she begins to whirl it around into a uniform cone of energy.

Confidence tells her this is enough.
It is not.

Andy's shoulder powers through her spinning, improvised shield. The psychic potential sloughs away, rosy petals scattering to the nighttime breeze. The remnants of the shield shatter -- no more than a stiff breeze to oppose the Human Weapon barreling through.

Honoka's eyes widen -- and soon, the overconfident juggler will feel the unmistakable impact of Andy's shoulder slamming into her sternum with not only enough force to black out her vision -- but enough to rocket her into the air as well. The fuschia petals wisp away into nonexistence. The flames at her fingertips dissolve. Her wands, arms, and legs trail limply behind her.

Her forelocks flutter along behind her -- that ticklish sensation is enough to startle her back to wakwfulness. Her eyes once again open wide -- this time, just a scant moment before twin tabi-clad feet come up to meet her in mid-air, corkscrewing into her sternum a second time, bringing tears to her eyes and a rough-sounding cough from her lungs. Honoka buckles from the blow like a jackknife.

And her motion does not stop until she slams into the heavy aluminum pole of one of the intersection's streetlights. The clang is loud enough to mute the audience's cheering -- a void that is soon filled with awed gasps.

At least this time, she is awake -- enough to slip her hips to one side, landing on a thigh and her two hands, with her wands clattering to the ground an instant afterward. One hand curls around her mouth for a wracking cough, her pink-highlighted forelocks shuddering with each throat-clearing.

The audience begins to rumble. A low thrum -- and then, slowly, it builds back to a cheer. Both fighters are unable to stand -- so -both- of them will have to deal with the annoyance of medical teams running to make sure the fighters are stabilized. The excitement is palpable -- with both fighters disabled... who won?

The PFW Circuit of Champions judges have an answer. But almost as soon as the medic reaches Honoka -- the medic is waved off. She seems to be forcing herself to stand -- even as medically inadvisable as that may be.

"H-how is he?" she asks, the negotiation of wills ending as she finally decides to accept the medic's shoulder as assistance. She turns to face Andy, with a look borne not of confidence, but... compassion.

COMBATSYS: Honoka takes no action.

COMBATSYS: Honoka can no longer fight.

Andy is, perhaps, as shocked as anyone when he feels the collision of his brute force shoulder slam actually make contact with the juggler's chest. It gives him the extra "oomph" he needs to press on with that attack, and the... ahem... confidence, he needs to push his broken body beyond its very own limits.

To push past the pain. To push past the lack of oxygen in his lungs, making them feel like they're burning from the inside out. To push past the dizziness he's feeling. To push past the alluring pull of the abyss that is unconsciousness, creeping in like a fog in the corners of his mind.

He pushes past it all, and launches himself, in a blaze of fiery glory, to drill into her, and feels that strike land as true as the first.

But sadly, that is where it all ends. There's nothing left in the tank. He lands from the Chou Reppa Dan into a three point crouch, his head hanging low, and his handsome face hidden within the shadows cast by the long, golden bangs that spill down his brow like a veil. He tosses his head back, and the like in those icey blue eyes is one of stone cold determination. The kind of stare that could send shivers down the spine of remorseless killers. His jaw is squared, tensed to sharp angles, and his thin eyebrows brood heavily over those piercing azure eyes, focused solely on Honoka. He punches the pavement with his fists as he rises to his feet.

Only for his tenuous grasp on consciousness to finally fail him. He sinks to his knees, and then face first onto the pavement as the world fades to black, and the pain becomes blissfully numb.

Log created on 09:35:19 04/09/2018 by Honoka, and last modified on 00:24:34 04/12/2018.