Neo League 751 - #754: Alma vs Shinobu

Description: It's a random encounter of the schoolgirl kind as Alma Towazu, psychic model and YFCC VP, faces off against prodigal eccentric Shinobu Ootsuka, against whom he has previously fought and lost. This time, however, the memories of a lost friend she inspires within him drive him to greater heights-- at least, as high as one can go in a subway. (Winner: Alma)

Ladies and gentlemen, the Neo League!
It's been quite some time since Alma Towazu, psychic idol and community center VP extraordinaire, made a serious run for any fighting title or in any tournament, preoccupied as he has been with his labors. But recent experiences, in Southtown and in China, have spurred him on to greater heights. In the pursuit of both future strength and the past life he once cherished, Alma, defying -- if certainly not neglecting -- all the many matters demanding his attention at this time, cast in his lot with the new season of the Neo League, determined that even he in his increased experience has a great deal to learn-- and new horizons to see.
But there are, of course, some old acquaintances worth seeing again.
He was pleased to see himself first assigned against Shinobu. She was a friend of Xiangfei's, he remembers, and if he recalls correctly, they drew once and once he was defeated. This time, perhaps things will be different.
Despite his comparatively fastidious attire, the decaying urban environment of this graffiti-strewn subway car does not seem to faze the beautiful young blond, his hazel eyes scanning the confined environment without causing any falter to his perpetual mild, pleasant smile. Previous experiences have helped him grow used to Metro City, a place quite adverse to his own temperament and needs, at least on the surface. Learning to overcome that, perceiving its human element amidst all the strife, was important to him. His goal here was not reached-- but soon enough, perhaps, those ambitions will come to fruition.
None of that is important now, as he steps through the battered doors and stands in the empty corridor, the train to begin moving as soon as Shinobu enters, their movements filmed grittily by the onboard cameras. But it is all there in his mind, permeating the world he perceives through his second sight, and he lets it all in.
Positive or negative, light or dark, he has promised to let it in.
To embrace life.
To make it his own.

COMBATSYS: Shinobu has started a fight here.

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

COMBATSYS: Alma has joined the fight here.

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

Thankfully, Neo League covers travel costs!... or, at least, most of it. This is why Shinobu can accept a fight in Metro and enjoy some American ice cream on the side, though not off the ground as is traditional in Metro City. That punch real, American thugs. It's hard to find thugs as nameless and pointless as Skull Cross in Southtown these days, and it's good to get back to basics, even if none of them took the courtesy to kidnap a friend of hers before she arrived.
But she's not the sort to really think this through. She knows where she's supposed to be, and why, but... details beyond that, eh. She steps onto the staircase leaning down, and then hops onto the railing, sliiiiiiding down and taking the corner before whipping out into the subway station, running and wobbling on her balance a little before she spots Alma in the otherwise empty space. Leaning back, she slips into a fighting stance.
"Hey, I'm supposed to fight you, right?", she calls out, sliding to a stop. She then moves in towards range, getting ready to attack. "Better let me know before I hit you, okay?", she says, tightening a fist as she narrows her eyes.
That... he does look familiar, but it's been a long time, and her mind's on the present, as it often is. It's not so much forgetfulness as not bothering to remember.
And with that focus, she covers the intervening ground in a moment, moving to one of the one of the pillars and kicking off. "Get ready -yayayayayaya!", she calls out, throwing out her flurry of punches as she flies at the blonde, hoping momentum and surprise will give her the opening edge.

COMBATSYS: Shinobu successfully hits Alma with Rumble Punch.

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

Alma grins as Shinobu slides, stumbles, and dashes into the subway car, and even her lack of recognition doesn't seem to faze him. I mean, he /is/ a pretty recognizable figure, right? But this is Shinobu we're talking about. No problem.
"Yes, we're fighting," he says gently.
But the gentleness ends there, and maybe he should have waiting to prep a little longer before telling her, because her opening strike is, for lack of a better phrase...
"Urgh!" and furious.
Indeed, too fast, too furious.
The first couple punches are parried neatly as Alma displays his usual grace and fluidity, but her passion right off the bat is simply overwhelming, and just then the car begins to move, starting to chug its way into the darkness, the lights on the sides of the tunnel sending brief flashes through a car lit by flourescence. He stumbles at just the wrong time, and goes reeling back, managing to catch himself on one of the railings.
But rather than hold onto it for stability as most do, Alma seeks to use it for leverage, seizing on the momentum that Shinobu's attack just thrust upon him. He twirls neatly around it with one hand, looking almost as though he planned it in advance, and swings himself through the air abruptly toward his opponent, right foot igniting with white soulflame--
--as he attempts to plant a flying roundhouse kick onto her forehead.
"Let's go, Shinobu!"
Well, at least /one/ of them remembers.

COMBATSYS: Alma successfully hits Shinobu with Shooting Star.

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

Shinobu lands, starts to turn... but she put too much momentum into her opening assault, and so her movement is sluggish, having to reverse her momentum. "Hey, I remem-" *wham!*
Getting pounded on the head, Shinobu crashes down, landing on one hand. As she does so, she flips forward in an instant, bringing her heel in return towards Alma. It's not a strictly aimed attack, instead relying on speed and, of course, Alma being where she needs him to be. She's moving fluidly despite the stunning blow, the flickering giving her blow even more seeming speed.

COMBATSYS: Alma interrupts Light Kick from Shinobu with Divine Intervention EX.

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

Shinobu lands, starts to turn... but she put too much momentum into her opening assault, and so her movement is sluggish, having to reverse her momentum. "Hey, I remem-" *wham!*
Getting pounded on the head, Shinobu crashes down, landing on one hand. As she does so, she flips forward in an instant, bringing her heel in return towards Alma. It's not a strictly aimed attack, instead relying on speed and, of course, Alma being where she needs him to be. She's moving fluidly despite the stunning blow, the flickering giving her blow even more seeming speed.

It's a beautiful moment.
Alma is sliding across the floor of a moving vehicle after landing a successful aerial blow. He is not grounded at all; he has no leverage on his opponent. Shinobu has recovered almost immediately despite the blow, demonstrating her usual toughness and resolve.
But she has launched herself into an attack more swift than technical, and even given that the prodigal girl's style demands a certain redefinition of 'technique', Alma, despite all of his current disadvantages, is able to seize upon it.
Captured by the cameras in the flickering lights, the two fighters seem to phase towards each other, Alma seemingly vulnerable to the flipping heel kick-- until their world is illuminated by a blaze of light from his right hand, a beam of Soul Power that pierces Shinobu through as her kick is parried. Alma, eyes bright and intent, drives his palm toward her chest and sends her erupting backward, possibly crashing into the already dented and ripped seats behind her.
Alma, for his part, only manages to maintain his balance by clinging to the railing he recently swung on-- but his moment of grace and elegance has already passed successfully anyway.
"You remember me?"
And he's smiling, too.
"I'm glad, Shinobu. I've always respected your abilities."
Not to mention, their first fight at the mall was a lot of fun. Collapsing together by the bench she had kicked him off of-- it's the kind of intimacy Alma likes to find in a challenger.
~ She has Xiangfei's spirit. ~
...And maybe her wits, too.
But of course, Alma would never think something like that!

Shinobu goes flying, breaks the seat as it sends her upwards... and then over it as she rolls away. There's a moment of her sound going away, and the sound of the subway car being all that might be heard. She's taking a hard beating much faster than she expected, and there's a moment as she recovers.
"Man, stronger than I remember..."
Then the broken seat heaves up as Shinobu kicks, sending it flying at Alma with a tremendous wrenching sound. "Shinobu..." As she does so, she leaps after it, and then twists in midair as she tries to flip down on Alma and bring her foot to his head, shoulder, whatever's soft and liable to hurt. "... KICK!"

COMBATSYS: Shinobu successfully hits Alma with Shinobu Kick.

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

This fight is fierce already.
But one must expect nothing less from such fierce spirits.
Alma grins slightly as he nimbly dodges the seat Shinobu has kicked at him; it sails just over his head and crashes against one of the thick plastic-paned windows. But perhaps his psychic energies are spent from that previous counter-- or perhaps there's just too much going on in this crazy place, because this is no time for him to be looking for room to counter-attack again. The real attack has yet to come!
Realizing this too late, Alma looks up only in time to get kicked to the shoulder and bore down to the ground. He crashes onto his back and Shinobu practically lands on top of him; which, while it could be worse, is a bad state of affairs for the fighting model.
So he simply cannot let it last.
It is with the preternatural buoyance of Soul Power that Alma attempts his escape, planting his palms next to his head and thrusting up even as he brings his legs forward, igniting them both this time and wreathing them both in white flames as he aims to repel his adversary with a rising series of three roundhouse kicks to her midsection, blurring into action and trying to push her away, lest she seize advantage of his prone condition.
And we can't have that happening on national television.

COMBATSYS: Alma successfully hits Shinobu with Rising Fury.

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

Though Shinobu tries to block the attack, raising her arms in defense, her arms are batted aside with the third kick and she bounces off the ceiling, flying back and knocking aside a support bar. Though she lands hard, she kippups quickly, getting back to her feet. Holding her side, she winces. Okay, this was not going as planned.
"Man, I always have to fight the people with fire, it's like, not cool anymore." She grins, and then laughs. "Well, whatever, do something cooler this time, okay?", she says, waving a hand to her side as she forces herself to look okay. Just think on the fight and of Japan.

COMBATSYS: Shinobu focuses on her next action.

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

"Hey," Alma mildly protests, "it's not /real/ fire."
And if he were any other sort of man, and the practitioner of any other style, he would completely ignore such taunts, and hit her with all the fire at his disposal. But he is Alma Towazu, and he practices Hiten-Ryu, and dramatic tension must be cultivated for everyone involved: for the audience, for himself-- and for his opponent. She wants something cool instead of something hot?
"But if you insist, Shinobu. However..."
The flames that wreathed his legs have vanished, yet as he approaches her, the rumbling of the subway seeming to get louder with every step he takes, his eyes gleam with the inner sea of fire from which they emerged.
"...I fear this may be..."
A halo of light begins to flicker around his limbs instead, the natural eminence of his power gathering, and though no outward visions of burning doom appear, they leave faint afterimages of his passage, beginning to distort the fluid motion of his arms and legs in a manner almost-- hypnotic.
"--too cool for you."
He pauses-- his eyes flash-- and he blurs forward.
His moments are liquid, his barrage of punches and kicks more rhythmic than brutal, more confusing than fierce. It is difficult to discern the nature of his attacks due to the many afterimages he leaves behind with every stroke, and they all seek to flow around her defenses. And his eyes -- normally the place to look for perceiving all of Alma's normally subuded emotions -- his eyes are fields of light, such that he appears blind, a milky shimmering light suffusing his pupils.
He is not blind, per se. But he is looking elsewhere; into his memories, towards the foundations of his individual being, which he puts forth here. A stream of consciousness--
An ardent flood to sweep Shinobu away.

COMBATSYS: Shinobu counters Stream of Consciousness from Alma with Final Finish.

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

Yes, Shinobu wanted to lure him into not using his flames. Yes, it is because flames hurt. So. Much.
Not that Alma'd be helpless without them, or even really too weak. Case in point: the barrage of punches and kicks coming her way, blurring and shimmering like a bad trip beating ready to happen. But Shinobu's ready, really ready, for the first time this fight.
As he comes in, she slaps her hands together, and then brings them wide as her watery chi gets formed into a swirling ball. She lunges in, and only a punch or two skims her as the swirling attack brings Alma off his feet, twisting around...
... before the detonation of water, swirling around like a cyclone, sending seats aside and shattering many of the plastic windows outwards. Even Shinobu recoils with the force, sliding back as she shimmies, the chi settling after a rotation or two.
"You're right - that was cool!", she says with a proud grin, straightening up as she brings her arms into a guard position.

The explosion sends Alma rolling backward with arms and legs akimbo, his trance-like attack unable to penetrate the sort of unusual defense that Shinobu ended up preparing, and only comes to halt when he slams against one of the poles in the center of the aisle, thunking his head on the steel so hard it dents. Seeing stars, the young model blinks rapidly, and only manages to regain his senses by the time he hears Shinobu's comment.
He pauses, lips parting.
~ Xiangfei? ~
It's partly because he's still stunned. Xiangfei would probably be doing what most fighters would be doing: taunting him for not following up on his words and instead being repelled. But that proud grin, and that open-hearted spirit he detects so palpably-- for a moment, he sees her in Shinobu's place, in the brief second before his vision cleared.
Clearly flustured, the normally composed young man is clearly blushing, even if only slightly, as he gets to his feet.
"Oh, uh... th... thanks."
He swallows once, and has to shake his head again to clear it-- before he remembers where he is, before the dam collapses and the flow of combat floods back into his system, and he grins fiercely, his eye brightened with a power still not yet burned out.
"I'm not done yet! Ready--"
He lunges, and this time, he simply can't contain himself, his right hand igniting with scintillating light as he drives forward with a mighty lance of that illusory psychic flame, aiming to give the appearance of spearing Shinobu through with Soul Power.

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

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

Shinobu leans back, narrowing her eyes. What's working for her today? Not weaving or blocking or parrying or anything finessed. No, it's time to just meet force with force, and hope she's the one that falls down last.
"Hey, you're welcome!"
Tightening her fist, Shinobu lunges into a springing punch, letting her fist lead as she flies through the air, twirling once as she adds a spin to the attack. The flames of lance burn up her arm, but she blows on through, slamming into Alma with all the momentum and weight she can muster, ponding him in the chest.
"Shinobu... ROCKET!!"

The momentum is no longer Alma's, and it shows. His initial advantage has evaporated with her prescient and aggressive counter-attacks-- but, despite his increasing fatigue, he rolls to his feet with less difficulty than before, his spirit burning behind his gaze. Even though he is weaker now, this is the critical moment-- he is not down until he is down, and it is here that the audience will be on the edge of their seats.
It is here that they will both shine.
This isn't Xiangfei. Anyway, that Xiangfei isn't the real Xiangfei; it's the one of his memories. The last time he fought Shinobu, he was still somewhat bound by those memories. Now he is not. Now he will be fueled by them, rise above them. This is Shinobu. And even if they have a mutual friend--
It is their power here that will connect them!
Gritting his teeth and putting all of his resolve into recovering as fast as he can, Alma brings up his hand as he rolls to his knees and casts a quick and powerful blast of Soul Power up at Shinobu, sending the roiling wave-like gout darting toward her legs in an effort to take her to the ground and halt her advance long enough for him to get his bearings again-- and perhaps seize the advantage-- or take her down for good if he can.

COMBATSYS: Alma successfully hits Shinobu with Sacred Wave.

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

There's a lot of drama in Alma. There's meaning here, and Shinobu... well, she isn't thinking so much. Perhaps that's proven that she's battered with the blast, slamming into the back of the car and denting the metal there. She really shouldn't be standing. She's just a schoolgirl, after all. But she slides off the wall slightly, and then /kicks/ it to send herself forward. Landing and with an unsteady, stumbling gait, she takes a wild swing, something very tired and obvious. But she spins about with it, and the elbow of her other arm comes towards Alma's temple. There doesn't seem to be any intention there- but more accident and motion in action.
It's not the swing, but the flail that'll get you.

COMBATSYS: Shinobu can no longer fight.

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

COMBATSYS: Alma blocks Shinobu's Monkey Mistake.

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

This time, he's ready.
Alma staggers slightly as he gets to his feet, but the blast does the trick, as he had hoped. Her seemingly final assault, he warily recalls, may not actually be final-- she, like Xiangfei, has an enduring spirit that defies the seeming constraints of reality. This is something that Alma, while he does not possess it in such a pure form, respects and emulates through his resolve. And indeed, it is that resolve that grants him a rush of sudden clarity as she lunges.
All at once he sees that she is finished-- and sees through her final effort, as he parries both swing and flail neatly-- and then catches the girl before she collapses.
Chest heaving silently, battered Alma lowers Shinobu to a ruined seat where she can rest her head until she recovers, and steps back to stand as clear victor-- but only for a brief moment, before he too collapses onto a seat, clinging to consciousness.
Even so...
"...heh heh!"
He's grinning softly to himself, eyes warm.
Alma Towazu is back in the league.

COMBATSYS: Alma has ended the fight here.

Log created on 22:01:04 09/07/2008 by Alma, and last modified on 00:29:24 09/08/2008.