Marz - Secret Societies

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Description: Troubled with changes to his powers, the masked hero Mega Dragon Fighter J-Dragon seeks out a clandestine society of psychics that may be able to find answers. The Black Dahlia, and Shadaloo Doll Marz, are on hand to pose as the shady organization of the psychically inclined in order to glean information of this new threat and to continue to wrap Koto up in their dark machinations.

Koto, after a long while and probably having to send video evidence of the moment that had him worried was now parking his motorcycle outside of the ruined temple. Removing his helmet, he looks at his hand as it shakes a little. Frowning at it, he looks up at the place that he was told to meet.

Even if he knows that perhaps he's making a deal with the proverbial devil, he had to know what was going on with himself. Twice now he had been in fights and suddenly feeling... that. That had lead him to make the calls he had. To meet with those that knew his power better. This psychic power of his that wasn't chi.

Parking the motorcycle and pocketing the keys, he headed for the inside of the temple. Leaves and rocks crunch under foot to announce him if the motorcycle didn't. His eyes look around in wary anticipation, questioning everything it seemed as if he didn't like the place itself as he enters the temple proper. Despite the weather, at least, he was there for the meeting.

For a good long while, there is nothing but the blackness of night to stare back at Koto. Dark clouds, remnant of a recent storm that had blown through, obscure the starlight. A dense treeline prevents the lights of nearby Southtown from lighting the winding road back to civilization. The temple itself was glimpsed in the motorcycle's headlights, but the building's edifice, raw from neglect and desecration, presents more questions than it can answer. Inside, though...

There is darkness.

And yet, there is also more. Presence. Steady breathing -- a figure cloaked in shadow, saying nothing.

Several moments of silence. And then, one light appears -- a flint striking a wheel. A lighter, lighting a candle, flickering shadows fringing a familiar face in unfamiliar ways.

"Koto. Glad you could make it." A pregnant pause follows, as Honoka -- dressed in a dark monk's robe, pulls back her hood. Candlelight catches on the pink tresses of long, silken hair as it tumbles free.

"... sorry about the mood lighting."

The evidence was compelling. The footage of the fights showcased some strange and curious shift in what Koto was capable of doing. And looking at it, reviewing it and thinking about led Marz to the worst conclusion of all: she needed help. Which did lead to a wounded, begrudging return to partnership with the Black Dahlia. She expects the Dahlia's showmanship to be on point, even if Marz herself isn't doing much to keep up an act.

The meeting place was given, felt proper given the whole secret society facade. However, Marz was in her Shadaloo uniform, minus a few obvious tells, keeping only the bodysuit and the hat. She was busy doing the technical work, having brought a number of machines from the labs to assist her in the documenting.

She is near the bell turned water-feature, finalizing the last of the hook ups and the connections while the storm hammers down outside. Quiet save for her occasional cursing out of the dampness of the situation and her lack of tarps.

Finishing, she stands up and the light from the forehead mounted LED lamp she wears shines a sharp blue-white glow outward. Her bobbling light appears in the inky dark of the background as she watches the opening of the clandestine meeting. "I should have worn the stupid poncho," she grouses under her breath before going back to check on the equipment.

Koto nods, "I'm glad I could, too.... eh... mood lighting? That's what you're calling it not?" He shakes his head, looking over at Honoka. "So is it just us?"

He frowns, "I... didn't ask just you for help on this. Whatever's going on, it's not exactly... pleasant. And I'm worried about it. A lot. It happening twice so far is even more worrying."

The teen runs a hand through his hair, which probably doesn't look at all combed. And it's not from the motorcycle helmet either! Not to mention there looks to be bags under his eyes. "Shoot, I ran into a succubus who's curious about it, too, on the way here."

Yep. Whatever has Koto worried is definitely making him act out and not be the predictable good natured teenager if he's meeting DarkStalkers without trying to fight them.

Honoka grins back -- the reassuring, confident grin Koto ought to recognize well, even in the unfamiliar getup. "No," she answers. "We're not alone. We're with friends, friends who understand what's going on." She nods her head to the left, swinging her candlelight there. And sure enough -- there are six more people in matching robes, keeping their heads down and their hands clasped in silent prayer. Before them is a wooden barrier, looking much like a fence -- showing that they will likely not intrude unless necessary. She gestures to the right -- and there is a similar barrier, with six more supplicants, keeping quiet and out of the way.

Honoka offers a welcoming smile. "Observers. I can't help you by myself -- they'll be able to see things I can't." She draws in her breath, providing ample time for Koto to digest the changes to the circumstance.

"So what did you... tell this succubus? Did you give her the answers she was seeking?"

Behind the black, working as the technical director for this little stage play, Marz works by headlamp. Sensors hidden above begin to read the appropriate signatures of psycho power brought by multiple powerful entities. Which is good, as it means everything seems to be functioning as it should.

Marz smiles to herself, satisfied in her work. She wipes the water soaking her brow before she turns back around to creep her way toward the wooden barrier zone. Where all the observers watch things. There, she stops and overhears the talk of a succubus. A sigh as Marz pinches her nose. Complications already. But with a sniff and deep breath she composes and leans against the wooden wall to eavesdrop for the time being.

Koto shakes his head, "She's just as curious as I am about whatever it is... she did say whatever she... tasted was familiar to her." He looks over at the barrier, looking over each of the figures carefully. One by one. His gaze is careful, and he seems to reach out with his senses before there's something else for a moment. That something else causes him to reach up and rub his eyes.

"Ow..." He moves to sit down. "... right... so... um... what do you need to know, and how do we find it out?" He looks uncertain about that part. Then he blinks as he notices something and looks slightly annoyed, "Don't tell me I'm going to have to spar against you?"

Honoka smiles, flicking the candleholder like a frisbee to the side. If she weren't able to manipulate things telekinetically, that could get dicey -- but as it is, the candle floats slowly to a stop, a few meters away, providing its flickering light to the two figures in foreground and the six nearest behind.

"Okay." She extends her left palm outward to Koto, as she rocks her weight onto her right leg. With the hint of laughter in her voice, and a mild grin, she answers, "I won't tell you then."

Koto's a bright kid though. He ought to figure out what it means when her extended left palm begins glowing with a faint purple glow. Or when Honoka's eyes glint to a golden, radiant yellow.

The former Twilight Star performer smiles -- but then her right eye screws shut, right side of her face convulsing. She begins to shudder, wracked with pain.

"Words can only tell us so much, Koto. Show me this new power!"

COMBATSYS: Honoka has started a fight here on the right meter side.

                                  >  //////////////////////////////]
                                  |======-\-------\0           Honoka

COMBATSYS: Honoka enters a trance-like state.

                                  >  ////////////////////////////  ]
                                  |=======\-------\1           Honoka

It wasn't fair. But it would be a showcase of what Koto can go and how he is being impacted by things. And it would give Marz a first hand account of the situation being read by Shadaloo equipment. Much, much better than simply seeing things second hand through a feed.

And there's probably something mystical or mental that Dahlia can provide insight on.

Marz slips beside the cloaked figures, her lavender hair matted against her head, she adjusts her glasses before getting fed up and removing them to wipe off on her vest. But something in the light gets Marz's eyes to narrow and struggle to see.

A frown crosses her face and she turns, disappearing again to get to her machines to see what can be seen with better eyes than she has.

Koto shakes his head, then hops up to his feet. He notices the odd look on her even as that belt appears in a swirl of prismatic light. The teen hesistates on seeing that look. The shuddering and wracked with pain one. "... yeah... after that, I want to know what the whole look is about." A glance is almost given towards the odd dark hair movement before he refocuses on Honoka.

He brings his hands around and slides into his usual transformation stance, "Henshin!" The prismatic light cloaks him for a moment before it leaves him in his costume. Sliding into his fighting stance, he dispenses with the usual introduction to instead take the wider, more looser stance that he usually favors when using his psychic powers.

"Well... let's see how far we can push it this time, I guess?" He states.

COMBATSYS: Koto has joined the fight here.

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

Candlelight falls on six hooded figures -- and six hooded figures begin to look up at the two fighters, six pairs of eyes staring back wordlessly. One can only assume the figures in shadow opposite them are watching as well.

Twelve observers, plus one, plus a hoard of mechanical eyes set aside to scruitizine every minute detail of the occurrence that defies description. That -demands- observation. But Honoka's motions -demand- Koto's attention, in lieu of answering his question. "Focus!" she snaps, an unfamiliar wrath in her voice.

Prismatic light spills out from Koto, etching the shadows of the barriers' railings onto all twelve of the observers. "Fight me like you -mean- it!"

The Twilight Star gives no further warning, before surging forward with her right palm, a solid blow intended to set the stage. Her thick monastic robes snap harshly, demonstrating the dramatic shift between her usual, airy fighting style and this more wrathful approach. She'd follow up with a wide roundhouse kick. Her motions are quick and deliberate -- clearly intending to demand the very best from her King of Fighters team partner! For if this is the taste the succubus desired, and Marz wishes to record, Honoka feels that intimidation is a crucial ingredient!

Thunder strikes at the start of the fight. The world outside flashing white with the lightning. "Stay grounded," Marz assures her machines. "Stay working."

She leans in close, watching on the feed, greyscale fighters with rolling aura of color that bends and arcs with the flow of Psycho Power. The coloration shifts and the intensity rating spikes here and there. Erratic and flowing, but much of that Marz has to attribute to the elctromagnetic interference from the storm. She grumbles to herself and works on narrowing the sensor's bands. "She can't beat him that quickly. The data would be worthless with too little," she mutters, trying to isolate the two from the storm.

COMBATSYS: Koto blocks Honoka's Power Strike.

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

Koto brings an arm around, glowing likewise with prismatic energy to block the incoming kick. Even then he's moved to the side a few steps. "Not holding anything back, huh?" Then he swings around with something that's not his usual opening move as both hands sweep upwards from either side. A blast of prismatic flame following them.

"Dragon Flame Swipe!" Comes the call before Koto shifts away from the wall area. Getting stuck against there would be bad for him. Very bad, probably, and the teen's showing at least a good deal of situational awareness. So far, no real odd spike or anything in the mess. But she's probably not pushed him enough more than likely. The costumed teen's still at least a bit light on his feet compared to the KoF. He's definitely at least kept on his toes, even if it doesn't look like he's had time to improve his skills yet. Must be the thing called school final exams or something there.

COMBATSYS: Honoka blocks Koto's Dragon Flame Swipe.

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

Marz has been present while Honoka fought at her utmost ability, life and death hinging upon victory in battle. Then, her calm and analytical motions proved a stark contrast to the thunderstorm of emotions playing just beneath the surface. Here, the lightning and thunder strike outside, while a process of rational analysis takes place deep within, seeking to determine the most fastidious course of action to draw out Koto's true potential.

Honoka doesn't hide her ire when Koto appears to be talking himself through the encounter to be treating her as a friend who wouldn't -dare- deal grievous injury to him. "Nothing!" she growls back as her fuschia palm clashes against a prismatic flare, her kick met in a wash of splashing flames.

The Twilight Star hops back, drawing her knee high as she reorients towards Koto. Raised forearms deflect the attack from her face, while the remaineder of the coruscating flames divert across the billowy robes of her knee.

"Think back to the -moment!-" growls Honoka as she takes a hop back, snapping her leg to flatten the robes back to their former shapelessness. Pink energy spools from her forearm, coiling around it in a helix as she closes the distance to Koto with two long strides. As she lashes forward, the ribbons wrap around her right fist in a cone shape -- an auger intent on unveiling the mysterious energy Koto spoke of!

COMBATSYS: Koto endures Honoka's Sarak Kamui.

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

Koto is send backwards thanks to the ribbon-like attack, probably further than he intended as he ends up spiralling a little in the air from the attack before landing and skidding. His suit's actually slightly damaged from the psychic energy, too. Looking down at it, he looks back at Honoka. "Huh... I was wondering what could actually harm this thing. Thanks!"

Then he seems to focus. "Think back to that moment, huh?" He seems to consider. "Well... both times... huh..." He would probably be frowning, or getting a thoughtful look before he suddenly switches gears. An attack fizzles away, and instead he seems to be gathering his power. Poor Marz's machines will probably be registering one hell of an output from him perhaps. The teen's definitely got the whole 'gathering' part of psycho power down. Especially as it's wild, untamed, and causing him to glow with prismatic light as he does it.

COMBATSYS: Koto glows with prismatic energy.

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

Except there's a problem with his gathering all of the energy. At first, to the untrained eye everything seems fine. Then there's a spark of something in the rainbow-like glow. It's hard to tell where it even starts for the machines. But then there's another elsewhere, and another. Koto actually gives a roar of pain as whatever it is starts to mix with the prismatic energies around him. Normally, he just looks fiercer. But this time there's a brief... something. The colors on his suit darken for a few moments before going back to their regular colors. And Koto looks like he's struggling to control the odd mix of power going through him even as it seems to be causing smokey wisps to rise from the costumed form.

Honoka has played a number of personalities on stage: heroines, villains, and any shade of color in between, all with the goal of entertaining the masses. She's more than willing to play the snarling antagonist in order for Koto's powers to swell, if that's what it takes. She is certainly hitting harder and faster than she might as a simple "teammate" -- owing in part to the audience of people who, one can presume, would be available to help should the little exercise go awry.

So it might just be playing the part, then, when she offers little more than a snarl in response to the idea that she could 'actually' hurt Koto's armor. Or it might be genuine frustration that the young fighter still seems detached from the fight, somehow. At any rate, she doesn't give the perfunctory 'you're welcome' that might be expected.

But what she does get, though... is a bit more. The upswell of wild, chaotic energy -- followed by the hissing of smoke, the howl of pain. The elements that Dahlia had begun to see in the video, deep within the heart of a Shadaloo facility.

The Twilight Star halts her approach. Fingers clench and unclench, as her ribcage falls into a more steady rhythm Her golden eyes narrow with scrutiny at the new arrival to the tournament.

"Just. Like. That." she intones, taking in every scintilla of new information. She can feel... -something- different. Knowing it only in the way the prismatic energy ebbs and flows -around- it -- gauging the energy from the very -absence- of psionic flow.

Her teeth part, only barely. She speaks back, her words firm and controlled: "Good. Now unleash this strange power." Dahlia clenches her fists, drawing back into a closed stance. Her radiant, golden gaze is levelled upon Koto. "Before it destroys you!"

COMBATSYS: Honoka focuses on her next action.

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

Koto, focusing it seems, brings all that power around one of his fists. "You asked for it!" He roars.

Unfortunately, whatever this is seems to slightly effect his senses. He's still thinking it's a fight perhaps. But the face that he sends out one of his few, rather vicious ranged attacks is probably not good. Especially as the odd absence seems to explode into the attack. Honoka wanted him to use it. She got her wish alright.

"DRAGON EMPEROR!" Comes the call before the mixed power spirals out, the usual dragon-like shape barely forming before it shifts into the spiralling, rolling wave of pure power sailing at her wildly. Unsteadily. And very much looking more deadly than before.

Koto afterwards, falls to a knee. He's still slightly smoking with remnants of whatever that was. And he looks unsteady. His head's even bowed for a moment before he looks up at Honoka. "... that enough?"

COMBATSYS: Honoka endures Koto's Dragon Emperor!

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

Ask for it, she did. And Honoka holds her ground, true to her word -- even as the heat-haze of power rages, warping the air around it into unpredictable hues of light. What seems like an absence to the psychic senses would be a raging fire to the eyes -- one that transitions into an exploding dragon as it clears the distance to the Twilight Star.

Honoka grits her teeth. That would be the same if she'd been playing a part or otherwise.

he blaze crashes into her, battering her limbs around with concussive force. And even still -- even -rooted- to the ground as she intends to be -- still lifts off her feet, carried backward by the overwhelming freight-train of force. Unease settles into her face as she's swept back, but a downward gust of air cushions her fall as she makes a softer landing than one might expect from the sudden rise.

She smooths the robes out along herself with both palms, letting out a belabored breath -- one she'd been holding for several seconds. Her voice resonates with calm, even as she looks... a bit pale. "Yes. That's enough." The glistening gold leaches away from her eyes, and the faint wind lifting her monastic robes appears to fade away, for now.

"I can feel it. I don't know the -source- of it. But it definitely..." She winces, left eye screwing shut. "It -feels- like chi. If you'd wrapped it up in a barbed wire fence and stabbed it with pitchforks."

She slackens her stance, curling her arms about herself -- and shivering, slightly. "Prickly, a bit. It sounded like it was hurting you almost as much though."

She glances around the room to the other observers. Moments ago, they were intent on watching the fight. But as Honoka stares at each in turn -- the followers begin to lower their gaze, returning to their contemplative meditations.

And then Honoka turns to the side -- to Marz -- for just one second, before returning her gaze to Koto. "Tell me everything you felt, just now. Don't worry about how it sounds. I want to help."

COMBATSYS: Honoka takes no action.

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

Koto looks considerate as he moves to stand. He still looks a bit unsteadily, and is even bending over. "It felt... strange. Like it was hard to control." He shakes his head as his helmet disappears into prismatic sparks. "Like it was... I don't know... trying to do something to my power... and it was painful..."

He finally stands up straight, looking at his hands. "It definitely didn't feel like my normal power. Not even close. Like they were... opposites, I guess? Like it was trying to replace it or something when I used the Dragon Emperor. Next to the Aurora Burst, that's one of my most focused moves."

He looks over at Honoka, "I think in a way it... didn't want to be under control?"

She had it! Marz's grin grew and grew when the colors shift and the formulation of Koto's power warp into a different signature altogether. As the rain pounds down, Marz claps to herself and chews on her lip when she leans toward the monitor as if that could help her decipher faster.

Dragon Emperor is something Marz is familiar with, feeling the bite of memory to those moments. And seeing it here, it's definitely been altered. This isn't the same hit, the same pulse of power. If anything, it didn't seem to be nearly as coordinated as it normally did. Flowing back in some regards. This was getting to be a good puzzle.

"Keep it going, Dahlia. . ." Marz mutters to herself, pushing her glasses up, the rain soaked lenses reflecting the light of her monitors.

Thunder and lightning outside. Quiet and introspection within. Honoka may be listening to Koto, but she's also wrapped up with study of a different kind -- separating the sensations she's recently experienced. Putting her -own- markers on the impressions she's been directly party to. She hears... -something-. Or perhaps only senses another voice separate from the twelve surrounding the KOF partners. She looks down at her hands, the small, pale indentions of her own fingernails pressed into her palms, before the blood resumes its normal flow.

"Not unlike a climber weed, coiling itself around a healthy plant, choking the life straight out of it -- would that be accurate?" She offers a soft chuckle, clasping her fingers. And nodding.

"Painful, like it's tearing you apart? Or painful, like a pressure crushing you into nothingness? Painful, like a burn, or like ice cold...?"

Her feet spread apart -- a more stable stance. Her hands spread apart. And she stares back at Koto.

"More importantly, can you bring it forth again -- -without- me bearing down upon you?" She stands still -- but as the flows ebb around her, it becomes clear she -may- be trying to resume this little test.

COMBATSYS: Honoka recenters herself.

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

Koto looks at Honoka carefully, then seems to consider, "I don't know... like it was trying to... do something. It's not pleasant for me, but I'm not used to the effects of chi like that. The feeling was... like it was crushing and cold... like I was drowning in it nearly."

The thought of his trying again has him looking at his hands. "If I can... it might mean I'll have to learn how to separate it... let's find out?"

He moves back to his fighting stance and concentrates. Once again the glow intensifies around him as he starts to call up his power.

Gathering his power is the easy part. But that... chi from before. That's what he's searching for. Trying to find it and bring it out. Perhaps even hold on to it for longer to let it be observed.

COMBATSYS: Koto glows with prismatic energy.

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

Unfortunately, it seems as if Koto's guess on pulling it up seems to be right on. The flickering sparks of chi appear again. Warping his aura, almost seeming to eat it as it disrupts the very psychic power he calls upon again and again. This time he tries to hold it for a lot longer, too.

Honoka repeats the words, rolling them about in the air as she steels herself for another round of... whatever it is. "Crushing. Cold. Drowning." She nods slowly. "The ebb and flow of the world's energy."

She feels that this dream of control is... a nice thing to hope for. And in some sense she hopes Koto -can- control it. Perhaps his fresh perspective can allow him to accomplish something she'd found she could not. She lets a wan smile be her only response.

Again, she sees the coruscating waves of energy, the intense glow. And again, the crushing cold of discomfort, starting as the gaps between wavefronts of Koto's energy, then growing to muscle them out.

It might be unfortunate for Koto. But much less so for Honoka and the secret society surrounding him, eager to glean every bit of information possible about this curious manifestation.

She can sense the discomfort. And she knows how much Koto -can- hurt, should he set his mind to it. Pink ribbons spill out from her limbs and trunk, wrapping themselves like bandages about herself. She leaves her face uncovered, unprotected. And she suggests, with an abundance of calm, two words.

"Aurora Burst?"

Doubt lingers in the back of her mind -- she tries to swat it away. Regardless, she will be quite upset if Marz isn't able to capture this data.

COMBATSYS: Honoka takes no action.

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

It's a fascinating series of information. Seeing the difference. The feed tumbles numbers and visuals out at her. She flips her laptop open to feed in information she's gathered from her earlier fight tests with Koto. Information uploads while lightning crashes. But then she sees Honoka holding. She hums and turns back, leaving her laptop behind with the stacks of equipment.

Back out and on 'stage' as it were, slipping behind the observers. "Has it been consistent?" she shouts out. "Are you channeling a single element? Or is it a singular shift from your usual basis?" She looks toward Honoka. "We need more data. Without it we have an incomplete picture of the situation."

Koto struggles with the now obviously disruptive power. "... I don't know... I think I'm a singular... element..." He says through what's obviously gritted teeth. Then he looks at Honoka, "Alright... you sure are demanding..."

He adopts the move for what is arguably his most powerful move period. His wrists come up to cross into that plus shape that he's used before. Taking a breath, he slides them down as the dragon's head marking appears briefly behind him, obviously not fully there either.

The beam that comes out isn't a solid beam, though, nor is it focused as he calls out, "AURORA BURST!" Instead of a solid beam it wavers between the full beam and the glorious beam of destruction he's known for using.

COMBATSYS: Honoka endures Koto's Aurora Burst.

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

Consistency. Elements. Good questions, to be sure -- and ones which Honoka is kicking herself for not having thought to ask. But then again, perhaps she can be forgiven for that, as she's acting as the punching bag for this particular demonstration. In the general direction of the Doll, Honoka answers with a gentle smirk. "Fiiiiine."

The bulk of her attention remains on Koto though. It has to be, if she's going to stand there and take the column of energy head-on. She does so -- clamping her jaw shut, with arms outstretched to either side. The rippling, wavering energy flow rushes against her, a high-pressure torrent of unquestionable force that would be sure to knock down most of Koto's Pacific High classmates -- and indeed, starts to lift Honoka back off her feet.

And then, determination redoubled, she stomps her heel back into the temple floor, cracking the wood. She grunts, shoving back against the energy, even as the coruscating waves cause her enveloping ribbons to flap wildly in the flow. She squints her eyes, even as her hair is tossed about by the extreme flow. And just when the surging energy is starting to ebb...?

With pain searing through her, she hammers both her palms forward, unleashing a piercing burst of pink energy right through the weakening blast. "Capture the moment!" Dampened by the energy flow, the smaller, concentrated burst of energy punches through, a wave of force determined to smack Koto around just a little bit more -- to -keep- him on the precipice of this new, untapped resource!

"This power is a -gift- to you! A weapon you can harness, just like your battle suit...! We're demanding for -your- sake!"

COMBATSYS: Koto blocks Honoka's Ishirishina.

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

The shooting through such a blast is not something that Koto is used to. But it does and he brings his arms up to block. The disruption seems to stabilize afterwards, and he brings his hands down. "Yeah... if it works that way." Then he shifts his stance. Down lower, with his hands more to his side.

Whatever the disruption seems to have gone away despite his using it twice as he charges forward, prismatic energy raising behind him as what seems like wings envelop his arms. Flying Dragon is not something he uses often, but that it's moving him faster and using his energies to make it tougher is probably the best idea at the moment. Plus, he was probably getting tired of trying to charge up his energies all the time anyways.

The dashing, battle suited figure heads for Honoka, aiming to try to nail her across the midsection with a hand and try to throw her away right afterwards, too. The sad part for the readings is that the odd chi is just... lingering. It's not really in use. Just there. Maybe even corrupting his power somehow.

"I have seen you fight stronger opponents," Marz states with a roll of her eyes. "You can be pummeled for my enjoyment and for the wellbeing of science for a little while yet." She adjusts her glasses and blinks forward, watching Koto like a hawk, trying to read him, to see the subtle shifts in the power he uses. To see what sort of adjustments he makes in his own posture to accommodate. Or if he can accommodate at all.

It could be, for one of the first times, pure curiosity might be driving something almost genuine in the usually eternally annoyed Shadaloo Doll. Even if the lightning and the powerflow gives the young woman's glasses an eye obscuring shine.

It's enough for her to not even want to comment on the true scientific discovery that Honoka might be able to be genuinely supportive after all. But, like Koto's power fluctuations, the data still needs to be compiled on that mystery.

COMBATSYS: Honoka blocks Koto's Flying Dragon.

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

-- EDIT: plz remove past three paragraphs

Honoka interposes her forearm in the path of Koto's dashing strike. Pursing her lips, she nonetheless allows her arm to comply with the torque applied to it. She allows her body to follow the suggestion, vaulting along with the motion to mitigate the pain. What is combat, after all, other than a slightly more painful style of dance?

"That's what we're hoping to find out, isn't it?" she replies in mid-air, tossed free of Koto's grip. Robes flutter about as her feet fly overhead, parting just past the apex so that she can land gracefully on the other side, with only a shuffle-step to regain stability. Pacing sideways, she rubs her tender forearm. "Mmm... nothing there. This may be as scientific as we can get for now." She casts a pointed glance over toward Marz, adding, "Unless you'd -like- to get locked in a lab with Doctor Pokey-Poke over there."

In the next moment, she flutter-steps forward, blurred images of herself appearing to attack from multiple vectors simultaneously. But as three hands lash forward, only one will have an effect -- and if she succeeds, that would mean her hand, enveloped in a fuschia psychic field, grabs hold of Koto's right arm. She would aim to step forward with alacrity, wrenching the arm backward -- and leveraging him into a disadvantageous position on the floor of the ruined temple!

COMBATSYS: Honoka successfully hits Koto with Power Throw.

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

There's look on confusion. Koto's obviously never dealt with something like that before. And really, watching tokusatsu only gives you so much to try to get rid of it. He tries to guess which one he's supposed to block. And ends up face down on the floor no less. With an arm behind his back. The impact's probably not gentle at all as he does stop moving for at least a few seconds afterwards.

Struggling for a moment, he finally says, "... fine, fine... can I yield and we go over whatever results there are?" He asks, but isn't really hopeful that Honoka's not going to try to push this. "I don't think... it's going to come out unless I try to gather energy so far... That seems to be the linking factor..."

Yeah. Besides, Honoka can probably do just about anything with the way she has his arm twisted behind his back and he's face down like that. At least his battle suit's still in one piece so far!

COMBATSYS: Koto takes no action.

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

The pressure on Koto's arm remains constant as Honoka considers his words. The battlesuit is a thing of wonder to her -- the fact that he's managed to make it exactly as he'd seen in the movies, and yet, somehow, more durable than the costumes used in filming. The tusukur's always been impressed at the feat, even if she's never said much about it.

Idle ruminations like that keep her from being too put out about Koto's request to end the experiment. Her smile momentarily turns into a smirk -- not that the highschooler would be able to see it -- as she releases Koto's arm, drawing back to her feet. "Mm. That -would- seem to be the case, yes. I'm not sensing any of the... weird energy I did before."

She draws in a relieved breath. Fingertips brush her forelocks back into some semblance of presentability, such as it is with a relatively shapeless monk's frock. The golden light fades from her cocoa-brown eyes, as she turns her gaze over towards the last-known direction of Marz's voice. "If any more pummeling's to be done, it's on you now." The arrogant smirk that follows lends a note of finality. A reminder that whether the psychic prodigy is standing down or not, she still has a fair measure of adrenaline coursing through her veins as a result of the combat practice.

COMBATSYS: Honoka takes no action.

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

The fight appears to be winding down. Shame, as any continuation would've been more data and information. More information is more awareness and any such thing puts Shadaloo in a superior position in the world. But it appears that there is a curious compassion in the Dahlia toward Koto and punches need pulling.

Lightning strikes grow closer, flash to thunder is shorter apart. It illuminates Marz from behind as she walks from the line of observers and into the right of the fight. "I am no doctor poke-poke. That would be Aprile. But I am certain that meeting could be arranged," Marz says, grinning while adjusting her glasses to make a point.

"Any results will take time, but I have early hypotheses," she admits, hands folding behind her back as she casually adopts a military at-ease. "Your signature is changed to a significant degree. Something is interfering with the manifestation of Psycho Power within you." She shrugs and rolls her eyes. "I understand that is stating the obvious, but in these cases the obvious must be stated to rule out any potential problem being generated by yourself, rather than by outside influence."

She looks toward Honoka. "You have at hand experience, how has the difference manifested itself on your level?"

Koto rolls over to his back, then sits up. He moves to sit on the steps. His suit fades to leave him in the motorcycle leathers, which look a little scruffed up. He frowns a little. Then glances down at himself. "... it's kinda weird."

Koto looks very curious, "Where did this come from, then? I mean, the only ones I've had extensive contact with happens to be you two. And I doubt those thugs had anything if they really were just a bunch of fan boys... I don't think Fumiko had anything like that going on that I know of either."

The teen's look changes to thoughtful, "I mean... other than the KoF and some SNF, the only other ones I can think of would be Baiken or Morrigan. And that was mostly Baiken trying to hit me in that SNF." He runs a hand through his hair. "So... next question. We got a way to get it out of me?"

COMBATSYS: Koto takes no action.

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

"Please, gods, not Aprile," Honoka mumbles under her breath.

Honoka has experience performing before live audiences. She's conditioned to jumping right from performances into meet-and-greet sessions with only minimal cooldown time. And this sparring match -- even one turned up to such a degree of intensity -- is really not much different. It's just the -memories- invoked that are giving her pause.

She answers slowly, deliberately. "I've fought... maybe, one person like this before. Not keen to relive the experience, but thankfully, it's not -entirely- the same as that either." Honoka slowly opens her eyes, passing her fingers along her forearm soothingly, as if it had been chilled by ice, or passed over an open flame. "It's like putting my hand into a sensory deprivation tank. Like a vacuum, but without the air flow to let one know the pressure changed. It is, indeed, -weird-."

She turns her eyes back towards the chorus -- the twelve people seated nearby, acting as passive observers to the moments in question. "... I'm thinkin' it was the -absence- of psychic energy that I was responding to." Her gaze shifts to Marz, an eyebrow arching. "Like it was being shoved out of the way by whatever this energy was."

Her breath is expelled, in equal measure with frustration. She reaches into the folds of her shapeless robes, pulling out her phone. Fingers slide deftly across the screen. "You... called me not long after the fight with Miss Abe, yes? I'm drawing a blank on these... thugs. Tell me more?"

Marz has to shake her head and admit the painful truth: "I do not know." She sighs and shrugs and turns around. "I only have had footage to absorb until tonight," she trails off and looks over her shoulder, eyes narrowing.

She starts to wag her finger in the air. "But that does give us a timeline," she tells the others. "I can review and see when the first signs of the alteration of your abilities. Which would suggest at least a period of time where the incident occurred."

She starts to walk away, stopping. "What I've seen is consistent what you said," she starts turning toward Honoka from her leaving. "Pressure forcing against his mental signature. It overwhelms and pains."

Koto shakes his head a bit, "Ah, the thugs are just some hired security who thought it was okay to push people around. Turns out they were slight fans or something. Scarily good at group tactics. Someone hired 'em as guards around Pacific High. They started shaking down students, I took offense, and well..."

He shrugs, looking over. "I don't know if they started it or not. I think they're called Raven Guard of Podie-something. Could be that leader who's a sore loser. But still doesn't add up how, why, and what this is."

Frowning, Koto looks at his hands and looks a bit curious, "... well, we got the readings at least. And my fight with them weeks ago was when I first noticed it. It wasn't so... painful then. And it's grown worse. Even with Fumiko it wasn't as bad as the times here."

Honoka has seen her partner in times of idleness, and in times where she's hard at work. But seeing her this -fascinated- by a topic of study is another data point for the woman's personality file. Marz has a mystery before her and an objective to complete -- and she seems more than willing to get right back to the monitors. Or cleanup. Or who-knows-what.

But, perhaps more importantly, Honoka is taking note of the interplay between Marz and Koto -- and the fact in which Koto seems to have accepted this grand, secret society thing totally in stride. And what's more, he's fine with a more aloof Marz, rather than the bubbly Yayoi personality she'd read about in reports.

Dialing up the charm, Honoka sweeps in with a saccharine smile and a cheerful tone. And a hint of her native Hokkaido accent. "Oh, yeah, thanks for getting those readings, Marz!" With the hint of a laugh on her lips, she turns back to Koto. "Yeah, it'll prob'ly take us a spell t' sift through the data..." Sparing a glance to Marz, she echoes, "Raven Guard of... Podie-something." The name sounds... vaguely familiar, but the Twilight Star juggler isn't entirely sure why. Dismissing the thought, she nods amicably, clasping both hands together. "... Pain... hmm. Are you gonna be okay headin' back? If you need a lift back to town we can probably finagle somethin'..."

The twelve robed observers close up their books. Hymnals, notebooks, it's hard to be sure in the dim light, and the blindingly bright flashes of lightning. And if left to their own devices, they'd start to filter out the door, wordlessly. If there's rain, well... that's one advantage of having a hooded robe.

"Or if you want, we can stand watch while you rest here for a bit. Your call!" She grins eagerly. "For better or worse, now we got a reliable way to -trigger- this... whatever-it-is, right?"

Koto looks considerate, "I'll rest here a bit. My motorcycle is outside. Maybe some good rest and meditation will help out." He frowns a little, moving over where there isn't going to be weather problems. Hopefully. And settling himself down.

"Anything else I can do to help figure out what this is? Or what we can do about it?" Koto says, then seems to consider before he looks at Honoka. "And if you go after them, be careful please. They are very, very adept at group fighting tactics. I do not know who their leader is."

The teen seems to be getting himself comfortable for what has to be meditation. Yep. Good old meditation. Sure to clear the mind, even in a ruined place like this. He is at least waiting to see what the two ladies have to say on it. Let alone if they have a solution to this odd plight of his.

"Raven Guard of Podie-something?" Marz mulls over the name. Hand at her chin, she looks down at the ground in front of her. She will need to dig into the databases and run a few reference checks with newsgroups. Then she'll have to run a long check on names and family linneages of, she's guessing Europe.

A sigh and a tap at the temple of her glasses. "A mystery to investigate afterwards. I dislike not having information on a potential wrinkle in situational intelligence." She speaks through gritted teeth and annoyance. "But yes, the storm is still coming, and I cannot move my equipment until the rain passes. I'm already threatening it enough by trying to operate it here."

She starts to walk, again, toward the 'backstage'. "I will be busy. If you wish to bother me, bring some form of offering. I will accept coffee."

"Raven Guard sounds like something you'd pick to cover for a weak-sounding name like Podie-whatsis." Honoka gives a non-committal shrug. "If it's worth worrying about, I'm sure that the..." She trails off for a moment, before recovering: "... I'm sure the Society's archives have -some- data on it."

The acrobat-juggler twiddles her fingers in a wave at Marz. "Sure! If we come across any hot coffee in the middle of the lightning storm, you'll be the first to know." Though to be fair, the Twilight Star just assumed Marz -doesn't- want to be bugged. Which is fair.

It's not until Marz is out of earshot -- at least if one pretends there's no surveillance devices still activated -- that she turns back to Koto. With Koto sitting to meditate, Honoka leans against one of the less-damaged temple walls. "I'd say this is... one of those sorts of things you can spend hours thinkin' about an' get nowhere, but the moment you forget it an' do something else, the idea'll come right to you. So don't fret much about it." She rubs her forearm -- still a bit tender from her brushes with unusual chi. "And I'm pretty prepared to handle these 'group fighting tactics', I used to work crowds of thousands, remember?" With an almost musical laugh, she laces her fingers together in front of her, smiling. "No man -- or woman -- is an island. With our friends in the Society, we can't lose."

Koto listens to the words, looking considerate. Then looks back towards where Marz went before he looks to Honoka.

"Losing is not what I am worried about. This... whatever it is somehow spreading. That is what I am worried about."

"I was happy whenever I became able to use my hero's abilities, even designed my own and learned a lot of their fighting styles through trial and error. Now? It feels like a part of me is being slowly ripped out by this. Like I'm having to stop using a part of myself to make it work at all. Without my psychic abilities, I've only got my bare minimum of fighting skill left. And a lot of that isn't as good as some of those out there." Koto says in reply.

Looking out at the weather, Koto frowns. "A part of me is, to put it lightly, afraid of losing that part that tends to define me. Another... is worried that if this is having such an effect on me, what if there are others getting this somehow? What effect does it have on not just abilities like ours, but on the more regular abilities of chi?"

Koto, for being a teenager, is pretty insightful when he wants to be it seems. And it shows. He looks to Honoka. "Yet, if we release such information... well... mass panic. So I'm hoping that whenever all is said and done, the Society can help me find a way to beat this if not figure out what it is doing and turn it into a strength."

Koto looks considerate, then shakes his head, "Great... now I'm getting philosophical. What next? I put my life story out there?"

Honoka gently presses her thumbs together as she leans against the wall. As Koto emphasizes his concern for others above his own well-being, the Twilight Star offers a warm, whole-heated smile in return, nodding with each beat, with each note.

Perhaps it was her intense focus upon listening to his words that caused Koto to ask about contributing his life story next. Her eyebrows lift in surprise; caught momentarily off-guard, she stammers, "I-if you want to?"

And then, a light cough. Despite the moment of surrender, she still had thoughts on the matter. "Let the Society figure it out. You're a good man, Koto. And we'll do right by you, as soon as we got a handle on what it -is- inside you." She smiles -- with every confidence in what Marz and the team can put together. "But don't let that stop you. 'cause..."

Her mild anxiety fades away, as her expression grows a bit more somber. "You're... not defined by what you lose, Koto. You're defined, and -remembered-, for how you deal with changes... Changes -outside- your control." Her thumbs press together, alabaster skin growing even more pale. "I know you have spent a lot of time crafting your identity, your -style-, but this..." She pauses for a moment, considering the exact words she wants to use. Finally, Honoka settles on: "This -change-, that's just something new to puzzle through."

Honoka pushes herself free of the wall, spreading her arms out to either side. "Have you ever broken a bone? Been to the hospital, for anything beyond bumps and bruises?" She pauses, drawing in her breath. "I have. It sucks, obviously. But you can't let a little setback like this stop you. So it hurts a bit, and it's -different-, but... that's part and parcel of why I wanted to push you, just now. Practice makes perfect, right?"

Her hands gather behind her, as she continues walking around Koto. "I can get that the unknown can be scary. But most things stop being scary when you learn enough about 'em."

Koto rubs his chin, looking thoughtful at her words. He leans his head on one hand as he sits indian style. "That practice is going to take a bit... but yeah. Broken bones are painful, fractures a bit more... Abigail kinda caused a few when I fought him."

The consideration is still there, and he shakes his head, "Nah... life story spewing isn't my style." He rolls his eyes. "... you know... I think maybe I'll head out and see if there's others that might be effected by this whole thing. At least I'm getting a bit better at... feeling it, I guess? Or it's showing signs of being there? Hard to tell on that one, but it'll at least help that I know not to throw off a Dragon Emperor or Aurora Burst whenever it happens. Those at least are too uncontrolled... I'm almost worried what my Thunder Kick might do, too."

Koto hums, "Yeah... the meditation thing sounds very, very good right now... it kinda worries me that I've got so many techniques relying on my power rather than what I can do physically... maybe I should try to figure out some more?"

Koto frowns, then sits up and closes his eyes. His hands move to barely touch their fingertips in front of him as he seems to be considering. "Definitely something at least. Thank you... both of you."

Honoka is good at listening. She does so -- continuing to walk near Koto, never getting out of his field of view. He talks about broken bones -- and she can appreciate that he's been through it before. He talks about sharing his knowledge with others. About -helping- them. Honoka knows that any attempt to dissuade him from helping will probably fall flat.

Honoka offers a big-sisterly smile. "Well, if you do that -- just be careful not to alarm anyone. We still don't know much about this. Panic is -not- your friend."

She nods quietly, as she walks towards the entrance -- such as it is -- and looks into the thunderstorm. "It's not a problem at all. I know it was a leap of faith coming out here to the creepiest shack this side of Aokigahara -- but I'm glad you did." With her hands still folded behind her back, she glances back to Koto. "I'll get out of your hair, but I won't be far. And one more thing. Just remember, you're one of us now. We're looking out for you, Koto."

And with that, she steps forward to provide some measure of privacy for Koto's meditation. Smiling with the knowledge that -- despite Koto's misgivings, and her -own- passed judgment -- Koto might be -much- further along to controlling this strange disorder than he realizes.

COMBATSYS: Honoka has left the fight here.

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Koto             1/---====/=======|

COMBATSYS: Koto has ended the fight here.

Log created on 11:05:09 06/16/2020 by Marz, and last modified on 11:24:09 06/27/2020.