Description: The trouble with being really busy is that, to outsiders, it can look exactly the same as being incredibly apathetic. With Greg Ilvich handling the administrative tasks, Mint has been freed up to chase down some leads for her students -- and now it comes time to start getting her hands dirty. ... Figuratively. By letting Iris and Kenzo fight while she trolls people for fake internet points.
Minal Panesh has felt a little... overwhelmed, as of late. While it's certainly true that Greg has helped ease the burden of her administrative duties, the fact of the matter is, she's now getting overwhelmed with the amount of data generated by Team Metal's kickass performances. Finding time to keep track of it all, as the designated 'chief' in charge of fighter training, seems like it's an even steeper challenge than when she was back in Sunshine City.
Part of the difficulty was due to her stubbornness against the use of the ARIA digital assistant. She'd seen what the AI system was able to cook up. And she begrudgingly acknowledged the capabilities therein. But she also feels that the AI's choices are a little... uninspired. That if she'd relied completely on ARIA's wisdom she might be missing some salient points from fighter performance. So she challenged herself to view each fight personally. And now, trying to remember all that is... well, challenging.
Some times it's just better to let things hit the fan themselves. And that is why Mint called for a 'back to the basics' meeting between two of the fighters. No theory, no long and extensive battery of critical analysis. Just raw performance data, live and in person. The text was sent directly to the LifeBands of Iris and Kenzo:
- You two up for a sparring match? Floor 78, 2pm.
Nothing long and complimentary -- just the meat, no potatoes. Mint, decked out in an OD green tank top and cammies, sits on a weight bench, left arm draped over a barbell, her right hand flicking through her phone. Her KNUCKS gauntlets rest on the floor a short distance away, propped up in a rucksack frame for easy transport.
She seems... -pleasant- enough, at least.
There's a lot going on in the life of Iris Osterlund right now, when it comes to the NFG. She can remain reflective about her loss to Ichika, which is good, but more than anything, she's done a lot of thinking about... well, all the thinking she was doing during that fight. The wizard was strongly in her own head about everything, really -- her skills, her place in the tournament, whether or not she's a fighter at all. But as Mint told her, and as the Brit TRIED to do, at the very least, that's stuff that... belongs outside the ring.
You can't fight yourself and the enemy. It's that simple.
Meeting Djamila, and the blind dancer's overflowing (one might say RELENTLESS) positivity, was helpful, at last. Once the two had parted, Iris had plenty of time to reflect on how nice it is to hear someone say they think you can do it, that they believe you have what it takes... and how infrequently in her life she heard that, up to lately.
That she didn't start hearing it until after she specifically started doing a thing Everyone Else is adamant she shouldn't be doing, does not go unnnoticed.
That, along with a desire to keep meeting her teammates, is what brings the wizard here today; she arrives in the sparring area with a wave, having traded her usual clothes for a ribbed white cotton tank-top and a pair of purple-dyed corduroy shorts, plus sneakers with white athletic socks scrunched at their base.
"Still getting used to taking orders from a watch," she says to Mint with a sheepsih grin, holding up the wrist with her LifeBand(tm) on it.
Kenzo for his part been taking advantage of his new freedom to utilize an internet connection to watch fight related material. For the past few days, he's been looking up various fight videos of electric energy users, ninjas, and speedy individuals in the hopes of finding inspiration.
When Kenzo receives his text message, it at a moment where he felt like he was on the cusp finding something that he was looking for but wasn't quite there. Perhaps that text was a sign that he was doing way too much film review for the time being and perhaps needed to step away for a moment to look at it with a fresh viewpoint.
Kenzo quickly changes into his combat suit, hooks on his chain weapon and fan, throws on the combat specs and goes down the stairs.
When he comes down, it's with a hand raised in a wave and a somewhat easy going smile on his face.
"Mint. Good to see you again. Osterlund-san, Nice to meet you. What's this about a sparring match?"
Mint's whiling away on her phone for long enough that she only catches sight of Iris a moment before the young magus speaks up. The South Asian from North Jersey sits up straight with a smile, waving her prosthetic hand in a cheery greeting. "Oh, good! I'm still getting used to it myself." She laughs, the LifeBand wrapped around her right arm's plastic wrist in much the same way -- just a little more firmly. (She'd padded the band with foam to keep the thing from rattling about all the time.)
And, just before she provides a more descriptive answer, the corporal happens to catch sight of Kenzo's arrival. "Oh... hey! Thanks for comin' down, you two!" She springs up from her bench, now that both are here, and stands between Iris and Kenzo. She seems to be about ready to offer introductions, but Kenzo offers before she has the chance. She grins, gesturing with open hands for clarification: "Iris, this is Kenzo Kuroiwa."
She can't help but smile, really. Maybe hearing 'Osterlund' in a Japanese accent is amusing only to herself.
"I... I'm not gonna sugarcoat it. There's so much -data- from you two fightin' that I can't keep track of what was old and what's new. So I figured the most straightforward way to get a true and accurate picture of where you two are -at- is to have a sparring match, -right here-, to where I can see how you two are processing the fight in real-time."
She rests her hands on her hips, stepping back to give the two a bit more room. "I could -probably- try to fight the two of you together, but I wanna see how the data collection algos work here before I get into the potential of a head injury. Greg's said he's not much of a fighter, and I -really- don't think you wanna leave your training up to Kathy." She sticks out the tip of her tongue, grinning.
"Sound good? You two up for some one-on-one in front, to help me get a hand-le on your situation?" Yes, she pauses, and yes, it's meant to be every bit as dad-jokey as it sounds.
It's hard not to notice Kenzo when he enters, because the entire look is... well. It's pretty distinctive! Iris didn't get to really see Kenzo in the rumble; he'd entered well before her, and by the time her moment to arrive came, the techno-ninja had been having it out quite a lot already and had been eliminated.
Still, the VOD showed him being pissed off at Buford so already, the wizard feels inclined to like him.
When he introduces himself, Iris gives a little wave and nod in return, but Mint speaks up before she has a chance to respond with the proposal of a sparring match (and some complaints about data-driven analysis that go a little bit over her head). Turning to Kenzo, Iris grins. "Well... I'm up for it if you are," the Brit replies. "After all, isn't 'magic vs. science' one of the classic setups?"
Throwing a small duffel bag with her change of clothes and a towel in it against the wall, she stretches a bit and puts some distance between both herself and Mint, keeping her eye on Kenzo. "Maybe if your tech is advanced enough, ARIA won't be able to tell us apart," she adds, not to be outdone in the dad joke department.
Kenzo nods when officially introduced but remains silent otherwise as Mint gives a breakdown why the two of them are here. Greg has admitted to not being a fighter. Kathy? Well Kenzo doesn't know what to make of her and while he hasn't seen Zel in action, the stuff she had been saying with the level surety she had led him to believe she wouldn't be a slouch in the fighting/training department.
"Honestly, I've been looking forward to it."
The smile he was wearing grows huge as one could imagine that if he wasn't wearing his combat specs, his eyes would be twinkling with amusement at the joke.
"If your magic has been sufficiently analyzed enough, I'd imagine it would make it even more difficult."
Kenzo takes a similar amount of steps away from Mint as he keeps the smart eyewear directed towards the wizard as he pulls the kusari-gama from his belt. The mirth filled smile seems almost glued to his face as he says, "Ready when you are."
COMBATSYS: Kenzo has started a fight here.
That gets a little 'heh' of amusement and encouragement from Iris. In her head, it had been easy to imagine Kenzo as stiff or cold, but the reality is quite different from that, which she's thankful for. Plus... honestly, it feels a little nice to hear someone say they've looked forward to fighting her. Ichika had too, now that she thinks about it.
"Maybe so. Honestly I have no idea what high technology thinks of magic. Maybe I'll have to ask Greg to walk me through the... uh, metrics?... myself after."
Shaking out her hands a bit, Iris gets into... well, she doesn't really have a traditional 'stance' per se, but she at least has a body posture that is discernibly readable as 'fight time is now.' "Alright. Let's go." She kicks off the ground and just rushes straight at Kenzo; when she gets close enough, her right arm swings around in a wide horizontal arc, and in a burst of her trademark rainbow light, of all things, a black baseball bat is suddenly in her grip. Is that a mace? No. Is it still gonna hurt if Kenzo gets winged by it? Probably!
COMBATSYS: Iris has joined the fight here.
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Kenzo 0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0 Iris
COMBATSYS: Iris successfully hits Kenzo with Medium Strike.
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Kenzo 0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0 Iris
Considering that Kenzo is currently fighting someone who can practically make weapons appear in her hands, Kenzo might be a little jealous. He can't get his through carry-on and either has to send it ahead of him or put it in luggage. Aside from that his weapons are hard to hide. Ok the fan doesn't look like a weapon as footage from the Chevy fight had shown.
Kenzo is caught figuratively flat footed by the Brit using a baseball bat and gets folded as the bat slams him in the stomach before dropping to one knee.
It takes an instant to recover before he launches himself right for Iris and grabs her by the waist before suddenly taking to the air. Should he manage that initial grab, then at the apex, the ninja will lean backwards until upside down to dive-bomb the ground, Iris' head first.
COMBATSYS: Iris just-defends Kenzo's Izuna Drop!
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Kenzo 1/-------/=======|-------\-------\0 Iris
Lesson one: ninjas... are fast.
Considering he just got socked in the stomach with a baseball bat, Iris had hoped she'd have a little more time to prepare herself for whatever reprisal Kenzo would have to offer, and she really doesn't get it. More to the point, given his fighting style, his approach gives nothing away. As much as she can just pull weapons out of thin air, it feels like Kenzo can ALSO do that in fight with ninja trickery. Whatever's coming her way could be ANYTHING.
It's when he grabs her waist that the Brit realizes this must be some kind of grappling technique, and that's when she gets her idea. Something Ultratech's data may note, when looking through Iris's fighting history, is that despite being ABLE to teleport, she doesn't do it on the defensive all that often. The reason why, the magus had explained to Ichika: doing it requires math, and in most cases, trying to defend yourself against your opponent AND do complex calc in your head don't go together. Half the time, when she's 'teleporting out of danger,' it's actually... instinct, and a HUGE amount of luck that she doesn't teleport herself into a solid object.
But maybe teleporting isn't strictly necessary. Maybe she can use her sometimes wonky summoning magic to her advantage. And the complicated nature of Kenzo's attack means she has plenty of time to prepare, calling up the EXACT mental image of what she wants. This is slightly out of the range of her typical application, after all, but...
But it pays off, which is why, RIGHT before the techno-ninja would impact Iris's head into the ground, something appears beneath them in a flicker of rainbow light:
The world's fluffiest mattress.
There's a *WHUMPF* as the two fighters... well, fall harmlessly -- nay, COMFORTABLY -- onto the mattress, blunting the downward force of the move entirely.
As she rolls off to her feet, letting the summon vanish into thin air once Kenzo's free of it, Iris just blinks, then starts laughing, with a very nervous edge to it. She can't even bring herself to counterattack; she just watches Kenzo carefully. "I... cannot believe that worked, frankly."
COMBATSYS: Iris focuses on her next action.
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Kenzo 1/-------/=======|-------\-------\0 Iris
Kenzo's muscle memory doesn't allow him to maintain the hold, he has to release at the last moment so that he can ensure that his own landing is relatively safe and he feels a really comfy mattress under his palms as he's suddenly launched airborn once more. It is only thanks to body awareness that he manages convert it into a flip with a half-twist and by the time the mattress disappears, Kenzo has landed on his feet once more before returning the chain weapon to his belt and pulling the warfan out.
"Well that's a first. I don't think anyone has seen something like that in fight footage."
Kenzo takes a deep breath and closes the metal fan and attempts to whack Iris with it before flicking it back open once more.
COMBATSYS: Kenzo successfully hits Iris with Medium Strike.
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Kenzo 1/----===/=======|====---\-------\0 Iris
Taking up a seat on the weight bench where she'd previously been sat, Mint keeps an eye on the two fighters. She puts her phone away, not wanting to get distracted from the fight action. And she's aware that ARIA would likely be recording this all anyway even in lieu of a direct request. That's kind of the point of the LifeBand, isn't it?
Which is probably good. Because then she'd have a better chance of making sense of a -mattress- appearing in mid-fight.
"Yeah, don't get -too- comfy over there," she comments, "it ain't no time for lyin' around."
Kids these days!
It's a good thing the mattress was comfy, because what comes after very definitely was NOT. Kenzo's fan strike is curious -- with her decidedly European views on what constitutes a melee weapon, she would not have considered 'a fan' to be an option, even if it's made of metal -- and that makes the wizard cagey about attempting to trade blows with it. Thus, she attempts to simply pivot AROUND it.
Sadly, despite that time watching Kenzo in preparation for her own attack (or maybe even because of it), she underestimates the arc of the blow and instead takes it right in the stomach, getting an 'oof!' of surprise and pain.
"Maybe I should have saved it for just now instead," Iris jokes, shaking her head to clear it. But she can't wait around forever; honestly, giving Kenzo lots of time to plan seems like a problem all on its own. Instead, she goes heavily on the offensive, surging forward with one of those 'swinging a weapon without the weapon' movements where the weapon itself -- a mace swirling with an aura of wind -- appears midstrike before disappearing. Three such strikes get made: a vertical sweep, a horizontal cut (with a sword crackling with lightning this time), and finally a thrust forward with one of Iris's more common summoned weapons, a thin, javelin-like spear. Each weapon summoned and discarded just as quickly... gotta keep them on their toes!
COMBATSYS: Iris successfully hits Kenzo with Teiwaz - Justicar's Mercy.
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Kenzo 1/----===/=======|=====--\-------\0 Iris
At first Kenzo, seems like he was about to deflect the blows with the fan which is actually one of the strengths of the weapon but he sees her make an adjustment that makes him decide to make an attempt to get away. Unfortunately he makes that adjustment a little too late and gets rocked by the mace, sliced and shocked by the sword, and pierced in the stomach by the spear and sent stumbling back.
Kenzo then swaps the fan out to bring his kusari-gama to the fore once more. The weight on the end of the weapon spins besides him as he moves forward once more. When he's right where he wants to be, he starts rapidly spinning the weight in a figure eight pattern as attempts to rapidly and repeatedly bash Iris in the head, shoulders, arm, torso, wherever he can get the suddenly electrified weight on her.
COMBATSYS: Iris interrupts Whirling Chain Blitz from Kenzo with Eihwaz - Storm and Stress.
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Kenzo 1/--=====/=======|=======\=------\1 Iris
"Well," Iris says carefully, watching one of Kenzo's weapons both make hypnotic-feeling patterns in the air AND crackle with electricity, "that's... pretty neat, honestly. If you weren't about to try and hit me with it I'd probably appreciate it more, however." Swallowing a bit, the Brit tries and follows the curling patterns of the weight as it heads in her direction, desperate to think of a defense, and comes to an important realization:
She does not have one in mind.
With only precious seconds left to her, the Brit does something seemingly quite odd which doesn't appear to have any seeming defensive meaning: she brings both hands up in front of her, one cupped over the other and hiding it from view for a moment. Then the kusari part of the kusari-gama comes her way and she, well... braces herself, hands balled into fists at her side.
The expression on her face says that the blows really, really hurt, which they do, but she only needs to get the ninja to keep his advance toward her going for a couple hits before her own plan comes into play:
Bringing up on closed fist, she suddenly opens it... and reveals the green glowing tracing of a rune on her palm, which suddenly explodes with a burst of wind that separates the two fighters in an instant.
Kenzo was gambling on something happening when he specifically chose that move. That if he continued to press her in that fashion, she would likely respond by attempting to knocking him out of that attack of his and he had enough faith in his ability to make people feel when he landed the blows that there was a distinct possibility that he would still out damage them. While not his ideal scenario, he got enough of what he wanted in the deal that he isn't too put out. At least it doesn't like it beyond the fact that taking that shot hurt him as well if judging by the grimace on his face.
Kenzo rises to his feet once more, a little more unsteady than he was before but then he takes a deep breath adjusts his feet a bit and then he takes off right for Iris but then he suddenly stops short of striking range. If Iris isn't paying attention though she might not realize that there's a metallic orb right at her feet.
That orb crackles for just a moment before it releases a burst of electricity in the area that Iris is standing in should she not get away from it.
COMBATSYS: Iris dodges Kenzo's Pulse Device.
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Kenzo 2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\=------\1 Iris
There is a universe where Iris fully notices the orb at her feet, smiles, and then backflips easily out of the way like a phantom thief, landing three-point on some nearby piece of furniture and laughing as if nothing even remotely bad had happened.
This is not that universe.
Kenzo's movements are confusing, to say the least, and that is in the end the only thing that saves her. Iris's entire body tenses up as the ninja ducks forward at her, moving carefully, but then... stops short and leaves? Sometimes a tactical retreat is necessary, but usually in response to something threatening that precipitates backing off, and she hadn't done...
There is a brief second where Iris looks down and says: "Ah, HELL."
Then she dives out of the way like someone attempting to avoid a grenade, which is basically exactly what she actually IS doing; the Brit lands in an ungainly sprawl on her stomach mere centimeters away from the crackling electrical discharge, hands held over her head, eyes squinted shut. It's only after a beat or two of relative silence that she opens her eyes again and looks around, then gets back to her feet and grins at Kenzo, dusting off her shorts. "Alright, pretty neat, not gonna lie."
But she doesn't her momentum stolen, so once her bearings are set, the magus sets off across the distance at a flat run, looking to reach out and simply grab Kenzo's arm. If she gets that grip, though? Both fighters suddenly blink out of existence, teleporting up into the air, where Iris does her own non-ninja version of an Izuna drop, looking to effectively place Kenzo under her and fall all the way down to the ground right on top of him!
Minal nods in approval as the fighters take turns dealing out weapons from their respective arsenals. She might not be able to feel chi, or magic, to the same extent that other more spiritually-gifted fighters might. But with each swing, each movement, each flick of the wrist, the pint-sized pugilist is swaying. Responding. And as such -- her connection to the fighters is stronger, and just that tiny bit more visceral. After her earlier smart-aleckery, the corporal keeps quiet, not wanting to disrupt their incredible focus.
She's more familiar with Kenzo's bag of tricks, of course. She'd reviewed the footage of his fight versus Chevy, and come away with the conclusion that his command of the battlefield was far superior. The waterbender had reacted well, and may have edged him out -- but Panesh feels it could have tipped either way. Kenzo's come a long way.
As for Iris... Minal really feels as if she's taken the earlier conversations as a springboard for a number of innovations. Iris had been struggling to find her footing through the first few rounds of the season, but Rumble seems to have marked a turning point. The battle against Ichika was far from one-sided: Iris opened the fight with an impressive defense and dominant attacks. Mint took solace in knowing that Iris' attack tempo was consistent -- she was able to execute the moves she -wanted- to, when she -needed- to. If experience was the largest factor of difference between Iris and Ichika, then experience, Mint decided, was what Iris will get with Team Metal.
Mint opens a small sleeve on the back of her phone. She's still kind of tied to her phone as a reading device, even with the wondrous LifeBand -- but it also happens to have a few things she'll need soon. Like business cards, for two particular individuals that might figure into the fighters' training soon.
Mint smiles, looking up -- and finds herself smiling at Iris's avoidance. Another good sign!
COMBATSYS: Kenzo blocks Iris' Nauthiz - Ominous Rainfall ES.
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Kenzo 2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\=------\1 Iris
As Iris makes the desperate dive from his rechargeable shock grenade, Kenzo is switching his weapons once again. Going from chained weapon back to war fan it isn't a moment too soon. He goes to deflect the wizard's hand away with the fan and he ends up getting grabbed by the forearm.
Let it not be said that Kenzo can't process information quickly. He notes that he's gone from on the ground to in the air. He then notes that Iris poised to land on top of him. He manages to twist himself so that his feet are under him. Upon landing, he raises the fan to redirect her descent, grunting as her body knocks him backwards instead of driving him to the ground with her on top.
Kenzo then hops back in delivering a swiift smack with the metal fan before holding it between the two fighters like a shield. For all intents and purposes, that's exactly what it is.
COMBATSYS: Kenzo successfully hits Iris with Reaction Strike.
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Kenzo 2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\====---\1 Iris
The problem with an attack that puts you at extreme close range is that if your technique doesn't work out the way you planned, well... the consequences can be pretty severe. In this case, that's definitely working in Kenzo's favor. He strikes as soon as he has the opportunity, thanks to his able defense, while Iris is still getting hear bearings. Thus, as he snaps out the iron fan to strike, she gets JUST enough time to turn and throw up an arm before the blow smacks into her, effectively batting away the guarding arm and sending the wizard stumbling back more than a few steps, clutching a hand briefly to her stomach.
"Heh," she says, shaking her head to clear it. "The benefits of focusing on only a few weapons. You're making a good case for it, for sure. But, well..."
Fighting spirit-wise, she's feeling good. Exhaustion-wise, however... her big breaths and slightly sluggish movements suggest she's not doing quite as well as Kenzo is. Part of her wants to just shout and go all in, but the whole point of training is to fight those instincts and try new things, right?
"That's just not for me!"
With an underhand swing, like throwing a softball, there's a burst of light as Iris throws a warhammer into the air in Kenzo's direction. The throw is too short and too slow to be an effective projectile, so it must mean -- as she starts running to follow it -- she's going to catch it and attack, right?
Which is why, right before she WOULD catch it, Iris suddenly ducks low and tries to sweep Kenzo's feet from under him, the warhammer falling to the ground with a loud *CLANG* behind her before disappearing.
COMBATSYS: Kenzo interrupts Evasive Strike from Iris with Shocking Shell Stance.
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Kenzo 0/-------/-<<<<<<|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 Iris
"I wouldn't say I've just focused on just a few options. Just that those few are what I'm better at using than most."
Kenzo has trained with multiple weapons just in case the ones that he's best at using aren't close at hand and he has to improvise. If anything he's probably less specialized than most weapon wielders. Kusari-gama acts like three weapons in one when you consider the chain, the weight, and sickle as different weapons individually. The tessen when opened and closed are handled like two different weapons when you consider how they're handled in each configuration. Then there's himself.
Kenzo watches the underhanded swing and sees the arc. Both his eyes and his readout tracking the path of projectile on the path to fall short tell him one thing. Decoy.
As Iris comes in, he sees her duck low he's thinking takedown or sweep so he adjusts his stance, making it wide for more stability and turning his lead foot outward to keep his balance. That's when Kenzo projects a spherical energy field surrounding him and blasting Iris outside of it.
Even with Iris out of range, the energy field lingers as Kenzo holds that fan in front of him ready to use it in defense.
Well... not every strategy works perfectly in 100% of cases. 'The best laid plans of mice and men,' after all. It's a good thing the warhammer is gone the second Iris isn't concentrating on it, because if it were still there, it would be directly in her path as the Brit more or less skids at high speed across the room floor to slam back-first into a wall from the force of Kenzo's technique.
The wizard gets, unsteadily at first, to her feet, gripping her opposite elbow with her right hand. "I guess I can relate to that," she says, in response to his previous comment, and that is indeed the truth. She'd said as much to Mint; Iris could certainly be attempting to summon a much wider and more diverse range of weapons than she does. It's just that the ones she uses frequently -- a rapier, a spear -- are things she has experience with from related sports. They're comfortable.
"I feel like every close fight I'm in ends like this," the Brit says, circling Kenzo a little. "I can either wait for someone to come at me and pray they make a mistake, or I can act first... but if I don't connect, I'm out of luck." She glances over at Mint, with a make-sure-she-heard-that look in her eyes, before turning back to Kenzo. "I'm really more of a doer than a thinker, though."
And that's when she vanishes.
When she reappears, it's in exactly the same way she attacked Ichika in their fight: rather than attack sequentially, she times her teleports so exactingly that it FEELS and LOOKS as if there are five Irises all attacking simultaneously, each with a different weapon. If this goes without a hitch, she reappears back where she was, heaving big breaths from having exahsuted herself thoroughly. But Kenzo's been tricksy so far, and Ichika defending against this same technique proves it's far from foolproof...
Mint is listening. She'd stayed quiet on purpose, after all.
"If it's -close-, well, -yeah-." Minal grew up in North Jersey. She's not afraid to employ a sarcastic tone when she feels the need. It's not meant to be rude -- but as Iris herself points out, it's more important to -do- than to spend an overly long time thinking about wording. Or replying, when there's more work to be done to seal the deal.
She has a few more thoughts. But she's content to see how the battle resolves first.
COMBATSYS: Iris successfully hits Kenzo with Hagalaz - Ragnarok.
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Kenzo 0/-------/-<<<<<<|>>>>---\-------\0 Iris
Kenzo is relying on the combination of a burst of speed, the energy field and adjusting with Iris' movement to survive. He wasn't quite fast enough, the energy field didn't take enough off of it and he hadn't figured out how to adjust to her enough to avoid any of the Iris attackers. He gets slashed and bashed and stabbed until he drops to one knee.
"You got me."
The ninja suddenly disappears and then reappears right next to the particular Iris who seems to still be breathing hard. He then slashes out with the sickle of his kusari-gama and falls over exhausted.
COMBATSYS: Kenzo can no longer fight.
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COMBATSYS: Iris blocks Kenzo's Flicker Edge.
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She may have 'got him', in Kenzo's words, but it is a ragged thing for sure. When the techno-ninja makes his final strike, disappearing and reappearing with whatever esoteric skill ninjas have that lets them do that, she is still breathing heavily, only barely on her feet. Kenzo's strike is not so forgiving this time as before, using the sickle end of his weapon; there's a *CLANG!* as Iris brings her arm up, a target shield hastily summoned to deal with the sickle, an extra rune of protection scribed on its surface, but the blow still sends a ringing, numbing vibration up her arm, and as soon as Kenzo falls away, the shield vanishes and Iris falls backwards herself, sitting splay-legged on the ground, palms on the floor for support as she takes big gulps of air.
"Hell... of a workout..." she says between gulps of air. "I only got to see a handful of your tricks, too. I bet... the full set... is extremely impressive."
COMBATSYS: Iris takes no action.
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COMBATSYS: Iris has ended the fight here.
As soon as Kenzo falls over, Mint hops up from her bench and races to his side. There's this tiny tidbit of concern that Iris might accidentally whack her without realizing it, but... well, she's the mentor, she's okay taking the fallout from that if it happens.
"Yeah! Damn good fight, you two!" Mint draws in her breath as she kneels beside Kenzo. If he tries to sit up, she'd do what she can to assist.
"But yeah. That's... that's the kind of feeling that you -want- to experience. Some people get a dryness in the back of their throat. Some people just sweat all over. It's anxiety, and if it gets out of control, it can roll over into shock."
Mint looks up at Iris, grinning cheerily. "It sounds morbid, sure, but it's really just... part of fightin'. And you're gettin' better at it!"
Now... with the two fighters' adrenaline starting to fade, Mint feels it's a better time to discuss some of the lessons learned. "So, that... was actually one of the lessons I'd wanted to give you a bit more experience with, first. The -pace- of a fight is actually the hardest lesson to learn. Starting a fight's easy -- you just fall back on your training. Execute the things you'd practiced, defend against opponent's attack. Fit tab A into slot B, it's all basic stuff. But where most people fall down is just the simple act of remembering to breathe."
She pauses. And raises a finger. "Because it's easy to get caught up in the tempo! Even in a sparring match like this one, you're constantly responding to your opponent's moves. You're always -racing- to keep up with them, and it's easy to forget, well, breathing. Pacing. Making sure you still got gas in the tank."
Mint glances back over to Kenzo. "You both did fantastic. Took it right to the redline. There's a lot to be learned from fightin' each other. And I think it'd be awesome if you two took advantage of what we have here and try and clash against one another. Build up that muscle memory, build up your -experiences-. Things that scare you now? They shouldn't scare you after you get a few more fights under your belts."
Mint rocks back to a squat, curling her arms around her knees. In her hand, interleaved between her first three fingers, are two business cards.
"But, now... are you ready to start talking about the next steps?"
If there was one thing that Kenzo didn't have a problem with, it was pacing. Not because he was someone with a wellspring of stamina. It was because he was good at working with what stamina he has.
If anything, the old boy of Justice would say that his problem was in closing out fights. The most consistent pattern he had in his fights was he start from an advantageous position and gradually lose it. True in his fights, true in his spars since joining both iterations of Metal. The only deviations were Genie who curbstomped him, Buford who he kept from getting back into the fight, and Iris who had him in a bad position and he managed to fight his way out.
That one exception to relinquishing the advantage was when he was able to drag Buford into deep waters using his finisher. That finisher that never connected with anyone else. That one finisher that he lost faith in.
It made him wonder if the finisher problem was only a symptom of the disease. He didn't have a way of making it difficult to snatch the momentum away from him. What could be more difficult than turning a fight around when you're desperately gasping for air while your opponent seems to be breathing easy.
"Right now, my main focus is making some adjustments to my attacks."
What one would notice if they studied his film is that he avoided using a specific move in this fight that he'd usually use. Either way, he's not giving voice to it at this particular moment.
While she's listening to Mint, and is vaguely aware of the Master of the (rocket) Fist taking care of Kenzo, the truth is that Iris looks -- true to her heritage -- knackered. Listening and giving a sort of vague nod of the head when acknowledging statements or answering questions is required is about the best she can do, and the Brit stays right where she is in the traditional post-track and field post-event pose of "sitting up, palms down, arms and legs wide."
Mint asks if they're ready to take next steps and prepare, and Iris nods slowly. "Whatever they are. I have... uh, well. I have AN idea, but now's not the time to bring it up," she says, suddenly demurring. "Not for any reason related to you, Kenzo," the wizard adds, realizing how that sounds. "I just... need to do some research first."
Some very frustrating research, she thinks to herself.
"Also," she adds, getting her breathing ever so slightly under control compared to the Darth Vader nonsense she was doing at fight's end, "did you know that martial arts are exhausitng, and high-speed combat magic is exhausting, and if you combine them, they're actually REALLY exhausting?" She certainly seems CONSIDERABLY more tired than Kenzo, that's for sure. If Mint wants to talk about pacing, well... she's all ears.
Mint nods to Kenzo. Adjustments to attacks. She lifts up one thumb in agreement. "I think I -might- have some ideas that you can work with. Let's compare notes in a sidebar, okay?" More Marine jargon, probably, but it'd be easy to figure out that she means to spend a bit more one-on-one time with Kenzo -- especially considering Iris' current state of fatigue.
"Same with you, Iris. I won't force you into a long lecture -now-, but... well, I'm gonna have an out for you soon, just hang tight." She flashes a toothy grin.
Here, she raises her index finger again. "This is just a good general pacing tip. One really important thing to remember is... don't let your opponents set the pace of the battle. If they're goin' too fast for you, just dial it back a little bit. An opponent that's rushing you down probably just doesn't want you standing still long enough to get your bearings. Step back, pump the brakes. You can't control them *directly*, but you're always in charge of how *you* respond."
She spreads her hands wide. "And I know Kenzo knows this... if an opponent plays that hand to you, if =they're= stalling you out? Bring the fight right into their face. Don't give them the breath -they- need. Force their hand."
Mint laughs. "I'm sure this seems really reductive, and it kinda is. Pacing's just something you gotta work out on your own. Because what works for -me- is rushing people down and not giving them an inch to breathe. Most of the time!" She turns to Kenzo and Iris in turn. "But you might find it works better keeping some distance, and let -their- impatience cause them to make a mistake." She pauses. "Now I'm not sayin' either of you did that. It was a close fight because you both got it -right- to some extent!"
Mint hops back to her feet. "Now... I know Iris, you look like you could probably use something to drink from the cantina. I can go grab you -- either of you -- something if you wanna chill for a bit..."
She looks over to Kenzo as well -- and she hands him the first of her business cards.
"And... well. I'll be happy to go over attacks with you. But a second reason I wanted to see you was to get you in touch with this person."
The business card is laser printed -- it's not an -actual- card, but rather, something Mint put together. A phone number and a name: Nagase.
"This woman's a -little- faster than me. And she's battle-hardened with experience doing the same kind of things you do."
She steps over to Iris, handing her a more professional business card from a place called 'Knights of Swords and Wands'. The proprietor: Brandon Malone.
"I've made some phone calls for both of you. If you want an introduction, I can arrange it -- but either way, feel free to give 'em a call and set up an appointment. Invite 'em here to floor 78, I've already cleared it."
Mint smiles, resting her hands on her hips. "It's probably about time to break for now -- any questions before we split up?"
Kenzo nods when Mint suggests that they have a discussion about making adjustments on his attacks. He has a good idea of what he wants to do already but he's open to suggestions.
Once the topic switches to pacing tips Kenzo is silent since while he considers it a strength, it doesn't hurt to review the basics every now and then. It becomes a smirk when Mint mentions how to deal with people who stall. It's nice to be acknowledged.
When the card is offered, he works his way to a standing position. He then takes the 'business card' in both hands as he bows to Mint. Sure it's not Mint's card and he's not in Japan but some habits are hard to break. He'll have to wait before he'll be able to get it to the card case, though.
"Nagase-san? As in King of Fighters 2017 runner up Nagase-san?"
One could imagine, judging by the look on his face, that under the combat specs, his eyes are wide from surprise.
"Alright, alright," Iris says, sounding tired, but smiling a little bit. With effort, she pushes off the ground and gets herself standing, and indeed, a few minutes to breathe and not be worrying about the fight does seem remarkably restorative from a fatigue POV. Plus, neither she nor Kenzo really pushed things over the proverbial cliff, after all. Stretching a little -- and wincing at protesting joints for a moment -- the Brit walks over in the direction of sponsor and teammate both.
She arrives just in time to be handed a business card by Mint, which she looks over with genuine curiosity. "'Swords and Wands'... tarot?" It's a shot in the dark, but considering that tarot is one of the oldest and most well-known types of magical paraphernalia, she's fairly sure she's on the money. An eyebrow goes up as she looks at Mint. "Am I getting my palm read?" Hopefully the grin she cracks at this will help to convey the joking tone... or maybe Mint really HAS sent her to a genuine fortuneteller. After all, who better to reassure someone antsy about their future in the sport than someone who can say 'No, you'll do great, I can see it'. Plus, Iris could spot a fake straight off.
Putting the card in a pocket, the wizard looks at Kenzo for a moment, then back at Mint with a nod. "I'll look into it when I can. And the... other thing. I probably need to discuss it with you and Greg once I do a little research. We can set something up for that later?"
"The very same!" Mint seems particularly proud about that. "... She was a bit of a pain to find, /until/..." Mint laughs. "Until I realized she was one of the folks stirring up shit with the Buford OTP nonsense on your subreddit."
If Kenzo has half a mind to check, he would probably find out that Mint had noticed a particular pattern a particular user's posts -- and decided to troll the hell out of her across multiple communities of interest.
"She's been gettin' a bit sloppy with her accounts lately," adds Mint with a smug grin. "But, I definitely want you to meet her -here-. Much, -much- better odds with the Fully boys present." She jerks a thumb over her shoulder to the two Fulgore units who, like, never move, -EVER-.
And... when asked about tarot, Mint gives a light shrug. "I'unno. If you think it'll help, sure!"
Waiting a beat for her sense of humor to be recognized as such, Mint drops the mask and answers for real: "He uses tarot as part of his style. I want to say he... prepares cards, and... " Mint's eyes go wide as she searches for the right word.
"... And he... uh... *uses* them." Mint presses her lips together, falling silent as she looks directly at Iris for an uncomfortably long moment.
Lacing her mechanical fingers together, she grins. "... In short, I think it'd be better to talk with him. Palm reading optional. I'm hoping his expertise in fighting will help you out."
Mint steps back, unlacing her fingers, and clapping her palms together with a clap that sounds like a hollow, plastic, 'clack.'
"Okay! I think that juuust about covers it. Let's go get some hydration, yeah?"
Log created on 08:54:42 09/19/2023 by Mint, and last modified on 09:43:11 09/21/2023.