Neo League 526 - #526: Alma vs Hokuto

Description: Two unrelenting spirits clash, but only one can stand triumphant. Hokuto Mizugami, stern friend to children, faces off against passionate champion of virtue Alma Towazu, the latter still struggling to accustom himself to Metro City's unusual ambiance. This time, he succeeds-- but only just. (Winner: Alma)

Hokuto finds herself once again, embroiled in battle. Facing down numerous opponents, all thirsty for blood. She is in a position few warriors would want to be in, outnumbered and possibly outskilled.

... okay, so maybe it isn't a battle, really. An error in scheduling brought her out to Metro City's park a few hours prior to her scheduled fight--and so she's had to find a way to pass the time.

Fortunately, she found something to do--and that involves a bunch of kids, no more than seven or eight years of age each, who weren't scared by her cool demeanor.

And even ice queens can thaw. So at the moment, just before her fight, Hokuto is fending them off, explaining her situation--she has to go do a fight.

"Wh--you're a fighter?!?" exclaims one kid, surprised. "But you're too pretty for that!" That compliment earns a small laugh from the Mizugami girl and she pats him on the head--then walks over to the NL officials, to secure the kids a safe viewing position.

Blood is alright, but really, Alma prefers tea.
Not only that, while her position is indeed one that, practically speaking, one striving for victory would want to avoid, it is precisely the position that Alma Towazu has himself been seeking. It has brought him here, to Metro City, and his meandering journeys through the area have finally taken him to the park-- exactly on time, though seemingly by accident, led by his highly cultivated intuition. If that position were not the one he was seeking, he would not be here; this is not a place that Alma feels at home, even with some of his closest friends in the vicinity. This is not a place he understands.
Which means there are a whole new set of challenges here to face.
~ If I can succeed here, then the YFCC can too. ~
It's something of a romantic thought, to feel so connected to one's own endeavors, but there are more pragmatic reasonings behind it: as pro tem head administrator of the soon-to-be international community service organization, he feels the need to know more about every place a location may open. Anyway, all that aside, this is a chance for him to grow yet more. He's gotten stronger, yet, but strength in the narrow purview of his own comfort zone is surely not enough for him to perform his duties-- he would be more than satisfied to stay sedentary otherwise, but he has fostered too many connections to others-- they compel him to rise above and expand his own capabilities.
Besides, Jiro's here.
So here he is.
"Good evening."
The well-kept young model smiles rather placidly at the serious woman as he approaches the designated location, hands slipped into the pockets of his dark blue designer jeans, the color of which contrasts nicely with the white of his plush bronze-zippered jumper; he's dressed with a casual stylishness that differs sharply from her own formal outfit, but, as always, he pulls it off modestly enough. The softness in his expression livens up noticably as he regards the children as they are bustled to a safer spot, hazel eyes sparkling through stray red-tinged bangs as he glances back to his opponent. He doesn't say anything, but he looks pleased and impressed at how she was getting along with the kids.
"I am Alma Towazu," he murmurs, "a practitioner of Hiten-Ryu kung fu. It's an honor, Miss Mizugami."
~ So many strong people have appeared... ~
~'s such a thrill! ~
"--let's do our best!"
Straightening and stepping back, Alma, still smiling, removes his hands from his pockets and begins to sway very subtly, but otherwise does not assume anything resembling a normal combat stance. But his breaths deepen and even, and his gaze seems to sharpen, as he awaits the announcers to begin the fight.
~ Let's see if I've learned from my last encounter. ~

COMBATSYS: Alma has started a fight here.

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Alma             0/-------/-------|

Challenges always abound. One just has to look. The kids promise to cheer their best for Hokuto, and its with a careful, wistful smile that she thanks them, before turning towards her opponent. Alma Towazu. Naturally, she's heard the name. He might not know her, but Hokuto's had her eyes and ears on the fighting world for a few years now, collecting information...

~ They say he has odd powers, powers like a few do. Perhaps... no. I can't ask for help. What I must do, I must do myself. ~

Hokuto nods to herself, then, as she arrives 'en scene', as it were, crossing the carefully laid out boundaries set by the Neo League officials, she looks at Alma for a long moment. And though she is not a psion, her cool, brown gaze is still pretty piercing as she assesses him. Is he handsome? Sure, Hokuto admits it--and dismisses it in the next moment. She isn't looking at the surface.

"Hiten-Ryuu Kung Fu," she replies, "the same style as used by the legendary Fei Long... It is an honor to meet you, Towazu-san. I am Mizugami Hokuto, practicioner of the Mizugami family style of Kobujutsu, an ancient martial art." She smiles, and while it isn't exactly warm and friendly, neither is it a simple way to bare teeth.

Settling her headband upon her forehead, she tightens her obi, and makes note that she might, at some point, want to invest in those 'fighting gloves' so popular amongst fighters nwoadays.

But for now, she simply takes her stance, and...

Well, that intense, intent gaze never leaves Alma, that's for sure, even when the start of the fight is called.

COMBATSYS: Hokuto has joined the fight here.

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Alma             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hokuto

COMBATSYS: Hokuto focuses on her next action.

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Alma             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hokuto

Alma closes his eyes, just for a moment.
He has devoted valuable time and energy to acclimating himself to Metro City's unique environment, but such efforts seem almost unnecessary here in the park, where the slower pace of life matches his own and the laughter of children reminds him that home is where he makes it. Retreating from the bustle of the city proper, every breath seems to refresh him, coaxing the fire in his heart like bellows to a forge.
The song of this battle has already begun.
The anticipation he feels in the viewers urges him to bare his soul.
And his opponent seems nice enough.
It's time.
He has already lunged, even before his eyes re-open.
Trailing white flame tinged with pinks and purples from his right hand, eyes sparkling with a sudden surge of Psycho Power, Alma Towazu seems prepared to charge right toward his studious opponent-- but a quick thrust of his palm halts his own forward momentum with jarring suddenness as a burst of cresting, roiling white energy eats its way through the air toward his opponent.
If his unusual pace and will-shaking power can get him an advantage, he'll be ready to seize the momentum and press it as hard as he can.
Surely Mizugami-ryu Kobojutsu -- and its practitioner -- deserve nothing less.

COMBATSYS: Alma successfully hits Hokuto with Sacred Wave.

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Alma             0/-------/------=|==-----\-------\0           Hokuto

Hmm. Alma's lunge doesn't exactly take her by surprise--but the burst of energy certainly makes itself felt as, despite her best efforts, Hokuto simply isn't quite fast enough to get around the projectile. The strike causes her to stumble, as she fades with the blow, her advance stalled before it can really start. And the sting of that power is familiar to her now--in fact, she first felt it just this weekend, participating in a Saturday Night Fight. She finds herself thankful that the impact of Alma's power is not quite up to Rose's standards...

But just barely. With a little hiss, Hokuto drops back... only to surge forward again. One strike can't be the basis for a fight--at least, not at this level of ability... Her feet moving surprisingly fast underneath the heavy hakama, Hokuto accelerates herself forward. Closing the distance, she drops low, as if to throw one of her signature spinning, scything kicks--but as her right leg reaches out, it stops short, and instead she's rising up for Alma's sternum with a lunging elbow.

"HA!" comes the cry from the girl, a focusing kiai that helps her focus, even as she's also reinforcing the right elbow behind her left palm.

COMBATSYS: Hokuto successfully hits Alma with Chuugeki Hou.

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

Alma realizes too late Hokuto's got some feints of her own. Focusing on gathering his power for a renewed assault, mere intuition, even psychically enhanced, is not enough to see through the older woman's ruse and subsequent strike. Alma's graceful attempt to jam a sweep kick is of no avail as her elbow slams into his sternum, and his momentum spoiled for now, he allows himself to be knocked back a few paces.
Quickly steadying himself, the tall youth exhales sharply and brings his hands forward, as though helping to bring his opponent into focus by doing so. Feeling a rush of energy course through his veins, feeling contact with her fighting spirit, he prepares to exert his very all in the difficult battle to come.
He may not have the power of his sensei Rose, but his resolve is nothing to scoff at, and despite the utter lack of malice in his expression, there is an intensity in his eyes that is compatible with his gentle nature, a fury that has nothing to do with anger. Here, he asserts his very being!
Here, he grapples with life itself!

COMBATSYS: Alma gathers his will.

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Alma             0/-------/=======|===----\-------\0           Hokuto

Is the fight really so life and death? Hokuto is approaching it seriously, of course, but she also isn't terribly -worried- about it. Perhaps that seems a bit paradoxical... but it isn't, not to her. That intensity in Alma's eyes has already been matched by Hokuto's own, and she smiles, faintly, as she sweeps in towards Alma, following up the younger man's stumble.

Once again, it's a matter of feint and return; her forward movement is swift, and as she plants her right foot, she twitches her left upwards, as if to throw an in-fighting knee. Such techniques are not unknown to her fighting style.

But a half-moment later, that leg is dropped to the ground, her foot planted, and her hands snapping out to reach for Alma's neck. Should she make the grasp, she'll pull him forward, and to her right, pivoting and lifting her right knee up to use as a fulcrum to send Alma tumbling to the ground.

COMBATSYS: Alma blocks Hokuto's Quick Throw.

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

For Alma, the death of the self might as well be a physical death-- and his self is tightly invested in the pursuit of passion here. It thus is as /though/ his life really were on the line; he must expend every ounce of his energy to reach the heights that /prove/ he is alive, reveal the full glory of himself -- and his opponent -- and everything he stands for.
Not that he'll have time for an exposition, or that anyone will notice specifics of what he stands for from the way he fights. But when his strength comes from many sources, when his passion receives his mold by virtue of his duties, he cannot /but/ reveal what he stands for when he fights--
--no matter who is able to see it.
He's used, after all, to seeing things others can't.
Awareness heightened by the surge of power, he ignores her feint this time, and brushes her hands aside before she can make full contact. With any luck the neat parry will keep her going forward and not halt her momentum, and thus prefer her from avoiding his follow-up strike: a fierce close-range blast of power to her chest, his palm thrust out to strike at /her/ sternum this time, the lance-like flare of soulfire appearing ready to pierce straight through her and strike directly at that which lies within.

COMBATSYS: Alma successfully hits Hokuto with Self Expression.

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

Even moving forward, Hokuto looks for a way to avoid. Unfortunately, she doesn't find it at all--and thus she's seared, once again, by the soulfire. And it is, indeed, painful--very much so. The blast sends her staggering back--the kids who cheer her on, some of them gasp and cry out in worry, some exhort her to not give up! And in truth, she certainly has not thought about giving up in the least.

With the momentum once again reset--though with Hokuto on the shorter end of things--Hokuto decides to hang back a bit. "That power," she says, softly, "... is very different from what I have usually encountered, and yet... it feels familiar." While Alma's soulfire is different from Rose's, they are undeniably similar.

But, really, that's all she says...

COMBATSYS: Hokuto focuses on her next action.

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

Alma would voice some words of encouragement too if it seemed like his power, in striking directly at her sense of self, was truly weakening her resolve. Yet the woman is admirably determined, and this, of course, is exactly what he hopes for. Let her strength only build!
At her comment, though, the calm young man smiles.
"Everybody's different," he murmurs amiably, even as he closes in.
It's a more nuanced comment than it might seem on the surface, of course, since Psycho Power, as arising from within, is perhaps a better representative of the strength and sincerity -- for the good and the evil can be equally sincere in their desires and beliefs -- of one's soul than chi. More important than that for Hokuto, however, is that Alma's fighting style, while it wields the power of Rose, is entirely different from hers; only a familiarity with Fei Long would give his opponent an edge here, and even that not entirely, given how Alma's abilities have developed so much on his own.
The strike he attempts now has quite a bit of resemblance to the Shien Kyaku, however, as a leaping kick spins into multiple attacks, each one aglow with sparkling white flame, attempting to put pressure on his opponent. It's a gamble to throw himself so fully into his attack, but his raw momentum and passion may be able to overwhelm her defraying focus-- and more importantly...
~ What will she bring forth against my full effort? ~

COMBATSYS: Hokuto fails to counter Rising Fury from Alma with Goukyaku Kou.

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Alma             1/----===/=======|=======\-------\1           Hokuto

What will she bring? Nothing, apparently. After her first successful attack the fight has been all Alma. Each kick slams into Hokuto, lifting her off the ground. It would be quite pretty were it not for Hokuto quite simply experiencing a great deal of pain for her troubles. Her attempt to counter simply misses--and that earns her yet more pain.

This is becoming a singularly frustrating match--it has to be, even for someone like Hokuto--but it doesn't show at all in her face. If Alma thinks his Soul Power is going to break her will, then he'd best be prepared because that is about as far from the truth as he can get. He may break her physically--he may win this fight. In fact, it's seeming about as probable as possible.

But there are very few things that could break her spirit, and Alma, as powerful as he is, is not one of them.

Alma won't deny that's satisfying; not just his attacks striking true, of course, but the fact that he feels engaged even in this new city. As noted before, it's easier in the park-- but it's still Metro City, where he has only fought once before, against an opponent he had fought many a time before-- and who has now become his sworn sister, if that's any testament to their closeness. But it's not enough. It's not enough for /his/ soul to burn brightly. No man is an island; no being exists in isolation. It's not enough to strive and win...
The handsome youth regards the pretty warrior with respect in his eyes as he lands, nodding once to her slowly, as though to say 'Keep at it.' He doesn't say so aloud because he doesn't need to; it's clear she's not lacking in self-respect, and won't be no matter what the conclusion. Speaking might just be patronizing. But whether she appreciates the support or not, he feels compelled to do so. It's part of who he is. And he's putting everything he is out there.
Sweeping his left hand out, he draws his right fist back.
And again he lunges. He shifts as he moves forward, bringing his right hand forward instead, but that dominant hand is used only to jab low, attempting to draw her defenses away from her face before he attempts a fierce left cross toward her temple, a stunning blow aiming to compound the potentially disorienting affects of his mysterious power.

COMBATSYS: Alma successfully hits Hokuto with Strong Punch.

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Alma             1/---====/=======|=======\=======\1           Hokuto

The feint works. Hokuto's hands shift downward, and far too late does she realize that he's feinting--and her attempt to lean out of the way is ineffectual. The blow crushes against her temple, and twists her halfway around. By now the kids are quiet... not despairing, but concentrating, sending their best wishes and their own determination.

One can almost see the wavelines... and while that blow did crash in, it did not quite have the stunning effect that Alma might have wanted. No, instead, it unleashes a sense of righteous fury, carefully controlled. Throughout the fight, it's been building, of course--not anger, really. It's more pure than that. But whatever it is, it culminates here, and now, as Hokuto simply -lunges- for Alma...

COMBATSYS: Hokuto successfully hits Alma with Renbu.

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

Alma may not precisely know what happens. In fact, it's kind of hard for the people following at home, too; suddenly, Hokuto's body is an explosion of movement, graceful and precise, open-handed palm strikes combining with knee thrusts as she pushes him backwards during the swift combination attack.

It doesn't last long, and even if that is painful, it's just the prelude to the final attack--Hokuto delivers a left palm strike to Alma's chest, forcing him back a step, then steps forward and wide to her left... her right palm dropped to her hip.

As she begins to lean forward, into her right, that palm comes up and starts glowing with chi, an unearthly, unnatural purple fire flaring up along her limb as she plants it, palm-first, into Alma's chest.

He may not know this, but Hokuto's actually being nice--the technique as originally developed really involves a pointed spearhand that is thrust -through- a person's chest... but she doesn't use that variant until she's -really- angry.

Alma doesn't have a chance.
Only his relentless energy and momentum kept this graceful fighter off her guard for long enough for him to get her into the position she is; it is but the work of a moment for a warrior as skilled as she to finally halt his advance. The initial stunning blows stagger him visibly, caught in the throes of her assault, and the final crackling palm strike unleashes a shock of invisible force more potent even than the visible effects make it appear. He is hurled back and off his feet, hitting the ground hard and only just managing to roll with the attack, slowly curling and uncurling and ending up in a crouch, head bowed.
He coughs loudly for several moments, normally poised youth half-curled up as he reaches up to wipe his lips with the back of his hand. He is silent-- then slowly rises, and as he does he looks up to show that he is grinning, the flecks of crimson on his full lips and dusky-skinned hands doing nothing to dissuade his honest enthusiasm.
He straightens, composing himself again.
Rushing forward, he brings his right hand off to the side, and it and his eyes begin to glow with purpose, a foreboding aura of white and pink and purple gathering with resplendant light--
--until he blurs, and vanishes.
Alma appears to be gone.
At least until a hand reaches out to clasp the back of Hokuto's head...

COMBATSYS: Alma successfully hits Hokuto with Absolution EX.

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

...and releases an unrelenting blast of Soul Power directly into her skull, bringing to bear against her psyche every mote of energy within his mighty soul.
The pain may be intense at first -- potentially even sickening, as awareness of world and self blurs and is distorted -- but the result, if Alma is able to complete the attack fully, may be a sense of profound peace, akin to the satisfied exhaustion of one finished with a long day of fulfilling labor. There is a contentment to be found in emptiness, in being faced unavoidably with the void of an existence purged by purifying flame.
Her resolve is great, and she may very well be able to strike back at him again. But whatever the result, Alma knows now that his work is soon done. He can still fight like this; he can still express himself, even in foreign environments, with people he does not otherwise know. He has proved himself on disadvantageous grounds.
What could be more fulfilling?

Hokuto would seriously dispute that 'disadvantageous grounds' bit. She certainly doesn't -feel- like she had any sort of advantage. The serious blast does for her. There's no doubt about that. But though it staggers her... even with her mind shutting down...

Maybe even -especially- with her mind shutting down... it seems, at least temporarily, something -else- takes over, as she once again lunges at him... her body working well beyond its tolerance limits... it cannot be said that she is entirely--or even partially--conscious, which will be apparent soon enough.

COMBATSYS: Hokuto can no longer fight.

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

COMBATSYS: Alma blocks Hokuto's Renbu.

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

And once again, the storm of blows commences... something driving the young woman from beyond her consciousness. The final, chi-fire filled blow is weak, and even if it were to hit straight-on, would probably only glance off, Hokuto already falling as the strike is started. Yes, ladies and gents, she is -out-.

Had Alma not already felt the pinnacle of combat satisfaction, he might demand yet more from her, opening his defenses to feel once again the full brunt of her fury. But enough-- enough. She can't defeat him now. It is enough that she reveal her unrelenting fury and iron will.
Though... he detects it too late as his mind, warm with the afterglow of his psychic release, accustoms itself to her struggling soul again, even as he reflexively parries her final attacks. But there's something else there. Something dark, now, something vicious that wasn't there before. Something chilling. What was it? He missed it.
~ Curious. ~
He has not yet seen the full extent of her soul.
But that is to be expected. And he at least knows enough to, as he reflexively catches her as she begins to fall from exhaustion, hurriedly set her on the ground, drawing his hands away rather quickly as though she's too hot to handle. In fact, the opposite is true, unless you believe that cold can burn.
She's just... not the kind of woman you... touch, you know?
Punch and kick, sure, but not touch.
Alma steps back and bows low to his fallen opponent before turning toward the announcers and nodding, trying to ignore the disappointment of the children as they proclaim his victory. He's not really used to that kind of response from youngsters. But fair enough.
He came in search of difference, after all-- and he found it.

COMBATSYS: Alma has ended the fight here.

Log created on 00:06:11 10/16/2007 by Alma, and last modified on 15:59:12 10/18/2007.