Neo League 826 - #835: Rust vs Cherry

Description: It's a Valentine's Day brawl in Southtown! Wouldn't it be funny to set a hot girl up with a middle-aged guy and let them go at it? The Neo League thought so, but rather than a laugh-fest at Rust's expense, the crowd gets a pretty serious, no-holds-barred bout that goes right down to the wire. And at the end, uh... the wire explodes. (Winner: Rust)

Dream Amusement Park. Fun for the entire family! And a rather common place for organized tournament fights to break out. The Neo League has some endorsement deals going with the long standing park in order to bring in more of Southtown's numerous tournament fighting fans. This particular one was arranged to bring some more people in during a stretch of fairly foul park-going weather, and it's a little chilly... but attract people, it does! Timing it with the Valentine's Day holiday works wonders for bringing in couples looking for something fun to do, or something fun to watch.
Some lonely young singles in particular came along when hearing about who happens to be on the card, which makes the deal aaaall the sweeter.
The grounds in which the fighting takes place is not very well sectioned off from the rest of the park outside of the presence of cameramen and officials wearing very bright orange and yellow vests, the somewhat flat dirt arena marked by little pieces of litter that has yet to be picked up or blown off by the wind. This makes it easier for passers-by to come across the spectacle and spend a slice of the afternoon cheering for their favorite (or just chant for blood in a really sexy way, or... something, fans are weird).
Enter Howard Rust, introduced by a rather sleazy-looking emcee whom actually goes as far as to mention that the 38 year old man is single. He rubs the back of his head as he steps through the opening in the crowd gathered to the center, rubbing the back of his head somewhat nervously. That's not entirely true, he grumbles quietly. (It actually is, as the woman he was seeing did not want to come to Japan with him and is now seeing other people. But we all know about Mr. Rust and his denial over very specific parts of his life and person at this point!) His feet drag in the dirt with fairly modest applause that is largely customary rather than actually enthusiastic as he steps into the center of the arena. Ol' Rusty is sheathed through that poor ripped toolbelt pocket on his left hip, and he still sees it fit not to put on some warm long-sleeved shirt even in this weather.
Some of the singles among the small crowd almost throw up in their mouths. This is totally not the 'single' they wanted to see, /look at him/. He is not exactly the specimen of sex appeal.
Truth be told, his side still hurts from that last exchange between him and Kaida. Sleeping it off may not have been enough, but the Neo League's been really strict with scheduling. This would've been the only available shindig for quite some time, and it's on the weekend. But he can't help but feel, somehow, maybe just a little alienated among all the young couples looking on. (Where was this sense when he was in Papua New Guinea, where they weren't even interested in teh fight?!)

Well, and then there's Mr. Rust's opponent. You would think a buxom girl like Cherry would actually have people tripping over themselves to hand over tokens of affection... even if, in Japan, it's the custom for women to give chocolate on Valentine's Day to boys they like. The truth is, however, that the busty, bombastic brawler has the sort of presence that makes men not want to approach her. For some it is just her raw, forceful energy combined with a quick and somewhat dry (alright, very dry) sense of humor. Others think that she thinks she's too good for any man, and amusingly enough they are right. Still, the Pacific University student knows how the day works, and so she's going to play it to the hilt.

As of right before fight time, as Rust is making his way to the ring, Cherry is indulging in a truly Japanese passion: karaoke. She's dressed for a Valentine's Day brawl, for sure: Her normal camisole top and green tank top have been replaced with... well. Frankly, a tight red bustier. 'Lifts and separates' is not just a catchphrase. Her legs are sheathed in dark blue tight-fitting jeans with red satin ribbon down the outside of each leg, and she's got on black... well, the kids call them 'fuck me boots'. You can use your imagination there.

And she's standing on an outside karaoke stage, complete with lights, singing Pat Benatar.

"o/~ YOU'RE A... HEARTBREAKER! DREAM MAKER! LOVE TAKER! DON'T YOU MESS AROUND WITH ME! HEARTBREAKERRRRRRRRR!" the redhead booms. She is a theater type. And a singer. She knows how to PROJECT. It shows. One would expect her to be holding a mic, and she is not. But the crowd loves it, cheering wildly as the song ends and Cherry takes a bow, waving to everyone before hopping off the stage and waltzing over to the dirt fighting ring and hopping over the barricade, waving to everyone. She is a tower of near-egotistical self-confidence and sexy self-assuredness... it's an interesting contrast to Rust, this much is clear.

Turning toward her opponent, the Fighting Diva raises an eyebrow at Old Rusty's appearance, and blinks. "Snap. Joe the Plumber's into street fighting now?" Her politeness is her charm point, as the Japanese guys say. With a shrug, though, she slips into her fighting stance, a nice and exaggerated kung fu sort of affair, just like you see in the movies. "Well, then... bring it on, Super Mario. The people are waiting."

The sleazy emcee who is more 'sleazy' than 'emcee' rolls with the impromptu karaoke entrance, spreading out an arm in her direction. Gazes follow, provided their ears aren't what turns them. The Pacific High teacher turns with a start along with the rest of them, tilting his head up to the karaoke stage. That's...
His left hand points a finger upward, shaking it as he tries to remember where he last saw that face, no, that /presence/... on TV. Cherry Aguirre! Pacific University student and already famous in fighting circles /for/ things like this. The singing, the acrobatic movements, the... outfit. It catches his eyes. By very definition, she has his eyes and if she's so inclined she can crush them in her hands.
He takes a step back, even, as she first comes into the ring after that booming introduction song. The sleazy emcee laughs and introduces her all the same with maybe juuuuuust a little move overall enthusiasm. /Damn/, lady. His right hand falls upon the makeshift hilt of Ol' Rusty by his left hip as she addresses him, swallowing a lump as his mouth falls open to give that a reply. She cuts him off before he can even begin with her challenge. Bring it on, Super Mario, she says.
"It's, uh..." Dammit, he can't break his eyes away from /there/. How old is she? Half his age?! Parading around like... before he knows it, the emcee steps aside and croons out another charmer, drowning out his line of thought with obnoxious microphone feedback. Ouch.
"Who wants to watch this fine young lady break his heart?" The emcee grins. Most the crowd joins in with a hearty 'yeah!!' "Well then, let's prepare... for the ultimate rrrrrrrrrrrrrejection!!"
Man, now even the crowd is against Mr. Rust. Sweat runs down the side of his brow. This is a feat, given how it's not even warm at all. The toolbelt, /once again/, gives him difficulties in drawing. This is why he's trying to remember to draw before the fight, not... right as it begins.
"FIGHT!" The emcee calls. That's the signal. He scowls. Stand here and struggle like he did versus Spider? No chance. His left knee cracks as he leads off of it for a completely unimpressive leap of hardly any height or even much horizontal distance compared to most, something that cost him when he tried to jump the Twin Moonlight Swords (but to be fair, he thought there was only going to be one glowy chi ball, not two).
His right hand remains at the end of the pipe popping out of the top of the toolbelt pocket. It's not doing a great job of budging. To cover this risky approach, he throws his left leg out on the advance, a kick largely horizontal in the air rather than what might be a far more beneficial downward angle. That he /can't/ jump high does mean he gets less airtime in which most opponents could prepare and react against. This might be the one saving grace of the whole approach.

COMBATSYS: Rust has started a fight here on the left meter side.

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Rust             0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Cherry has joined the fight here on the right meter side.

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Rust             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Cherry

COMBATSYS: Rust successfully hits Cherry with Light Kick.

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Rust             0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0           Cherry

Well, it might be a low-angle leap of not-quite-wu xia proportions but, here is the (pardon the pun) kicker: it is still a flying jump kick. And in fact, Cherry's first instinct is to duck UNDER the kick. But there is also, frankly, more OF Rust than there is of the fighters Cherry is used to fighting, and the angle of the kick is also unexpected. What all of this adds up to is the redhead about to go low, and then getting (literally) a boot to the head for her trouble. Considering those boots she's in have heels -- even if they're a little more chunky than the typical Fornicate With Me Foot Covering style -- it's not a shock that the Diva goes well-toned ass over bouncy teakettle in short order.

When she gets back up, it's with a raised eyebrow. "Now there's a surprise." A pause, before she adds: "...don't I know you from somewhere?"

The sleazy emcee, however, has thrown his two cents in, and while Rust may look... well, a little sad, the greasy-haired mic jockey is seriously getting on the Diva's nerves. "HEY!" she bellows at him, and when Cherry wants to make herself heard, she STAYS heard. "You, with the Bril Creme fetish. How about you keep the third rate WWE banter to yourself, serious performers are doing a job, here."

He was not expecting that. Neither was the crowd.

"Besides," Cherry says, turning back to Rust with a faint grin. "If I'm going to break an old man's heart I want it to be someone rich and on his deathbed, preferrably after the will's been signed." With that little quip, however, the Boise Brawler kicks off the ground and LAUNCHES herself at Rust, fist-first... but rather than try to connect with a punch, when she gets close said fist erupts in a spherical aura of blue-limned, gold and red dragonflame. "WOOHAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"

COMBATSYS: Cherry successfully hits Rust with Heartbreaker.

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Rust             0/-------/-----==|==-----\-------\0           Cherry

Rust's landing is pretty rough to begin with, not retracting the kick fully by the time he touches down on the ground, leading to his right knee seriously bending down even further than he is comfortable with, wincing as he lands in a sitting crouch as Cherry seems to get knocked off the top of her game fairly early in. If she so much as rushed him now...
His eyes doesn't follow where she ends up shouting because, well... look at them! /Look at them!/ He strains to pull himself up, this moment of delay in which Cherry tells the sleazeball off all he needs to steadily get to his feet, the seat of his pants now caked in dirt. As if there was an unfortunate accident.
'Serious performers are doing a job, here,' she says. Yeah... she's right. He shouldn't let the bastard over there ruin it for him. He nods his head twice as she turns back his way, which stops when she puts on that faint grin. It has that unsettling factor. His right hand goes back on top of Ol' Rusty, fingers nervously reasserting his grip as she talks about how she'd only want to break his heart if he was rich and on his deathbed, and, um, that's really every hard-working man's fear. Every. Last. One. He gulps again.
She rushes at him. He crouches, once again at complaint of that knee, and tries to tilt his right forearm up to the charging punch. He lowers it a little when it seems like Cherry's foot is going to hit the ground a ways before him. The punch might come up sho--
The spherical aura of blue-limned, gold and red dragonflame is what helps make the shot connect as it glides just above the lowered arm and strikes his face with loud grunt-worthy results, flooding his face full of blindingly bright energy that puts obnoxious pink dots in his vision and makes him skid back in a crouch for a good foot or two. It takes a concentrated effort not to flop onto his back from it.
A small bit of blood dribbles out of his left nostril. He blinks a couple times as he stands, as if compelled - by men all over the world under threat of gold diggers - to get something out. "Do I look like... do I look like I'm in the market for a... trophy wife?" He wheezes that much out before taking a bold step forward with his right foot, still wrestling with the toolbelt's hold on his best friend in the whole wide world.
As he draws close, he throws his head downward in a textbook headbutt. A headbutt against a bigger, burlier man might be bad enough. But does Cherry want to come into contact with that combover? The very essence of midlife crisis, all concentrated on the scalp of one mortal man feeling his time in which to pursue his real dream slipping away. On a headbutt.

COMBATSYS: Cherry parries Rust's Hardhat Rush!

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Rust             0/-------/----===|===----\-------\0           Cherry

It can't be all THAT bad, can it? It's just a combover!

But it's also got a big, burly guy with plenty of stopping power behind it, so the Fighting Diva really would rather not get hit in the stomach, chest, or quite frankly anywhere else by a headbutt of that caliber. On the other hand, he's back in the game, which is good. Cherry herself is no stranger to trash talk, but something about the guy with the mic was getting on her nerves. It could just be her strict allergy to cheesy one-liners that aren't coming from her own mouth.

But as Cherry said to the guy, this IS a performance... and the charging headbutt may be powerful but it's also a relatively straightforward attack, so she tries to get awfully fancy with it. To her partial surprise -- not that she'd show it in a million years -- it actually *works*. Instead of running away from Rust, she starts running AT him, and when his ducked head comes in for a painful landing, she does the first thing she can think of: she slaps both hands on that hair-fled dome and literally does a double handstand on Rust's head, before flipping over him and, briefly, standing back to back with the Pacific shop teacher.

Turning her head, she gives him a grin that the poor guy probably can't see. "Not sure what you're in the market for, goomba," she says with a grin, before turning and -- hopefully before Rust can muster a defense or even turn around -- slamming a palm right into Rust's chest or back, whichever presents itself. If she can get that off, what follows is a blinding series of fist strikes at every conceivable angle from waist to neck, before she twists her wrist and, Xena-style, drives two fingers into a nerve cluster at the base of Rust's neck that is REALLY going to sting.

COMBATSYS: Rust blocks Cherry's Wild Cherry EX.

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Rust             0/-------/----===|====---\-------\0           Cherry

That combover is not just that bad. It is horrible. It is the worst combover in all the Neo League. In all the fighting world, anywhere, guaranteed. When people do parody cartoons of this man, this will be emphasized. Legendary. A defining, shining example of desperation in fighting off male pattern baldness that may be used promotionally for hair regrowth companies sponsoring this match. (It's in the contract, and boy will Mr. Rust hate it.)
The acrobatic young lady handstands on his head. She's just light enough that he barely registers any of it against his poor, aging, arthritis-filled back that is older than his actual physical age from those years of construction work, standing up as she comes back to back with him. He seizes up as he turns his head the way she isn't. It makes for a great photo opportunity. There are a few camera flashes taking note of this.
"A what?" That's what he has to ask as she slams a palm into his back with enough strength that he doubles over. This is the first of only a very select few clean hits that Cherry manages on him as oxygen escapes his lungs.
His right leg edges forward, completely rigid from his instinctive response to just about anything that seems like it might be putting him in the hospital as he turns a ways around. He doesn't get to turn all the way around. His left elbow accidentally intercepts a fist strike. Undaunted despite what shoots up that arm, he continues struggling to twist his upper body, fighting against a stiff shoulder as he rather clumsily tries to head off a whole series of those uncountable punches from her trademark technique. It keeps him entirely on the defensive from a truly, truly awkward position that, nonetheless, seems to ward off most of them. The individual punches that manage to slide past his shaky guard don't do a whole lot by themselves.
His face is another picture-worthy caricature of strain, fatigue, and annoyance with one eye shut, clenched teeth grinding, and a really bad cramp starting to run up his right side. He bends down a little more in his attempt to twist against his body's wishes, the two fingers just missing the base of the neck and poking him in the back of the head uncomfortably (as opposed to outright painfully).
He flexes his still rigid left arm to try and find purchase on that arm from that last one, clumsily groping for a grip and, should he find purchase, he doubles over and tries to hurl Cherry over himself and onto the ground in front in an over-the-shoulder throw (more like 'over the back') of the sort that suggests he is not terribly skilled nor experienced in these , a very bad shoulder cramp on his left shoulder declaring its intent to become his enemy in this attempt.
Screw you, left shoulder, he silently wheezes, face flush something a lot like determination.

COMBATSYS: Cherry blocks Rust's Medium Throw.

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Rust             0/-------/---====|====---\-------\0           Cherry

That little defensive maneuver gets a raised eyebrow of surprised respect from Cherry; that little assault is one of her best and most famous (for given values of famous) moves... to shrug it off even a little bit means that this man is built not just tough, but Tonka Tough. It also has the extremely disconcerting problem of meaning that Rust actually isn't all that bad off, while Cherry -- light, fragile Cherry -- is right inside his guard, at arm's reach, and just a wee bit overextended.

She really does let her green eyes go wide, and say: "...oops."

She doesn't even have time to react to the grab at first; the Diva is easy prey for Rust's impromptu shoulder throw. The fact that his might is more than sufficient to lift her, topheavy though she may be, doesn't hurt either. However, at the last second Cherry manages to shift her weight JUST enough so that her legs swing down and around; instead of landing back first on the dirt, she lands *foot* first, knees bending so they don't break. The impact jars her terribly, forcing her to grit her teeth against the sudden, cringe-worthy pain that rattles her entire skeleton. Kicking off the ground, the redhead leaps backward, landing in a crouch before she stands up. That stung!

However, when it comes to keeping the performance going, the Boise Bombshell is top of her class. As she rises, her hand comes up and moves through her dark red tresses, head thrown back in a fully-intended-to-be-sultry pose. Her lips curl in an expression of wry amusement. It doesn't last long, of course; she's back in stance a second later. But she is Venus rising from the proverbial foam just long enough for a few more flashes to go off.

"I have to say," she says to Rust, in an airy tone, "you are the worst construction worker ever. It's been how many minutes now? And not even one wolf-whistle, off color comment where I'm referred to as 'mamacita', or pointing at these babies," she finishes, pressing her palms into either side of her bustier. "What kind of red-blooded American male are you?"

It doesn't help her case that she follows this by reprising Rust's opening move, but with a distinctly more kung-fu flair as she flips through the air, looking to deliver a quick descending axe kick to the balding teacher's shoulders.

COMBATSYS: Rust endures Cherry's Light Kick.

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Rust             0/-------/--=====|=====--\-------\0           Cherry

Given how low he dips when trying to make the throw and how Cherry lands, this gives the teacher a really good look at those pants and, eyes going up, a close look at her... holiday-appropriate clothing. That his nostril is still bleeding from that explosive energy punch to the face paints yet another amazing photo-op (please don't take this one).
At least, before she kicks up off the ground and gets a dirt cloud in the old man's face as his left arm dangles, sore from tanking the multitude of punches and his will to forcefully bend it when it didn't want to be. He's paying for that. He might be hard to injure, but he's got aches all over he lives with day to day. He coughs as his right hand clears away some of that dusty dirt, just in time for him to get a better view of her SEXY POSE if those camera flashes are any indication.
She teases him. Worst construction worker ever?! What the hell, lady have you seen the workmanship that goes int-- a tense face goes blank as she calls him for his difference from the stereotype. Maybe his mouth hasn't lived up to it. His /eyes/, though. But if he was who he was ten years ago, well...
"What kind?" He gets out as he rises, knees, shoulders, and even his neck popping in an unhealthy series of signs that he probably shouldn't be straining himself so much these days. "A teacher that likes to k--" Cut off as she leaps, he looks up as she flips into the air. The difference in height between what the two can muster when fighting gravity is plain as day, as well as the overall athleticism as she flips into the February sky, able to be seen clear from the crowd...
He tenses his left fist, doesn't get much without his entire left arm surging in pain. That option is out. Risk the other, his dominant limb? He presses his lips together as he waits for the best point of impact, right hand settling on the hilt of Ol' Rusty again...
" keep his job!"He throws himself into the descending axe kick, shrugging his right shoulder up against her coquettishly dangerous heel with a rewarding crack but hardly any ground given, attempting to position this catch that her landing on the ground might be really awkward, maybe even unsteady. His left hand rises towards her chest, where his eyes suddenly widen, shit, don't grab her there! It's this very momentary pause that gives Cherry a window in which to do something to keep the pressure or otherwise overturn what could be his chance to put the match's momentum in his favor, instead moving his left palm for her face where he gives her a hard upward shove as opposed to back.
This is the thing about being a grown-up man in charge of a bunch of children. You touch a girl in an inappropriate place /once/ regardless of intent, that could be your job. Never mind that being near someone like Cherry on Valentine's Day really makes his heart ache for whom he still thinks is his squeeze back home! With another added grunt of exertion and a powerful tug of his right arm, Ol' Rusty comes free of its makeshift sheath (why doesn't he get a /real/ one, nobody will ever know) in something of an iaido draw as a fast follow-up to the initial shove, likely to - ironically - get her in the chest despite his best intentions.

COMBATSYS: Cherry fails to interrupt Armed Combo from Rust with Hot Legs.

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Rust             0/-------/-======|======-\-------\0           Cherry

Oh, you got fancy, Cherry. And now you know that 'fancy' is for doilies and little plastic ketchup packets only. She knows Rust is tough, of course, but she'd hoped that speed might be on her side, letting her power through the kick and hop away before he had a chance to react. And it could be that because her own constitution is not exactly the hardiest (in a sense) that Cherry very infrequently thinks of just walking into an attack in order to get into a better position. Ole Rusty, by contrast, seems to be built for exactly such activity.

The comment about keeping his job makes her blink, but at the time she's also kind of... 'stuck' on Rusty's shoulder, and doesn't have a lot of time to verbalize her surprise. Instead, she tries her damndest to perform a complex kicking maneuver *upside down* as she sees Rust reach for his sidearm (of sorts)... a special technique she typically does in the opposite direction, kicking off the ground and rising upwards. Needless to say, it doesn't work; the shove, and then the pipe hit, literally send her flying across the 'ring' to land on the ground on her back. Yes, the puns are going to continue until one of these fighters is out. Get used to it.

When she gets up, Cherry does her best to keep up her typical sang-froid, dusting dirt off her clothing with surprising efficiency... it must be one of her many superpowers. "Well, now I think I know where I've seen you before," she admits. Pacific's campus is more devoted to the high school than the college, but she still keeps her ear to the proverbial ground. The fighting shop teacher. Interesting. She does shrug, though. "Seems like you could make more money as a horndog street fighter than fixing broken air conditioners for rich bitch kids at Pacific." Don't you go to Pacific, Cherry?

The teacher rolls his right shoulder about in the socket post-kick soaking. He expects a pop. There isn't. It's not locking up on him, good, he needs as much mileage of that shoulder as he can get, narrowing his eyes to put on a better game-face after narrowly avoiding the fiasco of a boob grab. If only. If only. He points his left hand forward and draws Ol' Rusty back as if ready to strike (not that he could, from this distance). This awesome pose is broken with a cough. Dammit, he inhaled more of that dirt cloud than he should've. He sniffs.
'I've seen you before,' she states. Where, TV? Yeah, he's been on TV a lot lately. Two losses, then one win against a girl a couple years her junior. One of his local friends made fun of him for only being able to beat up a kid. He takes a couple steps closer in which to close the distance, though a few steps of Rust's probably can't match the amount of ground Cherry could cover with a long stride if she were so inclined to keep at bay. 'You could make more money as a horndog street fighter than fixing broken air conditioners for rich bitch kids at Pacific.'
That gives pause. It is true. If he gave up his day job right now, stuck to tournament fighting... especially if his checks all look a lot like the one from versus the Inoue girl (which really only looks so good because of lack of property damage and that he ducked out of medical care for sake of making the plane back, something he is going to be paying dearly for in the next few days).
But then what? You wanted to do more with your life than fight, right? Especially after... especially after you failed to get a sponsor. No thanks to those good nothing... nah, it's not that guy's fault, that other guy was really good. He retired around the time Mr. Rust moved overseas, but if he ever comes back... the teacher's got a challenge waiting for him.
He snorts again. "Those kids," he mumbles. Cherry might not pick those two words up as he takes another set of steps forward with a more dramatic purpose (...but not a whole lot of added speed) and closes in. Before long, he seems to throw himself to the ground against his sore left shoulder, something that makes him cringe as dirt and dust fly all around either side of him.
From his momentum, it doesn't look like he'd personally plow into Cherry as he slows. This is intentional. She is close to the crowd-ring, after all. As he continues to skid across the ground and make potential tetanus infections scream and flee from dying horribly upon contact with his hard labor-trained body, he readies an awkwardly-angled pipe swing as he's surfing towards Cherry head-first, trying to glean from his really odd angle that... wow, those things are really huge looking dwon from here.
"...Are my students!" More importantly, he tries to gauge what direction she might go within a split-second's time as he swings a very wide angled sweeping strike with the pipe down against her legs, aiming to strike her with the tip of Ol' Rusty regardless of how she might try and respond as his sliding momentum comes to a halt.

COMBATSYS: Cherry dodges Rust's Foundation Layer.

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Rust             0/-------/--=====|=======\-------\0           Cherry

The major problem with this is that by the time Rust actually gets to where Cherry was, she's... not. It's actually quite an interesting attack, but it being interesting is why the Diva is watching her opponent very carefully indeed. Thus once Rust starts going head-first, she realizes the only possible angle the attack can come from is underneath, and that makes her evasion options pretty easy: go up. The question, of course, is whether she can pull it off before he actually gets to her or not. Thankfully for her, she does; just as Rust is about to swing his not-quite-makeshift weapon all up in her area, the Diva leaps up and over, twirling upside-down in the air to land in a crouch on the ground a few feet away.

"Ha..." she says with a faint smile, at the 'are my students!'. So she was right, and he really does teach at Pacific. Poor bastard. "Yeah? Where do you hide the bodies?" she asks, totally nonchalantly implying that Rust has snapped. Lord knows she thinks SHE would. "I'd think shop would be a little too... proletarian for the average Pacific brat." Again: where do you go to school again, girly? "Don't they have, like... people to do that sort of stuff?" Like Rust? You jerk.

Still... performance. It's all about the performance. Flexing her fingers a little bit, the Fighting Diva sizes up her opponent. The bigger they are, the harder they fall, huh... it's risky, but that's worth trying, isn't it? "Lemme give you a taste of what you're missing, then." Why not? The crowd will like it. Charging Rust, the Boise Brawler attempts to suddenly change direction at the last second, ducking into a low-angle, tucking leap... and locking her thighs around Rust's head before continuing the momentum of the attack, flipping him RIGHT into the ground, frankensteiner-style.

Cammy White never looked *this* good, kids.

COMBATSYS: Cherry successfully hits Rust with Strong Throw.

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Rust             0/-------/=======|=======\-------\0           Cherry

Rust's approach to a slide - don't go all the way in, work as much range as you've got. If they jump straight up or jump away, not a whole lot of skin off his back. This is how he turns a traditionally risky maneuver into something relatively safe for him to do... considering he's getting old, and was never very agile even at his peak.
Was that really his peak? Sometimes he's not sure, as he starts to push himself up from the ground with help of his pipe. It sinks into the dirt from how much weight he puts on it, which makes his recovery a little shaky despite his cautions and gives Cherry ample time to play words back. He misses the connotation concerning bodies as he tries to work out in his head what to do now, groaning as his right shoulder crackles. Don't lock up on me now.
'Too proletarian?' Maybe. It's not a focus subject at Pacific. He rubs his left hand underneath his nose at the mention, wiping away the blood that's flowed somewhat freely since she socked him a good one there. If that first blow was the worst she could do, he thinks to himself... and really, the think about 'people to do that sort of stuff' comment just pisses him off. Ever since he came to Pacific, he swears, so many of the servants slacked off because he's so good at what he does. "Yeah," he actually says in agreement. Angry agreement. Is that even possible? It is now.
He's up on his feet fully when she decides to invite him to a taste of what she's missing. She runs, and runs quick. This isn't news for him, pretty much everyone he's fought so far had a really fast approach (save maybe Kaida, but she wasn't lethargic on her feet either). She leaps for him, he tries to figure out what to do. Stand and strike, move, what?
He chooses the second, jogging back a step to get on his less achy left foot before he sways off to the side. He doesn't get to that step after that step, as Cherry steps it up and envelopes his face between her crotch. For a moment, he's really conflicted.
One forward flip later, Cherry gets the bigger, heavier man off his feet and flips him into the ground. For lack of any real ability to get her off and that he has no way to stop what's already started, he lets himself ready for the landing best he can in that tiny window of time he has to even process a thought, exhaling as to not have the wind forced out of him upon landing. It's a solid execution on Cherry's part. People clap and take pictures of Cherry on top (but will she yet show them what it means when it really is Cherry On Top(tm)?!).
His muffled groan accompanies the feeling of one's body hitting the dirt so hard, but otherwise does not appear terribly troubled by it as he plants Ol' Rusty on the ground in which to pull himself up. He's still prone and in a bad position in which to fight against Cherry's whims if she tries to follow any of it up, but he'll be damned if he lets it stay that way. He clenches his left fist, much against the wishes of his elbow and shoulder whom still haven't fully recovered from the Wild Cherry barrage, and swings it up against her ribcage to try and push her off as Ol' Rusty is removed from its place as 'crutch,' pointing it backwards behind him.

COMBATSYS: Cherry fails to interrupt Random Strike from Rust with Cherry on Top.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Rust             1/-------/=======|=======\==-----\1           Cherry

We'll never know!

For the second time, Cherry is put in the position of trying to attack with a technique she usually uses in one direction, but circumstances force her to try and use in another. Case in point: Hot Legs goes up, she tries to go down. Another of her moves -- a fiery axe kick -- goes *down*, but when Rust comes at her with his punch at *that* angle, she decides to get fancy, which we have previously established is a French loanword meaning 'doomed to failure': she attempts to invert herself in a standing somerfault and kick *up* (while being upside down for her). The result is that she gets hit in the thigh, *hard*, and goes tumbling off to the side for her trouble. At least there was no stray flame in this case!

This is not going so well, Cherry realizes, which might explain why she's getting to her feet with grumbling rather than her typical smug smile. But this ain't over yet... and while she might be having trouble landing her physical blows, that's not the only weapon in her arsenal. "You're... worried about impropriety with the students," the Diva observes, before inclining her head at Rust's weapon arm, "yet you continue to smack a gorgeous piece of ass like myself with a length of pipe, which is not symbolic *at all*. And you don't see a contradiction here?"

The man sits up with his lower back stinging in complete protest of him trying to pull himself up after all is said and done. His right arm is held back, the weapon pointed away in anticipation for the next assault as Cherry is brushed off by his mighty elbow. If Vince is watching and remembers what his shop teacher said about how he likes to approach fights, he's giving a decent live primer on it.
He exhales noisily as he grunts, pushing off his (sore but more agreeable) left arm to pull himself up as Cherry lectures him. His left elbow, sadly, doesn't pop loud enough to drown anything she says out. He doesn't look too pleased by it (elbow nor phrasing), what with the furrowed brow, the jaw hanging open a little, and his right hand clenching his trusty weapon tightly. It squeals quietly under the tension.
"The, uh... the contradiction," he stammers as his mind swims too much with what he needs to do to keep the pressure and win the fight as opposed to come up with witty one-liners free of pauses and 'uhs' and 'ums' and other such conversational fillers, "is that you're lecturing me... while wearing... that, and... that thing you just did." He doesn't feel like elaborating about getting a face full of her clothed crotch. Even if he probably enjoyed it, a little. He /is/ a man, through and through, women are sexy but she's half his age. He knows better. But dammit, young lady, sex as a weapon, what if the wrong guy turns that noise around on you? She's a kid, he's a (mostly) responsible grown-up, he can't help but think about it that much.
Cherry has proven alert, fast... and all-in-all, able to get a good couple of shots on him when he so much as hesitates on the offense or defense. Unfortunately, he appears to do so on the former as he moves towards her. Even if he makes up his mind on the spot, there's plenty enough space for Cherry to do her thing, whatever her thing is, in the time it takes for him to approach given his sluggish foot speed, his left, unarmed arm closer to her. What's he going to do? Wait and parry? Grab? Try and strike from a distance where the windup would be telegraphed?
He moves in to try and get purchase on her arm, a shoulder, what have you - to twist her down forcefully into a kneeling position or whatever, thrust her down so that her back is exposed. At which point there is another brief delay. This thing he does, there's a really quick tinge of potential regret. She's still a kid, even if she's an established fighter (more established than he is, certainly) and plenty a fair match, what he's setting up is not something one would use for playing nice. He takes in a deep breath and goes through with it if Cherry doesn't stop him (or otherwise avoid his grasp to begin with), clutching Ol' Rusty tightly...
As he then plans to kneel down (yes, with yet another pop from his knee) and hammer her back with the butt end of it, much like pushing in a nail in a board or what have you. It's like the perfect fusion of carpentry and ass-beating.

COMBATSYS: Cherry dodges Rust's Hammering.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Rust             1/-------/=======|=======\==-----\1           Cherry

Apparently, cutscenes bring out Cherry's inner wire-fu. Well, that or her decision not to rush headlong into any more attacks from a hard hitting guy like Rust. Of course her little psychological assault ALSO seems to be having the desired effect, even if Cherry herself is in '...I meant to do that!' Maxwell Smart mode about *that* outcome. Putting her speed to the test, as Rust goes for the initial grab the Fighting Diva effectively 'rolls' herself around his body; twisting, she presses her back to his side and sidles, then hurls herself a step or two forward, twisting back around to face him as she lands.

And then she ruins it by opening her big yap.

The sexy pose as she delivers this little speech is a given, of course; one hand goes to her hip, which bows outward just a bit, and her head tilts with dry amusement. "Oh, come on now," she says, teasing somewhat. One hand sweeps out, indicating herself with a head to toe vertical movement. "Look at this. I mean, look at it. If you had an ass this fantastic, you'd show it off, too." The Japanese seem a little disconcerted at this little show of ego, of course, but Cherry forges onward. "I'm not ashamed of jack. You shouldn't be, either."

In her later years, the Diva will look back on this and recognize that she'd be a more convincing orator if she didn't tend to follow these little pronouncements with... uh, well. Attacks. Case in point: she ducks forward, trying to cover the distance between herself and her opponent, and quite simply grab the front of his shirt and drag him into her suddenly upraised knee. Mercifully, perhaps, she's aiming for his stomach, proving that even amoral hedonist egotists have SOME morals.

COMBATSYS: Rust fails to interrupt Quick Throw from Cherry with Cement Upper.

[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////                 ]
Rust             1/------=/=======|=======\==-----\1           Cherry

The teacher stumbles forth with the missed grab, largely because he makes a few other attempts as she rolls away, each with a little more oomph behind trying to reach further - only to give up after the third, starting to lose his breath after the fact as he kneels over a little and rests his left hand on his knee, head pointed upward as she poses again. Okay, you have his attention.
If he had an ass this fantastic, he'd show it off too, she says. Iiii don't know about that, he thinks inwardly. Not to... not to other, burly, bigger guys wielding rusted lengths of pipe and really handsome hair. Who knows what they'd do. He swallows another lump as he looks to start losing quite a fair bit of steam.
She rushes in again. Brace yourself, stop standing there, he thinks, as he throws his left forearm up against her grab. She grabs it instead. If she wants to go tug of war with it, he'll fight back. Ol' Rusty starts to spin in his right hand. If anybody's watched the past few matches, they know what this means. Just one good flex to push her back, for the perfect opening to swing for the win--
He puts his left foot forward prior to any of these planned events, turning his side to her. She knees it. It seems gentle to any observer. No loud cracks, nothing particularly visceral of the sort. However, the aging man's eyes suddenly bulge rather comically, wheezing a prolonged, really pathetic whine as her otherwise mitigatable strike is the one that does in an injury that hasn't yet fully healed. The few stray Wild Cherry punches softened it up. That Frankensteiner came close. The knee is the one that does it in.
So painful enough that Ol' Rusty flies out of his right hand into the dirt two feet in front of him as he stumbles back, moaning and otherwise cringing with little hisses in between clenched teeth and eyes shut tight, removing his left hand from her grip (unless she released it in the process) as he gasps for breath.
This is why you wait until everything is fully healed up, no matter what sort of really aggressive schedule pitching the Neo League throws at you. /This is why you wait./ Lesson learned, a very hard lesson learned.

It's not a very elegant attack. To watch her fight one would probably never figure that Cherry actually studied with some of the pre-eminent Plum Blossom kung fu masters in China. She is CAPABLE of quite graceful sorts of maneuvers when she wants to be, such as that little handstand trick at the beginning of the fight. But really, at heart she's a good old American girl with good old American values, which means that while a complex flippy kick may look nice on camera, occasionally what you want is a nice knee to the gut to get them on the mat.

Still, this one looks like it went a LEETLE bit too far, which leaves the Diva puzzled as she steps back from Rust, free from reprisal for a moment.

Part of the redhead wants to wait, see if the guy is gonna be alright. That's the sympathy part, at least, suckered in by the hairline and the old school values. THEN she recalls that a number of times Rust has smacked her with what can only be called crushing force. He came out here to fight. So would he want her to sit around and wait, if he were in HER place?

Probably not.

"Ah... what can I say. Making men breathless is just a way of life for me." There's a pause, and then Cherry shakes out her right hand, as if it were numb, and holds it at her side... where it starts to pick up a hazy red-gold glow. "And this HAS been a nice challenge, for sure. But I think it's time that we climax, don't you?" She is smiling nastily, and the expression says: I am taking the metaphor as far as I can, and enjoying every minute of it.

Leaning forward a little bit, Cherry holds out her hand palm-up, like a waitress holding a tray. Hovering there is a little, adorable sphere of crimson and orange dragonflame, swirling ominously. "Careful, though... I'm hot." And then the world is full of fire. The little ball explodes outward into a massive dome of swirling flames that seems to encompass the whole ringed-off area, the crowd gasping and the front rows leaping backwards from the cordon. The fire doesn't hurt its originator, but Rust... he might want to see about getting out of the way, at the very least.

COMBATSYS: Cherry successfully hits Rust with Cherry Bomb.

[                        \\\\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Rust             1/----===/=======|==-----\-------\0           Cherry

The teacher groans again. Not from the pain, from the pun, oh dear sweet merciful religious figure in question he worships, that pun, that pun, of all the puns she could make... he clutches his side and hisses some more. It's not looking good for him, if that sleazy emcee so much chooses as to make a joke on that, religious figure in question help him that he lose it and turn on him.
His right eye opens to the sight of that hazy red-gold glow as the ball is offered to him like a tray. He stumbles forward, conflicted as to whether he should come closer, back away, or what. Where he steps, his pipe is obscured from Cherry's view. He didn't see where it went, so he can't run and pick it up. It's just him, all alone in the deadly world of fighting... his confidence wavers, much like it did towards the end of the Zach battle. Is this it for him? Can't breathe, unarmed...
From the front, a rather nondescript 32 year old woman perks up, a stepmother of one of the local kids whom attend Pacific High. That's her kid's shop teacher! She never had a chance to thank him. Though he never saw much interest in doing things around the house, after a semester or two in his class, he's become fond of carpentry. He's now doing productive things with his time instead of playing around with parties and otherwise wasting lots of his father's money on frivolous pursuits. The boy's a changed one!
Against common sense, she steps into the ring and picks out the pipe. She yells the teacher's name, which compels him to turn around. His jaw hangs open, holding up his right hand to point up a finger and yell at her to get off. The way Rust is positioned between them, given he is not exactly a small guy, Cherry wouldn't be able to see this exchange from there.
He suddenly feels a great big tinge of heat as he looks back at Cherry's gathering power. The power she totally lets rip, blinding him. Holy shit holy shit what the hell! his right hand clutches the pipe as the blast comes by him. He grits his teeth, left forearm raised and vertical as something of a windbreaker as he realizes he is what is between this awesome, blinding blast and this lady. (Cherry would not be to blame in a worst-case scneario, she couldn't see it from where she was standing and quite frankly it is damn stupid for any spectator to put themselves into the ring!)
He keeps trying to push inward, his stomach rumbling loudly as the ultimate non-sequitur while this massive chi blast looks to cook his goose. It burns. It's painful. And you know what, he doesn't really care about it that much, back in his day he worked rain or shine, no matter how blisteringly hot or ass-freezing cold it got (more often the latter than the former, he grew up in the northwest).
Mind over matter? Maybe, but this is a material universe. He fails to gain any sort of significant ground in his push forward. He can't see too well. The woman in question quickly retreats back to her seat, perfectly shielded by the shop teacher's efforts.
For lack of a better idea, he swings his pipe upward in a massive uppercut into the hot haze. He does this again. And again. And again. Each time, moving in closer, each time, pushing in further, even if this the real world equivalent of a fighting game scrub doing a super out of nowhere with no safe setup. He's a fair distance away from Cherry, he's coming, he's swinging and swinging and swinging pretty blatantly in a rather laughably repetitive fashion. It's kind of like what a lot of the rival schools do. They always have something like this, moves that are just them doing something over and over again.
Regardless of where Cherry moves or what she does, he keeps swinging, and swinging, and swinging, fighting aching joints and nearly blinded eyesight. For the last swing, hit or miss, he gives Ol' Rusty one good dextrous spin before swinging up with one last, solid Cement Upper. (What does it have to do with cement?)

COMBATSYS: Rust successfully hits Cherry with Rusty Nail.
- Power hit! -

[                        \\\\\\  < >  ////                          ]
Rust             0/-------/------=|=======\-------\0           Cherry

Well. She wasn't exactly thinking beyond the *end* of this technique, Cherry was not. No offense to Rust at all, but from her POV... that should be the end of things. Nobody could possibly survive that much dust. So she's actually not really preparing herself for any sort of followup. This is a critical error she makes an awful lot, and considering her own tendency to not exactly STAY down once she's been KNOCKED down, she really should know better. But two things get in the way. The first is that she's half-turning to the audience to give a little wave she catches Rust's motion out of the corner of her eye, and turns to look at him.

The second is that, with the Pacific teacher having moved TOWARD her the entire time, there is marginally visible, across the ring, an interesting sight: a cowering middle-aged woman with the ground around her in a sort of < shape scorched right nice from that explosive technique.

The shock makes her hesitate. And Rust is... determined, to say the least. That is more than enough. The final Cement Upper pops her quite distinctly into the air. High. REALLY high. Looking at it in slow-mo later, analysts will note that Cherry tried to turn and spin out of the way at the last second and ended up doing herself more harm than good, putting a vulnerable side right into the path of the strike.

She literally drops out of the sky on her stomach.

Getting to her feet, Cherry grits her teeth, the Diva's clothes looking a little worse for wear and her *body* even more so; she's taken some mighty hits this fight, that much is certain. But in spite of herself, she gives Rust a little smirk as she wobbles to her feet. "Been in Japan too long, mister," she jokes. "Bushido's seeping into a perfectly good, self-serving American brain." This is actually her way of complimenting him. Not... that any sane person could see that.

She has one last shot prepared. What happens after that isn't 100% clear. But amazingly, in defiance of her injuries and fatigue, the Fighting Diva literally launches across the distance between herself and Rust like a rocket from a standing start. It is the perfect, showy, Fei Long-style kung fu kick, one foot extended. Dragonflame blazes around her, in the shape of a dragon's maw.

And after that, well...

COMBATSYS: Cherry can no longer fight.

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

...looks like that's it for the Diva.

COMBATSYS: Rust interrupts House of Ninja from Cherry with Bulldozer.

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

Even if it failed him before, the tail end of the Rusty Nail is proof of the strength of Howard's technique. Maybe simplistic, with no martial arts instruction ever given to him in developing his fighting style. When he first fought, some commentators wondered what the hell 'Pipe Fighting and Construction-Inspired Techniques' meant. They saw. If not in the blows, in doing a full fight's work... even when he's discouraged.
His left arm is toast (almost literally), dangling uselessly. If he so much as /thinks/ of clenching a fist, the pain is searing enough to make him shed a tear. That hurt. That, truly and honestly, openly and without hesitance to say so, hurt. He leans forward, gasping for breath as Cherry hits the ground. His grip is tighter than ever on Ol' Rusty, not from awesome resolve but out of fear of his ability to stay up. Cherry rises. She's not done yet! And he shouldn't be either, even if he's short of breath and coughing from all that dust and grime getting into his lungs. Yuck. Been in Japan too long, she jokes. Maybe. He's always been a fan of samurai films even as a little kid, but he can't fully profess to follow Bushido. He thought the whole sword thing was cool. But here he is, packing a pipe instead of a sword, a rather juvenile enjoyment of a genre matured through experience and applying some of his work experience to his technique. He exhales once.
She charges at him, foot extended. He tilts Ol' Rusty horizontally inward so it's in front of his chest, lazily placing his left hand upon it. He can't clench it, but having it there is just part of the mindset as he crouches against crackly knees that are done with him thinking he can still stand.
He starts shaking up and down on the spot, as though a motor where running. He goes as far as to vibrate his lips to kind of match this, which is really silly-looking. It's at that point his feet glide forward like he /is/ in a vehicle. The kick, thankfully, lands just below his (far less injured) right shoulder, allowing him to hold the posture together, wisps of flaming chi glancing off of him as said shoulder only shrugs a little. He just bowls forward and catches Cherry between his feet, rolling her along a distance before he tilts back like he were to fall over, scooping her up with his feet and flinging her up and away.
He's on the ground for a moment, making the emcee and the nearby Neo League officials wonder how to call it... until, after a loud groan and the gritting of his teeth for the umpteenth time, he pushes Ol' Rusty against the dirt and stands up, body cracking. Stiff. Weak. He has a lot of trouble breathing, but he's on his feet. People cheer.
It's Howard Rust! The emcee gets to sallow his favoritism. Most the crowds clap politely. The stepmother applauds with a great big smile, if only he was single! He rotates Ol' Rusty around his right hand once in mandatory winpose time, ending with him holding it upside down in his right fist as he thrusts it through the makeshift sheath of that poor ripped toolbelt pocket.
He misses. It hits the dirt like a stray arrow instead, making him groan disappointedly as he looks back over to the fallen Cherry. She's all right, isn't she? Doesn't look like he got her nearly as hard as he did the last...

The truth is that Cherry is down just a little bit longer than Rust... but it's a minute or so that makes all the difference for the official books. While his last strike hit her hard indeed, Cherry makes up for her lack of actual physical resilience with an *amazing* ability to bounce back from injury, even by fighter standards. Marisol -- someone Rust may be familiar with -- once referred to her as an "Energizer bunny", which is an apt enough description. The match is awarded to Rust, and Cherry is still down, but as the crowd is starting to disperse and the Neo League people are starting to think of sending over first aid, the Fighting Diva sits up, rubbing a hand across her stomach and wincing as she does so. "Ugh... god *damn*, I knew I shouldn't have had that sno cone before we started..." Well, if Rust was worried she's permanently hurt, that should dispel any doubts.

She doesn't actually stand up right away... that would require more than she has. But it doesn't take too long until she gets up to her feet, grimacing a little, before looking over at Rusty and seeming to take him in just a little more closely than she did during the actual fight. Part of her says: this is what most fighters are going to look like in middle age. If your dad were a boxer, he'd probably look like this right now. In a way, it bums her out that this guy is working for, of all places, Pacific High. The school has its bright spots -- Cherry, despite herself, rather likes the aforementioned and straightforward Marisol O'Connell -- but for everyone one of those, there's a snotty American rich kid who would look down on this guy, who just took a punch for a random stranger. She SHOULD go over there and say something.

She does. But the problem is that, even underneath every onion skin layer, there is a fundamental core of Cherry.

"Good to see our venerable ancients keeping up with their pilates," she offers to Rust with a faint smile. Another of the Diva's ineffable, indescribable compliments. How is poor Rust to know? "I bet detention with you is total hell." That gets a laugh out of her at her own statement. Why? She's in college, you can't put her in detention!

Having said that much, however, she turns and looks away from Rust, out toward the crowd, looking for the woman he 'saved', and speaking to him despite not looking at him. "She's fine, I'm guessing."

Mr. Rust doesn't feel like sitting down, or walking anywhere, or... much of anything. His body just wants to seize up, turn him into a meat statue, and just have him stand there until he felt like he could move around again. Nonetheless, he fights this as he crouches over with a prolonged, exaggerated groan and picks up Ol' Rusty. Instead of sheathing it, he relaxes it on his shoulder. It takes him a little longer to get over Winpose Fail than some of the pain, truth be told. The cameras have packed up, there would be an interview but they're needed elsewhere close by since another crew's flight to Southtown has been delayed in Korea following mechanical problems.
He is pretty relieved when she first complains about that eating a snowcone rather than anything else. He takes it at face value and breathes a relieved sigh. That's good. One less one on his conscience. One less. He takes a couple steps forward, shuffling his feet slow distances as if to decide whether he should take it real slow or just limp his way across. C'mon. These are my legs, my legs do what I want them to, he thinks inwardly.
"Yeah, thanks... thank Miss Kovit, if you see her." Nataya was a really big help in getting him to stretch more. Sure, there are still lazy 'I'm too exhausted to do anything but flop on the couch and eat chips' nights, but he's gotten better about daily exercise. He returns the smile with a nod. "I'll tell you... I like to think... I like to think I'm not this, this big, violent, angry guy, but... but I'm gonna say, nobody fucks around in my class." He responds somewhat He yells a lot. He kind of has to, sometimes. They work with tools that can be very very dangerous and every time they seem to forget this he chews the shit out of them. Largely because any serious injuries could - once again - result in losing his job. He does seem like a mismatch up against the rich kids, sometimes. He got his job from a lot of lucky breaks lining up one after another.
He stops a ways in front of her as she turns around behind him into the crowd. He follows where she's looking as he angles the back of that rusted length of pipe to scratch the back of his head. It doesn't matter if it's a rusty surface, he needs to scratch it as he contemplates that ending.
"Yeah... looks so." He clears his throat. She waves at the two of them. His left arm waves back lazily. He shouldn't move it too much. It stings to even manage /that/. "I have... have no clue what she was thinking."

Somehow, hearing Rust say the word 'fuck' brings a smile to Cherry's face... as if there was this big proper bear that had to be on camera and now that everything's over, she's seeing a bit of the 'real' Rust. This may or may not be the case, of course, but it's certainly something the redhead can think about. The smile isn't visible, since the Diva's head is turned away still, but when he says that he has no idea why this woman actually leaped in to help him, the redhead literally whips around to give him a 'WTF!' look.

"You've got to be kidding me," the young lady says, incredulity dripping from every syllable. She waves a hand off into the distance toward the dispersing crowd. "You turned around and got hit in the back so that some random woman wouldn't get her clock cleaned, but you're telling me you don't understand why... she stepped in to help you." For a second she watches Rust carefully, daring him to say something even remotely stupid, before shrugging. Hopefully that made it clear, and Cherry lives in hope. It's much easier than, say, using direct language and making sense all the time, and who the hell has time for THAT, I ask you? Nobody.

Reaching up a hand, she runs it through her waves of dark red hair, and finds it in herself to give a little smirk. "I don't think a reputation as a big, violent, angry guy is going to hurt you any. Little prats from the States could use a good smacking down." A second pause, while she pauses to inspect her cuticles, before frowning. Something about that sounded vaguely familiar. "Who's Miss Kovit?"

He might not have sworn (audibly) on camera, but anyone in class (and some grumbly people staff) will tell you, Mr. Rust does not have a very clean mouth. Some of the parents really hate this, but he was a construction worker for a good decade or so. Kind of comes with the territory. A lot does. He must've been... colorful, when he was younger. Maybe one day he'll get bored, invent a time machine, and somehow some of these kids can hijack it and see for themselves. Pray he is not that smart to legitimately challenge the laws of the universe.
"Uhh." He scratches the pipe against the back of his head some more, jaw dropping a little more in puzzlement. The scratching of pipe versus flesh gets a little louder. Does that answer one's potential worries about his intellectual capacity to challenge space and time? "Actually... come to think of-- oh, that's right, she's the mom of that kid... had him in my class, months back. Stepmom, I, uh... huh." Guess he really should say 'thank you,' but at this point she turns to leave with the rest of the crowd.
He grunts in the wake of the gesture that those prats from the States could use a good smacking down. Doesn't matter how much of a snot some of the kids are, no matter how easy, how /fulfilling/ it could be, he's got to be a bigger man than that. Conversely, he could have just failed a bunch of them in his class outright, but... if he failed too many, guess what? Sacked. Life as a teacher is really hard, sometimes not terribly rewarding... but Pacific pays really well. It's the best day job he'll ever hold, in terms of pay and at least having a reasonable impact on these kids' lives.
"Miss Kovit... oh, yeah, she was in the League too. Hadn't... seen her in a while," he trails off, clearing his throat again as he rolls his left shoulder around a little, maybe to get a pop and-- nope. He frowns and winces again. "Sorry. Miss Kovit... ah, first name's Nataya. Kind of a, a monk lady. For a while... ran yoga classes in Pacific after school, for the adults. Came to a couple, myself." He doesn't look too flexible. In many ways, he isn't. But that helped him a lot.
A hum, or rather a 'hmm' escapes his lips as he looks down towards her. "Say, uh, didn't you... fight her? In the past."

In truth, Cherry has never heard Nataya's last name. In a completely random bit of happenstance, she just thought 'Kovit' and 'Nataya' had the same... flavor of sound, in her head. Thus the Diva blinks a little when Rust actually gives her the woman's first name, and then tilts her head a little bit to the side as she responds. "Oh, *that* one. Yes, we've met a few times." The first was in SNF, and that was an experience that Cherry will likely never forget... as both women turned on the chaos agent, who then proceeded to drive a semi into the orchestra pit of Radio City Music Hall. They were wearing costumes. Nataya hated it, which put her in Cherry's good books right then and there.

The redhead is brought out of the reverie by the mention of yoga. Well that sort of makes sense, but the last time she checked, Cherry does not remember any yoga devotees with a punch like an iron bar, and Nataya... well, let's just say that for being short and ill-dressed the girl could deliver some force. That she knows Rust suddenly seems less weird. "That beast teaches *yoga*?" A good thing Nataya's not here to hear that, though of course Cherry -- in her own stupid way -- means 'that beast' as a compliment, vis: you hit like an enraged tiger. "Live and learn, I gu--"

Further consideration is cut off, however, by a series of loud noises. The first is something akin to an explosion in Super Mario 2. If the far-away, curiously penetrative yet mysteriously soft sound had a visual effect, it would be 'BOM!'. The second is a burst of feedback from the loudspeaker, and then a voice talking in *rapid* Japanese and English telling the park guests to file out in an orderly fashion.

Undaunted, however, Cherry glances around, brow furrowed. "I feel like I should be looking in the background for something falling into the bay, ala Cloverfield." Yes, Rust MUST have seen that movie. 10 points for reference, Cherry.

"She did." He replies with another nod in between 'that beast teaches yoga' and 'live and learn.' He hasn't seen her lately. Hasn't actually been able to make contact. He owes her a hell of a lot. At this point, there's probably not one thing she could ask that he wouldn't do (but he wouldn't do that). A lot of people had a hand in encouraging him. She's the one who helped /make/ him into a fighter again. If it weren't for her, well... he'd have probably just rotted away peacefully into middle age and beyond, his thing about a rusted length of pipe a mere curiosity of some eccentricity as opposed to an honest-to-god contender on the world stage. But is he? He's not young, and there's a lot of prodigies left and right of so many styles, many with great, rich histories behind them.
His head slowly turns at the explosion. What was that? Did something fall? Nothing as far as the eye can see has toppled over, or anyth-- the loudspeaker feedback comes in full swing. He winces, left hand clutching the side of his head as he bends over a little and makes some indistinguishable curse other than the fact that it is one syllable and almost definitely contains four letters within.
"What?" He calls a bit loudly above his ear, now shouldering that pain that goes from his left shoulder down his arm, and... ugh, ow, ow. "That's just... that's just the movies. I--"
Another explosion happens visibly in front of them some many tens of yards away, a tent flopping over into the breeze. The teacher's teeth clench. What the hell? He's plenty daunted by this, what's going on here?
"C-C'mon." He stammers a little as he looks out towards where he parked his piece of shit pickup truck. The good news is, thanks to being a Neo League combatant, he got to park in employee parking for today. It's nice and close to the front gates. He signals to Cherry (rather needlessly, there are signs everywhere) as he starts off towards the exits under the pleading of the loudspeakers in English and Japanese.
He's in no condition to put up a fight right now if there /is/ bad shit going down.

Log created on 15:53:46 02/14/2009 by Cherry, and last modified on 13:53:59 02/15/2009.