Neo League 0165 - NL#0200: Jae Hoon vs Kula

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Description: Become witness to another thrilling Neo League match, wherein the current leader of standings, Kim Jae Hoon, gets to fight against his newly budding crush, Kula Diamond. Featuring a short cameo from Rock Howard, and the grand, glorious return of Hulk-sensei! (Winner: Kula)

Of all the days one could possibly be unprepared...

Today is meant to be an epic showdown. A fierce match between young competitors, fighting to reach the top of the all-fun Neo League. Jae Hoon has been eagerly looking forward to the event, and unfortunately in his pre-game excitement, he totally forgot to bring with him one of the most important things for such an occasion.

His dang water bottle!

Unimpressed is one way to put how he feels about his own conduct.

Idiotic is another.

It is somewhat fortuitous that the location of the event is familiar, and even luckier that when he noticed that he was missing his water, it only required him to get up off the bench in the men's change room and meander just outside Taiyo High's large scale gymnasium.

The hallway stretches out from the doors into a long and brightly lit corridor, just beyond from where he stands, but his attention is not focused on any approaching bodies or lingering passersby that could be walking through it. Rather, he is scanning over a vending machine loaded up with an assortment of drinks; coffee, tea, soda, you name it. All of the possible choices are there, but he really only wants one thing, and that would be good ol' refreshing water!

With the code inputted for a watery beverage, in goes a couple coins, and then -- !



Well... that sounds a little aggressive, doesn't it?

Bending over forces Jae to brush raven-coloured strands from deep pools of brown that make up his eyes as he goes to retrieve his item... only to feel his fingertips graze over two things instead of one.

Oh. That's interesting...

When he pulls it from its entrapment, in one hand he holds water, and in the other, a strawberry-flavoured Calpico.

Mildly puzzled by his new predicament, the teen can only surmise that the loud noise had been a result of an internal jam. Now he's stuck with something he absolutely will not drink, just based on the sugar content alone!

Aw, man. What is he going to do with this? It wouldn't be such an issue if he had an appreciation for sweet things, but since he doesn't... well, maybe he can pawn it off on a spectator or something later on.

Or! Oooooooooor!

There's another option! Someone who is far closer than those spectators, as they file into the gymnasium, searching for friends and the best seats in the house. This person is roughly five foot five, with waist-length sheets of strawberry blonde hair. Dressed in attire that would be politely described as strange, the girl arrives just in time to witness what luck! Is the vending machine broken, and is it handing out freebies?

Clutching the Suica card to the slight swell of her chest, there's enough credits for one drink and a way home. Kula Diamond, excited by the gluttonous prospect that she may be able to enjoy a sweet drink both before and after the Neo League match, practically dances on the spot. Such is her joy, she almost misses those complicated expressions of her soon to be opponent. He's a recent transfer student as of a few months ago to Taiyo High, the teen recalls...

In that case, he probably doesn't know the ice doll from Adam. Kula doesn't look much like her online fighter profile, and typically doesn't stand out in a crowd, despite not being of Asian-descent...

Sucking in a breath, she holds. The slender child can tell just through her brief observation that Jae isn't wanting his most excellent gift. It's puzzling as to why he's not delighted, but maybe the Korean boy is someone who doesn't have a, what did Diana say? A candy tooth? Wrestling with temptation to offer to relieve him of his burden, would it be weird, as a stranger, and rude? Overstepping the bounds of common courtesy? Besides, Kula has no cash for fair exchange.

Oh, but he might have a friend, at least! Maybe they'll be interested...

Kula wonders if Juliet likes sweet drinks? She has to ask! But later!

Fidgeting with the card, it clicks against the armoured accents of her gloves. There's no need to rush Jae Hoon into making a decision prematurely, but the longer he stands there, Kula's resolve to wait patiently starts to crumble. What if he has no one looking forward to sugary goodness! Huffing quietly, the spoiled princess draws on her lower lip and thoughtfully chews it.

Violet eyes framed by thick lashes travel from her peer to specifically note just WHAT he has been saddled with. Originally, Kula was thinking a fizzy grape soda would hit the spot, but now she can't get that strawberry-flavoured Calpico out of her head. Yes, the moment Jae is no longer occupying prime real estate in front of the vending machine, that's what she'll punch in!

What's clicking?

Up from his dilemma he looks, specifically to the vending machine in front of him, with a note of curiosity etching over his handsome features. A dark brow arches over one earthly-coloured iris as he examines the frontward facing window, watching and waiting for it to spontaneously combust.

Something has to be wrong with it, if it keeps making all these weird noises...

But then, from his stupor Jae Hoon realises that the sound isn't coming from what sits in front of him. Rather, it seems to be coming from behind. He swivels slightly, and what he is greeted with upon doing so is, admittedly, a little disarming.

A girl stands there, at about half his height, with sparkling violet eyes alight with excitement and childish fervor. She appears to be a living doll of sorts, with porcelain white skin and a long, beautiful blanket of strawberry-blonde locks. A real sight to behold...

At first, the Korean teen is slightly dumbstruck.


What else is he supposed to do when a cute girl like this is staring up at him with batting doe-like eyes? He doesn't even know why she's doing it!

It takes a hot moment for the youngest Kim scion to gather his wits, at least enough to get a proper look at her. One thing worth noting is that he recognises the clothes she wears, yet the face of this stranger isn't immediately familiar to him. He recalls seeing someone wearing this type of apparel somewhere, and if his memory serves him correctly, it was that of his opponent.

Looking up the fighters in a league is sort of a customary thing Jae does as part of his preparation; the person he is supposed to be fighting today is Kula Diamond, a name he does in fact remember thanks to the overall awareness of the Taiyo High student body. Yes, they attend the same school, and since discovering her as his next adversary, he has made an honest effort to try and track her down.

As it so happens, he's run into some problems in doing so.

The teen that stands before him now is dressed in the same garments as the fighter in the profile he'd looked at, but everything else about her is just off. Isn't she supposed to have blue hair and crimson-coloured eyes?

... Well, whatever. It's mostly a moot point, because he's sort of floundering at the realisation of who he is standing in front of, plus the fact that she is considerably more attractive in person.

Not that he is looking for something like that! Gah, way to make it weird!

But her eyes are not focused on him. Rather, they are honed in on his hands, both of which are holding somewhat loosely onto the bottles he'd just obtained from the vending machine.

Does... she want this Calpico thing? He can't even imagine /why/ but... to each their own.

Time to buck up the courage and ask!

"Um," he says, timidly, as cheekbones flood with pink. Slowly, Jae Hoon extends the flavoured beverage in Kula's general direction, holding it out for her to relieve him of it. "... Do you want this? It was stuck in the machine, and... I'm... not gonna drink it, so..."

Jae Hoon doesn't know this yet, but the Korean teen could be about to become Kula's bestest best friend in the whole wide world. All it takes is a single random act of kindness, and then it will endear him to her forever. The decision is difficult, so does the young man proceed? As he rests on the precipice of his choice, her long lashes bat innocently, "Hm?"

Yeah, that's some gawking, dude.

She's confused, the girl's fair head tilting to the side in wonder. Lengthy strands of strawberry blonde spill out from behind. Kula ceases with her antsy clicking of the Suica card, but she prods and touches her face quizzically. The armoured accents are blessedly cool, soothing against porcelain skin that rebounds gently after a poke. Imagine if there was an errant grain of rice stuck to her cheek since lunch! Embarrassing!

But, nothing?

So her puzzlement grows, and without realising it, Kula is in sync. She starts imitating Jae, the flick of violet irises to look him up and down... That gi is his outfit. Those are some white pants. He is a Taekwondo practitioner. It's hard to tell whether his hair is black that hints at blue, or just really navy. Sure fits the description of Kim Kaphwan's youngest son, which the doll already determined. Why are they staring at each other?

Holding out the Calpico, as if he could read her mind and this is his response, Jae Hoon is incredibly awkward. Kula happens to be too naive to interpret his slight blush, but don't people tend to do that when they're ill? Are you sick and fighting?! "Are you sure?" She asks, even in the midst of accepting the drink, keeping it close to her heart. The ice princess gets totally distracted. "Thank you!" A soprano both sweet and earnest like her smile, that seizes those pink lips to turn them up at the corners. Clearly Dobby has been given a sock and set free.

This means introductions are in order, because it would be improper to accept something and whisk away to the match, right? "My name is Kula." Assassins have manners, too.

"Kula Diamond."

No doubt he's figured it out, because while her online fighter profile does a poor job preparing opponents for the genuine article, that all leather attire is too unique to be duplicated. How she can get her appearance to transition from this to soft cerulean threads and scarlet eyes is anyone's guess. A secret that Kula isn't about to reveal, at least at present.

Why are they staring at each other, indeed?

Quite honestly, Jae Hoon isn't the type to size up his opponents. Having read her fighter profile means he has gleaned enough information about her and her style that he has no need to further pry. However, he can't quite stop himself entirely from taking in all five-foot-five of her. Kula is completely different from her photo in some respects, but there is no mistaking her for anyone else, even if strawberry-blonde isn't cerulean blue. Her apparel is certainly unique and identifiable enough, to say the least.

What interests him, though, is this brilliant smile that lights up her porcelain face. It is as though the heavens themselves have bestowed an angel to the earth and created her in the form of the fey fighter before him. Utterly charmed by her innocence, it takes a few moments longer to recover than it normally would for him.

After all... Jae doesn't get /starstruck!/ At least, not often.

Who'd have thought that something as simple as a sugary beverage would brighten someone's entire day?

It's probably rude, though, the way he is just gawking at her like some creepy wide-eyed owl. Remembering himself, the Kim scion steers himself back to reality, focusing his attention properly on the situation he's in. His throat clears. He regains a semblance of self control once more as he properly turns his body to face her, finally relieved of his burden so that he may address their conversation politely.

Right. Introductions are a thing. Why is he being so awkward?

"It is a pleasure," he says. The whole of Jae Hoon's handsome features are fighting with some interesting emotions; politeness stands at the forefront, but absolutely there lingers hints of shyness and touches of seriousness sitting under an overarching umbrella of overall friendliness. His lean form folds in half as he bows. "I am Kim Jae Hoon. It appears we will be fighting each other today. I very much look forward to our match."

Purely from a martial artist's perspective, her chosen style is intriguing to him. Most definitely, he anticipates that this League match will be something of a joy, if not a tremendous honour, to participate in.

"I, uh..." he begins, rather lamely. His face is bright pink. Oh dear. "I heard you go to Taiyo as well. I was, um... trying to find you before the fight so we could meet and talk about our fight... Guess this is the opportunity, isn't it?"

Okay. Stop being weird now, Jae.

Aw, now isn't that adorable? Were she anything but an artificial being who began her life suspended in suspicious incubation liquid, Kula might've actually blushed. The way the rose would kiss the tips of alabaster cheeks, lashes lowered demurely to cast her gaze politely to the side...

This is what an average member of the fairer sex might have done, as they'd recognising such obvious signs of attraction rolling across his features.

Kula just kneads the bottle in her hands, causing it to crunch. None the wiser, she's different than one might expect, Suica card pressed between two fingers as though this were the start to some amazing trick of magic. Like, keep your eye on the drink, lest something appear inside! There's a quality that is childlike, and hard to define.

Uncertain where the conversation should begin beyond an introduction, at least the opinion of Jae is high? I mean, in Kula's mind, he's a nice person. Nice enough to part with the strawberry Calpico and request no compensation. She lightly jumps as he bows, because due to her strange upbringing, customs are baffling.

Generally excused as a foreigner, her status does not forgive rudeness. The ice doll bends with all her items gathered against her, and straightens a bit sloppily.

So, he's looking forward to their match? Nodding with enthusiasm at the Korean teen who still hasn't received the memo regarding their new friendship, Kula hangs onto his every word. She replies brightly, "Yes! I hope we both perform well." Her tune may change a bit upon the introduction of fire, but the only way to overcome a fear is to face it...

'I was trying to find you...'

"Oh!" That's when it happens, the hints of transition, a flicker of violet eyes to crimson. "This is what I look like when my powers are not active," Kula explains simply, her measured cadence soft and gentle, "Would you like to talk about the match right now? I think there might be some time, and I..." Crinkle, crinkle. "I really want to drink this."


Entering from a point far removed from where Kula enjoyed her kinda sorta strawberry juice-but-it-looks-like-milk, engaging in a truly pleasant chat with Jae Hoon that definitely involved inquiring about his health, this is the appearance many expect from the wintertime siren: Ruby-red orbs, cascading tresses as blue as the morning sky. The silken threads billow as she walks, each flutter triggering a tiny flourish of frost.

The bleachers are packed, from classmates to even students in attendance to the schools nearby. Jae, who has amassed quite the following, would find fans peppered throughout the crowd, but his biggest supporter is the teenage Howard scion. Easily spotted due to his shock of golden hair, once his friend has entered the gymnasium, Rock waves and shouts something that can't be heard over the cacophonous racket. Probably well-wishes, or of that variety.

There is little support for the young lady, who does not seem perturbed. She tucks away hair behind her ear, looping a communications device over the cartilaginous ridge. Kula requests a scan from it, a reading of her biometrics.

Moments later, a warm voice greets her, "The same as always, kitten."

NESTS is watching their little assassin, precious pet project that she is.

Hulk-sensei is also watching. A monster of a man, the mountain stands at and might even exceed seven feet tall. He teaches mathematics and statistics, which often comes as a shock to the kids that fight at Taiyo, because it's assumed every time that he deals with the athletics department. Suited to his moniker, most don't even know his real name.

He's the one officiating the match, folding arms roughly the size of two tree trunks. Thick brows like bushy caterpillars weigh down on beetle black, Jae Hoon seems to be a particular point of interest. Everything about his intimidating and imposing presence might as well just be the biggest damn neon sign board ever, that says, 'LADIES FIRST, BOY'.

Pleasant chatter was had.

What had been entirely unexpected about the whole thing was the nerves.

You see, despite being relatively friendly by nature, Jae Hoon doesn't often talk to girls outside of situations that call for such; work, teaching at the dojang, or even training are all reasons for him to have purpose to talk to members of the opposite sex in a way that seems practical and easy. After all, he is there to provide some sort of service for them, among many other groupings of people, and it's easy to have that at the forefront of his mind.

So standing here, just having this casual chat about their match? Hell yeah, he's got jittery all of a sudden. The only way he's managed to stave off some of the nerves is by constantly drinking the water he'd just bought.

Which had been intended for hydrating during the fight.


With no money left to replace it, there had been a period of time in which he'd stared somewhat half-heartedly at his empty bottle of water. And, for some reason or another, this sprung Kula into action. Perhaps out of genuine kindness, she walked right up to the vending machine, purchased another fresh bottle of water, and outright handed it to him.

To say that he was flustered, and continues to be as he walks into the gym with it tightly gripped in his hand, is an understatement.

Deeeeeeeeeeep breaths.

Steeeeeeel yourself, Jae Hoon.

Almost too distracted to take note of the bodies in the stands, the handsome Korean teen just barely catches sight of the shock of golden blonde hair in his peripherals. A wave and a shy smile is offered to Rock, though it is short-lived as he focuses forward while he meanders towards the mid-center of the gymnasium. The sparring area is marked by the hulking teacher standing in the middle, with Kula and her cerulean tresses a few paces away from him.

All right. No time to get flushed now. This is serious business.

The gifted water bottle is set on the perimeter of the designated arena. Young Kim swoops to his full height as he approaches Hulk-sensei and his opponent, all traces of embarrassing pink hues absolved. If there is anything that can bring about that sense of seriousness and passion within him, it is the prospect of a fight.

Even with Hulk-sensei looming nearby, threatening to beat him in if he doesn't allow the wintertime fighter to proceed with the first move.

Some would say that chivalry is dead, and maybe it is, but Kula seems intent on a revival. Like nobody explained to her, it's often defined as the courtesy of a man towards women. Whoopsie.

She savoured her strawberry Calpico slowly, clearly invested in the conversation, indifferent when it started and stopped like an ornery old car. When he finished his bottle of water, given the indication that was to his displeasure, Kula rose to the occasion.


Immediately on her feet to defy the gender norm.

Kula may project an air of selfishness, like a princess who has been utterly spoiled forever, but she purchased another drink for Jae. No hesitation, no lament for the loss of grape soda that she would have had later. Just the pretty teen repaid a good deed.

This resulted in much fluster, and was entirely misunderstood on her behalf. Now they face one another in the gymnasium, in the arena that has been erected a safe distance from the dynamic crowd of all sorts. It is intended that Jae complies with an age-old ceremony to allow Kula the first strike, but born of science and lacking in experience, she takes a moment to catch on. Her expression is curious, because she wants to learn the origins and explanations of this custom...

Hulk-sensei is just too intimidating to ask.

The giant of a human being, impossibly large to the point where his suits are probably tailor-made, steps back. He dwarfs the officiator's podium and starts announcing.

Not necessarily pumping up the combatants with praise, or mentioning what various accomplishments mostly Jae Hoon can claim, it is done so those who are only here on behalf of fight fanatics actually get the gist of what they'll be sitting through. He's a veritable mountain of a teacher, and as his voice booms out so loudly it shakes the slender assassin to her core, Hulk-sensei has but one thing to offer post-introductory prolusion: "BEGIN!"

Shifting weight so it is equally placed on each foot, the doll offers honest encouragement, "Good luck to you, Jae Hoon." Then her expression sets, emotionless, perfect and porcelain. Scarlet eyes hold him in their focus. Kula will do her very best, for the Cartel, for her mission.

Fingers flex lightly, snow flaking from the metal accents of her gloves. Featherlight strands of blue rustle. Lifting one arm, the digits unfurl away from her palm. Winter's chill heeds Kula's siren call, made manifest in the breath she exhales. An instant later and without preamble, the young Korean may find himself enveloped by an icy, blistering blast of wind and driving, razor-sharp sleet.

COMBATSYS: Kula has started a fight here.

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

COMBATSYS: Jae Hoon has joined the fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Jae Hoon         0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0             Kula

COMBATSYS: Kula successfully hits Jae Hoon with Diamond Breath.

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Jae Hoon         0/-------/----===|===----\-------\0             Kula

With his opponent preparing herself, the ability to relax and allow all the nerves to ebb away becomes all that much easier for Jae Hoon. Thanks to their earlier conversation, the knowledge that she values this moment just as much as he does remains prevalent. Helps him to regain his focus, to remember why it is he is here in the first place.

No sense getting all caught up in weird butterflies and heart-bubbles when he has a rather enjoyable match to look forward to!

Hulk-sensei initiates the fight, but before any movement commences, the soft soprano of Kula's voice crosses the threshold of the sparring area. Her words of encouragement are empowered by a gente warming smile that kisses her features. Heartened by her friendly comment, the Korean teen would nod and return with an equally tender, "And good luck to you."

Of course, as chivalry would dictate, Kula moves first.

Though, not entirely 'moving', per se.

Rather, her breath manifests in the air, frosty.

Such an attack does not look pleasant to endure, and so Jae Hoon shifts with the intent to dodge. As fate would have it, the galing ice has a wider berth than expected, therefore it is inevitable that he is to be blasted with the razor-sharp ice. Some of the icicle shrapnel grazes exposed skin, slicing and cutting into his face, neck, and fists, leaving crimson trickles in their wake. The chill absolutely rattles him, rendering him temporarily frozen with rather violent shivers radiating through his spine.

However, instead of staying rooted entirely to this position, the teen pushes off the ground, his naturally inclined agility bringing him right close to the ice princess. Flames burst from his heel, burning up the length of his calf, while the corresponding foot simultaneously shoots off from the hardwood and into the smaller teen's midsection.

Normally, he'd aim for the head, but because he is somewhat fond of her already, the kick he swings up goes just inches above the swell of her chest instead. The momentum of his body soaring upwards would also take Kula with him, sending her some feet away with fire licking up her torso, should it land.

COMBATSYS: Kula reflects Hien Zan from Jae Hoon with Counter Shell.

[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Jae Hoon         0/-------/--=====|=====--\-------\0             Kula

Although her life has not been notably long, in that short amount of time, Kula has managed to develop a wide variety of likes and dislikes. Ice cream? She loves it. Technical manuals? Will read them cover to cover, rinse and repeat. Exchanging pleasantries before the match begins? An absolute must, depending on the opponent. Fire? No. Heck no. No thank you, sir.

Her reaction is a strong aversion to the burning conflagration, and that she had been unaware, at least up until this moment, that they were elementally opposed. Kula flinches away, swallows a childish shout, and a declaration. The princess frowns, upset and tense.

Jae Hoon launches his body forward, any distance between them evaporating like the lingering droplets on the lacquered surface of the gymnasium floor. He kicks first for her midsection, his pyrotechnics hone in. Intended to send Kula airborne, it...


An invisible line is drawn, Kula's dexterous digits chased by a frosty sparkle. Scattering freezing dust, once Jae encroaches on its misty territory, there is an irregularity. A ripple of distortion that pulls the energy from him and his momentum, and reflects it back in the form of an echo. Pretty similar to getting rocked by your own punch, but not quite, for the force and strength pales in comparison.

Kula, silently pleased to have turned away the heat, clasps her trembling hand, drawing them in together against her chest. Steadying herself with a breath, the ice doll hardly hides the immense wash of relief. That was scary!

"Nicely done, sweetling," says the voice of her observer, speaking through the small link-pearl in her ear. The Anti-K' nods, probably to the confusion of those around her, but as the world tunes in, so does NESTS. They have invested quite a lot of money, time and resources into Kula, after all.

Marking marks on a clipboard, The Hulk records some of the proceedings. STATISTICS ARE STILL EVERYTHING.

Well, Jae Hoon certainly did not expect for his attack to sort of... get thrown back in his face, so to speak.

The impact of the blast, interlaced with sparkles of ice from the reflective barrier sends the Korean teen back. Now somewhat airborne, he lands those few intended feet back, and it most definitely stings a little upon initial impact. Landing fairly gracelessly on his knees and skidding them across the floor, scraping his kneecaps. Due to his ability to harness fire-infused chi, the deflected flames dance on him for a short period before eventually fluttering away into nothingness, only leaving overall discomfort and a bit of grazed charring over his skin.


Rising to his full height, one would see the bloodied up front of his clean white uniform pants. Luckily, very little tearing has occurred to the fabric itself, but he'd certainly have to take care not to aggravate the seams, lest he wants to spend a day patching them up. Jae even notes a tightness in his chest, as though he had taken a swift kick to his sternum.

Kinda did, really...

Clearly, though, their encounter is just as unsettling for Kula in some regards, for her trembling can be seen even from this distance. Normally something that serves to deter most folk, including that of himself on occasion, the youngest Kim scion braces himself.

It would dishonour the ice princess for him to slack out of empathy, considering their previously held conversation.

And then, he rushes in once again, unrelenting. All traces of that earlier friendliness is wiped away, replaced by the tell-tale seriousness he is known for.

A jog splits to two light yet rapid skip-jumps that bring him right back into her personal space, in which he tries to swing his back leg in an attempt to smack into her upper arm and collarbone area. This time, it will come without flames, but his limb may appear as something of a blur as it flies inward.

COMBATSYS: Kula blocks Jae Hoon's Shou-Kyaku Hou EX.

[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Jae Hoon         0/-------/--=====|=====--\-------\0             Kula

Given the unique nature of her style, there is no stance for Kula to assume or return to. She's incredibly still, fingers flexing, and a general consensus spreads through the audience like wildfire. Eventually, it reaches the ears of Rock Howard: They think this blue-haired girl is simply lucky, because clearly she's inexperienced. He snorts softly.

Surely Jae Hoon has realised it, too.

Just because one cannot readily identify the particular martial art, Kula isn't an amateur.

Jae's gonna be given a run for his money, and already has been, in some ways...

If Kula feels a single shred of sympathy for the front of the Korean teen's ruined pants, there are no signs. Her expression remains calm, composed, even serene. Exchanging no words means empathy feels foreign, out of place. They could start to converse and perhaps pigs will fly, but both seem intent on their focus, comfortable to share in it, as if to spite those interested in spirited yelling.

Rising, rushing, driving the offensive and hoping it yields results, the fey ballerina sees the projection of the move. Where it will connect, should she not interfere with his trajectory. Kula doesn't much make note of his pointed insistence on avoiding her face, but doubtless would it make any difference. A shimmer can be spotted, light reflecting in a bolt across the ice.

He'll feel the chill, but not the bite. Foot colliding with the barrier she has created, the pressure forces it in, jarring her shoulder. Breath hisses through straight rows of pearly white teeth. The pretty doll winces, but holds the much larger young man off, right up until there comes a quick whip of Kula's flowing cerulean tresses. Ducking low, how curious the shield remains hovering in thin air, as an illusion to distract and confuse.

Slowly, it crumbles away before him, possibly to his amazement, the shards that would rain down completely vanishing. Rotating on the balls of her feet, leg extended and prioritizing capitalizing on perceived weakness, she's a trained assassin. Her efficiency can be deadly, if that's her aim. For now, Kula's unique brand of shoe seeks to bury itself in the back of the knee of the youngest Kim son, smacking out the supporting limb and taking him down.

COMBATSYS: Jae Hoon blocks Kula's Medium Kick.

[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Jae Hoon         0/-------/-======|======-\-------\0             Kula

Yes, indeed, the martial art-form the ice princess displays is an interesting one. Some of what she has shown thus far is relatively familiar in some respects, but there are certain unique curiosities that make it difficult to pinpoint the style. Unable to properly study it, given the nature of their circumstances, he makes a mental note to ask her post-fight just what it is she practices. There is no way she is an amateur of any kind.

If anything, she seems incredibly calculative. Honed in. Tremendously skilled.

That being said, he continues to be surprised.

It is something of a strange sensation to feel his foot glide along this newly generated shield. Chill to the touch, though surprisingly soothing and without the usual nip that comes with cold such as this. Even the sensitive skin on the underside of his foot doesn't respond negatively to it.


And utterly magnificent, like a fresh Christmas snow, as it crumbles away like shimmering dust in the moments following.

This is not something he dwells on for long, however. Such hesitancy cannot be afforded in the midst of a match.

As Kula swoops her lithe form around so that she may try to aim a powerful kick right for his midsection, he, too, begins to move in turn. So accustomed to these types of physical techniques, Jae Hoon maneuvers himself so that his body swivels on his supportive leg. The opposite knee, which is still lifted from his earlier attack, comes around to bat against her thigh and further sends the corresponding limb away. There is a mild sensation of the point of her boot motioning down his calf, scuffing the pure-white cloth with a slight smudge of dirt, but it is consequential discomfort that doesn't really register.

Keeping himself within her personal bubble, the Korean teen unrelentingly takes advantage of the opportunity. His raised leg lowers to the ground and becomes the momentum he needs to spin his lean form about. Simultaneous to this, the other leg once extended snugs tight against his torso.

Seconds later, a quick volley will fly out, aiming for his opponent's midsection, in which a triple side-kick will slam in! No messing around here!

COMBATSYS: Jae Hoon successfully hits Kula with Shakka Shuu.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Jae Hoon         0/-------/-======|=======\-------\1             Kula

Back home in Korea, was Kim Kaphwan's youngest frequently the target of surprise trips from his elder brother? It's not that Kula underestimated Jae Hoon, merely misjudged the speed he could react, his precision deflection suggests this still happens often, or did once upon a time. Knee-nudged, the small foot scraping against success should disappoint a normal fighter that it wasn't more...

But not the ice doll, her skin a pure porcelain, as if she was carved from cool, white marble. Kula's hardly 'normal' by any stretch of the imagination. Doesn't such unchanging, emotionless perfection seem... honestly quite weird?

Their dance is complicated, but in unison. Rotating to the reverse, the graceful Kula rebounds and twirls to stand. He does not hesitate to unleash a rapid flurry of kicks, signalling the ultimate end to the entire performance. It's unfortunate that she's not able to skirt an area around Jae, not before it's too late, finding herself within the space of his extended reach. She reels at first strike.

Each hit thereafter collides with her slender frame, pulverising the teen girl at the centre of mass, hard enough that she's infinitely grateful lunch was many hours ago. A triplet of side-kicks would've been more than she could tolerate. Kula is brought down, crashing two feet away, but tumbling into a backwards somersault. Her pretty face lifts, surrounded by cerulean strands that spill forth over her shoulders, posture hunched in a sprinting position. The crimson-eyed gaze is level and steadfast.

Launching from the floor, her charge appears determined to pass through him, but it's actually meant to go over. If she can, Kula stomps directly up the front of the guy, leading with a foot on Jae's thigh. She springs fully at his shoulder, cat-like and to flip... while also summoning the most enormous, massive ball of heavily packed snow that can possibly be held by those rather thin arms.

Kula's intention couldn't be any clearer. Like a promise, not a threat, looming. A veritable sword of Damocles. At the right height, the exact moment, she dumps her gathered effort all directly onto the back of his neck and head, or certainly tries. Should he find himself doubling for Frosty the Snowman, it's extremely cold. The kind that penetrates deep, right to the bone.

This begs a question, at least to Hulk-sensei: Just how did the little child manage to amass such a large amount in a short period? Really, that's impossible. Why do fighting game characters hate physics?!

COMBATSYS: Kula successfully hits Jae Hoon with Step Rudder.

[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Jae Hoon         1/-----==/=======|=======\==-----\1             Kula

Why yes. How very astute of you to mention the upbringing of the Kim sons.

It'd been a very regular thing in their household for Dong Hwan to barrage poor Jae with pranks, surprises, and all sorts of tomfoolery. In order to put up with it or to outright avoid some of it, the younger brother had to adapt quickly. Probably why he much prefers scalding hot tea now over something cooler.

Don't ask.

With the flurry of kicks complete, Jae Hoon returns to a proper offensive stance, with hands raised in tight fists and his eyes peering straight through the clearing between them.

Whatever Kula may have in store for him, he is fully prepared.

Good thing, too, because she moves quickly, charging at him with the intent of plowing through him.

The lean fighter goes in for a blocking motion, figuring that perhaps she would be heading straight in. Surprised by her movements, which are entirely different than anticipated, she uses him as some sort of body step ladder, climbing the length of him. Upon reaching his shoulders, her small form shoots up off him, and it is to Jae Hoon's misfortune that he looks up.

In a matter of moments, all he becomes witness to is an enormous ball of snow aiming to crash into his head and neck. With no way to dodge or block it at this angle, the teen is forced to take the chilly assault, which most unfortunately sends him earthbound. The small avalanche cascades and crumbles all around him, flattening him right out, due to the intense pressure. As a result, the wind is pushed out from his lungs, robbing him of any breaths he could have taken in the meanwhile.

However, the below-zero temperature is more what gets to him; the freezing sensation absolutely presses cold burns to his nape and down along his shoulders, further dampening his uniform.

Through diligent efforts, Jae begins pushing through the snow, eventually resurfacing. He shivers just slightly, but it is unseen since he appears to mostly be shrouded by snow. What cannot easily be seen is how he has managed to give himself enough space to launch from a hole he's created so that he may wind up right back into Kula's personal space.

A kick normally aimed for the head comes up to go for her shoulder once again, and should that land, it would send her small frame up into the air just so. This would then be followed up by a flaming back-flipping kick with his heel wedging into the space between her collarbone and the corresponding shoulder blade. Probably will be an ouchy!

COMBATSYS: Jae Hoon successfully hits Kula with Hou-yoku Ten-Shou Kyaku.

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Jae Hoon         0/-------/---====|=======\====---\1             Kula

Should I be pleased to have guessed correctly, or feel sorry that Jae Hoon was often picked on?

Decisions are hard, but I digress.

Like Juliet, he can now attest to the chilling experience of a small avalanche to the head. Maybe not something Jae ever wanted, eventually digging through comically oversized chunks and crumbles of snow that have already begun to evaporate, but we don't always get to choose our trials and tribulations in life. Kula lands lightly, wary, and does not offer him a hand. The wintertime siren wouldn't want to insult his pride, his skill, considering his serious commitment to the match since its commencement...

So he is left to the mercy of the element of her mastery, underdressed and shivering.

She glitters as her hair billows, the frost that swirls at her fingertips gone long before it can reach the ground. Kula waits...

From the stands, part of the sea of chattering spectators, Rock cups his hands against his mouth to amplify his voice, the first to realise the fight nears its climax, "Hey, Jae! Don't let her keep you down!"

The Hulk's head swivels on the massive trunk that is his neck, honing in on the blonde American heartthrob. There's a look in those beetle black eyes unmistakable at any distance, one that says, 'Yes, I remember you, Howard, and your proclivity for causing a disturbance.' If he had glasses, he could Megane Flash.

Rock erps.

Suddenly, the energy of the makeshift arena swells. That she smiles faintly can hopefully convey a myriad of things words would serve better to communicate. At least the expression is earnest, before it exists as a ghost or mere memory. Jae is after the slender assassin again, a constant trespasser in her personal space, Kula predicting another gut-seeking foot and shifting her weight accordingly, only to be caught at the shoulder. She parts company with the gymnasium floor, entirely against her will.

Airborne, Kula's trajectory appears to be more ceilingward, less about distance. There's no need to ensure greater heights are reached, as that's quite enough, but the Kim scion backflips straight at her. The kicked flames at his command lick up the front of her painfully, to the point where she can feel the heat despite all of the layers of protective leathers. Unable to articulate how much she hates that, the willowy ice doll utters a quick shriek, and picks up speed in the fall.

Cushioned to the absolute best of her ability, she's sloppy, and immediately thin legs give out at odd angles to pitch Kula onto her rear on the lacquered surface. Breath huffs out in a puff of mist.

No doubt both shoulders and her collarbone are bruised.

"Kitten, love, these readings are amazing! Make sure he pays for hurting you, all right?" For some reason, the comlink crackles a bit more than normal, and it sure is easy to make demands when you're watching a live feed from a monitoring centre, huh, NESTS?

Kula does comply, however. Pulling in her limbs beneath her, the Anti-K' pops back to her feet, drifts, then darts around. She's fast, but it's entirely due to the skates that her shoes are instantly equipped with, and the girl's sky blue tresses stream like a banner. Jae can watch as she cuts a wide berth, further and further to gain momentum, before there is a return.

Barreling towards the young Korean, the real danger isn't Kula herself, but what chases her. With every push forward, fully formed crystals of ice erupt and splinter into branches. Huge, imposing shards, and no matter how blunted the ends may be, to wade in is embracing a pit of spikes...

Provided that there are no retaliatory interruptions, Kula whips past, carrying a sweet scent of vanilla, and the shattering aftermath becomes an annoyance of its own that Jae Hoon must withstand. May the odds be in his favour.

COMBATSYS: Jae Hoon endures Kula's Frozen Arena.

[                           \\\  < >  ///////////////               ]
Jae Hoon         1/-----==/=======|====---\-------\0             Kula

Aw, well. There is encouragement from stands. That's really nice! Leave it to Rock to make sure he knows he is supported, even if the poor bloke gets into a wee bit of trouble from the lurking Hulk-sensei nearby.

There is also a giant assortment of spikes tailing after Kula as she advances towards him, though, and that is a tad bit more distracting than anything else.

In the moments prior to the assault, Jae Hoon considers his options. It is entirely possible to dodge the mass icicles, but their trajectory is wide and unpredictable. If he steps slightly out of line, he might be a Korean kebab, even though the edges of the jagged icicles are blunted. Blocking it seems probable, although it isn't clear just how thick these spikes are, therefore he may not be able to break through them.

He doesn't have much time to decide what to do, but one thing is for certain: when it comes down to it, Jae is not one to deny when he is outdone or at his end, so to speak. Especially if a match has been deemed fair and honourable, on behalf of the fighters engaged in it.

It is actually a very humbling trait, according to his father anyway, and it is something he will stand by.

In this case, it very much seems well-to-do. Respectful, even, considering how Kula has performed in this match. The sweet crook of a smile is not missed on the teen, who returns it in kind with one of his own. It is momentary, whisked away seconds later to be overcome by intense focus and fierce passion.

Finally ready for his plan of attack, Jae determines he won't go down without one final moment.

Bombarded by the ice spikes, they shoot up all around him, the dulled points jabbing harshly against him. Immediately, blood bruises form where the icicles are seen hitting any of the exposed skin. Nothing penetrates, but one could ascertain that this assault is not comfortable. Handsome features lightly contort with said discomfort, but he perseveres to withstand it.

At the end of it... he still stands.

A little worse for wear, but still wholly himself. An unwavering force that remains as strong as a boulder against a storm.

And ready to move in for that one last hurrah.

Despite the porcelain ice princess's clear dislike for fire, it is to her misfortune that the martial artist will be using it again.

Once more, Jae Hoon shoots off from the ground, subtle hints of harmless crimson embers trickling in his wake. That light scent of lingering vanilla catches his senses, but it is not something that serves to distract him. A fierce determination is set in those earthly-coloured irises as he approaches Kula with knee tucked tightly into his chest, ready to launch out when the moment is right.

When this is so, his heel drives forth in a motion similar to that of the earlier volley, aiming squarely for her midsection. Ribs, chest, collarbone, you name it, it is all potentially subjected to his attack. Should these be successful, a powerful kick will ascend up, intent on sending her skyward once more by slamming into the underside of her ribcage.

This time, however, she would have company, for Jae himself would soar upwards with her, alongside a brightly lit phoenix, burning hot with flaming chi forming its ephemeral body. The beast would soar up splendidly, with an eerie cry echoing from his heel, and eventually evaporate into simmering heat and residual embers.

Sorry, Kula!

COMBATSYS: Jae Hoon can no longer fight.

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

COMBATSYS: Kula blocks Jae Hoon's Hou'ou Kyaku ES.

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

There was never a doubt that it's painful, to be at the mercy of the crystalline forest as it breaks to pieces. That Jae Hoon can even remain standing is a testament to his will, his indomitable spirit, and diligent training. She's quietly impressed. Kula thinks to herself, this is someone she wants to befriend, for real, and not the jokey way like bestest besties from the beginning. Attuned to subtle variation and nuance in one's chi, the princess can appreciate a kind heart and an honourable disposition, regardless of the offensive way his powers manifest...

Unfortunately, the attempt to forge a relationship will be postponed, at least until the fight is over.

Crimson pools maintain their vigilance, and the air around her remains chill. She understands, through motion, through behaviour, that this is the end. The Korean teen could just as easily concede as he could attempt, in a last ditch effort, to bring her down, so he refuses to yield. A nod of respect, with hints of a second soft, pretty smile, working its way across her lips. Kula raises her arms not in any true form, but to protect herself, come what may.

Counting seconds, counting heartbeats, he rushes right to her. Charge led by a knee, the youngest Kim sends all sorts of kick assaults that the ice doll struggles to deal with. One, perhaps, slips stealthily through her guard, and it clips Kula so hard in the rib cage, she's gasping for the remainder.

Just before the grand finish, sensing the burning conflagration as intended for her long before the phoenix rises, his brief pause is what the assassin needed to push back. Kula escapes -- from his reach, from his flames, lingering and hopeful that it's all Jae had left...

With a task of the utmost importance now to complete, Hulk-sensei resumes his job as announcer. The winner comes as a shock to those who are uncertain what just happened, and a chord of upset rings throughout the crowd, at least mostly for those who are of the fairer sex.

"Kula Diamond? Pssh, she cheated."

"You know Hulk-sensei wouldn't let that happen..."

"Yeah, well! Hmph!"

Watching them eventually disperse, Rock and some die-hard fans loiter around the stands, searching for the right opportunity to approach. Being Jae Hoon's friend, he has no compunction walking straight to him, yet the timing strikes him as awkward. Removing the broken-ass phone from his pocket, the Howard scion settles for a text and suggestion to meet up later. When he goes, a few in the leftover gaggle stare after him, much to his discomfort.

A shoulder sits lower than the other, her muscles in full riot. For the negligible good it does, her hand crosses against the slight swell of her chest and rests upon it. There is relief in Kula's cute, pixie-like features. Relief that there will be no more fire, at least not today.

Any last tension leaves her willowy frame, and the Anti-K' can think about all the grape soda she could be enjoying, despite having no regrets for a good deed. It won't quench her thirst, but her heart feels full, and that's as satisfying as her win. Showered with praise across the distance via the damaged coms device, the Research and Development Teams of the Cartel are thrilled with data that not only measures Kula's progress, but provides fighter detail on Kim Jae Hoon. The precious pet project does not realise he could become the next target, too naive to see the damage she has wrought...

"I am so sorry about your pants, I hope you're okay." Kula steps up to the Taekwondo practitioner... Do they shake hands? Should she offer to ice his injuries? What exactly is the protocol? How to friend?! Fidgeting with the metal accents of her gloves, the fey ballerina gives it a shot, "By the way, you are a very skilled fighter. This match was a lot of fun!" An honest compliment is always the best start, I suppose.

COMBATSYS: Kula has ended the fight here.

Well, that's all folks!

Jae Hoon gave it his best shot, and while it hadn't been his most well-calculated fight ever, he steps away from that last unsuccessful move feeling surprisingly satisfied.

Perhaps this is simply for the fact that the fight itself feels respectfully equal. He may have lost, but a captivating match hashed out between skilled fighters, both eager to have an honourable engagement with one another regardless of the outcome?

To someone like him, that means the world.

It is much more acceptable to be defeated in a scenario such as this. Not to mention it being incredibly clear that the ice princess is skilled and incredibly calculated. Above all, the impression she gives is interwoven with kindness and naivety.

Yes, he lost today, but it most certainly is not the end of his world.

If anything, it fires up his ambitions to do better in the future! It is even an honor to lose to someone such as her, with all the reasons above as evidence.

Fighting isn't always about winning, depending on who one is up against. In a scenario where justice reigns supreme over evil, of course, it must be so that the former prevails.

As he steps off to the side to retrieve the lone water bottle previously purchased for him, the Korean teen would lift his raven-coloured head at the sound of Kula's gentle voice. Seeing her approach, with cheeks flushed and slightly bloodied from ice-shrapnel cuts (thankfully totally hiding the blushing), he smiles in return. "Thanks for your concern. I'm all right, just gotta put some bandages on a couple and I'll be right as rain."

"You are also an incredible fighter. It was an honour to partake in your challenge." A polite hand is extended for her to take, though regardless of whether she does or not, he bows deeply in respect to her.

Whatever they choose to converse about beyond that point will likely have to do with the match, possibly recounting moments and snippets of time where each one of them analysed a move or thought some technique to be cool. It is rather refreshing, given the circumstances.

When he does eventually see the text from Rock, he most certainly makes mention of the wicked things he has to share with his best friend the second they meet up!

What a thrill this has been!

Log created on 14:53:41 07/16/2021 by Kula, and last modified on 14:32:46 07/22/2021.