Neo League 465 - #467: Duke vs Rock

Description: Rock and Duke both discover their first names start with four letters and grow so enraged they fight each other to the death?! A horrifyingly intense fight that will leave you gasping in shock!! (Winner: Duke)

Yesterday did not go according to plan for one Rock Howard. Having been called out by one of his most hated of foes, Kurow Kirishima, Rock entered into his first season two Neo League match across the town in the SlamMasters Arena. And he got his ass kicked on national television by a claw fighter who didn't even use his claws. It was terribly embarassing. There was nothing else Rock wanted to do than wipe that taste of defeat from his mouth.

The minute he regained consciousness he made an inquiry to the Neo League to find another fighter in Metro City. He doesn't know who they'll find, if anyone, but he told them he'd be at the Metro City Community Center all day on Monday. If somebody wanted to accept the challenge, they would. If not, he'd go back to Southtown and find one of his father's goons to smash to wipe that taste from his mouth.

Howard sits now at the steps leading up the community center in his usual red jacket and black pants; propping his back up with a dirty duffle bag. He's got tender, bruised ribs and a stiff jaw from his fight yesterday -- but nobody ever accused him of being smart. People filing in and out of the center pay him cautious glances.

Find a fighter in Metro City. For what? To assuage a poor Howard boy's bruised and beaten ego? Even in the League, there are certain ways to manipulate events as you'd like, to find out information that should be priviledged. Money goes a long way in helping people loosen their lips, and when word got out that a battered Rock Howard was looking for yet another League match in the city of Metro...
... is it any wonder that Duke would inevitably hear about it?
In truth, Hell's Executioner's interest in Geese's son is limited. He doesn't really care how much of a thorn in Howard's side his son is -- he's found bigger, stronger thorns with more resources, more power, more money. But he is somewhat curious to see what his 'employer's' son is like... how much he's grown in the field of battle. And it is exactly -that- idle curiosity that brought Rock's searching to his attention, and that idle curiosity which now gives Rock exactly what he wants. A challenge.
The doors to the community center swing open widely as a large, imposing figure steps inside. Dressed in scarlet and black, dark eyes roam the center as Hell's Executioner walks inside, looking for a single, distinct form. Cameras pan in on the man. Even in an official fighting stance, Duke has gained his notoriety at breakneck speeds. And for Rock, well -- he may know of Duke, he may not. It's really not the mobster's concern.
"... Rock Howard," he intones coldly. "Hmph. You're looking for a fight, kid...? Well," Duke lifts a hand, pressing fingertips against his scarred throat in a slow drag against the entire length.
"You've found one."

Rock lifts his head from his duffle bag pillow when he finally hears someone calling his name. The telltale sign of a challenger is echoed in the dozens of footsteps the camera men following Duke make on the hard stone floor of the community center's foyer. Leaning forward, Howard runs one of his gloved hands through his blond hair and exhales a breath. "Yeah?" he says, to the first inquiry, starting to haul himself up from the ground. "You heard right. I'm--" his red eyes lock onto Duke and he finds his voice disappearing.

Howards stares at the man for several long seconds with his lips pursed in cocentration. "You're Duke. I know you," he finally says, his voice going softer as it hardens with solemnity. "Did /he/ send you here, like he's sent Yamazaki and Raiden? Or Mr. Big? Heh," Rock's frown shifts into a suicidal grin. "I guess it doesn't matter. You're just another goon."

Rock motions at Duke with his hand. "Come on then, big man," he says, before crossing his arms like a smug son of a bitch. "Show me your gimmick. Is it Acid breath? Switch blade in your pocket? Diamond tipped cane?"

Dark eyes squint for a long, silent moment as Duke stares at his opponent -- almost incredulously. His hands shoving into his pockets, the ambitious mobster gives a nonchalant roll of his neck, the cracking audible as he relaxes his muscles and adopts a most casual stance. "You know me. I doubt that," is his initial response. But he doesn't deign to expound upon it. Odds are Rock knows who he works for, and that's it. And for Duke... that works out just fine.
"Nobody sent me here, you paranoid twit," as he speaks, Duke lifts both hands into the air, clenching them into fists as he very slowly lowers himself into a simple fighting stance. "... they're right about you. You whine far too much for your own good, boy. But I didn't come here to discuss your daddy or your delusions. I came here for a challenge. So..."
That said, Duke -rushes- forward, bursting across the ground in a surge of black and scarlet. There are no knives, no 'gimmicks' that poor Rock seems to be so concerned about. Just one massive hand lashing out, sweeping downward to press into Rock's head with such force as to simply SLAM him into the ground with sheer, brutal force. "... shut up and FIGHT. GRAAAAAAAAGH!!"

COMBATSYS: Duke has started a fight here.

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Duke             0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Rock has joined the fight here.

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Duke             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0             Rock

COMBATSYS: Rock blocks Duke's Quick Throw.

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Duke             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0             Rock

In Rock Howard's experience, all of his dad's men have some sort of specialty. Billy Kane uses a bo-staff. Yamazaki a switch blade. Raiden can belch gas. The fact that Duke comes at him like a straight brawler is unusual. It's all he can do to react accordingly, suddenly breaking into a defensive stance the minute one of the much larger man's huge feet slam into the tile floor of the Community Center lobby.

The huge hand of Duke thrusts itself around Rock's throat. Being chokeslammed is something of a familiar sensation for Rock; it happens to him pretty often and he's gotten good at squirming his way out of it. As the fingers clench and start crushing the air from his windpipe, the young Howard pivots his body forward and down while driving his elbow up to meet somewhere along the length of Duke's arm. It's enough of a jerking movement with a counter force to break the grip -- and leave him in a very intimate position beneath Duke's extended grip.

Rock doesn't mess around. Chi explodes down the length of his body -- a golden burst of color -- as he grinds his toes against the floor for friction and sends elbow of his favored hand straight forward for the center of Duke's ribcage. It's immediately familiar as Rock's favorite technique; the one his on-again-off-again mentor and idol Terry Bogard taught him.

COMBATSYS: Rock successfully hits Duke with Hard Edge.

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Duke             0/-------/---====|=------\-------\0             Rock

At least Rock can hit relatively hard. He has that going for him. Undeterred by the sensation of his attack being so expertly dealt with, Duke's hand snaps backwards at the exact moment that Rock's elbow knocks it off. He positions himself to be in better odds in which to react to Rock's inevitable counter attack.
Sadly, though... Duke isn't quite as prepared as he may have though. Rock comes in too fast, before the enforcer can really steel himself for the contact. Chi and elbow strike Duke solidly in the ribcage, with enough force to send the mighty lieutenant staggering back several steps. A polished shoe slams into the ground, stopping his backwards-motion with the sheer friction. "... hm." Good. Good enough, at least.
He doesn't wait. Rather than stopping to consider or prepare for anything else, Hell's Executioner thrusts forward. A single step, before his right arm snaps out in a flurry of black cloth. His intent? To grab Rock solidly by the face...

COMBATSYS: Rock dodges Duke's Treadmill.

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Duke             0/-------/----===|=------\-------\0             Rock

This guy really wants to chokeslam me, Rock thinks, as he senses Duke's response to the Hard Edge. Pulling his elbow back in towards his body, Howard transitions perfectly into his father's Hakyokusaken fighting stance. By the time Duke is lurching for his face again, he's got his weight balanced between both feet and is able to react to it with a ducking at the waist and a full spin on his heel.

The spin brings Rock around Duke like Jordan on a pick and roll. He ends up somewhere off to Duke's side and back at an advantageous angle. Knowing that this is a man who was /at least/ good enough to earn substantial notoriety in his father's gang -- perhaps even more than Mr. Big or Billy Kane themselves -- Rock doesn't press the assault. Instead, he back pedals a pair of steps, breathing a steely gulp of air out.

"I like my face the way it is," Howard says, in that annoying teenager overconfident way. "Why don't you try something else, Mister Big two point oh?"

COMBATSYS: Rock focuses on his next action.

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Duke             0/-------/----===|=------\-------\0             Rock

What was to come wasn't really a chokeslam -- but then, Rock will never get to know -that- much. It hardly matters; the boy is already sidestepping Duke before he can grasp onto his face. That he can maneuver out of such a fast strike is impressive enough, but it hardly seems to faze Duke. He's fought people like this before. There's only really one response to be given for it.
Lifting up after his assault goes unsuccessful, Duke turns to give Rock a considering stare. Likely, he put forth some extra effort into outmaneuvering that, but Hell's Executioner doesn't give it much thought. Instead, he clenches a single hand into a fist, and gives a dry, humorless smile. Mr. Big 2.0?
Don't insult him.
In a simple rush of motion, Duke makes a move towards Rock. He thrusts forward with his right hand -- in an attempt to punch the boy straight in the sternum. Yet, before the fist connects, it comes to a sudden halt -- a feint, leading into a blurringly fast left fist coming crashing into Rock's gut. "HRRAAGH!"

COMBATSYS: Rock blocks Duke's Quick Punch.

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Duke             0/-------/---====|=------\-------\0             Rock

Howard doesn't buy into the feint. Something about the way Duke moves is resonating with his accrued fighting knowledge and he guesses -- correctly -- that the man isn't going for a sternum blow again but rather something much more tricky. After two straight attempts to pummel him in the neck and or face, this would fit a certain pattern. Clenching his gut to brace against an impact, Rock cuts his right forearm down across Duke's follow up assault.

Bone meets bone and it's just enough to drive the strike off target; knuckles whistling past Rock's side and clipping against the flutter of his red coat. The guy just punched his coat! Nobody punches his coat! They light it on fire, explode it with chi bombs, or steal it. But they don't punch it! That is taboo. That just doesn't fly with the kid.

Rather than spinning out of Duke's intimate circle of pain, Rock steps right into it this time. He pulls his right arm back and sends his left one forward, fingers curled into a tighly controlled fist that he drives right for the center of Duke's huge jaw. "Graahh?!?" he mimes, just asking for an ass-kicking.

COMBATSYS: Duke interrupts Fierce Punch from Rock with Tall Hammer.

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Duke             0/-------/-======|====---\-------\0             Rock

Asking for an ass-kicking...
... and getting it, just as requested.
Duke's fist drives in, but is deflected by Rock's rather swift movements. Rather than striking his gut as was his intention, that large fist scrapes against forearm and, apparently, drives into the boy's coat. All that is met from the Howard heir's deflection is a cold stare that burns with a strange, icy rage -- not for Rock, but a rage that simply fuels Duke's drive to fight. It's not natural. And it's likely the reason why Rock is about to be subjected to a special helping of abuse soon enough.
As that fist moves forward and Rock so callously tries to mock Duke, there is no response. Instead, the reaction he gets is rather straightforward -- Duke rushes right INTO the fist, coming with such speed and force that it halts the momentum preemptively and diffuses most of the force Rock sought to bring to bear. Fist glides almost harmlessly against the mobster's jaw, and just as it does...
... Rock will feel a massive fist burying into -his- own jaw with a sickening crack of force.
"HAAARGH!!" bellowing this out almost in response to Rock's foolish mockings, Duke strikes Rock with more than enough force to send the boy into the air. Hell's Executioner surges out from underneath him, and as Rock begins to descend... his left fist snaps out in a -second- uppercut, burying it into the boy's sternum with enough force to send him flying back and away.
"... hmph. Pathetic."

That hurt. Duke answers Rock's unspoken request to be pummeled by doing exactly that. After the twin hammers pound him into dust, he ends up crashing into the front information kiosk in the center of the Community Center lobby. The wood splinters from his impact, a computer monitor and other desk supplies spilling off in all directions, the abandoned desk chair bouncing and banging down the hall.

"R...Reputation," Rock says slowly, rolling over onto his side in the pile of broken wood. He pushes a palm down into the debris and starts to haul himself back to a knee. "Earned." That freaking hurt. But Howard has his own reputation to think about. That's his entire reason for wanting to fight again so soon after losing to Kurow.

Willing himself back to both feet, he wipes a hand across his shoulder while squinting at Duke. Dust and scraps of wood flake off with each pass of his hand over his coat-covered shoulder. "Watch your mouth," Howard says, not liking the pathetic comment. "You're reminding me WAY too much of my father. And I don't know if you've heard," Rock takes a half a step forward and his right arm grips the air. Chi blossoms in the palm. "But I don't like my father!" The hand cuts forward, swung upward. "DOUBLE!" And then his other hand mirrors the action, a second slice of golden chi cutting off the Howard scion. "REPPUKEN!"

COMBATSYS: Rock successfully hits Duke with Double Reppuken.
- Power hit! -

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Duke             1/----===/=======|=====--\-------\0             Rock

It seems what goes around comes around, apparently --whatever remarks Duke may have further had for Rock is caught by the wayside as the young man brings to bear that technique that Duke knows so well. Used by so many, yet no less painful in any incarnation. Dark eyes narrow, and he considers the sudden surge of golden-colored chi that wraps around Rock's palm. This could be potentially painful. And so, Duke moves, twisting through the air in preparation to simply leap -out- of the way...
... but instead, he's a second short. And that second proves to be Duke's undoing. The charges of chi slam into him one after the other, with far more force than Duke would have anticipated -- and likely, more force than Rock himself would have anticipated. The explosion of golden force is enough to send Hell's Executioner soaring through the air, -slamming- into a nearby wall back-first. But... when he lands, he still manages to land on his feet.
Body smoking now, Duke looks up towards Rock with a grim expression, a brow lifting. "Sensitive, huh...?" he questions. "You're getting better." Rather than expand upon this, though, Duke instead opts to stand up fully, and crack his neck. It seems like he's taking a moment to catch his breath; that last blow was more than enough to wind the enforcer.

COMBATSYS: Duke gains composure.

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Duke             1/------=/=======|=====--\-------\0             Rock

Better than when...? Rock squints back at Duke. There is satisfaction in his heart at seeing the man slam into the far wall of the Community Center. He reflects that this might not have been the best place for a fight -- the collateral damage will like affect the community-building activities in the near future while they perform repairs -- but it's too late for that kind of a second guessing.

"I'm not sensitive," Rock says back to Duke, his voice cold and defensive but resigned to the simple truth. He knows he is easy to manipulate -- he's at a constant struggle with reigning in his temper. He doesn't want to be the type of person he often finds himself being. He doesn't want to be a man ruled by his emotions and his ambitions. It's too much like Geese Howard.

Taking a deep, steadying, breath, Howard starts pacing to the side. His red eyes stay fused to Duke's chest, not bending in their intense study, as he prowls the perimeter of the lobby. He knows that big man is going to make a move soon. He has to be ready for it.

COMBATSYS: Rock focuses on his next action.

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Duke             1/------=/=======|=======\==-----\1             Rock

It seems that Rock has decided to stand back once again and just wait. Duke metters something under his breath as he stares at the boy, head cocking to the side. "Scared?" It's a simple question, and one that isn't even posed in a condescending way. He's honestly curious. After all -- Rock seems to be completely against the idea of coming and attacking him. Either he's frightened of reciprocation... or he's planning something.
Duke banks on both of these things. However -- like always -- it doesn't deter him. Insstead, he simply takes two steps forward in a calm, casual sort of way. Straightening up to his full, imposing height, he makes no direct move against Rock this time. Instead? He just lifts up a hand into the air, back of it facing Rock. It'd be almost a completely unthreatening gesture...
... if not for the black chi that begins to crackle around it like lightning.
Within a matter of moments, the crackling power surrounding Duke's hand simply -explodes- into a giant, spheric mass of dark crimson chi. A corona of black surrounds the sphere, lashing out with small bolts of black electricity as the globe expands outward to crash into Rock, the very energy disruptive in far more ways than just physical...

COMBATSYS: Duke successfully hits Rock with Gravitational Wave.

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Duke             0/-------/------=|=======\====---\1             Rock

Rock learned after he was kidnapped by NESTS that black and or purple chi is usually bad news. Some of the meanest motherfuckers on the planet hurled balls of black hate at him and some of the wost asskickings he's ever experienced were on the receiving end of a ball of ebony hate. Pacing stopping, Rock's eyes narrow and he takes a bracing step back from Duke -- preparing his body for whatever is to come.

What happens next Rock has never experienced. The strange effect is very out of body. The chi he was somewhat prepared for; it slams into him like a Mac Truck hitting a Dodge Neon. Rock's body caves into the ball of energy, his arms crossed protectively against his chest, before it plumes into a gushing wash of power that lifts him off his toes and towering into the wall -- in much the same fashion as Duke moments -- of the Community Center.

But where Duke landed and continued fighting like the twin Reppuken's were a tingling itch on a Sunday Afternoon Picnic, Rock feels entirely worse when he comes crashing into the floor on all fours. His body burns, every muscle feeling like it's on fire. Sweat lines his brow, matting down his shaggy blond hair, while his lungs gulp for fresh oxygen. It feels like he just ran a 5k marathon.

He's got to ignore the fatigue. It's all in his mind. Grant once told him that the will can exceed the body's limitations. Sucking in a harsh swallow of air through clenched teeth, Howard's head raises and he locks his eyes back onto Duke. He keeps his gaze steady and strong as he puts first one foot and then other down onto the floor. He finds his stance steady, his mind closed off from the pain running through his body -- letting its dull roar give him focus and purpose.

"Never," he answers Duke. Never scared. Never afraid. It's the only one of the things his father taught him. Breaking into a full sprint, Rock's body explodes with power -- eclipsing into a vibrant shudder of fantastic chi energies. He reaches Duke in a blinding flash, and his muscles burn with the fuel of his pain, as he unloads an ancient salvo of punches and kicks. Each strike comes faster and harder than the next, a triumphant rhythmic beat that builds to a tremendous crescendo as he pulls both of his hands back into something reminscent of a Hadou -- and then thrusts his palms straight forward for Duke's core; a beam of golden light surging forth.


COMBATSYS: Rock successfully hits Duke with Deadly Rave Neo.

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Duke             1/-------/=======|=------\-------\0             Rock

The pulsating sphere og black and red slowly begins to fade, dissipate away after it crashes into Rock with such tremendous, untamed amount of force. Moreso than usual, the Gravitational Wave seems to take its toll on Rock, the effects all-too apparent. Of course, it doesn't put the boy out of the fight, but then... Duke certainly didn't -expect- it to, to begin with. It does its job. Which leaves Rock...
... ready to come at Hell's Executioner again. If it were at all possible, Duke would be surprised. Instead, he simply takes it all in stride, his dark gaze narrowing thoughtfully as he directs his gaze in the young Howard's general direction. He knows what's coming next, by simple fact that he knows Rock's father, and he knows what debilitating moves the man possesses. So, what does Duke do?
He runs right at Rock.
There is no hesitation in his eyes, no fear, no cautiousness. Duke rushes at Rock like a berserker, thrusting himself bodily forward. Unfortunately, he can't build up the proper momentum in time, and before he's able to truly move -fast- enough, he finds Rock slamming into him with a series of debilitating punches and kicks, slamming into him over and over again. They bloody the man's face, his body becoming bruised and battered from the sheer force of it all. The Rave strikes him with a force that rivals blows that Kaiser had once laid down on him. And in the final moment... that sudden BURST of golden chi leaves Duke flying -explosively- backwards, his body smoking and nice jacket in tatters as he SLAMS into the ground shoulder-first.
Dragging across the harsh ground with such force that he literally shatters it and digs a deep furrow into the tiled flooring, Duke ultimately comes to a stop a good distance away from Rock himself. Blood dripping from his lips, Duke grins as he slowly pushes himself up. Despite the beatings he's been taking, his expression never falters... and that rage that fuels him only comes out more and more, manfesting in far more vibrant ways until plumes of fire begin literally lifting from Duke's body. He comes to stand into a crouch, lifting one hand into the air. Clenching the bloodied appendage into a fist, he says nothing. In one moment, Hell's Executioner swings down, PUNCHING the ground with titanic force.
And that is when everything explodes.
The very second that Duke's fist meets ground, the entire floor surrounding himself and Rock literally EXPLODES into a fiery hellstorm of chi-laden flames. Duke's fist pound into the ground, fueling the inferno as every single ounce of his rage is poured forth into the strike... in one hellish, powerful moment.

COMBATSYS: Rock blocks Duke's Ground Zero.

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Duke             0/-------/-----==|===----\-------\0             Rock

It is about time that Rock Howard destroyed someone else's nice jacket. It's unfortunate that the person has to be someone like Duke and not the infinitely more deserving K', but beggers can't be choosers. Holding his hands extended, palm touching palm, the remnants of the Deadly Rave's climatic final chi barrage curl off the length of his arms in slowly rising whisps of smoke. His breathing is deep but even, his eyes watching as Duke's body skids across the ground towards the far wall of the complex. Don't get up, don't get up, don't get up...

Duke gets up. Rock's eyes thin. There is much more fight in this man than he ever expected. Short of Billy, there aren't that many people his father employs that Rock can't take down. Mr. Big is strong but stupid. Yamazaki is strong but insane. Raiden is fat. This guy? This guy is as tough as nails and twice as mean. He doesn't know what else he can hit him with to make him stay on the ground.

The question will have to wait to be answered. With sudden finality, Duke is back on his feet and the entire complex is starting to distort as the vaccuum of his swallowed chi pulls everything into that crucible. When the Ground Zero begins, Rock can do nothing but stand there and endure it. There is literally no where to run and no way to escape. Each thunderous tremor of Duke's fist into the ground shakes the entire Community Center. Pieces of the roof start to crumble, dust and chunks of stone falling down all around the youngest Howard. The flames burn across his body, his arms crossed over his chest, trying to remain standing through the torrent of pain.

To Rock, it feels like eternity. In reality, it all happens in a few short seconds. As the waves of power and shockwaves of seismic force start to fade, pieces of the surroundings swinging and dropping towards the ground, Rock is still standing. His body is scorched -- his clothing burnt with embers of flame still dancing on the fraying edges of his coat. Quickly, he peels it off and hurls the thing to the side -- the remainder of the fabric melting into ash before it even reaches the ground.

Rock doesn't wait for any sort of quip or comment. The entire complex is going to come crashing down around them in a matter of minutes. He needs to end this fight right now. He's lucky he is still standing -- it's pure fortitude and willpower that keeps his legs moving when he breaks into a run forward. It's pure instinct and residual memory from so many hours, days, and weeks spent refining and practicing to be like one man that tells him what he must do. Coming in Duke, an unrestrained animal backed into the corner with it's life on the line, Rock Howard brings his right hand back. Chi blitzes off and around it in a golden corona. "SHIIIIINNNE!" he calls, breaking the plane into Duke's arm-span, his booted feet skidding on momentum. Then his fist ricochetes forward like it was shot from a cannon, a ripcord of muscles and chi billowing straight towards the center of the huge man's being. "KNUUUUCKKLLEE!"

COMBATSYS: Rock successfully hits Duke with Shine Knuckle.

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Duke             0/-------/=======|-------\-------\0             Rock

There is something to be said for Rock's tenacity, but then... there's something to be said for Duke's, as well. Throughout this entire fight, Duke has taken the full brunt of every single one of Rock Howard's blows, still standing. Rock is likely not much better off than Duke, despite having guarded impeccably against the SouthSynd lieutenant's barrage of assaults expertly. Still, despite the blood which pours from Duke's mouth, he does not move. He does not even flinch as Rock comes at him once more. Rock leads forward with a fist encased in a cocoon of gold...
... and he strikes clean. In a single, shattering crack, Duke is struck in the dead center of his chest, the chi surging into him to accompany the intense physical blow with a great deal of pain and damage to his own well being. He is sent crumpling, the force causing him to lurch -forward- before he ultimately goes ROCKETING backwards. CRASHING through a wall of the complex in a rain of stone and debris. There is silence, for a long moment. Did Rock take Duke down? Is the man knocked out of the fight?
... The answer comes when Duke does, stepping slowly out of the wreckage that surrounds him. His dark skin bruised and battered, various cuts from the chunks of stone rubble decorating his body. Yet despite all the damage present, he is -STILL STANDING-. Without even saying a word, without even saying -anything- at all, Duke lifts a single foot into the air...
... and then SLAMS it straight into the ground.
What happens next comes fast. Tremors sweep across the ground like an earthquake, seeking to unsettle Rock's footing. And not a second later... -fire- explodes from Duke's foot, the epicentre of those violent tremors. A circular wave of flames blossoms outward, screeching forward in a path to collide with Rock in a most painful way.

COMBATSYS: Duke has reached second wind!

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Duke             0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0             Rock

COMBATSYS: Duke successfully hits Rock with Seismic Impact.
- Power hit! -

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Duke             0/-------/----===|==-----\-------\0             Rock

In the lull after Duke is rocketed through the side of the Community Center, Rock Howard breathes out. His body slacks and he rests his palms against his knees, lungs desperate for air. He counts in his mind towards ten. When nothing stirs, when no barrage of power or grizzly bear of a man comes kool-aiding back through that wall, he assumes he's won. That was intense but it was exactly what he needed. A fight to the limits that he was able to overcome.

Slowly, he starts to turn away. At that precise moment, Duke comes barreling back into the fight. Rock freezes, his red eyes locked over the rim of his shoulder. "How the fuc--" he starts to say before instinct does the rest.

Howard's body twists like a quarterback at the waist. Only instead of throwing the football, his right arm mimics an earlier motion and cuts forward. He takes another step with the same motion, another pair of Reppukens flying off his hands.

They cut across the ground right above the seismic tremors of force. While the Reppukens are fired, Rock has nothing left to give when the wave of seismic energy churns the ground beneath his feet like it were a wave in the ocean. Launched back, Howard slams into the cement wall of the complex. Stones crumble down around him as he slacks to the floor.

COMBATSYS: Rock can no longer fight.

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

COMBATSYS: Duke dodges Rock's Double Reppuken.

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

How? It's sheer willpower alone that allows Duke to continue standing after a countless barrage of abuse that has been leveled on him over and over in this fight. He has taken the brunt of all Rock's attacks... and he is still -standing- tall. It's his will, and his will alone. A resolve that cannot be matched by anyone else. And the very reason the man feared as 'Hell's Executioner' has become a living legend in the criminal underworld... a man feared to be immortal.
Despite the overwhelming physical abuse that Duke has sustained today, he continues to stand. He shows no signs of weakness, no signs of faltering. He just stares towards Rock with that gaze full of expertly contained rage. "You ruined my jacket," he notes acidly. Those same bursts of golden energy rush towards him, but slowly. He can see it all clearly. This final attempt to punish Duke comes far too slowly to do anything. And, without even thinking... he simply sidesteps the burst of power, letting them both crash off to the side of him harmlessly.
"You say you're not afraid," he begins, slowly, as he turns, presenting his back to Rock. "... but you still hesitate. I wonder how long it'll be until you realize your fearlessness is just your stupid, cocky ignorance?" As he walks, he tosses a single card behind him, letting it float towards Rock. On the card? Simply the words 'Il Paradiso.' "When you realize what it really means to fight, kid... come see me. I think we'll have a -lot- to talk about..."

COMBATSYS: Duke takes no action.

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

COMBATSYS: Duke has ended the fight here.

Log created on 14:02:32 09/03/2007 by Duke, and last modified on 22:16:23 09/04/2007.