KOF 2019 - KOF: Twilight Stars

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Description: Honoka may have been in two prior King of Fighters tournaments, but it was a bit more difficult to find a partner for this one. Luckily, the circus star watches a lot of FightTube, so she has a bead on a number of up-and-coming fighters, like the mysterious J-Dragon! And so begins the interview for the Twilight Stars...

She'd been studying Koto for a while. It's hard not to notice when a rising star crests the horizon, blazing a polychromatic trail through the sky. That's what Koto's meteoric rise from the depths of mediocrity seemed like, across a field of fighters who largely fit the mold.

And that, of course, would be how the face behind "Mega Dragon Fighter J-Dragon" received a communication from a King of Fighters veteran. Honoka Kawamoto -- tied for fifth place in 2016, third in 2017 -- has requested Koto's presence. And she stands here in the midst of Pacific High's gymnasium, with a small crew of staffers from the Twilight Star Circus on standby. Four people are stationed throughout the bleachers with hand-held video cameras. Prosumer-grade -- a bit better than a cellphone cam, a bit worse than professional. With the lighting in the gymnasium, the picture quality will be more than adequate.

Honoka Kawamoto is seated in a director's chair in the middle of the gymnasium. She's early -- because of course she is. The star performer wants everything to be perfect. She's dressed in a bright purple jacket, tank top, denim shorts, and charcoal grey tights -- just like many of the circus juggler's promotional photos. She combs her fingers through long black hair streaked with magenta highlights as she waits, humming softly to herself.

Luckily, she thinks to herself -- they both wanted to test each other first. As an 'audition.'

Koto, for his part, had arrived in his civilian identity first. The lightning of the gymnasium might be good, but well. From the looks they want a show?

Koto can oblige on that one! The light behind the gym door is broken by a brief prismatic glow, then a spotlight like light coming from his belt area, shadowing him completely as he calls out, "Henshin!"

Even then, the glow keeps up as the Mega Dragon Fighter J-Dragon makes his own slight entrance, the prismatic glow fading away to reveal him in his full suit before he reaches up to pull his helmet off and make his way over towards the middle of the gym.

"I take it you must be Honoka?" He asks as he gets closer. The guy's definitely still a teenager! Black hair set in a messy style with green eyes look around the gym, taking in the well... circus people, and the cameras? "Huh... interesting. You plan on filming this, I take it?"

Many people would think that Honoka is just like any other fighter -- if they only watched her from a distance, or on camera. That's because while her combat technique -is- particularly flashy, she never does anything that just screams 'Hey! I'm psychic!'

But she is, in fact, psychic. And while she doesn't exactly look towards the door, she knows when a new arrival is about to appear. And it brings a smile to her face.

It's that smile that greets Koto, as he walks in, and introduces himself. She stands, bowing formally at the waist.

"Yeah," she says in a thick Hokkaido drawl, "That'd be me. And I do, if you're alright with that. Thanks for comin' on such short notice. It's... Mega Dragon Fighter J-Dragon-san, yeah? Would you like me to use the full name each time?" She smiles sweetly, and certainly not rudely: "Trust me, I understand all about keeping up a stage presence."

She reaches to the pouch of the director's chair, retrieving a nearly square envelope with a red wax seal on it. "As I suggested -- this here's an invitation to the King of Fighters tournament. And it says I can assemble a team to come attend -- and test our might against the world."

She bows again. "And I think you deserve a chance in the spotlight. A rising new star. Do -you- think you're ready...?"

The envelope is tossed into the seat. She moves with an acrobat's grace, ambling to the other side of the chair -- and withdraws two sticks, and two juggling props. "Because now is your chance. There ain't no wrong way to fight -- I just want to see your style for myself."

The diabolos pop into the air -- and she catches them, on a string suspended by the two sticks.

"In person, if you're up for it now...?"

COMBATSYS: Honoka has started a fight here.

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Honoka           0/-------/-======|

COMBATSYS: Koto has joined the fight here.

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Honoka           0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0             Koto

Koto shakes his head, laughing. "Nah. J-Dragon works as well." He considers as he looks at the envelope. "To be honest? I don't know. But that's why we're both here, right?"

Koto smiles, then slides himself into his stance before pausing. His eyes seem a bit brighter. "Interesting... your power is like mine? To think that two would find me." He shrugs, then puts on his helmet. The helmet's eyes seem to glow briefly before he settles into a firm, standing stance.

"But... we are both here to see it, I suppose. Let's see if I'm ready!" Koto declares before unleashing a quick step kick aimed at Honoka herself.

COMBATSYS: Honoka blocks Koto's Medium Kick.

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Honoka           0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0             Koto

"Sure is..." agrees Honoka with a slight nod. The two juggling props continue to dance around -- revolving in perfect synchronicity as she has each roll right to left along the string, and then she 'pops' the string, forcing the diabolo to 'jump' to continue its path on the right side once more. It's a remarkable feat of balance, but -- as will be made perfectly clear -- Honoka is a consummate professional.

"It is -- I had my suspicions about the source of your own power, and I'm glad to see they've been confirmed." It's true: the young juggler, not too many years beyond Koto's own age -- is indeed psychic. But much, -much- more powerful. And while her spirit sings with a similar resonance to the other he speaks of, Yayoi -- there is certainly something -different- to Miss Kawamoto. A power, veiled off, and separate, depths that will be much more difficult to plumb.

Fortunately, the martial artist is ready to show him a taste of that potential. As J-Dragon's eyes glow, hers take on a faint amber glow of their own. And as he steps forward with a quick, tenative kick, the acrobat shows him exactly what -she's- made of -- casually tilting her diabolo wands to her right, and guarding against the kick with her raised shin. She is -far- from as delicate as she may seem. And the diabolos -- well, they don't stop spinning, either.

"So y'know... I don't usually talk much when I fight." She speaks almost as smoothly as she juggles, twisting back and away with the force of the kick, before planting her formerly raised foot, and reversing her direction. "Ain't tryin' to be rude..."

Almost without warning, the wands lash out. The diabolos seem to be suspended in mid-air from how swiftly she moves. And the nearest of the wands is about to crack against his shoulder. A warning shot and little more -- and yet, the tap would most likely sting like a full-on kick if it lands.

"It's just how ah fight."

COMBATSYS: Koto blocks Honoka's Quick Strike.

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Honoka           0/-------/=======|=------\-------\0             Koto

J-Dragon tilts his head in a nod, "I see... yet I sensed something off, just a bit? I will not pry, but using your full power would be best, would it not?"

The incoming wand is met with a stiff forearm, the crack coming off of it as stiffly as if the bracer of the suit was armored. A brief prismatic glow is even noticeable there. Koto might not be as powerful as Honoka, but perhaps he has a bit more versatility in this case. His other hand comes up quickly as he brings himself into a ducking, low spin with what seems like a virtual tail of prismatic energy flaring from his leg as he attempts to sweep Honoka literally off of her feel, "Dragon Swings Tail!" He calls out, even as he spins into the air.

The wheel kick ends with the tail like flare of prismatic energy aiming to slam into Honoka and knock her away from him quite harshly.

At least the footage showing he called attacks was true, right?

COMBATSYS: Honoka blocks Koto's Dragon Swings Tail.

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Honoka           0/-------/=======|==-----\-------\0             Koto

Honoka nods briefly -- though in such a way that suggests she -heard- him more than -agrees- with him. Her face is just as smooth and polished as in any promotional photo for the circus -- betraying little in the sense of what she might -actually- be thinking behind that faint, beguiling smile.

She resumes her pace quickly enough to catch the diabolos before they fall. As the kick comes towards her, the acrobat nimbly steps backwards. She's flexible enough to hop over the kick, but when the gout of flame rushes past her, she's in the wrong position to avoid the -full- brunt of the attack. A wave of prismatic flame slams into her raised forearms, upsetting some of her arms' balance, but she compensates.

"This is a test of trust, J-Dragon."

She smiles faintly as she regains her footing, stepping itno what might resemble a tai chi chuan stance. She pops both diabolos into mid-air. And then she thrusts her hands forward, as a multicolored blossom of flame erupts from her extended palm, rocketing out to slam into J-Dragon's chest. "This is my -normal- strength."

COMBATSYS: Koto negates Ishirishina from Honoka with Dragon Emperor.

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Honoka           1/-------/=======|=------\-------\0             Koto

Spinning as he is, Koto comes down to land, and twists around. Seeing the tai chi like stance and the hands starting to thrust forward, or perhaps some sort of psychic ability to sense other psychics... J-Dragon does something perhaps a bit risky, but at the same time... definitely worth it for cameras and a bit of spectacle!

He comes up from his stance swinging an arm around as a rolling wave of prismatic energy lashes out from the arm, slamming into the gout of flames as he calls out, "Dragon Emperor!" The wave briefly looks like a rolling dragon before it clashes with Honoka's flames and he stands firm, sliding into a lot more open stance than the one he started as he brings his hands up.

"Normal strength, huh? Afraid to open up? I mean, I did face that Abigail guy. Trust me, he hits like a truck." Koto states, shrugging. "Oh, and BB Hood. I still want to know how she fit missiles in that basket." He looks slightly more annoyed at the latter judging by body language.

Honoka's smile intensifies as she sees her own blossom shattering into polychromatic wisps with the intersection of Kot's dragon flames.

"So you have..." acknowledges the Dancing Flame of Twilight Star Circus, sweeping her diabolo back into a wide orbit, swinging her wands from one side to the other. "Ain't about me bein' /afraid/. It's more about pacing -- you don't wanna drop your biggest bombs at the get-go, yeah?"

She swings the diabolo from side to side. And she makes a big show of it -- making sure that Koto can follow her motions.

And then she lobs the diabolos into the air, one after the other. Simple enough, right?

Simple -- until she suddenly rushes forward, shifting from a lazy juggler's performance, into the explosive rushdown style of an escrima stick fighter. The wands are inverted -- and she aims to lash out with four rapid-fire cracks of the wands against his shoulder, before lashing the diabolo wand's -cord- around his leg, and jerking upwards sharply.

The diabolos were just distractions, not meant to hit him at all. But if Koto's not careful with his footwork, they'll whack him on the head even still.

COMBATSYS: Honoka successfully hits Koto with Shitumbe Marapto.

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Honoka           1/--=====/=======|======-\-------\0             Koto

Well, that shows a bit of Koto's problem in rising up. Speed rushes are just not something he's used to. Especially whenever the cord wraps around a leg and he ends up tripped and having to roll to get back to his feet. Shaking his arms after the rush, he steps up to use the previously tripped leg as an obvious glow surrounds the shin, "Thuuunder Kick!"

Said kick gives off the tell tale crack of thunder even if it misses, but it's obvious where his psychic abilities lie now at least.

He does shake his arms a bit more before bringing them up to a blocking position. "Okay, those things hurt... what is it with you ladies and trying to hit me with objects?"

COMBATSYS: Koto successfully hits Honoka with Thunder Kick.

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Honoka           1/--=====/=======|=======\-------\1             Koto

Honoka has studied a number of arts -- escrima, kenpo, wing chun, tai chi, muay thai -- and selected bits and pieces here and there to integrate into her own bespoke style. Sometimes her moves are circular and sweeping. Sometimes, as with her explosive entrance, they are not. Her style relies on the fact that her weapons of choice just aren't all that common. And yet -- her prospective partner's been hit by a lot of them thus far, apparently. She catches the airborne diabolos after they bounce away, swinging them back into motion.

Also, she's still trying to suss out his rhythm. She wasn't ready for him to roll back to his feet so quickly -- a testament to his flexibility and skill. The thunder, too -- -that- was a disorienting surprise. It's enough to stutter her step just enough -- and allows her to get whacked in the arms, which allows the diabolos to crack against the floor instead of being caught as they had been.

"Oof..." she mumbles, regaining her balance a moment later, and then she offers a shrug. "Can't speak for others..." she offers, slinging the diabolos into the air once more -- a high orbit, nowhere near hitting. "Maybe it was something you said?"

And then she leaps forward, collecting both her wands into her left hand. Her right extends outward, her fingers outspread, as she sails in a low arc toward him, hand-first. Her hand is also shimmering in pink-purple light. If her hand slaps against his breastplate, for one, it would be a burst of agonizing pain. For a second, she'd swing sideways violently, shoving him to the ground. And for a third -- she'd call forth her own bolt of lightning, with its own attendant crack of thunder. "Hrrrrraaah!"

COMBATSYS: Honoka successfully hits Koto with Niwen Horobi.

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Honoka           2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\====---\1             Koto

Perhaps it's the fact that his shoulders and biceps took so many hits or something, but those sticks really hurt. And then whenever she's recovering, he doesn't exactly have time to do more than take the sudden throw. Said throw has him rather violently thrown down, and a bolt of lightning coursing through him that has him convulsing for a moment or two.

It's definitely a testament to his toughness that he's not screaming in pain or anything, but that does have him breathing hard as he coughs. "Ow... okay, I think that is enough for me..."

He still lies there just in case, but well. He's not exactly getting up too soon. Koto is probably just making sure he can do more than twitch if he stands. Lightning hurts, after all! "Where did you learn to use lightning? I only know how to use fire so far."

COMBATSYS: Koto has left the fight here.

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Honoka           2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|

Honoka stays down on the ground, with her fingers still pressed to the young tokusatsu hero's chest, as if reassuring herself that yes, he is still alive and okay. Or maybe that's... a side effect of how her powers work...?

At any rate, it isn't long before he's coughing out a sign that maybe he should stop anyway. The performer smiles broadly, nodding her head in tacit approval as she withdraws, rising smoothly to her feet.

The diabolos are, for now, forgotten as they clack down in the place she'd been standing moments prior.

"You've done remarkably well. You move with confidence and directness. Your talents are a natural extension of your body. I have a good feeling about you, J-Dragon." She nods quietly, slipping the wands into an extra loop sewn onto the back of her shorts for the purpose.

"In my case... the strength comes from how intense I can recall the memory. The stronger the memory -- the more powerful the effect."

Honoka bows gratefully, stepping back and away from the Pacific student. "The lightning came from when I was a lil' kid, in the midst of a storm." Her smile dims, as she looks down. It becomes clear that she may be drawing from a memory she'd rather -not- speak of.

But that moment passes, as she looks back up to the young man. "But it's different for each person. You draw your strength from your self-image, yeah? I think we'll do well, on stage. But it ain't gonna be easy. You gonna be up for it?"

A moment ago she was sad, unsettled. But now? Confident, assured. And, once more, offering a faint smile.

COMBATSYS: Honoka has ended the fight here.

Rising to his feet, Koto considers as the transformation fades to reveal his school uniform. He looks considerate as he moves to stand, brushing off some dust, and putting out one bit of fire on a shoulder from the lightning. "Huh... I wonder if it works the same for me? My Aurora Burst is based off a tokusatsu's finisher, after all. Same with the Raijin Ryu. Ah..."

Seeing her look, Koto rubs the back of his head, "I'm sorry to hear you had to endure that... but as for being up for it? Yeah, I think I am. It's worth the shot to see where we go and how well we can do. Push ourselves to get past our limits and keep on shooting to the end."

He offers a hand towards her, "If you'll have me along, at least call me Koto. The J-Dragon is my fighter's name more than anything."

Honoka's smile grows from one borne of maturity and professionalism, to one of genuine amazement as Koto's semblance shifts back to one of a mild-mannered Pacific High student. She nods with eager approval -- almost as if she, herself, was a student his own age. "Okay, that's.... that's frickin' -cool-."

As to the question about strength: "Eh... try it, maybe? All I know is, the clearer I can -visualize- something, both how it looks and how it -feels-, the stronger it gets. So, goin' on a limb, you must watch a freakin' ton of tokusatsu." She nods, slowly, reaching forward to take his hand. Earlier, her shin muscles were corded, solid. Her grip, though? It's considerably lighter, even gentle. "Koto, then? Your secret is safe with me." She holds his hand for as long as is reasonable -- not a moment more.

"The footage won't be shared -- it's just for reference. I'll have at least one other fighter in our group -- likely, a young taekwondo star named Chae Lim who's worked with us before."

She steps back, bowing: "Welcome to the team, Koto."

Log created on 21:59:23 06/01/2019 by Honoka, and last modified on 00:50:17 06/02/2019.