KOF 2019 - Semifinal 1 - Women's Team vs Heavy Meatl Burnin'

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Description: Mai and Makoto of the Women's Team come up against the Beast of Flame in an all-out throwdown in the Slammasters Arena to decide one of KoF2k19's two finalist teams!

The challenges had been huge so far, but Mai was excited to learn that her humble Women's Team had made it all the way to the semi-finals! So far they had an excellent record and worked super hard, and Mai was really proud that she'd pulled a team together that could contend.

This is a big event, so the Capcom Arena sold tickets, packed with spectators to witness this bout. The stands are crowded with onlookers here to cheer on the contestants. This isn't a wrestling match... it's a no holds barred street fighting competition, and since the stakes are high, the commentators are well above the crowd in the skybox location. However, the crowd has enough proximity to get a great view of the action... and they're expecting some fireworks!

Mai is waiting backstage with the other girls, ready to come out and fight when the match is set. She's in her uniform set up specifically for the King of Fighters team... though it's not SO different from her usual combat outfit, being red and giving her plenty of freedom of movement, though with gold detailing to indicate the importance of the team event. She's excited, bouncing a little on her heels as she waits for the bout to begin.

The lights in the arena dim, then flash, causing a hush to follow over the crowd. Then a cheer breaks out as the lights go haywire, spraying dazzling color all over the stage. From the Women's Team side, the spectator screens light up in the color red. A spotlight shines down on the arena... and moves back toward the entryway.

Mai, in the darkness of the entryway, practically jumps for joy. "This is it! Time to shine!"

The voices echo from the soundbooth. "In this corner! Representing the Women's Team! The Flower that Blooms in the King of Fighters competition... The Fiery Tag-team Idol... Miwaku no Kunoichi... "

The light up screens above the stage explode in colors, rapid-firing Japanese characters that translate Mai's nicknames for the crowd. The characters then then explode in a flurry of digital blossoms... which then catch fire, as entry music begins to play.

"Mai Shiranui!"

On queue, Mai runs out into the arena. She's light on her feet as she skips down the entryway ramp to arena-side... and hops over the ropes as if they weren't even there. The crowd is certainly enthusiastic too ... after all, the camera loves Mai, especially when she's bouncing around.

When she lands in the middle, Mai pulls out one of her fans, unfolds it, and opens it above her head. She gives a dip bow to the left, a dip bow to the right... then leans over, and flips up the back of her skirt cheekily for the people sitting directly behind her. Just for a second, they have the best view in the house.

Then Mai stands straight up, and waves her fan at the audience as her opponent is announced.

Challenge. Sport. Glory. K' would prefer to show no deference and little interest to such things; the prize of this tournament has a purpose entirely seperate from its august aplomb and lofty, very very arguable honorific. The show the prototype puts on is a message not to the fans at home: but to the malevolent actors who dubbed him a failed experiment... who made him into a weapon in the first place.

So it is that the youth's face is decidedly less enthused and decisively dour compared to the kunoichi as he's announced. He doesn't have a great PR team, nor is he a natural showman in provocative garments. 'The Man on Fire', the 'Blaster of Disaster', the 'INFERNO from PARTS UNKNOWN'. ... let's hope not all of it sticks. At any rate, Mai's opponent in the Heavy Metal Burnin' corner is the enigmatic "Dash".

K' saunters more than sprints to his entry point, a bit late for the spotlight queue, which compensates with a deft flourish from its operator. He tosses a nonchalant salute and pushes his shades firmly in place over his eyes, perhaps the only oddity to an otherwise standard ensemble: his grey shirt is sleeveless in deference to the island heat, denim and motorcycle boots rounding out the ensemble. The bioweapon's only ornamentation aside from those sunglasses (even at night) is a silver cross and chain looped around his neck, contrasting Dash's dark skin. Oh, and that impressively high-tech armored gauntlet encasing his right fist and forearm, already thrumming with a growing, glowing light.

A wry sort of smirk comes across the Beast of Flame's features as he studies Shiranui-- not in dismissal or underestimation, but something just a touch more fundamentally human. It's bound to be more fun than fighting an angry vampire, and after his round against Honoka, K' is all too glad to make that score two in a row. There are good things to tournament fighting; even if it's -stupid-.

The announcer runs down the final moments to the fight, and K' slides one heavy boot forward, facing Mai with his left side leaning, and the chi modulated limb held back, flexing experimentally as heat distortion fills the air above the prototype's fist. His left, fingerless-gloved hand beckons the ninja forward. Time for one more brutal, bloody, beautiful dance... it's a way of life.

COMBATSYS: K' enters the arena, to the roar of the crowd!

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K'               0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Mai enters the arena, to the roar of the crowd!

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K'               0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0              Mai

"We're going to see some real fireworks tonight. Both of these fighters are confirmed pyromaniacs!" says the announcer over the loudspeaker, getting even more hype from the crowd.

On the ground, in a bubble of deafening noise, Mai leans into her combat stance. She has a confident, casual smirk on her face, a defiant look in her eyes. She can barely hear what the announcers are saying, but her chi hasn't built to its full potential yet. That will only come in the heart of battle!

She decides to throw herself into a fast strike. If there's any time to show off and not hold back, that time is right now in the big arena! She doesn't telegraph this much, just a slight bend of the knees as she lowers her body. Using the increased bounce from the arena floor, she jumps straight up into the air, her fan held aloft. It's over her shoulder, then she pulls it forward, and her body flies in another direction... angled downward toward K'! The fan sweeps out in front of her in an arc as she goes for that all important first-blood strike.

COMBATSYS: K' blocks Mai's Musasabi no Mai.

[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
K'               0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0              Mai

Smirk meets smirk, and the kunoichi would find her even gaze met steadily by the prototype's, his eyes burning subtly in hues of autumn sunset as his entire body suffuses with chi. Whereas most fighters summon the energy through great focus and effort, the effort for K' is not letting so much through that it consumes -him-... hence the fancy armwear. A gateway, a conduit to ancient, ravenous celestial fire, the bioweapon eases the painful dam on that oceanic inferno, and it roars into this reality to cater to the Beast of Flame's wishes; as long as those wishes involve violence, and preferably demonslaying.

As Mai descends through the air, she gets her own wish for first blood-- but not quite as she might have hoped. Instead of slashing brutally into K', the weaponized fan's razor's edge slices into resilient, braced forearm, raised in stalwart opposition to the strike of the ninja. The arena gives with the impact notably more forcefully than K', who sweeps his leading foot aside as he slides with the force and instinctively leads into his own reprisal.

Gritting his teeth, Kusanagi fire consumes the youth's armored limb as he sweeps it forward, then skyward, fingers flexed in an angry claw as a reaving whip of surging fire lances outwards-- at, and ideally directly -through-, the landing Mai Shiranui. Where she has years of practice and (perhaps questionable) discipline to her credit... K' is something entirely more volatile, chaotic, guided not by technique but by primal focus on violence; by programming.

COMBATSYS: Mai blocks K''s Eins Trigger EX.

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K'               0/-------/-----==|==-----\-------\0              Mai

Mai lands to the ground with her feet braced, and she raises her fan in time to block the incoming whip.

Paper versus fire... tends not to go well, but Mai has some interesting techniques. Though the fan catches fire and burns brightly, going up in a flash as if it were designed to do just that... Mai closes, and opens it again, and somehow it's once again whole.

She holds up a finger in warning, and smiles at the copmpletion of the trick. It draws a nice roar from the crowd.

She is practiced, but it is true her discpline is sometimes wanting. Her hop from foot to foot is erratic while she takes another moment to size her opponent up, and look for a weakness vector. She leans forward, and does another dance to the side...

Then goes in hard again. But last time, where she struck high, this time she mixes it up by striking low, sliding in for a sweeping kick. But once she's in close, she jerks her other leg up, turning it into a rising attack, designed to strike at a compromising angle.

COMBATSYS: K' interrupts Benitsuru no Mai from Mai with Second Whip.

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

Whereas ninja are masters of guile, theatricality and deception, tricky deflections and masterful feints, K' is really just programmed for one thing: beating other sentient creatures to a bloody pulp, with fire. As one trick ponies go, in the professional fighting circuit, it's a very useful trick. Mai comes against formidable guard once again, this time in the form of a braced, bent leg that meets her sweep with bruising impact, the pain brushed aside alongside the rush of searing intensity that comes with the onslaught of celestial flame released in the instant that follows that collision.

With a singular twist, K' blasts Mai out of her intended ascending follow-up with a reaving crescent of ragged-edged, sun-drenched conflagration, the tendril of Kusanagi fire tearing across her as K' pushes back to steady footing, striding forward only a single step. It's less patience, and more the inexorable stalk of a predator with its quarry in sight and unlikely to accomplish-- or desire-- flight.

"You're not bad." K' observes, in something that approaches a complimentary tone. "But you'll have to go through me the hard way." The smirk returns-- full force. She has the crowd eating out of her hand; K' isn't oblivious to it, nor unfamiliar with that particular, impressive art. Even if he has -no- clue how to make it work for him.

"Ah!" There's a sharp cry from Mai as her attack, as brazen as it was, is countered by K's firey blow. It strikes her in mid-body and knocks her back... her top seems to stay on (fortunately, or unfortunately for the crowd) but it seems precarious and has some burnt edges across the top seams.

Mai's head snaps back with the strike, but then she overcorrects leaning forward to get herself back in the game. "So many of the guys I fight are so serious! You know if you smiled a little, you'd be really handsome..."

She puts her fan under her chin, which is not a proper fighting stance. Maybe it's just a feint?

Maybe so. She's pulling another fan out from behind her back. But then she seems to find a camera pointed right at her, and look up at it with a conspiratorial wink. As if the camera can see what she's doing, but her opponent can't? Though he obviously can.

One-two -- suddenly and rapid-fire, she throws first the 'hidden' fan, then the other one, at K'. It's a fast display of weapon skills, but the aim is a little wild. She's throwing them just as a fanciful distraction, and in the flurry, her body follows, dashing forward with a combination of open-palmed strikes!

COMBATSYS: K' dodges Mai's Midare Kachou Ougi.

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K'               0/-------/--=====|=======\==-----\1              Mai

K' watches the display with a quizzical cant to his head, eyes shifting from on fan, to the other, to Mai-- but not to the insufferable audience or mugging for the camera, thank you very much! As the weapons fly out, they garner only a subtle shift from K', half-stepping back in a defensive acumen that becomes clear only when Mai finalizes her assault, catching little but air in a flurry of black-and-crimson as kunoichi pursues bioweapon biker in a blurring dance of strike and evasion.

It's graceful celerity that K' hasn't really demonstrated -to- this point, an element of the Beast of Flame's capacity for battle that is easy to miss, or think unlikely at a first glance... or those first, brutal exchanges. He's quick on his feet, and quick with the retort-- Mai gets her smile, after a fashion, an amused warming of the wry smirk offered thus far. "Trying to prove me wrong?"

If flattery and charming trickery were enough to earn Mai the proverbial 'easy way' out from K', though, it's definitely not demonstrated by the sudden stride he takes forward after the last darting retreat, shoving off the ropes and throwing his weight into a singular, lunging forward kick intent on planting his heavy motorcycle boot squarely into Mai's sternum and rather violently and abruptly reverse her aggressive momentum.

COMBATSYS: K' successfully hits Mai with Medium Kick.

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K'               0/-------/=======|=======\==-----\1              Mai

Mai does have the crowd on her side, so there's a bit of a gasp - though also some cheers - as her flurry of attacks doesn't seem to hit their mark. Lesson learned... this one isn't going to fall for tricks and slight of hand... he only seems to respect raw power.

And dish it out! He bounces off the ropes, and goes flying for Mai...

Striking her hard in the guts, burying his kick into her. She feels her ribs give way, and the strike hurts like hell.

"It looks like our lady competetor is on the ropes!" says the announcer. And it's true literally, as Mai is pushed back against the back rope, the rope buckling under the force of the strike.

But K' is still in close, and Mai isn't out yet. Wrestling a little may be her only way out of this predicament... so she wraps her leg around K's leg... And then she turns her whole body into his and goes for a rolling, leg-first flip... hopefully taking him with her!

COMBATSYS: K' interrupts Medium Throw from Mai with Crow Bite EX.

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K'               1/------=/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2              Mai

'Respect' is a strong word. Igniz has raw power; K' is notoriously disrespectful of Igniz. No, it's more complex than strength: if the renegade were wired like /that/, he'd still be a weapon in the employ of NESTS, and how simple life would be. Simple, and somehow even --more-- fucked than it already is. Yes Virginia, worse is always possible. Truth is cynical that way; or optimistic, depending on one's point of view. Mai wraps her leg with the prototype's, twists and tangles in close, and it's //difficult// not to be distracted. And to avoid terrible puns.

Where most red-blooded young men (and let's face it, K' is very much still that) would be at least stuttered a step by the proximity, it's heat in K Prime's right hand that's gathering with the fiercest intensity, and he twists and spins his weight to the mat -too- cooperatively with the kunoichi's momentum. Twisting into that flip, throwing himself into the impact, K' lands roughly, but coiled, immediately erupting like anti-air incindiery upwards, blasting Mai right along with him.

The ninja is hammered and launched by the follow-through of a rising haymaker of an uppercut, a strike that seems to singularly carry K' skyward in a reversing corkscrew, utterly oppositional to the momentum of moments before; he -is- notoriously obstinant. A fierce kiai accentuates the technique, but not nearly as tangibly as the crescent of angry-edged conflagration that courses from that rampant fist, twisting a trail of tendrils behind the unlikely bioweapon's ascent.

Mai is stuck with the powerful, firey blow. K' hits very hard, and the shinobi goes flying into the air, spiraling up with a blast of flame behind her. She nearly seems to hang for a moment, then falls down at about the same angle she flew up. She yelps, as she slams hard against the floor of the ring. The floor bends a bit at her first slam, and she bounces once, getting a little more air as she rolls again. She finally ends up crumpled on her side, bent over in a pile of red skirts.

It's the sort of hit that makes it look as if she might already be down for the count. The audience roars, cheers, boos, all in different volumes, but there's no one who isn't reacting to this.

The arena cameras zoom in on her downed form, and the announcers are almost ready to count her out.

But Mai puts one foot down... and starts to rise. There's another cheer roaring from the audience. "...She's not out yet, folks!" cries the commenter.

Mai, slowly, and with a determined look in her eyes, gets up to one knee. Then she staggers back to her feet. Her left hand, empty, is holding onto the upper part of her right arm as she seems to be trying to wrench it back into a useable place.

But then she gets one more well of strength.

Her eyes light up with fire, actual fire. This isn't K's bioweapon power, but her own. The bottoms of her feet ignite as she takes a few more slow steps. "Tricky attacks didn't work for you... but... I'm still going to give it all for my team!"

"And, for all the lovely ladies out there!"

She dashes forward, and suddenly... Mai is a blur. She goes from being staggered, to being a bird on fire...

No sooner has she dashed once that she is bouncing off the ropes and dashing back the other direction. Then she hits the opposite side, and she does it again. With every racing strike, the flames on her feet kick up behind her, leaving trails of fire on the mat. The speed is dizzying. The arena itself looks as if it's about to totally ignite...

And then it does. No pyrotechnics required. Mai stands in the center of this like the eye of the storm. She raises a hand to the sky, unfolding a fan that explodes in a final puff of flaming glitter. "Nippon Ichi!"

COMBATSYS: K' blocks Mai's #Shiranui Ryuu Kyuubi no Kitsune#.

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K'               1/---====/=======|-------\-------\0              Mai

Strength in the face of adversity. -Tenacity- no matter what rises to batter one down. -Will- and freedom and sheer, stubborn //grit//. All of that, K' respects. All of that, Mai Shiranui displays in spades just rising from the vicious uppercut. K' lands much more gently, but it's a peace that is not destined to last-- to put things mildly.

The fiery phoenix that rises against him hammers -hard- into the prototype's guard, searing flame roaring across flexed arms and singing the tips of his platinum mane, roused in a tumult by the backdraft summoned by the fires wielded against him. He's shoved back a half-pace with the first passage, back farther the opposite way with the next, left with no clear way out in the maelstrom as blow after blow hammers hither and yon into the Beast of Flame, courtesy of the kunoichi careening with eye-defying alacrity around the arena in meteoric splendor.

In the midst of the inferno, K' is dropped to one knee-- but he's used to the heat. He stands inside the fire. His gauntlet superheats, adding more destruction as it subsumes the arena mats where the bioweapon touches for the instants it takes him to shove back to his feet, to lock eyes on Mai once more. K' upnods her once, untold volumes of that respect underspoken in the subtle gesture.

A deft digit shoves his shades back firmly over his eyes, and releases a gout of roiling flame from his fingertips, the torch all but consuming his hand and forearm as orbiting motes of flame seem drawn to that gathered power like luminescent moths to the flame, the chi currents of the area suddenly shifting once more in deference to the heavenly forge of the Kusanagi Flame. It tempers the prototype for his own stubborn determination... unwilling to even let a display such as -that- slow his roll. They joined this circus for a //purpose//... and K' means to see it fulfilled.

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

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K'               1/-======/=======|-------\-------\0              Mai

The crowd and announcers are still astonished, gasping and cheering, as the fight seems to have taken a turn... or has it? Mai holds her hand to her chest, and heaves, a few times, up and down, as her attack didn't do as much to phase K' as she hoped it would have. He seems to even be... charging up for something bigger? But Mai has to continue on with the show.

She holds her fan out, and takes a big breath, pulling all her strength together. "Hah. Are you... done fighting now, or just getting warmed up?" she asks. She's trying to make a clever go of it even though she's so tired. But he's just.. charging.

She runs in again. It may be opening her up for another attack, but, she's got to try to wear him down. It's a tag team match so maybe her team can help where she failed.

She swings her fan, pulling another one out as she swaps into a dancing attack that twists her body around, and the weapons behind her back.

COMBATSYS: K' blocks Mai's Hakuro No Mai.

[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////                        ]
K'               2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|-------\-------\0              Mai

The crowd might be astonished, even shocked-- but K' isn't. He's /impressed/ but then... it's no less than expected from the formidable kunoichi, and as she lashes out in turn with her own secret bloodline fires and ultimate techniques, K' takes the moment to draw his own energy -in-. It gathers, fills him, and past the searing agony that birthed this battle, the prototype finds a sort of equilibrium that may be profound, but is -anything- but Zen.

The flaring torch roars not larger, but smaller, compressing like the core of a star in the bioweapon's grasp as muscles ripple and flex, breath comes deeply and satiates the Beast of Flame. Yes, this is a tag team event, a dangerous gauntlet on the best of days; as well established, K' -intends- to weather that storm. As also established: very, very stubborn.

It's a point made clear as the deadly youth stands his ground against Shiranui's assault once again, the chi coursing through his bare limbs wielded defensively as his gauntleted arm collides with her twisting strike in a resounding shockwave, energy dispersing around the armored modulator. Once again, K' grins, the expression at once entertained and wolfish, the exhileration something between hunt and sport. "Warmed up." K' confirms with renewed certitude, now that he can actually breathe again in the wake of that onslaught.

"Can't disappoint the other lady." It's arrogant, it's also snarky enough to be a quip, and dry enough to be serious as can be. He does toss Mai a wink, though-- in the half-instant it takes the prototype to vanish. It's a blurring flash meant to cross over Mai in a motion that would be more classically appropriate with a samurai sword. K', though, does it in a posture that's halfway to saunter, a high-velocity stutter-step that seeks to bring him around to Mai's rear flank, even as one heavy boot efficiently, forcefully crushes one of her legs askance beneath her with a sweeping snap.

COMBATSYS: K' successfully hits Mai with Empowered Blackout.

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

Mai would of course evade that swift strike...

If she knew how. But it happens so fast she can barely see it. The dash comes for her, and she tries to move to one side...

But it doesn't happen. She's struck down with a yelp, and a screech. The audience gasps, cheers, boos, jeers...

At the last possible second, Mai throws her fan away, perhaps in a desperation move to just get one last lick in. But by the time she's got it loose from her hand, her body is crumpling under her busted leg. She lets out another sigh, gasp, and then falls down.

"Ohhhh, no, it looks like Miss Shinobi is out of the competition!" says the announcer. "It's going to be up to her tag team now for the Women's Team to still take that title!"

COMBATSYS: Mai can no longer fight.

[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
K'               1/-<<<<<</<<<<<<<|

COMBATSYS: K' dodges Mai's Kachosen.

[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
K'               1/-<<<<<</<<<<<<<|

True to his word, K' remains quick on his feet, alert to the last-ditch attack, ducking around the whirling weapon with the same graceful blur that carried him more -through- Mai than -around- her. "It looks like HEAVY METAL BURNIN melts another one, as the fire ONLY BURNS BRIGHTER in the arena tonight!!"

The... enthusiastic announcer intones, drawing a profound roll of the eyes from the Beast of Flame. His breath steadies farther, the gathered power settles in within him, the conduit finding ease with ever-increasing exposure to the Kusanagi flame; at this rate, it might not even kill him. A man can dream.

"This ultimate event is only getting hotter as we bring another warrior to the ring!!" Breathe, K'. Don't grit your teeth so hard, K'. It's just marketing, K'. K' sighs. He sighs //deeply// as he pans his subtly chi-lit gaze across the ring to that aforementioned entrant, lifting his guard anew. "If you can match that girl..." Mai Shiranui, obviously, is 'that girl'. "I might be in some shit." K' articulates politely.

COMBATSYS: K' awaits the next challenger.

[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
K'               1/-======/=======|

Mai at least manages to roll out of the ring and to the sidelines. She finds a place to sit and watch, but she looks battered pretty bad. "You can do it!" she nonethless shouts at Makoto, who is next in line.

But then... there's someone else.

Makoto Nanaya, squirrel extraordinare, literally vaults into the ring as the lights change, shining silver (well, white) and gold (see above, but yellow) onto her. She is - like Mai - wearing red and gold instead of her usual orange; this is a team event and she is going to support her team.

Makoto lands in the ring, pointing one finger directly at K', ignoring the heavy weight of the metal strapped to her lower arm as she jabs it forward. The music shifts to something way too peppy for the match so far as Makoto takes a moment to pose. She won't admit it (okay, she will, but it will take a few moments of prodding) but she really, really enjoys this. She loves the camera.

It's mutual. Makoto is exotic. Just look at that tail!

"Ta-daaa! Makoto Nanaya, fighting for the Womens' Team: on the scene! Let me show you how hard I can punch!"

Makoto is waiting for something, though, before she acts. That 'something' comes soon enough when an air cannon explodes glitter out behind her, off the stage, to catch the light and make her pose look even more dramatic; she also treats the thump of the compressed air discharge as a starting gun.

Makoto rockets forward. Three times, in fact; one Makoto makes a long, low leap toward K', one goes even higher and comes down from a high arc, while one barrels straight forward, never leaving the ground. It's a trick, and one that doesn't last very long; the two false images shimmer and vanish just before impact, though hopefully not before confusing K''s guard.

The real one (the one that didn't jump) simply turns her rush into a rapid-fire barrage of punches, using her superhuman strength and weighted bars strapped to her arms to best advantage. "Watatatata!"

At least someone is having fun.

COMBATSYS: Makoto Nanaya enters the arena, to the roar of the crowd!

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

COMBATSYS: K' blocks Makoto Nanaya's Asteroid Vision.

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K'               1/=======/=======|-------\-------\0    Makoto Nanaya

"... I guess after the goddamn vampire, I really shouldn't be surprised." K' considers the strange menagerie of potential Kings of Fighters drily. Is it gauche to comment on a woman's tail? The prototype's commentary comes at the punctuating moments of that flurry of strikes courtesy for the real Makoto, a hammering staccato that sounds as K' backpedals half-strides away from the onslaught, lifting a blur of flexed forearms and armored, chi-infused fist to deflect the strikes in a swift series that sounds akin to a very violent drum solo, complete with a subtle lightshow and the profound distortion of air in rushes of force and sound as the pair clash, and K' is driven back.

"You're a strong little pain-in-the-ass, aren't you?" This is punctuated in a flash by a wry smirk akin to the one that greeted Mai, with a touch of dangerous mischief to it; the kind that's not so cute and harmless. Fire swirls back to life in the bioweapon's grasp as the Kusanagi flame eagerly answers his call, an orbiting plume coursing around K' and gathering before him in a flash.

It's a gathered conflagration that's swiftly kicked towards Makoto in a roiling river of angry fireball, consuming a span nearly her height above the ground on its short but dramatic journey. "Good." It's possible K' enjoys the challenges presented here more than he always likes to let on, himself; but it's not those fucking cameras and gawking idiots!!!

COMBATSYS: Makoto Nanaya blocks K''s Second Shoot.

[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
K'               2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|==-----\-------\0    Makoto Nanaya

Rest assured that if K' chooses to be gauche by commenting on Makoto's tail, he wouldn't be the first. He wouldn't even be the first today, though he might be the first to do it on camera.

"I try!" is Makoto's fast response. Fast, because she can't really get away with more; she knows what fire dancing around her opponent means. She watched him fight Mai, after all, and she saw some of the other matches. Mischief it might be, but it's also dangerous - he's good, and Makoto knows it.

And so Makoto does something she really shouldn't to try to keep him off balance. Physically as well as mentally, as it turns out.

As K' raises his foot to kick, Makoto goes low, baseball-sliding under K's raised leg. Rather than take the full force of the fireball to the face, instead she is buffeted by waves of larger but less intense flame rising from the ring floor. It's... arguably better. It's certainly not worse.

But as Makoto passes under K's leg, she does something only she can do; her tail snaps out, smacking into the side of his knee. It's a lot like getting hit by a pillow, or perhaps a strongly swung blanket; there's a core of actual physical tail there, but most of it is fluff. Lots and lots of fluff.

It only needs a bit of impact to make him stagger, though, and that's what Makoto is hoping for as she rises, reaching to hook her arm around K's and, with the aid of another smack of her tail and a hefty push, send him flying through the air. "Up you go!"

COMBATSYS: K' endures Makoto Nanaya's Tail Barrage EX!
~~ Alluring Hit! ~~

[            \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
K'               2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|==-----\-------\0    Makoto Nanaya

It's certainly unconventional. Tail-fu? Squirreljutsu? Regardless: K' is sailing. In rough waters. Without a properly rigged sail. Makoto slides singed through the tumult of flame as it scorches a path across the ring, incinerating the top layers of resilient cushioning and ebbing only as they sever one side of ropes-- poor guard for such combat in the first place, hence the further barrier protecting the audience from errant blasting. Hopefully. Like Mai before her, she squirrels in close (sorry not sorry) and finds leverage over the Beast of Flame; leverage that only partially serves its intended purpose.

Battered by well, fluffy tail and flipping leverage, K' hurtles skyward, but the pain doesn't last long enough to see him land. At the apex of his ascent, the Beast of Flame surges like an angry star, Kusanagi fire roaring through the bore the bioweapon represents into its roiling heart. He braces his armored right hand before him, that surge of fire blossoming into a ragged-edged roughly spherical mass, a warhead which propels K' back to earth like a crashing meteor-- like an erupting artillery shell.

Liquid flame floods outwards in all directions from the prototype's point of impact as the entire arena shudders and trembles, reverberating to its core with the fiery maelstrom that accompanies the singular, impossible acceleration. All that force, all that heavenly fire is centered on a ground zero meant to pinpoint Makoto herself.

COMBATSYS: Makoto Nanaya blocks K''s Heat Drive EX.

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

Makoto takes a moment - only a bare split second - to pose as she launches K' into the air, and that almost proves to be her undoing. He recovers faster than she expected, doing so in the air - she hears the flame before she looks up and sees it, and reflexes start moving her immediately before she spends the time and figures out exactly what K' is doing - she is working on the assumption that, if she is not there, he's not going to be able to hit her.

Well, hit her as hard. Fire does tend to get everywhere.

Her reactions are for the best, because it's the only thing that saves her from a worse battering. Makoto tucks and rolls, carried away by the wash of flame with a surprised expression; it's like being fired out of a cannon by the force of the detonation behind her.

Makoto rolls right into the ring's ropes, and if they weren't there she would have kept right on going. As is they hold her in the ring, stretching dangerously as she untucks from the roll, stomach pressed against the top rope and arms dangling over it. She seems dizzy.

But not so dizzy that she can't use it against K'. With the ropes as stretched out from her impact as they are, they have elasticity on her side - and Makoto uses it, letting the ropes add force to a powerful leap back at K'. Backwards, in fact - she can't see where she's going at first, but she manages to pirouette and see where she's going as she descends in a mighty two-footed strike with an equally mighty roar, strong enough to bounce the entire ring on landing! She even bounces herself a good two inches back off the mat from the recoil.

Makoto might be frazzled, and she might be dizzy, but she's not going to give up *that* easily!

COMBATSYS: K' dodges Makoto Nanaya's Power Strike.

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

While K' expected Makoto to -survive- the impact of that metaphorical napalm bomb, even to fight on after being burnt by the offering, for her to weather it so adroitly -is- a surprise to the honed weapon. K' lands only slightly off-kilter despite the all-out tenacity of the singular strike, and shifts quickly from his smouldering landing site to a defensive posture, all but gliding away from Makoto's follow-up in a flash of grey and black traced by aural afterimages of Kusanagi fire still streaming from his gloved right hand. "More than that, huh?" K' draws a deep breath; the flame amplifies anew. burning ever brighter.

"Let's keep turning it up, then." It's a lofty claim, given the already all-out intensity of the bout so far... but something in K Prime's eyes, something in his voice suggests he has no doubt it can be made reality... despite the paces these ladies have already put him through. Rather than immediately pressing the attack, the Beast of Flame once more opens himself to that celestial furnace, breaths coming quicker, deeper as he tenses, as he pushes himself to channel even more energy through the conduit.

The pain adds up, the exertion starts to threaten even the prototype's seemingly boundless reserves of chi-- but K' doesn't seem to care. Or at least, he pushes past that threshold without looking back, foot hard on the accelerator. Flash-fires spark at his feet, tendrils of flame whirl about his body, and with the versatility K' demonstrated so far in wielding that ancient armament the question has to be asked: what -is- up his sleeve next? One thing's for sure: it will involve fire.

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

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

It's easy to treat Makoto as a joke. She is, after all, an actual squirrel girl - a cosplay dream, given all she seems to have is ears poking through her hair and a big striped tail. She could be all fan appeal and flash, without any real substance to her.

But she's not. Makoto is a fighter; she works hard, she hits hard, and she knows what she's doing. She deserves to be here. And she is going to make sure that everyone watching today knows it too.

"Man, you've got guts!" Makoto figured he'd be running out of get-up-and-go eventually. *She* can't keep going like K' is forever; admittedly, pacing herself is not exactly her strong point, but he's on his second opponent by now, so surely he's tired out even if he's better at it than she is.

But no. He's still burning bright. Which means either he's way out of her league, or... he's more tired than he's letting on, Makoto realizes. He has to be pushing himself hard to do this, and the longer she lets him build up the better off he is. So her best strategy is, in fact, *her* best strategy: Charge straight in and let power do the talking.

"But you want more... you've got it!"

Despite what she says, it takes Makoto a moment to circle around K' and find her point of attack: his left. She expects him to turn to meet him, which is why her rushing advance plants one foot at the last second and pivots, bringing her not directly at him but alongside him.

Makoto goes low, but only for an instant; her body sways as she brings one fist up into a mighty uppercut, force amplified by the heavy bars she wears as 'tonfa' strapped to her arms. "Corona... UPPER!"

COMBATSYS: K' blocks Makoto Nanaya's Corona Upper.

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

K' has a deadly nemesis who loves candy and looks like a Kid Sister doll got up and walked around the party being extra special nice to everyone. Except K', anyway. Aother NESTS operative that unironically wears chaps. And then there's the Overlord of the Overcompensatory Prosthesis himself. Dismissing a fighter because they look unassuming or odd? That's a ticket for disaster, in the prototype's experience. Plus, anyone who hits as hard as Makoto seems capable of gets the bioweapon's full attention; especially if they happen to be trying to hit -him-.

Said unusual powerhouse collides with a coiled and tensed K' who leaps subtly with the impact, carried aloft all the more easily on the force of impact against crossed, guarding forearms, the left bracing the armored right forward. His trajectory is violent yet somehow deceptively graceful, a high arc backwards, his focus remaining on Makoto as he leaps towards the opposite side of the increasingly hammered ring. At the apex of that leap, a tumult of that gathered flame coalesces into a singular fiery missile that roars towards the ground, once more attempting to consume Makoto in a maelstrom of devouring fire-- this time remotely, as the blast would only support K' on his gentler descent to Earth.

If he -is- exhausted, it doesn't show in force or fervour-- the problem K' faces is something altogether different. The tax the Kusanagi Flame exerts on his very being. The agony pouring that much forth conveys to the Flame's alleged master... then again, it's relatively miniscule compared to the pain the Beast of Flame dishes out. If he can Just. Keep. Fighting.

COMBATSYS: Makoto Nanaya dodges K''s Empowered Air Trigger.

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

Makoto is demonstrating, at least, she is good at hitting K' *around*. She's not quite sure how good she is being at dropping him, but he isn't beaten down yet. She's going to have to hit harder.

Honestly, she is starting to feel the burn herself. Not that this is bad - she really does enjoy fighting - but it does stay in the back of her mind: she can't take forever doing this, or she'll lose if he outlasts her. And given he's on his second opponent, she isn't going to let that happen.

And so she forces the fatigue and stress down. She'll have to deal with it later, but Makoto can make that a problem for Future Makoto. Present Makoto has her own burning to deal with - the actual burning blast from K' that is flying directly at her!

But Makoto is already in motion, and she puts that motion to work for her. The squirrel is *fast* - power might be her strongest point (really, it's not a question; it absolutely is) but agility is second. Left, right, left - she darts this way and that, making herself a frustrating target, her arms held up like a boxer's to protect her face. It works; as the flame shot comes down, Makoto rushes, skidding for a step or two before darting off at a different angle, the fire crashing down where she would have been had she not stopped or turned.

But her defensive stance is more than just defensive. Makoto is gathering speed, momentum, and force, her entire upper body tensing as she moves - and when K' touches down, Makoto drives a single enormously powerful straight punch directly at him, the kind of punch that can crack stone. "Coming THROUGH!"

COMBATSYS: K' interrupts Impact! from Makoto Nanaya with Crow Bite.

[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
K'               1/-======/=======|=======\===----\1    Makoto Nanaya

"Squirrely, huh?" Makoto's torment: it must be endless. K' crashes headlong -into- the littlest behemoth's careening charge, the stone-crushing power impacting a braced left shoulder as the Beast of Flame throws himself merrily towards that catastrophic collision. It rattles the prototype to the bone, it threatens to rob his lungs of all their air.

The rest, however, is let out in a roar as the bioweapon -heaves- his own right fist around in turn, cleaving into Makoto with a rising uppercut that's halfway to haymaker, a whirling reave of twisting K' and orbiting flame that slashes a searing cross up the squirrel warrior's frame and into her chin, launching her up, up, and away with brutal, singular force. K' maintains his momentum for a full rotation, dropping back to land deceptively lightly on heavy booted feet, his shaded gaze snapping to lock on Makoto anew.

There's plenty of fight left in her, he's sure of that-- and only pushing himself for -more- from within to match it. No: to surpass it. If he ever wants to be truly free of that aforementioned prosthesis-enthralled transhumanist maniac, he'll need to break even his current, impressive limitations. From the set of his jaw, the intensity in his bearing, K' might just be stubborn enough to make that work.

"You need a new line! I've heard that one before!"

Indeed, Makoto's torment is endless.

K' taking the offense isn't unexpected. Rather the opposite; Makoto expected him to do so before too long. K' taking the offense *through* her assault - well, maybe she should have expected that a little more, because she didn't. Though Makoto tries to react to it, it's hard to un-commit to a strike delivered with the force and momentum she put into it, and she doesn't pull back in time to prevent it.

'It', in this case, meaning the rising uppercut that hits her right in the chin. Makoto finds her feet leaving the floor, and for all her stupendous strength there's not much she can do when she loses any leverage and has nothing to brace against; she flies straight up, trailing fire like a comet.

And then back down, still with wisps of fire surrounding her. To her credit, Makoto lands on her feet, though it's a staggering land that brings her to a crouch and not a particularly graceful one. "How about I show you a little trick or two myself?" Makoto asks, rising up, windmilling her arm with enough force and speed that it seems to blur. "Particle..."

Makoto turns the massive wind-up into an equally massive blow, trying to slam into K's chest and launch him into the air - but that's not all, as she leaps up after him if he becomes airborne, actually scrambling *past* him to slam him back down. And not with her hand, or at least not with *only* her hand; a gigantic fist made of blue chi appears as she strikes downward, impacting in perfect synchronization with her actual knuckles.


COMBATSYS: K' blocks Makoto Nanaya's Particle Flare.

[                      \\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
K'               2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|====---\-------\0    Makoto Nanaya

K' is shocked. //Shocked// that it's not an original quip. Or maybe he's just intentionally, ironically derivative, as is the wont of his generation. "Now /would/ be the time." K' answers with desert parch in this instance, steadying his own stance wide and facing his opponent side-on. While he's quicker on his feet than one might expect, it takes everything the Beast of Flame has just to ensure he can keep a guard up in the face of -this- show.

To his credit, K' does pull this much off. The crossed arms braced against the initial impact do little to dull the upwards momentum, and K' is suddenly airborne, with one very formidable squirrel in pursuit. The prototype twists with uncanny grace in his own ascent, instinct guiding him around to be facing upwards-- Makato-ward, that is-- when she flashes into place. Curling about himself, K' braces every muscle in his body against that incoming locomotive fist, and even then, it's barely enough.

Pain is now injury, but one last time... the border of fatigue is roughly, stubbornly shoved aside. He will not tire. He will fight until every muscle in his body has spent every bit of potential energy. The flame sings, not the hymns one might expect of something allegedly Godly, but with war drums of an endless crusade. K' finds his heart, his very being pulsing with it, perhaps in this moment more than any other before it, pushed so hard for so long. It burns-- he barely stands-- but the Beast of Flame endures his pyre; and finds it may very well be a crucible.

"Not-- bad..." He grunts out as he finds breath, and forces more, evening into heavy, steady breaths. "But not-- fucking //enough//!!" K' refuses to let up, and the raw power still filling him-- amplifying towards a crescendo, now-- lends credible chorus to the confidence of the primal weapon as his arm burns even darker, flesh charring an angry black as he reaches for //more//.

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

[                    \\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
K'               2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|====---\-------\0    Makoto Nanaya

Makoto Nanaya is older than K' so she is entitled to make fun of his generation.

Admittedly she's older than K' by, like, three years tops, but let her have this.

The impact from the gigantic fist bounces Makoto back upward on the rebound, so that she lands some moments after K' and with a lot more control. She's battered, bruised, tired - but she's still feeling it. The sensation of drive hasn't left her, and as long as she can hold onto the energy, she's got a chance.

"Hey, don't hurt yourself!" Makoto glances down at K's hand, momentarily, then back up to his face. At this rate she's going to have to take him out just to make sure he doesn't do something stupid. She'll just have to try it - if she doesn't take him out *now* she's going to regret it.

Makoto's legs tense before she rockets at K', half a run and half a sprint. No more of those weaving, hooking punches; Makoto comes in straight, driving her fist forward with sufficient power that a corona of white-blue chi starts to build up, trailing down from the knuckles to her weighted tonfa and arm. One hit is all it takes - but she has to land that hit, no matter what!

COMBATSYS: K' interrupts Sirius Jolt EX from Makoto Nanaya with Empowered Heaven Drive.

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

COMBATSYS: K' keeps on fighting!

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

One more good hit is all it would take. Part of K' is screaming at him to sit the hell down. Have a rest. When Makoto tells him not to hurt himself, echoing that voice? K' laughs. It's monosyllabic, scoffing. Not at the Squirrel Warrior-- but at the very idea. The absurdity of it all, in this setting. The impossibility of the very concept, with who he //is//. At least... who the Beast of Flame is //now//. They forged a weapon, but K' took that weapon into his own hands. ... which is a little lewd if one thinks about it too long. Right now, the renegade's course runs through this round of the King of Fighters-- past Makoto. One more good hit is all it would take, no matter how defiant and strong willed K' may be.

But the prototype doesn't give it to her now-- instead he launches them both violently skyward in the blink of an eye, the instant she closes that last span of distance. Between the devouring, sacred flame and the impact of the powerful little Squirrel, blackness creeps into the edges of the Beast of Flame's vision, his sight wavering, his sense of direction eight ways wrong. It doesn't matter, not to the rising pillar of swirling comets and clashing uppercuts that K' has become in this moment.

Time and again he comes about forcefully, spiralling ever higher and driving Makoto before him as he unleashes all that gathered Kusanagi fire in one tremendous, climactic firework show. Flames overwhelm spotlights, gasps fill the crowd, and K' culminates the skyward push with his own swift reversal of rotation, bringing an elbow down on the hammered Makoto with a fiery explosion, the directed shockwave blasting her back towards the center of the ring as K' grits his teeth and tries to /see/ where he's even landing.

Makoto was not fast enough.

K's first blow gets under her guard, and the second takes her into the air, surrounded by flame as he hammers at her again and again and again. He did not stand down, and this time he's rewarded for it - though it is a question of how often he can get away with it.

Still, once is enough.

The elbow strikes in the small of Makoto's back, just above the tail, and she slams down on the ring hard enough to dent it... if it wasn't already burned, blasted, slammed, and everything else three fighters can do to the damn thing. If it was anything less sturdy than the Ring of Destruction, it would have collapsed.

As is, it comes close, creaking alarmingly when Makoto hits it. She elects to stay down, possibly because she's not entirely sure she can get up. Or move.

But she left something behind...

While in the air, Makoto formed a sphere out of chi, hoping to catch K' with it as it forms. She didn't, but she clipped it with her foot as she descended, and when Makoto hits one of her own energized chi spheres, it starts moving. K' has to deal with one final attack - the chi-sphere flying vertically at his landing point!

COMBATSYS: Makoto Nanaya can no longer fight.

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

COMBATSYS: K' interrupts Break Shot from Makoto Nanaya with Knee Assault EX.
+=+=!= Power Slam! =!=+=+

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

One is enough. One more moment, one more exchange of blows; now more than ever, that voice rings true in the prototype's psyche. True or not, even on the verge of victory that mandate is not so simple for the battered, burning K'. Still more torch than ash, the Beast of Flame, all blurry vision and difficult breath, does the one thing instinct allows as he drops into the path of that flaring chi-sphere kicked his way courtesy of Makoto's dangerous, last-ditch effort.

That one thing, of course, is unflinching, kneejerk violence. Literally, in this case. In a flash of flame and dark-clad fury, K' shatters said shimmering sphere in a searing slash led by one braced knee, erupting through the burst trailing fired and smouldering lightly as he lands. Past the pain and exertion, K' does what he's past all rights to do: he pushes back to his feet, he heaves a heavy, hearty breath... and only once he's -positive- no further attack is incoming, the sacred flame left to him dissipates-- not quite extinguishing with its fuel consumed.

The Kusanagi Furnace always has More Fuel, in K-Prime's experience... instead it vanishes, withdrawing back within, closed off by the artificial conduit with the aid of the high-tech modulator sealing his hand. He offers no words, merely an upnod, losing much of the colour commentary as the zealous announced declares one set of finalists for King of Fighters 2019: "HEEEEAVVVVYYYY METAAALLLLLL BURRRRRRRNIIIING!!!"

COMBATSYS: K' has ended the fight here.

Log created on 17:42:54 09/21/2019 by K', and last modified on 19:49:19 10/01/2019.