SNF 2018.07 - SNF: Caged Heat

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Description: The hot-blooded Iori has left the violence of Southtown for a different flavor of it: a cage match against Ikari Warrior Leona. It's a hefty battle in the legendary Caged Arena of Barcelona. The only way out is victory, or unconsciousness. No forfeits, no escape. Only pure, unadulterated violence. Can Leona defeat the cursed youth? Or will Iori make her burn?

Iori's an intermittent Saturday Night Fight participant for one simple and easily exploitable reason: he really, really, really wants to fight Kyo Kusanagi, and he knows that Kyo's participated in the past. In theory, his contract stipulates that after a certain number of fights, the youth is guaranteed a meeting with his rival-- and then whatever happens, happens.

In practice, there are enough conditions and loopholes built into the contract that the SNF's organizers are well within their rights to book Iori for as many fights as they'd like with nothing more than their bottom line to determine when the two burning fighters might meet in one of its rings. Not that Iori has read his contract, of course-- or that he'd catch the snares even if he had. At best, he /might/ have caught the clause stating that 'specialized, stipulation-based matches'(thereafter referred to as 'gimmick matches') would hasten his 'inevitable' meeting with destiny, and he might've known to expect something like a booking against a mercenary /and/ a researcher in the middle of a cage.

For all that it would have mattered.

Backed by a palette of distorted guitars and screaming picked from the organization's extensive music library, the cursed youth enters the cage, picks out a corner to hunch in-- and waits. The venue, the number of opponents, their professions, the fans screaming for violence-- none of it matters quite as much as the roaring amber light at the end of the tunnel. Sliding down the walls of the cage, Iori just about shuts his eyes and tries to let those screams drown out the calls for blood echoing from within in a voice too familiar for his liking. Slender fingers creep up over taciturn features and he manages a couple of calm, focused breaths before they begin to race erratically.

Tonight's fight might not be THE fight, but it'll bring him closer to it... and give him a chance to hone himself for it besides. All that's left is for Leona and her partner to enter the cage, hopefully before those calls become a roar too loud to ignore.

Backstage is a whirlwind of activity as the production staff tries to locate said partner-- not that Iori paid the rising levels of alarm back there any attention before walking out.

Practice. Training. The itch. Moving about the world. Avoiding a bounty. There are so many, so very many reasons for Leona to fight. She has been humiliated, failed, failed again, but in some ways perhaps each failure will allow her a better position when the Ikari Warriors once more enter the fight for the better of the world.

Leona Heidern is a soldier. She knows she will be there for the fight. But she must also be a warrior. To grow and strengthen. The next fight she has against a foe like Justice, she might not have her commander or a man like Sol Badguy to help bring her back from her own mistakes and errors.

She stands before the fight. Eyes closed. Her chest rises and falls. Outside of her mind, the din of the crowd and the commotion of the fight staff is a distant roar. She hears it, but does not listen. Only taking in what is needed for survival in the moment.

She stretches a band in her fingers. She counts the moments. She ties her hair into a high tail to keep it from her eyes. And her eyes open. The Silent Soldier is ready.

Around her, the production crew and staff buzz and bluster. They seek and search and try to find the researcher who was to be her partner. But Leona looks out of the corridor, down to the cage. She worries the palms of her gloves with her fingernails. The itch. The red in edges of her vision. A pulsing her chest that rushes through her head and fills her ears.

Why is it so intense? Why here? Why the cage? Normally a fight is a cold release from the fury. But now, in this place, it causes her heart to race, her senses to scream. Her to nearly scream. But she clamps down. She composes herself. She must. For she must fight.

She looks to the distant cage. To her opponent. And she steps out. Ignoring the cues of music. Ignoring the calls of the production staff. Ignoring everything but the man in the cage. She walks, a woman possessed, the world tunneling in red toward the red-haired opponent.

Into the cage she steps. Lips pressed thin, eyes cold and burrowing, she stares hard at the man that boils her blood for no discernable reason.

"Why you?" she speaks, voice cold, dead, throttling hard on the choking, raging inferno inside of Leona Heidern. The something that causes the very blood in her body to writhe.

"Don't waste my time with stupid questions."

Every word is tightly, deliberately formed in Iori's crackling baritone, a growl held by a straining chain. His chin lifts just enough to let a single red eye glare past the mane hanging over his face and lock onto the woman across the cage.

/There's/ the roar, brief but powerful enough to tense every muscle and steal a shuddering breath from this lungs. Small, violet flames lick from his shoulders and arms before guttering out, locking his jaw tight. In its wake, he relaxes enough to throw his arms out and grip the cage, but he's slow to pull himself to his feet-- distracted despite the eye fixed upon his opponent and unmoving. What was a roar is now a whisper, a ceaseless susurrus of dares and blood-soaked promises louder than an arena of drunk and rowdy fight fans. Quenched fire boils insistently through his veins, begging for a true release; none of this is unusual for Iori, who has something of a habit of entering fights with vague hopes of restraint and leaving them bloody.

But Leona's question seems to keep bubbling back into those inner whispers, laced with taunting venom, and it feels--

-- /different/.

"Why /any/ of this?" he hisses, reaching his full height for a beat before sinking into his fighting stance. "Because I agreed to a fight," he continues, "and so did you."

Like being on the outside of an inside joke for one.

"If you don't understand what /that/ means, then maybe you ought to follow your partner's example," he concludes in a cold sneer. Despite this, he lingers near the corner, breathing erratically and glaring at Leona instead of approaching her.

Why /you/, Iori?

Why /her/?

And why does it /matter/?

COMBATSYS: Iori has started a fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Iori             0/-------/-------|

A pause. Leona isn't sure if he answered her. She isn't certain if she asked anything. The rushing torrent in her ears fades in that moment. And everything cools. The mission stands before her. The target. Just another fight. Just another chance to see the level of the people around her.

She slides one foot out, checks her arm. She assumes her stance and she becomes Heidern's daughter. The Silent Soldier. An Ikari Warrior. This is a dangerous target, but he is just a target. The next fight.

"You talk a lot," Leona states, "I have my mission. Let it begin."

COMBATSYS: Leona has joined the fight here.

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Iori             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Leona

Leona pushes off her back foot. She runs toward Iori, each step a swaying, serpentine slice across the cage. Closing in toward her opponent, she scythes sideways, leaping into the air. Her arms cross before her, slicing outward, an X-shaped blaze of energy rushes down toward Iori. The force of the blast enough to send Leona turning a long back summersault away from her opponent to land away and low in a crouch.

COMBATSYS: Iori blocks Leona's X-Caliber.

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Iori             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Leona

A leather-clad arm snaps into position just in time to let cross-shaped energy splash against it. The defensive posture and a purple flare at the impact point are enough to keep Leona's attack from doing major damage, but Iori's still left with a precisely sliced coat, a thin, bloody line along his forearm--

-- and a purple flare that can't be kept from ROARING to full life, enveloping Iori's right arm in profane flames. Black leather flaps behind the youth as he leaps after the somersaulting Warrior, intent on driving a burning fist into the woman's skull on his way down. The cut drew a grunt of pain and the leap is accompanied by a wordless cry of violence, but there aren't any more words from the cursed youth.

He, too, has his mission, one which Leona-- Howard Enterprises-- /Leona/-- has firmly planted herself in the way of.

And as much as he's loathe to admit it, he knows the most reliable way to deal with obstacles.

A leather-clad arm snaps into position just in time to let cross-shaped energy splash against it. The defensive posture and a purple flare at the impact point are enough to keep Leona's attack from doing major damage, but Iori's still left with a precisely sliced coat, a thin, bloody line along his forearm--

-- and a purple flare that can't be kept from ROARING to full life, enveloping Iori's right arm in profane flames. Black leather flaps behind the youth as he leaps after the somersaulting Warrior, intent on twisting into a sledgehammer blow with his left fist on the way down. The cut drew a grunt of pain and the leap is accompanied by a wordless cry of violence, but there aren't any more words from the cursed youth.

He, too, has his mission, one which Leona-- Howard Enterprises-- /Leona/-- has firmly planted herself in the way of.

And as much as he's loathe to admit it, burning or battering his way through obstacles has always been the most efficient way of dealing with them.

COMBATSYS: Leona dodges Iori's Strong Punch.

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Iori             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Leona

A deluge. A boiling. The cries of violence and blood within Leona Heidern go unsated by something so little as torn clothing and minor cuts. It seethes in her, held back by the cold iron bands of so many years of stifling, training, and suppression.

Leona stands her ground. Waits the assault. And for her patience, for her ability to keep at bay that which is used so easily by her opponent, she is rewarded with enough presence of mind to slip around his assault and position herself unharmed.

Unseen, the thin thread that connects the two, this red band of blood and earth, pulls at Leona's subconscious. He reminds her so much of the blonde man in Japan. The one where all of the itch and the screaming in her mind began.

But she has a mission. She has a duty. She must remain bound to it. With her moment presented, she dashes forward low and crouched. Her arm ignites into a vicious blade of blue chi, lashing and razor-sharp. She stabs toward Iori's chest, the power exploding out away from her in a violent crescendo.

COMBATSYS: Iori endures Leona's Leona Crash.

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Iori             0/-------/------=|==-----\-------\0            Leona

Iori sees Leona's charge and feels his arms shift. Booted feet spread and knees bend, rooting him in place--

-- and before he truly knows it, the mercenary's stabbing him through the chest. A thin stream of blood spirals around the blue flare that bursts through the back of his coat. The redhead's lips curl back in a pained snarl while widened eyes remain fixed unerringly upon her. His knees shake, but he /lunges/ over buckling, /howls/ his defiance as he drives ten curled fingers towards Leona's gut and speeds the flow of blood trickling down his chest and back. The fire curling around his right arm vanishes, but the heat is palpable as he seeks to bury fingers like knives deep into the woman's stomach and RIP through blood and flesh with vicious abandon.

"Who are you?" the main who only has time in his life to follow /one/ fighter's career growls while his face lingers near hers.

COMBATSYS: Iori successfully hits Leona with Sakahagi.

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Iori             0/-------/---====|=======\=------\1            Leona

Fingers dig deep, root tight, tearing through the tanktop and slicking with the blood. Orochi. Leona grips the arm pushing deep into her gut. She hitches, feet up, hair hanging in front of her eyes.

The world halts. The crowd noise silent. Leona Heidern hears only her heartbeat and her own breath. She looks forward, eyes cold and calculating. Seeing the man with her at the end of his arm. Still as a portrait in the lingering moment of the strike. She hears his question. It ripples through her more than the blow.

She stands in the Amazon. Soaked in blood. A child. A man finds her. Heidern.

Once more she's back in the moment. With a harmless kick she pulls herself away from her opponent to reestablish a base. Her tanktop soaked and stained. "Leona Heidern," she states, taking her position, slightly more curled and protective of her stomach than before. She studies her opponent now. Spaces herself. Paces her mind. "Who are you?"

COMBATSYS: Leona assesses the tactical situation.

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Iori             0/-------/---====|=======\=------\1            Leona

Who /are/ you, Iori Yagami?

Blood runs past his coat sleeves and soaks into fabric. Before the question can come, he gets to share an endless moment of eye contact with the woman whose guts he's ruthlessly burrowing towards, lips curling back in a savage snarl to bare teeth.

Afterwards - after that fortuitous kick that jolts him back into the deafening please for violence and the lingering, coppery stench of all the blood that's been spilled for their amusement--

"... Iori," he forces himself to say. Leona's a lucky woman: most people would be lucky to get a dismissive sneer out of the man with a question like that, fight or no fight.

And Iori's a lucky man: she elected to hang back instead of pouncing when he stood there dazed and struggling to rein in the need to see how much more of his outfit he can ruin with her blood. The bleeding reminder of his first full brush with her power draws a tightly clenching hand and a grimace, protecting himself much the same as she-- but it doesn't last, not for long. Taking a beat to consider an opponent isn't an entirely foreign concept, but it's a touch unnatural-- and /now/, with his ears and veins burning, it verges on /unthinkable/. With his own blood dripping from his fingers, he hurls himself after her, hunching low until it's time to straighten into an upward swipe of his curled fingers. Purple flames trail through the air behind them, unwilling or unable to be remain leashed as he tries to mete out violence, but it's his clawed fingers - and their potential for ripping through fabric and flesh with frightening ease - that pose the real threat.

COMBATSYS: Leona full-parries Iori's Fierce Punch!!

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Iori             0/-------/----===|=======\===----\1            Leona

An answer. A name. And for all her luck at gaining it, it helps her not at all. But at least this time, the person that makes her blood writhe in her veins has a name. Unlike the blonde man. Unlike Japan. It will give her lead. Something of one at least.

So long, of course, that she can continue to survive these fights and the bounty on the heads of all Ikari.

And now he tears toward her. His strength on display, he barrels toward the waiting Leona. And though she doesn't smile, the cold look in her eyes is pleased. She is, after all, the daughter of Heidern. And the moment comes for the serpent style to strike.

Leona steps froward, cross stepping. One hand bends down, the sparks of chi lace around her arm. And her blade-like chi arm catches along Iori's hand. The claws catch and sparks fly in a cascade of blue and violet chi dancing in a violent aurora.

Leona guides the hand, twisting around her opponent like a snake ready to strike. She crouches low, her hair blows in the wake of the energy burst forth by the clash. And with her free arm, she slashes and strikes upward in an arcing crescent moon of scything energy. Close and up from Iori's leg to his chest.

COMBATSYS: Leona successfully hits Iori with Moon Slasher EX.

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Iori             0/-------/---====|=======\====---\1            Leona

A red spray trails behind that scything arc as Leona cuts deep line through Iori's leg and chest. The youth's arms only move afterwards, when he can lunge without bisecting himself-- attempt to seize her throat without letting her shining blade find its way to his.

Before that, he's too busy wrestling with the impulse to invite the mercenary and her violent chi to have their way with him-- to be rent asunder by waves of slashing power and be reborn in blood and fire. Given the outcome, annoyance twists his features almost as much as the pain does, and both are transmitted through bared snarling as he tries to clench his fingers woman's neck, squeeze-- and /dig/.

Those fingers are still sharp and /hot/, like knives left out in the desert. If there's any mercy, it's that he only means to grip her for a second or two before slamming her face-first to the ring floor instead of trying to tear her throat out.

COMBATSYS: Iori successfully hits Leona with Kanyarai.

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Iori             0/-------/-======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2            Leona

Close in. Slashing. Heated. A cage and an audience forgotten as two strike and cut and bleed and burn together. They struggle against each other. Grunts and snarls. At each others throats and the fight goes on.

Leona's focus is solely on the red-haired man. Vision nothing but a red tunnel boring down to her opponent. She can feel his fingers at her throat. She moves without much effort to stop the blow. Inviting the pain in her blood if he can manage to catch it. She slips and slithers, but in this case it's not nearly enough. Air is cut off, and her eyes stare wildly at Iori, and yet, still remain distant. As if to look past him, to something behind him rather than at him.

With a violent cry, Leona kicks her foot up to free herself from the choking grasp. A blade of fiery energy sails out from the wake of her strike. The powerful blade cuts outward, and double backs around from behind. A distraction to free, and to buy Leona a moment to return her breath to her lungs.

COMBATSYS: Leona successfully hits Iori with I-Slasher EX.

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Iori             1/-------/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2            Leona

The blood explodes from his back, this time.

Iori manages another guard, to his credit, but /completely/ misses the angle of attack. Before he knows it, he's stumbling forward while a red jet shoots out behind him. Buckling to his knees, he snarls ferociously and wriggles his body towards her, leaking a broken red circle around his body in the process.

Whoever Leona Heidern is has earned /much/ more of the normally closed off youth's attention than he would've thought possible just minutes ago. It isn't the freely flowing blood that's cemented her in his mind, but the way what's left inside of him boils and /screams/ after every cut-- and the lurking urge to simply submit that precedes them. It's the way her blows seem to intensify the taunting in his ears.

The way those velveteen whispers /dare/ him to tear her limb from limb-- to consume her to the last cinder.

If he /can/.

If he can figure out how to fight her while grappling with himself.

The temperature in the cage instantly spikes a degree higher. Tainted fire roars over Iori's left arm, and with a yell and a single, defiant motion, he forces himself to his feet and swipes his burning arm through the air in an upward arc. Purple flames lick behind his fist in a flickering trail and a burning surge of cursed chi races along the ground. It grows as it travels until it's almost a third of Leona's height-- and if it makes contact, it'll detonate into an even larger burst before winking out of existence.

COMBATSYS: Iori dazes Leona with Yamibarai!
Grazing Hit

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Iori             1/-----==/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2            Leona

Connection. Leona remains close, remains moving, remains in the fight just a little longer. The pulsing in the cage. In the crowd. In her mind. In her heart. Each one is the same as the last. And it all translates to the tune for her to dance to.

She skitters to the side, nearly feral, intent on harm. She readies herself to charge back into the fray. But then heat and fire. A burst of violet flame explodes outward. In danger, Leona leaps to the side. But the flames and the heat are too much. They scorch and burn, Leona holds her arm out to keep away the flaming chi blast.

She twists, remaining low and crouched. And here, with the heat of battle filling the cage, Leona bursts off the block like a sprinter. Her arm alights in a crackling fury. She charges with a violent intensity, the screaming in her blood honed to a arclight intensity. Slashing, striking, exploding force with a razor blade whirlwind of violence.

COMBATSYS: Leona successfully hits Iori with Slash Saber.

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Iori             1/--=====/=======|>>>>---\-------\0            Leona

Iori's blood swirls and splatters around the two fighters until the ground's drenched with it. The cursed youth's legs are trembling by the time Leona's violent storm ceases, while his right arm clutches the long, ugly furrow running up his body.

A red veil encroaches on the corners of his vision. Savage pleas ring in his ear, a violent backing track for the cackling roar between them. His body threatens to give out on him, to join all the blood no longer in it in littering the arena floor; surely, he fought hard enough to earn another booking, even if he didn't win.

His body's ready to quit, he's ready to accept the defeat--

-- but he still lunges at the mercenary with a roar that teeters on the edge of humanity. Left arm extended, goes for the throat again, but he seeks to concentrate his efforts on hauling her into the air and driving her to his back without giving a thought to tearing at her. If he manages to make it that far, the fire searing his limb will course towards his hand-- towards /her/, pooling, intensifying-- squeezing screams of agony and primal ectasy from his lungs as profane flames gather until they inevitably erupt into a ceiling-melting pillar.

COMBATSYS: Iori successfully hits Leona with Sanshin Waza Korefutatsu.

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Iori             0/-------/--=====|>>>>>>>\>>-----\1            Leona

Bring him down. Strike, move, strike. The blows rain and violence reigns. And Leona stands back, boots scuffing on the cage floor. Her eyes wide and hair wild, the tie broken in the frenzy of her assault.

She could smell it, she could feel it. The red tunnel in her vision once more starts to recede. Once more placated by her mad rush to destroy her target. She could relax, she could center, it would be good.

But the red haired man is not finished. Flames and heat. And without the rush of blood in her ears, Leona is too spent, too tired, to make her escape. Her cries echo in the cage, splitting the air despite the roar of the turbulant flames.

And when it ends, Leona Heidern - Ikari warrior, is on her knees. Head hanging.

She heaves forward, lifts herself to a knee. And with one final cold-eyed rush, hurls herself at her opponent. Her stumbling step rising to a run, she unleashes a final flipping kick, capped off with an explosive burst of pure energy.

COMBATSYS: Leona can no longer fight.

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Iori             0/-------/--=====|

COMBATSYS: Iori blocks Leona's Gravity Storm.

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

Iori's chest is hardly bleeding when the flames recede. The wounds aren't cauterized, they're just-- smaller, stabler than they were just seconds ago. The plethora of /other/ wounds where Leona turned his outfit into a post-apocalyptic fashion statement still linger just as angry and red as before, but he seems steadier on his feet in spite of them, now.

A teeth-baring smile hurts the corners of his mouth until he sees her through the red gauze that's fallen over his eyes, picking herself up and /charging/ at him. At that point, the smile cracks open to release cackling laughter from somewhere deep within, overflowing with the soaring exultation of release more than mockery. Her foot crashes against his still-flaming forearm - forced into position when survival instinct finally manage to punch through the turbulence - and summons a scintillating burst that shoves him back a couple of feet and drops him to a knee.

The laughter gets louder. Cursed fire finally winks out of existence as he tries and fails to retake his feet; the next time he hits his knees, there's a break as the many, many wounds marring his body burn-- literally burn, complete with little purple tongues flames from the larger cuts.

Black smoke then wisps from the youth's mouth as another round of maddened cackling and tainted chi wrack his body.

/Leona Heidern/.

The name's carved indelibly into his psyche and spirit; long after the laughter's receded into the darkest corners of his mind, it'll be there smoldering, taunting him with the enigma of the Silent Soldier.

Right beneath /His/.

COMBATSYS: Iori has ended the fight here.

Log created on 16:43:54 07/22/2018 by Leona, and last modified on 12:43:07 08/03/2018.