Circuit Of Champions - RED CHAMPION BELT MATCH - Armor King vs Kasumi

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Description: Another face from the King of Fighters, Kasumi comes forward to challenge Armor King for his Champion Belt. Kasumi is of Team Ninja, the championship team of the last King of Fighters tournament, and is more than accredited to challenge the wrestler. But after his near win against Maxima, the old cat is beginning to slow down. Fighting in a serene bell tower, the rumors rise that this is the lucha's last stand. Will he triumph again? Or will Kasumi add another prize to her collection?

The Jaguar was getting old.

A narrow victory over Maxima in the last belt defense was enough to let Armor King keep his belt. But the Canadian was... deserving of the belt. One slight shift, one slight mistake against Armor King's favor, and it would not be Armor King here. But Armor King must keep the honor of the belt in his paws. With the fall of Sven Maesters, pro wrestling was losing its grip on the belts. Only Rainbow Mika was making her defense, making her hold on her defense tenaciously. How much longer before even Rainbow Mania falls, though?

And what's more, he had heard some distressing public words from Marduk.

STill, Armor King could not think of any other opponent more deserving. The Millionaire Ninja, Kasumi. Well, millionaire was only a rumor. She was one of the champions of the King of Fighters, the one who managed to tear down Duke and Nagase. Her worth of a fighter could very well let her challenge Zach Glenn, to say the least of Armor King. Her modesty was noted as an admirable feature; one that Armor King would respect, win or lose. But he intended to win. He might be getting old and worn down. But Kasumi would be facing him alone.

At the clock tower.

It was a religious site in some regards; a cathedral couldn't help but be. Naturally, out of respect for his kayfabe rival, he confirmed on the level of damage. King would get -very- upset if a religious site was messed up too badly. But it was due for renovations anyways. The catwalk complex is between the bells and ropes. The interior is quite dark, and deathly silent; the illumination was with powerful electric lamps and little else. The Armor King was dressed in his suit of black armor, his black Jaguar mask snarling in silence. The single red eye glows sinister, as he stands in the light, arms crossed in overwhelming presence. She would be here soon. And while she might not know the heart of the man behind the mask?

She would know and fear the strength of the Jaguar.

If the news pertaining to her excruciatingly narrow victor in King of Fighters 2017 is to be believed, the renegade shinobi is certainly not showing up to challenge the Champion's belt holder for financial reasons. Nor is it likely that she is chasing the fame and accolades a victory here would afford her. She has yet to appear for an interview in the wake of her victory in the King of Fighters, proving to be elusive as a ninja can be when it comes to being hunted down by a very curious press and public.

With two tournament championships under her proverbial belt, even the young woman's last name has yet to become a matter of public record.

No... if she is here to challenge the legendary wrestler for his belt, it can only be for the fight itself - the thrill, the test of strength, speed, and skill against one of the world's proven, and the self-improvement that can only be obtained by facing a fighter like the current belt holder.

The bell tower is perhaps a fitting venue for this match. Though the fighters will only achieve victory through enforcing their strength and technique to the intent of inflicting disabling harm, there is no grudge to be found here, no vendetta that must be satisfied. The chamber is elevated above the surrounding region, a tower atop a hill, just as the match itself is above the petty squabbles of fighters more interested in promoting their name or stirring up drama than putting their abilities to the ultimate test of head to head combat.

Tonight, Armor King will face one of the younger success stories in the fighting leagues. Many would cite that as a stark advantage for the Mugen Tenshin exile who must surely be at or near the peak of her athletic ability. But Kasumi knows all too well the advantages that come with experience and the long road of a lifetime of battle that she has only just begun to walk. She will not come with expectations of silly concepts such as advantage or weakness in her opponent. Thoughts like that are how someone ends up making fight-ending mistakes in the dangerous dance of competitive combat.

How she arrived at the cathedral and ascended to the elevated tower opening is unimportant. What matters is that she has, stepping out from around one of the massive domed bells, dressed in her side-tied azure wrap dress she's always used for sanctioned fight appearances. Rich sapphire blue fabric is bordered by white and gold in places, the front and back sides of the skirt featuring the images of beautiful swans taking flight.

The young woman's fingers trace along the outside of the bell as she lowers her gaze from looking up at its thick fasteners to focus on the armored titan himself. Her steps are light, inaudible things, a stark contrast to the sounds the powerful wrestler must make when moving about. Striding to a step roughly three meters away from the Black Jaguar Mask bearer, she draws herself up straight, hands folding over each other in front of her, a bow forward offered to the old warrior.

"Thank you for this match."

The politics of the belts might suggest that he had little choice in the matter. A champion who refuses his challengers won't be a champion for long. The fight promoters need their investment to pay off, after all. Yet she offers the brief statement with absolute sincerity, her voice soft but not weak, gentle but not meek.

Standing up straight, she raises her hands to a ready position, sliding one foot forward, taking in a breath then exhaling slowly. There's no signs of nervousness in the younger fighter. She has been tested in conditions every bit as trying as these. But her mind races as she considers the match ahead. With her swift striking style mixed with ninjitsu styled holds and guard breaks, she's used to facing other fighters equally interested in punching, kicking, and plying their speed to their advantage. In this opponent, she faces a new perspective on how fighting works all together.

The Shinobi in Blue smiles softly, head nodding once.

COMBATSYS: Kasumi has started a fight here.

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Kasumi           0/-------/-------|

There are a lot of responses Armor King wanted to give Kasumi as she arrives.

Armor King would have responded with a hearty 'you're welcome.' He might even have returned the bow. He might have talked about her entire journey to this point. He maybe even would hint at the need for concealed identities in this day and age; after all, there is a man underneath the mask, isn't there? He might even question how she arrived; then again, it isn't clear how -he- arrived. There wasn't even a public crew out and around. All these things he could have responded, explained.

Instead, he brings his arms up.

The bells ring strong in the tower, as well as out of their normal scheduled times. Why? Theatrics. Pure theatrics, as the lights swivel, to focus on him. Armor King is silent, as the bells echo through the tower, the bells ringing not -quite- next to them. It seemed the largest bells were being reserved as to keep them from deafening both fighters. Armor King looks down, tilting his head slightly to tranfixing the glowing red eye of the jaguar mask upon her. And tilting it down twice, he brings his hands to the true focus point of the lights, aiming right at his waist.

The belt.

The Red Champion Belt is emphasized, as Armor King present his palms under it. Keeping the crimson eye trained on Kasumi, he nods knowingly at his prize, the prize of this fight that all but dares the ninja to claim it. Armor King tightens his hands into fists, as he lifts them up. Pounding the armor with a clatter at both fists, he throws his head back, giving his declaration to the young foe. The cry to declare the fight to begin. The cry of war. And the ultimate sound for the ninja prodigy, explaining her fate, her duty in this battle.

"*jaguar noises*"

And he pounces.

Thundering in, his boots pounding on the catwalks, the wrestler rampages in. The towering grappler spreads his stance open, a reckless offense surging straight out of the gate. Limbs lashing out, the towering wrestler attempts to snatch up Kasumi on the left, the right, the center. Should his massive limbs snap around the delicate ninja, he would keep that momentum going as he would turn Kasumi around. Just long enough to come crashing down, with Kasumi chin on his shoulder, to bring down a crashing stunner right upon his spiked shoulder. A dastardly, brutal move, but a little too reckless, a little too open. Would Kasumi be intimidated?

Or would she find the opportunity to begin manuveuring around the wrestler?

COMBATSYS: Armor King has joined the fight here.

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Kasumi           0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0       Armor King

COMBATSYS: Kasumi blocks Armor King's Medium Throw.

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Kasumi           0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0       Armor King

The champion speaks, addressing the newcomer that believes herself ready to do what others who walked this path before could not - to take the belt from the legendary wrestler who has held onto it with an iron grip for years now. In spite her age, she does not stand before him with the normal arrogance of youth. This is not the upstart prodigy come to show the old timer how this whole thing is done.

Instead, she faces him with a reserved but no less unyielding resolve. Her eyes focus on the belt as it becomes highlighted by the well aimed spotlights then flick back up to the glowing eye.

"I understand." the Mugen Tenshin exile declares, her voice maintaining the same tone of composure she first greeted him with, projecting well over the clarion of bells.

"I would not have asked for this honor otherwise."

He moves and she sucks in her breath. This match would be quite unlike the grueling battle she faced against her brother not long ago. In that bout, she knew the style she was facing inside and out, ready to predict what was to come next from the slightest tick of motion in the young man's advances. But here there is no such advantage.

The world of the wrestlers is one largely unknown to her - consummate performers, they were masters of the art of entertaining their audiences while also flexing power and skill that gave them dominance in the famous squared circles around the globe. She knew about as much concerning playing to the crowd as the armored jaguar likely knew concerning moving unseen in plain sight. She will have to learn his methods as she sees them performed - this match is both instruction and test in one.

He is upon her in an instant, closing with confidence, perhaps, that his power will overcome the smaller fighter's defense.

He is right, in a way. Through she braces herself, arms raised, positioned to make it difficult to get a secure grasp around her, she can't ward him off entirely by a contest of strength alone, and if this match were merely a demonstration of brute force, it would already be all but decided.

He would feel the strength of his opponent as she fights his hold and get a sense of where her limits may lie in that regard. But there is more to this battle than raw power and the ninja demonstrates her own technique before she would be brought into a jarring chin-first landing against his plated shoulder.

Twisting, she gets her arms up beneath her, planting her palms against his back, ready to counter the downward force with a flex of the lean muscle that runs through her limbs, combining arm and back strength to mitigate the impact. Rather than having her jaw introduced to his shoulder, it is her forearms that eat the blow in the end, her chin striking against her forearms from the other side as she's taken off her feet to the ground.

Pushing back, she slips out from his landing, seizing the opportunity of ending up behind the masked warrior to attack back. It's in this instant that she realizes the particular challenge in facing the champion - while she maybe able to kick with enough force to be felt, the sculpted, form fitting armor over his torso will render her hand strikes in that area all but useless.

Undaunted, she stabs a knife hand out toward the back of the jaguar mask, arm moving with piston like force and leading the way for her to launch into a knee strike as the second blow, targeting roughly the same spot. The momentum would translate into a third blow as she rises, other leg snapping up for a second knee strike in a bid to bowl Armor King over from behind with three consecutive blows toward the back of the head.

The risk is in how her path will take her forward and likely over him such that she would land with her back toward him on the other side - clearly she is banking a lot on landing this blow!

COMBATSYS: Armor King endures Kasumi's Reppu Renkyaku.

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Kasumi           0/-------/----===|===----\-------\0       Armor King

There was an accurate assessment from the ninja.

Performance was often what concealed the skill of wrestlers. A brash wrestler like Sven Maesters could conceal an unrefined technique that will never be forged, the indominable spirit like Rainbow Mika, or the expert strength and starling finesse of Zangief. Even Hagger, the mayor of Metro City, often had his immeasurable skill overshadowed by his theatrics. Armor King, to outsiders, was merely a very strong, tall man in fake armor, wearing a jaguar mask. It was very easy to pass him over as a buffoon, or simply a charade.

And then you faced him in a fight.

The theatrics reveal a fight psychology, unmatched in his tier. When he locks his arms, he doesn't need to overpower Kasumi, he just needs the threat of power, the weight of power, the presence of power. He snarls violently as Kasumi works her way through the grapple, rotating herself through as he shakes. When she slips around, he actually loses his balance, stumbling from his sheer force. And there is an opening exposed, ready for Kasumi to pounce. But the presence does not yield, does not dawdle.

It pivots well into the defense.

When the first blow comes to the back of the neck, it musters a snarl from the man, as he begins his turn. Not slowing down at all by the first blow, he was already lurching back at her, a surge of strength coming as he slams at her. But in mid-turn, she was already attacking. It was harder now, slowing him down worse as the edge of the armor cracks, splintering by the wayward blow of the knee. But he wasn't slowing down. By the time her knee collides, it becomes very apparent what Kasumi was working against.

He was in the middle of counter attacking.

Every opening, every attack, every movement was met with a surge of strength from the towering lucha, as he continued his turn. The motive was clear: he was going to try and grab her. It's only Kasumi's offense keeping him at bay. He wasn't blocking the attack, even his defense was just enough to keep tracking on Kasumi. Every blow was delaying him, forcing his strength down for just a second more. But Kasumi had to keep attacking, an impossible feat for even the relentless ninja. The final knee comes, and Armor King grunts almost quietly as he swings, his balance swaying hard. Was he stunned? But the moment she lands on the other side, the moment the opening is made?

It's all too clear, that she did not break the momentum of the wrestler.

Armor King slams his hands right after Kasumi, attempting to seize her by her hips...

COMBATSYS: Kasumi full-parries Armor King's Hades Drop!!

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Kasumi           0/-------/--=====|===----\-------\0       Armor King

As part of her training growing up, Kasumi had spent hours striking unyielding wooden training dummies. It wasn't just to harden her hands, knees, and feet to the pressures of combat, but also to refine and perfect techniques for dealing out blows against hard surfaces without shattering her own bones in the process.

That training saves her from shattering her knee against the man's chest as he turns into her combination of blows that were meant for the back of his head. Each of the two knee strikes impact the torso armor with a loud enough report as to likely draw winces or cringes from much of the remote viewing audience. Even as trained as she is, there are bound to be bruises.

But such uncompromising force is necessary to make her blows felt by this veteran of the ring. Anything less would hardly go noticed by him.

But after the second knee strike, there is no more she can put into the sequence, her upward momentum having reached its apex, both legs having fired off their chambered kicks. If Armor King had simply been knocked backward or retreated by choice, she would have no choice but to drop back to landing in front of him, potentially vulnerable for a brief moment of required recovery.

But instead he pushes into the young woman's attack, unyielding as his armor. Perhaps this approach works well in the ring against other wrestlers, fitting the grappler's natural inclination to clinch or try to secure holds on each other before the other... but the Azure Shinobi fights to a different set of rules and her response may be something entirely unexpected by the veteran.

Instead of dropping down to land on her feet, she snaps her trailing leg forward, attempting to plant her sandle-clad foot against his armored chest, taking advantage of his relentless charge by transitioning into a new attack herself.

If her foot lands, she'll use it as leverage to push herself up further rather than dropping back to her feet. And then her other foot will follow suit, giving her more upward motion... A third step will aim for his armored shoulders, narrowly avoiding the spikes found there, to take to the air. It would be easy enough to assume she was simply trying to vault over the much larger fighter to flank behind him, to land in a safer place.

To assume that would be to underestimate the deceptive and unpredictable nature of the woman who managed to secure the final rounds of victory in the King of Fighters 2017, however.

Once airborne, she would vanish behind Armor King in a swirl of pink, soft pink petals, a lingering scent of cherry present in the air. She would reappear two more yards in the air, diving right back down at Armor King from the other direction, wind rushing to break past her as she descends with the speed of an attacking eagle.

Her descent would bring her into a new collision course with Armor King, left hand aiming to slip beneath his arm as if a lever to pry open his guard even as she twists to the right to bring her elbow in for a devastatingly strong elbow strike.

This was the nature of attack that was able to pulverize the ribs of the unkillable Duke and right now, with a shockwave of a shattered sound barrier, it is the same power that is now coming to bear against the side of Armor King's armor if he is unable to avoid the ruthlessly efficient fighter's technique!

Of course, the entire sequence is fraught with risk - Kasumi could miss time her attempted launch, or she could be diving into an all too prepared Armor King... either outcome could leave the agile woman precariously off balance for a dangerous moment in a fight not likely to be generous with forgiveness.

COMBATSYS: Kasumi successfully hits Armor King with Oboro Zukiyo EX.

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Kasumi           0/-------/=======|=====--\-------\0       Armor King

You can't teach an old Jaguar new tricks.

As the towering wrestler pushes hard, he finds himself in the trap of the ninja. Armor King has only a split-second to clench a single petal between his fingertips, before the ninja is flowing, moving behind him. The size becomes Armor King's worst enemy, as Kasumi's entire martial art is built around a smaller opponent ripping apart a larger foe. Armor King's own pressure is reversed upon him, as nearly immediately, the ninja is at his flank. Off balanced, and out of position, there is only one option.

Force through it.

Kasumi's delicate form concealed incredible strength, and more dangerously, precision. It is only those last minute adjustments that deflect the main portion of the assault. The elbow drive hammers home into the armor, piercing and pentrating to the flesh underneath. The very suit cracks, snapping under the impact. Even the spreading of the point brings the sound of a fractured rib. But penetrating through, even Kasumi could feel the pure muscles working hard, flexing against her efforts. He was resisting, resisting to the best of his ability. No finesse, just pure force. And with it, Armor King makes the last effort to force it out, as he roars aloud.

"*jaguar noises*"

Armor King's burst comes, his flexing as his armor shudders. The effort leaves the chunks of armor falling away, his dark flesh exposing underneath. His red eye burns as he brings both of his hands together into a single clenched fist. Armor King is off balanced for a moment as well; it is a dire. But the whole of his momentum, his strength, is slamming back at Kasumi. In a way, it is similar to Kasumi's own match with Duke; an opponent with incredible endurance and strength, who relies on size and power to maintain pressure. And in turn, Kasumi's own deadly counter-attacks are making their marks, but are failing to slow down a stronger opponent. Duke cracked under Kasumi's fusillade of deft ninja techniques.

How much longer could Armor King last?

In any case, the masked wrestler was hurling deep at Kasumi, taking a risky momentum to leap into the air. To -smash- the blow hard across Kasumi's head, rather than into it. A vertical approach, a horizontal execution. He was trying to corner her, to knock her to the ground, and build momentum for the next attack. Momentum was key in this fight, even Armor King could see that. Kasumi was fast, agile, reactive, and worst of all, hard hitting. If Kasumi had her momentum to manuveur around Armor King?

It would be all over for the lucha.

COMBATSYS: Kasumi fails to counter Capital Punishment from Armor King with Momiji Otoshi EX.

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Kasumi           1/-----==/=======|=======\-------\1       Armor King

The aggressive shinobi slides to a stop in the cavernous bell tower, the soles of her sandals skidding over rough stonework before she comes to a stop in a hard lean. Everything had been gambled on that attack and as the powerfully built wrestler flexes out of his cracked armor behind her, metallic chunks resounding as they clang against the ground, it would seem to have been well worth the risk.

Control regained after such a blisteringly fast technique, she steps forward to pivot on her right foot, coming around to facing the masked warrior once more, hands back at the ready, her stance adopted as a matter of sub-conscious familiarity. He speaks and she closes her eyes for the briefest of moment, a chance to refocus her own thoughts.

"This battle is only just getting started," the young woman replies, caramel brown eyes snapping open a half second later to look back at the veteran, a soft release of breath completing her recentering technique.

The mask was an enigma all its own. It hid so much. Even the most stoic fighters could not hope to hide everything from their opponent. Even if their emotions were buried deep, the human face is home to over three dozen individual muscles. It is impossible to shift into violent motion without at least some of them constricting or relaxing as well, a detail that astute martial artists could use to predict opponent motions with shockingly effective accuracy.

But the Jaguar Mask hid all of that from sight. His emotions, his reactions, moments of surprise or winces of pain. None of them would be seen. Even the subtle cues regarding his next step were completely hidden.

She would have to rely on any other clues she could observe for the crimson eye would betray no secrets to the young exile.

He takes to the air and she shifts her feet, widening her stance, hands raised. She would not be retreating now but nor would she be so foolish as to try and withstand the plunging meteor of muscle and might directly.

Whatever her plan might have been, as her hands snap up while she simultaneously starts to move to the side, it most definitely would not have included getting bashed in the head. Armor King's arms power clean through her attempted grip, his fists smashing hard with a jarring impact against the young woman's skull with more than enough force to smash her clean against the ground with a loud cry of pain and alarm. The hard floor of the bell tower is unforgiving as she smacks against it, her palms catching her before her face ends up lacerated against the rough stone.

There is no chance to counter attack from this position and she makes the only move she could under the circumstances, shoving off to spring backward, landing on her feet a couple yards back. The sudden motion alone is enough to leave her feeling off-kilter, and ideally she should have taken a moment to let her brain catch up with the hammering it just endured, but feeling slightly off balance for a moment is far preferable to staying prone at the champion's feet.

Blinking her eyes and lifting her hand to rub against her head, her palm comes away with traces of blood. But her focus is still there, her resolve undiminished by the setback. She will definitely have to reconsider how she choses to deal with the wrestling beast's attacks going forward, however.

Perhaps Armor King needed the mask.

The wrestler, especially compared to his face counterpart Jaguar King, was an angry man. Not the persona, the man under the mask. His cause was not his own, his drive is not his own. Even his mask is not his own. But the alternative was unacceptable. Nobody asked him to wear the mask. But he brought it upon himself as a matter of honor, of respect. And most of all, to make him remember. Make him know.

That was his revenge.

But even as the snarl comes out, the uncharacteristic beast sounds of a Jaguar, the ruthless brutality was just toothless. Kasumi had very likely fought truly furious opponents; when she faced Duke, she likely felt the twing of murder. Armor King? Even as he smashes her down, even as her cries come, there... isn't the sensation of killing. Oh, it is the appearance; that may be why there is no physical audience. The raw aggression of the lucha's assaults was as bone breaking as Kasumi's own, if more brutish compared to her finesse. But all that anger within stays within, it cannot be taken out on an idealistic ninja. Not even a trickle of it. So when Armor King attacks next?

It's pure professional respect.

The wrestler doesn't give Kasumi a chance to recover, a chance to revive. The moment she touches her head, the wrestler sees the opening. The only warning would be a bellow snarl, as he is looming over her. There was no complex wrestling maneuver this time. Armor King would snap his arms on Kasumi's shoulders, as there, the single red eye would glare straight into her, the gaping maw wide open. Was he going to maul her, bite her? Was the mask real? Or was it just an imagine. There is only one response from the darkness.

"*jaguar noises*"

And then, he would smash the top of his mask into Kasumi's own forehead once. Twice. Three times, with battering headbutts. A little head injury would slow someone down. But the brutal heel techniques come to full force now, as the lucha attempts to outright stun the poor girl with an aggravated concussion. And should he make it that far? He would 'release' her by -hurling- her over the side of the catwalk. To smash her at one of the larger bells of the tower, before letting her fall down to the catwalk a level lower around that same bell. Armor King would join her down below with a thundering drop...

of course, if he only manages to connect with the headbutts...

COMBATSYS: Kasumi dodges Armor King's Driving Headbutt.

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Kasumi           1/-----==/=======|=======\-------\0       Armor King

Against the man hell spit back, the skilled shinobi's driving energy was something else entirely. In facing Duke, her spirit burned hot with enmity and a burning need for revenge. Wise men will forever caution about the dangers of anger or the risks of thirsting for revenge, but they would say such while keeping the dark secret truth to themselves... anger can be power and with the renegade shinobi's temper flared, when all she could see was someone who had hurt her friends or family, every iota of Kasumi's lethal combat training boiled to the surface, pushing her beyond her normal limits.

This was not one of those moments. She had no vendetta here. She had not come upon Armor King in the midst of maiming or concussing someone close to her. That aura of ferocity she had on display in Howard Arena at the end of the King of Fighters 2017 tournament is not to be on display here.

Yet even still, she is a competitive fighter, proud of her skill but to the point of hubris. Her fighting spirit hungered for challenge and the newly acquired life of fiscal ease did nothing to sate that need. It would be wrong to say she cared nothing about the belt up for contention here - she did have an ego, even if one sometimes had to look closely to detect it - but it was not her primary motivation.

Armor King had stood the test of multiple challenges... and she wanted to fight someone that good.

He moves the instant she touched at her head and she realized in that moment two things. First, it had been a mistake to waste precious time checking something she couldn't do anything about right now anyway. And second, this ruthless aggression on Armor King's part was part of his strength. Some might call it cheap or dishonorable, but not one born of and forged within the shadow clans.

He fought like a man who understood that this was a battlefield... and in such a sacred arena, hesitation between peers could decide everything. She couldn't be angry. She couldn't be offended that he seized upon the opportunity she unwittingly presented him. This was how true warriors fought.

This was precisely what she was looking for.

Still, the speed of the young woman is nothing short of remarkable, not just in how swiftly she can aggress to deliver her own attacks, but also in how fast she can react. He moves fast - fast enough to almost catch the Mist Dancer.

Her escape is almost executed with the grace any professional ballerina would be proud of. Kicking off with her right foot, and pivoting her left foot up so that only her toes connect with the ground, Kasumi of the Mugen Tenshin snaps up her arms and pirouettes just out of the powerful grasping hands, outside the reach of his arms.

But the maneuver ends up being more than just evasion, for as she finishes her first spin, her left foot plants harder, her leg muscles working to twist her into a second spin, momentum carried over and augmented, while her right leg snaps out and she folds herself forward at her hips, arms out at her sides, silken pony tail trailing behind her head as she moves.

Twirling into a blur of white, sapphire, and fiery copper toned hair, her right leg comes crashing in for Armor King's stomach, below the level of his arms, her torso on the opposite side of her leg providing the necessary counterweight to keep her perfectly balanced on her single leg.

Unless prevented, she would come out of the spin and plant her right foot, preparing to move immediately in spite the effort put into her last attack.

COMBATSYS: Armor King barely endures Kasumi's Medium Kick.

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Kasumi           1/---====/=======|=======\==-----\1       Armor King

Competitive was good enough for the wrestler.

The lucha, pressing his advantage, struggles to nail down the agile ninja. It was a dirty move, yes, but all was fair in a fight. It was hardly lethal, despite the dramatic scheme. After all, it would only be a short fall. And yet, the fair maiden slips from his grasp. Lurching in hard, he adjusts his footing carefully, pulling back to adapt to the adjustment. But at his flanks, it was dangerous. He already is forced to once again to push through, to charge through the attack with his unstoppable force. And yet, it becomes clear.

That even the ARmor King was beginning to crack under her offensive pressure.

The armor was too damaged now, especially with those torso blows, to provide effective defense. Already, he was struggling at the edges, stumbling as the blow shakes off even more of the armor. It is enough to force out a cry, a snarl of agony. Rich sounds of suffering, of even the hint of weakness. He steps back, leaving only the flesh to bear the force. The cry runs deep through the passages of the tower, the bells humming at the wrathful sound.

"*jaguar noises*"

The lucha still has to strike. Even as she prepares to maneuver around for the coup de grace, she is greeted by a hooking punch. A powerful blow comes high with the right arm, chained into a staggering blow with the left to corral her in. The assault comes to a close as he brings the combination to an end: A stunning hand chop, driving down low and hard. To smash her apart, to drive her down to the catwalk. He would catch her eventually.

Or it would be his fight to lose.

COMBATSYS: Kasumi full-parries Armor King's Fierce Punch!!

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Kasumi           1/-======/=======|=======\=------\1       Armor King

Even in the arena of competitive sport fighting, the Mugen Tenshin exile's fighting style possesses undertones of a smaller predator taking out a much larger prey. Circling, plying speed and swift, ambush-like attacks, chipping away at her powerful target's defenses and guard until at last she can pounce for the proverbial killing blow.

Of course, she's not here to kill Armor King, and that feral hunger that drives a true predator's ferocity is not to be found. But the shadow of her style's true intent can still be seen as she wears away at the man's armor, probing with a rhythm of fast, weaker strikes before unleashing a more devastating combination the moment there is even the narrowest of openings for her to capitalize on.

But the old warrior's body has been inured to strikes over the course of his long career. Blows that would have crumpled many only jostle the wrestler. It's clear that out of her spin kick, she could lunge forward to follow up with ease, seizing hold of a crumpling opponent to continue her assault. But Armor King does not crumple. He barely even seems to flinch. Rather than close in on him, Kasumi makes the snap decision to slip back, bracing on her rear leg, twisting her torso to the right as she winds up...

One can feel the surge of tension within her. Though her unarmed fighting style seems to utilize no outward displays of vibrant chi for the purposes of attacking her opponents, there is no denying the wellspring of that breath of life coursing through her body - a byproduct of a young life of hard training in the clandestine arts of the ninja.

There is no doubt chi empowers her own strength, her miraculous speed, and as Armor King swings his mighty arm, she employs every iota of it to answer.

He utters his response in the intricate language of the Jaguar.

"Not yet," the young ninja replies.

The moment that crushing hook swings in on the young woman, she explodes into motion, a tightly coiled spring allowed to release the full magnitude of its potential energy. She moves as a blur, clean in and under the hook with the speed of a bullet, streaks of blue and white trailing behind her as in a single motion. An explosion of displaced air and the roar of it rushing back in behind her to fill the vacuum blows up a storm of thin dust out from around the two.

As before, she seeks the man's left arm, fingers snapping closed over his left hand and, if the hold is secured well enough, wrenching his wrist to thwart any attempt of guarding against the crushing right elbow that immediately follows as the renegade ninja dashes past Armor King with an instantaneous burst of motion.

She would be visible a few yards beyond him, power sliding the same as before, twisting out of her strike in a low crouch, her back to him. Her legs send to her to the air with the kind of ease Olympic athletes would be envious of as she backflips in a high arc. At the apex, the young woman upside down, legs in the air, she vanishes from mortal perception or even the frames of the high speed cameras recording the bout, reappearing as she slides to a tight landing less than four feet from Armor King. The blow she aimed for his upper back with her knee in that moment of instantaneous movement may not have even registered to the durable man even as the girl winds up in front of him out of seemingly no where.

Unless the veteran is able to find a way to stop the Mist Dancer, this could be the match's deciding moment as the hard striking prodigy winds up, a second swell of that invisible force sending a new cloud of thin dust particles scattering. Already, her left hand braces her right hand as she winds to the left, her right shoulder facing her target.

Everything could come down to this instant - if she didn't stagger him enough, the time it takes to build her strength for a finishing blow will give him the time necessary to thwart her intent. If she failed to drive her elbow into his left side at the start, then the entire effort might be for naught.

But if things proceed as her instincts tell her they should, Kasumi explodes forward out of her stance, twisting to bring her right elbow in, applying leg, torso, and arm strength into a perfectly executed, devastating elbow strike directly into the man's torso with a thunderingly loud impact!

COMBATSYS: Kasumi successfully hits Armor King with Oka Ranman EX.

[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////                        ]
Kasumi           0/-------/-----==|=======\======-\1       Armor King

A feminine David, pulling apart a masked Goliath.

Armor King was struggling, absolutely struggling in the face of Kasumi's incredible speed. All he needed to do was touch her, just grab her, and she would come crashing down. But as the combination comes in, the strength of the wrestler is once again negated. Not by pure power, but the delicate finesse of a firm Japanese teenager. As the final hooks come out, the ninja was already moving, already at his flanks, those dangerous flanks. Armor King hardly had time to recover.

And the counter attack comes, explosively.

The lucha has his own inner spirit that drives him. But when his arm is wrenched behind, there is little he can muster, other than his own strength instinctively struggling. Even without the mask, he could not see her. And he could not stop her, as the blow comes from the left. There is a grunt. Not an animal grunt... a human one? And then, the final blow comes for the torso. All the Armor King can do is make the last twists, so his armor takes the final explosive blow. And take it is that last it does; the armor explodes into shards, the damage done, as Armor King collapses on his back, the catwalk shuddering on impact. For a moment, there is quiet, as the hum of the fight's vibration rings softly amongst the bells. Was this it?

"*jaguar noises*"

And Armor King forces back into a stand.

His body was almost bloodied by how swollen it was; his organs did no better even will the restraint in Kasumi's technique. It would be all too easy, after all, to turn a non-lethal blow into a fatal one. But it wasn't the armor absorbing the hit that kept the lucha going. It was strength, pure inner strength. And despite the complete agony he was in, the wrestler forces up... into Kasumi, to seize her on the rise by her own torso... Armor King's movements are starling swift, and dangerously desperate.

He had little tricks left to force his own victory.

COMBATSYS: Armor King successfully hits Kasumi with Jaguar Screwdriver.
- Power hit! -

[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////                        ]
Kasumi           1/-------/=======|=====--\-------\0       Armor King

Got her.

Lifting Kasumi up, he swings her high up on his shoulders, positioning her upsidedown in a suplex. Holding her there with firm, powerful grips, he adjusts his positioning, his footwork, lining himself up on the catwalks below. Giving a quick shake, he leaps straight up, and brings he straight into a tombstone position, slamming her headfirst into the catwalk.

Smashing through it.

Not even spinning as he smashes through the catwalk, the duo hammer down to the next level of the clock tower, smashing through to the catwalk below. That manages to survive. How it manages to survive? When the pair smash through the scaffolding around the main bell, as he takes himself and Kasumi through not only 2 more layers of wood, but only coming to a rest as he smashes her into the short ladder beside it, knocking the pair of them apart. Armor King was gingerly rising, his efforts barely mustering. But Armor King proved one thing. Speed could keep going, momentum could keep building, and she could maneuver around him.

But eventually.

She got caught.

"*jaguar noises*"

Unlike her previous blazingly fast attacks, this time Kasumi does not slide past the champion as he collapses. There is a long exhale on her part even as she starts to draw back from the aggressive, final strike. It should be a fight ending blow - the combination of early guard shattering, balance disruption, and the final, wind up, devastating strike is designed to carve clean through the hardiest of opponents. While not quite a killing technique in practice, it is one very few have taken full on and been able to continue fighting afterward.

Even the jarring numbness in her own arms is felt, an aching thrum that seems to echo to the vibrations in the slightly disturbed bells of the tower. In some ways, it's necessary to finish the match with the technique simply because trying to continue afterward presents significant challenge to her fighting capability. And for a long moment, it would seem that the young challenger's final blow secured her victory.

Already, she starts to straighten into a stand, arms lowering, hands cycling between clenching and relaxing as she tries to get feeling back into her arms. Her eyes never leave the man even as her body starts to feel the onsetting thrill of anticipated victory. Her breaths come quickly still, the sheer amount of energy required to perform her frighteningly fast attacks taking its toll now that the match seems all but over.

But then he speaks, the catwalk creaking as the powerfully built wrestler rises to his feet. No. No this match is not over.

Sucking in her breath, the young woman draws up her arms, sliding back a foot, rooting herself in preparation for the incoming assault. There is a flicker of alarm in her eyes to see him even moving still. Is this one just like the hellfire fueled monster at Howard's Arena? Is that what gives him the strength to press on in spite the wounds? Or is it sheer, stubborn, unbreakable willpower that brings him once more into the fray?

Either way, she isn't quick enough to escape, and her last second attempt to knock aside his reaching arms fails to prevent him from securing the tight hold he had been seeking the entire bout. This time, he had her, hefting the featherweight fighter with ease.

Upside down a moment later, she is far from a cooperative partner in this exchange, trying to twist and pry herself free, legs kicking back and forth in a vain effort to build the force necessary to break loose and spin to the ground on her own terms.

The process of being hauled up into the leap is perhaps the most disoriented she'd ever been in a fight. There isn't long to be confused, however, as her head is driven into the catwalk that's had its limit of this match. A loud smash sends wood flying every which way as the captured shinobi crushes through not just one but multiple layers of wood before finally being flung away, landing sprawled awkwardly amid fragments of what was a perfectly functional ladder just moments before.

It takes a long moment for her to move, arms twitching at first, head lifting off a splintered board, eyes fluttering open as she shakes her head back and forth a few times. Sucking in her breath, she looks back toward Armor King, noticing him clambering up to his feet amid the wreckage, still clearly ready to go.

Then... she needed to as well. Gritting her teeth, she pressed down, sitting up, woozy but conscious, feet slipping beneath her to allow her to rise, left hand out, palm open, warding off an attack that isn't even coming yet. It takes a moment for her vision to steady itself, her cheeks rosy red over skin that has gone slightly pale from the jarring her brain has taken from Armor King's two successful blows.

This is no time to hesitate, she reminds herself. She needs to fight. Winding up, she bursts back in on the champion, aggressing with renewed will to continue, answering his stubborn refusal to rest with her own determination.

Her arms still too numb to deliver sufficient striking power, she'll have to rely on her legs to do most of the work. Rushing in, she ducks low, once more building tension as her body winds tight and low rather than leaning back like her previous attacks. When she explodes out of the crouch with speed and power, it's into a backflipping kick that will launch herself high but also, if all goes according to plan, launch the Jaguar Masked warrior into the air with her as well.

If successful, she vanishes near the apex of her flip, reappearing adjacent to the airborne wrestler, latching onto his arm with her hands, swinging her feet against his back.

An unintelligble battle cry of her own escapes her lips as she tries to secure the hold. Perhaps it is out of desire for payback for his last assault that compels her to pull him into a spinning tumbling dive back down toward the abused catwalk with a nimble ninja attached to his back...

Either way, the intent is locked in from the moment she started, and if he falls prey to the technique, he will find himself slammed prone against and then through the catwalk down another level before coming to rest with Kasumi standing on his back, her feet planted against his spine, both of her arms wrenching his arm hard and back to make mitigating the brutal impact as difficult as possible.

Will this aggressive, risky, acrobatic hold be enough to tame the beast? Or will she only awaken his fierce drive to survive even further?!

COMBATSYS: Armor King breaks through Shinden Raku EX from Kasumi with Underhanded!
~ Cruel hit! ~
-@- Dazing Hit! -@-

[                         \\\\\  < >  ///                           ]
Kasumi           0/-------/---====|=======\-------\0       Armor King

What pushed him forward?

It might not be obvious when Kasumi is smashed through the stage to the lower section. As he smashes her through, it might even come across the need to destroy. The sheer brutality, the sheer effort to keep fighting. Armor King was a fighter well past his limit... right? Or maybe, this was his limit. It may become obvious as that red eye locks on, with the softest nod. There was still no malice. No killing instinct.

It was simply that he was going to give Kasumi the best fight he could give her.

With that said, he wouldn't be giving the ninja a chance to stand up. Or at least, try to keep her from getting up, as he strides towards her with heavy boots. This far into the fight, the bruises pocked his torso heavily, the sheer damage of Kasumi's offense in full display. As she gets up to a staggered stand, the lucha snarls out, picking up the speed as he calls out.

"*jaguar noises*"

A warning? A declaration of victory? In any case, the pressing offense is met with swiftness yet again. The sweeping upwards kick -does- knock Armor King flailing into the air, a groan coming from under the mask. The flailing doesn't last long. Kasumi might remember this, if she wasn't aware now. But as she winks from sight, she might see it when she reappears. The red eye, the lone eye of the mask, was still locked on her when she reappeared, at his side. Prediction. The wrestler's fist was already balled up.

It might be a cruel mercy, that he wasn't going for the head this time.

The wrestler's palm catches around Kasumi's back, as her hand comes around arm. He loses grip too quickly; he cannot get a hold. But he doesn't need one. She wouldn't get her hold for the finishing impact. Armor King snaps his fist -hard- right below Kasumi's navel in a shuddering uppercut. The nature was precise and brutal, aiming primarily for the organs down there with stunning force. It was a cheap shot, one of the dirtiest moves in Armor King's roster. But it got the job done, as it was clear in this case. It would stop the secondary grapple cold... for better or for worse. Twisting at the wrist in, he gives another snarl before flailing again.

After all, Armor King still had to land.

The wrestler hits the catwalk hard on his back, the scaffolding groaning as it sways dangerously. Writhing on impact, he rolls over on the side on all fours. Palms down, he breathes hard. He was exhausted, pushed well past his very limit. Slowly, gingerly, he begins to rise into a stand, for a moment not even aware of where Kasumi would land.

Was it enough...?

Perhaps she should have known better than to test the veteran wrestler's capacity for dealing with more traditional albeit fancy grapling techniques. While her well honed ninjutsu seemed to vex the powerful man's defenses, it should be considered that no matter how fast, fancy, or expertly she attempts to land an aerial clinch into a tumbling fall, there can be no doubt he's seen such techniques before in his decades in the ring. And, as the Jaguar masked champion demonstrates now, he knows how to deal with it.

She appears but this time he anticipated it, prepared for it, and twisted himself into a contest of technique, form, and strength while the two vie for control high in the air. The precarious exchange happens in an instant. He tries to shove her aside as she seeks purchase on his forearm, but in the process of positioning herself for the hold, he counters her own motion by slamming his fist up with piston-like force.

The blow slips clean past any reaction her part, her eyes widening in alarm, hands slamming together only to slip right along the muscular arm she had been hoping to wrench only an instant before, doing absolutely nothing to mitigate its crushing force.

The impact thwarts her attempt to secure a hold in an instant, her fingers going lax, mouth agape as a pained cry is forced from the young woman's lips. Her body folds over his fist, the fresh new hell of pain causing her to go limp in mid-air, right hand held aloft, left hand pressed against her lower abdomen. Her cheeks have gone pale, eyes closed, before her plunge back down to the catwalk comes to an end. She lands hard and off-center, tumbling down one level and only spared a much further fall due to hitting the stonework corner there with her back.

She ends in a sitting position, head bowed, legs stretched out in front of her, both hands wrapped over the young shinobi's stomach. The soft groan escaping her lips suggests that she's still vaguely conscious even if she might be wishing otherwise, and the rise and fall of her shoulders reflects the rapid breathing accompanying the disorienting pain.

She had to keep going, she told herself. She had to look up, get up, and refuse to give up. That was what it meant to be a champion. That's what she would be. She tries sucking in her breath only to be overcome by a new way of crippling nausea. Still, even as her complexion pales, she refuses to stay down, left hand pressing against the wall at her side for support as she struggles up to her feet.

Standing, she's unsteady, and as she looks around to try and find Armor King, the world is a swirling array of color and flashing stars. Lurching away from the wall, she staggers up the incline of the catwalk, convinced that he must be in that direction. With each step, she picks up speed. She'll never approach her insanely fast speeds of earlier in the fight, but while she's slow by her standards, she is by no means so slow compared to most fighters.

"I can do this..." she whispers to herself.

She's operating on instinct more than conscious thought, insisting she press forward, seeking out her target on fleeting awareness. She had to find him. In this state, perhaps it's no surprise that she falls back on the technique core to her entire style - the Oboro - that punishing combination of guard dropping and elbow slamming.

Stumbling into a full dash at the end, she reaches out for what she believes to be the belt holder, seeking one last time his arm, twisting her elbow into his side, going through the steps of the technique as a rote exercise she's conducted thousands upon thousands of times in her young life of training. Nothing fancy, no pretense of disguising her intent, simply determined to find him, grab his arm, and smash her elbow into his side.

Were this earlier in the fight, the attempt would be ludicrous. But there is a chance the champion is hardly in any better condition than she is?

COMBATSYS: Kasumi keeps on fighting!

[                       \\\\\\\  < >  ///                           ]
Kasumi           0/-------/---====|=======\-------\0       Armor King

COMBATSYS: Kasumi successfully hits Armor King with Oboro Gake.

[                       \\\\\\\  < >                                ]
Kasumi           0/-------/--=====|=======\=------\1       Armor King

Her movement catches his attention.

ARmor King is still on all fours, when Kasumi is already standing. Armor King is struggling, the heel exhausted, weak. Kasumi's second wind, her last push for effort was the fine line for the ninja. He is only just able to get on his knees, as the young lady is rushing, forcing at him. There is no interrupting this time. There is no time. She is on instinct, lashing out to grab his arm. She is upon him, striking down at him into the full dash, as he tries to roll to the side.


"*jaguar noises*"

As the elbow comes into his side, there no armor this time. No shield. And there, exposed, the final snap upon the base of his ribs comes. A devestating liver blow, that unleashes a snarl of pain. He spasms, lashing out as he falls to his side. The pain, at least, motivates him to stagger over. Or try to. Try, try was everywhere, everything. Trying to rise up, trying to stand. And yet, it was clear... Armor King was done. He was defeated. Kasumi had won.

But there was still one last trial for Kasumi, before she could claim the belt as her own.

Armor King forces into a stand, just long enough. That's all he needed, long enough. And there, taking a single step, his strength gives away. There is only one chance. He takes his stumble into a full leap, a full final leap. A desperate, wild, crushingly strong spin kick, throwing himself into the air with the final effort of the desperate lucha. The last challenge for the ninja.

Would she make it?

Would she able to take the belt now, so close to this end?

COMBATSYS: Armor King can no longer fight.

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

COMBATSYS: Kasumi blocks Armor King's Dark Inferno.

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

Normally when the young woman executes her signature technique, it is with so much forward momentum and furious speed, she has to slide for two or more yards past her opponent to drain the powerful momentum out of her motion.

This time, she barely gets a few steps past Armor King, stumbling but staying on her feet. Sick to her stomach, suffering a sharp agony low in her gut that is just screaming for a hot blanket and bed rest, beads of perspiration roll down her cheeks - though considering the bleariness of her eyes, some of that might be tears at this point.

The pounding in her head feels as if someone is actively performing Capital Punishment on her skull with every beat of her heart.

"I know," she murmurs, her voice weak, pain woven into every gasp of breath she takes now. "But I must see this through."

She forces herself to turn, face twisting into a grimace at motion that hardly looks jarring yet still sends fresh new agony through her body. Her legs are trembling now, her left hand pressing against her abdomen once more, her right arm raised, fist closed, forearm positioned in the best semblance of a block she's going to be able to manage now.

With her last blow, perhaps she won't need to defend herself anymore anyway. Perhaps the match is at an end. She can't deny that in spite the hellish pain she's in right now, it was every bit as intense the battle she had hoped for.

He's still moving. It seems as if he's going to keep going. Perhaps he has won this battle after all as there's nothing left she can give.

"Thank you," she murmurs, bracing herself, her left hand lifting to prop against her right forearm just barely in time to bolster it against the smashingly strong kick.

The azure forearm protector she wears explodes from the impact, blue fabric and reinforcing hard metal raining down on the winding catwalks below as Kasumi is sent flying opposite the direction she had come, this time up the incline slightly, her back smashing against the stone wall of the belltower interior.

One last gasp and her strength gives out, her feet sliding out from under her as she slumps to a seated position one more time, both hands folded over her stomach. Leaning her head back against the cool stone, the young woman closes her eyes, her breaths coming fast but consistent.

"Ugh..." she groans. Anyone who questions the legitimacy of professional wrestling need only face this man and learn instantly the error of their thinking, she considers quietly, barely clinging to the fringes of consciousness.

COMBATSYS: Kasumi takes no action.

COMBATSYS: Kasumi can no longer fight.

The clock tower is too quiet.

No bells are rung. No call is made. Armor King, after his desperate kick, lays on the ground, unconscious. And Kasumi, with little more keeping herself upright, had fallen too. But where were the judges? The cameras? Anything. One by one, the lights of the clock tower go out. When the last one dies down, pure darkness consumes the tower, short of the moonlight peering in. That is when the heavy footsteps are heard, heavier than Armor King's own.

And the shadowy figure approaches.

The only thing clear was the shape; he was nearly as big as ARmor King. And... he must have been wearing a mask. It had to be. And yet, in the darkness, it is not clear what shape it is. Another Jaguar Mask? Or some other animal? He stands over Armor King, arms crossed.

He shakes his head.

And lowering down, he removes something. His mask? No. His belt. With a mighty lift, he heaves Armor King, a massive figure himself over his shoulder. And with heavy steps, the shadowy figure stands over Kasumi. And there, he gives the last words, before throwing the belt upon her. She had won. It was her prize. ANd yet, she might not even remember the mysterious words from the stranger.

"*?????? noises*"

Log created on 17:27:09 05/20/2018 by Armor King, and last modified on 03:34:57 05/26/2018.