NFG Season One - Ichikast 6 - The NFG Finals!

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Description: Ichika Kasumoto's fans have been clamoring for the young prodigy's insight on the last few rounds of NFG finals. Who better to plead for the next episode than the sword-wielder's biggest fan?

As compared to the whirlwind pace of the mid-season Rumble, the NFG's season finals have provided the fighters with ample opportunities for rest and recovery. The free time has been something of a mixed blessing to some -- naturally, the essence of a fighter is to fight, not rest!

At the start of the NFG season, Chevelle Beaumont would have been more than willing to rest. Fighting wasn't so much of a 'job' as a hobby, back then -- something fun that happened to provide her with room and board in three of the most populous cities on the planet. Success didn't really... matter so much to her.

It's different now. The season is ending. And there's been so much to -do-. Even with all she learned in the Metro City battles, her training was focused on defeating the one person who had proven herself to be the biggest obstacle in the Rumble: Iris Osterlund. And now with that fight concluded, Chevy is actually struggling with how to prepare for her -next- battle. In times like this, one often seeks out friends for advice.

It just so happens that, this case, they're one and the same: her next battle -is- with her closest friend.

She'd been debating on how to approach Ichika. Surely, she'd need some time to rest and let the events settle out in her mind. -Sparring- might be a little out of the question, considering the need for rest. But the idea came to Chevy not long after the fights.

Hey Ichika, have you recorded the Ichikast yet?
Do you want to try a "collab" while we still can? 📹

It won't be much longer before the two end up going back to their homes on opposite sides of the world, after all.

The truth is, Ichika wasn't even planning on doing an Ichikast for this round. The response that the broadcasts had provoked from the wider fighting commentary scene had mostly irritated her, and she thought she would do a final roundup when she lost and dropped from the tournament. She didn't want to have to deal with any more backlash whilst she was still trying to concentrate on the important thing - performing her best during these final rounds. Honestly, she hadn't expected to defeat Buck. She hadn't been sure about defeating Sarah, for that matter. But now...

When the message comes from Chevy, it sits read for two full minutes as the girl considers. There's a lot running through her mind, there. But really, four words stand out among all the rest, and they are the reason she decides to revisit her plan.

We can do that. Come to my room. Bring a chair ♥

When Chevy gets there, the desk is already set up with the laptop ready to start recording. Ichika is wearing a Babymetal hoodie and jeans. The girl's schoolwork has been finished and packed away for once; her katana rests in its saya, which has clearly just been oiled. There's far less sense of distraction here, this evening, than there usually is. And she smiles, to see her friend.

"It's good to see you, Chevy." She says, softly. "But, before we get started, I have to ask ... what do you mean, while we still can?"

If there's one good habit that Chevy has picked up from Ichika, it's to be prepared. If she's going to -suggest- something, she'd best be ready for that answer to be 'yes!' It isn't but thirty seconds before a knock can be heard at Ichika's door. Once that door is answered, Chevy will be there, broadcast-ready, and leaning her elbow on the back of a rolling chair. She's wearing an ash grey, v-neck t-shirt -- no logos, this time -- paired with a comfy baby-blue hoodie, and complemented with her usual blue jeans and high-tops. To say nothing of her 1000-watt smile.

She greets Ichika a bit -less- formally: "Hey, girl!" She holds up her thumbs and forefingers as an ad-hoc photo frame: "And wow, -super- relaxed... it's a good look!" The urge to ruffle Ichika's hair is mitigated by the amount of product in the hayseed's own hair.

Of course, she now has a question to answer. Ichika may have been fixated upon the words, but Chevy seems nonchalant about them, quirking an eyebrow...

"Hm? While we're all still in the same building, yeah? I mean, unless you know somethin' I don't about a second season of this shindig..."

Ichika hesitates for a moment, and then she nods her head. "I see." She says, "That's a relief. I just want you to know that, well. I have no intention of stopping the Ichikast completely when the tournament is over. Or it remaining just about the tournament." There's a ghost of a smile there, and she turns a little, looking to her sword.

"I think... it is pretty clear, now, that no matter what happens next, I'll still be involved in the professional fighting world in some way. I hope you will be, too. So. There will be plenty of time in the future, to talk about everything. I've made that promise to my audience, after all! They'll come with me, every step of the way!"

She claps her hands together, then, and wheels her chair over to make more room in front of the desk - pushes the laptop back, so that she can make sure they can line them both up in shot well.

"Is there anything you want to talk about before we begin? It feels like a long time since we just... caught up. And an awful lot of things have happened. But, well. I'm happy to talk to everyone else too, if you prefer."

"Huh? W... I mean, sure, just..."

Chevy seems a bit taken aback, lacing nervous fingers together atop the back of her rolling chair. But she lets Ichika reaffirm her commitment to her fans before clarifying what she'd meant.

"Oh, well, of course, I... I just meant us both showin' up next to one another, without havin' to figure out how to, like, split-screen and stuff." She laughs amiably, nodding along. "And of -course- I'd expect to see you online, I cain't -not-."

Chevy scoots her chair into view of the camera, taking a seat to help Ichika line up the shot. She plinks around on her phone; a moment later, five images will appear in Ichika's inbox:

- Chevy, frozen atop columns of ice with Iris in the background.
- Ichika, blocking a bioelectrically-charged punch from Buck with her sword.
- Buck placing his hat on Ichika's head.
- Hawksley catching Djamila by surprise with a palm-driven fireball to the sternum.
- Kenzo catching Junko by surprise with his sickle; her hands are charred black.

"Just sent you some pics -- moments I found while breezin' through. In case you wanna use 'em, of course -- it's your 'kast' an' all!"

She eyes Ichika's screen for a moment, biting her lip. The streaming setup has -way- more windows than she would have imagined. "... That looks complicated," she starts, turning back to look at Ichika's face.

But she can't hold it back any longer.

"But... yeah. I do wanna start by sayin' I'm sorry. I done... messed up, with Junko. You were right -- and I shoulda done a better job of list'nin."

She lowers her chin. There's a -sense- that she might have more to say on that. But she's holding back for the moment.

Ichika nods again, affirming that she understands what had been meant - apparently she just took it in the wrong way. "It isn't so complicated when you get used to it." She says, lightly. "And we'll have to make sure everyone knows how to use it before we part ways anyway... just so we can all keep in touch, when we move on."

She sound more relaxed about it now at least. Though, there's also the fact she said 'move on' rather than 'go home' because... well. Southtown is undoubtedly going to be a part of the future, but now? Overall victory seems a lot more possible than she ever would have believed a few weeks ago. What an exciting thought that is...

Even the mention of Junko doesn't bring the same thunderous expression that it had, just a short time ago. "It's alright, Chevy." She says, as she scrolls through the selected photos, smiling. "These are good shots. And, yes. Daidoji-san can be very deceptive. But it feels as though she has shown her true colours, now."

There is a small sigh from the girl, and a shake of her head, "I had hoped Kuroiwa-san would be able to rein her in. Now, I suppose it will fall to Fadel-san. Or you. Or me. I only hope that one of us is able to stop her... for her own sake, as much as for everyone else's."

'When we move on' is doing a lot of heavy lifting in that sentence, true. Normally that phrase might have hit Chevy a bit hard, but she's been doing a -lot- of thinking the past few days -- and she's mostly come to grips with that reality. So, while the intensity of her smile fades somewhat, it's still very much within norms for Chevy's range of expression.

"Thanks!" Chevy's face basks in different hues of light as Ichika flips through the photos.

"Mm-hmm..." agrees Chevy with a nod, smile dimming another few watts as she considers. "I had thought she was just... scared."

She looks downcast for a moment, as she mentally replays through that last fight with Kenzo. And that -word- she shouted, right before sealing the deal with an all-out blazing finish. Er, no. Not 'word,' but a 'name.'

"I'd got a bit too big for my britches, thinkin' I could help her with controlling... her power."

She hesitates. She -knows- the name, but she's still sworn to secrecy, and she doesn't want to get Ichika -too- fired up.

"But I'd come to realize, it... ain't really my place. Especially not now."

She smiles, shrugging her shoulders lightly -- and, scooting her chair closer, she wraps an arm around Ichika's shoulders.

"We'll figure it out, right? We're Team Thunder an' all."

Chevy's smile is back to its full intensity as she looks back to Ichika.

"What've you been up to? You look like you're all caught up with school work!"

"She might be." Ichika concedes, and there is a touch of sadness in her voice, there. "Rei believes that she is as much a victim of her powers as anyone else. I can see that, too. From the way she fights, it's very obvious. But, where we differ is in our thoughts as to how to deal with that. To me, she should be working on her control, and if she cannot control herself, she should not be fighting. Our mentors... obviously take a different view."

There's a small sigh, before the arm wraps around her, and she returns the comforting gesture. "There's nothing wrong with wanting to help people." She says, "But I am afraid that we can't. My only real solution is to beat her, and hope that shows her the current way is not working." Even that isn't really a great plan; Junko had lost fights before. The fact that she had beaten Coco and Kenzo, though...

"... But that is the problem with viewing victory as a measure of success." She says, quietly. "It obviously is working for her. But the price to herself, and to others, is ... extreme."

The smile returns with the affirmation that they are still Team Thunder, and she gives a firmer nod.

"I've been focusing on my studies for a little while, yes. It helps me not to think about the upcoming fights. And soon, there will be the end of year exams. I need to make sure I'm ready for that. How about you?"

"I mean, there's... somethin' to be said for workin' on stuff in mid-fight. But talkin' like she does... just bein' -vile- against Coco..." Chevy grits her teeth. "I tried real hard to stand up for her. But when the sun sets, it's still her in control. It's still her sayin' the words, partly."

She looks back at the screenshots on Ichika's laptop. She nods along -- as the costs of victory are weighed. Extreme... is definitely one word for it.

"Yeah..." She trails off, not wanting to belabor the point any further.

"Ah well, you know." She pauses, amping up her smile to full intensity again. "Thinkin' too much about the upcomin' fights." Chevy makes as if gripping her galvanized pipe with both hands. The weapon, thankfully, was left in her room. "I keep havin' to stop myself from askin' you to help me with counter-strategies for dealing with, y'know, -you-."

Chevy laughs softly. "So, -that-, and tryin' to put Coco out of my mind." Her smile grows a bit wistful, as she admits, "... Ain't but so much you can do for people. Coco, Junko... they gotta want the help. I felt like I've just been spinnin' my wheels, so."

She squints back at the screen, trying to make sense of the controls. But she seems to double back. "So wait, y'all do the end-of-years before Christmas? We always do ours right before summertime."

There is a small smile from Ichika when Chevy suggests coming to her for strategy on how to beat ... her.

"I think you already know your advantages over me, Chevy." She says, softly. "You have greater reach. You react more fluidly to situations than I do. You can set traps for me with your water." And then, that smile grows. "Of course, I also know that, and as you may have noticed against Buck... I am responding more intuitively, more easily, myself these days. But, honestly..."

And here she looks to the ceiling, and smiles. "In many ways, I feel like we've both already won. No matter which of us is in the finals, we wouldn't have gotten there without the other. I want it to be me. I want it ... so badly. But I want it to be you, as well. I'm glad that it will be one of us, at least."

There is a small nod given to the question of exams, of course, but really, after all that - well, end of year exams really don't feel like such a big deal. A thought which would have had the Ichika of the start of the tournament spitting blood.

Chevy listens intently as Ichika mentions her advantages.... for about three seconds. And it's at that point that the hayseed looks down, holding a hand over her brow so as to make it difficult to see the blush on her cheeks.

"Ah, geez, I was tryin' -not- to, but you..." She coughs lightly, flattening both hands upon her lap as she sits up straight and proper.

"Yeah. That's... pretty close to how I feel, too. It's... it's -still- a dream, that I'm out here doin' the sort of thing that Ichijo-sensei and Mr Abigail were doin' while we were growin' up. But it's a dream we can near 'bout grab hold of with both hands, and that makes me feel all warm inside."

Chevy draws in her breath. She bobs her head cheerily. And... then she pulls some index cards out of her pockets, straightening them upon her lap. On each card are some hastily-scribbled notes with a number of corrections.

The nervousness begins to show behind her smile, and in the corners of her eyes. She... wants the recording to go as well as possible.

"Mmm... how should we start this thing? Do you need s'more time?"

Ichika can't help but smile at Chevy's embarrassment. "I want you to do as well as you can." She says, "If I lose to you because I can't overcome your strengths... I have no complaints. No matter what, I've made it to the final four, and from almost my first match... that's further than I thought I could go."

It's a strange thing to think about, but true. She really has made it much further, and much more convincingly, than she would've expected. The uniform that Lyraelle helped her put together isn't just a costume any more. There's nobody in the world who could look at her last performances and see anything other than a fighter. She's not just pretending. And that feels incredible.

The smile stays as she notes the index cards. She, of course, doesn't have any notes - but then, Chevy is well aware of Ichika's particular... gift? Curse? When it comes to her memory. "Oh, I usually just hit 'go' and start from there." She says, "If we need to edit things out later I'm getting better at that. Just try to talk naturally, that's the difficult part!"

She reaches out and hits a button on the laptop, and then she smiles into the camera.

"Hello everyone! Welcome to the Ichikast! A bit of a surprise episode today, but I'm here with my friend Chevelle Beaumont to discuss the last round of the NFG's finale tournament. I think there's a lot of really interesting things to discuss here, and I'm excited to talk about it with her. Chevy! Welcome, and congratulations on being the Ichikast's first guest!"

"Totally," agrees Chevy. "There've been some ups and downs, but there ain't no doubt about it -- I'm happy with all we've been able to do here."

She'd been warming up to the idea of segueing into the recording. But then... Ichika just launches right in without prelude. One keypress, and one thing changes -- just a singular red dot.

The audience will... likely see her deer-in-the-headlights look for a moment or two.

But once she hears Ichika's calm confidence, Chevy feels right at home, curling her index cards in her hands as she draws back from the camera. She waves cheerily to the folks at home as her name is mentioned -- and leans forward, when it's time.

"Surprise! Thanks for havin' me on, Ichika! Hey, y'all! This's my first time doin' anythin' as big as the Ichikast, so I done give Ichika permission to shove me if I goof up."

She seems a little lost for a moment -- but when she sees Miss Kasumoto's reassuring looks, she nods to herself and continues. It's not a podcast, really, so much as a conversation with a dear friend, right?

"So how about them finals, yeah? Fight fans, y'all have seen some -crazy- stuff these past couple weeks, so let's just jump right in, yeah?"

The hayseed had been nervous about the idea of a podcast. But Ichika is practically reading her mind at this point -- and the first of her five pics comes up on screen: a still frame from her fight with Iris, in which Chevy is caught sideways on the right of the screen, practically frozen atop a pillar of ice, with a serious-looking Iris visible off to the left.

"Okay! Well, it looks like we're... starting with our first match for this round! Iris Osterlund versus me, Chevy B!" She glances at her cards for a moment, before continuing into the camera. "We were really well matched! Look at all that ice, right? Now y'all might remember the Rumble, where Iris done froze me to the floor with my own tidal wave. Now I warn't too happy about that... so I put in some hours workin' on my skills. So this..."

She gestures at the picture, like an amateur meteorologist who's never done such a thing before.

"This coulda been worse. But I warn't the only one workin' on my game - Iris was too! She done kept me on my toes the whole fight, it was all I could do to keep up with her!"

She grins, leaning back as she prepares for Ichika to tag in: "I just wanna say, havin' a teddy bear ready to cushion your fall's pretty much my favorite trick of that fight. Good job, there, Iris!"

Ichika is encouraging, of course; she's also genuinely curious how Chevy saw the fight, and what her thoughts were going into it. They hadn't done their usual pre-fight talk here, and maybe that was understandable. Ichika also has huge respect for Iris, and whilst she does love her friend, she would have been happy to see either of them advance.

"I feel like this fight showcased the strengths of both fighters very clearly." She says, with a small nod. "Iris' performance in the Rumble was a demonstration of what she is capable of if she can harness her talents. The tenacity she showed here, and the more considered, tactical approach tells me that she has started to harness that potential. You, as well, have become far more comfortable with all aspects of your control over water."

She gestures vaguely between them, where she intends to put the frame from the fight. "You chose this moment, which I think is very telling. When I think back to where we were at the start of this project, that Iris would be able to pull off a feat like this and that you would then still be able to overcome her... I don't think I would have believed it were possible. These feats would not be out of place in any professional fighting tournament in the world. I look forward to seeing where Iris' path along the Warrior's Road will take her next."

Ichika's dedication to her craft is impressive. The software is only a very small part of the social media equation. And now that Chevy can see the process from the other side of the camera, observing how Ichika conducts herself and makes gestures to things that aren't yet there yet, she can more fully appreciate all the elements that go into the production.

The hayseed smiles warmly at her friend's commentary with a mix of awe and ... well, embarassment. "It was -definitely- a rush! I feel like Iris was on fire, yeah! She looked cool and confident, and everything felt like it was exactly what she -wanted- to happen. I'm honored to have shared the stage with her -- I just know we'll be seein' each other soon, somehow or another."

She nods along with enthusiasm, glancing to her friend for a moment -- then back to her cards.

"Hmm, so, speaking of 'fighters who advanced a lot since the start of the project,' we got our next match here. Y'all at home might not know this, but Ichika, Buck, and I all spent some time climbin' Mount Shasta together this summer, on a Team Thunder trainin' mission. So when you hear Ichika talkin' about a mountain an' such... that might just be where she's got in mind."

She laughs with a folksy smile, wrapping an arm around her friend for a quick side-hug. "Was a trip I ain't never gonna forget..."

Chevy's next chosen image would be a still of Ichika standing amidst tendrils of flame, facing off against Buck in his fearsome dragon form.

"So, just as with that last match -- this one was special. Heck, we didn't even know what we were doin' when we started. But Buck's been buildin' up his game -- he even surprised you a few times, like with that armadillo defense, right? And who could forget that time he near bout shocked you with that electric punch..."

Chevy grins cheerily. "But you could tell, the whole fight -- Ichika was playin' like a grandmaster here. Our girl's defense was -on point-. You could tell she'd given this fight a lot of thought, just from how she moved..."

Now it is Ichika's turn to blush and look, just a little, uncomfortable. She can't deny it though; she had entered the fight with a plan, and everything had just... fallen into place. There is a small nod at the note about Mount Shasta, at least. "It was when I really felt as though we came together as a team." She admits, "It was... life-altering, and I will always cherish the memory."

There's another, firmer, nod at the fact that Buck took her by surprise. "I don't think anyone has been able to keep up with my speed when I fully devote myself to that attack before." She says, "That Buck was able to defend against it so successfully was not something I was ready for. But, I was... in tune, with the fight."

There's an embarrassed smile, and she waves her hand a little. "If we hadn't trained together so much, if I didn't know him so well, I would not have been able to plan so successfully. The electrical attack was the moment it hinged on, I think. I was able to trust my instincts and turn most of it away. Even so, it was still extremely painful and it shattered my ability to guard. If it had landed cleanly, I think he would have emerged victorious."

Chevy is all smiles as Ichika provides a bit more background to the fight, nodding along. "And of course we got this winner here. Dang if Ichika don't have the best weapon to deal with dragon's flame, right? When is a sword not a sword, an' all..."

Chevy bumps her shoulder playfully into Ichika's, before rocking away to clear some space for her next comment: "Of course, she done blocked all attacks but she let the most important one through here without so much as a fight."

In post-production, this would be a screenshot of Buck placing his hat on Ichika's head at the end of the match. In pre-production, she's just sticking her tongue out at the camera, clearly teasing her friend.

"Hmm, well, next up we have Kenzo versus Junko."

The shot here is one in which Kenzo manages to press a sickle against the fiery miko, showing her clearly on edge.

"Of course, Kenzo's quick, and he's tricky -- he's got weapons for days, and I really think he brought his whole arsenal out against Junko. But while didn't bring a fresh change of clothes, she -did- bring the intensity. The whole fight was neck and neck, but... whew. This one was a photo finish, folks!"

There is a soft little laugh at Chevy's way of phrasing the end of the fight. "Not quite, all, the attacks..." She says, "But, yes. I let the most important one through, of course." She is smiling as she's bumped, though, of course, then they have to address the flaming elephant in the room, and Ichika's smile fades considerably. The girl is very serious as she looks into the camera.

"I have tried to be diplomatic about Daidoji-san in the past." She says, to the perked ears of drama fans worldwide. "She was a former teammate, and I did not consider it proper to speak out against her. After her, actions, in the fight against Coalbridge-san, I was too busy preparing for my battle with Buck to address the matter further. But. I will say it plainly now."

She looks to Chevy, almost apologetic about what she's going to say.

"Daidoji-san is proof that strength, even victory, is unimportant on this path we walk." She says, "I learned half of this lesson myself, as I have had many failures but I have still advanced far down the Warrior's Road. Daidoji-san is now achieving many startling victories. But these are not things that I can celebrate."

She takes a deeper breath, looking right back into the camera. "What does it matter that she wins fights when she leaves nothing but ashes and pain in her wake? What does her success mean, when the price of it is born by innocent people? It shames me that I see some of myself in her. The, desperation, she has to win, is something I experienced in the early rounds of this project. But I did not allow it to consume me. I pray that Fadel-san is able to put an end to this, so that she too may find peace in defeat."

Chevy gives an awkward laugh as she was caught up in the moment. But, the correction was made. "Right!"

Ichika's apologetic smile is met with a tight-lipped but affirming nod. The hayseed had always been... a little apprehensive about the way previous Ichikasts had skated right past discussing Team Thunder's little firebrand. She -thought- about addressing that in her bit, but didn't want to put Ichika on the spot. But, sure enough, Ichika rises to the challenge and confronts it head-on. Chevy nods along to the camera -- finding herself agreeing on nearly every point. She frowns softly, as Ichika talks about Junko leaving ashes and pain in her wake.

"I'm with you on this, Ichika. Here in the en-eff-gee we've all had our learning experiences. We've all been through the wringer, learned how to use our skills and... how -not- to use 'em. It's... fun to keep pushin' past our limits, to see how far we can take things. But when the bell rings, y'know, the fight's over."

She remains quiet for a moment, as she looks back at the camera.

"... Heck, I'm just glad folks were able to enjoy the fight. I sure am glad those force-field thing-a-ma-bobbers were in place!"

She looks back at her index cards for a moment, and looks back to Ichika, aghast.

"... Wow, that segue was so slick I didn't even realize it. That's our Ichika...! Next up is our last fight of the round, Fadel-san versus Moore-san!"

The still she'd chosen is a shot of Hawksley interrupting one of Djamila's attacks with a fireball, his hand silhouetted from the brilliant flame.

Straightening her index cards, Chevy continues.

"Now this one was a tough one for me to watch. Djamila's been a challenge for both me -and- Ichika, so I know she was givin' Hawksley some real heartburn. Now folks I'm here to tell ya, Hawksley was in rare form, throwin' out some of his biggest gouts of flame yet. The trouble was gettin' any of it to stick to Djamila -- she floats like a butterfly and stings like a Mack truck..."

There's a strong nod from Ichika in agreement, about the forcefields, but she doesn't want to belabour the point. She just knows what social media is going to ignite over this, and that she may well be upsetting both Junko and her sponsors. Nevertheless... holding her tongue could only go so far. She had promised her fans that she would be honest with them, and the truth was... well. As she'd said.

Then it is on to Hawksley and Djamila.

There's a soft sigh from Ichika at the note that she'd had trouble with the poledancer in the past. "I have said many unkind things to and about Fadel-san." She says, "I took the decision to try and put that behind me, as I did not like the way that holding on to that anger was pushing me. Moore-san..."

She smiles softly, giving a small shake of her head. "It has been interesting watching him develop over the course of things. I think he is the one of us who has become more, him, than the rest. We have all changed, but with Moore-san, it feels as though he has just become a more concentrated version of himself. Refined, with the impurities removed by his heat."

She runs her hand through her hair, then, making it spike up as she sighs, "Fadel-san, though, has always been an extremely strong competitor. I feel as though we have seen some obvious testament to Metal's influence in this round. Iris, Kuroiwa-san and Fadel-san all performed excellent control over their respective styles, notable improvements over where they were even during the Rumble. And as I said earlier, I hope that she is the one who makes it through to the finals, from that side of the tournament..."

Which leaves the question open, doesn't it? Which of them do they think is going to win coming up?

Chevy nods slowly in concert with Ichika's assessment of Hawksley. She can already feel some heat rushing to her cheeks as she chimes in: "Yep. He's definitely more Moore than before." She draws in her breath, grinning back at the camera.

When Ichika gives Djamila her compliments though, Chevy can't help but nod in response. "Yeah, totally. I know we've had our clashes, but Metal has definitely been puttin' their best foot forward here. It won't be long before we're gonna start seein' these folks in Neo League, or Risin' Star, or whatever is comin' next over the horizon..."

As for that question... Chevy sets her cards down as they're no longer of any use.

"The next round, hm, that's tough. Fadel-san's great -- but I think Hawksley had the right idea. She's like a runaway freight train. Tough as nails to stop, but once you get her derailed, all bets are off. Junko -might- be able to put a stop to her, but it's still a bit of a longshot in my mind."

She grins into the camera, as a thought occurs to her.

"I dunno, though. Chevy Beaumont might not be long for this tournament either. She's got a -tough- battle 'head of her, against the brightest, sharpest sword in the lot."

Ichika nods along with Chevy's assessment of the upcoming fight with Junko and Djamila. As much as she might be rooting for her former nemesis against her current one, after seeing Junko take out both Coco - someone Djamila hadn't been able to crack - and Kenzo - one of the most flexible fighters in the roster - it is plausible that the miko could wind up in the finals. And then it will come down to either herself or Chevy to overcome her. Not a comforting thought at all; she had lost to Junko once before herself, and Chevy? Well.

"It isn't going to be an easy thing for me to overcome Team Thunder's Strongest." Ichika says, with a shake of her head, "But I will do my best." Although Chevy had fallen into the third person, Ichika seems less willing to do that, turning to face her friend with a smile on her face.

"You and I have about an equal record against one another, I think. So. Regardless of anything else, our fans can look forward to an incredible fight, I think."

Chevy can't help but laugh at the nickname. "Still callin' me that, huh?" She grins back as Ichika talks about their fight record, nodding... "Mostly, yeah? Though I think our last one got interrupted, technically."

She laces her fingers together, leaning forward so that she can rest her chin upon her thumbs as she returns her blue-eyed gaze to the camera. "It's gonna be -real- tough for me since you're not only familiar with my move set, you helped me -practice-, like, the -most- of it..."

Chevy laughs. "But yeah. I ain't plannin' on givin' you any less than a hundred and ten percent, Ichika. Audiences ought to get their money's worth for it. They might wanna bring raincoats though." She winks at the camera, sharing a teasing smile.

"And... it won't be long now before we have the season's big winner, right?" She glances over to Ichika. "You figured out what you're gonna do with all your winnings?"

Ichika returns the nod to Chevy, and the smile. She is, indeed, still using that nickname. It is still true! As far as she is concerned, that much has never really been in doubt. Though she doesn't comment on the fact that she's helped her friend iterate her style; as Ichika had said, hers hasn't changed much, fundamentally, from the beginning. The changes that have been made are refinements on the formula. Doing the same thing, only better, which means that Chevy has also been coming up against the same questions Ichika has been posing with her fighting since that very first training bout in the Hotel Southtown.

"Ah yes, the winner..." She says, shaking her head just a little bit. "At the beginning of all of this, I said that if I won, I would trust my parents with the winnings. That... hasn't changed, exactly, but I don't think I would give all of it to them now. I think, if I win, I will give them half to do with as they would like. The other half, I would use to travel. There are many styles of swordfighting around the world I would like to test myself against, and many tournaments as well. That would be my focus."

A smile, then, and she has to ask, "What would you do, if you took home the big prize, Chevy?"

If it ain't broke, don't fix it? A string of successes may have encouraged Chevy to stick with what works.

She's happy to find herself in good company, now that she seems to have caught up to the expectations of being Thunder's 'greatest.'

It still doesn't... feel -real- though. Chevy can't turn into a dragon, and she's never had to ward off dragonflame. She's never had to freestyle rap or dance on demand. And she's never had the sheer force of will to devastate a bar to smithereens. How can this make -her- the 'greatest?' It's all... elusive to the hayseed, in a way. She had just assumed Ichika to have been crowning Chevy as the 'greatest' to intimidate others -- and that it might be something of an in-joke now. And while she appreciates that for what it is, the hayseed hasn't ever fully -accepted- it.

She just expects Ichika to be the victor, really.

"Aww, that's sweet, yeah! World tour! That sounds pretty awesome, Ichika."

When the question is turned on herself though, Chevy just... blinks into the camera for a moment.

Then she glances to Ichika at her side.

"Huh. Well."

In her NFG interview, she'd said it was a secret. But it wasn't Ichika asking, then -- and she didn't really know. Her brow creases, as she works on the answer.

"Well, first thing I'mma do is finish payin' off the house for Momma. Real excitin', I know! But... past that..."

She turns back to the camera, maybe looking a little bit above it.

"Could do lots of things."

She holds up a finger, horizontally, rolling it around as she gets her gears spinning.

"But... I'll be honest, Ichika... I've been thinkin' a lot about our time in Sunshine City. 'Bout the Corona Row thing, you know? Money just seems like it goes a lot further when it's used to help people."

She laces her fingers together, smiling at the camera.

"We ended up needin' a lot of help from the community when Paw passed away, too. So... I ain't nailed it down just yet -- but I want to help people."

It's not really the -same- secret she'd hid from the interviewer so many months back. But Abigail's helped her a long way in that regard.

She glances back to Ichika. "I just... cain't believe we're here though. Top four. It's like a dream still!"

The explanation gets a bright smile from Ichika, and she nods her head. "That is a beautiful thing to want to do as well." She says, not apparently surprised by her friend's earnest desire to help the people they had encountered in their travels. "It was a shame that the soup kitchen didn't work out quite like we had hoped. But, we were much less experienced then. I suspect that if we were to encounter similar difficulties today, we'd have far less issue making sure that everything runs smoothly."

It is, perhaps, the inverse of most pre-fight meetings. Each competitor sure that it will be the other one who emerges victorious, each one aware of the other's modesty and not wishing to make a big deal out of it. Ichika gives a small bow to the camera, then. "And I am sure that our fans will be happy to learn that regardless of which of us goes forward, there will be plenty of good to come out of our success. After all, whoever wins our fight, must surely take the whole tournament."

The girl's smile is teasing. She is not, really, taking such a thing for granted at all. And yet. There is a determination behind the 'joke'. To reach this far is, indeed, a dream. But they will have to seize their destiny to turn the final dream into a reality.

"Until next time, thank you for your continued support, and please do tune in to the fight. It will be excellent, I am sure."

Log created on 13:40:20 11/26/2023 by Chevy, and last modified on 08:03:56 12/05/2023.