Fightfest 2023 - Working Out the Truth

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Description: With Chevy and Ichika both using the Hotel Southtown's gym facilities to work out their various frustrations, it's only a matter of time before the pair run into one another. Ichika is very happy for the opportunity to try and make a better second impression than first, and she's surprised to find that Chevy also seems to want to reach out and treat her as an equal. A heart to heart about what fighting means to them leads to a practical demonstration, one which reignites the joy of fighting in the hearts of both women!

Clink. Clink. Clink. Clink. The sound of weight plates bonking against one another in a controlled rhythm -- a common enough sound to be heard inside the Southtown Hotel's gym and fitness suite. Just... not usually this damn early in the morning. And not usually with a redheaded foreigner as the one pulling down the bar.

Chevy Beaumont is here. And she's got some things to work out, if the intense focus in her features is any indication. She's got her earbuds in, and she's dressed for the part: lycra sportswear and a loose white tanktop.

It's easier to focus on her workout.
Because there's a trio of guys waiting outside the gym suite, drinking their coffee, halfheartedly minding their daily papers while pretending (poorly) not to gawk.

Clink. Clink. Clink. There's a pattern to these workouts. And there is also a target number of repetitions, which Chevy has apparently reached, as she lets the bar rise to its rest position. Letting out a sigh, she dabs her forehead with the white towel set aside for just that purpose, and takes a long draw from her water bottle. Pointedly -not- looking towards the entrance or the windows.

Ichika has been spending much more time at the hotel. Previously, she'd come here to socialise and not really succeeded at that goal. Since her battle with Buford, though, she'd made more of an effort to take advantage of the benefits being offered by the scheme. The hotel room is a pleasant change from the Justice dorms, and without her teachers, fellow students, or family breathing down her neck all the time... she's had much more opportunity to reflect by herself. The fight had been intense. Far more so than she would even have thought possible. It was frightening in some ways, and in others... exciting.

She hasn't been able to shake her usual sleeping schedule, though. Early to rise and late to rest, Ichika doesn't get much sleep - she can't, if she wants to fit in the vast amount of studying the school puts on her. That has eased ever so slightly with her enrolement here, but it still goes against her nature to let time go to waste, so she too comes to the gym, only to find that she's not the only one here.

Chevy looks far more impressive in her gymwear than Ichika does in the bright orange sports uniform of Justice High, but her options ARE limited. She's still carrying her sword, though. Set at her hip just in case she suddenly finds she needs it.

"Ah, Beaumont-san." The girl hesitates for a moment, seeing the older fighter... and then she nods firmly to herself, walking over to her and giving a respectful bow. She does increase the tone of her voice just a little, just in case the headphones are doing too good a job blocking out the rest of the world.

"It is good to see you again. I hope you don't mind if I share the space with you this morning?"

Chevy didn't respond to the initial greeting -- largely because she just didn't -hear- it. But that's a challenge Ichika is easily able to surmount with the followup, and well, standing in Chevy's field of vision.

"Oh!" responds Chevy, at perhaps twice the intended volume. A quick touch on her phone is enough to mute her earbuds as she levies her full attention span onto the Justice student before her. "Hm? Aw, nah, it's a free country..." she starts. But then she realizes what she says, resulting in a confused frown. Is it, though? Is it -really?- Politics weren't ever her thing.

Coughing into a balled fist, she continues: "I mean, yeah! It's good seein you, Kasu... moto... san." She scratches her head. "Sorry, I've been workin' on my Japanese but it ain't exactly rollin' off the tongue yet..."

The redhead does tilt her head with a glance at the sword on Ichika's hip. "... But yeah, I don't mind at all, but... like... does... your sword ever get in the way?"

Is it a free country, indeed. A question that would be worthy of one of her end of year tests. And one she wouldn't feel entirely comfortable trying to answer. Thankfully, the conversation moves on before the girl has to try and grapple with that particularly thorny issue.

She smiles when Chevy tries for her name again; a genuine, bright expression. "Ah, please. You're doing very well! I really appreciate the effort. I ah ... you were, more comfortable on a first name basis, weren't you...?" There's a real question in her voice. Because if Chevy is making the effort for her, she feels like she ought to make the effort in return; but it becomes such a complex minefield. If she's using Chevy's first name but Chevy is using her surname, that feels strange. It feels far too familiar either way. It's strange enough for an adult to be calling her -san, but ... well, she is a member of the Super Elite, perhaps she ought to be more used to that.

"Oh, the sword..." She says, her hand moving to the hilt as though she had forgotten it was there at all. "At first it did, yes, but I've gotten used to it now. It actually feels stranger if I don't have it with me. It's difficult to explain. It does make going to the baths or hot springs awkward, though..."

Chevy's chin drops slightly. "I... I mean, yeah? I don't even know most of my friends' last names. Aside from the three Jims. That gets confusin'." She rubs the back of her neck wit her towel. And... oblivious to Ichika's plight, she attempts to remain accomodating: "I mean, I'm fine with you callin' me Chevy, if that's what you're askin'! Haha..." She flashes a shy grin. As a novice to Japanese, navigating the subtle nuances of suffixes are -far- beyond her at the moment.

Swords, though... she can understand them, in theory. Just not the particulars Ichika presents her with now, which increase the arch of an eyebrow. "So, wait, wait, hold on. You... you take it to the baths?" And the hot springs, yes. But the baths are the point she's working with now. "Like... -in- the water?"

Ichika's smile becomes a little more fixed as Chevy misinterprets what she meant. She wasn't asking for permission to call the woman by her name, she was almost hoping for a confirmation that she could avoid doing that! The discomfort the misunderstanding causes is an almost physical pain; sandpaper rubbing across her sensibilities in a way that sets her teeth thoroughly on edge. Trying to navigate that cross-cultural divide was awful. She would just have to try and swallow it. She's Chevy's host, after all ... if not literally, at least in some kind of figurative sense.

"Ah, no, sorry, I was unclear." She says with a little laugh, to try and dispel the tension. Which doesn't really work, because the poor thing's laugh sounds distinctly tense. "I can't take it into those places. Even if it weren't against the rules, the water would damage it. So, I feel less comfortable there. I suppose it's like... your mobile phone, you know? You don't need it in your hand all the time but you become used to always having it within easy reach..."

The little laugh from Ichika is like the doctor's tiny little reflex hammer hitting Chevy right in the knee. "... Oh." Her neck stiffens up, and she takes a brief half-step backwards -- as if afraid she might have been inadvertently stepping all over Ichika's portion of the floor.

"I mean. Yeah. That's why--" At this point, it's Chevy's turn to let out a tension-relieving laugh. "Yeah. I don't know what I'd do without my phone, I mean, I couldn't read -any- of the signs here without it." Pause. "Except the ones in English, o'course."

Her eyebrows wrinkle in thought, as she's not quite done with thinking about the issue raised. And she notes: "That was a -really- good analogism, there. Like, I wouldn't want to get my phone -wet- either. I get it, yeah!"

Chevy glances once again at the sword, now that she's thinking more upon it. "... How's your dad doin'? He was lookin' a little rough the last time we, uh, talked an' all."

Ichika feels a little glow of pride at the compliment to her analogy. Even with the obvious difficulties, she's not completely helpless when it comes to connecting with this woman after all. "Thank you." She says, politely, trying to shake off the mutual nervousness. It's actually easier now that she's getting a read on the fact that Chevy is just as uncomfortable as she is. She doesn't want to upset her, either, and neither of them can negotiate this as adeptly as they would like. It's comforting to know that she's not the only one finding it difficult.

"Father ... is not dealing well with the attention." She says, lightly. "Mother has forbid him from coming to the Hotel again in case someone sees him embarrass himself again, and he's certainly not allowed to attend any further matches between myself and Fadel-san."

That commentary, focusing on his reaction to the way the sensual fighter moved ... well, it's probably not difficult to imagine the fireworks that must have exploded at home over that.

"How, are you finding the tournament so far... Chevy?" Ichika asks, "Is it ... like how you expected it to be? I know it is very early, but still..."

Chevy dabs the back of her neck with the towel, leaning back against the machine casually. It's true that she -is- a bit nervous, but she's able to see the signs of a similar condition in Ichika. And that brings about a warmer, more sincere smile from her freckled face.

"Well, I mean, it's... that's good and it's bad too, though, right? I mean, it's sad that he won't get to see you fight in person."

She shifts her weight from one foot to the other. "... Well, I didn't figure I'd be gettin' very far in this, but I didn't expect -I- would be the one wiping me out." She adds with a faint laugh, "Tamaki was fun. But copyin' my looks was a bit of a shock."

She scratches the bridge of her nose. "I feel kinda jealous though. You managed to get a whole -second- fight out of your time here, what's the deal with that?" A playful smile presents itself, just before Chevy takes a swig from her water bottle.

Ichika moves to one of the nearby treadmills. The talk about her father is difficult. Is she sad that he won't see her fight? She's honestly not sure. She has never lacked for his approval. In fact, the expectations he heaps upon her and his relentless praise even when she is struggling are constant burdens for her. Perhaps it is best that he isn't there. But she feels she OUGHT to want him there. It's ungrateful, isn't it, to feel how she does? Her brow furrows as she begins to walk on the treadmill, starting slow.

"Tamaki-san seems like a very formidable opponent." She agrees, "As for Maclanky-kun... tch, that situation was... difficult."

She begins to pick up the pace, her eyes meeting Chevy's seriously. "At first it was a calculated decision. I didn't feel that I had performed adequately in order to catch the attention of any potential sponsors, so I needed more time to demonstrate my skills. But it escalated much further than I had intended. Much further."

Miss Beaumont would love it if her dad could watch. And she'd love it if her mom would show even the slightest bit of interest in her fighting. She's able to keep the troubling thoughts at bay for the moment, focusing instead on -listening- to Miss Kasumoto, living in the moment. And not only that -- but walking with her, over to the treadmills. Getting that heartrate back up might actually be a good thing.

Beep, beep, boop. At some point the novelty of electronic beeps that are soft and melodic, rather than grating and loud as in her home country, might wear thin. But for right now she's glad for it. Placing her drink in the cupholder, she keeps pace with Ichika as the Justice student speaks.

"Hm. You... didn't feel you did -enough?- I mean, I don't know much about swordplay but I feel like you did good!" Jog, jog, jog. "I couldn't really tell what y'all were talkin' about but it seemed intense! You wanna talk about it?"

Ichika settles into a comfortable pace. When she realises that Chevy is keeping pace with her, she stops ramping up and instead settles into that as a casual speed where she can hold a conversation. The difficulty, though, is that the questioning makes her uncomfortable. How much could she really feel comfortable sharing? There were moments in that fight where she had genuinely lost control. It wasn't something she liked in herself. She didn't know Chevy well enough to be sure how the woman would react if she shared everything.

"During the dismantling of the car? No. I just hacked at the front of it. Nobody who was trying to look at me as a prospective student would have known a thing about what I can do. Fighting Maclanky-kun ... did solve that problem."

It's easier now she doesn't have to look right at Chevy, too; staring forwards lets her glare at the wall as she considers...

"Maclanky-kun is racist. Sexist. And pathetic. As we fought I realised that he wasn't seeing me. He was just seeing the stereotypes that live in his head. He did not see Kasumoto Ichika. He saw Japanese Schoolgirl. It... angered me. More than I have ever been angry in my life before."

Angry enough to kill.

She doesn't say it, but the thought lingers in her head and it definitely makes the girl's expression stony to think about. It hadn't lasted long. Only a few seconds. And thankfully, she had not been successful. But when she thought that she might LOSE, when her pride and dignity were threatened by that revolting fool... she'd made the attempt and she'd meant it. She doesn't like that, not at all. What does it say about her?

Running is a good feeling. Chevy was in the middle of her workout, after all, and getting back to -some- expenditure of energy feels like the right thing to do. It may make speaking a little more difficult at times, but it's rarely a bad thing to spend a bit more time choosing one's words.

"Oh. I meant in your first fight," she interjects meekly. "You did great in that..."

Then Chevy listens. For she had felt odd vibes from Maclanky, but not to the degree Ichika is able to relate. Once the points are identified, she purses her lips, nodding slowly and attentively. "Mm, mm-hmm..." She hadn't dug into research on this... Buford person, but she's glad for the intelligence report.

"I get it, yeah. I'd've probably tossed him on his butt, too, if he started carryin' on like that with me. Drives me crazy when people think I can't do somethin' just 'cause I'm a girl."

Jog, jog, jog. Chevy glances over at Ichika's treadmill, careful to keep a similar pace. It's not a competition, and she doesn't really -want- it to be.

But then Chevy glances up. "So, uh, dumb question here, but like... what's the -kun part mean? Is it a politeness thing?"

"A-ah, the first fight... I, didn't feel I performed well there either, really... Fadel-san got under my skin there, too..."

Now that she thinks about it, that has been a theme with her fights. Though in the second one, it had paid off. People had expected her to be this 'ice queen', but she's not really living up to that. It's difficult, though. Emotions are a vital part of the flow of fighting. When she's ruled by them, she can't think clearly, her tactics get clouded and the path to victory eludes her. But if she tries to shut them out, she can't reach the heights she needs to in order to obtain victory. It's a dilemma. One she can't tease apart intellectually.

"A-ah, no, that's, not a stupid question at all, you have no way of knowing what it means..." She says, maintaining her pace carefully on the treadmill as she clears her throat. How to explain this without it making her sound like the most arrogant person on the planet? ... There probably isn't a way.

"In simple terms, -san means polite respect to an equal. Kun, means that I consider him my junior. It isn't so rude as to be intolerably disrespectful, at least in my opinion, but... it is close, and some people may feel that way. He is my elder, after all."

Back on the farm, running was reserved for chasing down the hogs that escape the fence. It took a while, but Chevy finally began to see the benefits when she started practicing for fighting. And now -- well, the steady rhythm of her own footfalls gives her time to fully digest what Ichika is telling her -- the slight tells that show that there may still be some tension between the two fighters from opposite sides of the world.

It also gives her the patience to smile in understanding, as the difficult labyrinth of stacking social cues is so expertly explained.

"So it's a cute way to knock him down a peg. Nice."

Chevy's not really -avoiding- eye contact, but nor is she pressuring Ichika with any of her own. Just offering that gentle smile.

"My agent tells me I coulda have fought JD for some bonus points like you did. But it didn't feel right. I didn't have a grudge, and the car took a lot out of me, t'be honest."

She jogs for a moment, turning over the thought in her head, before making an addition.

"I feel like I -should- fight more. But I'm not what you might say 'angry' at much anyone."

Ichika nods slowly. She is still keeping her eyes forward. It might even seem a little rude; the truth is that it just doesn't occur to her that she could turn her head and look at Chevy whilst talking to her. It's easier if she doesn't have to confront that alongside her own internal worries. Ah, the joys of being a teenager... overthinking everything, which makes you thoughtless to the people around you.

"I don't think fighting is something it is good to do when you are angry." She admits, "It is dangerous. We are only novices, but the possibility of really hurting each other is there, and it's more difficult to hold back when you are really furious..."

She hesitates for a moment before she presses on, "Why, do you feel you should fight, Chevy?" She asks, "I know in your interview you mentioned your father's past, and wanting to meet interesting people... but is there more to it? To travel so far from home and put yourself in the spotlight in front of so many people, it's no small thing."

And still, she jogs. That same pace. The rhythm of the treadmills beneath them providing a gentle cadence to the conversation along with the electronic beeps. When she's focusing on other things, it's easy for her to just detach from any complaints her body might have; she's not even breathing harder yet!

"Nah," is Chevy's sober reply. "Me either." Fighting is not something to do when angry.

The words by themselves mean little, but the -sentiment- is one that weighs heavily on Chevelle's mind, and has for many years. The true story of what happened in that bar so many years ago may never be fully understood. And yet, Chevy has a damn good idea, from the sights she's seen and the things she's heard. And she's shaped much of her own fighting techniques around the idea that fighting -isn't- something that requires anger. Which is why she's curious about Ichika's response -- knowing at least -some- the context behind it.

But she tucks that away behind a pleasant smile, and the gentle rhythms of treadmills operating as per their design. The question calls her back to her interview. It seemed so long ago; what did she even say, back then? Her forehead wrinkles in thought.

"Gosh, I don't even remember what I told 'em. But like."
Six footfalls of thought.
"It's like Dad left the book open for me. The secret to life, right on this page."
Six more footfalls.
"But it's always felt like the rest of the pages are blank. I don't know how he -got- to this page. It's like, to him, fighting's the answer, but what was the -question?-"

Chevy thumbs up the speed on her treadmill, just one notch. She takes caution to use her toes and her heels -- to keep from clomping around like an oaf, to keep the noise at reasonable levels.

"I guess, to answer your question... it just feels right. I can't explain it." She turns to look aside, to see if Ichika is as puzzled as she is. "I guess I'm hoping that by doin' it, I'll get the answer somehow. Is that weird?"

A pause.
"What about you? Why do you fight?"

Ichika does listen, intently, to the answer. She reaches up absently, running her hand through her hair to try and smooth it back down. That doesn't work, of course. It never does. But the attempt is made, as she muses on what Chevy said. For a short time after the questions come back at her in turn, there is only the sound of the pair running, and then she finally gives her considered response.

"If you had asked me a few weeks ago, I would have said I don't understand. But I think I have more of an idea, now. In both the fights I have had, I walked away with more understanding. Of myself, of the people I thought, and of what questions I need to ask to become better. Many professionals talk about fighting as a kind of path that you walk, and I think that is a good way of seeing it. By challenging ourselves in this way we begin a journey and none can say where it will take us. That is exciting."

Her arms and legs had been working in perfect synch, but when she moves on to the second question, her hand dips to briefly touch the hilt of the blade - as though that bobbing weapon itself contains some kind of answer.

"My family and my school expect me to forge a legacy." She says, "It is my duty to become part of the Super Elite and guide the world. I... do not know how to do that. I am not like my peers. But I thought, maybe if I can win this..."

She trails off, sweat finally starting to glisten on her brow as she admits the insecurities that have driven her to this point.

Very different to the demure, humble, 'oh I just want to see what I can do' answer she had given in that interview.

Chevelle looks forward again, thinking on that for a good, long moment. No response, save for the measured strides on the treadmill.

And then, a hitch of breath precedes her answer.
"Wow, that's like... super deep."

She thinks on that for a few more strides before realizing she hasn't actually said anything yet.

"I mean, I don't want to be all like, 'Oh, me too, totally!' and yet, I kinda =do?=" Chevy laughs, despite herself. "Because I feel like, I -learned- some stuff about Tamaki that just wouldn't have come out if it weren't for fighting bein' like... I dunno, the common -language- shared between us. And JD, er... John Doe... like... "

Chevy grunts. And then smiles.

"He didn't have much to say. So pretty much all we -had- to say was taken out on that poor Lincoln."

Miss Beaumont considers parental expectations... the -drive-, expressed so differently from those of her own parents. "That's a lot to live up to. I mean, you're in Justice, I hear that's probably the best -place- to learn how to lead and all that. They really push people to be their best and all."

Chevy falls quiet, considering the flow of conversation for a few footsteps. The lift and fall of footsteps, the similarities and the differences between the two.

"I've just... always learned by doin'." The redhead sweeps a thumb up, brushing a loose lock of hair from her eyes, as she turns to face Ichika. "So I wonder if it might be a good idea for us to have a match... you an' me. Y'know?"

Again, Ichika finds herself wondering how much she ought to say to Chevy. About her own doubts and fears. Her feelings on leadership and the challenges faced by the world that she will inherit, and be expected to fix. She doesn't know this woman very well, she tells herself. She can't expect her to understand. It is unfair to put so much on another person, anyway. And besides, it would bring down the mood to an intolerable low. Right now, this has been a pleasant start to the morning; perhaps she has not fatally wounded her relationship with everyone else in this competition after all.

"Justice High is the pride of Japan. There is no better place to learn." She says, almost by reflex, as though she needed to deflect any possibility that what she said could be considered criticism of the school. Then the offer of a match comes, and Ichika finally looks right at Chevy - her surprise obvious on her face. For all her insight and all it now seems obvious in retrospect, she hadn't seen the offer coming.

She steps off the treadmill, and her hand pulls a comb out from the pocket of her uniform. This, she runs through her hair in an absent, unconscious motion.

"Here and now?" She says, "I... hm. It does make sense. We've both found fighting to be a good way of coming to an understanding of others. It only makes sense that we should see what we can teach each other. And it isn't as though either of us are in danger of facing each other in the competition any time soon."

A wan little smile at that; her early loss still, obviously, stings. But she feels as though she's redeemed herself a little in the second match. Perhaps her third will take her another step closer to believing in herself.

Chevy isn't that much older than Ichika. And yet, there is no doubt in her mind that Ichika has devoted a great deal more thought to the art of fighting than she has. That much is obvious in how she moves, how she acts, and how she thinks. And that wisdom is definitely -useful- to her.

It's just a question of how much of it will -stick-.

Beep, beep. The treadmill slows to a halt, as Chevy steps off, following Ichika's lead. Here and now? "Well, I mean, I gotta grab my buckets, but I can be back in like five minutes, tops," she admits with faint laughter. "And yeah, I... I think it'd be fun! Like, watching fights is one thing, and I can pick up a lot that way, but actually putting it into practice is somethin' that I don't get as much of a chance to -do-, y'know?"

Chevy claps her hands together, and then offers a brief bow -- a better one than at their last meeting, by a long shot.

"Okay, so right back here, five minutes -- sound good?"

Devoting far too much thought to literally everything is probably Ichika's greatest strength and her greatest flaw. If she didn't so ruthlessly interrogate herself and her own actions all the time she would be much less hard on herself and probably more like the average kid. But, then, she certainly wouldn't have gotten into Justice on a scholarship, and whilst she often wishes she hadn't... the opportunities the school lends her really are something great. Would the New Fighting Generation have even given her a second look if she didn't have their reputation backing up her credibility?

She smiles at the clarification, and returns the bow.

"Of course. Don't rush. I can wait here for you. I... look forward to experiencing your style first hand, as well."

She means it, too. Both her previous fights had so much riding on them. This, though, is just going to be a training match. There's not even going to be many witnesses. The three who had been waiting outside certainly don't seem to be in a rush to use the equipment!

"Okay! I'll be right back!"

Four minutes later, she's back, leaning against the glass of the door.
Yes, she rushed. She's panting for breath from running up and down the stairs. And from the way her buckets are swinging, it looks like she'd filled her buckets in her own room, as well.

The gents outside give a small round of applause.

It's hard for Chevy -not- to be infected by the New Fighting Generation bug. It's a brave new world for her, after all -- and in Ichika, and Tamaki, and John Doe, she's seen kindred spirits. She'd -like- to get to know the others well, also -- but there's definitely something about Kasumoto-san that she's been yearning to learn more about. Especially in a (nominally) non-competitive setting.

She's dressed exactly the same as before. The only thing different is that she's standing where there aren't any treadmills or exercise equipment, obviously. And the pole and water buckets, obviously.

"Now, folks tell me I got a habit of not lookin' before I leap. But I trust you, Kasumoto-san!"

(Not pictured: Chevy practicing the Justice student's name up and down all four flights of stairs.)

With a sloshing sound, the pole spins around behind Chevy, balanced expertly upon her right shoulder, braced by her right hand. Flashing a heartfelt smile, she calls out, "So come on at me when you're ready!"

COMBATSYS: Chevy has started a fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Chevy            0/-------/-------|

When Chevy returns, she finds Ichika sat cross-legged in the middle of the floor. Her sword is drawn and resting on her knees. Her eyes are closed, and her breathing is rhythmic. It was only four minutes of time to centre herself, but it's definitely fair to say that Ichika is taking this seriously. She doesn't want to do Chevy the disservice of giving her a bad fight because her head is still all over the place after the conversation. Of course... it doesn't really help much. She's still a bundle of tight-wound emotions, but she can at least try.

The girl's eyes open and she stands when Chevy enters. A smile tugs at her lips to see the skillful way that pole and pair of buckets are spun. She takes a firm grip on the hilt of her sword, and nods. "I will happily take the first move, if that is what you wish. This may only be a training bout, but I will give you my very best. Let's sharpen each other's skills, and find the questions that hide in our hearts!"

It's... maybe a little overdramatic. But that's Ichika all over. Chevy has already given her a lot to think about with the conversation, and she dearly wishes to return the favour. So she does so the only way she knows how...

By dashing in as fast as she can, her sword a blur as she aims to send a diagonal slash coming in from left to right across Chevy's midsection - though this is only the first part of the attack, because her momentum will carry her forwards and she'll couple it with a leaping kick to try and smack her sneaker into the redhead's stomach! No holding back indeed.

COMBATSYS: Ichika has joined the fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Ichika           0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Chevy

COMBATSYS: Chevy blocks Ichika's Innovation Drive.

[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Ichika           0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0            Chevy

There's things smart people do. And there's things Chevy does. And one of the things Chevy does is walk into a bout with a battle with a trained swordswoman without wearing armor of any kind. Even just heavy cloth would provide better protection than the millimeters-thick fabric she happens to be wearing -- but that's just how much Chevy -does- trust her fellow competitor.

"Yes! Let's see what the tide brings in!"

This faith is tested in the moment that follows -- as Ichika's blade sweeps down in a wide diagonal slash! Water sloshes, frothing as the pole is brought to bear as an immediate retort to the bold stroke, clashing in a shower of sparks! Chevy, driven backwards two steps, grits her teeth in surprise -- but when the leaping kick comes in, she's able to swing the pole up to defend that as well -- mostly! While the brunt of the impact is dulled, the attack still delivers enough force to smash the pole against Chevy, the hollow pole going "clonk!" as it raps against her leading shoulder.

"Nngh..." laments Chevy -- but in a moment of insight, she tries to take advantage of Ichika's recovery, swinging the pole and their buckets around as she hopes to tag the kenshi's ankle and pull it upwards, upending her! "Hraaa!"

COMBATSYS: Ichika blocks Chevy's Corner Store.

[   \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Ichika           0/-------/-----==|=------\-------\0            Chevy


The sword smashes down to take the place of Ichika's ankle. The momentum in the move is still enough to spin her, though, and the girl finds herself twisting in the air. Thankfully, the parry with her blade throws off the intended motion, and she's able to land on her feet with her sword in a reverse grip which, frankly, looks super cool. Trained swordswoman might be being a bit generous to Ichika, it's not like she's had anything in the way of formal instruction at all really, but it's certainly easy to believe that's not true as she recovers herself and smiles.

"Hah... I should have known that it wouldn't be that easy, you almost had me there..."

And then she springs from the crouched position in which she'd landed. She's very respectful of the woman's greater reach, and the coverage that the swinging pole provides; she needs to come in from a difficult angle or she's just going to get scooped back out and punished for it. The glittering arc the sword carves through the air, though, is a really beautiful thing; she'd gone for the centre mass the first time. This time she swings the blade around to the left as she leaps, only to reverse momentum and come in for a high-angled downwards cut, hoping to find Chevy's shoulder.

COMBATSYS: Chevy counters Artful Slash EX from Ichika with High Tide.

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Ichika           0/-------/----===|===----\-------\0            Chevy

Chevy isn't burdened by long considerations about tactics or strategy -- she just hasn't got the practical experience to know what separates a good attack from a bad one. Essentially, she's just doing what feels right -- based on an extensive knowledge of comedic martial arts movies and pro wrestling. A++ reference material from the all-time greats, clearly. It doesn't matter that the weapons in those sources might not be... well... -real?-

But Chevelle just -doesn't know- these things. She just knows what she was able to practice, while swinging pails of water around at home. She's gotten pretty good at that. Once her attack manages to twist Ichika around into the air, she pivots into the swing, redirecting the weight into a more controllable arc. Ultimately, it's the water itself that makes such a move possible -- water that she's able to direct on a subconscious level, without really knowing -why- or -how-...

"Hmm? Oh, I'm just kinda goin' with the flow..."

Indeed -- when she swings the pole around, it seems to be moving with a life of its own, her hand motions only giving suggestions to the motion. Practice it enough times and it just feels right.

And when Ichika comes in -- Chevy's eyes light up with excitement. For the sword arc -is- beautiful in its deadly efficiency -- an iridescent shimmer. But also, in its existence, a -threat-.

And Chevy slams one end of the pole down into the floor, the buckets swinging and sloshing to a stop.


The struck bucket rocks backwards, the water splashing around in an arc, and most likely catching Ichika in its midst.

But the true threat here is Chevy -- who has stepped out of harm's way, letting the bucket take the hit, while using the pole as leverage to whip Ichika out of midair and sweep her to the ground.

It all happens in the blink of an eye -- and the motion even leaves the redhead breathless.

"... Whoa," she comments, drawing the pole back. And sparing a glance at the scar left across her bucket.

"So that sword's pretty sharp, ain't it...?"

Ichika really is the very opposite to Chevy in so many ways. Her mind is constantly running, trying to chart a path to victory through the infinite possibilities that every moment in a fight represents. She thinks about EVERYTHING, and when she tries to run on pure instinct, it usually goes very badly for her. She can't trust her gut. But she can't think her way out of every problem, either. Even as her sword bites into metal and she realises what Chevy is doing, it's too late for her to arrest her momentum or take any action to defend herself.

The next thing she knows she's hitting the ground *hard* and the impact sends her sprawling. She manages to keep her grip on the sword, but that's about all she can manage. She gets back up to her feet, but it's clear that she felt that one. A lot.

"It, has to be." She says, as she recovers her position. "I'm not strong. But I don't need to be if the blade is sharp. I just need to be fast enough to make sure it connects."

Before, she had been wielding the sword one-handed, aiming to take advantage of the quickness and flexibility that offered. Now, though, she takes a two-handed grip, and raises the blade between herself and her opponent. Her eyes are so bright. Intense. The initial blows are over... it had cost her, but she'd learned a lot.

"Your greater reach is a real difficulty. But I've thought a lot about how to overcome that. Most people have a longer reach than me, if they are any kind of weapon user. It's not an insurmountable problem, though..."

COMBATSYS: Ichika focuses on her next action.

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Ichika           0/-------/----===|===----\-------\0            Chevy

Chevy's a country girl. She works with what's in front of her. And up until the blade bit into her bucket, she the thought had simply never occurred to her.

"Huh. All this time, huh?" The redhead whirls the buckets around, whoosh-whoosh-whoosh, sending ripples through the water spilled upon the floor. "I'd just never thought about it."

The pole is brought behind her, her right palm extended like a kung-fu master's. She can see the reflection of the blade -- the shimmering along its keen edge. Now that she's gotten evidence of its sharpness, it's not something she can ignore. "... Oh, yeah, I remember now. Djamila said in her interview she mighta wanted to fight me. But she doesn't use the pole anythin' like me, does she?"

Satisfied with her asked insight, Chevy sets the pole to spinning. And then she takes several long strides to close the gap. When she sweeps in close, she aims to swing a bucket in a rising diagonal across Ichika -- with an aim to suddenly hook it back, snaring the sword, and wrapping the bucket around Ichika's wrist for a takedown. "Hraaaa!"

COMBATSYS: Chevy successfully hits Ichika with Mix-Up Throw.

[            \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Ichika           0/-------/=======|==-----\-------\0            Chevy

"No. Fadel-san uses her pole as a stable base from which to attack. You use yours to project a zone of control."

It's an accurate assessment, even if it's not one that Chevy may have thought about in those exact terms before. Of course, there's a big difference between knowing what someone is doing and being able to do anything about it. Ichika tries to duck down and forwards, but the clashing bucket finds its mark against her blade and she can't quite jerk herself free before she is again swung around and sent crashing into the ground.

It's, painful. Very painful. As she'd just said, Ichika is not a strong person - she's about as strong, in fact, as the average fifteen year old girl - and these clashes where she's trying to wrench herself free of her opponent just aren't going her way. She needs to turn this around...

Thankfully, her positioning gives her the opportunity to do just that. Crashed into the ground this close to Chevy, Ichika lunges upwards with a sudden, brutal burst of speed.

Going from a downed position and then into this so quickly is taxing. Her muscles scream at her, but it's a calculated risk; she's falling behind. She needs to land a solid hit. And she needs to make that hit count. In spite of the protests of her body, she grits her teeth together and forces as much power into the rising slash as she can; coming up in a corkscrewing burst of motion that will, if it connects cleanly, pack enough force to lift Chevy up off her feet with the katana's edge cutting the entire way.

COMBATSYS: Chevy blocks Ichika's Bleeding Edge EX.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Ichika           0/-------/--=====|====---\-------\0            Chevy

"Oh." Chevy pauses as that sinks in. "Yeah that's a pretty big difference." It's clear she's giving the matter some thought, but a coherent response might have to wait a little while.

For now though, her approach seems to be paying off. The longer reach gives Beaumont just enough time to react, in whatever rough and undisciplined manner she can manage. Chevy's not about skill, it's not about strength -- but rather, just blind intution and a considerable amount of luck -- as she's able to pivot her steps sideways, and spin her pole and its buckets in just such a fashion that a bucket leads ahead of her by just a half-meter.


The corkscrewing blast catches the bucket and sweeps it upwards with enough force that the pole and other bucket start to go along for the ride. Only a last-ditch twist from Chevy is enough to keep the bespoke weapon system from being pulled out of her grasp as Miss Kasumoto blazes upwards -- and even then, Chevy gets clipped by her own bucket slamming into her hip in the unexpected fallout. "Yeowch!"

Staggering backwards though she may be, her attitude is turned far from downward. "That was super fast...!" comments the redhead as she steps backward. Recovering the pole, she sweeps it around in a wide clockwise spin...

"But I wonder if you're ready for a storm surge...!?"

Suddenly, she steps forward, swinging her pole in a wide arc -- and allowing the water to stream -out- from the buckets as an enormous scythe, threatening to unleash a hurricane-like whallop at Ichika!

COMBATSYS: Ichika dodges Chevy's Nor'easter.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Ichika           0/-------/--=====|====---\-------\0            Chevy

Although Ichika had said she'd thought of many ways to try and deal with the reach disadvantage - and that was true - it's fair to say that putting those ideas into practice is still proving troublesome. She just can't seem to find her way through the sweeping guard that the pole offers. The resounding clash of metal on metal sounds very dramatic, but it isn't getting her the progress she needs.

It always comes back to the allocation of resources. Chevy's uses have paid off. Ichika's have not. This is bad. Very bad. If they were playing Go, Ichika would be retreating behind her walls and trying to rally. But this isn't Go, and there is nothing to be gained by stepping backwards. Any attempt to do so would only give her opponent another opportunity to strike at her.

When the water comes bursting from the buckets, Ichika's eyes widen. Before she can even try to formulate a plan her body is moving. Hadn't she just been thinking she couldn't step backwards? Then what she needs to do is obvious!

She slides beneath the onrushing wave of water, bending backwards to let it pass overhead in a display of flexibility that she honestly didn't even know she was capable of until she very suddenly NEEDED to do it. The water crashes into the wall behind her with a mighty KASPLOOSH, and only then is she rising up again.

"Daring! But without the water in your buckets, your guard is weaker!"

That's the hope anyway. The added weight has played a key role in knocking her strikes away thus far. She can see her opening. The path to victory shines clearly in her mind's eye. All she needs to do is lunge, seize this moment--

And she tries to drive the point of her katana right into Chevy's shoulder. The piercing thrust is risky on her part too; more power, but HER guard will be more difficult for her to recover with that much momentum put into the rushed attack. Maybe, though, if she can get that clean hit, she'll slow Chevy down enough for it to prove decisive... that's the hope, at least!

COMBATSYS: Ichika successfully hits Chevy with Power Strike.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Ichika           0/-------/-======|=======\-------\0            Chevy

Chevelle isn't -just- lucky, though. She does have a talent, raw and unrefined though it may be, to exert some control over the flow of water. It's just that Ichika doesn't stick around long enough to see that control come to fruition, moving instead to go -under- the vortex of water (that would then go on to crash against the wall) and then take a literal stab at the redhead.

And that's where Chevy's lucky streak runs dry -- as the katana pierces right past her defenses to lance her in the shoulder. It's just as Ichika calls it -- with the water missing, Chevy's control over the pole is diminished, resulting in a movement much too slow to amount to anything. "Gyaah!" she howls, a gout of blood spurting from the new wound as she recoils backward, swinging the pole low and horizontal to the floor.

The three bystanders rise from their seats in surprise. Way more than they expected with their coffee and daily newspapers.

Offset, Chevy grits her teeth to bite back from the pain.
"Oooh, that was a good one! My fingers are all numb..."
But numb though they may be, Chevy bobs about on the balls of her feet. She surveys the battlefield -- and realizes her water supply is elsewhere! So she just sways backward -- and then surges herself forward, dropping low! She seeks to lever-arm her pole at Ichika's ankles, hoping to sweep those legs right out from under her -- and to keep running towards the wall where her water splashed down!

COMBATSYS: Ichika blocks Chevy's Weapon Trip.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////              ]
Ichika           1/-------/=======|=======\-------\0            Chevy

Ichika flinches when Chevy cries out. It's one thing to stab someone she hated, or who had at least angered her, but underneath it all... she's not a monster. She likes Chevy, and she feels a pang of guilt for the way the redhead shouts. But, that's the game they both agreed to play. How long can we keep going? How much pain can each of us endure? When will our spirits yield? These are the simple questions demanded in every fight. At least Chevy doesn't hold it against her.

The girl flicks the blood from her blade, and that motion almost costs her dearly. The swing at her legs takes her by surprise - with no water, she'd assumed Chevy would need to find a way to recover it before she could go on a strong offense! But she IS still holding a weapon, even if it isn't optimal.

Ichika drives her sword into the ground, gritting her teeth as she shelters behind her sword. The blow still sends a potent reverberation through her arms, and she gasps, knee briefly buckling as Chevy dashes right past her - and towards the water Ichika had presumed was now used up. Between stabbing buckets and the floor, she's going to have to spend hours tending to her poor abused sword when all this is over... but at least for now it seemed to retain most of its edge.

"Haa... this really is, so different." The girl murmurs, wonderingly. Because even now, she doesn't feel the kind of deep-seated irritation she had felt when dealing with the other two. Maybe it is just that Chevy clearly respects her, even as they are trading blows.

"But... you shouldn't, turn your back on an opponent!"

Wrenching her blade back out of the floor, at first it seems as though the blade is just catching the light. But as she swings it to recover her form, the light shines bright and blue, a tiny ball of chi shooting from the tip of the blade as she raises it once more. The burst isn't that powerful; just a swift shot with about as much force as a simple punch behind it, but it seems she's not above trying to shoot someone in the back.

COMBATSYS: Ichika successfully hits Chevy with Brilliant Spark.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////                 ]
Ichika           1/------=/=======|=======\=------\1            Chevy

At least it's 'different' in a good way! Chevy tends to prefer the bright side of life: friendship, uplifting moments, and relentless positivity. And above all, she hopes to share her enthusiasm in battle with others. Life's too short to spend it in a grouchy mood!

Perhaps that outlook might be threatened, though, by taking a shot in the back. For while Chevy was pleased that her low swing was able to stall Ichika's advance, she hadn't quite thought -past- that moment. And that means that her back is -- just as Miss Kasumoto warned -- turned to her opponent. The orb of chi slams into her back; Chevy skips a few steps, tripping from the shock! "Yeergh!"

In midair, she sweeps the pole and buckets across her path, stirring the water into motion -- but she's forced to land without a firm footing, taking a spill in the water she wanted to reclaim! It's partially successful -- it's just that the water has drenched her tanktop instead of refilling her buckets.

"Brrrr..." she notes with a shiver as she pushes back to her feet, buckets clanging as she thumps the tip of her pole against the floor. "Good advice, though, Kasumoto-san!" Shuddering from a second wave of cold, she notes, "I'll keep it in mind for next time!"

But then -- the cold gives Chevy an idea.
And she flashes a broad grin at Ichika.
And then she thumps the pole against the floor once more.
The water pooled at her feet bursts upwards into a powerful -geyser-.
And Chevy is propelled bodily at Ichika, arms and feet spread wide!

She'll try and body splash across Ichika, grappling onto her from either side and pulling her into a quick tumble -- at which point she'd try and pin the Justice student to the floor! Of course, a split second later, there'd also be the splash of water that follows, throughly drenching and encumbering the -both- of them... if her plan succeeds!

COMBATSYS: Ichika interrupts Marsh Mud from Chevy with Price of Progress.

[                     \\\\\\\\\  < >  ////                          ]
Ichika           0/-------/------=|=======\=======\1            Chevy

Ichika blinks a couple of times as the water is drawn back into the buckets ... and over Chevy's shirt. Goodness. That's. Certainly a downside to the fighting style. She's honestly so startled by it that it takes her a moment to realise that Chevy has turned that very water into a powerful jet, propelling herself towards her with all the raw power she could muster. It's an impressive sight. Thankfully, there's enough distance between the pair that Ichika has enough time to recover her full grip on her sword, holding it two-handed as Chevy comes in at such staggering speed.

"Like a water-propelled rocket... that's so inventive, I wouldn't have imagined..."

Her teeth grit, and she takes a sharp breath. She doesn't want this to be the end, though. She wants to show Chevy what she can do, just as she had Buford. Only, she wants to show Chevy because she wants the woman to see what she's capable of... not because she wants to crush her utterly and without mercy. But she can see how much force is coming at her. No matter what she does here, it's going to hurt.

As she focuses, bright blue energy shimmers around her. Hazy, at first. In the last heartbeat before Chevy collides with her, it suddenly solidifies - and in that instant, the girl bursts upwards! Like a rocket herself, her sword cleaves a corkscrew path up through the air. The chi barrier shudders under the impact with Chevy's splayed body, shatters, and Ichika grits her teeth as the arc finishes with Chevy rising just above her in the air...

"This... is... my, truth!"

Ichika's voice is strained, the effort of the move is too much for her to handle. But she refuses to yield anyway. Teeth clenched in pain, the girl blurs as she forces yet more of that chi into and through herself, shimmering as she defies gravity to emerge above Chevy with her sword raised high overhead.


And with that she hammers the hilt of the blade down into the redhead, careening back to the ground where she lands with a heavy *thud* and a stumble. Her sword dangles in her left hand, fingers struggling to maintain her grip. She staggers back three paces, dizzy. Panting for breath.

She'd put everything she had into that. She is reaching her limit. But... but surely that was enough, wasn't it?

Inventive. Chevy smiled at the shared sentiment. That's one thing she -really- loved about martial arts -- that there were -so many- of them, and each of the fighters she'd met had a wildly different style from the last. Each challenge, each meeting, is a chance to peer into a fighter's very -soul-. Their ... truth.

And Chevy finds that she has a startling amount of time to gaze into that truth. A split second stretches into several; an adrenaline-charged consciousness expands to allow analysis of each and every minute detail. The warmth of the hazy shimmers of light. A pressure wave cavitating the myriad of water drops surrounding her. The curious sensation of her chilled, goosebumped flesh rippling against rapidly expanding folds of chi. The firm, undeniable pressure of truth given form, delivering a forceful -shove- in opposition to the geyser-driven momentum. Her limbs flailing backwards from the pressure wave. Her eyes looking up to the form moving faster than even her altered state can perceive...

The symphonic culmination of a tournament worth of experiences, occurring within a flutter of eyeblinks.

And then.


The symphony ends not with thunderous applause, but the ignominy of silence and darkness.

And then.

A slap to the cheek -- the cruel embrace of gravity against cold, hard floor. Reality surges back in to fill the void left by the momentary blackout. An abundance of pain is shunted to the side -- the requirement for a -response-. Time -- slow, then stopped, then rebooted -- moves at a snail's pace once more, as observations flood their way in...

Clang, clang. The buckets hitting the floor.
An impetus to spring to one's feet. Soaked hands and knees squeak against the floor as Chevy half-rolls, half-springs to her feet, her head filled with a distant ringing that she can't place. She rises like a wild beast, eyes wide, mouth open -- her reawakened senses scanning for some sense of -location-.

The beast centers on Ichika. Its accelerated mind identifies the panting face immediately. The blurred reality shifts into sharp relief. This isn't fight-or-flight ... this is a friend. The same friend who, barely a moment before, set this chain of events into motion.

But isn't -necessity- the mother of invention?
And Chevy -needs- to stop playing around...

The buckets clang once again. But the buckets are the supporting cast in this performance -- with the pole itself the main attraction. The buckets' clanging is muffled by motion as Chevelle Beaumont lashes out with the pole -- not to punish, not to -directly- inflict pain -- but as leverage. The redhead aims to swing the pole at an angle, strongarming Ichika to one side, playing into Chevy's height advantage.

And if she manages to do that, the water pooled upon the floor would, once again, geyser-blast Ichika up into the air again, tumbling her sideways...

At which point Chevy would seek to snag her by the ankles -- and spin her in a quick 180, hammer-tossing the swordswoman away -- the trajectory being not -into- the wall, but to skate Kasumoto -across- it...

COMBATSYS: Ichika blocks Chevy's Spout Toss.

[                         \\\\\  < >  ///                           ]
Ichika           0/-------/-----==|=======\-------\0            Chevy

Ichika had really expected that to be the end of things. When Chevy comes back up to her feet in a flurry of bestial motion, the girl recoils. She holds her sword up in the best guard position she can manage, but there's a genuine flash of fear in her eyes. She'd seen the path to victory, she'd seized it -- and it wasn't enough?! Every other time she had simply failed to achieve the actions that her mind told her were necessary for her success. This time, she'd managed it, and it had... fallen short! Her calculations were all wrong!


She doesn't have TIME to recalculate. The pole is coming for her, and she can't stop it. She realises in that instant that the water is everywhere. Her own attack has scattered it all around, exactly what would make it even more dangerous for her to face a hydrokineticist. No, no, no!

That desperate, instinctual guard she had formed -- she didn't fully understand it, but in this moment, she can only cast logic to the wind. In her mind's eye she can only see the Go board; Chevy's bright blue watery stones surrounding her pieces, threatening to cut her off. Sometimes, there is only one thing you can do.

She overturns the board.

Reaching deep into herself, she pulls out everything she has and she changes the game. The girl's chi sparks back into life; not as easily as before, not as part of some calculated plan, but hesitantly. Reluctantly. The pole meets her sword, and the ringing impact of it smacks into the ghostly barrier before it is completely formed - her fingers go numb, the katana tumbles from her grip...

She lets it go.

And then the barrier solidifies *properly*. Both girl and blade are sent blasting away, the sword cutting an inelegant line across the wall. Ichika, though, hits the wall braced by the shield - the manifestation of her dreams, her hopes, the future she strides towards... her truth, which is always so tantalisingly close and so desperately far. Reachable only in those brief flashes of brilliance where her genius or her inspiration let her touch it, manifest it...

When she hits the floor, the aura of brilliant blue chi dies away completely. The water itself never quite touched her. A patch of dry floor perhaps three feet wide around her as she stands, shaking, and looks to her sword where it lays, now dropped far on the other side of the room.

"I-incredible, Chevy, truly, amazing." She chokes, trying to force air into burning, protesting lungs. This is a far more intense workout than she had imagined she'd be getting.

It's not an easy calculation to make, and now that moment of brilliance is gone. She hadn't lied when she'd told Chevy that without her sword she feels defenseless. And she does. But getting the sword now means losing the fight. She can't pull off another defense like that. To have a chance of winning the game... she has to sacrifice her most prized piece.

And so the girl runs at Chevy again. Completely barehanded. It feels like it takes far, far too much time. Seconds that she doesn't have. Seconds where Chevy can prepare her counterattack... but she does it, and with a desperate cry she lashes out with her leg - trying to drive the heel of her sneaker into that shoulder wound she had inflicted earlier. That, might be the only tactical advantage of any sort she has left!

COMBATSYS: Chevy parries Ichika's Light Kick!

[                         \\\\\  < >  ///                           ]
Ichika           0/-------/-----==|=======\-------\1            Chevy

Controlled laboratory settings with known quantities -- that's where the bounds of so-called "impossibility" spring from. There are those who would argue that the very nature of the human spirit -defies- definition; each human brings a different worldview and a vastly different scope of ability to the table. Warriors like Kasumoto Ichika and Chevelle Beaumont wield creativity and inspiration as weapons to not only reach but -obliterate- the supposed ceiling of potential.

For years, Chevelle knew there was something behind it all, some clarity to be found beneath the gnarled skin of battle. And for a fleeting moment -- just bare heartbeats prior -- she finally grasped hold of it, not through victory or defeat, but the liminal space in between. She found it -- and Ichika gave a name to it. The -truth- she had sought for the past decade. Time and time again, each feat expands the window of potential. A burst of inspiration triggered a shockwave of raw force. A sure-knockout blow unleashed a defiant last stand. And a desperate swipe served to hone a defensive barrier into a more perfect form.

Panting, Chevy leans forward, her arm still quivering from the reverberation of pole against Ichika's impermeable barrier, the handles of her buckets clattering. A broad, toothy smile greets the Justice student, as the redhead wipes her brow with the back of her hand.

"It ain't just me, Kasumoto-san. You're the one opening my eyes here!"

Chevy hopes that, through her words, she's able to make up for her lack of precision with heartfelt appreciation. It is, as Ichika feels, -much- more rewarding than moving a leaden weight back and forth. And much, -much- more exhausting, as her lungs can attest to.

It's then that the adrenaline-soaked Beaumont realizes that something's different about Kasumoto now: her approach, and her -target-. The time for expressions of heartfelt appreciation has passed -- and Beaumont shifts backward!

Ichika's the one to think about these things. Chevy acts purely out of training and instinct -- more the latter than the former. Training would have told her to keep her pole up at all times, rather than letting fatigue keep the pole sagged. Instinct teaches her that, in this moment, there is another way: stepping to her right, and then thrusting -in- with her left forearm. The wounded shoulder is so close -- and the =strength= of the weakened limb in question.

And that's why it -works- -- for Chevy makes up for the physical weakness with pure tenacity, parrying aside Ichika's heel with the back of her wrist!

"Almost!!" she chirps out with a grin. If she was mad about the 'dirty' tactic, it doesn't show.

It's a move borne of desperation -- but also an insight into an opportunity! For Chevy continues upward with the motion, reaching both her hands up to grapple at Ichika's shoulders! Should she manage that, she would aim to capitalize on Ichika's leapt instability by torquing her sideways -- where the water pooled about would once more fount upwards, continuing the dizzying spin for another two revolutions! As Chevy expends the last of her hydrodynamic medium, she'd seek to then grab Ichika for a wrestling hold, and then bring her down into the floor on her back!

It's a bit of a stretch -- but Chevy's also a bit of a daydreamer...!

COMBATSYS: Ichika fails to interrupt King Tide EX from Chevy with Discerning Grasp EX.

[                           \\\  <
Chevy            0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Ichika can no longer fight.

[                           \\\  <
Chevy            0/-------/-------|

Barehanded combat was simply not Ichika's forte. She had been completely honest with Chevy when she explained the reason for the sword. She's not strong. Her katana gave her an excellent tool for both offense and defense; all she needed to do was use it to intercept attacks and trust to its edge to act as a force multiplier on her weak limbs and she could compete. Trying to finish things without it, well, it was a risk. If she had been playing Go, it would be the kind of position where the acceptable thing to do would have been to simply surrender. But fighting ISN'T Go. She felt, strongly, right to her core, that she owed it to Chevy to give her everything she had until she could give no more...

And Chevy, of course, does likewise.

There's a brief moment where the back of Chevy's hand brushes against her heel and Ichika thinks that might still be enough, if she can just maintain momentum... but this is Chevy's domain. When she feels her leg harmlessly swing to the side, the girl's eyes briefly widen-- and then a smile touches at her lips.

The last moments of the fight are a fascinating tableau. One she'd love to study. It's a shame it isn't recorded. Chevy's hands grasp Ichika's shoulders, both weapon-wielders eschewing their chosen tools, and Ichika's hand reaches down, trying to snare Chevy's wrist. Can she really pull this off? She's in mid-air, she's got no control over her own momentum, and she's trying to throw someone much bigger and stronger than she is...

... no, she can't.

Her attempt to break through the building revolutions completely fails, and as she's swung around and around, Ichika actually... laughs! She can't help it, and the joyful noise that comes bubbling up out of the usually-reserved student lasts right up until the moment that she impacts the floor. Even then, the only reason it stops is probably because the wind is thoroughly knocked out of her by the heavy impact. She goes limp beneath the woman pinning her, and for a long moment she is perfectly still. And then she takes a deep breath. Her eyes are closed, but the sigh she lets out is one of pure contentment. In spite of the pain, she's smiling.

"... if every loss could be like that, I'd have no complaints." She murmurs softly, "Haa... thank you, Chevy. I was starting to worry that I might be too, competitive. Now I know I can even lose and be happy. But, I think, I'll just... nap, a little..."

Or pass into blissful unconscious. It's not as though she has much choice about it.

Chevelle's first real job was tending to hogs -- and occasionally helping to wrangle them into their proper positions. She learned early on that leverage was -- and is -- a great equalizer.

There are just a few moments after that tumultuous reversal in which Chevy is able to meet Ichika's gaze. And the girl from North Carolina is smiling down at her the whole time, crouching just a little ways away. The battle, the injuries -- for the moment, none of it really matters in comparison to the Japanese girl's approval.

"Yeah. Get you some rest, we'll chat later."

It isn't until Ichika's eyes close, and steady breathing starts to take over, that the wonder chemical finally begins to drain from Chevy's system. In the span of seconds, it's as if someone turned the gravity up, as her shoulders get heavy, and one shoulder in particular starts to make its earlier pain known.

"... ow..." Chevy rubs at her shoulder, tenderly, as she finds herself falling backwards into a sitting position.

A moment later, one of the passive observers appears, with the gym's first aid kit in hand.

Chevy shares a smile with him as well, slicking the water and blood off of the wound so that he can get to work with chemical unguents and bandages. But the whole time -- she finds her gaze drifting back to the peacefully napping Ichika.

She pretty much said it all, yep.

COMBATSYS: Chevy takes no action.

[                           \\\  <
Chevy            0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Chevy has ended the fight here.

Log created on 08:32:49 04/30/2023 by Ichika, and last modified on 16:14:51 05/02/2023.