KOF 2019 - KoF: After Actions

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Description: Hayley Bretherton, once known as Aussie Spangles, had some history with a key figure in this particular King of Fighters. Lita Luwanda, knowing at least part of this history, seeks her out so that she can recruit her and allow her to face that past. Will Hayley take that opportunity?

Four Months Ago:

Lita Luwanda, former Delta Red member, steps into the Ikari training facility where she has agreed to meet with Hayley since she was to help her with her training as well as helping her piece together her /real/ memories. In her hand, is a sheet of paper, on it is information about Hayley's mother and her picture.

"Hayley, I have enough information that I can reunite you with your mother. Would you like to see her?"

She holds up the piece of paper to be easily read and should she wish it, she readily releases it so that the Australian can take it.

"If you'd like, luv, we can head out whenever you are ready. If you want to stay we can do that. As far as I'm concerned, we can go at your own pace."
for returns for indents. Indents don't show on the site though."

Hayley inhaled sharply and held the breath for several seconds before speaking.

"Yes," she said with hesitation. "I think I'd like that." Hayley looked at the picture, then looked at herself in the mirror. Yes. This made more sense. Much more sense than what some of her memories had been telling her.

Piecing her whole memory back together was something of a nightmare, though certain fragments of what had happened made Hayley wonder if it'd be best to scrap the whole lot.

When she'd spoken to Leona a few days after she'd woken up, everything was still a blur. She had vague flashes of being abducted. There was a woman with a bo staff who'd cornered her in China. Before that, she had a fairly clear picture of some things: Working with her father on his show, being a junior martial arts competitor, looking for her missing dad. It was her mother that was the problem. Or rather, her two mothers.

Whatever Lightning Spangles--Jezebel Faiblesse--had done, she'd done it poorly. Like much of her adult life, it was a disaster. She'd tried to force herself into Hayley's past and rewrite their situation into Jezebel's ideal. Unfortunately, she'd not done a good job of it. At one point, Hayley considered the idea that Jezebel was really bad at brainwashing. Shortly afterward, she chased away the idea that anyone could be good at something so awful.

But Lita had been there. Leona had been there. She'd grown to know the Ikaris in her short time there. Where Jezebel had thoroughly smashed her ideas of what Lightning Spangles was really like, the Ikaris had done a fine job of destroying her preconceptions of what mercenaries were like in all the best ways. It'd renewed some of her faith that there we good people out there, even if they were in unexpected places.

Lita nods when Hayley replies that she would like to see her mother. Her actual mother. With Hayley not taking hold of the paper, Lita places it on the table.

"In that case, we can leave in the morning."

Now with that out of the way, it was time for Lita to cover the other part of her assignment. Helping Hayley training, oddly enough, made an incredible amount of since Lita, much like Hayley, came from a background of training in multiple martial arts to create something that was truly her own.

Lita moved towards the training mat, her polycarbonate replica of her sword absent, as she took her stance which looked like a boxer's high guard. She was ready when Hayley was.

For a lingering moment, Hayley continued to stare at the paperwork. Her hand raised slightly toward it, then fell again. Not yet. Soon, but not yet. She'd approach that when she was ready. First, there were other things to do.

"...okay. I can be ready to go tomorrow."

Hayley stepped forward, heavily resting one foot, then the other. She kicked up her leg behind her, taking hold of her foot in a stretch before letting it fall and alternating to the other leg. Bouncing in place a few times, she slipped into her stance, raising her arms up in a high guard like a boxer.

Something wasn't right. She shifted a little, spreading her feet wider and bending her knees in something more in-line with karate. Was that it? Maybe it was. She would figure it out eventually...

Present Day:

Digging around in Hayley's history would've told the Lita plenty (and likely the Ikaris by association). Her father (Art Bretheron, an Australian) had a show called "Fight Hunter," which ran for several years wherein he traveled the world, interviewing, training with, and documenting various fighting styles and variations of fighting styles. The show was fairly formulaic. Art meets the school's teachers and best students. Art trains with them for two weeks, then spars with a student of the teacher's choosing using what he learned. Hayley apparently traveled with her father quite a bit during this time, during which she also trained in many of these schools. When the show started to flounder, Art started a second career with a school of his own, wherein he started shaping Hayley as his best student. She popped up in the tourney circuit several times as a adolesent and teenager before a serious loss that ended her tour. Art disappears from the record there, and Hayley goes to live with her mother. This is the China connection.

Zheng Xiu is a big star in the Chinese film industry. Apparently she met Art ages ago during filming of a martial arts film in Hong Kong and the two quickly became romantically involved. It is unclear what their relationship was like when Hayley was traveling with her father filming Fight Hunter. Hayley moved back in with Xiu following her father's disappearance and received a high class private education. Sometime after she hit 18 she started world traveling for martial arts purposes and wound up in whatever disaster put her in the hands of Shadaloo.

When Lita comes looking for Hayley again, she has been under the radar for a while, apparently steering clear of Interpol and the media. She seems to have been traveling around the country for a while, but when Lita wants to meet, Hayley is quick to reply. Her requested location is a small martial arts school in semi-rural China. It's a small, old-fashioned school that primarily teaches Bajiquan. ... apparently Art filmed an episode here, at one point.

Hayley is presently dressed in a traditional Chinese martial arts uniform and striking at a training dummy. Her blue-black hair has gotten quite long since she last saw Lita.

The moment Lita had touched down in China, she received two orders. Ikari had been recalled and no engaging the NOL unless it couldn't be avoided. The latter, Lita was already doing that so that wasn't a problem for her. The former, however, that would be problem. She was currently on a previously assigned mission and she didn't think she would get another opportunity like this again.

When Lita arrives it's with a large carrying case in one hand and an envelope and a folded flyer held tightly in her hand. Her lips form into a smile upon seeing the Aussie striking the dummy. Instead of speaking, she immediately takes off her shoes, ties back her hair and only then does she continue to enter.

"Long time no see! Glad to see you're working hard."

The case is placed on the ground and then the envelope and flyer on top of that. She takes a few steps to move closer but keeping enough distance that she won't disrupt Hayley's practice should she wish to continue it.

Hayley strikes at the training dummy several more times. She works around the pegs of the wooden target carefully, first with a closed backfist, then an open palm, then a three-fingered claw. She pushes back, then slams her elbow into the gap with a wooden clack. Sweat has beaded on her forehead and her breathing has gotten heavy. It's during this moment of catching her breath that she looks up and spots Lita. Her expression slips into a subdued smile.

"Hoi, I see you did find the place. It's so out of the way I was afraid maybe you'd gotten lost." Hayley runs her hands through her hair to push it back out of her face, threading her fingers throw it several times. She frowns a little and wipes her hands on the white fabric of her uniform. "But yeah. Trying to keep it together. I've been thinking--" Hayley inhales. "Thinking about what and the others said. I can't just go off and hide somewhere." The Aussie's green eyes go to the case, then up to Lita.

"What's that about, eh?"

Bajiquan was familiar to Lita but it wasn't one of the martial arts that the Weapons Mistress had spent an extended amount of time learning. As she watched Hayley practice, she could see some potentially useful things out of it. When the Aussie stops, Lita takes a moment to nod in appreciation, with a smile still plastered on her face.

Lita lets Hayley get her thoughts out about life and what she's been thinking. She figures it'll be healthy for her to release it all. Lita's case draws the attention of the Australian which causes the Ikari to look down at it as well.

"If you mean the case, that's my polycarbonate sword, just in case you wanted to train. As for the flyer and envelope well..."

She lets that pause hang in the air as she reaches for the flyer and holds it out for the Aussie to take and read.

"I don't know if you've heard that there's a new King of Fighters tournament coming soon. This year there's something that's related to your situation and that could possibly be a step forward in helping you deal with what happened. Lightning Spangles is involved in this tournament."

Moving across the mats, Hayley picks up a towel and wipes her face while Lita's talking to her. She nods a little regarding the case--it makes sense to her--before putting the towel over her shoulder and messing with her hair. She lifts it up, runs her fingers through it, and lets it drop. Maybe even she's not used to the length. The movement slows when the letter is mentioned. It stops when Lightning Spangles comes up.

"I don't really want anything to do with that mongrel," Hayley says flatly. Hayley slides her fingers out and pats her hair down before tugging at the towel. "I mean, why is she even running King of Fighters anyway? Did she get the money from...those people?"

"Fair enough."

Honestly, the Ikari Warrior couldn't blame Hayley for reacting that way. Honestly she figured not wanting to have anything to do with her was just as likely as wanting to jump at the chance to give her a piece of her mind and/or a swift boot up the arse. And both were just as valid as far as she was concerned.

"I don't know if they are involved but I intend on finding out since there's been a history of shady activities going on. As for why I came here to mention this tournament, it's two-fold. One, it would be an opportunity for you to encounter some of the best martial artists in the world which would only enhance your development. Two, with 'her' being involved, it would be an opportunity to confront her about what she had done to you should you wish it. Hell. If we were to theoretically get far enough, allow you to burn her merch as catharsis."

She pauses to look down at her invitation received because of her runner up status in one of the previous tournaments.

"If you still don't want to go, I understand. I just didn't feel that it was fair for me to have this and not extend the opportunity to you to come along for the ride. After all you went through, you deserved to at least have that option."

Hayley chews her lip as she curls her hair around one of her fingers. The silence sits like a gloomy cloud for several moments while she paces around, making her way back to the training dummy.

"I don't want to drag you down. You guys are way better than me."

Hayley moves on the wooden dummy in slow motion, working through katas gradually. Methodically. Elbow, then snapping backfist by pivoting her arm. Forward step, then shoulder check. Step again, hip check. Gripping the posts protruding from the column, Hayley pulls herself into a kick at neck height.

And then she inhales sharply, and sighs. "I'm still putting it all together. What happened there, I mean. I think," Hayley says, words sticking like sap in her throat. "I think my dad may have been in there. I don't know. Maybe it was something Jezebel did because she saw him on TV."

Lita lets that silence hang, after all, it probably means the wheels are turning in her head and Lita's willing to let Hayley mull it over. It's not until she speaks again about dragging the team down that Lita raises an eyebrow.

"Let me tell you about the King of Fighters that I got runner up in. My team consisted of an Interpol detective who was forced by the chief to take on a special forces soldier as a team mate who he couldn't trust to not backstab him. He picked me because he knew he could trust me. The special forces soldier that detective couldn't trust ended getting betrayed multiple times during the tournament, from getting set up to be captured by having the stairs collapsed beneath him to him getting captured right before our finals match. I'd rather lose in the first round on a team with people I could trust than make finals again with such a dysfunctional team."

Lita steps back and lets Hayley work out once more.

"I don't want to hear anything about you dragging us down. But like I said, I'm not going to pressure you. Before you say no, make sure you're absolutely certain you will not think back to this moment with regret that you hadn't taken the opportunity to push yourself as a fighter or the opportunity confront what she had done to you and find out whether there's more information to find."

Since it seems like Hayley has chosen to self train, Lita will make her way towards the door.

"You have my contact information, Hayley should you wish to sign up."

Hayley steps back and looks up at Lita, her attention focused. She looks away again sheepishly, but it's clear she's listening. The wooden training dummy is abandoned for the moment, Hayley's focus entirely on what the Ikari has to say.

"...thanks," Hayley says. "That does mean a lot to me. ...I'll think about it." She rubs her head, mussing that mop of hair even further. "...promise I won't take long to tell you one way or another. S'not right for me to keep you waiting when you offered." When Lita starts moving toward the door, Hayley shuffles her feet.

"Since you came all this way, why don't you hang around for dinner? Some of the other students and the sifu here are doing errands for training. ... doesn't feel right to make you come all this way just for that."

Hayley paces around, reaching back to tug her pants up a little, then smooth her uniform shirt out a little. "...I'd offer to spar, too, but I'm still working out some kinks. I think it'll be a lot different than last time." Hayley looks up and smiles more warmly at Lita.

Log created on 20:14:40 05/26/2019 by Lita, and last modified on 07:02:51 05/27/2019.