Rising Star 2022 - Ristar 2022 R1 - Mint vs Karin

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Description: GEARS AND WANNABES: In this matchup, the mighty Mini Marine Mint faces up against that terrible copier of my hairstyle Karin Kanzuki. Will brains win out over mindless brawn and an inferior fighting style at the Floating Garden Observatory? God I hope so! ... Call me, Karin, let's do lunch.

Japan is host to a number of buildings in the style of postmodern futurism. The Fuji Television Building is one; the Kyoto Train Station is another. But the forty-story Umeda Sky Building stands apart from those -- a circular annulus, held high above the Osaka skyline by two parallel towers, with two diagonal escalator tubes descending in a whimsical, seemingly gravity-defying fashion. To newcomers the building seems deliriously out of place amongst the forest of staid, rectilinear high-rises. But to locals, the building is a local landmark -- a way to know where you are at any point in your travels.

The "floating garden" observatory provides an unparalleled view of the Osaka skyline in all directions. Though, those without a fear of heights might want to visit somewhere else instead. Minal "Mint" Panesh stands on the southern arc of the observatory with a pleasant smile, staring off into the distance. A stiff westerly breeze keeps her short-cropped hair and taupe-colored cargo pants flapping about, but barely even ruffles the thick leather of her bomber jacket. Her arms are crossed comfortably -- one might notice the tangerine-colored plastic hands she uses as everyday prosthetics. Beside her in a modified rucksack frame are her combat gauntlets, in all their titanium, aluminum, and carbon-fiber glory.

A crowd may be starting to gather, but Mint appears to be zoned out -- partly from the wind noise, and partly from the wireless earbuds piping fresh tunes into her ears. Maybe it's her own psych-up routine, who knows?

It's just another day for Karin. That's the idea, anyway: a lightweight, spring green dress in no way meant for fighting; dark wood wedge heels; lots and lots and LOTS of stops to capture the observatory for the 'gram from every angle.

Just another ordinary day in an extraordinary place for an extraordinary young woman; the tournament fight at the end is just part of it.

Pausing a few dozen yards across from Mint for a long, contemplative look out over Osaka is just part of it.

The crew of impeccably dressed men and women who melt out of the crowd, erecting a 360 dressing booth with a thick burgundy drape for modesty--

The flurry of activity on the other side--

The bright, rippling peals of laughter leaking through the veil--

All just part of being Karin Kanzuki.

"... oh. Hello, darling~," she utters, glancing towards Mint over her shoulder once the dressing booth has been dismantled and carted off, leaving her in her bright red fighting gear-- and still in her walkin' around designer shades. "Shall we?"

Past the upper edge of those shades, hazel eyes rove pointedly down, then up.

"Assuming you're READY, of course," follows with a little smirk.

COMBATSYS: Karin has started a fight here.

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Karin            0/-------/-------|

People. Some people get nervous in crowds. Mint grew up immersed in the endless cacophony of voices, thrives amongst them. Not to say she can't enjoy the peace and quiet of getting away from it all. She just never quite finds herself feeling -at home- unless there's the hustle and bustle of a good crowd.

Which is why she might not -directly- see the crowd's reaction to Miss Kanzuki's arrival -- but she certainly notices the crowd quieting. Blinking back to full awareness, she steps back from the railing, just happening to catch a fleeting glimpse of the Kanzuki scioness just before she disappears into a ring of burgundy.

Minal grins. She's got time to change into her own battle outfit, it would seem. Confidently, she peels off her bomber jacket, revealing a white and green jersey, with a mint leaf logo on the back; its light and breathable fabric flap vibrantly in the breeze. Handing her jacket to a man -- presumably a companion, in aviator shades, a white button-down shirt and black slacks -- she pivots backwards, addressing Karin. Or, rather, waiting for her return.

"Miss Kanzuki," she replies, cool as a cucumber. Perhaps even -more- refinement than an enlisted servicemember. Perhaps even an -officer-.

... She frowns, only a tiny tick. Was that downward look a jab at her height?

Shaking her head as she broadens her grin. "Yeah, just a sec." And then she reaches down to give her rucksack a double knuckle-bump.

A split-second later, the rucksack breaks into two with whirrs of servomotors and whinnies of well-oiled pistons. Each half of the rucksack's carbon fiber shell splits again into three, swallowing both arms whole.

And when Mint rises with an arched eyebrow, it's with two giant metal gauntlets on her arms. The knuckles are padded with white vinyl and foam -- taking -some- edge off what could surely be a fatal impact.

Mint flashes Karin a cocky grin, hopping nimbly from one foot to the other as if the gauntlets were just foam prop hands. "Ha! Ready when you are! Are we s'posed to be waitin' for someone else to show up, or nah?"

COMBATSYS: Mint has joined the fight here.

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Karin            0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0             Mint

"I think you'll find me QUITE enough, Ms. Panesh."

/Was/ it a jab at Mint's height? It's hard to say, really; is having a personal dressing chamber and a tailor on retainer a jab at her readiness? Are the shades a jab at her paygrade? The heels she hasn't bothered changing out of a jab at Mint's formidability?

Maybe. Maybe not.

"Military chic..." she exhales, flicking ringlets over her shoulder on the way towards stretching both arms comfortably overhead.


The sentiment's punctuated by a pivot-step into a lunge. Karin whips her arms one after the other towards Mint in long, scything arcs meant to lash at the other woman's shoulders with raw, precision-directed force.

COMBATSYS: Mint blocks Karin's Ressen Ha.

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Karin            0/-------/-------|==-----\-------\0             Mint

If Mint has learned anything about fashion, it's that no one is immune to grief over it. She's always preferred function to form, having only -recently- realized that there are colors other than OD green and black.

That said, there's one thing more fashionable than fashion -- successfully blocking an attack! A half step backwards lets the mini-Marine raise her gauntlets up to cover her head, warding the Kanzuki heiress's bone-shattering blows into glancing strikes off their carbon-fiber shells with a clatter. Dropping her shoulders low, she pivots out of the fray with a quip of, "Takin' turns on a catwalk wasn't ever my thing..."

When she gets a solid footing, though, she surges forward with a roar of jet thrust, striking hard with a metal-backed punch for Karin's own shoulder -- with an aim to see just how far she can push the Kanzuki scioness! "OOORAAAAH!"

COMBATSYS: Karin instinctively blocks Mint's Cross Punch.

[   \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Karin            0/-------/------=|==-----\-------\0             Mint

Karin does not have the benefit of big, blocky gauntlets. Defending for her is more a combination of carefully timed twisting plus applied force: a knife-edged blow to an armoured wrist to push the blow off-kilter at the cost of sending violence through her own right hand and wrist, leaving her to slink a couple steps back and cradle the extremity.

"Well... yes," she exhales, arching a blonde brow.

"Of COURSE it isn't... but there's no SHAME in that, Miss Panesh! You are skilled in other areas of life: maintaining a slavish devotion to authority, for example."

Hazel eyes narrow, roving slowly down, then up the other woman.

"The timely application of brutish force..." she ticks off, massaging her hand delicately.

"I'm quite certain you'd clean up wonderfully, of course! A fine accompaniment to any armed forces ball at any base you could care to name, with a bit of care; but the catwalk requires a certain level of... mmh."

Her eyes lock with Mint's while her lips purse and twist apologetically.

"/Dedication/ to looking and projecting one's best. It isn't for everyone!"

COMBATSYS: Karin focuses on her next action.

[   \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Karin            0/-------/------=|==-----\-------\0             Mint

Minal's opening shot is met with style and grace -- everything the Marine would have expected from the blonde warrior's reputation. But it was just that, an opening shot, and as soon as it's met, Mint eases back, keeping her gorilla-like guard raised in defensively. Her jet turbines throttle back to a dull idle, the air rippling in the wake of elbow-adjacent exhausts.

"Heh, you'd know a lot better than I would," she comments, not lowering herself to even -start- addressing the bounty of backhanded compliments. She meets that -look- that Karin gives her with steadfast determination.

Each skirmish is an opportunity to learn more about an opponent. And as Karin looks her over just -one- more time, Mint realizes caution may be in order. She grins... and unclenches her hands, keeping her distance.

"So how well would you say you know my tactics, Miss Kanzuki?" The pugilist flashes a broad grin, hopping nimbly from one foot to the other.

COMBATSYS: Mint focuses on her next action.

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Karin            0/-------/------=|==-----\-------\0             Mint

"If I had to guess..." Karin flatly observes with a small, forgiving smile.

"You're going to punch me."

The forgiveness is preemptive: she doesn't expect a military woman to bother apologizing for wasting her time with silly questions, but the Kanzuki scion is graceful enough to simply let such slights /go/.

The answer is predictive, delivered during a sudden sprint-- and terminating in a firm, forward step to brace a snap-blow towards Mint's gut, with Karin trying to drive the wind from the smaller woman's body with the terribly hard heel of an otherwise silken palm.

"With /metal/," she then adds, cupping a hand beside her mouth to help her stage-whisper carry.

COMBATSYS: Mint fails to interrupt Medium Punch from Karin with Attack of Opportunity.

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Karin            0/-------/-------|===----\-------\0             Mint

"Oh, sure! Great guess!" Minal answers with a broad smirk -- for Karin answered her vague question with a different kind of specificity than she was hoping for. It would seem, though, that the time for witty answers is preempted by Karin rushing in with a snap blow. Mint tries to interpose her gauntlets into the path and interrupt the attack with her own series of, well, punches with metal... but Karin's a bit too quick for her, nailing her right in the stomach and forcing the Marine to double backwards.

Dropping to a knee, she sucks in her breath. For the moment, she's content to let Karin enjoy the upper hand as she draws back to a safer distance.

"I mean, boxers gonna box, right? Why mess with a winning formula, yeah?"

"Why indeed?"

Karin is not content to let the other woman withdraw on her own terms. Karin darts right after Mint, intent on following one breathstealing palm with two more thrusts, this time aimed squarely at Mint's face.

"Now, what do you think /I'm/ going to do next...?"

Helpfully, she gives Mint a moment to think about it by promptly cartwheeling backwards. NOW she is happy to allow Mint to have her space.

"What is it, Mint, that draws military women and men into this world?" she wonders after landing, sliding into a defensive posture. "What is it about this that draws you in, allows you to split your doubtlessly /impressive/ focus between competition and security...?"

"/Demands/ it, even?"

COMBATSYS: Karin successfully hits Mint with Guren Ken.

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Karin            0/-------/------=|======-\-------\0             Mint

Truth be told -- Mint -had- other tactics in mind when starting this engagement. But none of them seem to be helping her right now, as the younger and craftier Kanzuki scioness is running circles around her. Minal sees the approach, and tries to swing sideways to avoid the rapid strikes -- only to get clobbered in the cheek and battered backwards for her trouble.

Mint scrubs her face on the inside of her sleeve. Do you know what a pain it is trying to scratch your nose with gauntlets this large? "Eh, I'm leanin' towards 'more palm strikes,' but you gotta be gettin' pretty tired of that by now, huh?"

The mini-Marine won't be keeping her distance for long though. She has a bolder strategy in mind, but Karin's evasiveness is giving her pause. So she sticks to her script, striding forward to close the distance. One quick jab from her left gauntlet leads into a roaring jet-powered right hook. But then Mint aims to follow up with a plunging blow to the stomach, her form practically silhouetted with the orange flame from her gauntlets' exhaust!

COMBATSYS: Mint successfully hits Karin with Knuckle Dragger.

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Karin            0/-------/--=====|=======\=------\1             Mint

The final blow doubles Karin over and drops her to her knees, dazed. Clutching her chest and stomach, she hunches low and strains for air with deep, ragged breaths.

"... do you get tired of throwing punches?" follows a great, bracing gulp. It's paired with a cocksure smile from the ground before a quick forward roll and handspring leave her standing again.

"Or is it that you're growing tired of my palms crushing your body~? It's alright, Miss Panesh; I won't tell!"

Just to show how much she means it, Karin laughs bright and loud for a beat-- only to abruptly cut herself off in favor of twisting forward into an elbow strike towards Mint's chin, followed closely by another.

"I'll even oblige you!"

COMBATSYS: Karin successfully hits Mint with Ressen Chuu.

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Karin            0/-------/=======|=======\====---\1             Mint

Mint coughs out a laugh. "Who, me? Oh, hell naw, I can do this all day!" Mint stays in close, though she sidesteps to keep the pressure on without being -terribly- predictable. Boxing relies pretty heavily on footwork; fast steps can keep the upper body from taking a terrible beating. It might not be working so well for the corporal in -this- fight, mind -- as some bruises are already starting to set in.

"Nah, I'm -sure- you got more of a repertoire than that," she comments -- even as Karin uses the up-close proximity to ram a pair of elbows into her chin. The second strike sends a peal of blood flying from her lip; if it weren't for Mint's footwork, she'd have surely toppled over! As it is... well, it's a pretty -loud- squeak as the pint-sized pugilist is smeared back against the glass walls of the aerial arena...

"That's so -kind- of you!" she coughs, leaping back to her feet! And with Karin good and close, Mint leaps into an overhead attack, bringing both fists high -- and then unloading her mass driver pistons to bring the heavy metal knuckles crashing down onto Karin from above!

But even if Karin has guard left after that -- Mint with surge forward with a second burst of jet-powered thrust! In this case, Mint would be seeking to plunge her... -bionic left knee- upwards and into Karin's sternum! "OOORAH, OORAAAAH!" No punches here!

COMBATSYS: Mint blitzes into action and acts again!

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Karin            0/-------/=======|=======\====---\1             Mint

COMBATSYS: Mint successfully hits Karin with BFH.

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Karin            1/----===/=======|=======\=====--\1             Mint

COMBATSYS: Karin fails to counter Lock and Load EX from Mint with Joudan Yasha Gaeshi.

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Karin            1/=======/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2             Mint

Above the fray, out of earshot of the barbed exchange between the practiced combatants, a young man stands at the very edge of the very corner of the rooftop platform above the battleground.

Fearlessly, with graceful poise, he braces muscular arms on the glass-wall railing serving to separate the daring or careless from their nigh-certain doom-- and leans amply outwards. Unusual eyes of rich, deep crimson dart from Mint to Karin with each motion, an analytical intensity that starkly contrasts the youthful features of the lithely honed warrior prince overseeing the battle from his windswept perch.

Clad in black and gold, a simple and utilitarian garb as advocated by Mint-- with the ornate etching and precious metal accruments as praised by Karin-- the Prince of War is far more intrigued by the bout than its barbs; unswayed by either judgement as his ears fill with the wind that sweeps his platinum crown wildly westerly; as his senses fill with the swell and ebb of chi. Power gathered, focused, unleashed; his eyes fill with the intricacies of technique. Each punch; each palmstrike; each explosive exchange and breath-robbing knee.

The slightest smile plays across the Prince of War's deceptively soft features, every wheel turning as he watches with rapt attention that goes far beyond, and along a decidedly different vector, than that of any other superfan that might choose to spectate these fights.

Behind him, and off to Adelheid Bernstein's left, leans a blonde woman clad in a black and royal blue suit befitting the richest of corporations holds the distinction of, perhaps, being the only person on either platform to hold up a smartphone not for photographs, not for bad bootleg videos of the fight, but to tap on absently, looking entirely bored.

Her first instinct is to defend herself, of course. Who wouldn't, with heavy metal screaming towards their head?

But even before the pistons come into play, Mint brings so much crushing force to the table that her fist easily bullies past Karin's stiffening forearms... and then the pistons come into play.

And then Karin seizes, jerking upright for a stiff and terrible moment only to wobble, collapse--

-- and crash /directly/ into a bionic knee, driving a fine arc of spittle from her mouth in the split-second when she's hung helplessly over Mint's knee before rocking backwards and collapsing to her back.

No punches there.

No movement here, beyond rapid rising and falling.

And the barest of scrabbling limbs.


"... you... hff--"

"-- you never answered my question, Miss Panesh," Karin heaves. A painful beat later, she rolls onto her belly and starts pushing herself back to her feet.

"What-- is it-- about THIS--... that compels you to devote time you could dedicate to service... to chasing personal glory instead...?" she wonders between gasps, jerking upright bit by bit until she's doubled over with an arm cradling her ribcage.

Minal breaks off her assault after her knee hits its mark, shaking numbness out of her limbs as she jogs back a few steps. After a few moments of letting her hands hang freely, she raises them again, clenching the fingers lightly near her head. The Marine's been on the back foot for most of this fight, but her steadfast perseverence seems to be paying off now. The trick now is to keep her emotions in check -- which is why she refrains from sassing off, as well.

She catches sight of Adelheid out of the corner of her eye. For the briefest of instants, she meets his gaze, flicking a smile his way.

As Karin pulls back to her feet, Mint hops from one foot to the other. Adrenaline courses through her, invigorating her movements. She's still in considerable pain, but the magical wonder chemical keeps that at bay for the moment.

And then.

Oh. Right. There was that question.

Mint laughs unsteadily, acknowledging her slight gaffe. Conversations in the middle of a fight can be confusing in the best of times. With beads of sweat on her brow, the South Asian answers with a half-grin, "Ma'am... with all due respect, if there's one thing I've been told by my superiors, it's that I work too -much-, not too -little-."

She clenches her fist, dragging her sleeve across her nose again. "But this? I'd ... I'd call it 'self expression,' I guess. Not just living with a disability, but -surpassing- it. I love puttin' my skills to the test -- and it's a lot more challenging and exciting than just sittin' around in a lab all day."

She hops from one foot to the other -- slowly at first, then rapidly. With a glint in her eye, she grins and drops into a low bull-charge stance. "Good enough answer for ya? Get ready!"

And in the next instant, her engines roar loudly again. Leaving twin rings of smoke in her wake, she thunders forward, hammering out three blisteringly fast punches to the midsection, and throwing a low left uppercut to the ribs as a follow-up!

COMBATSYS: Karin fails to counter Mix-Up Combo from Mint with Hadorokushiki Hasha No Kata.
- Power fail! -

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Karin            0/-------/------=|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>-\1             Mint

COMBATSYS: Karin keeps on fighting!

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Karin            0/-------/------=|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>-\1             Mint

TOO fast for compensation. The first punch nearly drops Karin to her knees after stealing her wind; by the time it culminates in an uppercut to already tender ribs, Karin's crumpling from the assault, sinking to her knees; to her hands...

"... does it... does it satisfy you...?"

She hasn't looked at Adelheid once. She isn't looking up at all right now. She's barely /speaking/ up: her voice is a raspy, strained thing-- a shade of its formerly triumphant glory maintained out of sheer, stubborn pique more than anything else at this point.

Ditto the smile, full of blood trickling into pearl white crevices.

Ditto the defiance in her narrowed eyes: appearance is everything, and Karin Kanzuki refuses to appear weak.

(/ESPECIALLY/ in front of New Money.)

"You're a /Marine/, Miss Panesh."

"An OFFICER... aren't you?"

"You work, and work, and train, and train... you do whatever it is you DO in your lab..."

"... for your government... your COUNTRY..."

"... all of /that/, and you are a prizefighter, for fun. To TEST yourself..."

She breathes in, slow and shuddering and deep.

Upon her exhale, hazel eyes flick upwards, meeting Minal's.

"Are you satisfied, Mint...?"

It could be another, drawn-out means of looking down her nose at the pocket-sized pugilist-- a desperate swing at the ego of the woman who has twisted what was a fight in Karin's favor violently towards something entirely distasteful to the Kanzuki scion.

"With /this/?"

Or it could be a leap across the gulf from one skilled, dedicated young woman to another, now that the shared rigors of combat have pared back acid-tongued barbs and quips to bare the raw, beating hearts beneath the fighters' layers.

Mint pulls back, returning her fists to roughly eye level as she gives Karin a chance to recover.

"Noncommissioned. Enlisted." Technically -not- an officer. The difference might be meaningless to a layperson, but it's a mistake that the Corps would never let slide. Also a big difference on pay -- but that's not why Mint made the choice she did.

Mint stares back at Karin, biting back her urge to toss out smart-aleck comments like she normally does. Maybe it's the audience here -- standing so very close, atop a shining pedestal in Osaka's urban landscape. She looks back at Karin -- seeing a distorted reflection of herself standing behind her in the curved glass. Standing. Watching. Waiting.

And eventually, pressing her lips into a thin line, as her hands droop down to her side. The winded pugilist takes a long pace backwards, nodding slowly.

"Well, I don't wanna make it weird, but... yes?" The neutral look turns into a slightly lopsided grin. "I mean, without getting into it, I've -seen- some stuff. This -is- funtime for me."

The metal gauntlets rise again. The charge pistons refill with a stereophonic hiss of air pressure.

"But hey, let's finish this up, yeah?" The Marine's cheerful smile returns. "I'm plannin' to throw punches now. With metal. If that's still cool..."

Mint drops her shoulders, her fists flanking her face. She bobs left. She bobs right. And she bobs left again...

But in the next moment, she hurls herself forward with a ferocious right hook aimed at settling the battle once and for all!

COMBATSYS: Karin counters Hook Punch from Mint with Joudan Yasha Gaeshi.

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Karin            0/-------/-----==|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2             Mint

"I didn't ask if this was fun for you, Mint."


"Miss Panesh," barely falls above a whisper while Karin staggers upright once again.

"Of COURSE it's fun: it's this or a lab! Or horrible, dreadful things; awful, surely."

Her outfit is rumpled and dotted with dust brought in from the people who visit the garden from the world below. Bruises flower across her face; one eye's just about shut.

"I would rather be HERE than wasting away while some underpaid never was drones on, and on; it is exponentially more fun."

Long, delicate fingers flow through blond ringlets for a careful beat before tossing those golden tresses over her shoulder.

"Does this SATISFY you?"

With the kind of broad, hungry smile one might glimpse lurking in the dark contours at the edges of a corporate jungle, Karin narrows her gaze to focus beyond the Marine's raised gauntlets.

Beyond the cheer.

Beyond funtime.

"It doesn't satisfy ME," she whispers in Minal's ear-- only to put an exclamation on her admission with a sharply angled palm-thrust towards the Marine's thigh. The rest of her leans /just/ far enough to manage sparing herself from the punch; without a moment's hesitation, she takes the opportunity to launch a second palm strike towards Mint's chin, then edges a step back from the smaller woman, panting heavily.

"... but it's 'fun'," she reiterates, soft and heavy. "Sure."

So intense! Minal frowns at the extended questioning. There's no question that the fast-talking New Jersey native can maintain a steady flow of trash talk when the need arises, but forcing her hand (ha) on an -introspective- question while in the midst of a fight?

Yeah, punching suits her better.

One punch to her thigh, a palm strike to her chin. The powerful blow is more than enough to straighten her right out of that hook, to send her flying into the air, to give her an unparalleled (though blurry) three-sixty view of Osaka in the split seconds that follow. And on her trip down she scrapes against the curved glass with a shower of sparks, landing in a three-point stance and panting heavily. The momentary advantage may have given her time to catch some of her breath, but at this point it seems that gravity has begun to reassert itself.

A mechanized fist reaches up, curling against the swell of her jaw. That one -did- smart...

Mint presses her hand to the ground, letting her head droop as she looses a glob of crimson to the concrete walk. A breath is let out... A new breath is drawn in.

She answers without looking up, her voice more than loud enough to compensate. "I'd say, 'yeah?' But... hey, could'ja help me out a bit, Karin?" Her voice cracks -- though, it's unclear from her downturned expression whether that's due to duress or because the Kanzuki scion struck a nerve. "... Lemme know what answer will get your head back in -the freakin' fight!-"

A tiny crack erupts in the concrete, annunciated by small clouds of pulverized dust. The next instant, the twin turbines roar to life -- as Mint blasts herself free from her small haven on the ground. Orange and blue flames swirl in her wake as she thunders forward in a torrent of pure, raw speed. "OOOOORAAAAAAH!"

An unstoppable freight train of steel, borne on wings of fire, hurtling towards Karin with every aim of sending her careening across the encircling handrails!

COMBATSYS: Karin counters MOAB from Mint with Gedan Yasha Gaeshi.
- Power hit! -

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Karin            0/-------/----===|>>>>>>>\>>>----\1             Mint

A crack splits through concrete.

Karin's smile melts, leaving a tight and determined line.

One good eye narrows intently upon Mint while the Kanzuki heiress forces her arms forward and her left leg back.

"A /real/ one," she replies, short and steady and unshakable in the face of certain destruction. Every muscle tenses, visibly; even rumpled, her uniform does its most important job, which is helping Karin show off without being TOO show-offy about it.

"An honest one," she exhales, whether it's washed away by swirling flames and thunder or not.

Karin steps /into/ the fire and fury, arms open wide to receive Mint.

"Your TRUE one!" she hisses, snapping her arms shut around Mint's arm /just/ beneath the gauntlet-- /JUST/ in time to arrest its motion with an inch to spare between it and metal-clad disaster. "I fight to hone myself for the future I am /destined/ for, Mint-- I parade my glory before adoring eyes because there will come a day when EVERY eye in the world is turned upon me... and it wouldn't do to be anything less than ready, would it...?"

Karin leans in, close enough for whispers shared between rivals:

"There are so MANY awful men in our world, Miss Panesh; what better way to build upon the Kanzuki name than being she who strikes them down...?"

And then comes the separation, a lightning-quick release flowing into a palm-thrust into Mint's sternum, after which Karin clutches at her chest, sags, and pants.

"Are you still satisfied...?"

To the audience, but a heartbeat.
To Panesh and Kanzuki, a veritable gauntlet of wits and precise calculations and counter-machinations.
Brought to a pinnacle of effort as all that forward momentum is instantly, precisely, -brilliantly- transformed from the Marine's key advantage into her most critical weakness.

Baffle vents pop open as a pre-programmed braking maneuver, but the damage is done. Mint feels her stomach ripple up into her throat at the sudden stop. An instant later, her back collides with three-inch-thick glass, as she is flung backwards against the wall. An instant afterwards, sparks fly as her gauntlets bite into the concrete, as she tumbles ass-over-teakettle into an ungraceful heap.

She could be out. She could be -dead-. The doubt lingers for a good five seconds of relative stillness, before -- finally -- she lets her breath out in an exasperated huff.

And something unintelligible. Maybe it started as a curse word, but with her body pretty much a pretzel, breath control is difficult.

A click can be heard -- and in the next instant, a precision-timed sequence of turbine firing and thrust vectoring blasts the mini-Marine back to her feet.

A metal fist brushes against the bridge of her nose. She's worn out. Exhausted. But her smile is brighter than ever.

"Nah, see? This, this right here?" She waves her gauntlet to indicate the rest of Osaka -- or maybe just the "floating garden" obsevatory, it's hard to tell. "This right -here-..." she continues, clenching her fist and bringing it close to her heart.

She beams brightly.
And flashes a wink.
Enough words.

Actions speak louder.

And without further ado, Mint catapults forward, sent airborne by a quick gun of the throttle. She comes crashing down onto Karin with an overhead haymaker. And she'd intend to follow that up with a tumultuous barrage of successive strikes -- low hook, high, medium cross, uppercut -- before seeking to clamp a meathook around Karin's shoulder so that she can drive a bionic knee into her just one more time!

All in search of the gospel of adrenaline...


COMBATSYS: Mint has reached second wind!

[                         \\\\\  < >  /////                         ]
Karin            0/-------/----===|==-----\-------\0             Mint

COMBATSYS: Mint knocks away Karin with SNAFU.

[                                < >  /////                         ]
Karin            1/------=/=======|==-----\-------\0             Mint

Actions have a way of screaming.

Exhausted, Karin bends her knees and /starts/ to dive from the shadow looming overhead, but a last-moment adjustment leaves her dazed regardless. Stumbling, she'd hit her knees if not for Mint's assistance: all those punches /guarantee/ she stays standing if only to convulse through the impacts, and then Minal goes so far as to catch her shoulder and hold her /up/. The Kanzuki heiress bobs and bounces drunkenly, a ragdoll in the Marine's grasp:

Boneless, glassy-eyed, and beaming with an implacable smile. Karin's, of course, has a particularly savage edge beyond what even the most mature of white-haired, bare-foot dolls might be marketed with, the sort of wanton glee in the face of violence that one only gets when one is wallowing in the gift of learning that what she thought were limits have been lies all along.

"Minal... darling..." she gasps, blood misting from her lips after the second wheeze.

"... whenever you're ready... to truly PUSH yourself... to seek REAL satisfaction... find me--~"


There's nothing holding Karin up afterwards but her stubborn refusal to release the smaller woman's shoulders, leaving the heiress hanging off of the Marine's sturdy frame while her legs wobble like jelly beneath her.

"A-- a woman... a woman of YOUR talents..."

Pushing off from Mint, Karin stumbles back, briefly drops to her knees... then LUNGES into a last-ditch effort to make an impression on the American, heedless of the risk. Unconcerned with the possibility of meeting another metal knockout blow for her trouble.

Uncaring that -- no matter WHAT -- she is due for a face-first meeting with the concrete in mere moments from now.

"... ought not... keep herself /small/ forever..."

COMBATSYS: Karin can no longer fight.

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

COMBATSYS: Mint dodges Karin's Kanzukiryuu - Kou'ou Ken.

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


Minal Panesh has seen the world. She's fought in wars both foreign and domestic. She's lost limbs and good friends to battle. She's even caused the deaths of some of those friends, through negligence and blind ignorance. And every week, she brings these fears to a psychologist to try and make the best of what her life has become.

It's not hard to see Karin's words as naive, as transparent attempts to goad her into losing focus. The words of the Kanzuki heiress sound... not so far off from her own internal monologue, at times. If one were to casually ignore the holier-than-thou affectations, of course.

Taking them in the sense that Karin -intended- them, though...? That takes a bit more effort. It shows in her knit brows, her look of concern. For the corporal is -not- the laconic sort who says little -- she normally speaks -more-. It's just that Karin is speaking a language she's unfamiliar with. A language of respect, aspiring to higher purpose.

Amidst the sound of idling turbines, a hand starts to scythe upwards. Engines roar to life, and Karin's hand carves through the rippling haze where Mint stood a mere instant prior.

Mint eases herself down four feet back, her jet turbines throttling back to idle as she raises her fists once more.

"Ha, ha." A mirthless, but good-natured laugh, as a response. She keeps her guard up -- on the off-chance that Karin herself might catch a second wind. For her own part, Mint is still hopped up on adrenaline, and she shows it by bobbing nimbly from one foot to the other, keeping that armed guard raised high!

"Listen, that sounds great, but like, maybe -later?- Over a bowl of curry or somethin'?" She flashes a hopeful smile. And then looks -extremely- hungry all of a sudden. "... Heck, I could eat like -six- of those, geez..."

COMBATSYS: Mint takes no action.

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

Log created on 17:44:08 05/02/2022 by Mint, and last modified on 07:43:02 05/04/2022.