SNF 2018.04 - SNF: Miko Or Ninjas?

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Description: Outside the Taj Mahal is the site of India's largest orphan event, as a great festival comes to help the children of India come together. Most iconic, of course, is the various events and workshops to encourage the children. The biggest challenge? The SNF Workshop, where they must choose between two events! The first is joining a miko seminar on Ainu culture, hosted by Mamahaha and her assistant Nakoruru. The second? Ninja Training from the stoic Andy Bogard. While the orphans are already lining up, they cannot choose until Mamahaha's assistant Nakoruru and Andy show the martial techniques of each style. Who will win the hearts of the Orphans? The way of the Ainu? Or the way of the Ninja!?

It is not unheard of for fighting events to intersect with public service and charity endeavors, but this weekend's SNF may very well be one of the largest, most global events of its kind. All around the globe, orphan related charity venues are being organized, staged, and carried out and out of the woodwork fighters have come from every walk of life to help draw the world's attention to the tragic epidemic that normally leaves young lives unacknowledged and uncared for.

All revenue for the events, all advertising dollars spent, and all additional funds received from donation drives at each of the venues will be used to finance the needs of orphans and orphanages around the world. India is hosting the largest of the venues outside the front of the majestic Taj Mahal. The world famous structure will serve as the backdrop to this event. The weather is, regrettably for any not accustomed to it, swelteringly hot, closing in on almost one hundred and ten degrees of humid, unrelenting heat.

Miserable conditions for one normally acclimatized to the far cooler region of Hokkaido, the northern reaches of Japan. But the participating fighter that hails from that far off land is no stranger to hardship. The cause for this event is just and the beneficiaries, the countless orphans affected by world conditions, are worth any measure of discomfort if it brings a small spark of joy into their lives or lifts their burdens if but for a little while.

An area has been setup beneath the shade of a tall canopy of trees. It doesn't fully keep the heat away, but it's better than baking directly beneath the noonday sun, one would imagine. A number of workshops have been setup throughout the region surrounding the Taj Mahal though not straying onto the hallowed grounds themselves. Some lucky kids have been selected for perhaps a more gimmicky but no less sincere setup - they get to chose between two workshops intended to discuss and share cultural knowledge from the land of Japan.

The young woman with long, raven-black hair clothed in robes far more fitting a colder clime, has been selected as a religious representative of Japan - one of the island nation's mikos. It is somewhat a misnomer but one the accommodating young woman has been willing to overlook without correction. Perhaps she can speak to the Shinto faith that has been the dominant religion of the land while also introducing the children ot the Ainu culture - a people almost unheard of outside of Japan itself.

She has been introduced as Nakoruru with a comment made that her name echoes a famous warrior from her people's past, another nuance she's made no effort to correct as she smiles to the children gathered on bleachers situated in the shade. At last, the young woman in white robes with crimson and azure geometric patterns is given the opportunity to address the children briefly. As she steps forward, hands, covered in white, conic sturdy cloth wrist guards, clasped over her each other in front of her, her long, straight hair sways at her back, only partially contained by the large red ribbon tied into a bow behind her head.

Bowing toward the gathered orphans, she gives them a smile, her steel-blue eyes sweeping over them with an expression of compassion and warmth. Though some of that warmth might be from the perspiration rolling down her temples. Where's Rimururu's ice powers when they're needed?!

"Hello children," she speaks up. Her voice projects well though the kids are antsy. They know they've been promised a fight to view with the best seats available. "It is a pleasure to be here with you today. I hope after the bout ahead, we have the opportunity to meet and I can tell you all about religious rituals and stories of my people's past." She somewhat has their attention, but word is that the other participant in this event is an honest to goodness /ninja/. No amount of holy mumbo jumbo is going to hold a candle next to /that/that. She can see their attention drifting.

But the Ainu girl has a secret weapon.

"Or you can meet my dear friend, Mamahaha, as we talk about falconing."

She lifts her right arm, bent at the elbow, protected forearm out in front of her. From the canopy of trees dives a great hawk, its wing span far larger than any other hawk, rivaling that of the largest eagles in nature. With heavy beats of her wings, the bird alights on the girl's extended forearms, talons digging into the protective wrist-guard worn there. Stretching her weeks out such that one extends behind Nakoruru's head, Mamahaha unleashes a loud scree. That gets the kid's attention, wide eyes fixated on the large animal that has joined the fray as she stretches her wings one more time then closes them behind her back.

Kids clap and cheer, many saying they want to see the bird fly around some more while Nakoruru pets the feathered head of the hawk with her other hand, taking steps back at that point to turn the time over to the other fighter donating his time and skill to this charity event.

Andy Bogard is not one to be sucked in by the publicity stunts and glamor of the SNF crowd. He competes not for fame or glory, or even wealth. He competes for the express purpose of mastering himself, and surpassing his limits, so that one day, he will surpass his brother's as well. He's not the kind of man that sticks around for the cameras, or the after-fight interviews. It's not in his nature, even if he has a comely appearance that would make him the object of many a lovestruck fan's heart, and the envy of most other men.

But a charity even for the orphaned? That is something that the younger Bogard can get behind and support. Andy (and his brother, of course) is an orphan. Twice orphaned, in fact, with his biological parents having passed away when the Bogard Boys were frighteningly young, only for them to be taken in by the legendary Jeff Bogard, who was murdered before their very eyes. So yes. Orphans are a subject very near and dear to Andy's heart.

One so near and dear to his heart that the fair skinned fighter would brave the oppressive heat and relentless sun to come to India, and engage in a bit of grandstanding spectacle. It is a small hardship to bear, the heat and sun, when faced with the realities of the children that they're here to entertain. Most of those children seem as if they might snap in half if a breeze picked up too strongly. Their smiles look like the rictus of a skull, and they bright, jubilant gazes come from sunken and hollow sockets, and their shouts of joy bellow from distended stomachs that know little more than the ache of starvation. This, too, is a hardship that Andy knows. He also knows how lucky he has been to survive and overcome those hardships.

If he can inspire even an ounce of hope in these children, Andy Bogard will feel content.

"It's hard to compete with a falcon," a voice, surprisingly smooth, masculine and yet not rough, seems to come from every direction and nowhere at once, echoing in a thousand directions from the interlaced tree branches that shade the assembled under their verdant canopy. "But, perhaps a handful of you would like to know the history of the fabled ninja, who started as simple peasants. The weak. The outcasts. The underdogs. And through their persistence and unbreakable spirit, rose to become skillful warriors that made even the mighty samurai tremble in fear."

The flaxen haired shinobi doesn't arrive so much as he seems to simply appear. Beside Nakoruru herself, the form of Andy flickers, almost like an image from an old projector that's starting to go out. He's in a squatting position, one hand lowered with his fingertips touching the earth, and his other elbow resting on his thighs, bringing him about eye level with the group of the smallest, youngest children sitting on a bench across from the pair of fighters. He certainly looks the part of a ninja. For the occasion, Andy Bogard has dressed in garb more traditional than his usual. Straw sandals are placed on his feet, over a pair of white tabi, around which he has affixed a pair of padded, red suneate over his shins and calves, held by laces tied at the top and bottom on either side. His pants are feathery light linen, to better accommodate for the heat, and are loose and billowing, tucked into the shin guards, and emblazoned with embroidered patterns of fire in a symbolic style reminiscent of traditional Japanese artwork, with gold trim and a crimson body. A red obi is wound around his waist, and his top is a loose fitting, traditional Japanese fold over style top with no sleeves. A thin, dark metallic mesh can be seen etched into his flesh peeking out from underneath. his hands are covered with red, reinforced tekko gauntlets, and matching half-kote that covers his forearms. His blonde hair has been slicked back and pulled up into a high ponytail that spills from the crown of his skull, down to just past his shoulder blades, while his bangs spill forth, parted in the middle.

"So what do you guys want to know about? Or would you rather see which one of us wins?"

A pause, and Andy side eyes Mamahaha with an expression written on his sharp, fine countenance intended for a bit of brevity as he says, "Though, I will admit that ninja didn't train to fight giant hawks... I might have my work cut out for me! But then, the ninja way is to adapt and overcome!"

As if the eyes of the children hadn't already grown large enough at the appearance of the great hawk, the voice from no visible source generates an all together newer stir, heads looking around quickly, trying to be the one to spot the living shadow, the ninja. For those actually listening rather than being too awestruck to actually pay attention, the invisible speaker shares a brief history of where ninjas come from that might be of particular interest to the improvised young present for the event. They too know what it is to be weak, outcasts, underdogs... perhaps they might be inspired to hear the tale of how others like them persevered to become legend.

Nakoruru remains focused on the gathered children, her hand petting the back of the attentive bird's head, not joining in on the search for the shadow warrior. Only when he appears next to her, in true shinobi fashion, does she glance to the side, smile warming further to take in the sight of the individual she will be facing this day.

Andy Bogard. It was mentioned to her that the last name shared with Terry Bogard, the monkey-toting brawler she faced in King of Fighters is no coincidence, that the two are kin. And now that she sets eyes on him, she finds the expected blend of similarities and differences, but in physique and demeanor. He is his own man, but the connections can't be entirely ignored as well.

Matching the young woman's steel-blue gaze, the feathered sentinel on her forearm turns her head to study him as well, her brown eyes sharp, perceptive. It's difficult to escape that the sharp beaked bird is judging him somehow, determining if he's fit to be standing so close to the young swordswoman from afar.

As he addresses the children, Nakoruru glances back toward them, her smile becoming lopsided at the question posed. Hopefully they're both in condition to actually hold the workshops afterward. This close, Andy can easily see the weapon sheathed at the young woman's back - a black leather case covering a kodachi, its blade roughly two feet long, a ruby red gemstone embedded in the end of its pommel. Her clothing has an antique look to it, simple yet functional in its design and materials, her feet covered in a pair of crimson moccasins, her ankles bare between the end of her white trousers and the top of her footwear. Curiously, in spite the severity of the heat and the layers of clothing she has on, she displays not an iota of perspiration, as if the sweltering conditions had not one iota of an effect on her.

Mamahaha never takes her eyes off of Andy since he appeared, though there is a moment where the bird dips her head toward the younger Bogard, brown eyes blinking twice. "Yes," Nakoruru chimes in regarding the question regarding seeing which of the two presenters and fighters wins. "I think my partner today has the right idea of it."

He comments about not training to face the threat of giant birds and Nakoruru's smile becomes a grin for a brief moment. How long has it been since she's tested her skill against a ninja? There is a good chance his speed rivals her own, at least, or possibly exceeds. And his versatility is likely high, true to the nature of the shadow clans. The world has changed quit a bit, she's left to ponder, to think that one trained in the skills of a ninja might actually display his talents to delight and entertain the young minds in attendance rather than only plying his craft for the taking of life.

Breathing in deeply, she then exhales softly, taking steps away, kicking up a small bit of the rust red dust that blankets the ground as she turns around to face back toward Andy. Her right arm lifts a little, an unspoken signal to the bird that has her flapping her wings, screeing a second time, then taking flight.

Nakoruru leans forward slightly, her pant-leg covered leg slipping out from beneath her ankle-length robe, her right hand slipping behind her back, not quite touching the handle of her weapon but lingering close.

"Thank you for the opportunity of this match, Andy Bogard. I must warn you that my style of fighting is unorthodox." She says to a /ninja/. Overhead, Mamahaha has circled back around, now flapping her wings and, almost miraculously, managing to hover in place a couple meters above and behind Nakoruru's head, an almost unheard of feat for so large a bird.

"If at any point, you wish to call the match a draw, I will stop immediately." Her voice is gentle, but somber. It is easy to get the impression that for as meek as the young woman appears, she is no stranger to real battles to determine life or death.

"At your mark, then." she adds a moment later, eyes fixed on the young man, the sound of Mamahaha's large wings flapping overhead.

COMBATSYS: Nakoruru has started a fight here.

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Nakoruru         0/-------/------=|

COMBATSYS: Andy has joined the fight here.

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Andy             0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0         Nakoruru

As his opponent strides away from him, Andy stands upright, and, out of habit, reaches up to pull at, and flick the ends of his ponytail. He casts his azure eyed stare after her, not unappreciative of her simplistic beauty and traditional Ainu stylings. Why couldn't he have fallen for someone more like this? A nice quiet girl, strong and capable and traditional. Not wild and always trying to flaunt things in public or pester after him about marriage.

"I'm the one who should be thanking you," Andy calls out, as he pivots on the toes of his feet, turning his body to face her, and taking just a moment to peer up at the majestic raptor as it practically hovers overhead. "No matter what today is like, because of you, these kids are going to have a great day that they will always remember. So thank you. It means a lot to me. You probably don't know this, but my brother and I were orphans, too. Our father took us in off the streets. Then we lost him, too, while we were still very young."

Rather than dwell on the darker aspects of his life, since, for Andy, that is Charybdis, a spiraling vortex of darkness that just sucks him down until he's helpless and drowning, Andy puts on his best smile, and adopts his stance. It, too, is rather unorthodox, even for a ninja. His hands are open, palms facing towards Nakoruru, with his feet held close together, forming a loose L shape, and his knees slightly bent. "Unorthodox styles are kind of a thing for me. My Shiranui arts are mixed with Koppoken striking techniques, and Hakkyokuseiken internal training. It's a comprehensive style that encompasses all aspects of a warrior's art!"

As he suddenly launches forward, Andy's nimble moves have him leaping forward into a dive. Landing on his hands, he springs head over heels, launching himself at the Ainu out of time, landing just in front of her where he lashes out, trying to get a grasp on the front of her robes.

Should he manage to make that initial purchase, the blonde ninja will leap high into the air, nearly cresting the canopy of trees overhead with his prey drug along for the ride. Their upward momentum will slow, seeming to freeze in place at the apex of the leap, before the careen back towards the earth in freefall.

Andy, however, is clutching tight, and draws his arm back with Nakoruru, only to slam her into the earth at the last moment with all the force of his strength combined with their velocity.

And just to finish it all off, provided she hasn't managed to escape his grasp, he draws back one leg, and for a brief moment, becomes David Beckham as he gives her a solid punt to knock her away from him.

COMBATSYS: Nakoruru blocks Andy's Gourin Kai.

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Andy             0/-------/-------|===----\-------\0         Nakoruru

The young woman's focus is on him as he speaks, giving voice to a past she would likely know nothing about simply by looking at him. His words are of interest, not only to her in acknowledgment of the occasion, but for the children in attendance. That the blond ninja experienced the pain of being orphaned not once but twice in his youth most surely speak to some of the children gathered here. Life in the intensely populated nation must be harsh, with poverty claiming the lives of many.

How many of those gathered have lost not one but two, or maybe more families in their lives? There is a quiet that settles over the children, one of rapt attention and on some level, perhaps, an unspoken connection with the fighters facing each others now.

There is a softening of the Ainu girl's expression, a sad smile working its way into her lips, "My younger sister was also an orphan. It was... one of my greatest joys to welcome her into my life." That she grew old and died well of a century ago has done nothing to diminish the fondness easily perceived in the swordswoman's voice.

"Surely, there is more audiences around the world of this match can do to help. Every... little bit matters in this unending struggle."

Her stance tightens slightly, her foot twisting in the dirt, finding traction there as she readies herself. Her ebony tresses drape down against her back, spilling over her shoulders, and framing the sides of her face with two long locks. Though her feet remain planted, her body moves slightly with her breathes, her fingers stretching now and then, mere centimeters from gripping her sheathed blade. A much welcome breeze stirs through the area, making the smallest of dents in the sever heat.

Andy speaks of his style and she is attentive, the look on her face suggesting that she is contemplating the different aspects of his martial arts by name, musing, perhaps, on what the implications of them might be.

But when he finally moves, her focus is immediately back on him, the smaller fighter managing to follow his motion as he closes in with an agile leap.

His instincts will tell him that she had anticipated something entirely different - a strike of some kind, most likely. Given she uses a weapon, it's possible she's biased to anticipate physical blows over other threats. Her right hand closes over her kodachi, swinging it out in a quick, backhanded slash, holding it with a reverse grip, clearly intending to intercept the anticipated blow.

His hand snakes clean past the premature guard, however, finding purchase in the pristine white of her robe, her eyes widening with a brief start. As he leaps up with her in tow, the featherweight of his opponent provides little in the way of resistance to his strength. No, if she is to escape this, it will require something other than a direct contest of force.

It is her left arm that snaps out near the apex of their combined ascent, fingers twisting into the folds of the young man's own top, her arm flexes, twisting her to the side during the plunge, narrowly escaping being slammed flat against the dirt, a soft grunt escaping her lips, her legs bending to cushion the landing.

"Versatile," she remarks on his style. Already he has displayed a clever use of grappling and acrobatic speed.

She's still in immediately close quarters, her fingers still holding the front of his outfit. She'd try to use the hold as leverage in that moment, pulling herself in tighter, attempting to drive her left knee into his stomach. Unless prevented, she would follow up by snapping her right leg up, bringing a moccasin-clad foot up into a potential impact with the underside of Andy's jaw before finally trying to escape, sliding her kodahci back into its sheath behind her back in a blur of motion.

COMBATSYS: Andy dodges Nakoruru's Random Strike.

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Andy             0/-------/-------|==-----\-------\0         Nakoruru

Andy has to admit more than a small amount of surprise at the ability displayed by the Ainu warrior priestess. Her calm aura and kind eyes and demeanor are a valuable psychological tool, leading one to consider her less able a combatant than she might be. But this is a pleasant surprise for him, as he lands from their conjoined leap, only to find himself unable to slam her to the floor.

"You're very fast and nimble! Maybe you take after your hawk!" he says, offering up a compliment to her, even as she uses her grip on his linen shirt to wrench him forward, while her knee drives upwards

He relents. Instead of pulling away, as she draws him in tighter, he moves with her, though he rolls off to the side as her knee rises. The bagginess of her pant leg glides across the flat of his stomach, up to his chest, but it is no more than a brushing caress. Like a ballet dancer, The Human Weapon pirouettes on the toes of one tabi-clad foot, moving in an arc to flank the Ainu fighter. At the last moment, he whips out his arm with blinding speed, trying to "tag" her on the back of her neck with the ridge of his hand along the side of his pinky. A traditional knife-hand attack, aimed at the base of her skull.

Succeed or fail, his spin leaves him on the other side of his comely opponent, facing her back and shuffling just a few feet away in order to stay out of reach of that kodachi, should she chose to attempt to draw it once again.

COMBATSYS: Nakoruru full-parries Andy's Medium Punch!!

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Andy             0/-------/-------|====---\-------\0         Nakoruru

Dust kicks up around the feet of the two fighters as they find themselves engaged in a blurringly swift, intensely close quarters exchange of attacks. Her expression burns with a focused spirit of a fighter but Andy would recognize there is no malice to be found in her aura, no desire to inflict harm for harm's sake. Rather, a zen-like drive to perform, to exercise her own skill, to act in harmony with the rhythms and tides of the battle underway.

His comment does not go unheard, a flicker of a smile lifting the corner of her mouth as she otherwise continues to move into the attempted knee strike. But he reads perfectly into that same momentum she moves with, stepping into the vector of force with just enough deviation to escape the rise of her leg, albeit narrowly so.

Her fingers have released their hold by then, less to lend any help to his own motion and more to prevent herself from being pulled along with his tight flanking step. His movement is flawless, moving out of her angle of attack and whipping out a strike that might leave her dazed if it connects cleanly.

There is a loud whipcrack and a sudden force smacking against his arm, knocking it up just enough that he clears the top of the diminutive fighter's head. At the same time, Nakoruru spins, stepping back as she comes to face him, and the truth of her instant defense becomes somewhat more clear, a large pristine white section of cloth with a geometric border that mirrors the one on her robe is now gripped in her left hand, rushing past the girl as she finishes whipping around and completing the deflecting snap that had been her defense.

What isn't clear is where it had come from in the first place. She hadn't been carrying anything of the sort when he first saw her. Though insight into that mystery may follow shortly after as she release her hold on the cloth and lets it continue in its motion past her. Almost immediately after leaving her hand, the airborne cloth explodes into a swarm of pink motes of light visible in the shadows beneath the canopy.

There's no time afforded for gawking, however, as the Ainu girl sweeps her hand out, finger pointed toward Andy. "Mamahaha, onegai!"

Overhead, Mamahaha flaps her wings once, propelling herself forward before tucking them in tightly, diving directly toward the Bogard ninja. The bird's body becomes encased in a shroud of vibrant energy, bright, and shimmering with an infinite array of color all at once. Her intent is clear, an attempt to blitz directly into Andy's upper back with a combination of physical force and no small amount of potent chi.

The entire exchange, from avoided kick, to deflection, to dive bombing raptor takes place within the span of only a second and a half as the two fighters negotiate the battle at breakneck speeds. It's any wonder if the kids can even keep up with what's going on at this point.

Of one thing there can be no doubt about, however, is that this tiny fighter from the northern regions of Japan will require his full attention every step of the way.

COMBATSYS: Andy dodges Nakoruru's Amube Yatoro EX.

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Andy             0/-------/-------|====---\-------\0         Nakoruru

Feeling the snap, Andy is confused for a split second, his head instinctively tilting to one side, and his thin brows furrowing to create a crease above his slender nose. The effect only serves to make the handsome young Bogard fighter appear more boyish and almost puppylike for his confusion. His arm sweeps across the air, the flat of his palm barely disturbing the crimson bow that holds her hair. His feet shuffle, sliding back into proper position for him to assume a defensive stance, as her defensive cloth seems to disperse back into the spiritual energy that was its original nature.

She's calling her bird, and Andy feels a rush of excitement. As he stated, he's not exactly trained for fighting off birds, or other animals, and such a large bird of prey as Mamahaha is imposing on their own merit, without taking into consideration special training and apparent use of ki.

As the hawk dives at the Human Weapon as if he were a field mouse, Andy seems momentarily frozen for just a split second. Only a mere few inches before the prismatic aura enveloping Mamahaha makes contact with him, the Shiranui master slips to the side, once more pivoting to spin on the balls of his feet.


That announces Andy's intention, as he comes out of his spin with a thrusting palm. As his open hand pistons forward, a small globe of bright blue light forms, swirling and burning like a miniature star. As his strike snaps to a close at the full reach of his arm, the sphere rockets forth, expanding in size to nearly the size of a volleyball, with ribbons and spirals of dissipating energy like the trailing nimbus of a comet swirling behind it. Of course, the ball of condensed ki, channeled as kinetic force, is on a trajectory that will carry it at a lightning speed directly for the Ainu priestess' chest.

COMBATSYS: Nakoruru reflects Hishouken from Andy with Kamui Rimse EX.

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Andy             0/-------/-------|===----\-------\0         Nakoruru

Even when attacked from a blind angle, the Koppou master manages to maintain his flawless evasion. Moments tick by, attacks launched and defended against in an instant, and in this excruciatingly narrow moment in time, the dual continues.

Mamahaha course corrects at the last instant, wings stretching out from her back, her taloned feet drawn up tight against her belly as she rockets past Andy mere inches along the ground. She flies past Nakoruru, tousling the young woman's lengthy robe and causing her raven tresses to sway behind her back, driven by a sudden gust of wind.

And then, finally, once past the young Ainu woman, the great hawk flaps her wings once and pulls herself gracefully back up into the air, gaining altitude as she flies off to circle back around, a wake of scattered dust and excess rainbow hued energy shimmering behind her.

Andy is safe from the airborne threat for now as she takes time to come back around, leaving him a perfect window to launch his next blisteringly fast attack at his resourceful opponent.

There's no time to speak in the slivers of time that pass between the two martial artists. His evasion must immediately transition into offense if he has any hope of keeping the pressure on the warrior priests of the Ainu. There can be no doubt that she would do the same, so focused is her expression.

Calling upon the breath of the world that moves within all living things, the dashing blond fighter lets fly the cruise missile of chi toward Nakoruru's center of mass. His accuracy is precise, he has her dead to rights, her only options to brace for impact or...

In a blur, her left hand whips out through the air. This time, facing her, he can see the feat for himself, even if the exact mechanism of it may still remain a mystery. Fingers extend as if reaching to grasp something unseen, then snap closed, whipping that large white cape into existence right before his eyes amid an array of those shimmering soft pink sparkles of energy.

The cloth itself is coated with a shimmering sheen of that same chi that had shrouded Mamahaha's feathers just a moment before as Nakoruru whips the cloth across the front of her at the exact moment required to intercept the incoming projectile. There is another crack as the cloth is flicked past the front of its owner at sound breaking speed and in that instant, a significant portion of Andy Bogard's own chi is sent rocketing back toward him!

COMBATSYS: Nakoruru successfully hits Andy with Reflected Hishouken.
- Power hit! -

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Andy             0/-------/----===|====---\-------\0         Nakoruru

The fight is happening at a level that most observers wouldn't even be able to keep track of. Movements become a blur, and ki become barely flashes of light that spark like wildfire in the spaces between the two warriors as they exchange in a battle of timing and near hits. With the bright crackling of Andy's Hishouken, and the Ainu's prismatic displays, it almost looks like a fireworks show. Where's Jezebel, then?

Andy is certain, however, that he can outpace her, and draw this standstill to a close. The Hishouken should catch her by surprise, and if he launches it swiftly enough, land him the first decisive blow. That speeding ball of Ki flies true, with Andy's arctic hued eyes following its trail...

And in another prismatic display, the Ainu conjures up another cloth shield. Andy expects the brilliant, colorful energy to dissipate his attack, rendering ki against ki harmless. He does not anticipate that the attack would turn on him, reflecting his own hishouken back at him. He was not expecting that, and it costs him. Dearly.

The ki blast collides into his chest, before he can raise his defenses in his stunned state. Grimacing, Andy braces himself against the force, and slides across the ruddy earth, kicking up motes of swirling dust around his feet that go blowing off into oblivion.

His chest smolders with the remnants of the blast, faint blue trails of smokey energy pouring from his shirt. Gritting his teeth, he brushes it off, and casts a glance up at Nakoruru.

"Caught me off guard there. Won't happen again!"

With that, Andy rushes in like a flash of lightning. His form seems to almost blur as he closes the distance between himself and his crafty opponent. He leads with an elbow, launching it at the Ainu's pretty face. Not to quit now, Andy follows up with a blitzkrieg of attacks. A palm strike is aimed at her chin. Another elbow, this from the other arm, leveled at her chest. He finishes up with drawing both hands back to his hip, and then thrusting them forward and up. His stance shifts, lowering his center of gravity and spreading his legs so that when he thrusts, he leans in to grant the power of his full body behind the attack, hoping to unbalance her and set her up for what comes next.

COMBATSYS: Nakoruru blocks Andy's Kekiheki Haisui Shou.

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Andy             0/-------/---====|======-\-------\0         Nakoruru

Nakoruru completes the whipping motion of the cloth, her body turning along with its movement, the young woman balanced on one foot spinning in the dust. She snaps her arm back as she comes to rest following her quite pirouette, fingers relaxing their hold on the corner of that mystic sheet she seems to be able to conjure, releasing it into the air to scatter into energy once again.

Her eyes find Andy's in an instant as he catches himself following the unexpected impact. There is no blood lust in the face framed by long, black hair, but her jaw is set, eyes flashing with that same spirit that saw her through the blurringly fast series of exchanged attacks, just barely managing to stay one split second ahead until this moment where finally there is a brief pause.

The seriousness of her expression breaks, however, when Andy speaks, steel-blue eyes blinking once and then a fleeting smile breaking across her lips. For a moment, there is almost a wistful look to her eyes, as if something he said sparked a memory that threatens to distract her focus.

This is not the first handsome, charming, skilled American ninja she has engaged in a friendly spar with in her lifetime. It's possible the way Andy shrugs off the brief setback with a promise to not be caught off guard again is reminiscent of another...

"You may be the fastest opponent I have faced in a long time," she muses, quiet smile lingering. None she has gone up against since waking in this time has managed to go toe to toe with her own lightning speed for as long as the Bogard prodigy.

But then he's back on the offense, as promised, forcing her to defend herself from what would have been a thoroughly staggering combination. In an instant, he is there, close quarters combat re-engaged with a fearlessness that leaves no room for hesitation. Shifting her feet, the swordswoman leans into the incoming elbow strike, her left hand slamming out to palm it just before it can reach her face. The momentum is transferred to her legs as she slides back through the dusty dirt without stumbling, clearly having anticipated the exchange of force.

There is a blur from her right arm next, then, the kodachi at her back finally drawn once more, pulled up into an intercepting path for the palm strike, blocking it from reaching her jaw with the flat of the blade, then the next elbow.

When he winds up for a more powerful double hand strike, she braces, left hand planted against the flat of her weapon as she wedges it into the path of his strike, forming a sort of 'cross arm' block with left arm and blade intersecting at the point of impact. The collision of force at last sends her reeling backward, her guard broken, arms swinging out to her sides, a soft gasp escaping her lips. Her right hand manages to keep from losing hold of her weapon, though it was clear that she had no ability to simply weather another blow after the staggeringly strong final strike.

Overhead, Mamahaha is still in the process of winging her back over to the battlefield, leaving Andy free from having to concern himself about another blindside attack quite yet. On the other hand, the swordswoman finally uses her small blade for offense rather than defense.

The moment her feet have traction, she's leaning forward and swinging her right arm out, flipping the kodachi from a reverse hand grip to upright mid-swing, giving it a deceptive amount of additional reach. Though the weapon itself barely reaches twenty-four inches in length, with the way she leans into the attack and uses the full reach of her arm, it would be wrong to dismiss her as simply being unable to strike him from where she stands.

Were she born in this era, perhaps she would consider it poor taste to risk drawing blood before an audience of children. But children in Kamui Koten were taught from a very young age that their innocent youth would not spare them from the dangerous violence of the world. The thought that these kids should be sheltered from the realities of battle doesn't even cross the foreign woman's mind.

On the other hand, from where she's striking from, the best she can hope for is a surface cut - something shallow enough to draw pain but not threaten a rugged fighter's body too much. And that's assuming she can even catch the Human Weapon in the first place!

COMBATSYS: Andy blocks Nakoruru's Medium Strike.

[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Andy             0/-------/---====|=======\-------\0         Nakoruru

When their eyes meet, Andy is left curious for the expression that she bears. The distance in her eyes, and the fleeting glimpse of a smile. What was she thinking about just then, he wondered? What would draw her intense focus out, and snap it, even if for only a moment?

The compliment paid has a grin flashing upon Andy's lips, bright if a bit lopsided. There is a certain shift in his posture. Shoulders squaring, chest expanding. His chin held high. Andy is a creature who fluctuates from self-loathing borne of an inferiority complex to compensating for that with a touch of arrogance.

His assault is met and equaled, and Andy is not surprised in the slightest by this. She's already proven that she can keep the pace and her defensive capability is even greater than that of his brother, the yardstick to which everyone is compared in Andy's eyes. Still, he doesn't relent, following through as each blow is met with steel and flesh, mitigated and absorbed. If her defense is impeccable in its speed, then he will have to find a way to simply overpower her. Still, as far as speed is concerned, he's barely warming up.

There it is. The flash of a beam of sunlight through the canopy of trees, reflected off of the mirror polish of Nakoruru's blade. It passes over Andy's exquisite countenance, and alerting him to the threat posed to his well being.

For him, there is an element of distaste for those who draw weapons in a fistfight, but then, he has honed his entire body to be capable of matching and exceeding the benefits of steel. This is why he is called the Human Weapon, after all. But, he does not shy away from the thought of blood drawn in front of these children, either. They are certain to know the grimmer realities of the world they live in by nature of their existence alone. Besides, these events are widespread and televised. Sensationalized. You couldn't throw a stone in the desert without hitting someone who regularly watches the various fighting tournaments that seem to be broadcast every couple of weeks. The King of Fighters last week. The World Warrior this week. Dead or Alive next. The King of the Iron Fist Tournament after that. Golden Angel. Next thing you know, the Sacred Order is going to start holding tournaments to award membership to the top contenders.

These kids... no... this world is no stranger to bloodshed.

Andy's defenses are uncanny, as he braves the steel, the reinforced bracing of his half-kote dulling its edge from biting flesh, though the impact of the attack is channeled through, into the bones of his forearm. He swats his hand to the side, redirecting the last of her attack away from his body and all of his vital bits.

"I just keep getting faster and faster, too! Hope you can keep this up!"

He says the words as he flows straight from defense into offense. Her blade is still sliding across his protected forearm when he starts speaking, and as he does so, his lead foot slides back, cutting a line through the rust red dust beneath them. It draws up, chambering his knee to his chest, though with a fluidity of motion that speaks volumes of practice and patience, he sweeps his foot out, extending his leg to its full length high, and cutting back with his heel in a hooking motion that is fast enough that the cameras might have a hard time catching it.

COMBATSYS: Andy successfully hits Nakoruru with Light Kick.

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

Her swift sword strike is defended against expertly in spite its deceptive reach, proof not only of Andy Bogard's keen reflexes but of his sharp attention to the details as to not be fooled by the smaller fighter's trick. The report of hallowed steel bouncing off his guard sounds out as Nakoruru works with the rebound, letting her sword arm come up back the opposite way it had reached out, pulling out of her lean in the same smooth, contiguous motion, as if this path had been the one she had anticipated all along.

But for as swift as she recovers, she isn't so fast as to out pace the Human Weapon's own transition from defense to offense. Against most opponents, they would still be processing the success of their guard against a dangerous blade. The younger Bogard is not most opponents. Her own eyes see the kick being chambered before she can completely disengage. And while she does push back with her leg in a bid to spring away, it isn't fast enough. His foot catches her the side of the head at the same time she starts to leave the ground.

The impact undoes the warrior priestess's momentum, causing her to drop back down hard to her feet, reeling forward as if about to collapse to hands and knees. But rather than try to catch herself, she moves into the fall, no longer fighting it but rather using the change in momentum, surging forward with a reversal in direction, trying to close in on Andy before he can recover his own footing out of the follow through of his attack.

Her right hand slides behind her back, returning the short blade to its sheath thoroughly clean of any blood this time. At the same time, her left hand snaps out, seeking the nimble ninja's nearest forearm. It is quite the gamble in the spur of the moment.

If she can seize his arm, it will provide her with the grip necessary to avoid careening into a forward stumble, and allow her to use the leverage to transition into a swift standing kick toward his stomach, then try to hook her other foot behind his ankles and pull them out from under him, driving him to his back.

And if she misses grabbing his arm all together? Well, there is certainly a chance of face planting into the ground!

COMBATSYS: Nakoruru successfully hits Andy with Enbu Go Kyaku.
Grazing Hit

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

Having landed the kick against Nakoruru, Andy knows that he cannot continue peppering her with attacks that sacrifice power for speed, but he is still grateful for that connection, and the momentary reprieve that it buys him to rebalance himself, and keep to his own tempo in this fight. When she staggers, Andy is put on the defensive, more so because he hadn't expected such a kick to topple her over.

Clever girl.

She manages to grasp his arm, though in truth, it seems like, perhaps it was an instinctual reaction for him to reach out and attempt to catch her before she hit the ground. Regardless, she capitalizes upon the opportunity perfectly. Her kick finds purchase in the steely hardness of his abdominals, and she'll feel the way they buckle and collapse around her. Her entanglement of his legs proves fruitful, and he's sent towards the ground.

But, he's an agile ninja, after all. Rather than being slammed to the ground on his back, Andy actually does a full backflip in place, with both feet planting firmly and unentangled on the dirt floor. The movement affords him the opportunity to slip free of her grasp, and the younger Bogard sibling does a series of three back handsprings, ending with a leaping backwards double somersault, before he lands some several feet away.

He draws his hands up, held straight in knife hand posture, and lowers his center of gravity. The shadows of the trees above them sway in the slight wind that passes through the area, causing a mottled display of light and darkness to shimmer about his form. His azure gaze is fierce, burning bright with determination, and ferocity, but tempered. It is not the stare of someone out for blood, but rather one of unrelenting resolve. This isn't going to be an easy fight.

Suddenly, there's a feeling of electricity in the air, as if static was building up all around them. Andy closes his eyes, focusing himself and realigning his ki, taking in deep slow breaths to replenish and restore. The breeze whips up, growing stronger and swirling around him until there is a whirring tornado of the rusty red dirt spiraling about him, sending puffs of cloudy dust across the earth in all direction.

With a snap, his eyes open, and that tornado seems to burst, dispersing to the four winds with a wave of pure pressure, the force of his fighting spirit. A faint haze of misty white light surrounds him, with sparkling motes of energy crackling in lazy swirls around his feet and legs.

COMBATSYS: Andy gains composure.

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Andy             1/------=/=======|=======\=------\1         Nakoruru

As Andy flips out of the intended tumble to the ground, Nakoruru is forced to release her hold on his arm, or risk being flipped upside down along with his acrobatic escape. Fingers relaxing, she snaps her arm back, leaning away from the nimble ninja while he's mid air, as if anticipating a potential risk in staying too close to him throughout the maneuver.

In the end, the two end up disengaged, the Ainu girl taking a couple steps backward, left arm raised in preparation and her right arm bent around her back, fingers close to that kodachi of hers. Overhead, Mamahaha has swung around at last, slipping comfortably back into her position over the raven-haired warrior from the past, wings beating at just the perfect frequency to keep her airborne just behind Nakoruru's head in the air. As before, the message of the formation is clear - to face one is to face them both, young woman and feathered predator acting in perfect unison in combat. How long must it have taken to train the great hawk to coordinate so?

In a matter of moments, the fight has effectively reset itself, both martial artists having returned to their original ranges and afforded the time to recenter themselves. Andy's preparation buys him a bit of space. His opponent is clearly wary now, no stranger, perhaps, to ninja tricks. The energy in the air must surely be palpable to her and until she understands better what it is he is preparing, she is hesitant to go charging in.

"What drove you to become such a skilled warrior, Andy Bogard?" she finally asks. His ability is far beyond individuals who are only view fighting as a means of exercises or sport. A few are driven to these echelons by their egos and hunger for fame or recognition, but that is the opposite of what she's felt about this man. The diminutive fighter shifts her stance, bracing as she prepares to move again, though pausing for a moment as the burst of wind is scattered out from around Andy, his focus re-centered, his chi aligned.

There is a slight nod from Nakoruru as she meets his eyes, and then once more, she is on the offense. This time, she sprints toward him, kicking up small plumes of that rust colored dust pervasive in the clearing. Her right hand closes over the grip of her kodachi, drawing the weapon in a reverse grip as before, her arm sweeping up high as she plants her feet into a power slide over the dirt.

Near the apex of her arm's reach, the weapon is flipped back to a forward grip as the blade wielder once more tests the Human Weapon's defenses with a high to low slash, leaning full into the attack to give her much needed range in the process. A soft kiai accompanies the aggressive strike and this time it seems she's put less focus into being balanced between defense and offense, going all in to land the hit at the risk of being more easily caught off guard!

COMBATSYS: Nakoruru successfully hits Andy with Power Strike.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Andy             1/---====/=======|=======\===----\1         Nakoruru

"My father," Andy replies to the Ainu girl's question. "Jeff Bogard. He was a master of the Hakkyokuseiken arts. He trained my brother and I, until he was murdered. Then, we swore an oath of vengeance against the man responsible. Ten years. Ten years to train, and grow strong enough to face the man who killed our father."

There is an edge to his voice as he speaks of these things. An undercurrent of frustration and rage, speaking to feuds left unsettled, ambitions yet unrealized. Something deeper still. Resentment.

And for as turbulent as his emotions are in that moment, it is not their fault that he falls prey to Nakoruru's attack when it comes. It is merely the young-seeming girl's skill alone. As she closes the distance, he prepares himself. Her blade flashes out, and he attempts to deftly slip to the side of it. However, her leaning gives her an unexpected reach at the last moment, cutting his reaction time from a fraction of a second to a fraction of that. The slash bites deep and true, slicing a clean line through the front of his linen shirt. It falls open, exposing his proud, strong chest, and perfectly sculpted washboard abdominal muscles. Had it even touched his flesh?

That question will remain unanswered as the younger of the Bogard siblings springs into action of his own accord. With a sharp inhale between his teeth, Andy seems to flicker and vanish. Overhead, the rustling of leaves sends a few falling, and signals where the ninja wound up. He effectively "landed" into a crouch, upside down, on one branch, the fore and middle digits of one hand upraised before his face.

He springs forward, hurtling to the ground in a diving attack as if he, too, were a majestic raptor, kin to Mamahaha herself. He lashes out as he rockets towards her, with an elbow leading the charge. The intent is to soften her, weaken her defense so that when he lands, his feet barely touch the earth before he's leaping again, his body twisting to be suspended horizontally in the air, where his feet piston out with all of his might in a thunderous dropkick.

But it seems that the Human Weapon is not, yet finished. Flipping, Andy lands perfectly from the dropkick, and thrusts one palm out, which fills itself with swirling ribbons of inky, tenebrous energy. His other hand lashes out, with the more familiar brilliant blue light. Coming together, the two contrasting energies, Yin and Yang, Darkness and Light, crackle, sizzle, and ultimately explode, expanding into a whorling bubble of destructive force with its own inherent gravitational pull.


COMBATSYS: Andy blitzes into action and acts again!

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Andy             1/---====/=======|=======\===----\1         Nakoruru

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

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////            ]
Andy             1/---====/=======|=======\======-\1         Nakoruru

COMBATSYS: Nakoruru blocks Andy's Geki Hishouken.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////              ]
Andy             1/--=====/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\1         Nakoruru

The blond ninja's declaration is heard in whole, Nakoruru not budging an inch to act until he has finished speaking, proof that the inquiry was voiced out of quiet wonder rather than a devious attempt to distract.

Revenge, then. There expression on the inquiring girl's face is thoughtful. That truly can be one of the greatest sources of power within the hearts of mankind. Even but an burning ember can fuel a furnace of determination, turning ordinary individuals into other creatures all together. Yet the man she has seen, who has come out here to this scorching hot venue for the sake of helping with the charity drive, does not seem consumed by it as other individuals she had seen. Is it a mask? Or is there more to explain his self control?

Either way, she has learned more about a respectable fighter, knowledge tucked away as she transitioned into the aggressive dashing strike that seemed to have struck true on some level, even if the extent of the damage is unclear beyond the severing of his previously perfectly functional shirt.

Before even sliding to a stop, she pivots on one foot, ending with her feet skidding backward the last half meter before coming to rest. Her eyes are immediately back to the location where her opponent had been an instant before. But there is only empty air there now. Immediately, the young looking warrior's face turns right, then left, her long hair and crimson ribbon always trailing behind the motions by a half second. Finding nothing, she glances up while taking steps forward, clearly deciding he must have taken to the air.

She discovers him in his upside down crouch - a technique uniquely available to practiced ninjas she has known, its exact mechanics still unknown to her in spite trying to learn it once or twice before. Unfortunately for her, he moves in the same instant, diving at an angle that leaves no room to escape. If only she had spotted him a split second sooner. Instead, no fancy footwork gets her free from the impacting elbow crashing into her shoulder and folding her forward slightly as she slips backward. A coughing gasp escapes her lips, only to be cut short as the drop kick catches her in the back of the head, smashing against her bow and skewing it aside slightly.

Once more, she's almost driven to catch herself with her hand, but this time she manages to catch herself before quite falling over, drawing herself back up squarely within the path of Andy's next attack. That she doesn't crumple outright against his skilled attacks suggests she's no stranger to getting hit. For as swift as she is, the small swordswoman is hardly fragile.

When it comes to the dual natured energy attack that follows, however, there is no time to escape. All she can do is pull her arms up over her chest and face, suck in her breath, and flex her aura against the incoming weaponized chi. It crashes against the smaller fighter, fully encompassing the upper half of her body within its expanse. The pull of the technique brokers no chance to pull away without dropping her guard, leaving Nakoruru to be battered by the crackling duality she finds herself caught within, forced to simply weather the storm for as long as Andy can concentrate on such an impressive display of mastery.

Mamahaha, on the other hand, is under no such restriction. Whether she is responding to a call on her master's part or simply acting of her own accord is immaterial at this point as the great hawk explodes into another dive toward Andy from above the reach of the Geki Hishouken. This time, the prismatic energy shrouding the diving predator is immense, giving her the appearance of a plunging rainbow meteor rather than a chi manifesting bird, a long trail of residual power left in her wake.

The warning comes in the loud noise made by the incoming attack, a rush of energy and displaced wind as the feathered comet attempts to smash into Andy with a massive explosion of energy!

COMBATSYS: Andy dodges Nakoruru's Irusuka Yatoro Rimse.

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

Bolstered by the success of his diving assault, Andy presses on with the Geki Hishouken, with the faintest vestige of a grin on his face. It is only now, moments after Nakoruru's expert slash to his chest that the blood begins to well up to the surface, creating a razor thin line of ruby red down the center of his chest and stomach. Rivulets begin to form, collecting and rolling down, mingling with sweat and dilluting, so that it spreads and follows the etched lines of muscle in his skin. Such is the nature of a precise cut with a truly sharp blade. Half the time, the skin doesn't even know that it's been rent until seconds have passed and movement has forced the wound to actually open.

But Andy pays that no mind, as he lays on the pressure with the Geki Hishouken, fueling his ki into this miniature gravity well of concussive force that keeps her suspended and helpless to do anything other than defend herself or relent and succumb to it. This is where he wanted to get her. This could be the deciding factor.

But then he hears the shrill battle cry of the hawk. He looks up, just in time to see that great, colorful attack come rushing down on him. The radiant nimbus around the bird of prey tells The Human Weapon everything he needs to know. His focus is cut, the barrage of vacuum infused ki halted abruptly, and the ninja bounds away, gracefully performing a series of back handsprings to carry him not only out of the trajectory of the vicious predator, but also the explosion of violent force that it creates.

He doesn't stop moving, though. The last flip is performed with no hands, and Andy lands sliding across the earthen floor, kicking up more of that dust to create a reddish haze around his feet, clinging to the white of his pants and staining them with the color of burnt sienna. He tears the open, tattered shirt off of his body and tosses it on the ground, leaving him only on the underarmor of mesh that clings to his skin, where it isn't left torn and loose from the slash that opened him up.

And he dashes.

Perhaps a particularly thick cloud passed by at just the right time. Combined with the shade under which they fight, this could convincingly make it seem as if everything is dark suddenly. But it seems more than that. Almost as if the area is just suddenly full of shadows, deeper and darker than they should be. Blacking out vision.

Andy dashes in. Only within a few feet from her does he suddenly appear, already poised with his elbow drawn back and lashing out. Should it collide, that elbow strike should be enough to shatter bone, crush muscle into paste, and send the Ainu girl hurdling away from him like a human projectile.

COMBATSYS: Nakoruru full-parries Andy's Choushinsoku Zaneiken!!

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

Andy disengages just in time, Mamahaha's hell dive bringing the bird smashing into the ground where he was only an instant before. The precise nature of the impact is lost beneath a prismatic dome of discharged energy at the epicenter. An instant later, the great hawk is seen retreating out of the cloud of energy, powerful wing flaps taking her backward and away from the sparkling demonstration of just how much energy the feathered creature seems capable of channeling.

Nakoruru, meanwhile, released from the gravity well of the Bogard ninja's markedly advanced technique, releases a soft gasp, leaning forward, breaths coming fast. Her arms bear evidence of the storm she weathered, scorch marks visible on her exposed skin as well as the cuffs of her wrist guards. The fabric along the sleeves of her long robe is also frayed, torn in places by the storm of conflicting currents she had been caught within for so long. If she hadn't managed to brace her aura in time to push back against it, the impact could have been near fight deciding.

But there is no time to contemplate the close scrape she just had, or the much needed bailout from above gained by Mamahaha's intervention. Her face lifts, spotting Andy as at last the multi-hued storm of energy released by Mamahaha's dive begins to fade. Extending her right hand, the young looking warrior seems to grasp at the last traces of it, a subtle but unmistakable draw of that ambient energy back into herself.

Even as she takes a small portion of the bird-delivered explosion in to rejuvenate her strength, she watches as Andy sheds his cut shirt in a move that absolutely guarantees this fight video gets added to the Favorites List of many ladies around the world. There is a tinge of guilt, perhaps, at costing the man his shirt from one well placed slash. It's not like he made himself available to the SNF organizers knowing he'd be scheduled to face a sword fighter, after all.

But at this tier of martial arts, one is certainly expected to adapt to the unexpected, and Andy Bogard has proven beyond any doubt that he's capable of that. And in the next moment, he executes his return fire plan, recognizing that with Mamahaha's explosive dive bombing, the tension in the fight is reaching a peak fervor between the two, and every step now may be the difference between victory or defeat. It isn't a life or death struggle on display this day, but that's no excuse for the two not to bring their A game!

Andy dashes in, traversing the space between the two in an instant, an inevitable crack of sound as the air around him breaks. The nature of his attack leaves an almost impossible measure of space in order to react. That he doesn't connect at all can only be credited to the honed blend of lightning reflexes and wicked sharp combat instincts.

The girl makes her move, her left arm snapping out in a backhanded swing, and as Andy's dash closes in for that inevitable, bone crushing impact, he finds his elbow leading the way into the soft, pliant large white cloth she produced earlier in the fight. It gives no resistance as he blitzes clean into it.

Behind the curtain of obscurity, Nakoruru has moved, escaping a devastating impact by a narrow margin, dancing aside on one foot. The rush of air of Andy's passing blows back her hair as the fingers of her left hand snap out to seize a corner of the impacted cloth and whip it back. More of that prismatic chi of hers surges along its surface as she swings her arm the other way, snapping the cloak back at Andy, attempting to crack it against his side. Her arm continues the motion as she attempts to follow it up with one more, then a third. Each blow is like a whip strike of kinetic impact and a charge of chi that sinks deep, disrupting the flow of his energy within.

Finally, Nakoruru takes a step back, cracking the cloth in the opposite direction for one last hit, and in the process of sweeping it aside, a ghostly clone of her great hawk erupts out from behind it, like a magician producing a pigeon. Only this pigeon is made of pure energy. And is as big as a medium sized dog. And is trying to smash into Andy's chest as a finishing blow!

COMBATSYS: Nakoruru successfully hits Andy with Apefuchi Kamui Rimse EX.

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

As he dashes in with his devastating elbow attack, Andy's sharp eyed stare catches sight of that mystical cloth that she seemingly conjures out of thin air. Of course. Isn't this how it always is, Andy? Time and again, you think you finally have it. The most opportune moment to land a decisive strike that will end the battle. And not once have you been able to land it. Not against this girl. Nor the one before her. Not against Terry.

You're just not good enough. Not strong enough. Not fast enough. This is why you failed to inherit the mastery secrets of Hakkyokuseiken by Master Tung. This is why it was Terry that faced Geese and avenged father's death. This is why you'll never be anything more than a shadow, a weak reflection of the strength of the Legendary Hungry Wolf.

He sneers, an expression only meant in disgust for himself, as the cloak whips against him. He tries to move, to shift with it, and avoid the follow up attacks that seem to come from all sides at once, rocking him back and forth.

The bird. That damned bird. Energy or not, it finally catches him, crashing into his chest and sending him flying in a straight path, parallel to the ground, and just a scant few feet, as his body twists and barrel rolls in midflight. He hits the ground hard, disappearing in a explosion of dust, before continuing to skip and roll, skip and roll, and finally come bouncing limply to a halt.

His body aches. Every muscle is burning with built up lactic acid. The blood flows freely, now. From his chest, his nose, his mouth. He pushes himself up onto all fours and lifts one hand to cover his mouth as he coughs up thick, ropey strings of the precious vitae that should be carefully sequestered away in his veins.

But, he still rises to his feet. Slowly. But he does.

He stands there, swaying on his feet. His face is downcast, hidden in shadow, his hair having fallen free of the tie that held it in a tail, and now blowing freely in the breeze. His arms hang loosely at his sides. But he still stands. And within the deepest shadows, where the darkness seems to pool within the sockets of his eyes, there is a glimmer of twinkling blue white light. His hands suudenly flare, blue mist seeming to pour out of them, which then swiftly becomes flickering blue flame that spirals around his arms in languid twisters. He lashes out suddenly with his left hand, bringing his fist up to his chest and then sweeping out to open his palm in front of him. A ball of swirling blue and violet energy is released, hanging suspended in the air, before he thrusts the other hand directly into it. When the combined energy from both hands meet, that globe of ki erupts, looking like a burning star shedding its outer layers, as a gaseous nimbus and corona of energy swirls about it. It goes flying, looming large and leaving a trail of sparkling blue haze in its wake like the tail of a comet.

COMBATSYS: Nakoruru blocks Andy's Zetsu Hishouken.

[                          \\\\  < >  /////////////                 ]
Andy             0/-------/-------|==-----\-------\0         Nakoruru

Once more, so much of Nakoruru's arsenal comes into play. So many who have faced her likely saw the sheathed blade and assumed that was all there was to know about the petite fighter's vector of attack. And then there's the hawk - the large avian predator impossible to miss, leading one to imagine that sword and bird are the primary threats. But Andy has seen that the girl is capable of some simple grappling, using her legs to deliver kicks that, while not devastating, are certainly felt...

And of course, there's that infernal cape of hers, the secret weapon, pulled out and dismissed, a flexible means of defense, deflection, or, as she just demonstrated in that narrowest window of time when she had finally caught Andy at a bad angle, a method for striking.

Following the third attack, where she whipped out the spectral clone of the great hawk still hovering above, she releases her hold on it once again, letting it scatter back into stray sparkles of energy. Whether it is being summoned and dismissed, or created and destroyed each time is difficult to say.

Coming out of her spin, she returns to her ready stance from before. Her breaths are coming faster now, the exertion of the fight no doubt taking its toll. She watches Andy across the way as the cloud of dust clears around him, left hand lifting up to rub at the back of her head, pressing flat against her askew bow where she got clocked solidly before.

Is it possible to miss the change that came over him? The darkness she feels now is not one born of ninjitsu techniques designed to shroud his movements, but rather a shift in aura. "Andy Bogard," she speaks up, forcing herself to stop rubbing at the back of her head and return to her ready stance, left arm forward, right arm bent to place her hand near her weapon. "As I think back on the reason for this demonstration," the reason they are in this furnace of a country to begin with, "I once again find myself compelled to thank you for a phenomenal display of talent."

The match could be considered over at this point, right? The back and forth exchange of attacks and defenses have hinged on the smallest, most minuscule of differences, and if such a test of skill were to happen again, when both fighters were renewed, it would be impossible to predict the outcome. Perhaps it has gone on long enough for now.

Except the blond ninja is moving still, getting to his feet, driven by resolve not easily broken. Nakoruru stays put this time, but she clearly tenses slightly. There's more for him to show, more she has yet to see within his arsenal. And as impressed as she is by his talents, she's not in the business of getting hurt if she can help it.

Once more, he taps into that vibrant wellspring of energy. In that, she sees similarities between the brothers. Terry also unleashed explosive attacks, demonstrating energy mastery above and beyond most people in the world. The light he summons pushes back against the shadows, revealing what portions of his face are not covered by his sweeping hair - blond locks easily the envy of many - and it is to there that she looks for a moment before shifting her focus to the power made manifest just past the reach of his palm.

From a distant, she has time to prepare. She's proven that she's fast - world class speed, for sure. But when he combines the two kernels of destructive force into a single weapon, the large projectile is more than she can just simply evade. Once more, it becomes a contest of her aura against his ki, sucking in her breath, projecting a powerful counter force of unseen presence into the incoming threat.

Arms raised, she lowers her head behind her gloved fists, and then is lost beneath a collision of vibrant, blue-white power. The collision sends her sliding backward, twin grooves in the dust marked by her moccasin-clad feet until she comes to an abrupt stop against the trunk of one of the shade-conveying trees.

Peeling off the tree, she leans forward then, dropping to one knee, one hand planted against the ground, head still lifted to so that she can look forward. The material of her conic wrist guards has been completely shredded now and tendrils of smoke wisp up from her shoulders and forearms where the conflicting energies collided most in her defense.

Swallowing, she pushes up out of her crouch, taking one step, then another, then breaking into a run back toward him now. Her hands are free, fingers no longer near the grip of her blade, a clue that it may not come into play with this attack. Instead, she reaches out, attempting to catch Andy by both of his arms and hold them fast in a bid to transition her forward momentum into three, rising kicks, targeting stomach, chest, sternum. His arms would serve as the fulcrums necessary to give her the leverage to rise higher with each kick.

The end goal would be to plant a final two-foot kick against his shoulders and backflip away, attempting to land a couple meters back from where she started. Of course, if she can't catch him at all, she's going to be left rather over extended, arms grasping at air instead!

COMBATSYS: Andy dodges Nakoruru's Rera o Chikiri.

[                          \\\\  < >  /////////////                 ]
Andy             0/-------/-------|==-----\-------\0         Nakoruru

Andy witnesses as his devastating ball of destructive force hurtles at the girl, and he manage to withstand it. Not without ill effects, but she still manages to withstand it. She might be pushed back against her will, and even slammed into a tree for her effort, but she still stands. Is that a testament to her own inhuman endurance or is it instead a testament to just how weak Andy Bogard really is?

The half nude shinobi braces himself, sliding one foot forward and lowering himself by bending his knees. His open hands rise, loose at about chest level before himself. And Nakoruru comes running at him, at a breakneck pace. He notes that she's not reaching behind her for that dagger. A kick maybe? Or a throw?

When she grasps for him, he ducks down into a squat, and rolls his body to one side, so that her hand passes right over his head, and her fingertips feel the whispering caress of his silky hair as it falls between her digits, to settle back around his shoulders. It was a move he used to use to great effect on the schoolyard when playing tag. Something Terry taught him.

With her left overextended, and him now positioned to her outside, flanking her, Andy tries to capitalize on the advantageous circumstances. He reaches out with his own hands, grasping at her overly intricate and loose attire, hoping to find some easy purchase that he can then use to leverage her from behind, by entangling her legs within his own. His arm will cross over the top of her chest as a solid armbar, and should he succeed, he'll push her down, over his knee, and slam her onto her back in the earth beneath them.

COMBATSYS: Andy successfully hits Nakoruru with Medium Throw.

[                         \\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Andy             0/-------/-------|=====--\-------\0         Nakoruru

Steel-blue eyes widen as splayed fingers close over empty air, perhaps stealing a few strands of golden hair in the process but certainly not enough to get any kind of hold on her elusive target. Having leaned hard into the attack, her arms swishing past each other, the overreaching swordswoman is in no position to counter the way the Bogard ninja expertly takes advantage of his timely escape.

The girl's combat attire is certainly not designed to be nearly as snug as many modern fighters will aim for, and in this situation, the liability of such preference becomes clear in an instant. Pressing off with her foot closest to where Andy rolled might have proved sufficient to clear his reach. Instead, he easily closes his fingers over the lower lengths of her robe, stopping the raven-haired girl's escape short and putting her off balance as a result.

A small squeak of surprise announces the success, her arms suddenly flailing, quite the opposite of the graceful launching backflip she had had in mind when she first dashed into the attack. It's trivial to entangle himself with her at that point, her balance all but ruined and her guard no where close to where it would need to be to stop him. A moment later, he's got his arm over her and she's rolling off his knee to slam into the dust with a grunt, her upper back hitting first.

Compared to the acrobatic ways he's escaped her own attempts at throwing him, her inability to counteract his grapple suggests a gap in the Ainu fighter's own training. Used to crossing blades or other weapons with deadly fighters, she's had comparatively little experience dealing with those skilled in intricate grapples.

Even still, she's only on the ground for a moment, pushing off her feet into a backward roll to come up into a low crouch, the whites of her robe now thoroughly coated with the red-brown dust of the ground. She looks a little frazzled at the exchange, all things considered, cheeks a bit pink from the combination of being taken to the ground from overreaching, exertion, and aching pain from the amount of energy she's forced her own aura to contend with.

A breath is released as the young woman surges back onto the offense, affording only a moment's reprieve. She leads with her left hand, palm slamming out toward his chest, attempting to pull his defense that way. The true threat comes from the other direction, however, the girl pivoting to the left, her right hand swinging out with her kodachi in a reverse grip, aiming to bury the ruby gemmed pummel into Andy's stomach hard enough to stagger him.

If successful, her original left handed strike will shift to a hold on his forearm, Nakoruru pulling him forward hard while crouching, aiming to flip the Human Weapon over her shoulder onto /his/ back! Another kiai echoes out as she tries to give herself enough burst strength to see the lengthy duel through!

COMBATSYS: Nakoruru successfully hits Andy with Armed Combo.
Grazing Hit

[                           \\\  < >  /////////                     ]
Andy             0/-------/-----==|======-\-------\0         Nakoruru

With Nakoruru firmly planted on the ground, Andy shifts, seeking to press one boot against the Ainu girl's chest and ask for her submission. However, she makes that impossible, as she rolls away from him just as his tabi-clad foot comes stomping down where she once was, kicking up a puff of dry dusty dirt in a cloud.

When he looks up at her, from her crouched position, the look on her face has him taken aback. The sweat on her brow, the look in her eye and the color on her cheeks instantly conjures forth his own memories of another, much as he had been doing for her through this match. And he, in turn, finds his cheeks filled with color.

Damn it. She's cute.

Or maybe he's just taken too many blows to the head. It could very well be that. Regardless, as she exhales and enters his personal bubble once more, Andy is still semi-frozen and blushing. The palm strike crashes against his bare chest, his flesh warm, smooth and slick with a gossamer sheen of sweat and fresh, flowing blood from the wound she had created within it. It pushes him back, which does somewhat help negate the sheer brunt impact of her jamming the end of her blade's handle into his gouged gut. In his condition, however, he still finds himself off balance, teetering backwards for a fall, though she clasps his forearm, and he, in turn, hers.

And he's falling, flipped over her back and collapsing to the ground on his back, staring up at her with a surprised look on his face.

But, he spins, not unlike a breakdancer, using his back as a pivot point, though nimbly shifting to his side and pushing himself up onto his hand so that he can sweep one leg up, in front of her thighs, and the other rushes in to buckle the back of her knees.

If he manages to capture her, he rolls back, bringing her down to the ground alongside him. There, he rolls over, twisting in the process so that, as he comes out of his roll, he lands a back thrusting elbow to the center of her chest, followed by a swift backfist to the face.

COMBATSYS: Andy can no longer fight.

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

COMBATSYS: Andy successfully hits Nakoruru with Combo Grapple.

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

It only becomes clear how much the smaller fighter was running on fumes after she connects with her three-step combination attack and throw. Dropping Andy on his back in the dirt, she stands up straight again with that somewhat lethargic lean of someone who's feeling aches and pains from further movement. There is a lack of spring in her step. Were this earlier in the fight, there's no question she would have skipped away after dropping him, not one to take chances at being caught in close proximity with someone who likely has a superior ground game than she does.

But right now? Right now, she's just glad to be on her feet, her right hand slipping behind her back, sliding her heirloom blade back into its black leather sheath... right as Andy explodes into motion from his prone position. Perhaps anticipating some kind of lunging strike, she slams her hands out, palms toward Andy, clearly aiming to catch whatever attack comes her way.

Which really doesn't help one iota when someone is landing a scissor leg takedown. He connects cleanly, launching to trip her up, the second leg smacking the girl in the back of the knees such that she starts to crumple forward... only for Andy's strong twist and roll to reverse the direction of her fall right out from under her, her legs pulled forward, her upper half flipping back to slam against the dirt a second time within only a matter of seconds.

A grunt is forced from her lungs as she lands hard, but she isn't out yet. Arcing her back slightly, her right hand is going for her kodachi. Though she may not have a great amount of experience fighting on the ground, her choice of weapon is short enough to actually be viable in such a situation.

She never gets the chance. Being through, Andy's elbow smacks against her chest, forcing her down flat on her back, catching her right hand behind her waist and preventing her from successfully drawing her weapon.

The backhand out of the elbow strike to her face is just an extra bit of insurance at this point, her head bouncing off the dirt from the impact as she stops struggling against the blonde ninja. Raising her left hand in a warding gesture, while trying to pry her right hand out from behind her back.


In spite it all, there is a laugh to her voice.

"Ow. Okay! I give." She really doesn't want to get popped in the face again, it seems.

COMBATSYS: Nakoruru takes no action.

COMBATSYS: Nakoruru can no longer fight.

"Oh thank Christ," he mutters quietly enough the the children would not be able to hear. The pressure he had been keeping, digging his elbow into her chest to keep her pinned immediately relents, as he lifts his arm and drapes it across his torn, bruised and broken body. "I really didn't have anything left after that."

He lays there in the dirt, just taking the time to breathe. He doesn't try to guzzle down air like it's a Big Gulp and he's in the desert or anything. He maintains discipline, breathing in through his nose and out through his mouth, slow but deep.

"I should really take some time to learn some healing ninpo..." he finally says, as he sits up. The red dust covers his back, stains his hair. His knees draw up, almost to his chest, though the burning pain from her earlier slash prevents him from wanting to curl too much. He looks down at the wound, and muses, half to himself, and half to her, "It looks like I had an autopsy performed on me..."

Leaning back, the Shiranui shinobi rests his weight on his arms and looks over to the Ainu warrior girl with his sky blue eyes inquisitive, studying her closely for a moment. "Well... what do you say to us just doing a joint workshop about what it was like in feudal Japan. Teach them how people survived with no electricity or storebought foods or goods. Could be fun, right?"

Nakoruru remains on her back for a long moment after the pressure is released, her right hand finally free so that she can flop it against her stomach, her eyes on the sky overhead. Breaths come fast but it's also clear that she'll recover swiftly from the exertion. An up close study reveals her to be markedly fit, her small stature featuring lean, whipcord muscle that explains her ability to move so swiftly and, ultimately, strike surprisingly hard for her size.

Freed at last, she sits up, Mamahaha circling overhead to come down and land adjacent to her on the side opposite of Andy. With her wrist guards in tatters, there's really no safe perch for her to offer the sharp taloned bird for the moment. Seated, knees drawn up, hands resting on the tops of her shins, she gazes off toward the Taj Mahal itself, the world famous mausoleum's form shimmering slightly from the waves of heat rising up off the earth.

"You do credit to whoever trained you, Andy Bogard," the Ainu fighter muses softly. Mamahaha screes. It might be in agreement. It's hard to say.

Nakoruru lifts her hand to rub at her cheek where the final backhand struck while she was pinned down, then glances to the side to notice Andy's wince at his cut. She glances between the wound and his face a couple of times. "Later, if you allow, I may be able to speed the recovery process. For now," she gives him a supportive smile, "It's not bleeding anymore, at least." Fighters are made tough, to say the least.

At his suggestion, however, she grins, expression brightening, "That sounds like a wonderful idea. That happens to be a subject I can well versed on. It would be a pleasure to teach a combined lesson to the orphans with you."

Slowly, she pushes up to her feet, extending a hand toward Andy. The event organizers are already trying to keep the children from crowding out into the cordoned fighting area, kids laughing and cheering at the front row seats they were given to quite an intense spectacle of traditional era skills on display in the modern world.

The sight of the orphan swarm brings a warmer smile to Nakoruru's lips, her hands busy trying to dust herself off a little once Andy is on his feet one way or another. All in all, this first attempt of hers at participating in the promoted sport of fighting outside of the Team Tournament has proven to be quite the experience. Perhaps it is something she can continue to explore in the future.

Log created on 01:15:31 04/24/2018 by Nakoruru, and last modified on 03:48:33 04/28/2018.