Neo League 351 - #357: Alma vs Shinobu

Description: In an effort to revive and preserve a memory from his past, Alma Towazu challenges Shinobu Ootsuka to a league match outside Catherine Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia. Though his reasons are obscure, they provide him with the passion necessary to perform well -- but in the end, passion cannot compare to sheer dogged resilience. (Winner: Shinobu)

Specifically, Tsarskoye Selo in St. Petersburg, twenty-four kilometers from the city's center and in the beautiful cultivated courtyard of the baroque Catherine Palace. After being painstakingly reconstructed after its liberation by the Soviets in 1944, its pleasant pastel blue and white exterior houses many antiques and artifacts of Russia's earlier imperial days. But we are not inside today; no, we are outside, in the vast rolling grassy yard that surrounds the landmark. White neo-classical sculptures of various historical figures and commemorating various events in Russian history frame the paved walkways that trail all over the great expanse, occasionally meeting up in circles surrounded by convenient benches that allow the casual tourist to shift from path to path.
Today, however, the peace will be shattered, at least momentarily. One of those little paved hubs has been invaded by a group of businesslike individuals dressed in Neo League regalia, setting up cameras and cordoning off the area for the safety of the visitors and blocking off the two small sets of stairs that continue up towards the palace. And within the statue-encircled area, standing quietly in apparent appreciation of the still-serene surroundings, is a tall young half-asian man with blonde hair, fine features, and a pleasant expression not at all offset by the distant, contemplative look in his eyes.
Alma Towazu, fighting model and champion of virtue, reflects.
~ It feels right, but... ~
It's an odd decision, and not one he can easily communicate.
~ ...I wonder, am I fighting Ootsuka-san for the right reasons? ~
But there's no turning back now...
So, slightly troubled, Alma awaits his opponent's arrival.

A blue scarf is Shinobu's concession to the trip up north. A jacket is taken off her as she walks out of the crowd, yawning as she rubs her neck. She looks over to Alma, giving him an annoyed look. "Man... you sure made me come a long way. This better be worth it!" Raising her hand, she pops some of her knuckles with a the sort of noise you wouldn't expect from her slender fingers.

The wind picks up, setting her hair flowing, and she gives her usual nervous grin. "I don't really understand this at all...", she says, stretching on arm over her shoulders and then the other. "Well, whatever! I guess we can fight in any weird place you want..."

Aislinn heads to Asia.

Alma blinks, roused from his reverie.
And laughs.
"Ha ha ha ha!" For his mild expression, his chuckle is surprisingly full-bodied as he turns to face Shinobu. "I didn't choose the location," he says, cheerfully enough. "I only requested that we be matched up. Thank you very much for accepting my challenge, Ootsuka-san, it's an honor," he adds, inclining his head to her respectfully. "I recall the last time I had the opportunity to face against you, we drew. I've been looking forward to this."
He pauses.
"...the fact is, Ootsuka-san..."
~ I don't fully understand it myself. I shouldn't say anything. ~
But Alma cannot but be sincere. In a way, he is compelled; for if he is to fight, he must preserve his integrity, as he is here to bring force the fullness of his self against his opponent. He cannot be anything but himself. To do otherwise would be to undermine himself before the challenge even began.
~ And, you know... ~
Just the girl arriving has changed the ambience.
~ I already feel better about it. ~
Somehow, Alma no longer seems troubled. After that moment of thought, when he speaks, it is without any more hesitation.
"...I have an alterior motive." The young psychic smiles softly. "With Xiangfei away and unavailable, I haven't been able to challenge her anymore, and I've missed that very much. But you were her teammate and her friend for some time, I believe. If she heard that we were having a match-- well, I thought it might be an opportunity both to test my skill against you and to demonstrate to her that I've grown stronger."
Shifting his feet and raising his hands as the cameramen nod to each other and begin to film, Alma grins a little bashfully and again inclines his head to his opponent. "So, please do your best, Ootsuka-san. I will hope that Xiangfei is watching-- and do my best as well."
Now that he's said it, it doesn't feel like disrespect to Shinobu anymore. She might still find it weird, but, well-- Alma never pretended to be normal. Easily worried about failing to pay respect, and easily resolving his worries; that's his style.
He can't hide it. Not here.
Eyes brightening with his rising passion for the match, the sheer thrill of the challenge combining with his perhaps more superficial but no less genuine desire to prove himself, Alma Towazu grins warmly at his opponent, feeling his center fill with light.
"Let's go!"

COMBATSYS: Alma has started a fight here.

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

COMBATSYS: Alma gathers his will.

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

COMBATSYS: Shinobu has joined the fight here.

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Shinobu          0/-------/-------|====---\-------\0             Alma

"Ehhh? Honor?", Shinobu says, rubbing her head. "Well... I don't really understand things like that."
Exhaling, she pouts for a moment, looking thoughtful as her hand pauses on her head. "Man, fighting for somebody else is annoying... if I lose, it's real bad, so..." Letting her hand fall, she gives Alma a more serious look. "I'm not gonna fight for a stupid reason like that." She narrows her eyes, frowning more deeply. "Man, if this isn't even about me, it's even more annoying." Shaking her head slowly, she starts to turn away and takes a couple of steps as if to leave the fight entirely.
"But...", she starts, slowly looking back. "It makes me want to fight, too, just to teach you what a real reason to fight is!" She swings around, putting her hands on her hips and grins. "So c'mon, I'm gonna show you what it's all about!"
With that, she leans forward, putting her hand to her chin as she studies Alma, and then rushes in low before throwing a dashing punch, aiming for his midsection with a distinct lack of fancy footwork... but perhaps greater speed than her opponent might expect.

COMBATSYS: Alma blocks Shinobu's Strong Punch.

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Shinobu          0/-------/-------|======-\-------\0             Alma

"Ha ha ha--"
Despite the girl's criticism, Alma seems to be in an indefagibly good mood now. Naturally, he wasn't able to communicate his true sentiments. For him, fighting Shinobu for the sake of the challenge -- and all his usual reasons -- isn't mutually exclusive of fighting for personal, more superficial reasons. But he doesn't feel the need to convince her of his sincerity. She's determined to defeat him. That's all that really matters.
And with any luck, no matter what the result is, he'll be able to demonstrate his sincerity of spirit through the fight.
His mirthful chuckle becoming a kiai, Alma seamlessly enters the fight.
He forcefully redirects Shinobu's powerful punch, her power more than he anticipated but enough that his defenses can handle, and aims to use the girl's own momentum to cause her to stumble to the side. Whether or not he is actually able to unbalance her, however, Alma will attack immediately. Passionate soulfire exploding into material existence around his feet and wreathing his legs in white purple-laced glittering flame, the tall young man leaps into the air and slashes out with a quick series of three roundhouse kicks to Shinobu's head and upper torso, hoping to start out strong.
For all his high spirits, Alma is quite serious.

COMBATSYS: Alma successfully hits Shinobu with Rising Fury.

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

Though she tries to guard herself, the defense is thrown aside. Shinobu almost tumbles into the crowd itself, and... shaking her head, she rises back up. Shaking her head, she narrows her eyes, and then... crouches down, staring at Alma. "Hmmmm.", she says, resting her arms on her knees. "Lame old fire, huh? Everybody uses that... and it's all got the same weakness!" She grins widely, as if happy to have figured it out, and rises, dusting herself off. Raising her hand, she draws it past her face, and slight motes of mist trail after as she watches him intently.
"C'mon, try that again!"

COMBATSYS: Shinobu focuses on her next action.

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

Alma smiles back, eyebrows quirking ever so slightly in thought, and shifts his feet, coiling in a little in preparation for action. Ethereal white light, the ghost of a flame, continues to suffuse him, though it has now travelled up from his legs and is beginning to focus mainly in his right hand.
"Your insights intrigue me, Ootsuka-san."
It would be hard for anyone other than Alma to say something like that and actually mean it. Really, it's a talent.
"Let me put them to the test--"
What is victory or defeat now when he has an opportunity to test the fullness of his strength against another's strategy? Clenching his right fist, Alma lunges forward in a blur, surging forth and thrusting out at the by now well-prepared young lady's midsection and emitting a lance of sparkling white flame, the physical effects an illusion and unable to ignite anything but to his opponent present with a very real force and burning impact.
"Show me fire's weakness!"

COMBATSYS: Shinobu interrupts Self Expression from Alma with Shinobu Rocket.

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

As Shinobu's rushes, she giggles, and then cups her hands together. As he comes down at her, she shows no fear, instead slapping her hands together. There's a burst of mist, and a blue chi washes over her hand as she springs forth...
"Shinobu... ROCKET!"
There's a burst of dust and gravel from her standing point as she explodes towards Alma, connecting his fist with her own in midair. The blue chi flows over his hand, putting out the fire... though the physical impact is still very much there. With a *WHAM*, she's sent skidding back, wagging her hand as she lands back in a crouch. "Atatata.", she whines as she wrings her hand out, and stands back up.

Alma staggers back in a daze, wringing his own hand out as well and wincing visibly. But his pain is more than it appears; perhaps more than she realizes, Shinobu truly has revealed to him the weakness of his flame. His power requires intense mental focus on his part, focus that he only manages through the uninhibited flow of his spirit and passion, and when that spirit is inhibited -- as in, when his attacks are stuffed -- it's like when you step forward expecting another stair and end up losing your balance entirely. It's like being choked from behind by an unexpected assailant. Alma isn't just left with a hurting hand. He's disoriented, and a bit uncomfortable to boot.
"I don't remember that technique," he manages, a bit breathlessly, shaking his head to clear it of the fog that has seized hold of his psychic capacities. After a moment, he's able to manage a fresh new grin. "Impressive, Ootsuka-san."
~ This is just the sort of challenge I'm looking for! ~
Emboldened again by that though, undaunted by the girl's strength and tenacity, Alma lunges into action yet again. This time it's all physical, partly in tribute to the newly-revealed disadvantage of his fire and partly simply because he hasn't yet fully regained control of that function, attempting to lead in with his knee, feint with a couple jabs, and twist into a sweeping low kick to knock the girl's feet right out from under her.
There's more than one way to unbalance an opponent!

COMBATSYS: Shinobu blocks Alma's Light Kick.

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

"I don't remember it either!", Shinobu replies cheerfully, as if entirely uncertain whether it's new or not. Scratching her cheek with her hand, she smiles more broadly. "Oh, wait, I used it in that one game.", she remembers. "The Ignigon is totally weak against Aqualf!" ... wait, is she taking her fighting cues from video games?
But she's not too distracted, thankully. As he comes back towards her, her hands fall, catching the knee as she backs out of the way of the jabs, and then crouches to take the kick on her hip... and keep from being swept. "Hahhhh!", she replies, as she rises in a burst with both fists, throwing out a powerful double punch, trying to keep him off balance in more ways than one.

COMBATSYS: Alma interrupts Strong Punch from Shinobu with Divine Intervention EX.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////           ]
Shinobu          1/-------/=======|=======\===----\1             Alma

Ignigon? Aqualf? What is this mysterious tongue? Alma has the vague impression that he's heard these names occasionally from the elementary school children he sometimes chaperones, but it is merely a passing thought; he has more important matters to attend to, such as Shinobu herself. His head is still feeling a bit fuzzy, and that combined with his opponent's unprecedented speed is making this truly an endeavor. As he remembered, her fighting style, if one could call it that, is decidedly unique. But that her small frame could house such strength, such quickness, such resilience of spirit--
--his heart is soothed by the experience.
That, in the end, is what does it. As he meets her own battle cry with his own and rises to meet her, his passion for the fight and desire to overcome this new opponent struggling against the disorientation that threatens to be his undoing, it is not the joy he derives from battle or the thrill of her strength that propels him to succeed. It is that inner serenity, that sudden clarity, that gives him the focus he needs to perceive a moment of opportunity.
She's not at all Xiangfei. He didn't want her to be. No one could.
But a girl like her, with a fighting spirit like this--
A beam of white light explodes forth, interrupting the girl mid-punch, sending them both back from the sudden meeting of force. Alma skids away on steady feet, propelled away from the danger of Shinobu's powerful punch, but his opponent receives harsher treatment, the spear of energy seeming to striking right through her as though her body were immaterial, piercing to the core.
--he's just happy to be reminded that fighters like her exist.
Who can understand a young man's heart?

Shinobu stumbles back, and then falls over. Then, she struggles to get up, it seems that she might not - but suddenly, she bursts to her feet, springing back up. She wobbles a little, but grins, laughing softly. "This is pretty interesting!... but I still haven't shown you the coolest part!" Then, she steadies, and shimmies a little as she gets back into a fighting posture.
Raising her leg up, she slams it onto the stones, rattling gravel as she slips out into horse stance. She throws out a punch at the air, and focuses on Alma past it. "You're gonna have to get past my fist to beat me!"

COMBATSYS: Shinobu gathers her will.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////           ]
Shinobu          1/---====/=======|=======\===----\1             Alma

This is it!
All his gathered energy beginning to surge around him now, Alma Towazu grins back at his good-humored opponent. If nothing else, he's clearly pleased at how she's unfazed by his attacks, and at the light-hearted way she expresses her unrelenting spirit.
"Very well!"
Coiling in for a moment again, bringing his right hand before him and lowering his eyelashes, Alma begins to visibly gather all of his strength there, the effervescent aura of white light that now begins to form around him whenever he is still and not engaged in any particular action transferring itself entirely to that one point in his finger tips.
"You have shown your fist is formidible, Ootsuka-san--"
His eyes open, and they burn with an inner light.
"--so I won't hold back!"
Alma lunges. The pavement erupts beneath his feet with the suddenness of his attack, leaving behind his usual concern for the environment -- at least no one's broken any of the statues -- as he hurls himself toward his concentrating opponent in an overwhelming effort to overcome her with everything he's got.
Infusing all of his passion for the competition and desire for victory into that hand, all of his deep memories of the past and youthful hopes for the future, all of his being and essence, Alma strikes once, and brings the light.

COMBATSYS: Alma successfully hits Shinobu with Absolution.

[                      \\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Shinobu          2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|-------\-------\0             Alma

Trying to cover up with her arms like a boxer, Shinobu is still blasted back /hard/, and the crowd parts as she... lands on her feet, skidding to a halt. She graps her shoulder where the attack connected, and stumbles a little. Then, she laughs, and straightens up with obvious effort. "I'm not gonna fall down before I show you the cool part, you know!" As she sways, her hair falls over her eyes, and she brushes it away with her slender fingers.
Then, she rushes in at Alma at a slight angle, adding a curve to her charge. As she comes in, though, she throws a fist at his face... but then her finger flicks out, as she tries to pound him between him both eyes with a single finger, a droplet of finger on the end. Maybe she's just trying to rattle his brain?

COMBATSYS: Shinobu successfully hits Alma with Strong Punch.

[                      \\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////              ]
Shinobu          2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|==-----\-------\0             Alma

She's still standing--?
Blinking once as he releases the utmost expression of his power, Alma can't help but gape slightly, looking a bit foolish. Again a bit unsure of what exactly is going on -- how is she so completely unfazed? Has she gotten tougher since they last battled? -- Alma reacts reflexes to the punch, attempting to weave back himself and sway out of the way. But the sudden shift surprises him, and the flick of her finger strikes him with unprecedented force, her control of force surprising him almost as much as the punch itself.
Alma's head snaps back and he stumbles backward, visibly dazed, but through sheer grit and determination, starting from square one with momentum after unleashing his ultimate attack, the tall young man can only jab out protectively, trying to take some command of the fight again. If he can dissuade her from continuing to pursue him with a few light jabs, he might be able to connect with his last punch, a quick sharp uppercut underneath the girl's chin.

COMBATSYS: Alma successfully hits Shinobu with Quick Punch.

[                        \\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Shinobu          2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|===----\-------\0             Alma

Shinobu is worn and slowed, and only avoids the first jab before taking the combination and crashing to the ground. As she does so, she gathers up a bit more of her chi in her hand, and as she crashes down, she then flicks a marble of water towards Alma. Her chi gives it physical impact rather than her usual energy output as she tries to ping it off his head again.
Of course, what she's really hoping for is that her body will get up again, that her determination will carry her through... so she can show him the "cool part". It wouldn't do to fail just yet, and so she strains to rise, forcing against the greys and blacks entering the edge of her vision.

COMBATSYS: Shinobu has reached second wind!

[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Shinobu          2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|===----\-------\0             Alma

COMBATSYS: Alma dodges Shinobu's Thrown Object.

[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Shinobu          2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|===----\-------\0             Alma

This time, Alma's natural reflexes take him out of the way of her attempt to catch him off guard; his focus is returning to him, bit by bit, and the sensation of connecting with his uppercut helps to snap him back into the reality of the fight. His eyes clear again and intent with his purpose, Alma stands with legs spread, limbs relaxed and back straight, clearly not ready to lower his guard even after that successful impact and evasion.
Only because it might be disrespectful, though.
"Ootsuka-san, it has been--"
"--uh, t-that is..."
Is she still standing?
"...are you... able to continue...?"
Unsure of where he stands now, and unwilling to hit a fighter (and a girl) who is incapacitated but just hasn't fallen down yet, the psychic prettyboy takes a moment to catch his breath and restore what remains frayed and distorted about his spiritual state and mental framework.

COMBATSYS: Alma gains composure.

[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Shinobu          2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|==-----\-------\0             Alma

Shaking visibly, Shinobu forces herself back to her feet. "Sorry, it's not gonna be that easy... besides, I haven't gotten to the best part." She beams, belying the intense pain she's under. "I'm not gonna drop out so easily, you know!" She pauses to stretch her arms over her head and then over each shoulder, swinging her arms down with small popping sounds.
"Don't look at me like that... Xiangfei used to get up again like this all the time." Arching her back, she rubs it as she regards Alma. "I'm just getting started, you know!" Then, she slams her fist into an open palm, dipping her head to give him a fiercely determined gaze.

COMBATSYS: Shinobu focuses on her next action.

[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Shinobu          2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|==-----\-------\0             Alma

Alma is visibly startled, then thoughtful-- and he nods.
"Yes... she did."
The young man looks at Shinobu in silence for a few moments, contemplating something the nature of which remains hidden in the depths of his now calm and inscrutible expression, before all at once he begins to smile.
"She did, didn't she?"
~ It's been so long since I've fought someone who could do that. ~
"I had almost forgotten."
Alma looks really happy.
"...thanks for reminding me, Ootsuka-san."
His smile softens, his eyes grow focused again, his intent calm returns.
"I wonder what other secrets you hold--"
And the handsome youth throws himself into the attack again, his Psycho Power able to manifest once more as the rhythm of the fight resumes from that interlude, lashing out with another lance of flame. She has shown him its weakness already, it's true, and he may succumb to her ability again-- but its weakness is his weakness, and this is who he is. He won't be anyone else. To do anything else would be hypocritical.
"--show me what you've got left!"
After all, it's what he's asking of her.

COMBATSYS: Shinobu dodges Alma's Self Expression.

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Shinobu          2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|==-----\-------\0             Alma

There's no time to banter back with the attack coming in, and so Shinobu darts away to the side, hopping out of the attack's way. With another quick hop, she raises a hand high, cupping her palm as a sphere of blue chi grows in it... which she spikes down towards Alma in a swift motion. Rather than aim directly for him, the sphere strikes the ground, creating a burst of liquid chi at her opponent. Apparently, she still has tricks up her sleeve... and she spins as she lands, bringing up her fists in a spinning jab as if to discourage immediate pursuit.

COMBATSYS: Shinobu successfully hits Alma with Petite Pop.

[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////               ]
Shinobu          2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|====---\-------\0             Alma

Unbalanced by his aggressive assault, Alma is unable to bring up his guard in time to save himself from the sphere of blue chi spiked down at him. Rather, he desperately and intuitively brings his hands high, and so is thrown off when it hits the ground and sends the liquid burst up at him, sending him staggering back, half-slipping to one knee.
Taking a moment to recover rather than pursue the clearly energized young lady, Alma shakes his head slightly to clear it and attempts to gather and reorient himself instead of saying or doing anything more. With a deep breath, he attempts to bring his power back into control, to prepare himself for what appears to an entirely renewed challenge...

COMBATSYS: Alma gathers his will.

[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////              ]
Shinobu          2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\-------\1             Alma

Shinobu's hair slips over her eyes again, and she flicks it back with a tip of her chin. Then, she brings back her fist... and slams it down on the ground in a punch. "Hahhhhh!", she kiais, and an internal wind causes her clothes to rustle as her scarf and hair flickers in the wind. "You're trying to show off for Xiangfei, but..." She shrugs, springing up as dust around her flickers outward in a wave. "... that kind of stuff is just a distraction..." She makes a fist, holding it before her in a gesture of challenge. "... you're not gonna beat me if you think about anything else!"

COMBATSYS: Shinobu gathers her will.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////              ]
Shinobu          2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\-------\1             Alma

Alma, having closed his eyes to concentrate for a moment, glances up, and his eyes gleam with a flash of light as he grins slightly. "Just a distraction, you think?" Rising to his full height again, the tall young man clenches his fist firmly, flames beginning to gather once more. "If I'm going to show my best, I have to prepare myself--"
Without warning, he lunges.
But rather that carry himself forward directly at his opponent, Alma's lunge takes him angled down at the ground, and he brings his flame-shrouded fist down to impact against the pavement of the circular hub, unleashing a geyser of soulfire up at his defending opponent.
Hopefully, Shinobu has prepared herself as well!

COMBATSYS: Shinobu blocks Alma's Full Confession.

[                     \\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////               ]
Shinobu          2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|-------\-------\0             Alma

Shinobu covers up with her arms... taking the blast on them than her more vulnerable body or face. Though she's blasted back by the attack, flying up, she does a flip, landing hard. Breathing hard, she rises. "I'm just gonna win this..." She points in his direction. "... that's all I need to know!" Flexing her fingers, she slips her arms down to her sides, her hair still blowing in the wind. "Don't 'show', 'do'!", she replies simply, frowning a little in her mercurial fashion as her power continues to build. However, with her it's less of a glow... and more a look in the eyes. An increase in drama, one might say.

COMBATSYS: Shinobu gathers her will.

[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////               ]
Shinobu          2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|-------\-------\0             Alma

Sheesh, this girl just won't give up!
And she won't be drawn out, either. Well, so be it. Gritting his teeth, Alma prepares for the inevitable close-up conflict, and gathering himself up from his geyser attack and lunging forward at the still focusing girl.
"If you--"
It's too late for strategizing or deep planning. Alma's will is drawn to the challenge of being as indomitable as Shinobu's own. He draws in and stabs out with a fierce knee strike in an effort to knock the wind out of the girl.

COMBATSYS: Shinobu counters Light Kick from Alma with Final Finish.

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Shinobu          0/-------/---====|===----\-------\0             Alma

Shinobu focuses herself, though, as he comes in, bending forward as she cups both hands before her. As he rushes in, she leans forward to meet him - revealing a swirling, spinning, soccer-ball sized manifestation of her fluid chi. Rather than block normally, she lets the kick meet it, and then-
Diverting the attack away from her, the orb detonates with amazing force, throwing nearby members of the crowd back and even denting the stones beneath the pair heavily. But it's more than just a brute force attack. Instead, Shinobu's assault is intended to drench Alma in her own power, to dampen his spirits in a very literal fashion.
Mind, that kind of strategizing is somewhat lost on her as she's thrown back, landing and skidding on her heels. Mist shrouds the area where Alma was, and she breathes heavily, before saying, "... so... what did you think?", as she rises. After all, even in his condition, she doesn't expect him to be down just yet.

In the split-second in which the orb of water chi that has just ensnared Alma explodes into its sweeping effect, drenching the fighters in Shinobu's power, the tall youth seems to float backward, slowing down as though he truly is underwater, giving the cameras a perfect view of the results of the attack in a real live slowdown effect.
Then the moment is gone, and Alma is cast to the ground.
Yet even now he is able to tuck and flip in the air, reacting immediately to Shinobu's fierce response, and Alma hits the ground on his feet with a woosh of heat around his feet. "Impressive technique--" he replies, voice clear and calm despite everything, but before he can say anything more he has already responded, suddenly and with vigor. His head lifts, blonde bangs falling away from his eyes to reveal the composed determination still present within them, and Alma explodes off the ground with a burst of flame, in startling proximity to his opponent.
"--but not enough power!"
Emerging from the mist with purpose, taking initiative to make up for his fatigue, lashing out wildly, Alma leaps off of the ground and twists into a fierce aerial hooking kick to the girl's head, aiming to slam his fire-wreathed foot into the side of the girl's head-- as if to show her just what he thinks power is.

COMBATSYS: Alma successfully hits Shinobu with Shooting Star.

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

Shinobu's looking the other way as she's booted in the head, and she falls down before slipping back to her feet. As she gets up, the transition from being down to up and swinging is swift, as she whips out a powerful punch at Alma. "Take... this!", she says, sophisticated tactics failing her as she lets the haymaker loose. She's clearly trying to batter Alma down quickly, and overwhelm him before he can recover from her last attack.

COMBATSYS: Alma blocks Shinobu's Strong Punch.

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

Alma is collapsing.
He can feel it. He knows it deeply. He's just running out of steam; he can't keep up with this girl's sheer energy. His resolve is not of that nature. He strives to express all of his self, but-- he's done that. He doesn't really have anything more to offer her. But while he's still conscious, while his self endures... he'll keep giving.
And so give he does. His left arm snaps up almost entirely free of conscious thought, parrying her fierce punch and, staggering forward to collide against the smaller girl, brings his right hand forward in what seems an almost accidental motion and attempts to place it against her forehead-- to unleash one last, now almost invisible blast of mental energy. It appears as only wisps of flame, but the force remains present.
It's everything he has left.

COMBATSYS: Shinobu dodges Alma's Self Expression.

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

Shinobu isn't doing so well herself.
Not that she's lacking for enthusiasm, it's more the stop-stop-stop signal her body tries to give her brain... but fails to succeed. Instead, the body gets an order to duck under the attack... and as she stands back up, she tries to just headbutt Alma in the chin rather than force one of her numbing limbs to do the work. There's more than one way to use her head, after all!
And, at the very least, she can't be blamed for that pun herself.

COMBATSYS: Alma endures Shinobu's Quick Punch.

[                         \\\\\  < >  //                            ]
Shinobu          1/-------/=======|=======\-------\1             Alma

Alma can barely see. The impact of Shinobu's head under his chin sends him reeling, eyes watering and vision revealing nothing but blurred images and scattered whites and grays-- but his sense of his opponent's aura remains, somehow, and he can act intuitively to reach out to her. Even as he begins to collapses backwards his arms blur out in a staccato rain of sudden blows, bursting through the remaining mist of her attacks and aiming to pepper her with strikes, at least one of which will hopefully be telling.
Whether or not he succeeds, the stunned young fighter-model will fall backwards onto his rear, looking completely dazed and disoriented.

COMBATSYS: Shinobu blocks Alma's Spring Shower.

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

Shinobu turns her side to Alma, more like a drunk than a fighter, presenting less of a target as she wobbles from the blows. They still hit, still hurt, but not nearly as badly as they might. Then, she falls.
As she does so, though, she catches herself with her hands, and then turns about in a quick spinning helicopter kick, trying to catch Alma in her inverted attack as she whips up wind and mist with the repeated strikes, trying to overwhelm him and draw him into one final attack. It's desperation indeed, as she throws her last vestiges of power into one all-or-nothing assault.

COMBATSYS: Shinobu successfully hits Alma with The 37th Chamber.
- Power hit! -

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

As the attack connects, Shinobu carries Alma into the air with her. It's not as dramatic as usual, but she manages to throw out her inverted punch, knocking him out of the cyclone before crashing down herself into the ground in an ungainly heap.

Well, that will do it.
Alma can't sense the attack coming, let alone see it; his mind is a fog of confusion. It's difficult for him to even remember that he's fighting, he's given so much-- but this is a painful reminder. Drawn into the vortex of kicks, the tall youth is bandied about roughly until he's cast away by the inverted punch--
--but not before he thrusts a hand up himself, and even as she brings down her fist to cast him to the ground, Alma unleashes one final expression of his Psycho Power, a raw gout of what little soulfire remains to him, fuelled only by the last bit of his resolve, his desperation to give everything he has.
Victory is beyond him now, but... he did his best, he really did.
He got to clash with a spirit like that, once again.
In the end, Alma may actually have got what he wanted.
But... we'll have to ask him later.

COMBATSYS: Alma can no longer fight.

[                           \\\  <
Shinobu          0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Shinobu overcomes Sacred Wave EX from Alma with Petite Pop.

[                            \\  <
Shinobu          0/-------/-------|

As he throws out the blast, Shinobu manages to get up just in time to see it coming. Holding out her hand, she manages to form a bubble, and there's a *POP* and a backwash of energy on her... but none too damaging, thankfully. It just manages to make her a little more worse for wear... not that it's easy to tell at this point. Sitting on her butt, she breathes hard before one of the commentators jogs over to raise her hand, but she doesn't even appear to notice. "Ahhhh, that was a good fight! Thanks, but I guess you can't hear me anymore... ahhhh..." She uses her other hand to prop herself up, and it's not long before the medics arrive to gather her and Alma up.

Log created by Alma, and last modified on 18:55:09 04/12/2007.