Description: With a little help from a friend, Yashiro learns how to do an interview, before learning that everything that he thought he knew about interviews was wrong.
JUST OUTSIDE OF SOUTHTOWN
Once one leaves the sprawling metropolis of Southtown, it gives way to largely scenic vistas. That's only if you really start to leave. Right outside the metro proper are the assorted businesses and whatnot that need a little more space. Like this largely vacant, nondescript strip-building of small businesses and offices. On one end is a restaurant. On the other is what seems to be an accounting firm. Dead in the middle is what appears to be a vacant office suite with a hastily taped sign on the front window.
RISING STAR 2022 INTERVIEWS
Sponsored by Rose Bernstein
The windows are tinted deeply, but the outline of a single desk with a lanky man sitting behind it, with his feet up on it, is visible.
Yashiro Nanakase did not understand why he was expected to do an interview for a place in a tournament. After all, as far as he's concerned, there's no question that he's a Rising Star, along with his bestie-bandmates in CYS. He'd even go so far as to call himself the quintessential Rising Star, if he knew what quintessential meant. Regardless of his knowledge of esoteric terminology, though, he's confident in his ability to nail an interview, thanks to the fashion advice and helpful mock-interview that his extra-best bandmate-with-benefits Shermie gave him earlier.
==*== EARLIER, IN CYS' HOTEL ROOM ==*==
"What is your aspiration in this competition?" Shermie asked, reading from a sheet.
Sitting on the opposite side of a glass coffee table from Shermie, Yashiro's eyes narrowed slightly, lips pursing as he considered the question with deep analytical thought. Finally, he settled on an answer, gaze intensifying.
"Punch the redhead."
"Tres bien," Shermie said, before moving on to the next question. "Who would you like to fight the most?"
This time, Yashiro only needed a moment's thought, though he did still give Shermie a suspicious look before uttering it.
Shermie nodded, then asked, "Who would you like to team up with, and who would you not like to team up with?"
Completely missing the hint that Shermie was dropping, Yashiro spiralled further, beads of sweat forming on his brow.
"Red hair. Because I stand out more! People who I don't want to team up with is also red hair!"
Shermie, remaining calm and poised, continued. "I see. What is "Rising Stars" for you?"
Yashiro's mouth gaped for a moment in confusion, before he clenched his teeth, growling through them: "A tournament where I can beat the red hair!" For emphasis, he slammed his fist down on the coffee table, causing a spiderweb crack to run through it."
Shermie tutted. "Calme, Yashiro. You are nearly finished. Enfin: please give a word to your fans."
Standing straight to his feet, Yashiro stomped the ground once. "We win. It's decided."
Yashiro folded his arms across his chest, face turning red, before he finally added:
Shermie clapped her hands together. "Bravo, Yashiro! I am certain that you will smash it."
A look of bewildered relief crossed Yashiro's reddened face before turning into a grin.
"Hell, yeah! If there's one thing I'm good at, it's smashing things!"
==*== PRESENTLY ==*==
Now, Yashiro finds himself standing with a slightly dumbfounded expression in a sharp grey suit and white shirt with the top button unbuttoned in front of the strip of offices. He looks left toward the restaurant. He looks right toward the accounting firm.
Half an hour later, he's ordered lunch and made it halfway through an interview for a position as a bank manager before realising he was in the wrong place both times. Polishing off his soda, he chucks it out in a bin before pushing his way into the makeshift Rising Star 2022 interview offices.
"Hey! I'm Yashiro Nanakase. Who am I supposed to interview here?" he bellows at the lanky figure sitting behind the desk.
Inside the office, it's bland and spartan. Also kind of creepy in a stereotypical way. In one corner is the desk, where the man is seated with his feet up. Across the room is a big, black nondescript leatherette sofa.
Yeah, it kind of looks like that.
At the opening of the door, the man looks up from the magazine he's reading 'BASS GUITAR WORLD', and peers over the top with dark, and now annoyed, eyes. Iori Yagami, Agent of Rose sighs. "You the guy here for the Rising Star interview?" He looks Yashiro over derisively. The disdain is almost tangible, but then again, it's Iori.
"You certainly look weak enough to be in that tournament." A pause. "You look ... familiar. Do I know you?"
The effect of coming into a darker space from the sun causes Yashiro to have difficulty making out the finer details of the man sitting at the desk on first glance. Of course, Yashiro doesn't really care about anyone, anyway. He only cares about Chris, Shermie, and the man known cryptically to Yashiro and those who have been subjected to his obsession as 'Redhead.'
"Look, pal. I already told you, I'm Yashiro Nanakase, the guitarist of the best band in the world, C-Y-S."
Yashiro sits down on the nondescript sofa, resting his hands on his knees with a practiced sense of greater formality than typically displayed by the athletic musician.
"And I'm here for the interview, which will be easy for both of us, 'cuz the answer to all the questions is 'Redhea-'..."
Yashiro's view of Iori suddenly becomes clear as his eyes adjust to the room.
Yashiro's mouth hangs open with stunned silence for a moment as his eye twitches involuntarily for a moment.
Yashiro's jaw locks stoically as he starts to subtly tremble underneath the blended gray fabric of his suit, his breaths entering and exiting his nostrils with increasing audibility as he bites back what must be some seething contempt or anger at something.
Iori is taken aback as Yashiro just marches in and sits on the couch. He blinks a few times before he actually closes the magazine and swings his feet to the floor. He rests the magazine on the desk and tilts his head slightly.
He runs a hand through his decidedly red hair, and his body language shifts, leering forward, only one eye visable. The little voice in his head is cackling, seeming to feed off the seething fury radiating from Yashiro. Iori's fingers twitch. He rises then, languid and almost serpentine, coming to rest in an easy slouch.
"You thought you were here to talk? You're here to ''fight''. If it were up to me, I'd just send you along, because certainly you're weak enough to fight in this tournament, but, well. I've been paid to make sure."
Iori flips through the email on his phone. Specifically the one about the interview. 'Mister Yagami, you are free to test Mister Nanakase as you see fit, but please do not destroy the office. It would make me look bad, and we can't have that, now can we? <3'
Iori, while Yashiro seethes, shoves his way out of the front door and into the parking lot without a word. He keeps his back turned to the door, almost ''begging'' to be attacked from behind. The big crescent moon on the back of his knee length leather coat seeming to glitter like a target.
COMBATSYS: Iori has started a fight here.
Yashiro sits in stunned, shuddering silence for an awkwardly long moment even after Iori has finished speaking. For months, now, the musician has been haunted by visions of the man who plucked the star of CYS from its ascent, whose band had taken their spot in the concert that should have been the trio's big break. For months, on his lips, 'redhead.' In his mind, 'redhead.' In his nightmares, 'redhead.'
And now, before him, 'redhead.' Once again, now, standing in the role of gatekeeper to Yashiro's stardom, this time as a fighter. He has the momentary lucidity to wonder if he has lost all lucidity and entered into some hallucinatory redhead-shaped event horizon.
His eyes begin to flit.
"Grey suit. White shirt. Black couch. Blue sky. Red..."
His teeth grind.
Centered, but with his skin still crawling, Yashiro stares at Iori Yagami's back.
"Interviews aren't for fighting! They're for talking. That's why I'm wearin' this bitchin' suit. Shermie said..."
==*== EARLIER ==*==
"Bravo, Yashiro! I am certain that you will smash it."
==*== PRESENTLY ==*==
As the wheels turn behind Yashiro's eyes, something suddenly clicks into place.
"Shermie said to smash it. To smash..."
A ferocity like the distant but undeniable heat of the sun ignites behind Yashiro's dark eyes as they start to redden.
Maybe it's a trick of the light.
Yashiro's hands clench to fists as his suit rumples with the tension in his sinews beneath. Then, roaring:
The white-haired man charges furiously forward like a bull seeing - well - red, his right hand cocking back and loading a vicious punch into the chamber before firing it right for that symbol on the back of Iori's outfit with rage-fuelled force.
COMBATSYS: Yashiro has joined the fight here.
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////////////////////]
Yashiro 0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0 Iori
COMBATSYS: Yashiro successfully hits Iori with Strong Punch.
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////////////// ]
Yashiro 0/-------/-------|==-----\-------\0 Iori
Cocky. Iori is nothing if not arrogant and cocky. He stands there in the middle of the parking lot, waiting. He hears the door open, and Yashiro's bellow. He doesn't move. His boots scrape as he shifts slightly, but he apparently decides to not try and evade. The fury and pent up frustration is evident in the strike, which does make Iori stumble forwards a few steps. He lets the pain flow through him, and he turns to face the other musician, bringing his hands up, curled into claws.
The voice in his head starts. 'Maim, Sever, Tear, Rip, Kill, Pain...' He tunes it out for now, the only sign that something weird is happening are the violet embers that lick on his fingertips.
"My name is Iori Yagami," he says imperiously. His visible eye widens, edging towards manic. "REMEMBER IT!"
He surges forward at Yashiro, clawed hands raking in an X at the man's torso. For the moment, he seems in control. Perhaps not calm, but fully aware of what he is doing. Something flickers in his eye, though. Something sinister and wild and almost feral.
COMBATSYS: Yashiro barely endures Iori's Aggressive Strike.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////////////// ]
Yashiro 0/-------/---====|===----\-------\0 Iori
Anger beneath the surface was something that Yashiro had grown to live with. He had learned to let it sit in the background, and when it rises, to channel it into different activities, like writing lyrics for CYS, or breakdancing, or setting buildings on fire. For the most part, that sensation is something that he's become accustomed to, an itch that no longer warrants scratching.
When it comes to the man before him, though, suddenly the situation flips, and that itch goes from the one percent bandwidth usage in the background of reality to reality being the one percent bandwidth usage in the background of the itch.
And he didn't even know Iori Yagami by name until now.
No sense of self-preservation is demonstrated as Iori's fingertips rake at Yashiro's chest. The suit and shirt beneath are rent and spattered with red as the claws are ignored in the heat of battle.
"YOU CAN'T STOP ME, THIS TIME!"
Pressing in, Yashiro jabs right, then swings a hard left at the crimson crown that seems to be the object of his singular obsession.
"CHOKE on my FIST, REDHEAD!"
COMBATSYS: Iori blocks Yashiro's Fierce Punch.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ////////////////////// ]
Yashiro 0/-------/---====|====---\-------\0 Iori
The voice in Iori's head continues to ramble, getting louder, trying to drown out the thrumming of the blood in his veins. It wants him to cut loose, to embrace carnage and blood. To cause pain and suffering. For the moment, he can still ignore it. He can focus on what's in front of him.
Yashiro drives in hard, and Iori crosses his arms in an X in front of him, the brute strength of the other man driving him backwards, boots scraping on pavement as he slides. His one visible eye goes wide, and he laughs. It's not quite unhinged, but it's clearly not normal. Embers lick at his fingers as he weaves and darts in close. He sidesteps in, lifts his leading leg and then snaps it downwards, going for the headshot.
COMBATSYS: Yashiro blocks Iori's Gofu In Shinigami.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ///////////////////// ]
Yashiro 0/-------/--=====|====---\-------\0 Iori
The blood in Yashiro's veins pounds deafeningly in his ears, a bull seeing red as he assaults Iori openly in the parking lot. His knuckles are bloodied as the skin breaks against Iori's crossed guard. He huffs and glowers at Iori with naked malice as the laughter rings in his ears.
"Are you LAUGHING, REDHEAD?!"
His rage seems to sharpen as Iori's leg comes up swiftly, and he lifts one powerful arm to catch the kick across his forearm before it can strike him in the head.
"Do you think I'm a JOKE?!"
Sliding away from the force of the kick, he uses the short distance between himself and the mysteriously maddening redhead to gain some momentum before he leaps up, the tatters of the front of his shirt fluttering as he winds his right fist back before hammering it down from above toward Iori.
"YASHIRO NANAKASE is not a JOKE, REDHEAD!"
At least he can remember his own name, if not his opponent's.
COMBATSYS: Yashiro successfully hits Iori with Sledgehammer.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////// ]
Yashiro 0/-------/=======|=======\-------\0 Iori
Iori is a lunatic, it seems. Yashiro comes correct, and the redhead, or maybe Redhead, stands there laughing. It's hard to say whether it's ''at'' Yashiro, or if he's just growing more unhinged by the moment. The blow comes from above, and crashes down into Iori's skull. The sound is grotesque, like someone hitting a raw chicken with a baseball bat. The force of it throws Iori backwards and downwards, making him skid and then faceplant into the concrete.
The voice in his head raves louder, harsher. Hungrier. He slowly works his way to his feet, his forehead split and blood sheeting down into his visible eye. He sways almost drunkenly, but the laughing seems to reach a fever pitch.
And then it stops.
Yagami's hands burst into violet flame, and he lets himself revel in it for a moment. He almost seems to blur as he charges Yashiro, his steps rhythmless and erratic. He reaches out at the last second, stretching for Yashiro's face, and trying to use his momentum to drive the man to the ground. Then the fire really comes out.
COMBATSYS: Iori successfully hits Yashiro with Kototsuki In.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ///////////// ]
Yashiro 1/-======/=======|=======\=------\1 Iori
While Iori lies on the floor, Yashiro stands with his chin nearly down to his chest, flexing and unflexing the fist of his right hand as he huffs and huffs. As the laughter continues and Iori slithers to his feet, the business-dressed brawler starts to quiver with rage - but when the laughter stops, Yashiro freezes.
The purple glow of Iori's burning hands reflects in Yashiro's eyes as he stares at the display of power, a bead of sweat forming on his brow as his teeth clench. Something distant and ancient resonates within... and Yashiro realizes that it is not only anger that he feels for this lunatic bassist.
There is also fear.
An arm comes up to fend the flaming fingers, but too slow - Iori's speed is almost inhuman. The purple glow completely fills his vision as the hand grasps at his face, before he's driven down to the concrete.
Yashiro screams as his world becomes fire.
Powering out of Iori's grasp seconds later, Yashiro clutches at his face, smothering what clings of the flames and bellowing with pain and anger.
"YAGAMI! YOU -BASTARD!-"
It's not 'Redhead' anymore, it seems. At least, not in this moment.
Yashiro flails toward Iori with wanton abandon. He's not as swift as the other fighter, perhaps, but he is fast - perhaps even faster for his rage - as hooks fly left and right, attempting to bludgeon the bassist viciously. Storming forward with each punch, he'll finally punctuate the sentence he's attempting to write on Iori's bones with a devastating uppercut with the potential to launch him into the air!
COMBATSYS: Iori endures Yashiro's Million Bash Stream but gets knocked away!
-@- Dazing Hit! -@-
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ///// ]
Yashiro 0/-------/--=====|=======\=====--\1 Iori
Iori is getting the hell beaten out of him. Every strike Yashiro has thrown has devastated the redhead, overwhelming his speed and flames with bone crushing force. This one seems to fit the bill especially. Yagami attempts to take the blow, to surge through it and come out on top, but it seems his ego is bigger than what his body can handle. The brutal punch sends him flying after impacting in his center mass. Yashiro can ''feel'' ribs cracking under his fist, and it's probably so very satisfying.
The airtime is impressive, as is the bounce. For a moment, it seems like Iori will not get up. That Yashiro has, indeed, vanquished his hated enemy. He's not quite that lucky. This whole time, Iori has not quite been fully ... feral. Brutal and wild, absolutely, but the man was in control. Until this point, pushed to the brink, the voice has been nudging and goading. The voice is now, instead, screaming and ordering.
Bonelessly, Iori gets to his feet, swaying as if drunk. His hands ignite in a violet inferno, and he charges like a hunting cat, heedless of any threat that Yashiro may still have in him. His strikes are blinding, claw after claw, rake after rake. A flurry of animal violence. The end with a grab at Yashiro's collar and an ''explosion'' of violet fire.
Whatever the outcome, after this last desperate act of brutality, Iori slumps to the concrete, his whole body smoking as if smouldering.
COMBATSYS: Iori can no longer fight.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\ <
COMBATSYS: Iori successfully hits Yashiro with Yaotome.
- Power hit! -
As Iori goes flying from the uppercut to land some distance away, Yashiro holds the pose for a moment, his fist stretched upward and bicep curled. The satisfying sound of the body breaking against pavement comes. He almost appears in shock as his eyes drift down to find Iori where he lies, and as he does, a slow smile spreads across Yashiro's lips.
"Ah ha... ha ha ha HA! I DID IT!"
The white-haired rocker tugs at the frayed front of his suit jacket and turns his back on Yagami as his claw-struck chest swells with confidence.
"Who did I want to beat up? Redhead! Who did I beat up? Redhead! Wait till I tell Shermie about... this..."
Yashiro stops up as he hears a sound behind him, eyes widening. What was that? A snake?
Whirling around, he sees Iori charging ghoulishly toward him.
Burning claws ravage Yashiro's form, tearing his suit to shreds as he's overtaken by the psychotic assault. The white-haired fighter lets out a prolonged agonized scream as he's subjected to the merciless mauling, and it doesn't stop until he's engulfed by the second explosion - after which he collapses, smouldering, to the ground, eyebrow twitching as he stares up at the sky, mouth hanging open as pain overwhelms his senses.
He utters a single sorrowful word:
...before consciousness slips away.
COMBATSYS: Yashiro takes no action.
COMBATSYS: Yashiro can no longer fight.
Log created on 18:40:53 05/02/2022 by Yashiro, and last modified on 11:25:53 05/04/2022.