Neo League 326 - #337: Alma vs Luise

Description: Two remarkably similar fighters with remarkably similar personalities meet and have a fight in Carnegie Hall. The only thing that's not remarkably similar is their luck in battle... (Winner: Alma)

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
We've all heard that one. There's the serious answer, which involves complex subway instructions and lots of arguing, and the vain attempt at wit answer. But until today, ladies and gentlemen, those were the only two responses; until today. Now there is a third answer. There is a third way to get to Carnegie Hall.
'Beating up a lot of people'.
Not in the sense of a Final Fight style rampage throughout the city on the way to a final showdown, although that would definitely be sweet. No, for young Alma Towazu, psychic prettyboy and would-be champion of virtue extraordinaire, most beatings have been performed with the utmost decorum. But the fact of the matter is he's on a bit of a world tour right now, for as long as Southtown University's spring break lasts, and his fighting spirit has been rekindled. After losing in the first round of World Warrior, he was driven to visit the founder of his fighting style, and found his inspiration once again; he went on to fight a challenging opponent, and was reminded profoundly of his purpose. Now he continues on unrelenting, savoring the opportunities provided both by the fights themselves and the travel that accompanies them, and-- he's made it. He's made it to Carnegie Hall.
~ An unusual place for a fight... ~
It's not exactly a triumph for him the way it would be for a musician or any kind of artist other than a martial artist, but it's a triumph in its own way. Alma, walking out to the center stage in the view of the packed audience as they finish getting settled in, looks up at the bright lights above the stage and shields his eyes against them, expression mild and inscrutible, and decides that he likes the setting even if he doesn't fully understand it. Hiten-Ryu is all about performance, after all. It's not an environment he's used to, but that will be part of the challenge.
~ Everything about it is new and exciting. ~
His opponent included. He doesn't know anything about her, just as with his previous opponent, but he has a feeling, just looking around him now, that this is going to be something of an uphill struggle...

In her last foray into the Neo League, Luise Meyrink found not just defeat, but *utter* defeat. Forced to make a mysterious exit on camera, the pale beauty's popularity among fans of the League -- those taken with her almost otherworldly appearance and abilities -- has risen quite a bit. Naturally, Luise's response to the sudden request for fights has been to decline the majority. Typically the notices of challenge are enough; bravos out to make a name for themselves, men no better than thugs hoping to make a dime on being able to swing a fist and knowing that fighting a popular fighter, in terms of residuals, is profitable no matter the outcome.

The last invitation she received, however, she accepted.

It had been at her temporary home in Southtown, sitting in a sunlit kitchen and reading the letter over a foamy cup of cappucino. It wasn't even the polite tone -- even thugs can write polite -- but... something about it. Her sixth sense, a sense Luise has come to trust, told her to say yes. So she did.

Two days later she was on a flight to Metro City, returning to the site of her last defeat but in a far different scenario than Luise's bout with Acacia. Known for showing up at venues early to take the measure of the 'stage', Luise has been for some time sitting in the wings, playing a low, quiet tune on a nearby rehearsal piano, much as she did before her bout with Heavy D and Maki at Columbia University. Her eyes are closed, revealing the dark blue eye shadow she favors in contrast to the milk-white skin, her torso swaying in time to the rhythm of the song and the dancing of her fingers on the keyboard.

Some people might object that it takes years of practice to play Carnegie Hall... but anyone listening to Luise Meyrink's playing would find that objection dead in the throat before it was spoken. She's *that good*. And as Alma approaches, the notes die away as her eyes open and she looks up, spying the young fighting star.

Her mouth opens, and she says only one word:


Alma doesn't notice the piano playing at first. In his case, this is a testament to its true quality; for so absorbed is he in trying to intuit the fullness of this place's ambience, in attempting the impossible task of comprehending this atmosphere in its totality, that when the music enters his perception it does so as a natural part of the environment. The sound of the piano swells within him just as the sensation of this place's aura does, and intertwined they buoy his spirits, satisfying at least in part his desire to understand, and yet still continually tempting him with the vastness represented by all these different souls around him, and the long and distinguished history of this place that he cannot possibly know-- so that even as he is blessed with a certain understanding he continues to reach out within himself, for more, more--
In his blissful state, eyes shielded against the light but still refusing to gaze anywhere but upward, it takes Alma some time to realize that, conventionally speaking, the piano playing is distinct from the Carnegie Hall, and that therefore it must be issuing from somewhere. He realizes this just as it ends; and he turns finally, blinking, to where the sound must have been coming from; and meets a woman's eyes.
Mild-mannered as he is, Alma's emotion is revealed mainly in his own eyes; he is startled at first -- how did he not notice her? -- but the surprise is quickly replaced by a genuine awe. It does not travel beyond his eyes, but it is there.
~ Now I regret not being as cautious as I usually am. I wish I knew more about her. But... at least I have the opportunity to get to know... a woman such as this... ~
They are on opposite sides of the stage. It would probably be best to approach, and get this match started. But young Alma finds himself unable to do so, unable to move from the spot, entranced by this woman's unique aura.
He bows low, looking at her from across the stage.
The audience grows silent, unsure of what's happening. And, to be fair, Alma doesn't know quite what's happening either. But he doesn't care. The unexpected magnificence of his opponent doesn't disconcert him, curious about her person as he may be. What matters is-- he's here.
~ I'm flattered my matches are all so fascinating! ~
"Miss Meyrink," Alma murmurs, speaking without force yet letting his voice carry in that way he can sometimes make it do, "it is an honor."

One of the nicer things about a certain degree of comportment is that it allows one to be completely at ease wherever she goes. Luise is 'that' type of person: so composed, so at peace with herself, that she is on native soil regardless of actual geography. Alma's sudden formality amuses her, the blue-shaded lips quirking into a tight smile as she returns the bow gracefully. "My... polite and handsome. They certainly do make young men in all flavors nowadays," she observes airily, as if she were talking to some invisible person beside her and the two were observing Alma from far off, like opera-goers in the high balcony speaking of the on-stage tenor.

Behind her, the piano is being wheeled off as the woman takes a few steps forward, going no farther than that, letting her long arms drop to her sides and the wide sleeves of her jacket drift against her. It is not necessarily Alma's singular aura that intrigues Luise -- indeed, she would ascribe equally unique 'senses' to fighters like Acacia, or Sakura, or even Heavy D! -- but rather the 'direction' of the energy around him. Most people, by necessity, direct their thoughts inward and their energy outward, observing and reacting, in a constant give and take. Alma appears, to Luise, rather different: his energy clearly comes from without, drawn from those around him as his reaction to the stunned audience suggests... and from that he gives out. A curious thing.

But rather than vocalize this, Luise doesn't waste any time on banter. Instead, she stretches her arms out, splaying the slender fingers on each hand, before bringing them back toward her body and leaning her torso back ever so slightly... a relaxed posture. "I'm slightly more casual than appearances suggest, though. It's a pleasure to meet you as well... Mr. Towazu."

With a small spark of light blue, the Dancing Butterfly appears to almost float off the ground, her toes pointed downward... and Alma can likely sense a familiar sort of power radiating from this otherwise unassuming woman. "Let's give them a good show."

COMBATSYS: Luise has started a fight here.

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Luise            0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Alma has joined the fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Alma             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Luise

Alma rises from his bow, smiling warmly. He, like, Luise, is composed and calm, friendly in a gentle and refined manner-- but he is also younger, and it shows, both through his profound display of respect and the eagerness in his eyes that he does not even try to disguise. The smile is a purely pleasant one, genuine as it is, but it is born of more than pleasantry.
"I'm looking forward to this," he says, quite honestly.
Maybe it's that having a chance to compete with a strong woman means a lot to him-- for personal reasons. Or maybe it's just the nature of her power as well that compels him; he was enthralled by what he saw, after all, whatever it was. Maybe it's nice to be around attractive women, especially when one doesn't have to worry about skirt mishaps. But whatever the reason, Alma is happy, and it shows. Limbs relaxing and posture straightening, the tall fighting model flexes his hands a little and shifts his feet, and the audience grows still in expectation.
"Please.. do your best!"
Smile firm and eyes intent, Alma Towazu lunges into battle.
White flames, traced with pink and purple, manifest around his arms and legs, but rather than explode into action as he moves they rather subsume into his form, becoming an unusual halo of power that sheathes the youth's powerful body. Making the first move, Alma approaches quickly, surging forward and hitting a unique rhythm with a series of sweeping kicks and flowing strikes at the woman's abdomen and legs, and faint afterimages trail behind, misleading the eyes of viewers. It's a purely physical attack, but his soul manifests itself all the same, leaving the burning signiture of his self wherever he moves.
With him comes the scent of autumn rain.

COMBATSYS: Alma successfully hits Luise with Autumn Rain.

[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Alma             0/-------/------=|==-----\-------\0            Luise

Perhaps she let herself get a little too distracted in observing Alma... or perhaps she's just a little slow on the draw today. A third option, of course, is that Alma is a skilled fighter who knows how to land his blows. Either way, his series of attacks strikes Luise with no small degree of precision, the assault forcing the Dancing Butterfly back but not sufficient enough to bowl her over just yet. That said, soaking up physical hits has never been Luise's forte, and it shows in the wince of pain she gives.

However, she's still in the fight, which is only just beginning. Circling Alma a moment with that seeming float-y ability she has -- even the audience isn't sure if it's an illusion or not -- the German woman watches Alma patiently. "He opens with fanfare horns, all brass, announcing his own arrival," she observes aloud, in a distracted-sounding tone, before she dives in toward Alma, reaching for his shoulder or arm, whichever is handy. "The woodwinds respond low and quiet, the murmur of the background, but their base note is essential..." If she can get a grip, Luise simply twists once with her wrist and sends Alma flipping through the air in a tight spiral, lines of dark blue power surrounding him as she adds her own special power to the throw, speeding up its momentum.

COMBATSYS: Luise successfully hits Alma with Helix Prelude.

[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////      ]
Alma             0/-------/---====|====---\-------\0            Luise

Alma successfully lands his strikes, but even so, he can tell his opponent is quite quick, and he doesn't let his guard down as she glides out of his reach. Perhaps in hope of taking advantage of his superior size and build, he does not attempt to evade her forward movement but instead steps out to meet it; but his confidence is unfounded. She grasps him, yes-- but before he can reach out to do anything, he finds himself hurled off his feet. There is a moment of pure shock as he sails through the air, before he comes to grips with the surge of power he sensed and realizes that she has learned techniques he has never bothered incorporating; she can imbue her grapples with the force of her power. He should have thought of that! Again, his lack of research seems a disadvantage.
But the fact is, she's just good. Even if he had known she was able to do that, he might not have been able to evade her. The thought does not dismay him. On the contrary, he recovers quite suddenly, flipping even as he's about to hit the ground head first and slamming his feet on the performance hall's floor so as to abruptly reverse his momentum. The recovery, born of his kindled resolve and will to fight, immediately flows into an attack as that soulfire manifests overtly, igniting around his legs as he lunges through the air toward her. Refusing to let her rest for a moment, Alma presses the attack with a series of airborne slashing kicks, the fire blazing around his limbs reflected in his eyes.
Her words impress him, but-- that's not his style.
It's the silent communication in fights that most concerns him.

COMBATSYS: Luise blocks Alma's Rising Fury.

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Alma             0/-------/---====|=====--\-------\0            Luise

The musical metaphor seems to be working for Luise, so she decides to run with it, continuing to play out the fight out loud as if she were listening to some great symphony of yore... after all, to her, that's what fighting is. A performance art, a method of expression. And in a sense there is something lyrical about the way Alma fights, not letting up, flowing from one thing to the next... as in music, disjoints have their place, but the goal is a unified melody that moves without stopping. Case in point: the fiery kick Alma delivers as retribution. Breathing calmly, Luise doesn't panic; instead she lets the blue glow that hints around her body to suffuse into her hands, interposing them with Alma's feet, gently deflecting them outward. "Ah, but the fanfare can't be denied. It returns, a defiant note..."

Twirling back into position, Luise doesn't press her attack. Instead, she observes Alma for a moment, taking in his measure and waiting for her opening. Haste makes waste, after all. "The chorus hums a response. The winds are silent. Ah... please excuse my tendency to colorful metaphor," she says finally, with an almost embarrassed expression. "It helps me concentrate."

COMBATSYS: Luise focuses on her next action.

[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Alma             0/-------/---====|=====--\-------\0            Luise

Alma gets an A for effort, but he fails to make direct contact. Indeed, his opponent reacts in a way that Alma often finds himself doing when confronted by energy attacks. This woman just gets more and more interesting for him; how fortunate that they are conveniently in combat, and able to get to know each other through struggle.
Having a nice conversation would work just as well, no doubt, given that she seems to have a quite honest nature, but-- first things first.
"Not at all," Alma says mildly as he settles back a little, taking the time to center himself a little; the glow of his power fades from everywhere except his eyes, where his passion smoulders in a slow burn invisible to all except those looking for it. "Whatever you do to engage yourself in a fight, by all means do it..."
He smiles softly.
"'ve made me too curious for you to hold anything back now."

COMBATSYS: Alma gathers his will.

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Alma             1/-------/=======|=====--\-------\0            Luise

Hmmm... gathering energy. A trick Luise has seen multiple times now and secretly wishes she knew too. However, the thought does not stay long on the Dancing Butterfly's mind; indeed, she has other things she knows how to do, and plans to use them to her advantage when she can. "Well, it changes from moment to moment," Luise says simply, watching Alma carefully. "I guess I'm a creature of whim in some ways."

Not wasting any time, the German woman suddenly drops one arm down, then sweeps it in a wide upward arc, spinning toward the ceiling. In a flare of midnight blue, her fingers trailing the same glitter of power unleashed, an indistinct form flows from the path of her blow, becoming a butterfly of bluish light that streaks out toward Alma, testing his defenses.

COMBATSYS: Luise successfully hits Alma with Sharp Quartet.
- Power hit! -

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Alma             1/----===/=======|=======\-------\0            Luise

Well, you get what you ask for.
Alma cannot help but be enraptured all over again. The feeling of his rising power, the sight of her sweeping moments, the focused attention of the audience; he feels himself overflowing with passion for the fight. For a moment, lost in the surge of his energy, he feels himself beginning to transcend his own perspective, to lose his sense of the here-and-now, and unthinking, so excited by this prospect, he lets go for a moment, to subsume himself in the web of power -- and only then balks, jerking to a stop. He can't lose his sense of self. He can't allow himself to just fade away, no matter how alluring the wholeness, the prospect of no longer being a lone individual, can sometimes be. He struggles to bring himself back to reality--
--and is brought back, as is so often the case, by pain.
It was too strong, he was too slow, or he wasn't paying enough attention; whatever the case, Luise's projectile overwhelms Alma in a flash of light and impacts him directly, nearly sending him sprawling. He falls to one knee instead, grunting in pain but quickly struggling to his feet again. "Hmn...!" Realizing subconsciously he'll lose any chance at advantage if he allows her to steal the momentum of the fight, Alma reacts instinctively and lunges immediately in spite of a slight sluggishness to his movements, and blurs forward in a haze of soulfire again, lashing out with a series of quick jabs in an attempt to reverse the situation and unbalance his opponent.

COMBATSYS: Luise dodges Alma's Spring Shower.

[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Alma             1/---====/=======|=======\-------\0            Luise

There's a split second where Luise senses the sudden buildup of strength in Alma, and just in time as well; the first fiery jab shears past where she just was by the merest fraction of an inch, a smoldering cinder of soulfire singeing a spot on the Dancing Butterfly's black leather jacket. However, that first bit of space is all she needs to shift herself totally to the defensive, weaving back and forth between Alma's repeated blows with almost unnatural speed.

"Hmmm..." she says, considering her options. As with anyone who shares her 'gift', Alma is not an open book to Luise... far from it. But what she can hear is the melody of his personal music, the tone that his fighting plays... and if he is going to be the brass, then she can be the quiet wind line, flowing around it, acknowledging its dynamic power but giving form to its world. She decides not to run but to instead spin and, locking the fingers of her right hand together, jab them straight toward Alma's stomach in a quick, retributive knife hand blow.

COMBATSYS: Alma endures Luise's Quick Punch.

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Alma             1/--=====/=======|=======\-------\0            Luise

Left open after his series of jabbing strikes, there's no way Alma is going to be able to defend his midriff from such a quick and precise assault -- but, precise though it may be, Alma doesn't necessarily have to. Even without her running narrative, the young fighting model can tell she's going to keep slipping out of his grasp unless he can decisively unbalance and overwhelm her-- and only then is he willing to try striking out at her true substance.
So he takes the hit, shifting slightly to avoid being winded and taking advantage of the rewards of constant exercise as her hand bounces off his lower torso. He doesn't even seem to acknowledge it; he's too busy pressing forward. Attemping to give Luise no time or room to retreat, Alma quickly brings up an elbow to her temple in an fierce effort to stun her, and if he succeeds, he'll push her back almost gently and then follow up with a powerful straight punch to her midriff that may take the air right out of her lungs and send to her knees -- assuming she doesn't just float away.

COMBATSYS: Luise fails to counter Strong Punch from Alma with New Moon Nocturne.

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Alma             1/-======/=======|=======\=------\1            Luise

Either Luise has been very lucky so far, or taking the blow on the chin was a tactically advisable move for Alma. Either way, it makes his attempt to counterattack and swing the pendulum back his way all the more successful. Sensing the sudden motion toward her head, Luise knits her brow and twists that away... but rather than doing the smart thing and trying to evade entirely, she instead attempts to catch Alma's incoming second attack to counter it and gets her hand quite literally punched out of the way for her trouble. The Dancing Butterfly stumbles backwards from the force of the blow, catching herself at the last second but wincing. Not only did she get punched, she let her wrist get twisted too... not a fun time.

Glancing over at Alma, however, she smiles faintly. "This has been an interesting fight. I can hear the finale on the horizon, however... I think the audience is waiting for it too." She may be smiling, but she's steeling herself too; she can sense Alma's fight spirit being near its peak, and knows she's going to need to be on her toes if she wants to have a chance at avoiding what's to come.

She stumbles, and Alma sees his chance.
It's like he can't stop himself. His spirit strains to be expressed and he yearns to acquiesce to its demands, not just to fulfill his destiny as a fighter and achieve his own personal joy, but out of a genuine urge to reveal the fullness of himself to his opponent. It's not the first time he's felt such sentiments, of course, but-- this opponent is decidedly unique. Whatever she ends up concluding, however he ends up feeling when all is said and done; right now, such things matter nothing. There is nothing but the fight, and the burning of his spirit.
The fire that had smouldered in his eyes now blazes brightly; Luise's expectations are fulfilled as the power that he has been cultivating for so long manifests itself uncontainably.
As the soulfire ignites around his body, Alma throws himself forward at his dizzied opponent, drawing back his right fist and summoning up all his strength, scintillating shades of pink and purple, a veritable sunset of vibrant color that threatens to spill into the world-- and so it does, as Alma channels it directly by punching the floor of the concert hall. The blow is mighty, yet no dent is made.
"...GOT YOU!"
And with the young man's triumphant shout, all the force erupts as a geyser of Psycho Power, emanating forth from the ground at an angle that aims to catch the Dancing Butterfly and batter that admirably composed psyche of hers directly, even as the illusory fire itself appears to seek to devour her physical form.

COMBATSYS: Luise overcomes Full Confession from Alma with Fanfare of Hope.

[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Alma             0/-------/--=====|=------\-------\0            Luise

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Alma's attack, as the audience's reaction suggests. In fact, the beauty and grace of it have even Luise stunned for a moment. However, when she begins to hear the music of the moment she immediately snaps out of her daze and faces down what's about to happen. And for a fraction of a second, her eyes -- her dark eyes, like the starless night sky -- flicker blue, and time, at least for Luise, seems to slow down. Every tiny detail of the attack, every last aspect, flows through her mind at the speed of thought.

The purple-pink soulfire rages... but there's a weak spot, an ebb in the flow. Her gaze locks onto it, and to those around her she seems to be looking at nothing at all. Her left arm and hand extend, fingers pointed, and a glow begins there... not dark blue, but purest white, the brightness of the starry sky. "What you have is a crescendo," she says, smiling somewhat. "But I must respond with a fanfare!"

Swinging her arm upwards in a sharp arc, what happens next is equally pyrotechnic. From her fingertips, the white glow extends into a lengthy blade made of pure starlight, the 'sword' cutting through Alma's power like a knife through better, whorls and eddies of purplish flame flowing around Luise harmlessly, even as the blade itself -- weakened though it may be -- continues on to strike out at Alma himself. "The fugue the stars play... haaaaaah!"

COMBATSYS: Alma blocks Luise's Fanfare of Hope.

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Alma             0/-------/-======|=------\-------\0            Luise

He can feel it. He can feel how she searches the composition of his attack, how she picks out a rupture in the flow of that twisting geyser, how she pries it apart. She splits it like a seam in fabric, cutting right through, and Alma, awestruck, a trickle of sweat gleaming on a cheek, gazes up as stage lights and Luise's attack blend into a single overwhelming light.
He hears her words, and they make sense to him -- well, mostly. But he does not, cannot respond. His sixth sense takes predominance over all the others, so engaged is he in what he perceives there. He shields his eyes with one hand, and reaches out with the other, not so much to defend himself as in what appears to be, oddly, an attempt to grab hold of something, to grasp that which is intangible...
Her counterattack impacts against his outstretched hand, and for a moment, a field of white light flickers around Alma's arm as his aura automatically reacts defensively-- and then it is gone, and Luise's attack has faded into nothingness.
The audience applauds.
The young man heaves a sigh of mingled fatigue, awe, and satisfaction, and gives the older woman a weary smile, shaking his head slightly. "Well done, Miss Meyrink," he offers, as he takes a moment to catch his breath and reflect quietly on what has occured.

COMBATSYS: Alma gains composure.

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Alma             0/-------/--=====|=------\-------\0            Luise

A tiny part of Luise, once it's all said and done, gets to say: Thank god that worked. She is never totally sure if these stunts she thinks up are actually going to accomplish anything -- and indeed, sometimes they don't -- but she'll certainly never know unless she gives them voice. That being said, keeping the relief out of her expression once it happens is impossible. Instead, she gives Alma a wry smile and, curiously, a jaunty salute from her brow with one long-sleeved arm. "No less than you, Mr. Towazu." She means it. His passion, if nothing else, is extraordinary.

Seeing that Alma is in need of some time to catch his breath, Luise decides to do the same, having pushed herself a little too far in the fight that has so far taken mere minutes but somehow, in her mind, feels like hours. "You must be a performer in your everyday life," Luise observes nonchalantly, making conversation in the lull. "You have a certain stage presence... not many fighters I've met so far do."

COMBATSYS: Luise gains composure.

[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Alma             0/-------/--=====|-------\-------\0            Luise

Alma has spaced out for a few moments, his mental engine cooling down a little bit with each refreshing deep breath, but Luise's casual words bring him back to reality. He smiles again, and looks surprisingly revitalized for such a short break; Psycho Power takes a lot out of him, but in an environment such as this, there is plenty of energy to draw on. "Nothing so grand," he says softly, cheerfully enough. "I am a model, back in Southtown. I suppose it requires something resembling stage presence, but-- the martial arts are my main mode of self-expression. Not nearly so amazing as what you are capable of with the piano."
~ I wonder if my sketching counts. ~
Only to Alma are casual compliments and violent intent perfectly compatible; even as he says this, he's shifting his stance and gearing up for another assault. Refreshed and ready to begin the second round -- or second piece, if you will -- the tall youth is lunging already.
"Prepare yourself, Miss Meyrink!"
The call of clear intent is more than honorable or considerate; it bolsters Alma's own spirit as he beckons her to battle once more. He approaches leading in with his left knee and lashes out with a few feinting jabs, only to attempt to stomp out with his left leg and connect with Luise's shin, and follow up with a fierce right knee strike. As long as he can keep her stunned and disoriented again, he might be able to nullify the advantage her speed and grace give her...

COMBATSYS: Alma successfully hits Luise with Light Kick.

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Alma             0/-------/--=====|=------\-------\0            Luise

Although Alma manages to connect with his impromptu stomping kick, it's not necessarily enough to keep Luise 'stunned' and certainly not disoriented, though she does exhale a hiss of breath from the pain. "I wouldn't get caught up in concepts of 'grand' or 'amazing'..." she says, spinning back from the blow and weighing her options. "Well, not from my point of view anyway. Anything that was 'amazing' was once 'unremarkable' or even 'boring'... potential is usually only considered 'amazing' once it's brought out. And that takes time."

Deciding to keep the fight going despite her growing fatigue, the Dancing Butterfly spins forward and attempts to get a grip on Alma's arm, brushing past and letting momentum do most of the work in an attempt to push him down to the ground. It's a 'gentle' throw, nothing spectular, but it also allows her to keep talking. "That is *my* passion, Mr. Towazu... helping people of all kinds to reach their hidden potential."

COMBATSYS: Luise successfully hits Alma with Quick Throw.
- Power hit! -

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Alma             1/-------/=======|==-----\-------\0            Luise

At the moment, from Alma's perspective, the only hidden potential is Luise's ability to resist his attacks. Overestimating the effect of his own blows, Alma attempts an aggressive evasion, dodging past her grasp so as to move in for a closer assault, but she is much quicker than he thought she would be after that and he ends up running right into her hands. He doesn't even have time to be startled before he is pitched heavily onto the ground with a resounding thump.
"Well, you're doing a good job..."
But he too is far from finished. Alma rolls to his feet and right into a renewed assault. As he moves energy begins to kindle again around his right hand, his passion far from extinguished, and by the time he's risen into a crouch there is a flame burning again around his fingertips. He thrusts out even as he remains on one knee, his knifehand aiming for a spearlike strike angled up at Luise's abdomen. The manifested psychic energy is like a lance, and one that may impale her directly if it connects -- or at least, impale her /metaphorically/. It's Psycho Power.
"...of challenging me!"

COMBATSYS: Luise fails to reflect Self Expression from Alma with Treacherous Ballad.
- Power fail! -

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Alma             1/-----==/=======|====---\-------\0            Luise

In a sense, Luise *had* been goading Alma into attacking her with some of his stronger moves, though not necessarily with the intent to use it against him. The whole point of the statement about potential is a prima facie sort of affair; what's on the surface is exactly what she intended. "Good!" she says cheerfully, watching as the spear of psychic energy thrusts at her. Calmly, she spins her hands in front of her in a circle, a disc of blue light forming with the audible sound of a musical arpeggio from somewhere... some personal expression of Luise's own Psycho Power, perhaps. The intent was to send the spear right back at Alma.

What actually happens is the spear shatters the shield in a burst of blue motes of light, and Alma gets in his attack. However, perhaps he can sense it... that what would have been a crushing blow against someone else is reduced to something... substantial, but perhaps no worse than a punch or a kick from the fighting model, by Luise's towering will. The ego-tearing doubt that usually accompanies his attacks is instead changed to simple pain, as Luise's neurons flare and burn to disperse the blow. To the outside, it's.... nothing much at all, but to these two fighters, something more entirely.

"...I could say the same to you."

It's time.
With the force of his will and fury Alma is able to shatter her defensive shield, overcoming her attempt to reverse his own energies upon him. She is able to endure it in a way few other fighters would, of course; he can tell. But the fact remains that he has another great opportunity -- and this time, she may not have the power to stop him as before. It's now or never.
And when you're Alma, given those options, the choice is always now.
"Then I won't hold anything back," he says calmly as he rises to his feet, and already he is drawing his hand back again. Somehow, from somewhere, from the ambient energy or just his own unrelenting resolve, a sudden surge of energy brings renews and redoubles the force emanating from his glowing hand. "All I have..." He lunges, to the audience with blinding speed but to himself as though in slow-motion, and his blazing hand leaves trails of essence through the aether.
" yours."
His eyes are fields of radiant light.
He thrusts out, with everything.

COMBATSYS: Luise dodges Alma's Absolution.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Alma             0/-------/----===|====---\-------\0            Luise

Well, that's a problem.

In one sense, a part of Luise almost wants to LET Alma hit with the attack. For a split second, she considers it... after all, if someone with Psycho Power puts their very self into what they do -- and most do -- then the best way to know him or her is to simply bathe yourself in it for a time. And thoughts of winning and losing... they don't bother Luise, not truly. She's here for the performance...


Getting hit with the other guy's attack is not a performance art, it's a blunder. SHE might see her reasons but the audience won't. And thus she summons up every ounce of speed in her body, every drop of power she's held in reserve. She absolutely must get out of the way of that attack. Must. And when you need it, sometimes miracles happen. The attack comes for Luise and she is simply *not there* when the thrust is. In fact, she's on the opposite side of Alma, slowly descending from midair. "Someday I'll get to experience that," she says, and it's an earnest tone. "But not, I think, today."

COMBATSYS: Luise gains composure.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////                   ]
Alma             0/-------/----===|===----\-------\0            Luise

Alma stumbles, gritting his teeth against the rush of exhaustion and profound dissatisfaction that comes from failing to complete his ultimate technique, and turns his head half-bewilderedly, seeing his opponent settling herself on his opposite side. Catching his breath, Alma grins, albeit a bit weakly. "Fair enough," he murmurs.
~ Butterflies are not so easily caught. ~
Still, he's not quite ready to give up yet. Rather than give her any more time to relax, Alma continues to press the attack, attempting to create some momentum for himself despite the collapse of his strategy. He feints as though to try another low kick like last time, but instead strikes out with forward punch and then, hands sweeping through the air, finishes with a fierce back knuckle strike.
Keep it together, Alma!

COMBATSYS: Luise fails to counter Strong Punch from Alma with New Moon Nocturne.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////                        ]
Alma             0/-------/---====|=====--\-------\0            Luise

Maybe Luise should have kept some of that juice in reserve... Alma's not done yet, but the Dancing Butterfly might be soon if she can't land a blow of some form on the young fighting model. Hopeing that an offensive gambit might give her some breathing room, Luise snaps out a hand to catch Alma's hand, ignoring the feinted kick. Sadly, she's not fast enough and the blows tear through her guard, making her stumble... and set foot on the ground, as it were.

Her gaze is rueful, but Luise still smiles. "I'm starting to think I should have stayed at the piano!" she jokes, clutching her side. That hurt... but she's not out of the game yet.

That she can joke, at a time like this...
Alma can't help but grin a little lopsidedly right back at her. It's hard to have a sense of humor about pummeling a woman, but-- if she can be good-humored about it, there's no reason why Alma can't. More than anything, he's just impressed. But if anything, that motivates him to try yet harder; this is not yet all he has to give! If he pushes himself hard enough...
...he can finish this now!
"Then let this--"
Again, a blur of jabs that ripple through the air, scattered around Luise's body in an attempt to contain any attempts at evasion and surmount any attempts to defend-- but this time, if he can catch her in his offensive web, the final blow will be not a punch but a palm strike. A palm strike straight to her abdomen, but one that will stop short an inch away from the skin, the wind that follows his powerful movements blowing fiercely by instead.
"--be the finale."
Will it be enough?

COMBATSYS: Alma successfully hits Luise with Spring Shower.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //                            ]
Alma             0/-------/--=====|=======\-------\0            Luise


While Luise's defensive effort has been nothing short of miraculous, her offense has been a little lacking... and she's running on mostly fumes by this point. She makes a token attempt to evade a few of the jabs, and does succeed, but in the aggregate, along with the palm strike, they're a bit much for her. The last blow connects with her stomach in a burst of expressed air, the blonde's head lolling forward and her silvery locks draped over both fighters for a moment. "Well done... now, for one last dance..."

Reaching out, she makes a grab for Alma's arm. Is it likely to work? With her fatigue and her injuries slowing her down, not likely... but there's always a chance...

COMBATSYS: Luise can no longer fight.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Alma             0/-------/--=====|

COMBATSYS: Alma dodges Luise's Night Lull Finale.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Alma             0/-------/--=====|

...sadly, not today. Luise slumps, tired and exhausted.

Alma evades the outstretched arm-- and then catches it, reaching around to support Luise as she slumps.
Applause erupts around them as he gingerly lowers himself, helping her to a sitting position and preventing her from collapsing entirely. He releases her as soon as he is able -- for some inexplicable reason, though he had no problem with raining blows upon her, something about laying hands on this elegant woman in a non-combat situation makes the youth decidedly uncomfortable -- and blinks up at the audience, before glancing back at his adversary. He pauses for a moment, then turns and bows to the audience, and to the sound of ringing cheers then turns and bows, lower, to Luise.
"Thank you," he murmurs. "I hope that... we'll dance again soon."
~ What a mysterious woman... ~
Fatigue is evident on his features, but when he straightens, his smile is one of contentment and satisfaction. If he can engage in a situation like this, and earn the respect of a fighter such as her-- he's ready for anything.

COMBATSYS: Alma has ended the fight here.

Log created by Luise, and last modified on 05:46:40 03/28/2007.