SNF 2018.06 - The Greatest Show on Earth - Zangief vs Athena

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Description: Lets go to the circus! The animals! The horses! The acrobats! And above all, the clowns. The wacky performers will all be taking the central ring, in a specially sponsored SNF, hosted by the Twilight Star Circus in Japan! The three ring match is two headliners in itself. The world wrestling legend, Zangief, will be more than a dancing bear as he challenges off against the beautiful idol, Athena Asamiya. As the rest of the circus performs around them, Zangief and Athena will be drawing in all the hijinks of the circus, while maintaining their own fighting spirit!

The Twilight Star Circus was the biggest name in Big Top entertainment, at least throughout Japan. Though it would put down roots in the winter months and largely stay in one place, throughout the rest of the year, it was a traveling circus with venues up and down the island nation. This month, the Twilight Star is setup in its usual place on the outskirts of Southtown. And this specific evening, it is staged to play host to the SNF match likely to draw out one of the larger crowds.

Young celebrity fighter Athena Asamiya has, through a string of narrow, sometimes somewhat controversial victories, made a name for herself in the world of competitive fighting. Confidence as to whether her fight performances were simply an elaborate promotional opportunity or if she really was a legitimate contender tended to vacillate from event to event... Until the idol singer put her music career on hold and participated in Wolfgang Krauser's World Warrior tournament. Through a series of what bookies absolutely considered to be upset victories, Athena had made it all the way to the Quarter Finals of the prestigious tournament before finally being eliminated, finally putting to rest the question of her legitimacy as a fighter.

This event is touted as her first match following her defeat and mysterious disappearance following World Warrior where she was thought to have been kidnapped for three days, creating a quite a media stir. When the idol fighter showed back up on the third day, she had been elusive about what had happened between her and the woman known as Ramlethal, offering only the explanation that Ramlethal had been concerned about her injuries from their match and had sequestered her away to care for her.

Now, only a month later, Athena Asamiya is back on the scene. The massive tent is no stranger to large crowds and tonight is no different, packed to the Legal Safe Maximum allowed by Southtown's Fire Marshal. Those in attendance are treated to a pre-fight show featuring many of the Twilight Circus's talented acrobats, clowning entertainers, magicians, and more.

Waiting in the wings off to the side, Athena can't help but feel the energy of the crowd, the excitement and anticipation of the viewing audience. Her World Warrior battles were conducted in seclusion, with only her opponents as company. This event was more like the stage performances of the previous year and even before the fight has begun, she feels her heart racing, right hand closed in a fist resting at the base of her throat.

As usual, her long, dark violet hair is worn straight, kept in check only by a red hairclip behind her bangs. Her fighting outfit for the night is one of her more traditional appearances - light pink Kung Fu pants, crimson slippers over her feat, and a Chinese styled matching crimson blouse with short, pink poofy sleeves that don't quite reach her elbows.

Adrenaline already racing, she closes her rich purple eyes for a moment, attempting to calm herself down. This fight wasn't like her music appearances - sure, entertaining the crowd and putting in a performance worthy of the faith her fans put in her was a factor, but in the end, it was an experience and test to be shared with her opponent more than anyone else.

When she did her stage shows, she didn't have someone trying to bludgeon her throughout the process.


The Big Top MC steps into the ring, spot lights on him for a moment, and Athena becomes aware just barely in time that he is announcing the match to come and the fighters by name. Sucking in her breath, she steps forward with a gait that is just shy of skipping as additional spot lights come to rest on her. Her right hand is already lifted, waving to the crowd. Even though she can't make out their faces against the bright, hot light now in her eyes, she can feel their focus all the same.

In the other two rings, a smaller subsection of Twilight Star performers are still actively putting on a show, but there's no denying that it's the center ring all eyes are on now!

With his shoulders hunched and bowed, Zangief has a passing at best resemblance to the great beasts he wrestled in his youth, but his posture lets the cold, dead eyes of the lifelike helmet/mask covering his head stay locked upon the approaching Athena. Draped in a brown, grizzly-pelt cloak; rumbling deep within his chest and throat with each breath; the man known as the Red Cyclone has spent enough time in the world of professional wrestling that he's learned how to accept a gimmick without question, as long as it'll add to the show. It helps that - bathed in bright lights and the pungent air of a circus straining its occupation limits - he only feels so far from home, just now-- not the frigid Motherland whose people have come to embrace him as their favorite son, but /home/.

Someone did tell him on his way out that he should probably wait the minute or so to be announced; for some reason, that someone refrained from elevating that point beyond a suggestion. Once positioned in his corner, he-- hunched his shoulders, locked dead eyes upon his opponent's entrance tunnel, and waited.


Letting the familiar harmony of cheers, boos, chatter, and PA screeches whet his appetite for politely administered violence. Depending on where - if anywhere - the idol's proclivities for perceiving supernatural energies lie, the wax and wane of metal-aligned chi with each breath may be as obvious as a lantern's flame.

When his name is called, titanium cable tendons bulge, fabric bunches--

-- the steel fire in his spirit surges, briefly threatening to erupt through his pores--

-- and with a thunderous ROAR, the cloak flies into the crowd so the rippling giant can bow his arms out to either side and slooooowly draw his fists together before his belly for the benefit of the audience and his opponent alike. Primally scarred flesh is bared to both: similar to his norm, he's only wearing (brown, furry) wrestling tights with a paw-buckled belt, (brown, furry, clawed) wrestling boots, paw-shaped gloves over the tops of his forearms and hands-- and, of course, the helmet/mask. Time that ought to have been spent walking is instead spent posing, roaring, and climbing ring ropes to make his massive frame that much harder to ignore; all the while, a heavy, rock-inspired remix of his country's national anthem booms through the sound system.

He's in the middle of the ring with his arms folded by the time it's over and finally trying to make proper eye contact with Athena with a glare imported straight from the tundra.

After three, maybe four seconds, he allows a smile to touch his lips.

"Your music is quite popular in my country, with young people in clubs, Miss Asamiya," he rumbles as a green twinkle touches his eye. "Perhaps, when we have finished this dance, we can talk about," he briefly lapses into Russian, trails...

"... cross-promotional opportunities, da? Imagine: Red Cyclone and Psycho Soldier, rulers of ring and stage-- together for first time to break fighting and entertaining worlds across their knees...!"

COMBATSYS: Zangief has started a fight here.

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Zangief          0/-------/-------|

Athena's approach to the ring is quick, taking turns waving to different segments of the seated audience, her smile bright beneath the focused eye of the spotlights. But after she's halfway there, her focus turns toward her opponent - The Red Cyclone. Anyone who knows anything about fighting is aware of the legend from Russia. While the ring he stands in now may feel familiar to him, it is not an environment his younger opponent has had much experience with. While she can appreciate the showmanship that goes into delivering incredible professional wrestling bouts, her own career trajectory has just never had her often cross fists with that world. And while know a bit of what to expect in facing the powerhouse just from having seen his matches herself, none of that foreknowledge does one iota to diminish the power of his presence in person.

Sucking in her breath, she lowers her waving arm as she draws nearer to the ring, concentrating on the hulking form of her opponent. The thundering roar as he sheds the cloak is almost deafening and were this match to have taken place earlier in her young fighting career, it might have been enough to stop her in her steps for a moment to reconsider the prudence in participating in something as insane as this.

Zangief wasn't the largest opponent she had ever faced - once one has stood before the living mountain that is Abigail, it sets a bar that virtually no other fighter in existence can match - but the power of his roar, the impressive flexing of a body forged of hardened muscle, and the showmanship of a man energized by the promise of battle creates a presence that presses itself against her own synergistic aura of empathy and thought.

By the time she stands just outside the ring, her smile has brightened even further. The zeal the large man has for combat, the fighting spirit burning in his chest, is contagious to one so in tune with the emotions of others around her. Planting her right hand against the edge, the nimble fighter vaults up over the ropes in an easy single flip, landing inside the ring across from the legendary wrestler.

Her own conviction for fighting had been tested then honed upon the anvil of World Warrior and that resolve carries her forward now as she stands up straight, hands clenched into tight fists at her sides more out of subconscious anticipation than active planning. Her distinctive violet eyes meet the glare of Zangief. In spite the steeliness of his Siberian glare, she feels none of the burning hatred that radiated off the brute known as Urien. Zangief's fighting spirit betrays his true nature before his smile is allowed to break through the display.

Athena's smile wanes slightly, not due to any reservations about the man she's facing, but out of need to start concentrating. For her, to compete on this level requires the exercise of thought, idea, and emotion, the use of gifts so rare as to nearly be uniquely hers... But Zangief's words bring her back into the moment and the idol fighter's expression warms, the performer's reaction to positive mention of her music's influence born of sincerity rather than feigned humility.

His suggestion is made and she nods her head slightly, grinning now, perhaps trying to picture such a strange juxtaposition for promotion. The two seem to come from entirely different worlds. Their careers, their training, their style, their fanbases... is there an overlap? Could there be?

"I think," Asamiya replies, nodding her head, her tone suggesting intrigue at such an adventurous idea, "I would love to talk about that."

There is a close of her eyes, a bow of her head, a moment to tap into that wellspring of potential within her. To be this close is to experience the chance to feel it - that unseen but possibly felt building of Athena Asamiya's of her own presence. It expands silently, without sound, without posturing on her part, without so much as a word. But one capable of fighting at the caliber of these two would almost definitely feel it.

She opens her eyes, lifting her hands to the ready, adopting a relaxed martial arts stance reminiscent of the Kung Fu she has been practicing for years now.

"But for now," the young celebrity replies, "We have to show the world our best!" The audience is here to be entertained, to see a test of skill, speed, strength, and ability. And she will do everything she can to make sure their investment is not wasted.

COMBATSYS: Athena has joined the fight here.

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Athena           0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0          Zangief


A massive hand extends along with that reverberating syllable; the respect is evident, even as his smile disappears. Depending on just how familiar Athena is with his career, this may be something of an oddity: Zangief is an honorable, if intensly competitive man, but over a lengthy career of wrestling around the world for the pride of his country...

... with that accent, those scars, that /name/...

Suffice it to say, much of his early career in particular was spent playing the monstrous heel in international promotions. He's learned to accept a gimmick without question, as long as it'll add to the show-- but given his druthers, a sincere show of good sportsmanship is much better. Earning fear and respect by breaking bodies against Russian steel is well and good, but reflecting /all/ of his country's glory and virtue is even better.

Staring down at the young woman, the vast difference in size - not the greatest either competitor's faced, but great enough - is the first thing the wrestler notices, but the determination shining behind her unmoving gaze and friendly tone is the second. No fighter of his stature could possibly fail to be aware of one of hers, so he has a sense of /where/ the strength of will woven around her relaxes stance like spider-silk comes from; seeing-- /feeling/ it in person makes it difficult to keep his smile at bay.

After he's given a firmly gripped show of respect, he waits a tick for his arm and hers to return where they will, hops several feet backwards towards his corner--

-- then CHARGES across the ring, a Slavic steam engine barreling inexorably towards the singer. Arms spread and raised, he seems intent on running right through her until she approaches being within his reach. If he makes it that far, he hunches low, rolls towards Athena's right, then surges to his feet, seeking to capture her waist and haul her backwards into a Russian suplex.

COMBATSYS: Athena instinctively dodges Zangief's Atomic Suplex.

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Athena           0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0          Zangief

If there's one thing Asamiya is familiar with, it is the art of performance. For the layman enjoying the spectacle from the safety of the sidelines or bleachers, it may be difficult to appreciate the exponential challenge weighing on the shoulders of fighters who are expected to not only push their athletic, mental, and spiritual prowess to the limits, but are also expected to put on a layer of showmanship on top. While in the wide world of fighters, there are some who are without a doubt rotten to the core, there are far more who are tasked with putting on the appearance of being a heel in a match to help promoters create those 'stories' that work crowds up into an even greater frenzy. And all that acting, on top of fighting? That's a skill the viewers who have never tried such simply cannot appreciate.

When Zangief leaps back to his corner in a single bound, Asamiya is reminded of one of the fundamental misconceptions newer fighters tend to make. In the arena of combat, large does not mean slow. Behind that movement, that fluid transition from positioning to offense, is a powerful body capable of great bursts of speed.

Fortunately, she knows better. The Russian will not be advancing in a slow, plodding charge after her as she runs circles around the ring. Schemes of simply being evasive until he tires himself out may work well and good at the lower echelons of competition, but at this level, the Kung Fu is likely not mistaken to imagine the man she's facing could run clear across Siberia without stopping should he take it upon himself to do so.

No, she'll have to face that strength directly, while trying to stay just shy of being caught or struck. Even with her mind opened, even with the adrenaline rush of emotion surging in from the crowd, from the spirit of her opponent, she can't presume to move so fast as to predict the outcome of the barreling charge coming her way.

Her first thought is to brace for impact, her arms starting to life up before her torso and face. It may seem a futile effort in light of the discrepancy in statures here, but learning how to deflect kinetic power is part of her martial arts training.

And if she had simply tried to fight off the incoming tackle, she would have been caught up in those powerful hands and hefted clean off her feet with that momentum with the greatest of ease. The thought that she needed to move comes out of no where, an intuition felt rather than known. There was no tell in the man's approach early enough for her to react to... yet just narrowly as he rolls to the idol fighter's right, she's stepping forward and to her right as well, causing her to circle just barely of reach of Zangief's hands, her dark purple hair trailing behind a moment to catch up. Even she can't say why she was able to act just the right way at the last moment. But now is now the time to question her good fortune.

In the same motion, her own arms swing back, vibrant energy coursing down her forearms toward her hands as she stretches her limbs behind her back.

It leaves her open for a moment, a risky proposition this close, but maybe the window of opportunity is there before the wrestler recovers from his own attack.


Shouting the name of some of her techniques is all part of the show, but it's difficult to deny that declaring them so loud lends a certain power to the projection of will. Her arms swing forward, crossing past each other, the energy collected in each smashing together into a spherical projection of light violet, shimmering Psycho Power leveled approximately between Zangief's barrel chest and his muscled abdomen.


A clean hit would carve clean through most fighter's effort to counter her power with their mastery of chi defenses, burning painfully without actually scorching flesh, the initial shock leaving a numbing after effect significant enough to warn anyone from being caught by it again. Even a glancing blow from the teen fighter's power has the potential to be staggering!

COMBATSYS: Athena successfully hits Zangief with Psycho Ball.

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Athena           0/-------/---====|===----\-------\0          Zangief

Zangief's spiritual defenses are built of sheer stubbornness more than mastery. The Psycho Ball clashes against his crossed arms for a split-second with a flash of emerald sparks, but those sparks disappear into the scintillating sphere as it continues along its way into-- through his body.

It doesn't exit. That brief clash blunted its impact enough to let him keep his feet as violet energy flickers across his body for a second, but he still spends it - and several more following - convulsing before he finally stumbles a few steps forward. Planting his hands on his knees, he pants twice, sucks in a third breath, and holds it while stepping into another head-on charge. One hit was enough to make him wonder which of them might win if it came down to attrition. The average opponent would indeed be unwise to count on simply tiring him out over a long, hit and run battle, but Athena's sheer psychic power puts him in the same fraught position he's used to exploiting:

If he isn't careful-- if he lets her land just one, two hits too many-- he /will/ fall.


On the other side of the coin, of course, that hit was also enough to make him wonder not only /exactly/ how many more he could take, but what /Athena/ can handle-- and with the eyes of the Twilight Star Circus Arena and the world at large upon him, he would hardly be worthy of his moniker if he didn't throw himself into the jaws of trouble with brave abandon. Thus the charge-- thus the hand snapping towards-- the air /near/ her head and the kick that follows, sweeping towards her ribcage in the hopes of intercepting a hasty dodge.

COMBATSYS: Athena blocks Zangief's Light Kick.

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Athena           0/-------/-======|===----\-------\0          Zangief

The follow through of her psionic projection does cost Athena a brief moment of recovery, her hands drawing back, her head lifting just in time to measure the degree of impact her technique had executed in the risky range of point blank against the Red Cyclone. Already in the initial exchange, he will have seen it - the key to Asamiya's credibility as a fighter. Speed, guts, and an unusually staggering energy to her attacks. And maybe, if he was aware of the truth of her last defense, a bit of luck.

The heat of the spotlights had been on her mind when she first stepped out of the tunnel, but now she doesn't even notice it. The fighting spirit felt between the two combatants already far surpasses what the overhead lighting can give off anyway. Sucking in her breath, she starts to retreat, her volley fired. This might be her window to disengage and reset their standing in the ring.

But she isn't quick enough to cleanly escape, appearing to be within range of the feinting strike. Her right arm comes up to intercept, knowing full well she can't stop the blow outright, but still desiring to mitigate the impact against her head if she can. Her left arm is a split second behind, an urgency to her tested defenses allowing her to move just a split second ahead of the Slavic Warrior.

When she realizes the true threat, it's too late to execute a more perfect block. All she can do is turn her shoulder into the swing of his mighty foot, bracing for impact with her upper left arm. The force behind that kick is enough to send her reeling back a few feet, balance shattered, face twisted in a visible wince of pain at the shockwave of kinetic force that passed through from that kick alone.

By now, even the audience themselves are forgotten even if the energy of their interest continues to echo with her own aura. The only two people are herself and the man who has trained his body through a lifetime of conflict all but the very few would ever brace. And as she catches herself from reeling too far, it is on him that she focuses. The numbness in her left arm from bracing such a strike will have to be fretted over later. For now, she has tasted of Zangief's strength and she must answer in kind.

The distance between them is just enough for Athena to spring upward, taking to the air with a natural ease as if she belongs there. From overhead, she tucks herself forward and... suddenly plunges right back down toward the wrestling titan's chest.


Normally, such an attempt to strike out at him would bear almost no threat at all, as it would take a lot more than a hundred pounds of falling teenage girl to so much as budge the Red Cyclone a single centimeter.

But as she tumbles, her body becomes wreathed in that same violet energy she unleashed a moment ago, turning her into a psionic cruise missile bearing down on the man from a difficult angle to defend against.

Unless stopped, the girl's trajectory will eventually bring her in contact with the arena floor where her right arm will slam out, palm pressed against the padded surface to launch herself into a low forward handstand kick toward Zangief's right shin. Without the potential staggering of her Psycho Powered fall, the kick would possess little chance of robbing the man of his poise. But if it all plays out in sequence as she's practiced so many times in the past, it may provide just enough threat!


COMBATSYS: Zangief barely endures Athena's Phoenix Arrow.

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Athena           1/-------/=======|======-\-------\0          Zangief

Athena's gone when Zangief tries capitalizing on that kick by lunging after the reeling idol and enveloping her head in one of his hands. His head snaps after her readily enough and his eyes narrow upon that violet force. He can't sense what it portends, exactly, but his chest still burns; he /knows/.

And with a deep breath followed by a defiant roar, he throws his arms out wide and offers the black whorl between his pecs for a landing point. When she hits the ground and rolls instead, he's still following, but the shift is enough to throw what would've been an attempt at throwing himself into the force of the kick so he could seize her in a bearhug completely out of whack: instead, he finds himself tilting precariously on one leg for a beat after the other is kicked out from beneath him. That knee buckles when his foot comes back down and fire radiates up from his shin; he ignores all of this in favor of clenching his right hand and drawing it back towards his waist while pivoting to track her.

Emerald chi boils out through scars and bulging veins, flickering across the whole of his body as he forces that fighting spirit raging within to the surface. Green tongues lick across his bicep, coil around his wrist and hand, and melt into a glaring aura; with a grunt and a forceful twist of hips burning with psychic fire, he sweeps his arm into a glowing backhand meant to catch the young woman's abdomen and steal her breath. His chi doesn't burn, if contact is made-- it's just heavy and /dense/ like a formless metal glove.

Hit or miss, he'll take a moment to sag, catch his breath, and try to ignore the violet agony coursing through his nerves-- if he's able to, anyway.

COMBATSYS: Zangief successfully hits Athena with Banishing Flat.

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Athena           1/---====/=======|=======\-------\1          Zangief

In this clash, without relying on the projection of ranged Psycho Power to insulate her from retaliation, Athena Asamiya finds herself in a close quarters brawl she really has no business being in. She felt the way Zangief body refused to yield to her attack, the way he pressed into it rather than bunkering down. There would be two moments of vulnerability that were impossible to avoid now that she was committed. The first would be the transition from initial landing into the kick designed to take her opponents' feet out from under them, thus buying herself time to recover from the acrobatic, high risk maneuver.

And the second would be following the kick, especially in a scenario where she wasn't successful in toppling her target. Like the situation the nimble fighter finds herself in this very instant.

Her kicking feet meet steely muscle reinforced with bone and an outward manifestation of the wrestler's own force. Force that surges up into his palm as he seizes the brief opportunity in his swift opponent's recovery to strike out.

There is an inkling that she must have either sensed the attack coming, or predicted what might be happening, for as the strike smashes out, Athena is already in the process of trying to brace her arms for impact. But with her left arm still numb from the deflected kick, and her posture not really prepared to absorb the kinetic power house that is a swing of Zangief's arm, there's simply no actual mitigation of the blow that sinks into her stomach, folding her over and sending her stumbling backward with a loud gasp.

Instinctually, her left hand presses over her protesting diaphragm, the large muscle suffering from its own state of disorientation from the blow, leaving the idol fighter winded for a moment. She might have to hold off belting out her attack names for a bit. Instead, she's forced to get by on the next several seconds on whatever oxygen reserves she has in her blood, her lungs spasming as they try to recover back into the standard rhythm of breathing again.

But there's now way the violet haired fighter would be where she was today if a single blow to the abdomen was enough to remove her capacity to fight. Ignoring the painful ache for a moment, she fixes her eyes back on Zangief, mouth drawn back in a grin as she sweeps her arms up and behind her head, power channeling down her forearms, creating an even brighter violet glow than her previous attacks. It's enough to more than overpower the spotlights of the circus as the psychic fighter hops back toward the Bear Tamer and swings her hands over head the same moment she lands.

Mouth open in a silent exclamation, a large sphere of Psycho Power erupts out in front of her. It isn't quite large enough to completely encompass Zangief like it has opponents her own size, but the sheer magnitude of the energy unleashed makes it clear that the diminutive fighter has yet to unleash her full potential.

She'd lean into the attack, palms forward, attempting to channel the Psycho Powered assault for as long as she can. Eventually, her need for oxygen will overcome her, though, and given a chance, she'll finally stagger back, gasping in much needed air as her lungs finally figure out what their responsibility in all this is.

COMBATSYS: Zangief blocks Athena's Round Psycho Reflector.

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Athena           1/--=====/=======|=======\=------\1          Zangief

Every breath Zangief manages to steal stokes the emerald fires festooning his body. The one saving grace of Athena's offense is how much of it is energy-based: as terrible as Psycho Power is to bear, for all that his body burns from its touch, he isn't dealing with head trauma and bruised bones the way he did after a few rounds of Abigail or Mike Bison's mighty fists crashing against him. Overall, he isn't much better off a few rounds into /this/ fight than he was then, but that double-edged mercy leaves him with raw, searing agony as his primary obstacle to overcoming the idol without piling double-vision and dizziness on top. Raw, searing agony-- and her speed, her tenacity, the forged will that brings her bounding back in with her arms above her head and a grin upon her lips.

How much of an improvement this will really prove to be over the head trauma and the giant hands is yet to be seen. At the moment, though - as he grits his teeth, sets his feet, and crosses his arms before the Psycho Power Athena seeks to shove his way - he is certainly grateful for years spent earning scars and paying dues-- learning how to feel pain without being immediately, utterly broken by it. That the green chi around his body flares a heartbeat before impact does more to protect him than the hardness of his body, which has already proven dangerously susceptible to Psycho Power; that he goes through the rituals of of setting his guard and focusing intently on enduring is what gives those building energies their potency. Even with that buffer, the violet sphere pushes him back a few feet and the leg that suffered Athena's fury once again threatens to buckle, reminding him that even if he's currently concussion-free, Athena's perfectly capable of making her hits count if she chooses to go for his head.

"Imagine," he lowly wheezes through still-crossed arms, "matches separated by musical interludes-- an arena BOILING with emotion before, during, and after each bell! Drama, romance--"

A fresh wave of emerald energy pours from deep within as he speaks and the brilliant flare surrounding him explodes up and out, growing incrementally-- manifesting layers of fighting spirit dense enough to shake the ring with each expansion.

"-- proper values for growing girls and boys-- the JOYS of CIVIC DUTY--!"

Every muscle in the Red Cyclone's body tenses as the mat buckles and sinks into a crater beneath him. The wooden frame shudders and cracks while the ring ropes undulate wildly. Sudden bursts of chi are a regular feature of his matches, even beyond the Banishing Flat, but they tend to be more subdued; oftentimes, especially as he's gotten older, he tends to throttle the extent to which he draws upon his innermost energies to mitigate the inevitable crash that follows those soaring heights. Once in a while, though - during title matches or other bouts too stressful to leave him with an alternative - he lets his inner fire burn hot and bright in the hopes of consuming his opponent before it consumes him.

The ring tends to be a casualty.

"Concert performances erupting into GLORIOUS BATTLE when rival idols invade-- soulful duets as friends grapple over championship opportunity...!"

A final expansion blows the ringposts on his side of the ring over. Ropes become wildly flailing whips; turnbuckles become cotton and fabric confetti. A low but loud creak sounds from the moment those posts clang to the ground, ultimately resolving into a loud *KRASH!* when the supports beneath the mat collapse. None of this is a threat to a fighter of Athena's caliber, not even the aura: that which demolishes canvas and wood would hardly make the Psycho Soldier sweat.

COMBATSYS: Zangief gathers his will.

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Athena           1/--=====/=======|=======\======-\1          Zangief

Kinetic force can be defeated by sheer physical force or precision technique designed to deflect it. But the energy inherent to so many of Asamiya's techniques does not yield to muscles, and no amount of skillful waving of the arms will redirect the incoming spherical blast another way.

What does defend against it, however, is what Zangief brings to the forefront in this critical moment. A willingness to take the pain head on, to not be intimidated by it, to not fear it. To be able to fight on in spite it. That, combined with the surge of his own flashfire green energy, is enough to blunt the threat of Athena's channeled attack. In the end, being pushed back out of its reach is perhaps the best possible outcome.

Eyes closed as she focuses on keeping the Psycho Power controlled, she only becomes aware that her opponent is no longer in range when she senses her energy is no longer reaching him. It's with a welcome relief that she releases her hold on the power, no longer shaping it with her will, and it vanishes in a final swirl within moments later.

Now she has a moment to breath, taking a few steps back to reassess, eyes on Zangief across the way. Her lungs working again, she enjoys the brief freedom to just breath, giving the Red Cyclone the chance to build on his earlier proposition.

He pitches a combined venue of combat and music and her grin from moments before returns. Feeling the build of excitement within the powerful wrestler, the empath sucks in her breath, clenching her fists, leaning back a little as she holds her hands up in front of her - not as if to guard, but in anticipation of something great.

Perhaps she should be worried about the swell of energy bursting out around the living legend, about the rattling posts, the undulating arena floor, but all it does is fuel her already amped excitement for the bout.

"All right!" Asamiya exclaims back, swept up in the man's grand vision of the future, her voice carrying over the storm.

"Then let this match be a preview of what's to come!"

A burst of violet power radiates around her as she stands up straight, exercising her own ideal, her mind stirred up in the contagious exuberance of her powerful opponent. It lacks the sheer destructive power of Zangief's burning aura, instead driving the wind currents around her, whipping at her hair and the cloth of her attire, pushing back the stray fragments and splinters starting to scatter due to the impending demise of the arena.

"Let's show the world what we've got!"

Her heart is enveloped in a love for fighting, for the competition, for the challenge. Facing this man with such powerful emotions is entirely unlike the dispassionate Ramlethal, or the furious, sickeningly twisted Urien. Zangief understands what it's all about and with that understanding, only fuels her own passion for the art.

The mat collapses right as Athena bursts forward, her right hand sweeping back, rich violet power surging along her limb and out past her hand a little ways. She'll close with Zangief in an instant - in fact, it would seem she spanned the distance to him without actually moving through it as she sweeps her right arm forward, pushing off with her legs just as the mat falls out beneath her feet to launch herself into a rising uppercut.

Twisting upward with a wake of Psycho Power trailing behind her arm, at the apex of her ascent, the darling fighter vanishes into a whirlwind of sparkling energy. She reappears behind Zangief, attempting to push down with her feet, to distract him from behind with a quick stomp. Contact would last only an instant, a moment of vulnerability, before she'd vanish a second time.

When she appears again, she's high above destroyed mat, right arm raised, a truly gargantuan sized sphere of Psycho Power building up around her raised palm. She hovers, propelled by her earlier momentum, power building.


And then the Psycho Soldier sweeps her arm down, unleashing a meteor of psychic energy back down toward the devastated arena. In a game of what seems to be a steady ramping up of power, this attack is even bigger than her last one, even though it still comes slightly shy of exceeding Zangief's own considerable size.

In the end, the question is if her combination can be stopped... or if the Russian wrestler will be caught right at the epicenter of impact!

COMBATSYS: Athena issues a challenge!!

[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////            ]
Athena           1/--=====/=======|=======\======-\1          Zangief

COMBATSYS: Athena successfully hits Zangief with Athena Explosion EX.

[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Athena           1/-------/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2          Zangief

Psycho-powered determination clashes with steel will. Immediately, the last two posts standing explode from their mooring as thunder rolls across the arena. Performers in the other two rings were already beginning to break off from their acts to watch - with interest and trepidation both - once the ring started to go; Athena and Zangief's explosive rise puts a stop to the intrepid bunch who kept going regardless. Even the high-wire artists who brazenly kept their acts going because they just knew they'd be safe above the chaos are scrambling for the nearest platform now that Athena's bringing the fight to their part of the big top.

Athena has fought many opponents larger than herself, surely, and at least one larger than Zangief. She can probably tell that the man is noticeably heavier than even his stature might've suggested, just now-- and yet he /still/ flies on the end of her fist. The apex may come a bit sooner than it would with a smaller man, but he's still over a dozen feet above the collapsed remnants of the ring when Athena vanishes to push off of him. The massive Psycho sphere that follows meets him as his body hurtles through the air, angled slightly by the kick; his aura blunts its impact slightly, but can't prevent it from crashing against-- /through/ him, rocketing him towards the ground.

Like the Psycho Ball, it never reemerges because it's too busy coursing through his nervous system.

Unlike the Psycho Ball, the unprecedented agony that follows is such that he blacks out mid-flight, and if it weren't for the timely intervention of a flying ringpost to the back, he may well have stayed that way until he hit the ground-- if not for some time afterwards.

The ringpost /does/ hit his back, though, causing the man to spasm into consciousness as he falls free of the metal. He quickly blinks - takes a brief moment to greet his old comrade Double Vision - then narrows his gaze on the bottom half of the heavy metal steps leading up to the ring while it tumbles towards a rapidly emptying section of the audience. He can't do anything for the soon-to-be-crushed chairs or the terrified/thrilled people fleeing them, but he /can/ use the steps--

-- if he just tucks his weary limbs in against his chest--

-- and adjusts his fall just right, so his bear paw boots touch metal. The force of his aura /launches/ the step away from his body when he leaps off of it, and - for neither the first nor last time of his career - it crushes several chairs while onlookers who were only /just/ there scream and cheer. Vaguely, he's confident that he avoided crushing any slow-moving circusgoers, but he can't afford to spare them much thought while he hurtles towards Athena like an emerald cannon shell. Hoping to snag the idol on her way down, his limbs unfurl after he tumbles through a few revolutions so he can throw his arms out with a booming cry...


... and seize Athena in both hands. If he manages this, flipping and drawing her in against her chest so that her head is pointed towards the ground will be his next priority. There'll be spinning, too but it's perfunctory, a function of instincts firing to guide his weary body through to the end of the bout more than specific intent.


COMBATSYS: Zangief knocks away Athena with Borcht Dynamite ES.

[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////                   ]
Athena           2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2          Zangief

Anyone who thought taking the match to the air would be a way to avoid being caught up in one of the Red Cyclone's world famous spinning wrestling techniques would clearly need to update their play-book after witnessing the exchange playing out beneath the Twilight Circus Big Top. It's possible Asamiya considered her own high flying act a way to position herself out of range of Zangief's retaliation, lingering up at the level of daring trapeze artists for a few precious seconds at the moment the match careened toward its intense climax.

For a moment, the gigaton Psycho Power Beach Ball seemed to have sealed the match in her favor, blasting into her opponent's psyche. From her superior altitude, Asamiya is given a moment to consider the possibility that the bout is at last over even as the forces of gravity decide to put an end to the high-flying spectacle. Raising her arms, she prepares for the inevitable plunge back to solid ground. Immediately her thoughts are occupied with concerns about her own landing in the scattered remains of the ring below, and that of her opponent.

An instant later, both concerns are rendered irrelevant. She didn't quite see how he managed to snap back from the brink of unconsciousness. Nor did she witness how he managed to launch himself back at her. All she knows is that somehow, through means not immediately clear to her, Zangief has willed himself right back up at her with the unbreakable momentum of a runaway locomotive. It wont' be until she gets to see the match replays some time later that she'll understand how the feat was accomplished. In the heat of the moment, the idol fighter is left to conclude that the Red Cyclone has somehow muscled his way back up through the air with a resolve that simply cannot be broken.

It must be Wrestle Magic.

Like a sparrow seized out of the air by a bird of prey, Athena is snatched out of her fall with so much speed and strength, there's virtually no chance of putting up a fight. She's wrested in tight and flipped before her startled mind has had any chance of coming up to speed on the sudden change in circumstances.

A second later, she's probably wishing the arena mat was in more intact as the two crash down amid the remnants of the ring, Athena impacting head first beneath the weight of her Russian aided fall. The head, neck, and spine jarring upside down crash robs the Kung Fu artist of her ability to move for several seconds. Upon release, she spins up out of the bounce with the last vestiges of momentum from Zangief's technique before flopping back down limply against the ground, landing on a section of the ring mat stretched out over the broken framework.

If a pinfall victory was in the cards, it's likely Athena would not have had the wherewithal to even try to break out before a three count. But for all its wrestling trappings, the match will continue until one or both of the fighters can no longer continue and Asamiya is given a handful of seconds to recover.

Eyes blinking, Athena snaps to only a moment before officials started to move to call the match in Zangief's favor. Pressing down with her hands, she springs backward to land on her feet, only to stumble a bit as she touches down, shaking her head to clear a mind dazed by a loud ringing and no small amount of pain.

It takes another blink before she seems to finally focus on her opponent, but when she does, her grin returns quickly, right hand lifting to rub against the top of her head. "I think I'm realizing one minor flaw with that plan." There's a laugh to her tone as the young performer shakes her head, fighting back the fogginess in her thoughts. "It's a lot harder to sing after a round of battle than you might think!"

Clenching her fists, she braces herself, trying to ignore the headache. "Still-" Sucking in her breath, she lifts her right hand up over her head, finger pointing toward the tent roof high above, "The show must go on!" Decision made to keep going, she lowers her right hand, sweeping it behind her, joined by her left arm as the Psycho Soldier begins to sprint straight toward Zangief. It would be safe to assume she has more in mind than just charging into his muscled abdomen head first - assuming that last impact hasn't rattled her senses more than she's letting on anyway.

Radiant energy begins to flow from off her shoulders and along her arms, leaving a wake of shimmering violet that looks almost akin to the wings of a phoenix as she closes in on the wrestler. The last three meters are accomplished without her feet even touching the ground as Athena Asamiya launches into a hurtling psi empowered impact with Zangief's torso, attempting the impossible - to bowl the King of Muscle Spirit clean over with another brilliant explosion!

COMBATSYS: Zangief barely endures Athena's Super Phoenix Infinity EX.

[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////                         ]
Athena           0/-------/-<<<<<<|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2          Zangief

Zangief rolls away from the firmly planted Psycho Soldier and lingers on hands and knee to steal a few precious seconds of breath. Her prone body weaves through his vision the whole time; he doesn't notice the officials beginning to approach him when she stops being quite so prone because the thought that the fight might be over hasn't occurred to him-- /won't/ occur until Athena's down for more than just a three count.

When the charmingly unstoppable force eventually - inevitably - springs to her feet, Zangief sucks in a breath and forces himself back up-- near-- his full height with his jaw set in a grimace. The comment doesn't quite break it, but it does draw a low, wheezing note of laughter. "Indeed, will need to devise drills to prepare Idol Warriors for worst," he agrees. Those thick arms jut forward so he can beckon to her with ten fingers as she moves to make her intentions plain, then spread to welcome her.

"Is hard to do battle after song and dance numbers too, if one lacks proper training, I am sure, but those are simply obstacles-- and we are not people who let obstacles stop us, are we?!"

Violet dances amidst a green backdrop and cuts shimmering trails through actualized spirit. Unfurling wings and inescapable momentum bear the Soldier into the Cyclone's steel body, carrying both of them back into the air-- past trapeze artists--

-- towards the tip of the big top--

Gradually, the trails left by Athena's wake and the stirring of psychic wings colonize his aura with violet fury as that same power chokes the last vestiges of function from his body. Surrounded by little more than a few handfuls of emerald sparkles standing out amidst a dense field of violet, he shifts his darkening gaze towards Athena's as best as he can, balls his fists, and flexes one last time, driving his body to do what it knows best:


The circus gets dimmer with each rotation his broken, burning body makes, but each rotation is exponentially quicker than the last; in the last seconds before he drifts into unconsciousness for good, he reaches such speeds that he's little more than a tempest of brown fur, scarred muscle, fists, and willpower.

After he lands - whenever, wherever that is - the aura recedes until it's practically a second skin and his breaths sink into a shallow rhythm.

COMBATSYS: Zangief keeps on fighting!

[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////                        ]
Athena           1/-------/<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>\-------\1          Zangief

CHANGE THE LAST LINE TO: After he lands - whenever, wherever that is - the aura recedes until it's practically a second skin and his breaths sink into a shallow rhythm.

COMBATSYS: Athena blocks Zangief's Cyclone Lariat.

[                     \\\\\\\\\  < >  //////                        ]
Athena           1/----<<</<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>\-------\1          Zangief

After several of those breaths, his eyes snap open.

Several more are enough for him to roll to his back, and then they collapse into more wheezing as - inch by agonizing inch - he pulls himself into an upright, seated position and turns his head to lock onto Athena.

Nevermind that the rising, falling, rising again, spinning a bunch, and falling again of the last few seconds has forced his mask into a downward tilt that largely conceals his own eyes in favor of its; those dead, black eyes find her just the same.

That visible energy spilling around the driven Psychic Fighter is coupled with a new force the wrestler had not experienced directly in the fight even if evidence of it had been found in some of Asamiya's earlier techniques. Crushing, invisible strength, pressing into and against the wall of his muscular body, lending enough power to Athena's attack to carry the two into the air once again.

All around her, she can feel the emotions of the crowd build as the spellbound audience bears witness to the incredible display of fighting spirit between the two. She didn't fight just for herself, she fought for them - to entertain and inspire. It was a way to share part of her own self, her talents, her nature with so many others, and the echo of their excitement continued to empower her own strength, adding more fuel to that furnace of psychic potential burning within.

The rush ends with a long exhale at the apex of their combined ascent, Athena starting to disengage from Zangief, eyes closed briefly as she lifts her arms, the last trails of sparkling violet energy drifting from th ends of her fingertips as she once again prepares for that pendulous plummet back to the big top ground far below. There is a peaceful moment, the thrill of the fight overcoming for now the pain of that crushingly strong landing endured only half a minute before. She would rest well, this night, she knew, confident she had given this fight her all, and that in the process, encountered an opponent with one of the strongest fighting spirits she'd ever seen.

And maybe even, in the process, made a new friend and future business partner?

It's his own fiery soul that alerts her to the incoming attack. So close to the limit of her own endurance, she almost started to relax her guard when the furnace of Zangief's powerful resolve begins to burn brighter than ever. Eyes snap open with a sharp intake of breath just in time to see his mighty arm swinging around into the space occupied by her. There's little she can do to avoid getting struck and the extent of her initial defense is to curl up, drawing up her arms and knees, giving the steely muscle of the wrestler's limb more solid surfaces to smash against than directly into her head or torso.

The impact sends jarring pain through her body, a reverberation of bone being tested and of blackness threatening to shroud her blurring vision should another blow come.

Normally one hit would be all he would get before kinetic force would knock the far lighter fighter away, but even in the daze she's feeling, she is cognizant of being drawn in closer by the vortex of spinning power demonstrated by the man. There won't be just one hit, there will be several. Some of his larger opponents may be able to withstand being caught up in the literal demonstration of why he might be known as the Red Cyclone, but she knows full well that is far beyond her own ability to weather.

The alarm she feels is palpable but her reaction fires on a more instinctual level in that almost nonexistent space of time between the first impact and the next. Both arms sweep up as she twists her body at the waist, legs kicking out as a swarm of sparkling lights of varying sizes explode up around the idol fighter.


Zangief's arm swings through empty air as Athena Asamiya finishes her spin down on the ground far below, sweeping out of her full bodied spin with a graceful flourish, afterimages cascading down from the great height, each a shimmering echo that vanishes in an instant leading right back down to the young fighter.

Still not entirely recovered from the spinning landing from Zangief's previous hold, she twirls around with unfocused wariness, trying to figure out where one of the hardest people to miss is at. She finds him right about the time that he starts to sit up and, half a second later, stops her twirling and shakes her head, blinking her eyes to regain her struggling focus.

Another gasped exhale is forced out as she draws her arms up, marveling on some level that he is still conscious. Has any single opponent taken so many direct hits from her and still been able to compete? Is that the nature of the legendary wrestler's will?

His words echo in her mind then and her smile returns with a warm enthusiasm that reaches her eyes. "No. No we are not," she nods back. Obstacles. Will not. Stop them.

Unfortunately, there is one more trial by fire for Zangief to weather, as Athena raises her hand up over her head, leaning forward, knees bent, strong currents of energy surging up around her as violet energy coalesces just beyond her fingertip.

She almost makes it look effortless with the way the power swirls up from around her, collecting in a growing sphere of power that expands rapidly. But that would be to ignore the sheer magnitude of steel-like will that goes into manipulating that enigmatic energy of hers, the training and repetition required to be able to shape it rather than have it scatter wildly and uselessly... and the focus necessary to, in the end, launch it with a sweep of her arm, toward Zangief like a psionic cruise missile aiming at finally reaching whatever awe inspiring limit might exists for a man like him.

It hurtles with speed, debris scattered in its wake, a rush of air pouring into the vacuum left by its furious passage. Anything less than her best is clearly no match for Zangief. But maybe this will finally be enough?

COMBATSYS: Zangief fails to interrupt Psycho Ball Revolution from Athena with Bolshoi Russian Suplex.

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

COMBATSYS: Zangief can no longer fight.

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

Massive hands deliberately adjust a bear's head until it's no longer in Zangief's way. Weaving in and out of focus, the power gathering at Athena's fingers ultimately grows to a point where it's one great, endless mass of violet filling the wrestler's vision and he can't help but smile at his timing.

He wouldn't want to miss getting a glimpse of his trial before he threw himself into its searing embrace, after all.

The aura warbles around him, green fighting a losing battle against violet-- mirroring the waning reserves of vigor in his Psycho Power-abused body. A flare of that energy shines in his eyes in the heartbeat before he meets the Ball, and - throwing his arms out - he lets it crash against his chest while the debris in its wake shotguns past him.

Against. Just against.

Whether through instincts built up over long minutes of experiencing Psycho Power first hand, the violet corrosion of his aura, or some other imperceptible factor, the Red Cyclone somehow manages to wrap his arms around the Psycho Ball and /squeeze/. Steel meets steel and the Russian is driven backwards by the explosive force of Athena's will. Veins bulge, muscles ripple-- jaws clench--

-- Ball and man tremble through his efforts, and for a few moments, the Ball almost seems to be contracting--

-- but when they pass, Zangief finds himself no closer to overcoming this last obstacle and locking the idol into one more hold.

Violet rips through his aura like flashpaper, exposing him; in the blink of an eye and a violet flare, the Psycho Ball's gone too.

He hits his knees first, then lands face down with enough force to send the helmet tumbling from his head. He's breathing, but he's out and his spirit has cooled to green embers; there won't be anymore surprises tonight.

Considering all it took was a single spinning piledriver out of the air to nearly take Athena entirely out of the fight, there can be no doubt that Zangief just needed to get his hands on his smaller opponent one last time to decisively bring the fight to an end. And until the last moment, it almost seems he is going to get that chance.

In all the many fights Athena Asamiya has competed or struggled through, of every fighting style she has faced with her blend of Kung Fu martial arts and abundant Psycho Power... Not once, a single time, has someone not only TRIED to grapple one of her various sized psionic projections... but /succeeded/ at it. Violet eyes widen at the display of guts, determination, and fierce conviction that no deed is impossible if enough burning, fiery fighting spirit is applied to it. The audience is torn between breathless awe and loudly cheering for the magnificent display of Muscle Power.

Even the Psycho Soldier herself recoils slightly, leaning back, as if anticipating the need to defend herself from another one of the powerful wrestler's techniques. The contest of will escalates, the psionic sphere in Zangief's arms rippling as it is compressed by his own unshakable mental fortitude... on the verge of being scattered all together when, at the last second, the hold cracks for just long enough, and the irresponsibly large Psycho Ball finally blasts through.

Even though Zangief falls to the ground, Athena doesn't relax, having already learned to not drop her guard after her previous close call. Holding her breath along with a fair amount of the audience, she waits, nerves frayed, the throb of her aching head starting to pound harder now that she has paused long enough to fill it.

But beyond that is a far more overwhelming feeling. Even as the officials finally act, even as the match is declared, even as the response of the audience fills the entire Big Top with a roar likely audible for over a mile outside, Athena finds herself overwhelmed with the gratitude of having faced another kindred spirit in fighting.

Breathing in, she stands up straight, facing where Zangief rests. Her hand presses into her fist as she bows, her stance solid, her head bowed as she offers a solemn gesture of respectful appreciation for the bout, the challenge, the requirement of continuing to strive to improve and break through any limits.

The bow offered, she relaxes, lifting her head, unclasping her hands as she raises her right arm high, her face aglow with an expression of excitement. Waving back to the audience, Athena Asamiya allows herself a moment to bask in the energy of the audience gathered at the Twilight Star Circus.

What a wonderful place.

COMBATSYS: Athena has ended the fight here.

Log created on 17:05:52 06/11/2018 by Athena, and last modified on 02:32:42 06/13/2018.