Description: A fountain pulsing plaza at the base of the Sea Horses Grand Hotel plays host to this Round One match between Brandon Malone and Hotaru Futaba in the exciting Rising Star 2021 tournament!
Brandon was surprised to receive an invite for the Rising Stars tournament. He didn't have many forays into the televised fight world. There was the Killer Instinct tournament that ended up being postponed before it could come to its conclusion, a few SNFs here and there, a disasterous KoF appearance, and then a pretty decent KoF appearance where they would've barely missed the podium. But that's the thing. He didn't have that many appearances in the fighting world and in the decent standing in KoF he was mostly carried by his team mates and didn't show what he could do which in turn was exactly why he received the invite in the first place.
When the private investigator strides into the area in the Sea Horses Grand Hotel set aside for the fight, he's wearing his signature white fedora with a black band, black long sleeve dress shirt, white vest, white tie, white dress slacks, and slightly scuffed white dress shoes. He cranks his arms a bit before reaching for the pouch on his belt and drawing a deck of cards shuffling them as he waits for Hotaru to arrive.
It's not like he needs to bother with utilizing his illusions to provide the light show. The illuminated geysers are already doing the heavy lifting on that front.
For Hotaru Futaba, it felt natural to be invited to the Rising Stars tournament. A young martial artist, she had a history of relatively okay showings on her record. Wins here, losses there, the teenage fighter was much like countless other hopefuls around the world who dreamed of someday being numbered amont the fighting elite. This was no World Warrior, where titans of battle clashed, but it was certainly a step up from the city-level rookie leagues, and therefore, one more rung toward her goal, another step along her path.
All that and more, Brandon would likely be able to discern with a glance as the Kung Fu artista strides to the other side of the cleared out area of the plaza amid the flashy lights, footsteps more than drowned out by the sound of water being projected into the air in narrow, glowing columns all around the center of the area. She had a youthful grace to her movements, light on her step, arms swinging as she moves into position at a quick pace. He would detect the hint of a giddy smile only just barely suppressed by the girl's attempt to look serious for the cameras: she's excited to be here, come what may. Every chance to show off her developing skills is a chance to be relished!
Her outfit is equally as revealing as to her fighting style as her expressions are to her enthusiasm. It is at once flashy and reserved - white pants, billowing loose around her legs, end where elastic bands pull them taught just above her ankles. Above the waist, she wears a Chinese-styled blouse with small, puffy white sleeves and a rich blue, vest-like torso. A small number of sequins in the vest capture the flashing lights of the extravagant venue just enough to add subtle reflection to her top. Black hair is tied off into twin pony tails on the sides of her head, each held in place with a bow-tied crimson ribbon.
If her appearance shares any chemistry at all with her fighting style, the detective can expect to be confronted with one of the Eastern martial arts for sure, with a high likelihood of her style bearing influences from China's vast legacy of Kung Fu.
Eyes finding her opponent, Hotaru's smile warms for a moment before she forces it away to present a more serious look. Standing up straight, she presses one fist into an open palm and bows her head toward him.
"Hotaru Futaba! It is an honor to be facing you today!"
And with that, she slips comfortably into a ready stance, sliding one foot forward, arms raised, fingers open, one arm extended forward while her other arm bends at the elbow, hand primed closer to her shoulder, clearly for striking.
The fountains surge up out of the ground between the two fighters, obscuring each other from view briefly by the heavy mist flowing out of the illuminated columns. Then, as the water cuts off and the last drops splash against wet stone, the fight is signaled to begin!
COMBATSYS: Hotaru has started a fight here.
COMBATSYS: Brandon has joined the fight here.
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////////////////////]
Hotaru 0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0 Brandon
As he finishes shuffling and injecting a bit of his power into his cards, he looks up to be greeted by a teenager. As far as he could see, his opponent was at a severe size and reach disadvantage when compared to most opponents he'd normally square off against. She'd have to overcome his reach advantage either by being faster, tougher, or relying on keeping away from him. He'd have to be prepared for any of those possibilities.
The arcane detective smiles in response to the other fighter.
"I'm Brandon Malone. It's nice to meet you."
He gives the Kung Fu practitioner a nod before clapping his hands together to make the deck of tarot cards disappear. From there, he falls into a Philly Shell boxing stance, modified to keep his hands open and relaxed, and the lead arm draped across his waist with the hand near the leather pouch on his belt. He bounces on his toes for a moment and when the official gives the signal to start the fight, he skips forward staying at the edge of his punch range. He lashes out with his arm, utilizing the same motion as a flicker jab. In this particular instance, Hotaru might notice that there's a tarot card in his hand slashing out with it to the torso before the punch whip back and the card is gone as quickly as it appeared.
COMBATSYS: Brandon successfully hits Hotaru with Quick Strike.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////////////////////]
Hotaru 0/-------/----===|-------\-------\0 Brandon
One of the surprising things Hotaru has discovered in her journey along the road as a martial artist is how quickly she has to think on her feet every time she faces off against someone for the first time. Some make it clear what their fighting styles are, adopting familiar stances like karate practitioners, or leaning in, arms out at their sides, ready to pounce and grapple the moment she gets into range. Others carry their style openly by the weapons they bring to the match - swords, staffs, and other tools of combat tend to speak for themselves if she sees them in her opponent's grip.
Then there are the mystery opponents - the ones who give away very little in their look, their stance, or what they're holding. Brandon Malone appears to be one of those. Dressed appreciably nice for the match, she imagines she is dealing with an opponent with an actual style and not just a reckless berserker or back-ally brawler... And there's those cards his fingers nimbly manipulate at a speed Vegas card shards would be impressed by... There is a brief furrow of the girl's brow as she tries to piece together what she has to work with. Throwing cards maybe? She had seen clips on FightTube of people who demonstrated the ability to fling cards into soft surfaces like shuriken, so perhaps that's what she has to anticipate here? Or maybe it's misdirection?
But the moment of uncertainty passes, a quick nod given in response to his own greeting. "I'll be giving it all I've got!" she assures him - as if he had any reason to doubt just by looking at the enthusiastic combatant. And then the cards are gone and he takes on an actual combat stance, though nuanced in particular ways as to leave the girl feeling uncertain as to what to expect.
As the columns of water lose their form and clear the way for the match to begin, the Kung Fu artist doesn't wait around, eager to close, eager to clash, eager to see what she can learn as quickly as possible against this opponent who already presents a bit of mystery about his abilities.
When he strikes, she's quick to respond, attempting to weave around the blow without having to give up any ground. But the jab is too fast, catching Hotaru in the temple with a solid smack, physical force augmented by that power-infused card. The blow is enough to send her reeling, stumbling around as her initial pivot continues on with far less grace than she must have intended. She catches herself, however, whipping back toward Brandon, hands still raised at the ready. One solid hit is a good warning of the power behind his punches, but she retaliates with enough speed to prove that she is far from deterred by that strength.
Her recovery and counter attack is one and the same, her spin back toward Brandon flowing into her twisting around such that her back is to him for a brief moment of vulnerability. Out of that back-turned stance, the young fighter kicks into solid spin kick aimed at chest level just as select fountain spouts around the fighters begin to surge once more to whatever manic rhythm they have been programed to. "KYA!"
COMBATSYS: Brandon blocks Hotaru's Medium Kick.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////////////////// ]
Hotaru 0/-------/---====|==-----\-------\0 Brandon
Oddly enough, the back alley-brawler description would probably fit him if not for the arcane enhancements made to his fighting style even if he might've been one of finesse had things turned out a bit different for him.
As for the fight at hand, he bounces on his feet as he watches her spin in recovery due to his attack. As she comes back in, he quickly comes to realize that hanging around on the edge of his punch range isn't quite as safe as he would like. As the Kung Fu practitioner swings out that kick, he brings up his guard into a three point block. The impact gets caught on his shoulder and both of his forearms. A slight grunt leaves his lips upon impact before he steps back and returns to his stance.
A new card suddenly appears in the thaumaturge's hand. If Hotaru is particularly observant, she might see that he's holding the Empress card. If she's really observant or a chi-sensitive, she might notice that he's relaxing the bonds slightly on the direct access to his power. Just enough to put a little extra into the card.
The energy from the card engulfs him in a pale yellow light right before he charges right at like one of those stereotypical brawlers. This card, like the previous one, vanishes from his fingertips.
COMBATSYS: Hotaru blocks Brandon's III - The Empress.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ////////////////////////// ]
Hotaru 0/-------/-======|===----\-------\0 Brandon
Her foot collides with Brandon's sturdy guard and Hotaru moves easily with the recoil of her leg as she drops to her other foot first, then plants her kicking leg against the ground. She's in close now, having fought to close that gap that the detective knew she would have to in order to be much of a threat. And now that she's close, she's not about to give up.
Arms snap into a defensive block as her rear foot pivots to the side, bracing against the concrete. Damp as the stone is, the surface they fight on is rough rather than smoothed, affording both fighters enough traction rather than subjecting them to a comedic slip and slide battle.
Eyes flick to the movement of his hand, noticing another card between his fingers, a visible herald of another incoming attack. Sensing the way an opponent gathers energy just prior to unleashing it into a powerful strike is a key facet of the Futaba girl's own defensive capabilities. When he surges forward, aiming to land a smashing shoulder slam against the diminutive fighter, the Kung Fu artist makes no effort to slip around him this time.
Instead, she leans into the blow, going so far as to push with her back foot to meet his shoulder with her own, exhaling with an audible grunt as the energy infused tackle smashes against her guard. The impact, backed as it is by energy that he seems to be channeling from his card of choice, rattles her to the bone, her upper arm immediately registering a degree of numbness in response.
For all her effort, Hotaru is still sent sliding backward, though it is a controlled skid along the ground rather than a flailing, desperate recovery.
But as before, she recovers with natural grace, twisting her body into a forward lean, her left foot sliding forward while her right foot remains below her center of mass, leg bent at the knee, both arms extended to her sides. She's only in that state for an instant before she surges upward at Brandon, left hand leading in open palmed strike targeting his chest right where his tie hangs.
But this strike is merely her opening blow as the Kung Fu fighter turns with the strike to slam her right palm forward with several times more force, aiming to apply all that kinetic power directly to Brandon's stomach, leaning into the blow with all her leg, torso, and arm strength combined.
COMBATSYS: Hotaru successfully hits Brandon with Engan Soushou Da EX.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////////// ]
Hotaru 0/-------/=======|=======\-------\0 Brandon
Even if Brandon's attack didn't land solidly on the mark the detective felt there was something reassuring about being able to make an opponent slide backwards with arcane might. Hotaru however doesn't give him time to breathe because even as he's returning to the modified Philly Shell aka. the Hitman boxing stance, Hotaru is immediately back in close range. The first palm connects sending him stumbling. The second one sends him flying backwards and into a roll. The pressure he had been attempting to create having been nullified.
The detective rises back to his feet with a pained expression on his face, clothing slightly damp from the fountains clinging uncomfortably to though not exactly worth using a cantrip rectify while he still had to deal with a skilled teen right in front of him.
Instead, he takes a deep breath and bounces on his feet once more. He channels a bit more of his personal power, combining it with the power that was already stored in the card itself to further bolster the stored spell. The High Priestess tarot card appears in his hand just a moment before the detective slashes outward forming a horizontal short ranged crescent shaped wave of energy in front of him and directing it towards Hotaru at shoulder level before making the card disappear with a flick of his wrist.
COMBATSYS: Brandon successfully hits Hotaru with II - The High Priestess.
-* CRITICAL HIT! *-
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ///////////////// ]
Hotaru 1/--=====/=======|=======\======-\1 Brandon
The power behind the second of Hotaru Futaba's two strikes is something that catches many opponents off guard. Many anticipate a flurry of faster strikes from the small combatant, an execution of evasive maneuvers and rapid, lighter hitting attacks. And were it not for the guidance of a certain older trainer in the ways of the harder side of Kung Fu, perhaps that's exactly what Brandon would find in the girl's style.
As he is driven back, she lingers, right arm extended, body leaning into the blow having fully committed everything she had to drive home her palm with enough force that even much larger opponents than he had been compelled to take notice. A glance at her eyes would be all he would need to see the resolve where such a strike was forged - a focused, determined countenance that told a story of dedicated training and unshaken willpower to even be qualified to participate in this tournament. For her, in some small way, just landing that blow alone was a victory she would leave proud of.
But the match was far from over and recovery from such a single-minded devotion to an attack comes at a cost. She is slower to draw back her arm, pushing off with her forward foot to regain her freedom of movement. As everything else he had observed, that transition from hard striking offense to defensive, light footed readiness is a fluid change, the girl's momentum flowing light water from one state to the next.
By the time he swings his arm, power-infused card armed for the attack, she appears to have fully reverted back to her initial ready stance - arms raised, body bobbing up and down on her toes, ready to respond to whatever may come next.
But when the High Priestess is engaged, disaster strikes the Kenpo fighter. Kicking off with her right foot, she starts to slam herself backward, intending to slip just out of reach of the vivid crescent of energy manifested by Brandon's sacrifice and preparation...
As right behind her, one of the fountain streams explodes into action, a high-pressure surge of warm water blasting up against the teenage fighter's back in the same instant she expected - no needed to gain distance. Instead of an escape, her eyes go wide as she's forced back into the magic detective's sweeping arc. And rather than a maximum reach, glancing blast of power striking against her, she becomes victim to the entire volume of arcane magic of the attack. The crescent slams against Hotaru's torso, pain registering immediately as she flies backward. Between the interference of the water spout and the strength of Brandon's own commitment to the attack, there exists little hope of her landing on her feet as she crashes against her upper back on the wet plaza floor with a pained gasp of surprise.
Soaking wet from her ordeal, she lies still for a moment, thoughts a blur as she tries to regain her focus. If she had any thoughts as to the threat her opponent's cards represented before, they were squarely cemented now. His power /hurt/.
Gritting her teeth, she bends her legs up at the knees then kicks down, flipping backward onto her feet, water spraying everywhere as she rights herself, drenched pig-tails resting flat against her neck and back.
The look she gave Brandon as her vision clears is far from one of anger at the power of his attack but rather respect. Sucking in her breath, she extends her left hand, palm forward, swinging her right arm back, bent at the elbow. Even amid the countless lights of the plaza, the glow that surges along her forearm is hard to miss - rich azure as blue as her vest covers the girl's right arm as she brings the limb forward, fingers extending, as if willing her own power back at Brandon.
A shimmering, sapphire ball of energy blasts toward him then with fierce speed. Should it connect, it would splash against him with concussive force before the energy itself would vanish. Otherwise, the rock wall of the plaza might be getting chipped a moment later!
COMBATSYS: Brandon blocks Hotaru's Hakki Shou.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////// ]
Hotaru 1/--=====/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 Brandon
Brandon couldn't lie to himself. He was the beneficiary of a perfect storm of events that culminated in his High Priestess landing more solidly than he was used to. Even he had to cringe and he wasn't the one on the receiving end of the attack. Brandon doesn't follow Hotaru, electing to be cautious and watch what she does next.
The Thaumaturgic Brawler and the Kung Fu practitioner exchange a look of mutual respect. With a quick nod, he bounces on his feet once more expecting her to come in however Hotaru defies his expectations and directs a shimmering ball of blue energy towards him. It catches him by surprise and so he ends up forming a makeshift defense, drawing one of his Minor Arcana cards to form a shield made of light in front of him, shattering upon impact before the card disappears with a flourish of hand movement.
A new card then appears in his other hand. He then hops in to deliver a lead hook before shuffling backwards.
COMBATSYS: Hotaru fails to reflect Random Strike from Brandon with Kobi Kyaku EX.
[ \\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////// ]
Hotaru 1/=======/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 Brandon
The blue, glimmering ball of power splashes against Brandon's shield with a sharp thump, the energy scattering in an almost fluid-like way before fading away from sight all together, leaving no lingering effects beyond the concussive impact. At the same time, mere meters away, the Futaba girl pulls her arm back, fingers closing into a fist briefly as she forces herself into a forward surge. The hope is that her opponent's defense will buy her enough time to get in close again where she can apply her short-ranged martial arts talents best.
Shoe-clad feet splash in the shallow water as the girl bursts forward, leaving droplets of spray in her wake. There is a spark to her eyes, a glimmer of resolve to see this next attack through no matter the risk. Her opponent is clearly equipped with a deck of tricks all his own, a blend of preparation and immediately applied skill combined with a brawling strength that can't be ignored. But she has her own arsenal to deploy as well and it's about time she tries to turn things around on him in a way she can't imagine he'll see coming!
He hops in, card-carrying fist swinging a heavy blow. She too hops to meet him as if willing to exchange blow for blow, even if most would consider the odds against her of that being worth the trade.
But she has a plan, whipping around before her left foot quite lands against the floor, a sheath of sapphire chi surging down her leg as she spins into a swift, upward, reverse-roundhouse with her right leg as the toes of her left foot touch down. If perfectly executed, if flawlessly timed, she'd be able to stop Brandon's power and overcome it with her own vibrant chi, scoring a hit without actually suffering any harm herself.
But in this case, his swift punch is a split second faster to the impact, connecting against Hotaru's temple with a brain rattling slapping sound of wet flesh against wet flesh. The accuracy of her own attack is destroyed by the violent change in momentum as the smaller fighter is spun on her feet and sent flying off to the side, landing in an only semi-controlled crash against the fountain floor.
After the last two attacks she's been through, one might understand if she was simply content to stay face down, arms sprawled at her sides, letting the officials know by inaction that she'd had enough, that they can go ahead and call the match here and now. But she doesn't even hesitate, in spite the ringing in her head, palms splashing down as she pushes herself up to her hands and knees, then rises up, whirling around to find Brandon, arms once again at the ready. A determined grin lifts the corners of her mouth as she focuses on him, sucking in her breath then exhaling in a controlled rhythm, biting back the pain.
Keeping her left hand extended, her right hand lifts up to rub against the side of her head where she just got struck.
"I thought it was worth the chance," she replies with only a hint of chagrin to her tone. Either way, it's clear she has no intention of giving up now, feet sliding to the ready even as she blinks her eyes to clear her vision of the water droplets rolling down her face.
As someone who has some sense for the way energy moves. He can sense that Hotaru was doing yet another thing he wasn't expecting her to do. Yet another instance of getting away with something he probably shouldn't have. He sense the energy moving to her leg and the fact that should his energy connect with it he could be feeling his power tear at him just like he would if were to completely remove the binds on his energy. Instead he feels his fist bolstered by his cards connecting with her head.
"That could've been bad for me."
He takes a deep breath and backs away, opting to reposition instead of going to attack up close and personal. A new card appears in his hand. The Tower card. A tightly compact ball of energy is launched from the card and travels towards Hotaru in an arc before it lands at her feet. That's when it suddenly explodes into a large column of light.
COMBATSYS: Hotaru blocks Brandon's XVI - Tower.
[ \\\\\\ < > //////////////// ]
Hotaru 2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>\-------\1 Brandon
Unlike times when Brandon has given Hotaru even the slightest reprieve, she hasn't charged in recklessly to try and slip around his attacks, trade blows in highly risky maneuvers, or even try to blast him from range. Instead, she remains where she stands. The bashful grin she bore a moment before is gone now, eyes locked on his with renewed intensity. An experienced fighter like him would know the look - that moment of absolute concentration, an ultimate zen of battle, a state of mind where nothing else matters but the application of her skill to the best of her abilities.
In spite the lights, the crowds, the cameras... in this moment, only two people in the world exist for Hotaru Futaba. Herself, and the clever card-using boxer she's in this arena of sound and water with. She knows she's been knocked around hard. It has never been her lot to endure slugfests against hard hitting opponents. Speed, nimble evasion, and high pressure aggression have been the trademarks of her victories in the past... one more clean hit from him and that will probably be all she can force her body to endure.
That moment of focus is more than enough for another card to be imbued with Brandon's spark before flung in an arc toward the girl. The power is bound tightly around the Tower, perhaps making it easy for one to mistake it as less powerful than some of the other techniques he has utilized throughout this match. But she's sensitive to sense it - that concentrated power hurtling her way. This is no mere probing shot. There is far more potential to it than her eye alone can perceive.
The tricky thing is the angle itself - an arc is harder to read than a straight shot, and she isn't entirely confident on where it is going to land as it descends toward her at a steep angle. She figures it out a moment before it hits the ground in front of her water-logged shoes.
Sapphire eyes widen as she draws up her arms in a bracing posture while simultaneously taking steps backward from where the card landed. She wasn't fooled - that is precisely where he meant it to be. Which means that's precisely where she needs to NOT be!
She only manages to retreat one step before it erupts, a significant column of arcane power exploding up around it, completely absorbing the spot where she was standing a split second prior. As-is, the energy blasts against her at only a portion of its full potential, smashing against her inner aura mustered to fight off the infusion of power. A soft gasp escapes her lips as she goes sliding backward, the leather of her shoes scraping against the wet surface while fountains burst to life around her in another rainbow of color mirrored by the flashes of color threatening to overcome the last vestiges of her consciousness.
Arms flail at her sides, her guard shattered for a moment before she manages to regain control over her momentum and slide to a stop. She's spent. Even that glancing hit is all she can take, she thinks to herself, her knees beginning to wobble, the desire to collapse to the floor approaching the point blotting out all other thoughts.
But then deep in her quiet thoughts, there is the knowledge... if her brother were facing similar circumstances, he would keep on fighting, wouldn't he? No way he would surrender if his muscles were his to command... and no way will she!
Gritting her teeth, Hotaru leans forward, left foot sliding out in front of her as she drops into a lower stance, arms at her sides as if the wings of a phoenix.
"All right then. Now or never - this will decide it all!"
The Kung Fu fighter manages to shout out her challenge between pants for breath. It's easy to sense it - the strength of her resolve, the willpower to put it all on the line!
COMBATSYS: Hotaru focuses on her next action.
[ \\\\\\\ < > //////////////// ]
Hotaru 2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>\-------\1 Brandon
COMBATSYS: Hotaru keeps on fighting!
[ \\\\\\\ < > //////////////// ]
Hotaru 2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>\-------\1 Brandon
The Tower card in his hand continues to be held until a few moments after the pillar of light fades away before that card vanishes from his hand because of his battle honed sleight of hand. With an opponent no longer obscured by the his light he can see a teen locked in and focused. While it wasn't something he'd see often on the streets, he knew enough to know that people or rather beings who entered that type of mental state while in battle were dangerous. The question is it too little, too late?
The mystical private investigator readies himself for an attack that never comes. Instead, he sees her transition into a lower fighting stance with that same focus in her eyes. If she won't close in with him, then he will have to do so himself.
Brandon's hands both suddenly have cards in them as he reaches for a little more of his personal power. Before, he had been doing so for a little extra impact for his attacks. While it would still add some extra power, he was doing it this time to provide some juice to activate the card. A slight hiss of pain comes from his lips as energy moves from his body to one of the cards. Then there is that second card. It's revealed to be a card of the wand suit of the minor arcana. The energy leaps from that card to the other card charged up with his energy. With a flick of the wrist, the wand suited card disappears as he reveals the other card to be Death from the major arcana.
A grim reaper crafted from light based illusion magic appears before him to slash at her with its scythe. It's not often that he uses this particular attack in this fashion but it's time to see if his gamble will pay off.
COMBATSYS: Hotaru fails to interrupt XIII - Death from Brandon with Tenshou Ranki.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\ <
COMBATSYS: Hotaru can no longer fight.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\ <
She waits, eyes locked on him, every iota of concentration devoted to this next instant. The style she's been confronted with is something of an aberration. She has sometimes faced fighters who were capable of channeling energy into some kind of weapon - an extension of their power while using their weapon as a conduit. But what she was seeing from the Arcane Detective was different.
He seemed to have come to the match prepared in more than one way. It wasn't just the training he carried with him, but the cards themselves were clearly prepared in some way in advance. They interacted in ways that she had never seen in any martial art she had observed and obeyed mechanics that simply didn't match the styles typically taught in dojos, studios, and temples throughout the city. It meant she had to watch for the physicality of his attacks but also what was going on with the cards at all time.
This time, she's ready, she tells herself. She waits, making him come to her. He could attack at range again, she knew - she had seen him demonstrate that potential before - but somehow she knew he would answer the challenge, that he'd step into the clash, to test his own technique against hers in point blank range...
Eyes flick to his hands, watching him manipulate the cards. He's fast - to the untrained eye, it would be almost impossible to follow the steps, the activation of one card, the imbuement of another, but she follows it... the unfortunate thing is, just like some of his other attacks, she simply can't anticipate what the gestures and steps signify.
Which is why the moment she is confronted with something she absolutely hadn't expected, she hesitates. Everyone who participates in fighting as a competitive sport knows there are risks. While deaths in the professional, sanctioned fighting circuits are extremely rare, they do happen. Sometimes a blow hits too hard, sometimes an opponent's strike sets off a chain reaction that has ramifications far beyond their intent... But out of the thousands of fights broadcast per year, fatalities are almost unheard of.
Which is why, in spite knowing that there are inherently dangerous risks in fighting professionally, Hotaru Futaba certainly never expected to find the very specter of death itself manifesting right in front of her. For an instant, she forgets that she has an actual opponent, eyes going wide, breath sucked in while holding her low stance.
It registers a second later that it has to be something Brandon has done, that it is another technique in his arsenal and not a literal reaper come to claim her, and in that instant she acts. "Not so-!"
An explosion of vibrant, azure chi empowers a crushingly strong backflip kick meant to smash Brandon into the air with enough force to leave him vulnerable to follow up. But the flip never comes, the slashing energy scythe cleaves clean into the young fighter, striking her with a surge of energy that cuts through her aura like a knife.
Rather than leaping, she ends up surging up to her feet, a pained cry at her lips as she staggers backward, shaking her head, eyes blinking and unfocused. Another step backward and her legs give out, Hotaru dropping to her knees, eyes closing as she falls forward against the plaza flooring, arms at her sides.
Upon landing the blow, the illusory manifestation of the grim reaper intercedes itself between Brandon and Hotaru silently standing guard before the illusion fades away. His breaths are heavy from the pain of fighting as well as the moments he took to bolster his attacks with pulses of direct access to his energy.
His body is slightly shaky and takes some willpower to reassert just enough control of his body to stand up straight. He takes a breath and performs a bow to his fallen opponent.
After that, the detective raises his hands in victory. After that, it is the standard interviews and then he plans to enjoy one of the fringe benefits of fighting at a hotel. The fact that he doesn't have to leave the premises to lay down. The mystical PI felt quite beaten up by this match.
Log created on 22:25:46 03/25/2021 by Hotaru, and last modified on 20:58:17 03/28/2021.