Neo League 0201 - NL#0204: Hotaru vs Nikolai

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Description: Bury your doubloons and batten your hatches, as the Dread Pirate Borisyuk is storming the Great Fish Market in search of plunder. But what's this? A sailor without a ship? A Scout from Outer Space? Our last hope for salvation from the darkness? It's Sailor Scout Futaba, ready to put a stop to the Dread Pirate's villainy once and for all!

"But it didn't have a single battleship!" Comes the slightly exasperated exclamation of one Nikolai Borisyuk, the rolling intonations of his Russian rising above the hustle and bustle of the Grand Fish Market. "With such a name you would expect at least a ship wreck!"
Sharp features quirked down into something just shy of a good-natured sulk, the pale teen steps deftly from the path of a motor-scooting granny ninja, both he, and the giant of a man beside him currently making their way through the milling masses of fishermen and those who buy from them. In contrast, the great bearded crag that is Mr. Borisyuk's face is crinkled into a broad grin, dark eyes squinted in mirth as he reaches over to loop one tree trunk arm around his boy's shoulders.
"Son, son." he admonishes in their native language, "Be polite. Japanese while we are in Japan."
"Even with you?"
"Even with me."
Face crinkling even harder, Nikolai looks as if he might try to will the idea away through sheer grumpy teenage energy. Blond brows furrowed, nose crinkled, he hunches his chin down into his chest. A motion that ends when his great brute of a father hooks his head in the crook of his arm and drags him into an easy headlock, ribs thumping roughly against shoulder.
A short scuffle ensues, the two Siberians halting to shove and tussle on the path, before Nikolai manages to wriggle his way free and skip away, grumpy scowl transformed into a glint-eyed grin of mischievous triumph. Being sure to keep a good two feet out of reach, he walks backward beside the path, hands coming up to adjust the black bandana he wears tied over his head.
"All I say is that it is would be much cooler to have an island of all ships. A graveyard that is float. A better place to battle I could not imagine."
Japanese clearly still a bit rusty, the teen bumps into a tall, thin man with a bucket pole across his shoulders, bounces off, nearly trips over a wizened old fellow sitting on a blanket beside a stall and just about manages to regain his feet before the crowd can sweep him away. A bit chagrinned, the teen wheels about to meander along frontways, the pair of them emerging into the square proper.
"It is a place of much history. If we had gone you would have heard the voices in the stones. Felt the great atrocities that were done there."
Though not stern, the rumbling lesson on their aborted venue causes Nikolai's smile to fade, both foreigners looking significantly more composed as they close the distance to the cleared section at the center of the market. Halting at the edge of the crowd, Ivan allows his son to continue forward alone, bright sun beating down upon the boy's lean shoulders.
As per the current season's rules, Nikolai Borisyuk has made his first public appearance in costume. And not the costume he traditionally does battle in. His long blonde dreads are partially contained by a black Bandana with white skull and crossbones worn rag style across the top of his head, various bone and iron fetishes clattering softly where they're threaded in place. His left eye is covered by a worn leather patch, gold chain dangling in loops around his neck and shabby brown coat worn open to reveal the bloused red silk shirt beneath. His hands are partially protected by punkish fingerless gloves, left forearm wrapped many times in the glistening red beaded coils of a painted Rosary. Loose grey pants are tucked into shin-high leather boots with gleaming brass buckles that match those of his coat, pistol and saber sheathed at his belt to complete the look of a totally swag homeless person. Or perhaps a pirate.
Probably a pirate.
And if he's a pirate, that must mean the burlap sack slung on his back is full of treasure. He certainly looks the part of a rapscallion, that mischievous little grin already returning to his lips despite the grim turn of his previous conversation, his excitement at the upcoming contest unable to remain quashed for long.

By appearance alone, it would be difficult to pick out Nikolai's opponent from the crowd. Even those in the vicinity who were aware of the names on the card and were familiar with the young Kung Fu artist would likely miss the girl entirely. Hotaru walks through the market looking much like any other local girl sent by parents to pick up something for dinner from one of the many stalls that line the walkways.

Her outfit looks exactly like what someone might wear if they wanted to avoid standing out in a crowd. No bright colors, no special accouterments immediately noticeable. Instead, she is wearing a loose fitting, dark rust red long sleeved sailor-styled blouse with a pale blue bow over her chest along with a dark green plaid knee-length skirt. With black hair worn in a shoulder length wavy bob, the inconspicuous youth blends right in with others milling about the Fish Market's streets. Until one looks closer, that is. The crystalline earrings in each ear might catch the attention of a careful eye - at each lobe, a tiny glass-like sphere with a ring around it like Saturn, and from that, a glittering dangling crystal diamond. Also curious is that at the end of her long sleeves, her hands appear to be covered by white gloves. And it would take glancing down at her legs below the knees to notice the dark purple shin-high boots that stand out as being truly unusual given the rest of the attire.

She moves past stalls, pausing here and there to glance at the offerings, expression quiet, reserved, but not unfriendly. But slowly, her path brings her close to the section cleared in the market center, approaching it like a potentially curious spectator rather than one of the two fighters expected to show up to the venue this afternoon. Eyes slip down to glance at the cobblestones that cover the square with water from melting ice from several stalls trickling between the gaps in the smooths stones.

In spite all the years of modernization throughout Southtown, the Great Fish Market seemed to have never lost that rustic feel of another time and in spite her efforts to maintain a somber if interested expression, Hotaru can't help but smile faintly at that.

It's only when she reaches the edge where the crowd lines up and the open area lies beyond that she hesitates, right hand clenched into a small fist against the ribbon bow over her chest. Outwardly she looks calm, but inwardly, her heart races. Anticipation of the match, the chance to test her skill, to try her talents against another, and to meet another fighter she hasn't met before all blend together with the pressure of trying to portray a character near and dear to her heart - the quiet and often forgotten Hotaru Tomoe, a character that barely got any screen time in the series she belongs to. But the matching name alone was enough for the Futaba girl to feel an affinity for the quiet soul.

Sucking in her breath, the girl takes another few steps forward into the open area. Immediately a few in the crowd assume she's lost, having wandered into the cordoned area by accident.

"Hey girl, there's going to be a fight here."
"Watch out, get back over here!"
"Careful, you might get in the way of the fighters!"

But Hotaru pays them no mind, instead looking across the way at the fearsome youthful pirate, mouth curling into a slight, knowing smile. Sucking in her breath, the girl lowers her hand down to her left hip, where blouse and skirt meet, fingers clasping tightly into the fabric while winding up her body to the left.

Suddenly, she turns swiftly to the right, pulling hard with her arm as she sweeps the limb out away from her to her side. The skirt and shirt come away easily, clearly prepared in advance to be shed dramatically like this!

As Hotaru completes her twirl, planting her two boot-clad feet on the cobblestones, she rests her left hand on her hip, her right hand pointing toward Nikolai.

"I am an emissary from the abyss of Death! Protected by Saturn, the Outer Planet of Destruction, the Guardian of Silence!"

The clothing the girl was concealing beneath her initial outfit is the exact opposite in terms of fetching attention. A bright white leotard with a dark sailor-style collar is accompanied by a short dark purple pleated skirt. A dark rust-red ribbon is tied into a large bow over her chest, and an even larger bow of matching color is located at the small of her back, its loops wide enough to be visible sticking out at her sides from the front. The white gloves that covered her hands prove to be elbow-length, with dark violet bands at the ends, and a dark violet choker is around the girl's neck.

Her left hand lifts from her hip, a golden tiara catching sunlight in her fingers as she slides it into place over her forehead, the ends of it concealed beneath her hair. Struggling to remain stoic, the excited fighter is beaming just beneath the surface as she competes her well-rehearsed if not terribly well-acted introduction.

"I am Sailor Saturn!"

Having taken up position roughly 5 feet from the center of their makeshift arena, Dread Pirate Borisyuk has a couple of minutes to take in the sights. Beyond the slowly gathering crowd of curious onlookers and die hard fight enthusiasts, the market is an organic mess of carefully tended stalls, bubbling tanks, glistening scales and colorful banners. It isn't quite a festive atmosphere, but the warmth and humanity of it warms the young shaman nearly as much as the sunshine, ears buzzing with innumerable conversations and nose tingling with the smells of fish. Perhaps not everyone's cup of tea, but it does remind him of home in its own peculiar way.
It is into this idle inspection that Hotaru steps, breaking from the crowd to approach him with both manner and uniform subdued. Well, all except for the boots, which Nikolai has a hard time not noticing. He has a special affinity for unique pieces after all, and the boots and gloves are definitely a statement.
Not to mention she's cute.
'Sniff her.'
'Sniff her!'
'I'm not going to sniff her!'
Hotaru herself is the only person in a good position to see how the young shaman's blue eye goes from smiling at her disguise to wide alarm with a single spin and flourish, as if he were startled by her twirling transformation rather than alarmed at the mental suggestions of his rambunctious guardian spirit.
Not cute.
Very cute!
Her gloved finger points toward his scarlet-clad chest, grave words punctuated by the placing of a golden tiara, and the young pirate manages to school his features into a calm, almost disinterested look. Playing his part as the cocky tough-as-nails pirate, he flicks a glance over Saturn and her little outfit, interlocks his fingers (huh, his gloves are mismatched?) and cracks his knuckles with a rapid series of pops.
"You think I am to be made fearful of you?" He scoffs, chin lifting in open defiance. Perhaps one day he'll be wolf enough for that pose to be bad ass, but the teen's face is still too much the fox, features sharp and eyes clever. "Hah! I will eat you like it is lunch. You are not Mage Girl, you are Present for unbinding."
Well, he's trying. Languages are hard and Japanese is like his fifth. The point is made. He thinks.
Glancing briefly off to the side, the shaman finds the match Ref at the edge of the crowd and pauses, waiting for the official to bring one hand swiping down in the universal sign for GO! Only then does he spring forward, splashing carelessly through a chilly puddle as he dashes toward Magical Girl Futaba. Perhaps he isn't a martial artist in the most traditional sense, but she can see in the way he moves, the brawler's poise and confidence with which he plants his forward foot and pivots that this isn't his first fight. Skidding slightly on the slick stone, he brings his left boot whipping up in a probing kick for the slender girl's middle, attempting to slam the testing blow home and bounce back a step with blue eyes alert and gloved hands lifted in a loose guard.

COMBATSYS: Nikolai has started a fight here.

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Nikolai          0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Hotaru has joined the fight here.

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Hotaru           0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0          Nikolai

COMBATSYS: Hotaru blocks Nikolai's Medium Kick.

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Hotaru           0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0          Nikolai

There was nothing to be done for the boots and gloves, but she didn't have the magical quick change skills that the famous pop idol Athena Asamiya did. Which is why the discarded skirt and blouse simply fall to the wet cobblestone instead of vanishing into a swarm of vibrant sparkles. But overall, Hotaru is feeling pretty good about how things went. She didn't even trip over the lines she had rehearsed in a mirror so many times.

The shift in her expression to a restrained grin suggests she's even more amused when her pirate-themed opponent seems willing to go along with it, responding with Japanese that, while a bit broken, is more than clear enough to get the idea across. She's encountered all types in her young fighting career - to the stoically serious, to the ruthlessly ambitious, and then there are the kinds she can imagine being friends with outside the fighting stage. Already, Dread Pirate Borisyuk feels he like might be one of the latter. His handsome, foreign features don't hurt either.

Before he moves, she's already shifting her balance. Normally used to fighting in slippers, the boots somewhat limit the degree of bounce in her step as she shifts her left shoulder forward, right arm raised to the level of her shoulder, bent at the elbow, held back and primed for striking, while her left arm is held forward slightly, lowered at an angle over her forward left leg. But even with the boots, she bounces slightly, as she focuses on the incoming threat.

Fun as this has been, she's still committed to proving herself, pushing her limits, always trying to find that next step down the Champion's Road. That doesn't mean there isn't time to stay in character either though.

"Resist if you wish, but your pirating days are at an end. But don't worry - always with the end, a way opens for new hope and second chances."

As he closes in, he'll detect the shift in her stance, her heels planting, feet turning sidelong, body leaning a bit more into the path of his kick. Her left arm snaps up, bending at the elbow, hugged tight against her side for his foot to smack into, leaving a smudge on the white glove of her left arm. But even as she takes the hit on her forearm, releasing a soft grunt, she's pushing forward into him as well rather than retreating.

Both hands seek his right arm, attempting to get a grip on his forearm while stepping around his right side in one fluid motion. If successful, she'll yank his arm forward, then slip her left hand free of his arm to plant her palm against his chest and shove him backward, before pulling on his arm one more time with both hands forward to flip him head over heels onto his back on the cobblestones.

To the viewers, the Kung Fu toss might even look effortless given the almost gentle way she tries to shatter his balance. But to dismiss the precision executed sequence as something anyone could do would be a demonstration of obliviousness to the strength and timing in the slight-framed girl's attack.

COMBATSYS: Nikolai blocks Hotaru's Medium Throw.

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Hotaru           0/-------/-----==|==-----\-------\0          Nikolai

While Nikolai's stature is a far cry from his father's bearish bulk, he still has roughly 90 inches and 80 pounds on his slender opponent. A fact which makes it all the more notable when she shoves into the opening kick, stepping forward to match his backward bounce beat for beat. The raising of his guard does little more than feed her his arm, small hands latching on as they twirl in a quick half turn that splatters their booted legs with chilly runoff. Sliding around him in a neat half moon, the Magical Girl rides the momentum of his twisting escape attempt and tugs his arm wide, opening him up for a quick, blasting strike of her gloved palm.
Already a touch off balance, the young pirate is sent stumbling with a grunted breath, her grip on his arm the only thing that keeps him from staggering off to regain his balance. Fetching up short, he is jerked sharply forward by the reversal of her momentum, the girl's sleight weight bolstering a surprising wiry strength as she flings him forward into a perfectly executed throw.
And yet, the slippery pirate is nothing if not quick on his feet.
A short, exultant WHOOP escapes the young Siberian as he accelerates forward into the toss, arm twisting itself free of Hotaru's grip part way through the throw. Continuing the forward flip, he touches down boots-first in a low crouch, sliding a couple of feet across the slick stone while grinning like a maniac.
A maniac with, oddly long canine teeth.
A sharp twist of his head lets him flash a very blue glance over his shoulder toward Sailor Futaba, one eye blinking up at her before he blitzes into sudden, intense motion.
Pushing off of the ground with his hands, Dread Pirate Borisyuk springs from his crouch into a dead sprint. Coat flapping, hair and bandana streaming behind him, he dashes past his cute nemesis in a low, predatory rush, a flash of ghostly blue energy swelling from within the sack on his back and streaming down his right arm. Bare fingers flexed into severe hooks, there is a brief overlay of ghostly blue fur and razor-sharp claws visible before he passes behind her, chi-infused fingers poised to rake across the backs of her thighs just above the crease of her knees. And though it might hurt like she's been clawed for real, at worst the Magical Girl will find raised red welts where the energy spikes her, red lines painted across otherwise clear skin.
Either way the pirate puts on the breaks and begins to power slide to a halt on the girl's left flank, spinning about to face her while the last of the energy drifts away into mist as if it was never there at all. When he smiles his teeth are less long, eyes not quite that glowing shade of blue.
He certainly seems pleased with himself, keyed up from the quick flurry of exchanges.

COMBATSYS: Nikolai successfully hits Hotaru with Pogonya Volka.
- Power hit! -

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Hotaru           0/-------/-======|====---\-------\0          Nikolai

The acrobatic recovery from the move intended to drop him on his back catches his purple skirted opponent off guard as Hotaru's eyes widen and she takes a hesitating step back. Clearly there was more to learn of this mysterious foreigner's fighting style. It was early yet, but so far she couldn't discern common elements to any one particular style she was familiar with. Which meant she would need to adapt quickly to keep up and try and predict what could be coming next.

What comes next leaves Sailor Hotaru even more caught off guard as glances over his shoulder with a briefly bestial mien before he surges back at her with whip crack speed. It happens too fast for her to be certain of what she saw - a blur of movement, a flow of energy sensed even more than seen, and an outstretched claw wreathed in a ghostly aura as he skids past her.

Caught so flat-footed, he has no problem connecting with the attack, chi-infused strike raking across the back of each leg with an alarming sensation of torn skin and damaged muscle. Gasping, Hotaru whirls, staggering back a couple of steps as Nikolai slides to a stop already facing her. Brushing her left hand across both of her thighs, she then brings it up in front of her, clearly anticipating to find streaks of damp red staining her fingers. That there isn't anything of the sort is just one more layer to the confusion racing through the girl's mind as her eyes snap back to Nikolai, expression focused and wary.

She wasn't about to let him get away with that uncontested, however, resolving to rush him straight on. She's only taken a couple steps before she springs forward into a low hop, twisting to snap her left foot forward as if intending to jump kick him in the face for his trouble. But she falls short, landing instead in a very low splits crouch, left leg forward and straight, right leg bent in close to support most of her weight, left arm extended out over her left leg, while her right arm is raised behind her at an angle.

The forward momentum of her hop is not lost, however, as she fluidly moves up and out of the crouch, right leg launching her to standing while she twists to lean in hard with a right palm strike straight for Nikolai. "HAH!"

Pushing back on her left leg, drawing her right arm back, the slender fighter leans back slightly for only an instant, before snapping back in, leaning in hard as her left arm is driven forward with a second, even more crushing palm strike. Every iota of leg, torso, and arm strength is devoted to the second blow, her left arm trembling briefly as she releases a loud cry heard throughout the Great Fish Market.


COMBATSYS: Nikolai counters Engan Soushou Da from Hotaru with Ob"yatiya Volka EX.
* Attack Of Opportunity! *

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Hotaru           1/-------/<<<<<<<|====---\-------\0          Nikolai

That Hotaru is unable to predict Nikolai's next move is no mark against the prodigy's blossoming skill. Creatures much older and more experienced have tried to peg his style, and they too failed. In truth, the nature of his abilities make him hard enough to predict on their own, drawing as he does upon layers of instincts from many different perspectives. But beyond even that, well, he barely knows what he's going to do from moment to moment. How could he ever expect someone else to?
As the girl's wide blue eyes shift from her unbloodied hand to the boy across from her, he meets that wary focus with a playful wink, all smiles and vibrating energy as if expecting her to rejoice in the moment with him. Instead, she moves forward to attack, bouncing up to launch a booted foot toward his face that he flinches back from on instinct, dodging back a step even as she drops short of where he stood. Smile turning a touch rueful, he is ready when she launches herself toward him for the second time, left hand flashing up to smack her palm aside with a chopping guard stolen straight out of beginner karate.
Seeming to instinctively gauge that the second blow is far too strong to be so easily deflected, the Siberian pauses for half a breath, matching his breath and timing to her own, then staggers it, taking half a step to the side and allowing the shaking palm to blow past his ribs. A slight shift forward and his right arm sweeps in to trap the extended limb against his side, forearm pressing in from below to lock her elbow straight and keep her from twisting about.
Definitely not a karate maneuver. Something far more technical. Jujitsu maybe? Whatever it is it stops her just long enough for him to lash his other hand out and grip her right bicep, face dipping in close while he holds her smaller form in the clinch.
"You are so very much!"
Words surprisingly earnest despite the rushing excitement glittering in his eyes, he keeps his voice low for just the two of them, hot breath brushing across her cheek and ear. The moment lasts for only a couple of heartbeats, silver runes of his glove cool against her skin as he slides his left palm down her arm and onto the material of her glove.
Abruptly, the vibe is shattered when he clamps his fingers around her forearm and twists, forcing it up behind her back as the skull of a wolf comes lunging forth from the sack on his back, blue fire burning in its eyes and mouth. Striking past their heads, it extends down her back on a snake-like length of spinal column and clamps blazing teeth around her wrist, hauling the twisted arm up into a hammer lock while Nikolai releases the arm and reaches up to instead grip her shoulder, using his hold there and beneath her locked elbow to twist and sling her off balance, left foot sweeping in to take her legs out from under her. A textbook Judo throw executed by himself and his skeletal wolf head, modified for someone with functionally three hands.
And what exactly did he mean by 'so very much?'!

The deflecting chop isn't troubling in the slightest as Hotaru flows into the second, more crushing strike of her technique. The initial palm is intended to weaken or distract the opponent's guard, after all. But the smooth evasion around her second strike is far more concerning. Her forward leg tightens as she immediately tries to retract from the extended blow, but his arm moves in quicker to catch and trap hers in place. Still trying to pull back, Sailor Hotaru is stopped by the second hold on her upper arm, securing her in place on both sides.

There is another pull and attempted twist, hoping to pry herself free, and if not for the solid lock on her captured arm, he could count on her turning to drive her shoulder into his chest to break the clinch rather than relying only on trying to back off. The struggle against his hold pauses briefly as he leans in to leave words for her ears only, eyes blinking, mouth slightly open, trying to make sense of the incomplete sentence.

But when he moves his grip, she shifts again, leaning back but without trying to pry herself free anymore, left leg bending up at the knee as she prepares to drive her foot into his stomach while utilizing his own hold her as leverage for the strike when she finds herself twisted further off balance when her arm is yanked up behind her back.

"Wha-" she starts in surprise, trying to get her bare leg back down to brace herself against further manipulation. But try as she might, she finds herself being limb locked by one too many grips and taking her legs out from under her from that destabilized posture is trivial enough. Feet sweeping up and apart, her fall to the ground is completely uncontrolled as the Futaba girl comes down hard in a seated position on damp cobblestone, wind knocked out of her by the hard landing.

Gloved hands press down hard as her feet find enough purchase for her to spring up and backward in the same movement, landing in a slide a couple of meters away. She pays no heed to the damp smudge on the bottom of her leotard - she wouldn't wear anything into a match she wasn't willing to let get damaged. Instead, all of her thoughts are on the tricky foreigner and that sack on his back. Normally comfortable with staying in close quarters combat, she begins to reconsider that approach in light of his unpredictability. The look she gives him is far from hostile, but it isn't exactly cheerful either, her mind to fixated on trying to solve the puzzling pirate's tricky style to concentrate on much else as she bounces as lightly on her feet as the long boots allow her to.

Deciding to try a different approach, she draws her right arm back, elbow bent, an instant from digging deep to draw forth her own flavor of chi to attack him from afar, when her eyes look past him at the people crowded around and whatever plan she had suddenly seems to melt away as her arm freezes then comes forward again.

"This is no place for the Silence Glaive," she states with breathy sobriety. Or, more accurately, she doesn't want to go throwing chi blasts around with the risk of missing and delivering an unintended wallop on a bystander. "Because I will handle you myself!"

She points at him with her right hand, finally grinning faintly in spite the pain she was feeling. Then she sprints forward to close back in. Taking to the air much higher this time, Hotaru flips forward into a steep dive toward Nikolai, left knee first, attempting to land against his head or shoulder. Upon impact, she would snap to the left, right leg whipping around into a second follow up blow that was both meant to stagger but to also provide her with enough force to backflip away in an acrobatic form of hit and run.

COMBATSYS: Hotaru successfully hits Nikolai with Rengeki Shou EX.

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Hotaru           1/-----<</<<<<<<<|=======\-------\0          Nikolai

If someone had told Nikolai that this fight scene thing would have him grappling nearly chest to chest with girls in cute costumes, he definitely would have started sooner. Training, AND making friends at the same time? It's like the perfect activity. And, as he keeps being reminded, Cute Girls!
By the time Hotaru's rump hits the pavement the wolf skull has retreated back into the Dread Pirate's sack, a horrifying, bone-rattling monster glimpsed only from the corner of one eye. At least from her perspective. The crowd around them have begun to gasp and point, causing the cheerful boy's smile to waver a bit uncertainly.
Oh right, necromancy is evil. But how to explain...
Backing off a pace as Hotaru regains her feet, the young shaman returns her look with that same, slightly uncertain smile, confidence visibly draining away as he waits to see if she runs off screaming. The pulling back of her hand is a good sign, but the aborted motion makes him appear even more nervous, a glance cast over his shoulder toward his father looming at the edge of the crowd.
Meeting his son's eyes for the briefest of moments, The Great Bear Of Siberia flicks his eyes toward Sailor Futaba, directing his son's gaze back around just in time to witness her dramatic delivery. And with those words, Nikolai Borisyuk's face lights up like a human candle, beaming back into her faint grin with unbound exhilaration.
He really is a lot like a human puppy.
"You?!" He scoffs, thrusting a hand forth to point in return, struggling to look suitably tough while she dashes toward him. "You are insulting me with this disregard? PAGH!"
Channeling all the offended spite he can through a face that keeps wanting to offer a lopsided smile, he sweeps his right hand up, moving as if he will bat aside girl and attached knee with contemptuous ease. Drawing on the spiritual connection between himself and his guardian, he summons the full might of--
Suffering a light slap to her thigh, Hotaru's knee comes crashing down upon the Dread Pirate's head with every one of her 92 pounds behind it, the noise of which can be heard from meters away. Fortunately for him, his head is full of rocks, and so there is nothing in there that she can really damage long term. But the blow definitely rings his bell, blue eyes going crosswise as he crumples beneath her, doing a very poor job of being a post from which to launch herself. As a result the pair of them topple earthward, him landing in a heap and her perched atop him, his coat and hair flung out around him.
The booming roar of Mr. Borisyuk rattles the eardrums of those unfortunate enough to be standing nearby, his great bulk surging forward to stand just outside the designated fighting area. Eyes flinty and stern, he glowers down at the pile of rags and limbs that is his only child, tone lowering as he continues in perfect Japanese, "Quit flirting with this nice young girl and focus!"
Then, as if to not let her feel left out, those commanding eyes shift to Hotaru herself, holding all the force of a man who could probably headbutt an oncoming train and win. "And you! Do not hold back against him. I will not allow this crowd to be harmed. You will beat some sense into my fool son. Do you understand?"
Off to the side, the NL fight official seems to be debating if he should take back control of the situation, but Mr. Borisyuk casts him a single glance before stepping back, braided blonde beard all aquiver with parental intensity.
It's not unlike being watched over by a really intense Soccer mom who could beat you to death with a bus.
"Hhkh." comes Nikolai's grunting response, right hand swiping up in an attempt to grasp Hotaru's left wrist before she can gather herself enough to spring away. If he can get that grip he will roll sharply to the side, jerking her down to slam into the slippery stones beside him. Planting his free hand, he pivots around his hip and aims a hard kick at her ribs, releasing her wrist in an attempt to send her skidding away across the fight space. That done, or possibly with her simply leaping away, he springs to his feet with a clatter of metal and bone adornments, giving his whole body a shake to get his clothes settled.
'What was that?'
'You are not funny!'

COMBATSYS: Nikolai successfully hits Hotaru with Combo Grapple.
Grazing Hit

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Hotaru           1/---====/=======|=======\-------\1          Nikolai

With the first half of her two-strike diving technique connecting, Hotaru was confident in her ability to disengage properly. Even against a lighter foe, there would still be just enough inertia for her to slam her foot out and launch herself into a backward flip. It wasn't exactly like it was a devastating knockout blow from a heavy bruiser.

But distraction leads to a less than sturdy balance and far from ready defense, and the diving girl finds herself far more committed to her downward trajectory than she had intended, and an instant later, the two fighters have crashed to the ground with Hotaru landing sprawled atop the dashing pirate.

Quickly scrambling to recover, small hands press down against Nikolai, slipping off one of his strong arms first, then finding better placement on his chest as she starts to push herself up, lifting her head with crooked tiara just in time to stare up at the source of the thundering noise that drowns out all other sounds coming from the viewing crowd. Like a deer in headlights, the girl freezes, staring at the older fighter with a mixture of awe and fear. Who is this guy? A fighter's presence, for sure, and the build to go with it. But what does he have to- her mind finally makes the connection; the man's diction flawless but his accent still perceptible.

If only her living family would take such interest in her matches. Her brother, a name in higher circuits, and her father, a legend of the prior generation of Kung Fu artists whom she wasn't even sure still lived... What she wouldn't give to have them shouting at her from the sidelines, for them to even care.

Initial shock gives way to resolve as Hotaru nods her head, recovering from the confusion of her awkward landing to try and actually disengage from Nikolai to get back to her feet. She had limited experience with grappling on the ground, such techniques did not feature prominently in her family's style.


She shifts her left hand down, planting it against the more stable cobblestone ground and applies a burst of pressure to launch herself upward and back from her opponent, but his hand catches her arm just before it slips out of reach.

Reacting, she rolls off him onto her side as he rolls, drawing her legs up defensively then kicking out to meet his kick at the same time he releases her wrist.

The end result still sends her sliding away, white fabric of her costume smudged with dirty water and bearing a few small abrasive tears from the stones, but leaving the girl free to finish rolling to hands and knees, then pushing up to her feet.

This time, her right arm is already aglow with a rich sapphire energy, easily visible even in broad daylight, as she taps into power she had yet to put on display this match.

"If the Guardian insists it is fine," she declares, drawing her azure infused arm back, planting her feet as she twists her torso to the right. "Then I will use my full arsenal!"

Right hand snaps forward, fingers opening as if hurling a ball, and the wreath of chi flows off her limb into a hurtling ball of vibrant blue energy packing pure, concussive force, directly for Nikolai.


COMBATSYS: Nikolai instinctively blocks Hotaru's Hakki Shou.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Hotaru           1/---====/=======|=======\==-----\1          Nikolai

It is strange the sorts of things people take for granted. For as clever and resourceful a boy Nikolai might be, he would never guess that Sailor Hotaru is here alone. Surely there has to be someone cheering her on from the crowd. Maybe not as big a presence as his father, but Someone. And so it is that the little bit of longing and regret goes unmentioned, a forgotten piece of drama washed away by a river of friendly youthful violence.
"HAH!" Nikolai shoots back, squaring off with his slightly grimy opponent while she begins to flex her spiritual might. In contrast to her own outfit, the rugged brown of his coat and general ragged pirateness allows him to wear the streaks of damp and grit with much greater aplomb. That's probably why he looks so smug. That, or having been wrestling around on the ground with her has really made his day.
Whatever the case, the booming rebuke of Mr. Borisyuk seems to have affected him not at all, visible eyes all a twinkle with internal mischief. Or, uh, wait. Is it actually literally twinkling?
"It is too late."
Tone dropping into the smooth cadence of an anime villain, he flashes her another of those quick, fang-filled smiles as she launches the ball of force his way, eye gleaming with the same predatory light she got a glimpse of the first time he took her by surprise.
Though several degrees less visible than her own spiritual glow, The faint bluish outline of shaggy fur and backswept ears seems to cling to the boy as he launches himself toward the oncoming ball, left arm sweeping up in an aggressive push block that impacts the projection head on. There is still enough force within the blast to stagger him, energy splitting around his chi-infused arm before impacting his chest and shoulder, but he doesn't fight it, channeling the impact into a bouncing course correction that converts his headlong dash into an angled approach.
Phantom claws shimmer around his splayed fingers as he brings his blocking hand scything down, attempting to catch Hotaru's left shin and jerk the leg out from under her as he dashes past. A glimpse of a phantom wolf's tail is briefly visible before he spins himself into a tight 180, boots skidding across the slick stone until phantom claws dig into the earth, granting him enough purchase to throw himself into a ferocious pounce back toward her hopefully unbalanced form, booted feet swinging up to deliver a double-footed flying dropkick to the back of her left side. And whether he hits or misses, floors her or simply sends her stumbling, the empowered teen lands in a predatory crouch before lunging forth with two quick swipes of his phantom claws, one left-handed and high, the other right handed and low, capable of delivering pain without quite tearing skin.
With his teeth bared and his hair flying, the experience is spookily similar to being hounded by a one-boy pack of wolves.

COMBATSYS: Hotaru instinctively blocks Nikolai's Khitrost' Volka.

[                    \\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Hotaru           1/-======/=======|=======\=------\1          Nikolai

Thoughts of her absent family have already been lost to the mad rush adrenaline of the exchange. The thrill of the fight in sync with Hotaru's spirit, her heart racing as she pushes her youthful body to its fullest to keep up with her mystic opponent, she doesn't even wait to see how he will respond to the hurtling projectile of projected, concussive force. Instead, the Futaba girl bolts forward as quickly as she can the moment it leaves her finger tips on its destined path, leaning into the sprint, lips drawn back in an excited grin.

Even if he manages to guard against the directed splash of chi, he'll have her to contend with a split second later and it is in that window of opportunity that she plans to make her move.

That he opts to confront the attack head on does nothing to weaken her resolve to clash.

But the pirate shaman proves resourceful enough to respond before she can quite reach him, turning with the counter-force in just the right way to keep his offensive momentum on course.

She reacts on reflex as he claws for her lower leg, kicking off the ground with the other one, throwing herself into a half spin around the dashing young man, violet skirt flaring out around her hips as she lands in a graceful slid a moment later.


The release of breath is at once relief and a cry of exultation. He didn't get her that time.

She could turn then, to face him, and confront what comes next - but it is instincts honed by dedicated training that steer her into planting her feet instead, her back still toward the wanderer from Siberia.

Thus it is that rather than turning into a painful drop kick unprepared, she instead shifts her stance, lowering her center of gravity slightly, muscles of her legs and torso tensing. In that moment, she was the boulder in the water, willing the river to flow around it, her shoulder shifting to take the brunt of his booted blow against her upper arm.

Hissing as she's driven back, her guard breaks, arms flailing out to her side briefly, but she recovers with whip crack speed, lithe form snapping back to readiness rather than stumbling to regain control as he might have anticipated.

They were close now - he could see it in her sapphire eyes - this was where she wanted him. By the time he lunges in with his follow up strikes, it might be too late to reconsider, as Sailor Hotaru drops into a low crouch, left leg forward, right leg bent beneath her enter of mass, her arms out at her sides as she adopts the Swallow Stance that would be the platform of her strongest attack.


From her lowered stance, the moment before possible impact, Hotaru launches herself into crushing backflip kick, the force of her kicking legs augmented by a geyser of that same azure chi as before, this time display at orders of magnitude more power than demonstrated before. Her intent is clear - to try and clip Nikolai when perhaps he is over extended, with a launching blow to chin or chest. If successful, it might be enough to take him into the air with her - and there he would have to fight on the acrobatic girl's terms.

Everything would come down to this instant, the match balanced on a keen edge.

COMBATSYS: Hotaru successfully hits Nikolai with Tenshou Ranki.

[                    \\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Hotaru           0/-------/---====|>>>>>>>\>>>>---\1          Nikolai

Her gambit connects, both boy and girl launched upward by the force of Hotaru's flipping kick. A surging trail of chi the same hue as her vibrant eyes lingers behind her feet as her acrobatic backflip reaches its apex.

She felt the impact and she knows full well that her window of opportunity is precariously narrow. But the instant her lithe figure rights itself out of the flip, she locks on her opponent with precise focus.


The second part of her attack's name is announced with a loud cry as the girl suddenly surges toward Nikolai in a steep angled dive, reversing trajectory mid-air as she leaves the scattering remnants of the chi that empowered her attack and facilitated critical course correction behind.

With the inevitability of a comet, the resolved fighter tackles against Nikolai, ensuring that she'll take him down with him back to the damp stones of the fish market court. Her control in the air is difficult to contend with, and she'll use her momentum and burst of strength to ensure that is the Mystic Wanderer who hits the ground before she does, upper back first, as the two slide to a stop two meters later.

For a split moment, it might look like the ninety pound girl intends to try and pin the young man in place, situated on his stomach, her knees at his sides, her palms pressed hard against his sternum, face lowered to look directly at his as the raven-haired fighter focuses everything she has into the next step of her combination.

The swell of power that builds around them is felt before it's seen, a sense of energy being drawn in from all around them - from the air, the water trickling between the stones beneath his back, from the earth lower still. It manifests a moment later, a growing sphere of rich blue energy expanding upward around the two youthful fighters.

The pressure from her palms exceeds the point that should be possible by a girl her size as the energy builds. And the concentration draws from Hotaru a cry of increasing intensity.


Her hair whips in the currents generated by the outward manifestation, along with the frills of her sleeves or lower parts of her vest as she closes her eyes and grits her teeth.

Like with every fight she takes on, she'll give it her all, holding nothing back. She might not have been able to catch this crafty foreigner often in their match, but in this moment, she'll seize her chance, she'll pour everything she has into this final attack.

The swirling energy storm crashes back down suddenly, collapsing as the girl reaches the limits of what she can channel into it. And all of it comes surging inward, into the determined Sailor Scout and down her arms, slamming against Nikolai with the concussive force of a much greater weight than the nimble girl perched on him. A shockwave blasts out around them, splashing the water up from between the rocks and creating enough of a gust to cause many to grab their hats, shield their eyes briefly, or turn their shoulders into it.

And in the aftermath, silence reigns for a moment, punctuated only by a soft exhale, Hotaru's head leaning forward, her hands losing the pressure they demonstrated in the midst of the energy storm.

Sucking in her breath, she seems to already be recovering however, eyes opening, elbows bending slightly as she gets ready to push off the pinned pirate's chest in hopes of springing away before he can recover from the attack!

The moment Nikolai's boots strike the slender Sailor's guard, he knows he has her. Sure she was able to dodge his opening strike, but both boy and wolf let out an internal howl of triumph as her guard breaks. While she is flailing for balance he drops lightly to his feet and begins the finishing lunge, hands raised and fingers spread to deliver the final clawing swipes.
Only, she isn't off balance at all.
Their blue eyes meet as she drops low before him, arms spread gracefully like the wings of a bird. Blonde hair flailing out behind him, eyes widening in panicked slow motion, his lips part in the start of a surprised exclamation. However, all he manages is a grunted 'FGLGRUH!' as her rising boots strike him square in the gut, carrying him flailing into the sky upon a burning line of brilliant blue chi.
Limbs reaching for some sort of stability, Nikolai gets a blurry view of the fish market as he tumbles away at the apex of the attack, flung free of her feet as she completes a much neater flip a short distance above him. Colorful cloth, grey stone, and grey sky blend into a confused mass in his sight as he begins his uncontrolled descent, still trying to get his baring's when Hotaru's smaller form bullets into him from above, driving them both toward the earth somewhat faster than he'd like.
Cursing through clenched teeth, the Dread Pirate flings his arms out to either side and lets his body go limp, back and palms striking the unforgiving stones in a rough skid through grit and puddles.
"LANGUAGE!" comes the bearish roar of Mr. Borisyuk from the sidelines, though whether it's the dirty word, or the fact his son isn't cursing in Japanese, is honestly hard to say. Whatever the case, the giant man watches as the two youngsters come to a sliding stop with the girl on top, his massive paws clapping together in noisy appreciation.
"Hah! Good, girl, now finish him!"
Peering up into Sailor Futaba's face with slightly bleary eyes, Nikolai none-the-less manages to look slightly peeved at that, though the expression vanishes into surprise as the energy begins to build around them. Left hand sweeping up, it looks for a moment as if he might try and shove her off, but just before his palm can make contact with her chest he realizes what he is doing and hesitates...
Whether or not he could have pushed her off becomes a non issue as the full brunt of her attack blasts down through her palms and into his chest, a brief flash of blazing blue lighting his eyes the moment before impact. Linked as they are, hands to chest, chi to chi, the young fighters experience the briefest of touches on some deeper level. Through that brief touch she can sense an alien presence joining itself to Nikolai's own, sheltering him against the worst of the energy that rampages through him.
And then it is past. Water splashes to earth in messy ripples, loose hair sticks up from Nikolai's dreads in wild tufts, and the crowd watches with baited breath, silent but for the large man clapping.
Voice a dusty croak, Nikolai stairs dazedly up into Hotaru's closed eyes, noting only vaguely when they begin to open.
'Strike, pup.'
'Strike now!'
And with that, his mental cogs catch and his brain begins to spin up once more, hand reaching for the golden loops of chain around his neck at the same moment she begins to push off. Crunching forward, he whips the chain up and over his head, rising to a sit as the glittering links whip into a spin, eyes tracking her departure and arm flinging out to cast the whipping cord toward her, the links shimmering brightly in the light of the son.
Lashing in from her left side, the shimmering links are set to strike her just below the elbow and whip once around the limb, Nikolai using a tug against her own backward momentum to lever himself to his feet. And then, unless she can slip the golden glow of the binding, the hunter will step forward and flick the center of the chain up over her head...

COMBATSYS: Hotaru just-defends Nikolai's Dabog's Gift EX!

[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////                     ]
Hotaru           0/-------/---====|>>-----\-------\0          Nikolai

A sharp downward tug attempts to yank Hotaru stumbling onto her knees as the chain writhes forward, golden links sliding along her costumed form with a quiet rattle. The glitter of the reflected sun brightens across its rattling surface, the enchanted chain igniting with a pure, golden light. Slithering around the Sailor Scout's arm and across her back, it attempts to coil around her right elbow and draw her arms firmly behind her, coiling around and between them before sliding forward to hook around her waist. The entire process takes only half a second, glittering links streaming forth from between the young pirate's fingers as the animated object attempts to bind over and around her, between her legs, around her neck, about her ankles, striving to gather her limbs back and bind her prettily into a shining golden web of blessed chain.
Unfortunately for Nikolai, this technique seems to take a great deal of concentration, the boy having halted in a braced half crouch, eyes narrowed and distant as he communes with whatever godly echo dwells within the binding relic. This is, after all, just an exhibition. He wouldn't want the thing to get carried away and actually baptize her in holy fire.

Movement happens in an almost disconnected, dream-like state. Channeling such a fount of chi is not without its toll. While the world around her might seem silent, the ringing in her ears is anything but as she tries to disengage and reset to some kind of ready stance. She needs a moment to regain her focus, to process her thoughts, to center herself. She knew her attack struck true, a build up and release of chi far beyond what most would expect from the fairly unknown young fighter. But she also knew that the young man himself didn't suffer the brunt of it alone. There was something else there - a sense that in that moment she wasn't being resisted by one but two connected in ways she can't fathom.

But none that epiphany would matter if she didn't get back to her feet. While not completely a stranger to grappling techniques, it was clear her strengths lay in striking and maneuvering... if she could help it, the Sailor Scout would want to turn this back to a standing fight as quickly as possible.

But she's afforded no time. The Siberian Shaman's movements come a split second after her own. Whether she really is moving as sluggish as she feels, or his ability to respond is simply that fast, she isn't able to ascertain in her semi-dazed state of mind. But she knows she's under attack on an instinctual level, even if she doesn't quite understand the nature of it the technique.

The golden length lashes once around her arm as Hotaru plants her feet, bracing her legs in a bid to keep from being pulled back off balance. Using the chain as leverage, the dread nomadic pirate hauls himself up to standing right in front of her even as his chain continues its snaking attack along her back, tugging her left arm backward even as its end reaches her right arm and secures another loop there.

The experience of having one's arms pulled behind their back by an object that seems to move of its own accord could provoke any number of reactions - panic, confusion, freezing up or desperate thrashing...

But the violet skirted girl responds by gritting her teeth, a surging flare of her internal aura perfectly in sync with the golden glow of the chain, nullifying any potential harm even as it cinches her arms securely into place behiund her back.

Rather than continue to try and pull away, Hotaru retaliates instantly, eschewing uncertain defense for potentially certain offense. Nikolai will have but an instant to adjust as the white-clad girl pivots to the right and slams the side of her hip into him with a clear intent to stagger him from his half-crouched stance. Still unable to use her arms, the best she can hope for is to disrupt his concentration before the lashing chain removes her ability to fight at all!

Following the side slam, the girl plans her left foot and pivots into a full circle, slamming her right leg out in a follow up mid-leveled roundhouse kick.


COMBATSYS: Nikolai blocks Hotaru's Zensou Enbu.

[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////                       ]
Hotaru           0/-------/--=====|>>>----\-------\0          Nikolai

Vulpine features furrowed in deep concentration, Nikolai grips his end of the chain with ferocious strength, doing his best to carefully measure the amount of force needed to subdue the spunky Sailor Scout without potentially lighting her on fire. A noble goal, and yet the girl seems to be handling herself just fine. Instead of worrying about other people's problems, he should probably be focused on how much force a cute Japanese girl would need to apply through her hips to knock him on his ass.
Eyes lighting with last moment awareness, Dread Pirate Nikolai seals the divine power back into its housing and hauls firmly on the chain, throwing himself forward into a full body collision with the graceful scout's smaller form. Breath driven from him in a sharp HWOOF, he follows the twist of her body as if they were dancing, nearly tripping over his own feet as they whirl together in a single swirl of skirts and coat, her leg scything through the empty air.
Caught in a heady mix of breathless exhaustion and dizzy mirth, the lean warrior takes just a moment to lean upon his opponent for support, hot breath ruffling her hair. An easy tug on the chain slips it free from her arms, a flick of his wrist looping it up and over his head even as his free left arm makes to curl companionably around the Sailor Scout's slender middle.
"Fwoof..." he pants in that moment, muscles tightening to try and keep her close in and contained. "You very mighty!"
Golden chain now settled in place, Nikolai is free to wrap both arms around her and lift, attempting to haul the featherweight free of the ground and swing her up and over his bandanaed dome, falling back-first toward the ground in a move that any assassin worth his salt would recognize immediately.
The German Suplex.
And if he can manage to fling the girl ass over kettle and drive her shoulders-first into the unforgiving stones of the smelly fish market, he will do what any trained fighter with decades of experience would almost certainly probably do. Flop himself gracelessly over onto his front and scrabble with all possible haste to try and plop himself down atop the girl, butt on her chest and knees striving to keep her arms pinned tight to her sides. After all, it worked when the bully girls used to do it to him, it should definitely work here.

COMBATSYS: Nikolai successfully hits Hotaru with Power Throw.

[                       \\\\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Hotaru           1/------=/=======|===----\-------\0          Nikolai

Foot swishing through empty space, Hotaru is forced to follow through the momentum of the strike to plant her foot and recover her stance. With her arms restrained, the Siberian Shaman is safe to get in close without earning himself a reflexive elbow to the ribs and the pressure applied by his lean clamps a limit on the footwork she can execute as well, as she braces against him. A brief stress against the golden chain to test its hold convinces her that she can't simply make a reach for his arm and try to flip him to the ground.

But that doesn't mean she can't shoulder him away, she decides, pivoting slightly and bending her legs, preparing to launch the entirety of her slender weight into a rising shoulder slam. But as she turns, he continues to move, forcing her to take an additional second to correct for it.

Later, she'll remember the thrill of the fight, the excitement of testing her speed and skill against this foreigner's, the lessons learned, reflected upon, and integrated into her ever evolving, hopefully improving style. But in this instant, she is running on pure adrenaline-fueled, razor-focused intent. There is no room in her thoughts for anything else, and the thin lipped, fierce concentration in her eyes reflects as much as she gasps in a breath and plants her feet in a new angle, ready to slam her upper back against him and force him to disengage from this precarious proximity.

It's then that her arms are loosed, swinging freely suddenly, and forcing yet another mental correction to her plan as suddenly new options present themselves. Options she doesn't get the chance to execute on as she realizes she also can no longer turn as freely as she had a moment before.

His words are heard but there is no response as she aims to utilize her right elbow to break free, starting to twist at the waist, arm raised, bent, and intent on driving into his sternum. In the same instant, his other arm secures his hold around her, sparing no hesitation in seeking to heft the Kung Fu fighter off her feet. Lifted easily, her view of the world does a quick orbit around her vision as she suddenly finds herself folded in half, slamming upside down against the market cobblestones, a gasp forced from her lips as her lungs are emptied by the impact.

Released, she unfolds flat on her back, sprawled for a moment of dazed confusion. She wasn't entirely a stranger to navigating grappling techniques, but this one caught her too off guard to slip through it and the experience was enough to leave her seeing stars.

Which affords the Dread Pirate Nikolai the time he needs to scramble over to her, Sailor Futaba's blue eyes blinking with awareness as her vision clears and she raises her hands to try and fight against him, giving him a brief struggle before he manages to secure her arms under his knees, planted securely on her chest to keep her pinned, resulting in a reversal of their situation from only moments prior.

Rather than looking panicked at her predicament, however, he'll discover that she's grinning back up at him, no loss of confidence. It might be because he chose to situate himself so far forward on his pinned opponent - a potential mistake he'll discover as the girl suddenly swings her legs upward, bending her flexible spine to try and cross her ankles around his neck.

Ignoring the damp dirtiness staining the once pristine white aspects of her costume, she'll waste no time trying to wrench him backwards off of her if she gets a lock, slamming him back against the stones now. If she manages, the raven-haired martial artist follow through with the momentum to pull herself into a seated posture that will put her right back to sitting on his stomach a second time, giving him an easy grin as she tries to secure his arms with hers!

COMBATSYS: Hotaru successfully hits Nikolai with Tenrankutou.

[                        \\\\\\  < >  /////                         ]
Hotaru           1/-----==/=======|=====--\-------\0          Nikolai

To the casual observer it might look as if Nikolai is taking this whole thing less seriously, his tendency to laugh and tease contrasting Hotaru's more focused approach. However, the Sailor Scout herself is best positioned to know that nothing could be further from the truth. Just because he's laughing doesn't mean he isn't trying, and though he may have had some slip ups wanting to show off, or not wanting to straight up punch her in the face, he is a teenage boy after all. What decent boy wants to clobber a cute girl in the nose?
"I have you!" the boy proclaims jubilantly as he finally manages to wrestle the squirmy girl flat, knees on her skinny arms and weight settling upon her chest. Heaving out a final breath, he aims his triumphant smile down at her, finding nothing at all suspicious in the way she returns it. Clever blue eyes alight with the thrill of victory, he has just enough time to glance away, searching for the official who will call it, when he feels her shift beneath him.
Eyes flaring with a ghostly flash, the Dread Pirate brings both hands darting up from where they had rested upon his thighs, fingers closing around her booted ankles as they lock around his neck. He has just began the violent sideways jerk that should twist him free of the grapple when she bucks, putting all the strength of her supple form into whipping him backward to slam hard against the pavement, blond head bouncing off of the paving stones with a sharp 'THONK.'
Dual consciousnesses flickering from yet another impact to the grey matter, his too blue eyes roll up into his head, arms flailing out wildly as the Sailor Scout's slight weight settles once more upon his gut.
All around them, the crowd of onlookers has began to clap politely in typical Japanese fashion, a few foreigners in their midst letting out hoots or whistles of encouragement. Crowding forward to the very edge of the makeshift arena, they strain to see what is happening now that the flashy pyrotechnics have given way to a scrabbling wrestling match that rolls the pair across the grimy stones.
However, despite the eager eyes of the audience set upon them, it is Sailor Futaba alone who is close enough to see the darkness that mists her opponent's glowing eyes. And that is her only warning before a torrent of hempen rope bursts forth from the sack squashed beneath his back, spilling forth from the mouth and tearing through the stitching in a flailing mass of darkly stained coils. Lashing out in all directions, the heavy strands slap against the empty stones in a circle some 30 feet across, filling a large portion of the arena as the living nooses grope for something, anything to latch on to. And though the majority of them come up empty, a significant chunk of them slap against Hotaru's slender form, their ends attempting to loop around ankles, wrists, and throat, while still others make to encircle and constrict, more and more of the mass reversing course toward her in an attempt to bury her within a crushing cocoon of coppery-smelling coils.

COMBATSYS: Nikolai can no longer fight.

[                        \\\\\\  <
Hotaru           1/-----==/=======|

COMBATSYS: Hotaru fails to interrupt Friend Of The Gallows EX from Nikolai with Kobi Kyaku.
* Attack Of Opportunity! *

COMBATSYS: Hotaru can no longer fight.

"It seems I have you," Hotaru's voice escapes her lips between breaths that have her shoulders rising and falling. She knows full well that if he were at full strength, he would have little trouble wresting himself free of her dead-weight pin, under no delusions that she could keep anyone but a small child held down by her mass alone. But she also knows that neither he nor she is anywhere near full strength after a bout of slams, holds, bashes, kicks, and punches that would sap the strength of most fighters.

Were she to fight with the ruthless aggression of her father - a unrelenting approach to combat inherited by her missing brother, she might have taken advantage of his open defenses to draw her arm back and deliver a palm strike or three to really drive home that she had the upper hand now. But that wasn't her style - and she knew full well both father and brother would mock her for that, if they so much as even cared to see one of her matches. But she would move forward her own way, not theirs. And so she is content to see if he has enough fight in him to break free one last time or not.

Hotaru realizes a moment too late that she should have considered that he might be able to fight using means other than his arms. His combat style had been an arsenal of unorthodox approaches. It shouldn't be a surprise that he has yet another option tucked away - one that seems to require no more than thought to put to use, but when the rope bursts free from behind his back she is well and truly caught off guard. Eyes go wide as she sits up straight, pulling her arms back as she twists her head left and right, trying to understand the supernatural phenomenon unfolding all around her. Her right arm snaps up to knock aside one of the flailing ropes only for another to close down over her raised wrist a split second later, drawing tight. Alertness becomes alarm as she suddenly shoots up to her feet, right arm held fast. Looking all around her, she uses her left hand to knock aside more ropes before planting her left foot and sweeping her right foot out and back, from low to high, in a reverse roundhouse direction, trying to clear more space from behind her so that she can focus her defenses in a more limited angle.


The attempt is in vain, however, for every end that she deflects, another is right behind it, two loops landing around her scything ankle, leaving her balanced on her left leg alone. "Wha-"

It is on reflex that she brings her left hand up as another drops around her head, getting her upper arm in front of her neck and braced against her cheek as the loop draws tight. Far from comfortable, but it keeps her from being strangled at least.

Heart racing as her options for contending against the tenacious hemp run short, the young fighter is left to watch wide-eyed as the rest of the writhing mass surges back toward her, concealing the girl from sight a split second later! Having already been pushed close to her limits by the match, the compressing dark tightness combined with her inability to move her limbs freely leaves Sailor Futaba unable to do a little more than squirm amid the ropes, trying in vain to bend her left leg enough too kick against it.

Heart racing, breaths come harder against the unyielding constricting tension. The thought that she won't have the strength to break this thing on her own takes root in her mind - all she can hope, as she fights for one more breath, is that someone else will.

Though the Sailor Scout kicks and struggles as best as she can, the slithering coils slowly constrict around Hotaru's squirming form, encasing her in a living cocoon of damp, humid death. The coppery smell of the thing fills every breath, its fibrous mass scratching across soft skin as it slowly constricts with each of her exhales, threatening to throttle the life from her.
This, is not Nikolai. Where the boy had been playful, almost puppyish in his joy, the mind behind her bindings is malign. A hateful intelligence that wants, even craves her death. Needs to soak its coils in the fresh red bliss of her blood...
Mr. Borisyuk's booming voice hits the spellbound onlookers like a slap to the face, breaking the silent spell that had crept over the crowd. Giving not a single damn about Neo League Procedure, the great bear of a Siberian erupts into the fighting area and thunders his way over to where his sun lies still upon the ground, brushing aside the loose tendrils that remain unconnected to the shifting bundle nearby. Dropping heavily to his knees, he reaches down to cradle his boy's head between massive palms, thumbs digging into cheeks as he tilts to gaze down into curse-blackened eyes.
"Nikolai, my son." he rumbles, ignoring the cry of officials behind him. "Nikolai, you must focus."
Unsure of what to do, the crowd shifts nervously as Neo League staff hurry forward to keep them back, two burly security staff accompanying the referee into the circle to grab hold of the cocoon that is Hotaru, prying at the ropes to little affect.
"Disqualification!" cries the ref at Mr. Borisyuk's broad back, "Disqualified! Release her!"
Like a boulder amidst foaming rapids, the older shaman ignores the words, lets the chaos part around him as he focuses all of his attention on his son. Words low and encouraging, he continues to have words only for Nikolai, reverting back to their mother tongue.
"Breathe, son. Put the pain away as I have taught you. Your will is greater than this."
"What The Hell?!" Comes the startled cry of one of the two security guards, the man having pulled a utility knife to slash at the rope bindings, releasing a spray of blood that splatters his face and arm before the wound seals itself as quickly as it was made.
"Nikolai." Mr. Borisyuk encourages, the single point of stability in an ocean of madness.
And slowly, despite the threats of the ref and the growing unease of the crowd, the ropes around Hotaru begin to loosen. Tiny, whispering breaths are allowed to expand. Gaps appear in the loosening net of nooses. Over the course of perhaps a minute the ropes gradually release their grip and are pulled away by the two men in Neo League uniforms, returning the Sailor Scout to the light and relatively fresh air of the Fish Market.
Blue eyes blinking up at his father, Nikolai lifts both hands to shove weakly at the hands smothering his head, the big man pulling back to allow his son room to scrub gloved palms across his face. Seeming unaware of the ropes' slithering retreat into his bag, the boy struggles slowly up into a seated position, looking haggard and wrung out. Eyes just a touch bloodshot, he gazes up through his fingers at his father, before looking away, ashamed.
Still ignoring the ref that buzzes around them, Mr. Borisyuk rests a hand briefly upon his son's shoulder, far gentler than a man of his size might suggest, before rising to tower over all and sundry. A single step brings him looming over Hotaru herself, the big man pushing between the fussing security to lean over her with a look of craggy concern.
"Young lady," he rumbles in perfectly serviceable Japanese, "You are unharmed? Please, accept my apology for my son. It was not his wish to hurt you. Please do not hold this thing against him."
A bearish paw of a hand is offered down to the girl, expression remaining stern but grave.
"Perhaps, allow him to buy you some ice cream, yes? One of many ways he will work to atone."

Eyes open or closed makes no difference to the rope-entombed girl, either way the world around her is nothing a dark, tight, crushing, ever-shrinking coffin. No one ever said professional fighting was a safe sport or career path to pursue. Just stepping into an arena against another means someone is going to get hurt. There might be some bleeding, definitely bruising, and occasionally even dislocated joints or broken bones. That is what one was signing up for.

But while the Futaba orphan was aware that in some places in the world, in bouts not broadcast for public consumption, even greater risks were incurred by those who chose to participate, there was never any expectation to encounter something like that in the relatively tame venue of the Neo League.

But none of that was any comfort here and now. It was everything she could do to try and curl in on herself to create a small pocket of air, to control her breaths, to not fully exhale but also try to keep from hyperventilating. Why would he bring something like this to a match? He might as well had pulled out a gun for all the sense she could make of it!

Ears ringing, she was partially oblivious to what was going on outside the hempen mass, but she was aware of shouting going on. And then a sense of loosening in the living cords around her.

It seems eternity before she finally sees a crack of light, fingers curling around the barely yielding bindings. The influx of fresh air is a panacea, Hotaru coughing as her lungs are finally allowed to fulfill their purpose once more. It isn't long before she's sitting on the wet stones, knees drawn up slightly, hands behind her as her arms prop her up. Pale and shaken, she looks around with blinking eyes. A minute ago, it was just her and the foreign wanderer in battle. And now she's surrounded by chaos. Officials yelling, crowd murmuring and gawking, someone putting his finger to her neck to do a quick check on her pulse. It's a confusing cacophony to take on and it's all she can do to stay sitting and wait for the dazed sense to bleed away.

But then a large form steps in front of her and she finds something that not only draws her attention but seems to demand her focus and her eyes lock on the bear of a man as security are shoved aside to make way. The blinking of her eyes and slight furrow of her brow makes it clear that she's finally back in the present, mind racing. His voice is heard over the noise of the crowd, the ringing in her ears. She looks wary at first. This is the father of that- of Nikolai. But she had seen the man give his support in the match, not just to his son, but to her as well. He wasn't a bad person, was he?

His hand extends and her far smaller one lifts, allowing him to easily close over it and pull the young fighter to her feet. She looks around, seeing no sign of the ropy menace before looking back up Mr. Borisyuk, tension easing out of her expression and shoulders.

Slowly but perceptibly, a smile works its way into her features along with a nod that starts slight but builds as she repeats it a second, then a third time, becoming more emphatic. She thinks of the boy she had fought, the laughter, the banter, the playing at being a pirate. He couldn't be a bad person, could he?

"I believe you," Hotaru declares, her voice a little horse but the words enunciated clearly. Her smile becomes a faint, tired grin, as she lifts her arm and wipes it across her sweat dampened forehead, "And I'll hold him to it." she adds, glancing toward Nikolai as she speaks, left hand now rubbing her right wrist where red marks linger from the rope. The look in her eye reflect a maelstrom of internal thoughts, but the grin lingers, expression soft rather than harboring anger.

"Because apologies definitely land better over ice cream."

Log created on 23:42:41 06/25/2022 by Nikolai, and last modified on 04:11:26 03/27/2023.