Description: A marine finds a ghost. Much punching and stabbing ensues.
It stands to reason that with every bright day comes a dark night. And at least once a month, but usually two or three times, Southtown experiences a fairly considerable amalgamation of storms. So it is, as one might reasonably expect, a dark and stormy night in Southtown, located here in an out-of-the-way Shinto shrine on the north part of town. A small standing kiosk, made of wood and decorated with bright and colorful banners, advertises this as one of many "Rising Star Tournament" sites, with a cartoon rendition of the matron of ceremonies, Miss Karin Kanzuki!
But despite all the glitz and glamour, this shrine looks like little more than a set piece for the clearing marked with "Rising Star" banners. The wooden building is old and run-down, set a good ways away from the clearing. Lights have been positioned on poles around the perimeter of the clearing, though they have been artfully positioned and set so as not to detract from the "dark and stormy" theme that was an absolute requirement on the set design checklist.
There is one thing missing though.
Oh right, the foreboding thunder. There it is!
Minal Panesh walks into the midst of the clearing. The diminutive Marine corporal is dressed -- as usual for her fight appearances -- in camouflaged military-style gear. Her jacket sleeves are rolled up to accomodate the gigantic gauntlets attached at her elbows: weapons in their own right, with fists nearly the size of the Marine's head.
She looks at a small display embedded into the left gauntlet with a mild frown as she paces around the clearing. She glances back to the kiosk occasionally. "Huh. Has anyone heard from her yet? A... Hisoka? Oh wait, no... -Hisako-?" She claps her hands together with a metallic clank, and bows her head in apology, as she stands with her back to the darkened depths of the shrine. "S-sorry, I'm butchering this..."
In the alcove of that little shrine, things were quiet. Things were peaceful. Until a name was called out, and it was like a switch was flipped. As the name 'Hisako' echoes out into the universe, a murder of crows which had been watching, now fly away, crying out their own song in response. Out in the distance, the cicada's song which had been almost deafening background noise, now snuff out into absolute silence. And behind Mint, something sounds like it is wheezing and breathing inward, for maybe the first time in a long time.
In the darkness of the shrine, in the infinite black, a pair of eyes stare out into the universe as a figure lurches ever closer, and ever closer, as the figure emerges from the darkness to reveal itself as...a girl? No, as a young woman. No, that isn't right...maybe it used to be. But it was something decidedly different now.
Whatever it was, it was walking toward the marine with the massive hands and getting so close that it could touch her. It was already so close that Mint could probably smell fresh earth as from a grave, and the faint scent of blood mixed with it.
There are cameramen present. Many of them exhibit some sort of alarm. The assistant director's eyes go wide as Hisako appears.
And Mint, rapidly turning pale, gasps in horror, splaying out her hands in dismay. "I... look, I'm really sorry, I didn't mean to misspeak her name, it's just that Japanese is not my first language, and--"
About midway through her stammered apology, Mint realizes it isn't -her- the assistant director is staring at.
tHer nose wrinkles at the smell.
Mint gulps, taking two quick steps forward. "Oh." She then whirls around, keeping her dukes up out of force of habit. And she sees... a new arrival!
Minal titters out an embarassed laugh. "Heh-heh.... are you Hi- sa-ko? I'm Mint... it's nice to meet you!"
The figure lurches forward as stained, mud covered feet slap against the ground and a naginata hands from her left hand. Held in her right hand is what looks like one of the Ristar invitations. This one with a little chibi Karin in a stylized design, and the whole thing already looks worn and frayed, like its owner has been putting it through considerable wear and tear.
Suddenly the figure goes from standing to crawling along the ground like a spider, her neck bent in such an angle that it looks broken, her body crawling sideways at a speed that should not be possible. Moments later she's standing again, this time the invitation is gone from her grip and she is just looking down at the oversized motorfists.
A brief image fills the minds of two women, a moment of time that lingers: A red sky with trees that spiral up into the sky, screaming as the smell of fire overwhelms the ears and nose respectively. Moments later the vision trails up to a pair of feet wearing straw sandles, a pair of bare legs leading up to a loincloth, directly underneath what looks like a samurai's breastplate. Just as the realization that these things are upside down hits, a gauntleted fist rains down from the sky and the vision of red is replaced by the sheer pain of a broken nose or a broken cheek.
That fraction of a second passes and the world returns to normal, and now Hisako is stepping closer as she points at the jetpuncher. She calls out in archaic sounding Japanese, but her voice is filled with emotion, with rage. It practically boils out of her even as she closes ground and stalks towards the brawler with evil intentions on her mind...
COMBATSYS: Hisako has started a fight here.
Mint has been through a lot in her life. But never anything like -that-. Even when Shadaloo was messing with her mind it wasn't -that- colorful or -that- striking.
Minal places one hand to her head, staggering backward with wide-eyed alarm. Panic runs down her spine -- for while the haunting visage standing before her didn't scare the Special Forces tech that much, it's clear that -something- has. It just looks to the audience that it's the -stalking- that spooked her, mind.
Mint extends her other hand outward, shaking it side to side. "It's okay, you're here for the tournament, right?" Re-establishing some sort of control, she pulls her fists back into a ready position as she backpedals to keep Hisako at the same relative distance.
She glances back at the kiosk with narrowed eyes. "This -is- who I'm supposed to fight... right?"
COMBATSYS: Mint has joined the fight here.
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Mint 0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0 Hisako
The figure drops to the ground, the sound of her spine creaking and her bones bending as she spider-crawls in a serpentine pattern to close as much ground as possible. When she's within spitting distance she gets in Mint's face, her jaw unhinges as she -SCREAMS-, a howling roar as those teeth almost look like the jagged fangs of an animal, and her hair wraps around her own face until those wet black strands are cutting through flesh. Until the head looks like a snake made of human hair that are trying to dive into Mint's (hopefully) open mouth.
Yes, Hisako was trying to invade the Special Forces marine from the inside out. And if this succeeded, Mint would see...
COMBATSYS: Mint blocks Hisako's Possession.
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Mint 0/-------/-----==|-------\-------\0 Hisako
Brief flashes, the vision of an air flowing through the air, the point aimed and getting closer and closer to the point of vision, a flash of red and more screaming, but it seemed the vision ended early, and Hisako was laying on the ground. Suddenly she was stirring, looking over at Mint with those eerie wide eyes as she started to crawl to a standing position. As if nothing happened...
"-Right?-" The exasperated corporal had only taken her eyes off Hisako for a split second before the spider-walking girl is right in her face. Her advanced threat recognition software may have been taken completely unaware, but Mint's battle-hardened reflexes pull through, allowing her to drop down low(er) and her gauntlets to snap close to defend her face.
"Okay this is kinda messed up," Mint blurts out as lines blur between the reality of the fight and the minds' eye theater, as she reels backward from the shockwave of -dealing- with such a new kind of threat. Grimacing, Minal barks out to no one in particular, "System: Engage active threat polling mode!" A small audible beep emanates from both her gauntlets -- and then the rumble of force feedback from her right hand, which she extends outward. Mint tracks her right fist toward the rising Hisako, and the rumble subsisdes.
"Alright, you do your thing..."
Engines roar. And Mint thrusts forwards, wheeling her left hand around in a swift hook punch, aimed at ringing into Hisako's shoulder. Should she connect, her right fist would follow up with a quick rabbit-punch to the abdomen.
"And I'll do mine!"
COMBATSYS: Mint successfully hits Hisako with Hook Punch.
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Mint 0/-------/---====|===----\-------\0 Hisako
Hisako takes the impacts without much complaint, bending and curling around each powerful punch and launching backwards from the sheer impact. Of course, given that her weapon of choice was that long naginata, maybe distance wasn't a good thing to have against her? Because instantly she snarls while grabbing the very end of that weapon with both hands, swinging it violently like a baseball bat as that blade seeks to carve right through the brawler. Worse still, as it arcs through the air, lines of the weapon itself can be seen right behind the weapon, as if it was traveling through time and space to hit even sooner than it was supposed to.
And while this is happening, Hisako is yelling at Mint again, her voice distant, as if she was screaming from the other side. The other side of what? Good question.
COMBATSYS: Mint blocks Hisako's Power Strike.
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Mint 0/-------/--=====|===----\-------\0 Hisako
Again with the shouting! Mint screws one eye shut as she withstands the aural impact, putting her instantly on edge for what's to come. And as soon as she sees the naginata whirl, she has her final confirmation that yes, this chick is her opponent for real.
Mint whips her nearest gauntlet upwards, imposing it in the path of the naginata with a shower of sparks. Her body shudders from the sudden move, forcing her to take a step back in recovery. "Doesn't that like... hurt your throat and stuff?"
Mint frowns as her query is met with more screaming. And shaking her head in mild frustration, the corporal leaps into the sky, lifting both of her elbows in anticipation. And then, just as her distance-closing leap is about to come to an end, Mint surges her fists forward -- and a loud, stereophonic *k-CHACK!* is heard as both gauntlets unleash their stored potential energy in a double-barreled punch downward onto Hisako's shoulders!
COMBATSYS: Hisako blocks Mint's BFH.
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Mint 0/-------/--=====|====---\-------\0 Hisako
Lightning strikes in the distance, flashing and illuminating the battlefield violently even as that powerful motorized fist launched out and collided with the old, dead rotting wood of Hisako's naginata. The impact was vicious, the ghost girl's head whipping back and forth like she was in a car accident, flinging backward and hitting the ground in a way that looked almost lethal. She shrivels inside her kimono, the old frayed red material looking like a pile of dead leaves. The fact that some blew away in the wind, means that they always were? Wait, how does that make sense?
While cameramen focused on the pile and were contemplating what it could mean, a shrill scream filled the air as Hisako leapt up into Mint's left side, stabbing that Japanese blade violently at the marine's midsection, as she followed it up with a vicious spinning slash that put her directly -behind- the unfortunate Mint.
COMBATSYS: Hisako blitzes into action and acts again!
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Mint 0/-------/--=====|===----\-------\0 Hisako
COMBATSYS: Hisako successfully hits Mint with Intercepting Strike.
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Mint 1/-----==/=======|====---\-------\0 Hisako
COMBATSYS: Hisako successfully hits Mint with Evasive Strike.
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Mint 1/--=====/=======|=====--\-------\0 Hisako
It's been a while since Mint has been... out of her element. For work she's been holed up in the same lab, day in, day out, for just over a year now. And even when she -was- in professional fighting, she had... never encountered anyone quite like -this-.
For one, the way Hisako folds under pressure is... alarming. Mint knows she can hit hard, but -that- hard? Concern is writ large upon her features as she stares at the... pile of leaves?
Realization dawns on her too late. Attempts are made to leap away from that first strike, but too late to stop the blade from piercing her side in a spurt of blood. It's now Mint's turn to do some yelling of her own.
But even while she's reeling from that strike, she's left utterly unprepared and off-center for the followup, which is powerful enough to carve a bloody arc through the air as she windmills about from the violent blows. "YEAAAAAARGH," she howls, dropping to her knees as she plants one hand low to the ground, to keep herself from falling completely over.
Before, it was Hisako planting images in her mind. This time, Mint's seeing images of her own life flash before her eyes. Her time trapped within the labs of Shadaloo. Her time with Charlie Nash -- calling the raid that resulted in his unfortunate loss. And her time with a gentle Japanese man at a bar...
Mint slams her fist into the forest floor - jarring pain to bring her back into the moment. Her gauntlets beep as a foaming compound is sprayed directly onto her wounds, drawing a hiss from the Marine.
"Okay, that's how we're gonna play..."
Jet engines roar to life, because there wasn't enough yelling. And then suddenly Mint surges forward, swinging her jet-boosted fists towards the figure she can only vaguely identify. A left straight, a right hook -- and a sweeping haymaker intending to blast Hisako right off her feet.
And then, Mint's engines surge a -second- time, propelling her forward again. This time she'd seek to ram her bionic knee into the "pile of leaves" -- and then rapid-fire four quick punches before she can escape again!
COMBATSYS: Mint blitzes into action and acts again!
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Mint 1/--=====/=======|=====--\-------\0 Hisako
COMBATSYS: Mint successfully hits Hisako with Knuckle Dragger.
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Mint 1/-======/=======|=======\-------\0 Hisako
COMBATSYS: Hisako counters Lock and Load from Mint with Vengeance.
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Mint 2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\=------\1 Hisako
It seems, after Hisako's cut across Mint's back, she's just standing there, eyes looking off into the distance, looking at nothing and lost inside herself. Was she lost in a memory? Was she just looking at the blood dripping off of her blade? In any case, a giant metal gauntlet crashes across her face-
A gauntleted fist crashes against her face and arrows are everywhere and somewhere the smell of fat burning is filling her nostrils and she can't breathe
-A gauntleted fist crashes against her face, and the ghost girl darts backward as her head snaps back from the impact, her jaw clearly breaking with a horrible sickening sound before it snaps back into place just in time for her to see the follow up attack. The punch this time is blocked and expertly pushed aside by that naginata, before Hisako quickly twirls it in her hands and swings out to slash across Mint's midsection ruthlessly.
Pain -- the one constant that keeps her grounded in reality. The one thing that can stop her charge -- that can jerk her right out of whatever fugue she might find herself. The anchor in the tumultuous seas of thunder and lightning.
Mint shudders with each blow, dogged determination being the only thing keeping her standing throughout it all. WIth each stab, plumes of crimson erupt from her unprotected abdomen. Normally she'd have gauntlets for that -- but she has no other real defense against the supernatural arts.
She starts to sink to her knees. But as she turns her face, spitting out even -more- blood...
She whips her focus back to the naginata-wielding warrior.
"Ooorah!" she cries out. And thunders forward like a beast possessed, devolving into a blind and formless rage. One punch, a second punch, a third. Engines flare with each strike, as she plows forward with the intent of knocking down any opposition in her wake. There may be a frail girl on the other end of her fists -- but that's no longer a concern of hers as she hopes to even out the score. Because if her midsection's on fire -now-, just wait till the adrenaline wears off...
COMBATSYS: Mint successfully hits Hisako with Alpha Mike Foxtrot.
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Mint 0/-------/---<<<<|=======\=====--\1 Hisako
If anyone could punch their demons away, it was Mint. Of course Hisako was a ghost and not a demon, but that was semantics at this point. And, as she gets annihilated by punch after punch, falling backward and being pummeled into the earth, she at some point simply goes limp and accepts the onslaught that buries her into soft dirt and mud with every vicious bludgeoning blow. As heavy cold rain falls on them both, with only the occasional streak of lightning illuminating anything, it certainly looked like the human woman was ahead of the game.
Until the very instant she stops punching, down beneath her feet lies nothing but mud. And from behind her, a ghostly white hand clasps upon Mint's shoulder...
COMBATSYS: Hisako successfully hits Mint with Fatal Descent.
[ < > ///////////// ]
Mint 1/-------/<<<<<<<|==-----\-------\0 Hisako
The hand was attached to a figure, the same woman who Mint's been beating the hell out of, staring seemingly through Mint, staring into her soul. And then a blur, and Hisako was gone, vanished inside the marine.
Your father lies in a pool of blood on the ground, trying to talk, trying to say anything trying to do anything but whimper and squeal in pain. His hand is in yours, you're squeezing so hard you can barely feel your fingers, you're trying to will your life into his. Trying to ignore the knife in his stomach, trying to ignore the fear in his eyes. He's not going to die. He's not going to die. He's not going to die. He's not going to die.
The sheer violence of Hisako exiting Mint's body leaves it reacting violently, contorting and twisting in awful horrible ways that no body should ever experience. Soon Mint's body is lying on the floor, and Hisako is cradling her head in her arms, rocking back and forth...the rocking stops, and the ghost looks almost confused, trying to recall why she would do something like this...She is trying to remember something. Trying to focus past the fog of anger and revenge.
The moment is lost, and the ghostly figure stands, turns and prepares to leave. Stepping softly upon the earth, making her slow journey toward the shrine she had exited.
Was that the end of this fight?
Jet turbines wind down. Mint herself... loses almost all sense of self. Is that... -her- father? Is that Hisako's father? What in the world is she seeing here...? What is she -feeling- here?- And why, for the love of it all, is she looking -up- into Hisako's eyes, while her entire body feels like it's being torn apart at the seams?
It's always pain, though. That throbbing ache that snaps her back into reality, even as her mind is on fire with the ideas of what -was- or what -could- be. Mint screws her eyes shut. Pounds her gauntlet onto her chest, coughing out in a rasp.
Engines flare orange. The muddy crater she'd pounded into the ground vaporizes, a cloud of steam left in its wake. And when it clears, a very pissed-off Panesh is standing there, elbows locked at her sides.
"don't turn your back on me." Her voice comes out in a hoarse whisper, barely imperceptible. But there is one point to be made here -- despite all the abuse she's suffered at the hands of this... ghost? Despite that, Minal Panesh is not done until she says she is.
And if that means launching a last-ditch attack at Hisako's backside -- a wild, unfettered, and -punishing- blow to the back of the head, fueled by an orange blaze of her arm-mounted jet engines -- well, so be it.
Because that's what she does.
COMBATSYS: Mint can no longer fight.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\ <
COMBATSYS: Hisako fails to counter Cross Punch from Mint with Vengeance.
[ \\\\\\\\\ <
Luckily, Mint was not killed when Hisako spins around and suddenly attacks at the last moment. Luckily, that blade goes wide and the rocketpunch instead catches her full in the face, sounding like it cracks the orbital bone and breaks her nose all in one squishy impact. Hisako is still swinging that naginata wildly at the form of Mint even as she flies backward, seeming to vanish within the shadow of that shrine.
For the camera crew's part, most of their footage is less than reliable. Most shots of Hisako are blurrier than they should be, but she at the very least shows up in images. The strangest detail is that even when the video is paused, she is still blurry, with phantom images of 'movement' still visible and tricking the eye into thinking she's still moving and shifting. Freaky stuff.
And just for the record, Mint's words right before passing out?
"--that's what I thought..."
And then, only -then- does the pint-sized pugilist spiral to the ground, utterly exhausted.
Log created on 07:23:02 03/22/2021 by Hisako, and last modified on 22:51:57 03/24/2021.