KOF 2019 - Quarterfinal 2 - Twilight vs Heavy Metal Burnin'

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Description: Brazil's famous Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace racetrack serves as host for the second semifinal match of King of Fighters 2019! Twilight Stars face off against Heavy Metal Burnin' -- hopefully the track will survive for the next F1 race!

For those suffering in the throes of a Northern Hemisphere summer, Sao Paulo's cool winter breezes provide a breath of fresh air. Puffy clouds float lazily across the sky -- it's only rarely that a gap forms large enough to allow the blazing death orb to shine a column of warmth down onto the scenic Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace circuit.

Honoka Kawamoto, star juggler of the Twilight Star Circus, tends to find it a mite cold. It's true that the asphalt of the track is warmer -- that's why she's standing on it. It's also true that two diabolos -- which are currently lit on -fire- -- are whirling right past her. But her teeth are chattering, all the same. And anyone with a telephoto lens might be able to spot the reason why: a mostly-empty cup with the words 'BACIO di LATTE - Gelato Puro' on the table beneath the Twilight Stars tent, with a few telltale smudges of chocolate and cherry along the rim. It seems the group had made a last-minute run to the local gelateria.

Fiery orange arcs blaze through the air, as Honoka's gaze focuses dead ahead on nothing in particular. A thousand-yard stare, to show that her ultimate focus is on maintaining the fierce momentum of two deadly juggling props whooshing through the air. Concentration and focus are everything to the performer, and she's not about to let a few minutes of delicious indiscretion ruin the team's chances in this tournament.

At least, that's her mood until the tournament organizers start bustling about with signs of activity. Cameramen get into position with their dollies and steadicams. Officials take their seats at the table. And technicians orient themselves around a curious set of jet-black devices, each with a number of odd lenses and futuristic-looking doodads.

Honoka snaps out of her reverie once the officials wave to her. She offers a brief, stoic nod, and then casts her amber-flecked gaze back towards her young teammate, locks of raven black and bright pink flitting about in the motion. (The impromptu haircut necessitated longer extensions than usual for her...)

Koto might not have gotten much air time last fight -- but she's not looking to the past. She flashes her teammate an exuberant, encouraging smile, continuing to whirl the flaming diabolos around for the audience's appreciation. "Go get 'em, J-Dragon. You got this!"

It's the KING OF FIGHTERS baby. The Coachella of the fighting world. The Gramm's of the Martial Arts Circuit. The Met Gala of Fisticuffs! There's parties and events galore and, of course, people with superhuman fighting abilities and freakish abilities attempting to beat each other into the asphalt. Needless to say, Abigail is quite at home and even more so when one considers the venue for the latest match for Team Heavy Metal.

Thus when he enters the area, footsteps rumbling the ground, marching in from one of the stadium entrances and accompanied by a gaggle of reporters, sponsors and would be advertisers trying to get in on the giant mechanics good side..he ignores them all and lets out a bellowing "YEAH!" followed by a roaring thunderous "VROOOM " that sounds more like an elephant trumpeting and has the impact of scattering the crowd around him like leaves swirling before a sub woofer. He raises both of his colossal arms high, turning from side to side to let the locals get a good look at his monstrous body and then he brings them down into a most muscular pose and follows that up with a room shaking *KABOOM* as he slams his knuckles together violently. Yup, Abigail is..as usual, already roaring at 11 out of a 10 and, rolling boulder sized shoulders, he begins walking thunderously towards the main combat area to await his opponent.

There is one thing most don't quite realize whenever you're the fan of a kid's show that basically has an adult following. Sometimes you get to have a bit of fun. And before arriving, Koto had done just that it seems. The racing brand motorcycle beside the Twilight Stars tent, plus Koto's racing outfit in the colors of his team just scream that he had been having some fun before hand.

The bright white suit with red gloves and black highlights might show he's emulating a more popular hero in Japan, the young man makes his way to the fighting area, giving a thumbs up at Honoka before looking towards Abigail. "Huh... so we meet again, huh, big guy? You know, last time you trashed me pretty bad in the Neo League. Let's see how I do this time!"

A prismatic flare around his waist signals Koto beginning his transformation as the belt appears first, followed by his sliding back into a stance and sweeping his arm across. "HENSHIN!" The flare of prismatic light leaves him in his fighting suit as he settles into a looser stance than the firmer once he faced Abigail with mostly before as he brings his hands up, showing the usual J sign with his fingers, "Mega Dragon Fighter, J-Dragon ready!"

"Hey..HEY! I remember YOU!" Abigail's voice booms cheerfully, perhaps to cheerfully when one considers his near perpetual almost 'slasher grin' on his features. He points a trunk of a hand at Koto as he speaks and then pauses to consider his next words as if trying to drag up the complete memory from a gaggle of engine schematics and car noises.

"Yeah..yeah.. You're that OTAKU guy!" A slight upgrade from being called a Taco.

"Nice to see you're still in this gig! Sorry but..I'm going to have to crush you again." He laces his fingers together and then stretches, popping his knuckles with that sound of boulders splintering accompanying his actions.

"Gimme a good race though, okay??"

COMBATSYS: Abigail has started a fight here.

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Abigail          0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Koto has joined the fight here.

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Abigail          0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0             Koto

Koto tilts his head, "Good race, huh? Well, I did have some fun before hand..." The otaku teen states, thumbing at the motorcycle. "I'll admit cars and trucks can be fun, but nothing beats the wind on a motorcycle."

The teenage superhero from Pacific High brings his hands up in a guarding position. "Alright, big guy, let's see if we've improved any since last time!" J-Dragon calls out as he prepares himself both mentally and physically.

"Fair enough!" bellows Abigail who continues to pound his fist into his open palm. "Let's rev up and go!"

And with that, he sets off into an earth shaking charge while thundering, "Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!!!" in time with each earth ocking footstep that thunders against the ground like a small bomb being dropped.

In less time then one would assume given his vast size and slow ponderous movements, he's on top of Koto and twisting at his monstrous waist. His billboard dwarfing back is briefly shown to the crowd before he twists around and sends a boulder of a fist hurtling right at Koto. "KABOOM!"

COMBATSYS: Koto blocks Abigail's Dynamite Punch.

[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Abigail          0/-------/------=|==-----\-------\0             Koto

The incoming charging punch is met by Koto's arms coming up in a cross block as he almost buckles under the force of nature that is Abigail. It's not until his arms actually glow with a bit of prismatic light that his arms do stop moving.

"Huh... still strong as ever, I see!" Koto states, then brings his blocking arms downwards, "Dragon Flame Swipe!"

The resulting burst of flames seems a bit different than before, with a slight image of what looks like fiery wings before the burst of flame shoots out at Abigail himself.

COMBATSYS: Abigail blocks Koto's Dragon Flame Swipe.

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Abigail          0/-------/-----==|==-----\-------\0             Koto

"What the--!!"

It's not exactly an elegant response but it's the only thing Abigail can think of as the fire comes blasting forth. He'll never quite understand all that chi and aura and magic mumbo-jumbo ..especially when sheer brute force has been enough to get him this far as a competitive fighter.. That doesn't stop him from being surprised by it.or burnt!

He manages to raise a forarm as big around as some peopls waistlines and most of the fire blasts over it, singing and burning but not stopping him as is made apparent when he comes pushing through it with a massive hand lunging for Koto's body. He's big enough to literally scope the other fighter up like a doll with his other massive fist clenching and waiting in the distance like some sort of cocked trebuchet.

It's not the entire fist that launches forward at Koto but instead a single finger that flicks up at him, albiet with the force of a battering ram despite the casual easy nature of it all.

COMBATSYS: Koto interrupts Red Leaf from Abigail with Crane Swipes Fish.

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Abigail          0/-------/--=====|======-\-------\0             Koto

Koto, instead of trying to shy away or brace himself, moves in to the attack. And despite being batted away like a ragdoll nearly by the arm itself instead of being thrown literally, the teen does get in a quick strike aimed at Abigail's leg.

The movement of the giant man's arm, however, does make Koto take a few steps to the side that definitely wasn't his intention, even as he turns it into the circle walking that his space pakua style has shown off before in the Neo League and King of Fighters.

Koto mentions, "What? I thought I hit you with that before in the Neo League. Don't tell me you forgot about my power!"

Agression, offense, assault.. Abigail continues forward, pressing after Koto despite his last attempt at an assault not going quite as he anticipated and a brief grimace of displeasure creasing his bull doggish features at Koto's timely kick and push back away from his finger flick attempt.

"You know I can't keep up with all that mumbo jumbo!" he responds to Koto's query. "I prefer keeping it old fashioned and high horsepower!"

To that the goliath has literally now launched himself skyward..kicking off the ground in a thunderous leap that brings his monster-sized body high overhead, flipping, andthen descending downward at Koto with both of his huge arms up and then coming down like a pair of industrial pistons. "..and HIGH OCTANE!"

COMBATSYS: Abigail knocks away Koto with Giant Flip.

[       \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////                 ]
Abigail          1/-------/=======|=======\====---\1             Koto

The impact of the fists is probably what hurts the most as Koto ends up flying away a good distance. He almost lays there for a second before remembering he's in a fight and flips back to his feet. Prismatic energy starts to glow underneath him before he leaps upwards quite high and comes down at Abigail.

With both of his legs glowing in the prismatic energy, the first part of what might as well be one of Koto's speciality moves comes down at him seemingly before the teenager twists and turns it into his other signature instead, "THUNDER KICK!"

The resulting sonic boom is easily heard as he tries to literally kick in Abigail's head no less it seems.

COMBATSYS: Abigail blocks Koto's Thunder Kick.

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Abigail          1/------=/=======|=======\=====--\1             Koto

The lightning powered assault whip cracks into Abigail with an explosive array of sparks and electrical tendrils that spasm outward from the behemoth and crackle violently throughout the combat area. Lights flicker as Abigail endures the assault and the behemoth raises both of his arms skyward during its thunderous display.

"Oh yeah! Let's push it to the redline!!"

His body begins to overheat to a beet red. Steam billows from his mouth and nostrils and from his muscles which seem to pile on sinew in an ever growing display of bulking muscles and physique expansion.

"It's time to bring this race to the finish!"


[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Abigail          1/--=====/=======|=======\=====--\1             Koto

Landing from the rather inventive variation of his usual Thunder Kick, Koto hops back a few steps. "Alright, fine..."

Prismatic energy starts to shine on Koto as he settles into the looser stance, hands coming up in a guarding position as he starts to shine brightly.

"... HERE WE GO!" While he might be receiving the hardest hits so far, he was definitely not about to take them laying down as his own power starts to skyrocket seemingly. Prismatic energy shines around him as he prepares himself for what is sure to be one hell of a clash!

COMBATSYS: Koto glows with prismatic energy.

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////                 ]
Abigail          1/--=====/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2             Koto

Well..that's different. He was expecting Koto to try and take advantage of his momentary vulnerability but instead it seems Koto has some tricks up his sleeves as well. Perhaps abit more tricksy and dangerous then he was before, after all!

"Huh!" Abigail murmers as starts trundling forward, clearly somewhat impressed. "Not bad..but...you still need just alittle more horsepower!"

That declared, the bruiser is suddenly on Koto - lunging at him like a semi truck launched from a slingshot. His massive hand comes swatting around to try and bear Koto to the ground and then up again violently. At this point both of his fists lash out with a series of thunderous rolling punches as if he were boxing a speedbagt save with the earthquake causing force behind his fists being increasingly unleashed on the colorful hero.


At the end of the assault, should it fully land, he swings out and sends a huge palm hurtling around for Koto in an attempt to swat the other fighter away in a brutalizing finish.

COMBATSYS: Koto blocks Abigail's Abigail Special.

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////                        ]
Abigail          0/-------/------=|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2             Koto

Koto is literally battered around, even despite bringing his arms up to block and keep himself in the game each time, even the massive palm strike is met by his crossed forearms as he ends up skidding a good distance away from Abigail once again.

Koto is already moving his hands in mid-air as he brings them before him, prismatic energy still trailing him as he seems to shift it around before firing off the one thing he knows might hopefully slow Abigail down if not for him then for his team mate possibly.

Once he lands, Koto slides a bit before bringing his hands up into an L shaped position as he calls out, "AUURORAAAA BUUUUURST!" The psychic beam of energy seems to be just about ALL of Koto's power sent out in one massive beam of energy at Abigail himself. Whether it will do any good remains to be seen, of course!

COMBATSYS: Koto successfully hits Abigail with Aurora Burst.

[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////                        ]
Abigail          0/-------/------=|>>>>>--\-------\0             Koto

Who knew that rainbows could hurt so much?

Abigail knows now, that's for sure. Between this and realizing that his last assault didn't land true - he's not feeling particularly happy right now and as the enerty blast races into him and pretty much through him..it drags his monsterous body backwards several paces and nearly lifts him from his feet in the process.. But he endures, barely. He holds on well enough to keep from being nocked back and as the beam nears its end..he begins rushing forward again though he huffs and chugs like a monster-truck engine attemtping to find it's pace.

Finally, he leaps again and once more flips though this time he's literally attempting to roll his monster of a body forward and roll his massive legs into Koto like a series of felled trees that have come tumbling down a hillside. It's an inelegant move but..well when has he ever been elegant.


COMBATSYS: Koto endures Abigail's Avalanche Press but gets knocked away!

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Abigail          0/-------/---====|>>>>>>>\>>-----\1             Koto

Koto ends up getting knocked backwards by the impact of said overgrown tree sized legs, a bit surprised that the Aurora Burst didn't do more. But he sees a chance even as he gets knocked away before swinging out again with an overly charged fist as more prismatic energy comes out of him.

Apparently the Aurora Burst wasn't meant to finish the fight, but rather set up for something else. "DRAAAAGON PUUNCH!"

The rather impressive straight punch with a dragon's head on it probably would look better. If Koto didn't happen to pass out right afterwards!

Apparently that was the last of his energies left, and he's leaving it to his team to carry it on possibly. Ouch.

COMBATSYS: Koto can no longer fight.

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

COMBATSYS: Abigail blocks Koto's Dragon Punch.

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

"Good! But not good enough!" bellows Abigail as he braces his massive body against the final punch and then pushes forward, letting the bulk and strength of his form shove back against Koto and put some distance between himself and the fallen fighter.

"Looks like I got more horsepower and hit the finish line sooner then you> Nice try though! We gotta work on that engine of yours!"

He's little time to gloat though. Given the nature of the King of Fighters he's not going to have any true time to get his bearings and recover. The next heat is about to begin!

COMBATSYS: Abigail awaits the next challenger.

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

Speaking of finish lines, Abigail would hear a distinctly recognizable sound as he takes his few moments to recover: the high-pitched whine of a Formula-1 Ferrari! Straight from Pit Row comes a race car emblazoned with Red Bull livery -- and it rolls right past Abigail into the center of the track! Once it's at a comfortable distance, the racecar engine reaches a fever pitch -- and the car carves a trio of donuts in the center of the track!

Clouds of acrid, white smoke billow out from the tires, thick enough to obscure the car from view. A series of red and green lasers can be seen slicing through the clouds - though the keen-eyed would notice that this isn't a special effect per se, just the telltale markings of the high-tech scanning equipment set in place by the mysterious tournament organizers (who have repeatedly claimed that they've got -no- connection to the disgraced Violet Systems).

The crowd is hardly as picky -- they're roaring in approval. First, a high-octane throwdown between fan favorite fighters, and now a burnout exhibition from a pro stunt driver? They're loving it!

It's clear that Honoka Kawamoto, though, is less impressed. She's snuffed the flames of her diabolos, passing those hot little props to an oven-mitt-equipped Chae Lim. She even has a prudish little frown on her face -- though that, as with many of the performer's expressions, is calculated for maximum audience response. Everyone loves a good rivalry, right?

Nothing lasts forever, especially when it comes to expensive tire rubber. By the time the racecar rolls out, Honoka's already striding forward. With diabolo wands clutched in one hand, and two diabolos tenderly gripped by the fingers of the other, she emerges through the smoke -- not unlike a cruise ship cutting through an ocean bay's morning mist. The frown is nowhere to be found; instead, she wears a confident smile, framed by raven-black bangs and twin forelocks of long pink hair on either side. Her eyes twinkle with delight as she meets Abigail's gaze.

And she lowers her shoulders in a proper Japanese bow. "I'm Honoka Kawamoto -- and I'll be your second opponent. I'm sure this'll be a fun match for both of us!"

COMBATSYS: Honoka has joined the fight here.

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Honoka           0/-------/-======|=======\-------\0          Abigail

The crowd roars. The announcers declare the start of the fight. And Honoka surges forward, wasting no further time. If she's intimidated by Abigail's superior height, it's not obvious in the way she vaults forward, tossing herself into a rolling cartwheel. But it's not just an acrobatic display -- she aims to maneuver ever closer. Somewhere in the process, the two diabolos are flung from her hand. One sails skyward, while the other clacks upon the asphalt, sure to roll under Abigail's foot at -some- point or another.

The true attack, though, comes when Honoka swings her hand up for the front of Abigail's shirt. Her hands flare with fuschia energy, as she seeks to use her psychic energies to gain a solid grip on his abdomen. With a good grip, she'd then plant her foot on his waist -- and then ram a lance of jolting psychic energy from her heel straight into Abigail! And if she manages to land both, she'd wrench sharply to her side, bringing the hulking goliath tumbling to the ground with her heel as the fulcrum!

COMBATSYS: Honoka successfully hits Abigail with Wakka Pururuse.

[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////                 ]
Honoka           1/------=/=======|=======\==-----\1          Abigail

Koto may have been unable to bring the colossus down but he did his job in softening him up. Between that and Honoka's arrival, Abigail is not a happy camper and doooown he goes, slamming into the ground with a thunderous impact that sends those standing up into the air by a few feet from the shockwave that ripples out from the goliaths forceful landing. His eyes bulge out and his expression turns into a sneer as he rolls back up to his feet, dirt and concrete rippling from him as he emerges from the Abigail shaped crater in the ground. "It aint over yet!" he declares furiously before leaping again. Seems like he's been doing alot of leaping lately! well..if it works.

And hopefully it does, for his sake. He lunges his body forward, twisting to his side and curling both legs inward as he falls down towards Honoka like a dislodged wrecking ball. At the last second both of his massive legs pump outward in a thunderous dropkick, probably capable of doing just as much damage to a building, if not more so, as the wrecking ball he briefly resembled. "VRRROOOM!"

COMBATSYS: Abigail successfully hits Honoka with Ontario Drop.

[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////                 ]
Honoka           1/------=/=======|=======\====---\1          Abigail

The nimble circus star leaps away from Abigail, sneakers squeaking on the asphalt as she touches down for the briefest of instants before pirouetting to safety. She releases one of her wands, letting the string snap taut as she spins back to a halt -- and her free hand raises just in time to catch the rebounding wand before it can crack against her own head. Pink locks of hair sway in the wake of her rapid motion, barely obscuring the thin smile painted across her lips. A consummate professional, in the peak of her talents, opening the round with a devastating attack...

The anger, the fury from her opponent: a delectable emotion for the psychic to savor.

It isn't over yet. She nods her assent to this thought, twisting to whip-crack a wand at one of her fallen diabolos, bringing it back to her control. As the diabolo swirls about her, amber-flecked eyes snap back up to the goliath, even as his shadow falls onto her, a foreboding portent. She's quick, and agile -- avoiding the colossus should be no grand issue.

If Abigail had -normal- proportions, her judgement would be sound. As it is... she misjudges the timing of her sideways cartwheel. Abigail crashes into her -- his enormous mass slamming her into the track.

Hot asphalt erupts in a geyser of steam as Kawamoto is slammed into a brand-new crater, a sharp cry of pain showing that, yes, this freaking hurt! Surely, without a doubt, -something- broke there. Was it the diabolo that cracked against the pavement, or was it -bone- of some sort?! It's hard to tell from the rising steam cloud...

But before long, a figure shoots out of the steam cloud, at a steep diagonal, sheathed in an aura of brilliant fuschia, bright enough to be seen clearly in the midday Brazilian sky. The figure streaks towards a battery of suspended lighting. All her anger, all her pain, channeled into psycho-powered flame.

And then, with a sudden sharp kick, the figure reverses direction. The spinning mass resolves into a human figure -- stretching out into a human torpedo. Hands form the torpedo's 'nose', pointed toes its tail. And a coruscating cocoon of pink-purple flames suffices for its blazing exhaust, as the spinning torpedo seeks to plow right through Abigail -- thundering him right into the concrete barriers separating the track from the infield!

Hopefully -Abigail- is keeping note of where those diabolos have rolled...

COMBATSYS: Abigail endures Honoka's Range Kando.

[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///                           ]
Honoka           0/-------/------=|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2          Abigail

An apocalyptic explosion of lightning and purple flames billows up from the impact point. The roar of the explosion mixing in with Abigail's own as he's driven backwards and vanishes into the conflagration which engulfs him and the concrete barriers and billows out around him violently in a shockwave that ripples violently in every direction. Yeah, that hurt. It's not often he's on the receiving end of such hurt but it figures it's more of that 'psycho mumbo jumbo' as he's come to call it whenever he's encountered it. Oi.

But then..

An arm that big enough to treat a steel girder like a straw comes surging out of the dust cloud and debris field, followed by the rest of the gargantuan body of the superhuman hot rodder. The shockwave of his incoming swing blows away the debris cloud from around him, revealing Abigail's gargantuan figure leaning forward into a single thunderous punch which is then potentially followed by another and then another and then another in a rapid fire assault of machine gun punches so quick that they turn the behemoths body into a blur of movement attempting to bear its full power down onto Honoka. "DIDIDIDIDDIDID-ABIGAIL..PUNCH!!!"

Should this land or not, it seems to be over for him as he then falls backwards, tumbling like a felled tree.

COMBATSYS: Abigail can no longer fight.

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

COMBATSYS: Abigail successfully hits Honoka with Abigail Punch.

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

Honoka makes contact, her palms driving squarely into Abigail's thickened hide and plowing him forward. But as soon as he makes impact, she lets her arrow-straight form coil up, and she presses herself away, flipping away to safety.

On the minus side, the track's going to need some considerable repairs before it can be used for racing again. But, on the plus side... it's a few years overdue for repaving anyway.

She plants her hands on her knees, panting heavily for a good few moments while Abigail rests in a nest of collapsed concrete and rebar. Several lines are etched onto her form, pulsing and ebbing in golden light. Her body is pushed well beyond its limits -- Abigail is -not- known for hitting lightly, that much is true! But she does not have long to rest before Abigail's arm thrusts out of the debris -- triggering a panicked shudder as she takes two steps back. "What a m-monster..." she stammers, raising her hands in a futile gesture as he rises to his full height.

But as his intentions become clear, Honoka clamps her jaw shut. Bright pink flames surround her -- though as they burn brighter, they shift into an amber hue, clinging closely to her skin.

Abigail's singular punch slams into her arms, but she buckles like a brown paper bag to the incomparable weight of a jackhammer. Each successive attack batters her further and further back, the discarded debris from the previous assault stirring once more into a billowing dustcloud. If it weren't for the golden sheath clinging to her like a second skin, surely the lithe acrobat would snap in two like a twig -- but as it is, she remains whole throughout the extended assault. Even as she sails backward, through the air -- and tumbles like a limp doll across the track.

One second passes. Then a second, and third.

And then Honoka presses her hand to the track. The gold second skin shatters into a trillion fragments, like a wine glass to a perfect note.

And Honoka casts golden eyes towards the fallen Abigail, her breath hissing through grit teeth. She's hurt -- hurt badly. But she's still able to rise to her feet, clasping the diabolo wands loosely in her left hand, her right hand gripping her left elbow for security.

"... You fought well. Thank you..."

There will be none of her usual fanfare as she waits for the next challenger. Just a battle to ward off the pain wracking her body, while another show truck rolls onto the track, with fire belching from its dozen chromed exhaust pipes. Light-hearted fare to distract the audience from the broken bodies of the two competitors...

COMBATSYS: Honoka awaits the next challenger.

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

The impressive THUD made by the felled Abigail is a sound only dulled by relative comparison to the antics of the amped-up, flame-belching truck that takes to the track as the behemoth is (with some difficulty) removed from the alleged arena. A monster, Honoka said-- yet she felled him, and with a subtler but no less intense explosiveness as that expressed by the giant himself. One of the first hard lessons in K''s path to rebellion was learning just -how- deceiving appearances can be.

Really, the youth himself is testament to that fact as surely as Kawamoto. Lithe, unassuming at a glance, K' is garbed in black denim, motorcycle boots, and a gunmetal grey hoodie that wards off the cool winds; if not as effectively as other means available to the prototype. He's not the showman the Twilight Star is, either-- K' barely enters the space cordoned off for proper fighting until the motor show is concluding, consciously biting back his own hungry flames. In the look of disdain and boredom cast askance at said revving and roaring, however? He's the pitch perfect image of Kawamoto watching her own very loud intermission and introduction.

"It's not easy to take Andre apart like that." K' notes somewhat sardonically in Honoka's general direction, studying the performative combatant from behind dark, crimson-framed shades. He pulls his hood back, shaking out a wild mane of platinum and furrowing his brow. It's his version of 'Good fighting, yourself', as well as vocal affirmation of what he already observes of this opponent. "Afraid we don't have anything bigger than that." Sorry, not sorry. K' doesn't //really// seem concerned about that at all. In fact, he's unusually at ease in this forum, his efforts to stay calm more about staying the impulse the energies and exercises around him urge towards violent response. Efforts in quieting the ravenous crusade of the Heavenly Fire grafted into the bioweapon's very soul.

It's those instincts, the quiet danger, the way the lithe predator flanks gracefully, patiently towards striking range as he speaks to Honoka. At the border of his own 'side' of the track for the countdown, K' pays little heed to anything besides Honoka, the sleeve of his sweatshirt incinerated as the odd, technological gauntlet armoring his right arm and hand glows to brilliant light, a torch of sunset hues beckoned into his grasp, teeth gritting against the sudden, unmistakeable, now familiar burn. Perhaps the ancient weapon will also devour -him-. "I'll try to make do!!" And as he's signalled to action, K' makes good on that.

The roiling flames suddenly bidden into our realm roar and roil and surge downwards, coursing into a tumult before the prototype, who swings his weight into a powerful side-kick that carries him slightly off the ground and propels the wave of roaring Kusanagi fire across the span seperating him from Honoka, threatening to consume her deceptively small frame in searing, swirling napalm. One thing's for sure: After Abigail, anyone would want at least three more moments to catch their breath... especially before dealing with the man known in fighting fandom as Dash.

COMBATSYS: K' has joined the fight here.

[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Honoka           0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0               K'

COMBATSYS: Honoka reflects Second Shoot from K' with Kunne Chup Kamui.

[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Honoka           0/-------/--=====|-------\-------\0               K'

With each passing breath, Kawamoto seems to regain more and more of her strength. Her eyelids close to mere slits. Her head bobs to the beat of a drum no one else would be -able- to hear over the fire-belching abomination's chaotic roar. The tip of her tongue darts across her lips, resuscitating the chapped flesh with tiny droplets of moisture. Her style relies heavily upon concentration and willpower -- losing track of the rhythmic drumbeat of battle is a sure herald of defeat.

But as the truck drives off, and K' swings into view, Honoka's eyes part open once more. Amber irises lock down onto Dash's with laser-sharp focus. She's done her research on the Beast of Flame. And considering his battles -- most notably his clash with the felflame master -- she takes little comfort from the wide expanse between herself and her opponent.

No, she acknowledges one truth with the self-aware smile she sends K''s way: Break time is over. Her left hand raises, and almost lazily, a wand is snapped from her wrist, lashing out across an edge of the fallen diabolo nearest her. The fingers of her right hand tease through pink highlights, barely concealing that same smile as she sweeps those locks back away from her tar-smeared face. She begins a lazy stride towards Dash: she likes fighting at a distance, but not -that- wide a gulf.

Her amber eyes light up as the orange flames make themselves known. The performer's quite fine with -juggling- fire, but her peculiar style of misdirection doesn't exactly lend itself towards untended flame. Psychic flames, though? Muuuuuch easier to control.

Still -- she can surely appreciate someone who is in full control of the dancing wisps, as is evidenced by a more open grin of appreciation. She catches the eye of the fight officials, and nods to the resumption of battle.

And almost -immediately-, a flame rushes out to cover the distance. The practiced performer takes a wide step, twisting into a florid pirouette. Fuschia flame spills down the length of her diabolo cord, an orb of flame acting as a surrogate to her usually-present diabolos. For a moment, her skin starts to adopt the orange hues of the Kusanagi flames. But in the next, the orb of fuschia flares large, casting its own surreal glow over the acrobat as she cuts a full three-sixty motion. The spinning bolo of Kusanagi flames is engulfed whole by the torrent of psychic flame, with gouts of orange barely able to escape the maw of its oppressor.

If that were all, it would have been something. But it's not over yet -- for as Honoka exits her spin, the hungry orb of psychic flame is slung towards K' in a high arc. To terminate her spin, she further stabs the arch of her foot in a snap kick for the diabolo she'd set into motion earlier. The kick hastens its motion, sending the diabolo barreling towards K' in a much lower arc -- a secondary feature that's much harder to track with the gout of burning psi-flame hurled his way!

COMBATSYS: K' blocks Honoka's Reflected Second Shoot.

[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Honoka           0/-------/=======|=------\-------\0               K'

At a glance, the grasp the bioweapon has on the application of chi might appear as mastery, a remarkable skill, honed to such a fierce edge by few. The truth is something altogether darker. K' is a ragged, violent edge-- an all too suitable conduit for the Kusanagi flame to manifest. A Beast of Flame; an instrument of war attuned with uncanny affinity to that heavenly power. Who was he before? K' barely remembers, and prefers to believe he scarcely cares. Destiny and survival are forward looking concepts.

It's instinct, infused power, not style or discipline that answers Honoka's cunning assault-- the wiles of a cerebral warrior against the intuition of a primal conduit. The prototype slams the surging sphere of flame and psychic might aside with his motorcycle gloved left fist as it arcs in, brings his armored forearm down on the hurtling diabolo as it snaps low, all in the same stutter-step blink of an eye that Kawamoto sets as rhythm. The flare of flame from the prototype's fingertipes only fires higher, then rushes inward in a massive hiss of vacating air to focus on a solar flare in his fist, roaring with a raggedly coalescing corona.

"Damn I hate being right." It's another insincere utterance, K' is developing a bad habit. Truth be told, Honoka's surprising power, her obvious skill and precision, that subtle aura of mystery and danger-- K' likes all of that. She also promises a hell of a fight, and however much the bioweapon may bitch about it... it's impossible to fully deny the soaring cry of those roused instincts for combat. The programming in his very nerves, every sinew and muscle. The ceaseless, blinding crusade of the celestial well profaned by NESTS surging in his heart.

In the dissipating wake of energy, in the aftermath of his forceful, bruising impact with the flying weapon, K' hurls that blessed, cursed red right forward like the warhead of a missile, the gathered, focused power launching him as much as his powerful legs as he races across the distance between himself and the Twilight Star, intent on bypassing her in the midst of that explosive, flying punch, much of that gathering conflagration erupting all around the point of intended impact as the Beast of Flame lunges into, and ideally right -past- his dangerous adversary with a bellow that's more roar than kiai.

COMBATSYS: Honoka blocks K''s Second Knuckle EX.

[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Honoka           1/-------/=======|==-----\-------\0               K'

When Honoka was looking at the teams gathered for the King of Fighters tournament, Heavy Metal Burnin' was one of a number of wildcards she could not quite place. Her initial assessment marked them high on brute strength and physicality -- a judgment based largely on Abigail's remarkable showing in the World Warrior tournament and Maxima's performance in Neo League. But seeing them live and in person, is an entirely different matter. To feel the sting of the blazing flame so close to her own skin, a flame burning hotter than any mere fire could?

"... I'm sure you do."

It's invigorating, to say the least. Enough so that even as her psi-flared rejoinder slams into K''s gloves fist, her lips curl into a grin. K' may be able to dazzle the audience with his disaffected, devil-may-care attitude, but the pathological liar can see right through his words. She can feel his warrior urges crying out in exultation at the battle. She can taste his battle aura, so strong that she now has no doubt of the power of the dark-skinned brawler before her.

Physically, the Twilight Star acrobat may be on the downstroke of this fight -- but close proximity to such a hot-blooded warrior counts as something of an antidote.

To some degree, she tosses caution to the wind. She leans back, and rocking forward, she sweeps her diabolo cord around, arcing her seemingly abandoned diabolo back into her grip. The juggling prop returns to her finger, spinning about as she pirouettes -- mindful in the effect of her showmanship on the cheering audience. For while the martial artist may -seem- oblivious to her opponent's charge, she is anything but.

Flames part. A red gauntlet hurls towards her shoulder, even as she pirouettes about. And at the last moment, Honoka raises her forearm, shifting her form slightly so that she can hurl a doubled-up arm into K''s attack, instigating a bright pink blossom of flame at the point of impact. Her spin is such that the contact is blissfully brief -- not unlike a matador grazing past a rampaging bull.

Her hand is no longer holding the diabolo it was a moment prior. For the diabolo's found its way airborne -- sailing in a high, difficult-to-follow arc overhead.

In the wake of K''s passing, Honoka plants her toes, sharply shifting in position. One step, two, then three, she closes the gap with long strides, passing one wand into each hand. With two alternating swings, she strikes at K's arms, hoping to clear a path to his core for a more powerful strike. That much is typical escrima fighting.

Thing is, escrima is usually performed with two separate staves, rather than two wands with a string between them. The martial art is intimidating enough without a tether flapping around wildly. But, gauging from the level of preparedness, it's not a danger to -Kawamoto-.

No, the greater threat would be posed by Honoka following up with not an escrima strike, but with a flying knee -- sheathed within a plume of brilliant fuschia psi-flame, delivered squarely into K''s solar plexus.

COMBATSYS: K' dodges Honoka's Crushing Strike.

[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Honoka           0/-------/=======|==-----\-------\0               K'

She's sure. It prompts a smirk from K' in the instants before the battle renews its fervor; Honoka's lying. The collision is impactful, impressive, but far less destructive than the Beast of Flame might have preferred. Kawamoto weathers it well; it confirms much of the prototype's intuitive impression of her. He's no masterful manipulator, no expert actor-- K' has his strengths where both approaches are concerned, but otherwise... the bioweapon is almost alarming blunt.

It's a deceptive simplicity, in its own right, poorly illustrative of the wily predator behind it. Case in point: Honoka follows up immediately on the vulnerability of K' in the aftermath of his mighty lunge. It's predictable, or more accurately and respectfully-- it's inevitable. The bluntest response would be to apply those formidable limbs infused with elder power against the strokes of the wand, to counter force with force, to weather the storm himself, in turn. That is not what instinct demands.

Instead, K' is alarmingly quick on his feet-- he backs and weaves out of the path of each set-up stroke, he slides and bends away to leave the culmination with nothing but empty air as the Beast of Flame recoils into a coiled crouch, still sacrificing little distance in outright retreat. White hair whips wildly in the emenations of that psychic might and well-applied physical force, but K' is spared its impact and buys his already straining muscles important moments to recover from the potent blast sent back his way moments before.

He scarcely relaxes, however: in the turn-around following the Twilight Star's own bid to seize momentum, K' leaps vertically, one leg bent beneath him for balance, the other reaving outwards as he twists a single, volatile rotation and seeks to drive the heavy sole of his motorcycle boot squarely into Honoka's face. Where her technique was skilled, deceptively complex, and carefully built upon itself, the Beast of Flame is singular, violent. Whether he was born for this is a question K' scarcely remembers enough to answer-- but he was purpose-built rather adequately, indeed.

COMBATSYS: K' successfully hits Honoka with Medium Kick.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Honoka           0/-------/=======|=====--\-------\0               K'

Honoka Kawamoto may have blended several martial arts into her own bespoke style, but the one unifying principle is absolute control over her own momentum. Each move blends seamlessly into the next, and while each of her strikes may whistle harmlessly past her evasive opponent, it's crucial for her to follow through to maintain stability.

But that doesn't mean she's not cognizant of K's strategy. She can tell where he is -- and by drawing her arms close to her, she's able to conserve some of her momentum for a rapid evasion of her own. Unfortunately, she's also miscalculated the nature of his attack: by assuming that his evasiveness would mean a similar reticence to press an attack, she underestimates the degree to which he'd try to hit her.

The boot crunching into her face proves to be quite educational in that regard. She has some time to think about it as she's whipped around to the side, elbows arcing out to either side as the Twilight Star windmills in an unsteady arc towards the ground. It's only an instant before she lands that she's able to slap out her fingertips -- thumb and palm still retaining grip on a wand -- and avoid an even less graceful collision with the ground.

Acrobatic grace is once more on display as Honoka flips over her hands, handspringing back to her feet a couple meters back. When her face wheels back into view, it's flush with crimson, with flecks of deep red showing where the sharper seams of K''s boot had impacts her. But there will be none of the satisfaction of 'pain' -- just lips pressed together into a line, and ice-cold determination.

The wands begin to glow in a brilliant fuschia. She crosses the wands across one another -- and a blindingly bright mist shears outward, like two dueling dragons, to envelop the space between herself and K'. Concealed from view by the mist, K' will have only sound to guide him to Honoka's current location -- and she's making it difficult with wide, scything strikes of her wands. Not even the psychic flares will make an appearance, nothing to pierce through the fading mist...

The goal would be to surround and assault with K' with a barrage of attacks, orchestrated to hem him in as a counterpart to his evasive style. And, if she's able to contain him, she'd seek to sweep his aside, using it as leverage for a swift aikido slam to the ground!

COMBATSYS: K' fails to interrupt Urara Kando from Honoka with Crow Bite EX.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////            ]
Honoka           0/-------/-======|=======\-------\1               K'

The moment when hefty footwear cracks into his opponent's skull is shortlived satisfaction, chaotic momentum that roils around K' and perhaps, in the end, actually favors the manipulative mastery of the Twilight Star. That's not to say K' makes it simple-- anything but that. Kusanagi fire pours from his gauntlet, its intricate conduits glowing, burning with intense blue-white light, contrasting the roiling hues of sun-lit autumn.

The prototype tenses, coils, prepares to violently oppose the attempt to cage him-- but Honoka is a step ahead, an instant faster this time around. K' is struck, staggered, and then slammed, left with little option but to roll with the impact and come up in a three point crouch, one leg a bit more splayed and stretched than is technically appropriate, as he hacks hoarsely to regain breath.

To center that still-ravenous flame, its purposeful demands unsated. Notably, it inverts his approach from the prior exchange: no longer evasive, but impossibly aggressive. That it does little to serve K' here does little to diminish the gathered potential centered in that raging inferno, locked and loaded into honed muscle and formidable instinct.

It has the air of a successful round of chicken with a racing locomotive, most likely-- even fighting at the level occupied by the bioweapon and the 'circus performer'. Who is absolutely exactly what she appears, we promise. "Damn, girl." K' notes with no disrespect in the monicker, if anything it makes her more impressive; which is still a little sexist, K'. "I bet you could have torched that goddamn vampire yourself." He wagers, a weighty one if one knows the fight he references. "And you're not //half// the dipshit that prick was." Smooth, K'. /Very/ polite.

Fans who have watched Honoka across multiple fights can tend to pick up a pattern: extended banter with her opponent usually results in her losing the battle. Whatever bandwidth that allows her to maintain track of two diabolos, the fight conditions, and her opponent in perfect lock-step synchronicity seems to be completely derailed by the process of developing properly venomous trash talk.

She's a perfectionist, maybe.

The mists disperse as Honoka's wands make contact with the Beast of Flame. Each strike in itself might not amount to too much, but the cumulative effect is one to enforce the notion of a cage. And she knows just how much beasts love being stuffed into cages.

But she won't share her delight at his predicament -- at how she's able to read his reactions, to produce a preferred outcome. If she were to gloat, it'd only show her hand; it'd give the truth behind her illusion as a simple farm girl.

Which is why she flashes a saccharine-sweet smile, lowering her eyes as she strafes sideways. With a light nudge of her toe, she kicks the nearest diabolo into the air, drawing it back onto the guiding cord of her diabolo wands as she permits a moment of playing to the audience. And she answers the backhanded compliment with a simplistic Hokkaido drawl: "Aww, you're too kind."

She's probably lying about that, too, right? She doesn't give much opportunity to dwell on the thought, though -- as immediately afterward, she spins around in a quick pirouette, bringing her wands scything down at K' in a 45-degree angle. Each wand is enveloped in its own flare of the psychic prodigy's pink-purple energy -- power which would no doubt ignite on contact.

The motion also seems to have sent the diabolo into motion again -- though it'd be difficult to tell at -which- point in her swing she'd released; the juggling prop could just as easily end up under K''s foot as it would flying towards his face.

COMBATSYS: K' blocks Honoka's Fierce Strike.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////              ]
Honoka           0/-------/-======|=======\==-----\1               K'

K' smirks anew. Not in derision, but in genuine amusement, snarky though the expression clearly remains. It's definitely a lie; no one says that about K'. Not ever. Never ever. He's always been mean, and it's best not to look deeper than that. It causes problems, sometimes; it solves them, on other occasions. Life is all about balance, right? He coils in on himself once more, bracing solid against the sweep of the weapon, the storm of psychic might.

It roils round him, shards of the amassed power tearing through him but the prototype is spared the worst of the tumult, spared losing his footing or being hammered into a groundward skid by the flying diabolo. This time. It's half credit of the sheer mass of Kusanagi flame currently -pouring- through the channel cast open by the unusual bioweapon-- the ancient flame has some level of primacy in nature, and no shortage of power. The massed flame surges outwards in wavering lines of distorting heat creating an aura of shockwave around that impact, a conflagration centering fully in the conduit's clenching grasp as he rises, tense from pain and intense focus.

The subtle thrum of the audience, the sweeping currents of the cool breeze blowing through the track, all of it seems to momentarily silence in the mind's eye (the mind's ear?) as the roaring inferno soars in intensity, channeling every available murmur of chi into its celestial forge, even as the distant, impossible well from which the profaned holy weapon originates eagerly pours solar might into that conjured furnace.

"If you say so. I know this much--" Nail it, K'. Something terrible and inappropriate. "Either of us could be the goddamn King of Fighters." But the brackets and the rules have other ideas about -both-, one grants. The coalescent firestorm only builds higher, devouring more of the prototype's sleeve, further darkening his skin painfully.

COMBATSYS: K' builds up fiery energy in his gauntleted hand!

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Honoka           0/-------/-======|=======\====---\1               K'

Animals can exert influence on the air and wind. They can divert the course of rivers. They can shape the earth. But without the aid of humanity, no wild animal can start a fire at will. Fire -- the most devastating of elements, is the province of mankind alone.

And Honoka is well aware of the destructive potential of flames. She is no more terrified of it than she is afraid of jet engines, or trains, or skyscrapers. Fire is a tool -- bereft of intelligence, save for what its wielders would have it carry out. And it is a weapon, to be wielded by the most insightful of foes.

But to then hand that terrifyingly powerful flame to an unhinged beast...

Honoka's amber-flecked eyes reflect the ancient flames -- a reflection that shudders with the realization of what could come next. The Twilight Star does not break the gaze away from the Beast of Flame as she backs away, raising her wands in a warding stance. She does not need to follow the path of the diabolo as it rolls harmlessly past K'; she knows that even the straightaways of the Interlagos are banked, and knows exactly where it's headed. But to look away? That's just the sort of signal a beast needs to strike.

Her wands rise and fall, in synchronicity with the rise and fall of her ribcage. She nods her head once, in agreement. Because for now -- the juggler is at a momentary loss for ideas. And she will -not- rush into a blazing fire without a good plan.

And the barest hint of a smile lifts the corners of her lips, as the ancient flames reflect in her shuddering, anxious eyes.

"That's what I hear, yeah."

COMBATSYS: Honoka focuses on her next action.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Honoka           0/-------/=======|=======\====---\1               K'

There's a monosyllabic 'heh' of a chuckle, both at the quip, and at the situation. Honoka remains wary, dangerous-- diminished perhaps by the fight with Abigail, but stoked by it as well. On her rhythm, on her game-- demonstrating wisdom in the face of gathering maelstrom. She's not the only one with a wary, wily gameplan, however. Much of that energy is internalized, stabilized, focused at some personal cost into the prototype's own reactor, fueling him to greater heights even late in the bout. That's not to say no flame is unleashed-- Kawamoto holds back, and K' gives the Twilight Star no more space to breathe.

He's on her in a lunge and a whirl, planting one foot and whipping out with his armored right fist, a gout of liquid flame uncoiling in a tremendous, ragged tendril that fills the space between them, that threatens to bisect and consume Honoka's space rather volatilely indeed. Her amber eyes meet focused points of orange-lit crimson, evident even behind the shades the Beast of Flame still stubbornly wears, pushing them once more securely into place in a quick, subtle motion in the midst of his violent rush.

She's pushing herself past norms, beyond small talk, beyond distraction-- and K' is alright with that. In fact, he charges into that headlong, at a glance not -nearly- as wise as Honoka in this instant. As they both so aptly demonstrate, however: appearances can be deceiving, and that whip-like lance of unruly, heavenly flame surges with impossible heat, air consumed en masse along its expanse.

COMBATSYS: Honoka blocks K''s Empowered Second Whip.

[                    \\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////              ]
Honoka           1/-------/=======|=======\-------\0               K'

In sufficient volume, flames can burn hot enough to incinerate flesh, to reduce a body to mere ash. It's a threat -- and it's probably not a -likely- scenario for a King of Fighters stage.

Honoka's recently been given reason to fear an open flame, though. And she tries to give K' as wide a berth as she can -- even though he's not allowing that to be much. The exchange happens in the blink of an eye -- reason enough for the KOF crew to justify the use of high-speed cameras and the latest cutting-edge scanning equipment, really. But there -is- a moment where it looks to the audience like K' might have plowed right through Honoka, pinning her to the stage. But perhaps that's just a trick of the mind, as Honoka is able to step aside at the last moment, crossing both her wands over one another, slamming them into that fist and shoving them away from her body.

It's easier to see -after- that moment -- when Honoka's lowering her wands, and patting out the flames clinging to the folds of her jacket, to the reddened flesh of her hands and forearms. Her wands show black char marks from where they'd made the close encounter -- and as she exhales her held breath, thin wisps of smoke filter out.

That was closer than she'd have liked. But with a sharp kick of her toe, she catches hold of the diabolo that rolled back her way, popping it onto her black, smoldering cord. Collecting herself, she spins the diabolo into a tight circle before her. And in the span of a second, it's moving in so rapid a circle, it looks to just be -vibrating-.

Then she lets go of the wands -- which orbit around the -diabolo-. And with the faintest impression of a smile, Honoka slams her singed palm into the diabolo. On the press of her palm, a column of psychic flame erupts from the center of the spinning prop -- a column some three feet across that comes rushing out towards K' with hellacious speed!

COMBATSYS: Honoka successfully hits K' with Nochiu-o Kando.

[                    \\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Honoka           0/-------/-------|=======\====---\1               K'

'Hellaciously fast' is apt. Both in the projected energy, and the defensive artistry that precedes it. In a dangerous moment, Honoka defeats the worst of the Kusanagi flame forged into a punishing lash... and sets up to capitalize by stepping /up/ her game in the final act. There's little K' can do as that column of light erupts at, and then through him, so he does what he can: the prototype launches himself into its center, seeking to forge -through- the eruption like a dense, obstinant missile.

It... it could have gone better. The intensity of the blast stops K' dead in his tracks, launches him back on skidding bootheels that fail to retain traction in the sheer magnitude of it. He's launched halfway off his feet, spiralling to the side in an agile landing that saves him only the worst of the incapacitating moments, coming out of the punishing maelstrom coiled low.

His gaze snaps upwards, his attention locks //fully// on Honoka, and in the shimmering wake of that punishing lance, K' //explodes// into motion. He's driven less by his legs than that red right hand, now braced forward with his left, his course nearly a foot off the ground as he -roars- through the space seperating him from Kawamoto. The Twilight Star would find the flickering form of the Beast of Flame seeking to explode into, to seemingly teleport -past- her.

It's a send up of the classic cross-cut finisher of Samurai lore infamy-- but etched in ragged flame, a line of ravenous fire tracing the prototype's breakneck course, reaching with a consciousness all its own for Honoka as K' passes. It could leave her consumed bodily in an erupting burst of conflagratory punishment, a wave of celestial fire seeking to purge her of darkness... or yes, simply apply some measure of incineration to vulnerable human flesh. The Beast of Flame bellows with the pain of it, letting out a gout of flame that focuses much of that gathered power -outwards- this time, all of its wrath directed towards the formidable Twilight Star star.

COMBATSYS: K' keeps on fighting!

[                    \\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Honoka           0/-------/-------|===----\-------\0               K'

COMBATSYS: Honoka fails to reflect Heat Drive EX from K' with Tokap Chup Kamui.

[                      \\\\\\\\  <
K'               0/-------/----===|

COMBATSYS: Honoka can no longer fight.

[                      \\\\\\\\  <
K'               0/-------/----===|

Appearances are important to maintain. While in another time, at another place, against a different foe, Honoka might allow herself a greater smile. But now, here, with her psychic column practically devouring the Beast of Flame in front of an audience of thousands -- she opts not to. For the reputation of a noble fighter matters. A good reputation can open up doors that wouldn't be accessible to anyone else in the world.

The eyes, though -- the eyes are a window to the soul. And Honoka's are gleaming with brilliant light -- drinking in every delicious drop of the prototype's agony.

It's over, she grins. The manipulator knows exactly how far she can drive a man before he collapses, unable to fight any further. In her estimation, only a hair's breadth separates K' from unconsciousness. And any last gasp he might have to offer? Hardly worth getting upset over.

But appearances are important... as is follow-through. The diabolo wands slow in their orbit around the stationary diabolo. Her outstretched hand sweeps one out of the air just as it begins to fall limp, obeying the call of gravity. She twists into a light pirouette, her fingertips catching the other wand as if that were the only possible conclusion. And the diabolo is dragged along for the ride, slipping into a regular momentum along her diabolo cord.

But one thing Honoka does not expect is K' standing up before her cataclysmic wave had even dispersed. For him to even -attempt- such a feat would require a will of iron -- or stronger. Never in her past experience, of dealing with opponents as cock-sure and headstrong as K', has she encountered anyone who would just pluck himself right back up from that.

She can tell the moment he does so though. Her sixth sense is -overwhelmed- with the intensity of emotion streaking across the asphalt towards her. Her lips pull back; she grits her teeth. The diabolo catches flame -- and the entire -cord- begins to glow with fuschia light as she takes a few stabilizing steps backwards. It's clear she intends to whip the blazing diabolo right into the hurtling K'!

But the shift came too late. The diabolo is knocked clear off of its binding rope -- blasted off into the infield somewhere. Fuschia flames are snuffed into a hiss of faint pink steam.

She barely even -registers- the hit at first -- so overwhelming was the speed, the onrush of driven fury. But a split second later, that's when the fury makes itself known to the public -- a chain reaction of crimson explosions detonating their way across her form.

Her shrill, agonized cry is sign enough that, yes, she -felt- that. She's blasted clear off her feet, the cumulative effect sending her spinning form falling backwards onto the track. Mercifully, she doesn't stop tumbling once she hits the asphalt; the heated track is kind enough to peel some of the flames off her form as she rolls to a stop. The wands clatter lifelessly to the pavement a few feet away.

Kawamoto thrashes about on the pavement, writhing in pain. Her limbs smash into the asphalt with a blind rage, both to snuff the flames and to put an end to the acrid smoke of burning synthetics. But by the time she manages that feat, it becomes clear that her burned jacket is practically half-melted onto her. She might not be -screeching- any more, as she lifts her head from the pavement... but the pained whine in her voice is sign that she hurts a -bit- too much to be plucking herself up for another go at K'.

Eyes barely more than slits, she searches the track for sign of her opponent through the wispy smoke and the flickering flames. Her skin is seared -- a deep red nearly all over. Her forehead is creased -- as if -anger- is the only thing keeping her conscious.

But appearances are important. She gives K' a respectful nod for a well-fought battle. And only -then- do her eyes begin to lose focus... as she collapses to the pavement, utterly exhausted.

Log created on 21:04:36 07/26/2019 by Honoka, and last modified on 17:04:15 08/25/2019.