Honoka Inoue - The Ant and the Grasshopper

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Description: Honoka Inoue, schoolgirl and fighting world fan gets to meet the girl who did more than have the same dreams, She made those dreams into her reality. The first actual fighter to ever give her time out of their day, Honoka takes onboard their every precious word, and is surprised by how similar a lot of the problems Kasugano-san had to overcome are close to her own hurdles and barriers. Honoka never would have guessed, maybe thats the biggest difference between them?!

A Huge Pink neon signs blares the name 'Arcade Land' in English, On occasion a flashy spread of pixelated rainbow colours washes across the animate signage. An undecorated metal plate with bolt or screw holes beside the name indicates where the large 'VR' part of the sign used to be present. (Removed around the time of the controversy surrounding the V-gauge and Lee Chaolan appearing in the news.)

One of the crane machines surrounded by a pack of five schoolgirls all uniform in their blue blazers yet displaying varied levels of interest in what was going on. A couple of girls speedily answering texts, one yawning openly despite cradling an open energy drink. The shortest of the group intent on the crane game she is playing and taking it gravely seriously. An allowance was only so large, anything less than complete success was merely making things easier for the next player.


Her wildly enthusiastic arm pump overhead and lunging in to grab her prize as the group begins stirr and refocus. The prize, with its disproportionate huge spherical head bobbling, rotund and quite large it is held aloft. The winner childishly laughing at seeing it up close, admiring it so at arms-length and then hugging it to her as her fellow high schoolers watch on and congratulate her.

The toy a black and white cow with dangling cone-like limbs being shaken around by the forcefulness of the squeezing hug, clearly visible and ugly stitching on the sides of its head and up the spine and a tufted tail. A red ribbon atop its head, broad pink muzzle and tan hooves. The other girls - less than awed are obviously experiencing a clear mix of emotions, polite congratulations and something going unspoken.

It was almost sort of cute, in a weird way. The gaggle of schoolgirls beginning to make their excuses and heading they own seperate ways, calling group goodbyes back and forth. The two girls on their who were on their cells walking off together and starting to gossip back and forth, when 'considerably' far enough out of earshot.

'Ua-uaaah, another failure!' "I tell you, it has to be something she's eating.' 'No-way, I'm still certain she lives near something that's radioactive - or supernatural!!' 'Don't joke about stuff like that! Though I wouldn't mind staying there too if that was the case.'

The pink haired short girl at the centre of the group finding herself alone openly considers what to do next, going so far as to peer hard at her phone. Honoka hadn't considered the possibility of everyone heading home so early, even if she went and waited for her train she had a good twenty minutes to kill.

She'd already dipped into her saving to have more money on hand so she could keep up with things the other girls might want to do. It was fair enough if they all had to go. She could check to see if there was any new DVD's for sal-!!

Just as a Movie poster catches her eye. Fei long, rendered in eight foot tall larger than life glory, rippling muscles and frozen in time in midst of performing a powerful and aggressive strike. Lips drawn into a cool looking smirk.

"Sky-flying Hijinx. A -- next level of Hitenryu? ..!!

The Gekirinken? That was only a rumour, or hushed whisper floating around that Fei Long had perfected a new technique. That rumour was either newish or they'd managed to keep a wrap on it for a while. There was actually a possibility it was already going to be in a film!? Marie rose would have to set time aside and out of her training regimes for them to see it on opening day. She needed to be told ASAP, As she glances back down at her phone she notices the blinking battery.


"Excuse me! Can I borrow a phone-Excuse me-"

Uncharacteristically trying to reach out and appeal to other passers-by - they for whatever reason turn to acknowledge her with their eyes but briskly hurry away or apologize with a raised palm and continue on their way. It could be the look of desperation on her face, the toy she was clutching, the fact she had a phone in her hand already, or the skull decal on the back of her black glove, the bauble of a hair tie also a skull face that bobs when she bows towards passers-by while making her appeal.

Arcade Land has been a Southtown Mall staple for as long as Sakura can remember. Before then, really, even, but she isn't talking about genetic memory. Not only does she go--often--but she even takes her brother with her sometimes. Video games are just one of the few things that actually bring them together, though as is typical, they spend just as much time fighting, as siblings do, as they do bonding. So it isn't unusual to see Sakura there--she's a regular, well-known to the staff as well as other arcade enthusiasts.

The Ansatsuken Flower is over by, naturally, some of the fighting games--having just finished up a session, she's hanging back, watching one of the other fights play out, though she hasn't put up another coin, chatting strategies with one of the other regulars, a thin, spiky-haired boy in the usual black uniform with big black-framed glasses. They're both pretty animated, fluttering their hands back and forth, pantomiming moves and positions and what-ifs, but then he looks at his watch and makes that right-hand-vertical bow and turns to leave. Saku smiles, nods, and waves him off, then, about thirty seconds after that, slings her bookbag up on her shoulder and prepares to leave, too.

It's coincidence, or fate, that she would end up walking by just as Honoka is making her plea; the brown-haired fighter raises an eyebrow then hmms, digging into the right pocket of her school skirt and digging out her phone, a cherry-blossom-pink cased smartphone with a few baubles dangling from it--one a chibi Ryu, of course, and the other a cartoonish representation of the famous Hadouken.

"Uh, hey. Hey, here, if you need to make a call," she says, proffering the phone towards Honoka.

Honoka Inoue says, "Nope"

The bowing girl pauses, revealing a cherubic smile that rises in wattage as she raises her head while returning to standing. A full three or more inches shorter than Sakura with hair a bright salmon pink, worn in a side tail.

"I'm saved! - Thank ever so much for your assistance."
heres an abrupt switch in her bubbly and cheerful candour as she changes gear to more practiced and reserved traditional Japanese. She buries her own phone in her blazer pocket in order to receive the helpful strangers with both of her own free. She had to be especially careful she didn't drop the phone of someone nice enough to lend theirs.

Honoka blinks at the pink cover as it as she receives it before squeaking aloud.

"This cover is super cute."

She liked the colour. Her black skull-gloved fingers stretching over the screen ready to start tapping out the keys rather than her bare hand so her nails won't scuff the screen any. She pauses once again as she finally spots the accessories. A mrr of interest and she lifts the cell-phone so that the accessories dangle in front of her face she stares at the tiny dangling and rotating Ryu.

"That's Ryu, The last World Warrior champion!"

He was undeniably recognisable even in his super deformed state. But it was mostly amazing because he existed as a cell phone strap and accessory? The man was was mysterious, hardly anything was published or maybe even known about him, a controversial win over the former Champion and there were no interviews or anything they'd ever found with him.

Red eyes blink as they study the bauble.

"You must be a pretty big fan.."

She lowers the phone and gets about three numbers punched into the phone before she freezes completely rigid.

"AU! -hau..hauhau You wouldn't happen to be.. Sakura Kasugano? Like, -THE- Sakura Kasugano."

The headband was- Check! Sailor fuku.. also Check! And the resemblance was like pretty spot on.

Sakura smiles. It's natural for her; she's a cheerful person, always has been. "Thanks--" She was about to say more, but then Honoka started recogizing the charms on her phone and Sakura stops herself short as Honoka goes on. As a Ryu fan herself, she appreciates when she meets fellow fans--as a fight fan, as a Ryu fan, as a fighter herself. And then...

And then -she- gets recognized and she has to do the 'ehehe' and put her right hand behind her head, rubbing it a little. "Uh? Oh, yeah, that's me..." She -has- done some televised fights, but she hasn't really thought about her own exposure. After all, she's still an up-and-coming fighter in her mind, still chasing that impossible goal... although she's been thinking more about that lately, herself, about what she's doing. So she has a brief moment of reflection and then she blinks.

"So, uh, you've seen me fight, I guess...? That's me, for sure, Sakura Kasugano." She puts her hands in front of her thighs and bows then straightens up.

"It's nice to meet you!"

One person's cheerfulness reflects in kind, a smile freely offered is often repaid. Honoka's own smile broadens into a grin as the other girl bows to her, she has to fight the urge to repeat herself lest they get stuck in a loop.


Obviously deep in thought, for the moment Sakura's phone forgotten in her hand she touches her raised index finger to her chin appearing deep in thought.


Mentally diving into and swimming through an extensive back catalogue of recorded matches, wondering where and when she had last seen Sakura. The effort of trying to recall just where it had been putting a visible strain on her and the finger moves to pressing against her temple, eyes squeezed shut while thinking SUUUPER hard. No, something more recent than that, it was a big tournament and she had been fighting alongside ... !!

"Ah-! It would have been-- Rising Dragons Team vs Heirs to Legend."

A King of Fighters tournament match. Relieved to have worked it out Honoka quirks her head to the side and smiles sheepishly. A televised appearance and not having actually seen Sakura fight live.

"Though, I can for some reason think I've seen you dressed as a huge robot. The production values on Saturday Night Fight's seem really fun! We try and go when they're held locally."

A huge seeming robot with an audacious laugh, Funny that. She didn't understand that match - at - all - but didn't have to. It was really cool!

"It's a pleasure to meet you. You're the first fighter I've met instead of seeing from ringside."

It was a pretty big deal to Honoka from the way her eyes were sparkling and both arms were held vertical and wrists canted outwards.

Sakura listens and nods. That was indeed her in that King of Fighters tournament fight... and in some of those Saturday Night Fights. "Oh? Well... really, it's nice to meet you," she says, again giving a bow, brief but perfectly correct.

"Those Saturday Night Fights matches are usually something else, that's for sure. Sometimes it's more like... a game show than a fight! But that isn't a bad thing. I think it's a good way to let people know who you are, and being able to adapt to challenges is something that every fighter needs to learn. At least, that's what Ryu said to me, once..."

She trails off a bit, thinking about how it's been a while since she's seen Ryu, but also knowing that his wanderings are documented less often than just about anyone's... and that of course, he can in fact take care of himself.

She briefly clenches her right hand into a fist, thinking about a vow she made to herself--to prove that she's gotten better since the last time she saw him. And then she shakes it off.

"So you're not a fighter, yourself?" she asks, just to clarify--because Sakura can also often be found in the stands at an event, whether she's participating or not.

Honoka responds to the bow with one of her own, again, See-sawing down as Sakura rises. Deeper this time as it accompanies a forgotten self-introduction.

"Please forgive my mistake earlier, My name is Honoka, Honoka Inoue. ... Pleased to meet you."

This was her first meeting with a real fighter, talking to Sakura and there weren't even any gathering crowds around like at a tournament. There's a prolonged pause on her part, consideration of the question as an excuse draws out as she sifting through her thoughts for the most diplomatic as well as truthful way to answer.

"My grandmother would be greatly disappointed if I were."

A vague and soft answer with little heart or heat behind it, she was a little embarrassed following a showing of passion and reaffirmation of a vow between fighters. Her being considerate of family and keeping a promise felt rather weak, it mattered though.

Recalling she was supposed to be using a phone and returning the device to its owner. Honoka lifts the phone to shield her face and rapidly thumbs out the series of numbers, not yet moving the phone to her ear she continues watching to see if it is answered. Turning her head to stare back at the poster for a moment if refreshes her hype.

"But I have a friend who likes it as much as I do and she is training hard to be a great fighter someday. She spends lots of time running, doing sit ups and drinking lots of milk."

On mentioning said friend she crinkles her brow and doubles down glaring at the screen. Willing that signal strengths to increase and the power of friendship to in a manner like ESP - carry her message to Marie Rose. With the call still going unanswered it wasn't working.

"No good."

There was every chance Marie didn't even have her phone on her right now. Especially if she was doing any of the weight lifty stuff or worried she'd drop it. While Honoka was instead out at the arcade, Mr Moo head locked in the crook of her elbow, dangling and being crushed mercilessly while still in her school uniform.

"She's probably busy doing that. Training I mean."

Honoka presses the button to end the call with an overly weary display. Sometimes all the activity Marie Rose got up to was tiring by association. A teensy missed opportunity, to get their tickets and plan to go see it as early in the run as possible. Girls take their hobbies seriously!

"Do Fighters go and see movies like this as well? Not To like, gain an edge on famous fighters -- (Which might work now she considered it in that regard.) But, to enjoy seeing fighting like Dokaaaaaan!! On the big screen with big scripts, and heroes and villains."

She makes a wide shooting up and spread arms gesture suddenly to emphasize the cartoonish explosion sound effect, setting the corded pom-poms tied to her wrist flying and spinning about. Around then: She thinks to calmly offer Sakura back her phone before she drops, or manages to 'explode' it into an accident.

Sakura smiles--it's hard not to, in the face of Honoka's enthusiasm--though she loses just a bit of the smile when Honoka mentions her grandmother's disapproval. She doesn't frown, but her expression conveys that Sakura understands that. Still, Honoka is just so.. bright, it's hard not to smile. In no hurry, Sakura hooks her fingers through the straps of her bookbag and pushes on them, forming a sort of counterweight as she rocks back and forth--it's rare for her to be completely still, just about ever.

"I understand. My family... wasn't the most supportive when I started, but I think I brought them around enough." A little giggle from the Ansatsuken Blossom, and she adds, "Even my little brother Tsukushi. Mom and Dad won't let him watch my fights in person yet, but I know he's watched some on YouTube and the like. All secret hush-hush, though."

A hmm, as Honoka's phone call fails to go through. "Maybe she didn't pick up because she didn't recognize the number? It's a pretty good precaution to take. I do it myself sometimes, depends on what's going on--during a tournament it's hard not to, since a lot of tournament coordination goes on via texts and phone calls and the like. But if she is training..."

"Well, I can understand being focused on that, too." Glancing over at the poster, Sakura nods.

"Well... not everyone. But I do! I mean, yeah, it can be educational but I don't..." She pauses, then grins.

"I don't watch them to gain an edge on someone. Like, I've watched Fei Long's movies so much... but I don't really think about how that would affect me fighting him. I just think he's really awesome at what he does. I can do a lot of things but I don't think acting is one I want to try, y'know?"

Taking her phone back, Sakura slips it back into her pocket, then studies Honoka a little. "So your grandmother would disapprove of you fighting, but what do YOU want to do...?"

"Hweh? Your family wasn't either?"

Discussing Fighting weasn't really uncommon as far as interactions with girls at her school. Sure they talked about fighters, which guys were cuter or would make the best boyfriends or providers for a family. How they'd look with in a different style, look or colour. Different orders of interest talking to a fellow fan, it was still kind of a shock to discover a fighter like Sakura still had the same kind of problems that she did.

Seriously and exaggeratedly nodding along as Sakura describes her family, not only her parents having barriers for a little brother, but that he was secretly following his sister along. It turns into an emphatic nodding and agreement as soon as Sakura mentions seeing the movies are educational. It so is! Right?

"What do I want?"

Honoka considered herself to be a pretty greedy girl. She wanted a lot of things and it would be fun to snaffle up every opportunity and experience she could. She could moderate almost all of her impulses.

"I want to-"

She lowers her head, eyes downcast and staring at her black gloved hand as she tightens it into a fist causing an audible creaking. When she got fired up about fighting the heat always seemed to gather there first before it spread through the rest of her body.

"I want to revolutionize the fighting world with my own style."

It seemed like a silly goal to announce even as quietly as she was doing so, such that it wouldn't carry far. It might even be beyond the limits or talents of most people. Honoka expected Sakura to be sceptical; when she was smaller everyone was convinced she was joking of being funny in order to amuse the adults.

She draws herself up with a deep breath, further strangulating Mr Moo. She was really nervous, it was evident in her posture right up until the moment she took a step backwards, and reels away in a drunken looking turn on her heel and backward stagger. It might appear to the uninitiated like she tripped over her own feet or shoelaces, but when she reaches the Fei-Long poster she does so craning her body backwards, fingers a hair off touching the Plexiglas cover she actually arrested her movement and came to a stop with her loafer flat against the side of a planter.

Looking upwards towards the fighter come international movie stars poster the teenager reaches out for him. She'd studied him so much, she hopes he wouldn't mind this little display of what she'd learned from him so far. Pushing herself off, Honoka gently arcs back to standing yet assumes a stance reminiscent of the warrior behind her. A flawless imitation of Fei-Long's stance but it's the one used in his films. Scripted fights where the man himself has to hold back for the choreographed fights with stunt performers and actors. The steps and footwork she used before that though, were like watching a real martial artist in practice.

Honoka nervously smiles and comes jittering back with a short hopping run. Hopscotching a path back into place before Sakura. A return back to being herself instead of the bizarre swap in intensity, aura and mannerism she had to adopt to imitate Fei-Long.

"Ah-ah, -it's kind of like that so far, but! I can only get better. Right?"

She raises a finger and touches it across her lips in hushing gesture. A klutzy girl that tripped over her own feet she wasn't, the conspiratorial wink on her part insinuating that she didn't mind people thinking she was.

"Nn-nn," replies Sakura, in response to Honoka's surprised question.

"I mean, they didn't know, at first, about it. But they found out eventually and I had to work real hard to convince 'em I was for real about it. Y'see... I've always been the kind of person who latches onto something and obsesses over it intensely then I kind of... drop it. So they were worried that that's what fighting would be for me. But it isn't and hasn't been, and I'm happy now."

When Honoka admits what she really wants, Sakura smiles. She -beams-. "See, that sounds -awesome-! That's way bigger a dream than mine! How can you _NOT_ go for it?!?" The demonstration is watched, seriously--and Sakura is not a kung fu artist, but she has a natural talent for understanding body movement.

"You're right, it has a long way to go but you've definitely got something there. Look..." Sakura's phone vibrates in her hand, and she glances down at the screen then makes a little face to herself but nods.

"Look, I gotta go, but--I really think you should put serious thought into debuting as a fighter. Do it through the Saturday Night Fights or the Neo League. It'll--it's the safest way to do it. Because they'll have people there to make sure you don't get really hurt, you know? And I think... regardless of whether or not you win, just... tell your grandma. Tell that you know the risks but it's what you want to do. Otherwise... she'll never understand."

Listening intently throughout Sakura's relating all this to her the pink haired girl keeps up an intense amount of eye contact. Just for a moment she loses focus and her eyes search Sakuras face for confirmation of something... she seemed truely happy. This was someone unlike Honoka, another girl like her but one who had pushed through and started chasing her dreams.

Honoka brightens even more with some encouragement. It wasn't all flattery and actual fighter acknowledging her a little and cautioning she still had a long ways to go. It was worth a lot coming for a fighter with experience under their belt! She and Marie Rose were both still unproven amateurs; She was guilty of dabbling while Marie Rose trained hard.

Honoka having her own methods for getting stronger.

"I understand."

Regret she tries to hide passes across her face and is smothered by a polite smile. An obvious wish she had time to ask further questions or learn more. An embarrassing realization when she mentally factors how much she has already imposed. Arm swinging both her hands behind her back to clasp them together, horribly squishing her stuffed animal against her side.

"I will. K-keep that in mind. Thank you so much for your time and advice!"

The hands behind her back nervously fidgeting, constricting painfully when she forces herself to lie. The Neo league and Saturday Night Fights were both super neat sounding options if they'd accept complete unknowns.

"Please don't let me keep you! Your advice was really helpful and I learned a lot."

Honoka bows once again smartly, she was deeply grateful for the encounter. Kasugano-san wasn't just a fighter; she was a nice and helpful person. A blessed encounter for an enthusiast like her, one she'd have to share with her BFF as soon as possible!

Log created on 05:24:59 06/08/2018 by Honoka Inoue, and last modified on 20:40:33 07/01/2018.