Devil's Tournament - DT True Final: Ryu vs Akuma?

Description: Finally, the Devil's Tournament finale! Ryu faces off against Akuma, only to find that...not everything is as it seems?! Also, Duke receives an incredible windfall. (Winner: Ryu)

It's been a long time coming. By the pure, honest sweat of many a brow, bodies have clashed again and again. There were victories had, losses suffered, lives ruined and rivalries renewed. Despite the somewhat unnatural nature of the tournament as of late, despite its questionable motives and decisions, it has delivered one thing without question: some incredible bouts between some amazing people. Only recently had Ryu proven himself above all others, sweeping the tournament in a flawless display of skill and tenacity. Just shy of being named the de facto victor, however, he has one more test before him...

The final arena is a cold and barren place. Indeed, one would be loathe to call it an arena at all. While most of the northern hemisphere is just getting into its summer days, northern Russia still enjoys the mild tail of a slowly-fading winter. It's cold enough for people to still need coats and boots, for the ground is messy with slushy, icy mud. The remnants of an old fortress sit among the trees, its sturdy walls standing long after the end of World War 2 should have seen its deconstruction. Before the fortress is a massive metal plate in the ground, an obvious missile silo whose doors have long since rusted shut. It's around this fifty-foot wide ring that this tournament's finale has been set up. Lights and seats abound, the latter in fully-enclosed, environment-controlled pods for those wealthy enough to have been able to afford to watch such a rare event. Cameras keep their sharp eyes on the environment, multiple angles feeding imagery to the swift editors that will be prepping up the action for the pay-per-view viewers at home, at work, even in the middle of Times Square. On either side of the stage, metal constructs have been built to form a sort of bridge from which hangs no small number of advertisements. More so, it contains the speakers through which an unseen announcer speaks.

"Ladies! And! Gentlemen! Princesses, Czars, men and women of esteem and class! It is our honor to bring to you this event that will never again be seen by human eyes!" Spotlights click and turn their harsh eyes on the center of the stage, two giant pools that dance about each other before meeting and focusing on one end of the ring. It's here that Ryu will be steered toward when he's ready, and even if he's not, he'll just find himself pushed toward the light by a very impatient stagehand. That is, assuming that he can even move the man. Regardless, the speakers continue to boom across the tundra: "Our champion, our maestro of massacres, the only man to boast a perfect record, the one who stands above all...RYU!"

If there's applause, nobody can hear it. Apparently, those little enviro-pods are pretty well soundproofed. Besides, the people inside are FAR too classy to clap. Clapping is for commoners.

Cold enough for boots and coats. Pollen count, thankfully low! Bears available for pre-tournament sparring. And who walks into the pool of light, with only a little bit of prodding required? Ryu. In his white gi, open halfway, and his 'Furinkazan'-embroidered belt, and his bare feet. There is an undeniable sense here that for all his good-natured (if stoic) countenance the man MIGHT be made of something like titanium. The cold doesn't appear to be bothering him. In fact, given the set of his jaw, and the placement of his feet on the ground as he grasps the tails of his belt and gently but firmly tugs them into place, it doesn't seem like ANYTHING is bothering Ryu. The picture of poise under fire.

Just goes to show.

Inside, there's a million things on his mind. The aftermath of his bout with Sagat, a battle the ended in Ryu's favor by a hair's breadth. His promise to Athena to see this through on her behalf. His own curiosity about just what is going on with this tournament in the first place. And that nagging memory -- the vision that is more color and shape than clarity, more the distant scent of blood and summer rain than anything specific -- that comes to mind whenever he thinks of the 'Devil.' All of those things brought him to this specific moment in time, and it's hard NOT to feel a twinge of anticipation, or excitement, or anxiety. The chilly lack of emotional expression on Ryu's face is the chill of an iceberg: what you see above the waterline is perhaps only a fraction of the full story.

He refuses to squint as he stares up into the light for a moment, eyes darting momentarily to the various contraptions keeping the bourgeoise audience safe from the chill, and then he turns his entire attention to the other side of the arena. Whatever happens -- whoever it turns out to be -- there's every indication that the Wanderer will have to give his all to meet the challenge, as he has done up until now.

He drops into stance, and says -- perhaps even a little under his breath -- "Osu!" He's ready.

As Ryu prepares himself, the lights flick off with another loud click. In the moments between staring into the light and the dilation required to see clearly in the cloudy, darkened evening, a form appears on the other side of the stage. Where once there was nothing, there is now a dark lump, something--or someone kneeled down. The lights clunk to life once more. It's not white light they pour down, but black light, thanks to a filter rotated over them. The snow glows a deep violet about the figure as it rises. The man stands tall, his head aflame with a fierce red that seems to burn in the ultraviolet. His violet outfit, one made to mimic Ryu's to the last detail, fails to reflect any but the most miniscule amounts of light. It makes him appear as though draped in shadow. His eyes, though, are closed while the speakers blare.

"And over here, the Demon, the Oni, the spawn of Hell itself... AAAAAAKUUUUUUMAAAAAA!"

At the sound of his name, Akuma opens his eyes. His irises glare with a fierce red as the black light reflects off of them. He takes a single step forward, slamming his bare foot down on the closed silo door. Again, the speakers roar, carrying across a deep and gravelly voice as Akuma's mouth moves. He must obviously have some sort of microphone on him.

"Ryu! I was promised a worthy opponent. You had better not disappoint!"

The black light shuts off at that point, nullifying the flaming and glowing effects that he'd had before. A much softer light soaks the entirety of the stage, finally illuminating the shadowy figure in full. He is the spitting image of the man that had interrupted Ken's Saturday Night Fight match so long ago, with dark skin and a powerful scowl.


There he is.

Memories buried and suppressed and half-remembered, when presented with the presumed genuine article, explode in Ryu's mind so fiercely that he almost, ALMOST, physically recoils from it. The feel of wet grass on his feet as he dove, scrambling, back toward the dojo. The sight of Master Gouken's body slumped against a wall, a wall smeared red with the darkening crimson of shed blood. And the character, 'Ten', written there. At first Ryu had thought the Demon's invocation of 'Heaven' to be defiantly ironic; now he has come to understand that the man means to say that he has ascended to the ranks of the divine through mastery.

That was the day that Ryu lost many things. A father figure. A quiet and idyllic life. His 'innocence', if he ever possessed so ephemeral a thing. But he did gain one thing: a heightened sense of purpose.

THEN he was a boy. Now he is a man, tempered by battle and resolve. And yet... and yet...

The man in the white gi answers his creeping doubts -- about the Demon, about the desire for revenge -- by focusing on the fight to come. In his ready stance, the Wanderer edges his feet slightly farther apart on the cold, dense soil of Siberia, his hands warily up, fingers closing and unclosing with the suppressed adrenaline of battle to come. "I face every battle with my all," he says, calmly... or as calmly as he can make it sound.

There is one crack in the man's iron focus, however; a second scan of the crowds. Looking for the one individual with whom this moment needs sharing, wondering if he's here in the crowds. He has the money, after all.

I'd be very disappointed if Ken didn't throw in the money to be here!

While memories and emotions whirl through the stoic fighter, his opponent does very little. Does he himself remember the atrocities inflicted upon the boy? Surely even someone as heartless and vile as Akuma would bear in his memory the mind of such an event. The man before Ryu shows no sign of being perturbed in any fashion, nor does he offer words to elicit any sort of rise. He stands where he is, still and silent.

For a time.

"Are you that fightened?" he bellows, once more coming through the speakers. "Have you come all this way just to cower and delay?" He takes another step forward, his foot smashing against the metal door beneath. At the precise moment of impact, the whole thing wobbles and creaks with the sound of rusty metal straining to hold fast. His balance doesn't waver a bit, but the show of power is enough to bring some life to the audience about him. Did their eyes deceive them? Did it look like the silo doors...lurched?

A hand extends forward, turning at the wrist. Beckoning. "Come, present to me a challenge before I see fit to vent my boredom on the the fat cats overhead." To back up his threat, he half-turns and draws his right arm back, then thrusts it forward with a grunt bellowed over the air. From Akuma's hand flies a violet streak, smoke trailing in its wake as sparks fly from the tip. Whatever that projectile is, it wobbles mid-flight and slams into the glass windows of one of the spectator pods. The thick glass does not shatter, but there's a burst of fire and a large enough scorch mark to send the people inside in a panic!

COMBATSYS: Akuma? has started a fight here.

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Akuma?           0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Ryu has wandered into the fight here.

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Akuma?           0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0              Ryu

In most cases, Ryu is content to let his opponent make the first move. It is, after all, the best way to observe their style at work, with all the momentary distractions and influences of the fight stripped away. A bit like the first splash of ink on a new page; what will eventually become starts right there.

Today, perhaps, he'll indulge. Just this once.

Hopefully he won't look back on this moment in regret.

"As you wish," is all he can say, and then he's moving, feet kicking up dirt as he speeds across the arena, effectively charging his foe for much of the distance crossed, until the two are within each other's zone, inside that personal space. Only then does Ryu slow, judging his blow, and swing his right arm around with a carefully-aimed right cross. An exploratory blow; a chance to see what his opponent has. But also, the definite start to this battle.

COMBATSYS: Ryu successfully hits Akuma? with Medium Punch.
- Power hit! -

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Akuma?           0/-------/---====|-------\-------\0              Ryu

As he wishes, indeed. The malevolent face forces itself into a strange, unnatural sneer. That's it, that's exactly what's needed. The cameras catch every step as Ryu vaults himself forth, protecting the bourgeoisie whether he intended to or not. Akuma turns and lifts his arms, prepared to meet the man head-on. He doesn't waver, he doesn't falter. He can see the man coming in, see his arm lift, his fist clench. Such an obvious assault could never--

Three seconds later, Akuma is tumbling end over end, flopping face-down in the slush. So, too, are Ryu's knuckles sullied, covered with a brownish, sticky film that peels off easily. Up above, the spectators are stunned to silence. What kind of punch is that, to send a man flying?! Who is the real demon here? After a good five seconds of silence, an unsteady voice comes across the speakers.

"Ah...o-one! Two? Three...?"

That just makes no sense. There's never been a countdown before, so why now? Has Ryu not won? It's an obvious case of just buying time as, before long, Akuma starts to rouse. Pulling up on hands and knees, he shakes his head as the stars clear from his vision. His voice returns anew from overhead, loud and rich. "You call that a punch? I barely felt a thing!" The claim is completely incongruous with his actions as he stands up, even wobbling a bit. There's a puff, a huff, and the Demon is once more in motion. He rushes forward with quick steps, mud and ice sloshing about before he takes to the air in a massive leap. The purple, muddy fabric of his attire flaps as he swings a leg up and about, bringing a vicious roundhouse kick toward the side of Ryu's head with a fresh bellow!

It's at this point that the champion might notice...that there's no vocal sound coming from Akuma at all.

COMBATSYS: Ryu dodges Akuma?'s Strong Kick.

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Akuma?           0/-------/---====|-------\-------\0              Ryu


As 'Akuma' goes spiralling off toward the edge of the arena, Smash Bros. style, Ryu pauses. His forward momentum, which normally would be backshifted into a defensive posture to deal with any counterattack, is instead totally arrested as he drops into a full stop and looks down at his knuckles, which have suddenly acquired a patina of what appears to be MAC Cosmetics NW55 foundation. It's not necessarily that Ryu judges men who wear makeup; just look at his rivals. But somehow, he just doesn't expect that the man who killed Master Gouken and who has taken the name 'Devil' would be wearing a thick, freshly-applied coat of foundation. That doesn't add up.

And there's other things. He should be feeling that sense of 'malice', that nameless, hair-pricking sensation that comes from men who fight with murderous intent. It was something he felt in his fight with Sagat, despite the Tiger's newfound sense of ronin-like honor. Would not the man with the 'Ten' mark also radiate such intent? Shouldn't that oppressive aura be pushing Ryu to his limits, merely standing in his presence? And for that matter, shouldn't he be able to take a little love tap punch without breaking the ragdoll physics engine? The answer to the questions is almost certainly 'yes, he should/it should.'

What seals the deal is the Wanderer turning to see the incoming flying roundhouse coming his way, and the startling realization that to avoid it, all he has to do is move his head *fractionally to the left* so that 'Akuma' goes sailing past him to land on the ground behind Ryu. And while the Ansatsuken Dragon takes every fight seriously, he's starting to wonder if this is an actual fight at all. But he is humble, and would LIKE to give this... person... the benefit of the doubt. Which is why Ryu suddenly snaps a jab at him, a quick but weak punch, and then asks -- presuming that THIS punch doesn't just make the man fall over or, in the worst case scenario, shatter like a clay pot -- "Forgive me, but am I in the right place? The Devil's Tournament finals?"

COMBATSYS: Ryu successfully hits Akuma? with Jab Punch.

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Akuma?           0/-------/=======|=------\-------\0              Ryu

It really doesn't take much, does it? The skill of one standing atop the fighting world is awe-inspiring indeed. Akuma flails and thrashes about, trying to land a hit on the man, but nothing seems to hit. It's so strange; this man LOOKS the part, but he just can't back it up. It's in the middle of another sort of aerial assault that Ryu simply jabs him right out of the air, sending him turning and landing flat on his back. There's no look of pain on his face, merely surprise. And again, the foundation sticks to the man's fist. By now, Akuma's face looks rather...warped. In a way, it's gruesome.

"So, this is it!" Now the man's lips aren't even moving, not even trying to stay in sync. "This is all you can show me? I've killed babies stronger than yourself! I--"

The rant is cut short after Akuma almost literally rolls back, backflip after handplant after backflip landing him a good twenty feet away. He looks up toward the control booths and drags his thumb across his throat. The speakers immediately cut out and the spotlights turn directly on him. "Fine!" This time, Akuma's actual voice comes out, something still deep yet not as feral. "That's enough of that, I think. It's time for the REAL finale to begin!"

At the proclamation, Akuma grips the left side of his attire with his right hand, bunching the fabric up in his fist. With a sweeping wave of that arm, the clothing comes off in a blur of violet and red as the costume is peeled away. Somehow, makeup and hair and fabricated bulk come with it as the Halloween-level guise is tossed aside and left to drop into a pile. What remains is...incredible. That's a word for it. Leather shoes with bright yellow soles peer out from a pair of illegally neon green pants. Cameras zoom in on feet and leg and ass before panning up his gaudy, like-colored blazer. The man standing before Ryu is much thinner than Akuma, with golden rings on his fingers and a fierce, red nose peering out that looks like it could NEVER have fit the face it was portraying. As he brings his hand up over his hair, the long blonde lock in front curls itself into an elegant loop, springing into place and staying there even after he brings both arms to his sides and takes an exaggerated bow.

"I have to say, this has been a very lucrative farce!" He stands upright, tapping at his temple with a single finger. "Did you REALLY think someone like Akuma would hold a tournament? That he'd follow RULES? Simpletons, all of you!"

COMBATSYS: Hyena awakens to his potential!

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Hyena            0/-------/=======|=------\-------\0              Ryu

Does Ryu actually feel shame? Probably. He certainly can feel embarassment which appears to be hardcoded into the Japanese people no matter how mysterious their origins. But if he does feel shame, it probably happens now, with his increasingly mocha-colored right fist retracted back into stance once again. Who is this... harlequin? That's a question for another day. But his words... 'Do you think he'd follow rules? Create a tournament?' Those hit home with more force than any physical blow could possibly deliver. The Wanderer realizes what's been driving him forward all this time has been that most elusive of motivations, Hope. The knowledge that even though logic is telling you something shouldn't be true, there's the tiniest of chances that it will be. It's that fragile yet powerful thing called Hope that, really, all great con artists have learned to manipulate.

"Perhaps I have farther to go than I had once thought," Ryu admits aloud, glancing down at his makeup-stained fist. And that much is true. He let his desire to find the man responsible for Gouken's death blind him to the logic of the situation... and more importantly, distract him from the moment of the fight. Still... "Yet I had many worthwhile fights coming here. So it wasn't for nothing. And Miss Asamiya will be relieved."

It just goes to show: no evil is as great as the ones we create for ourselves.

Of course, this leaves the newly-appeared Hyena standing in a mostly-enclosed space with one of the world's most capable fighters, one who never turns down a challenge, and one who now has nothing holding him back from engaging the combat itself full-on rather than the hedged blows his uncertainty caused him to throw. Perhaps this is a situation Hyena might have thought through before trying out his little farce.

Certainly, the tournament 'host' may have a moment to regret his actions when Ryu says "Shall we finish the bout, then?" and comes flying at the gaudily-clad fighter in an aerial spiral, one leg extended, shouting "Tatsumaki Senpuu Kyaku!"

COMBATSYS: Hyena blocks Ryu's Tatsumaki Senpuu Kyaku.

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Hyena            0/-------/=======|=------\-------\0              Ryu

When did it start? Was it because everyone felt so safe and secure in a post-war world? Was everyone simply willing to believe the unbelievable? Whatever the cause, Hyena saw an opportunity and he took it. One might argue masterfully so. Of course, with this sham of a final match, the rest of the tournament comes into focus. The strange rules, the harsh judgements. As it stands, the company behind this whole thing has already gotten out of having to legally pay third place.

Is this something that the host should regret? The look on his face, the smug smirk of one who thinks he's doesn't portray anything like that. Contained in their little pods, the audience can truly to little but raise a fuss and yell, but who can hear them? It's impossible.

Hyena's posture is loose with most of his weight on one leg. His focus on the fight shows with how he brushes his fingernails against his coat, peering at them even as Ryu comes in again. It's the look of a man with utter confidence in himself, coasting on the wave of his latest achievement. The oncoming whirlwind looms ever closer, closer...until the last second, when he thrusts both hands forward! The impact is jarring and the cold metal makes him slide back a good few feet. Despite the shaking of his limbs, he hides the pain well. "HAHA! This idiot thinks he can upstage the star? What a maroon!"

Now it's Hyena's turn. He steps forward and turns around, presenting his back to the challenging combatant. His right leg lifts up as he spins about, bringing it down once, twice, three times, each with a little hop and a smattering of "Hah!" "Ho!" "HEYOO!" to accompany each hit.

COMBATSYS: Ryu interrupts Hyena Sovate from Hyena with Shoryuken.

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Hyena            0/-------/-======|===----\-------\0              Ryu

Upstage, huh?

It's true that Hyena probably is the big winner, here. Ryu had every intention of letting the tournament winnings get donated, or forgotten about... in general, this is his modus operandi: $248 space bucks for lunch, gas, and tolls. He had the whole world fooled, that much is certain, up to and including some of the world's most capable battlers. Perhaps thankfully for Ryu himself, he generally doesn't give a damn one way or the other to worldly concerns, having long ago forsaken them for the simplicity of his nomadic existence. I mean, there's no real way that the stonefaced, yet generally pleasant, wandering fighter could be holding a grudge, right?

Hold on to that thought as Hyena flips through the air toward him, and Ryu suddenly surges upward in a spiralling uppercut invoking the rising of a dragon in flight, appropriately titled "Shoryuuuuken!"

I think we're all winners here today, really.

Oh, that...that isn't good. As Ryu's fist expertly brushes aside his utterly AMAZING assault, the man's eyes widen. His mouth purses, spreads, and a terrifying screech comes from the very core of his being. His great big exquisite nose is smashed beneath knuckles, then puffs out with a vengeance as the rest of him is sent skyward. His green and yellow suit is like a gorgeous rainbow, except completely not, as he smashes down shoulder-first onto the silo door below. For a few seconds, his feet refuse to find traction, legs flailing.

When he DOES get up, his nose takes up a much greater portion of his face than it did before! It's leaking blood, but he pays it no mind. Instead, he lifts his hand up to sweep across his hair once more, making sure that the duck-tail springs up as it should...and it does. It always does.

"Too weak, too weak!" His voice is just god-awful now, with his nose swollen like that. "There's no way you could possibly overcome..." He reaches into his jacket to pull out...
A deck of cards.

With a smooth motion, he draws them all from its box, flipping the stack from one hand to the next. With the stack in his left hand, he draws the top card and launches it at Ryu! Ah, but how much damage could a card do? Sharp eyes would notice the way that the edges gleam dangerously. Would it be at all wise to take this man's hand at face value?

COMBATSYS: Ryu instinctively blocks Hyena's Hyena's Deal.

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Hyena            0/-------/=======|===----\-------\0              Ryu

Try to picture this. There's anywhere from 52 to 56 potential cards coming Ryu's way, presuming that this is your standard deck of cards never minding the razor-sharp edges. And despite his... we're not sure if he actually knows how to fight or not fighting skills... Hyena is throwing these with surprising speed and accuracy. But Ryu is a FIGHTER and VERY SERIOUS and he views everything that happens to him in combat as a VERY SERIOUS CHALLENGE and that is why when the cards keep coming his way he is actually reaching out into the air, Mr. Miyagi-style, and CATCHING THEM, one at a time, stacking them neatly on top of each other. Of course, they have sharp edges so this hurts a little bit and then, at the very end, there are two cards kinda stuck together that split at the last second. One gets caught; the other lands face-up *on Ryu's face*, covering his features.

It's the Joker, the art on which is Hyena's face, but Marilyn Monroe's body holding down her skirt, over an air vent.

All is quiet for a moment, before Ryu reaches up, gently removes the card, adds it to the deck, and then sets the entire affair down on the ground behind him with surprising respect. Those things were probably expensive. He might want them back.

Then the Wanderer turns and stares down Hyena impassively for a moment that goes on just a LITTLE too long of Ryu not doing anything. Even the people in the crowd, rowdy as they are over being cheated out of Celebrity Deathmatch, are silent for a moment.

Of course, this ends with Ryu going from 0 to "Hadouken!" in less than 2 seconds, and a screaming ball of blue-white chi flying across the arena at poor Hyena.

COMBATSYS: Hyena blocks Ryu's Hadouken.

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Hyena            0/-------/=======|====---\-------\0              Ryu

...Huh. Hyena really has no reaction available to him but stunned silence, his eyes wide as Ryu completely goes all batshit on those cards. The jab against his pride--or even his image--is minimal. The man just CAUGHT a whole deck of razor-tipped cards!

Perhaps Hyena needs to rethink his strategy.

In an instant, the guy is on the ground, knees on the metal and his arms forward. "I get it! You're amazingly, incredibly, stupendously strong!" He edges forward a bit, crawling on his knees despite the fact that his upper body and arms don't shift their position an inch. "Maybe, just maybe using Akuma's image like that was wrong, but think of all the good times everyone had!" He's getting much closer now, and when he's just outside of leg's reach, he steps. He looks up with that big swollen nose and wobbling, pouty lip, showing his regret for a few seconds before slamming his forehead to the ground. "I beg of you, have some pity on this fool!"

Not three seconds later, when he assumes Ryu's guard to be down, he springs up with surprising speed! His arms extend outward and he spins like a helicopter--no, like a majestic swan, prancing as though the world is his stage!

COMBATSYS: Ryu interrupts Hyena Gyro from Hyena with Shin Shoryuken+.
+ Epic Hit! +

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Hyena            1/-------/=======|-------\-------\0              Ryu

Well, this... kinda works. Ryu does look at Hyena with a... well, we've established that it's not exactly shame, but it is something shame-adjacent. It's not as if he's having a good time beating up this poor nutjob. But a fight is a fight, and in fact catching a deck of razor-tipped playing cards was exceptionally good hand-eye coordination practice. I mean, you have to make the most of... oh, he's grovelling. That's not good. There's a moment as Ryu squints one eye a bit, and then clears his throat as Hyena grovels. "It's not about pity. I would hope we woul--"

And then Hyena-nee-Odette is pirouetting through the air, arms akimbo. One such arm slams into an unprepared Ryu's head with a dull *WHAP!* sound that reverberates quite impressively in the space, but now has the somewhat unfortunate problem that said impact doesn't appear to have actually DONE anything, other than prevent Hyena from spinning any further and leaving him uncomfortably close to Ryu, who -- after a beat -- says, around a not-quite-mouthful of Hyena's fist: "...ah. I see."

The gut punch that starts it is probably the worst. "Shin!" But then there's the blow to the bottom of the already-tortured jaw. "Shoryu!" And then of course Ryu finishes things off in the traditional way, sending both himself and Hyena skywards. "Kennnnnnn!"

Some people may be moving skywards at a slightly different rate of acceleration than others in this scenario. I am just saying.

There is just no such things as a slow ascent when faced with such an awe-inspiring move. The impact of Ryu's fist against Hyena's jaw is something that everyone can feel. The force of impact ripples through the enviro-pods, the people inside topple backward with the blow. They don't feel anything, of course, but the strike is so flawless, so impressive that their knees grow weak. For the first time in her life, true tears pool at the edges of Princess Anastasia's eyes. A wayward marriage over in pod three mends itself as old spouses forgive old transgressions. Somewhere, in the great reaches of Siberia, a bear and a wrestler cease their age-old battle and embrace in newfound friendship.

Oh, but for Hyena, it sucks. Boy, does it suck. His whole world fades to white as he's punched with such force that he rockets up and over the constructions adorning ads and commentators. A Nike flag catches on his flailing body, furling around him and acting as a pivot while his path takes on a curved slant. Up, over, and sent careening back to the ground, Hyena lands with enough force to dent the silo door in his own image. Each nook, cranny, and feature find themselves permanently imprinted on the metal just before the man that sent him on that trip. The green-suited fiend isn't breathing. He isn't moving at all. Is he dead? Is this ridiculous match finally over?

COMBATSYS: Hyena can no longer fight.

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Ryu              0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Ryu endures Hyena's This Century's Most Fearsome Acting!.

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Ryu              0/-------/-----==|

BUT NO! As before, the man springs back to life! He rises fist-first in an obvious mockery of Ryu's style. The difference, though, is that Ryu can land a punch like that. Hyena? No matter where he hits, there's a horrible CRACK as his wrist breaks. It brings an immediate yelp, followed by more as his skeleton finds that hitting a metal door at a million miles an hour isn't good for you! He backs away in a painful, slow retreat toward the center of the stage.

"Look, look! We can talk about this! We're all friends here, right? Surely you wouldn't finish off someone as weak and harmless as me, right...?

"Thank you for the OOMPH-"

This is the sound that Ryu makes when he wants to be a good sportsman and express his thanks to Hyena, and Hyena turns into a Left 4 Dead zombie and heaves himself at Ryu like some sort of living bear trap, sending a flying fist directly into the underside of Ryu's jaw in a terrible parody of what just occurred. Perhaps interestingly enough, powered by desperation and probably no small amount of sheer stupid luck, the blow lands very cleanly, snapping the World Warrior's head back like a Willow Smith video. He actually takes a surprisingly long time to bring his head back up to 'normal', rubbing his jaw and glancing down at Hyena carefully.

"Fighting you has been extremely educational," the Wanderer eventually says. "In fact, it might be worth having endured the deception to experience it."

And then he... waits. It LOOKS like he's just standing there. In fact, Ryu is whip-tense under the veneer of perfect calm, because at this point there is 0% probability that he can predict what's going to happen next. Hyena could announce him winner of the tournament, OR Hyena could flip his entire torso back like a Pez dispenser and fire a cruise missile out of his abdomen. At this point, those events seem equally likely.

Good. This is good. Ryu isn't coming any closer and Hyena can just back up center. There. He comes to a stop right below where the commentator box lies overhead. He's really in a lot of pain, his nose looks like it wants to explode, and there are bits of blood seeping through his suit from busted ribs. But hey! He's WAY out of Ryu's reach, surely...and that's why he can stand up and smile.

Scratch that. The moment that he tries to stand up, he immediately doubles over in coughing, teary-eyed agony.

"So what if you're strong? This day belongs to Hyena!" He reaches into a pocket and pulls out a little metallic box, complete with giant red button. He brings a hand up, grimacing through the pain as he slams a fist down on it. The button doesn't budge, but he has a terrible pained look on his face, his eyes watering. What's more, his prized hair swoop falls forward...

And snaps off.

The dropping locks finally cause Hyena to tear up and sniffle. He buries his eyes in his sleeve, wiping off tears and blood and snot. After that, he meekly flips the button's crystal-clear protecting casing up and, gently, pushes it down with a single fingertip.

The stage immediately rumbles as the silo doors start to open. The green-suited wonder himself stands with one foot on each, apprently not noticing as they spread apart. "The money has already been transferred to a secret account!" he gloats, throwing the box behind him. "There's no way you'll ever get--!"

It's about that time that he falls into the shaft, disappearing into the darkness.

A few moments after that, the ground shakes anew with the roar of rockets. Not willing to wait for the silo doors to completely open, the tip of what looks to be a repurposed missile-slash-escape vehicle tears through the metal, its intended passenger stuck with its nose-antenna spearing through a magnificent, neon green jacket. As he makes good his escape, the villainous man can scarcely be heard as he's spirited away...

"It's Hyena's shooooooo----*"

So, to recap:

Nobody is getting any of the astronomical sums promised. The entire tournament was more or less a complete fraud. Ryu didn't get to face the man who attacked his rival and killed his master. To top it all off, the perpetrator just made his escape using what appears to be a repurposed Soviet rocket from the Cold War which, IDEALLY, had the warhead removed.

For a moment, the man in the white gi watches Hyena fly away, fly away now, fly awaaaaaaay. It's a long moment.

And then he turns to go. "I could use a bowl of borscht," he says to nobody in particular, picking up his white duffel on his way out of the arena. "Or cheese blintzes, maybe..."

But a few days following the end of the Devil's "Tournament", lawyers are still winning. Every attempt has been made to charge the organization--whatever it is--with fraud, comspiracy, theft, you name it. It turns out that document after document had been fabricated, even the certificate for corporation that were on file in the Devil's Tournament committee headquarters. People are grasping at straws, trying to take down anyone they can that was involved for even the most petty reasons as they try to trace the funds...

Unfortunately, these funds--or at least a healthy chunk of them--are securely in the steel lockbox handcuffed to Hyena's wrist. Well, it's not his wrist, really...but the cast wrapped around it. In fact, the man's body is ninety-percent covered in castwork, his eyes and an upper leg all that survived the rocket crash intact. Even his hair has a cast on it, his little swoopy bit secured by the plaster casing. This spectacle limps into Duke's current stomping grounds with purpose. "Let me through, you maroon, let me through! I need to see him, NOW!"

Mr. Brown had a very slow-burning fuse.

Here at the front lobby of the Il Paradiso, the opera house of Metro City, that fuse would be tested. Known in criminal circles as One-Eyed Jacque, Jacque Brown was a quiet, methodical man. Simple in execution, diligent in planning. As Duke's acting right hand man, the French-Canadian had a great deal on the line with his position. He had the patience of a saint. Therefore, there is no insignificance when the man erupts from his desk, and exclaims at the sight of the becasted man with the suitcase of money.


One-Eyed Jacque had hoped Hyena had died in a fire. No. Fire was too slow. And yet, professionalism beget RAW UNDYING RAGE. After all, word has already reached Duke. Turning bright red, the assistant is quickly hurried to the secret passage within the opera house. Through the winding stairs. Right into the beautiful interior of the Syndicate Don's lair. Past Marble Statues and Black Columns, Hyena is lead to the study of the Duke. Within the bookshelf-lined walls of the office, the dark-skinned ganglord of Metro City sits behind a great mahogany desk, fingers steepled before him. As Hyena enters, his yellow-eyed gaze is already locked, face downright grim.

"This better be important, -Hyena-"

It would be a lie to say that Duke didn't terrify Hyena. He's seen the level of destruction that the guy can unleash...the likes of which make a missile-rocket crash seem like a vacation of lithe women and lots and lots of oil rubs. It's such a pity that his mind can't even afford to drift off in Duke's presence. The turnabout in his personality is immediate and sure to piss Senor Brown off even more. He enters meekly, head bowed as much as his neck brace will allow, hands pulling together as much as they can.

"Oh, trust me, it's important. Very, very important. So important that you might overlook my most inappropriate barging in on your magnificence." He limps a little closer, sure to take tiny steps. "So you've got yourself a, ah, a new assistant, I see. I like the eyepatch, it's charming. Very charming. Very impatient, though, not like yours truly, oh no no. I'm sure he keeps the books just how you like it, though, with the money all face-side up and Queen Elizabeth with her drawn-in moustaches and--"

Duke just stares

Hyena's words were like as if he was an obnoxious baboon. Like a proper baboon, his shrill shrieking only served to enrage the Don of the Syndicate. Continuing to steeple his fingers, he draws within himself. Pupils narrowing to pinpricks, his frown grows deeper and deeper as Hyena babbles and eeks, wasting his precious time.

But he would not lose his patience with Hyena just yet.

As Mr. Brown finally leaves, throwing nasty glances at Hyena behind him, Duke rumbles with very heavy tones. "A temporary position. He has performed very well. I am considering it a permanent position. Very strongly as of one minute ago, Hyena. Let me save you time, Hyena, as I do not have time for your idiotic blithering. When I sent you away, I made my terms very clear. Impress me, and you can reclaim your position. Fail?"

And Duke just shakes his head.

Unsteepling his hand, he reaches a great palm behind the desk, opening a drawer. He draws out a great black hourglass, turning it over as he places it on the table. The sand begins to run down. "This is a one-minute hourglass. Now, Hyena. I will give you until the sands run out to impress me. Prove to me that you are not, as I have long suspected, a waste of precious air, before I do one of my rare acts of community service, and END your pitiful existence as what I can barely consider a human being." Duke passes a glance to the hourglass.

"You now have thirty seconds, Hyena."

And in just a few seconds, Duke does what most people could never accomplish in their entire lives: he gets Hyena to shut up. He swallows hard and loudly, the lump in his throat having to force its way past the neck brace. His eyes are riveted on that timepiece and once the sand starts flowing, his exposed skin starts perspiring!

"Yes, of course, you're right, you're always right." He very nearly stammers as he speaks despite what he brings. By all rights, he should be living like a king right now, hiding off on some island with more millions than he has fingers and toes. So...why IS he here?

It's because with the Syndicate moving into Metro City, it's only a matter of time before they expand their reach again and find him. What good is his money when he's dead? All of sudden, he's in motion. He can barely move his arms as it is, so it only NOW occurs to him that he has no way to unlock the handcuff on his wrist and open the briefcase! He turns once, twice, three times in his attempts to grab the thing, and as he doesn't have the best motor skills at the moment, well, he just falls right over! All the while, the sands keep flowing.

"Don't--don't worry, I've got it! It's right--it's right here!" He squirms and clunks on the ground, gradually working his way up onto the only knee that he can bend. His eyes constantly shift back to the rapidly-tumbling grains. Over and over, he smashes the case against the ground, against his casts, whatever it takes.

Nine, eight, seven...

He's really a pitiful sight here. "Just as little, could you give me a little--" he stops right there, actually. Knowing Duke, he would rip his hand off just to 'help' him free himself of the case. To hell with that!

Three, two, one...

At the very last second, the latch on the case gives way. The lid flips open and out pouts stacks upon stacks of hundred-dollar bills. There's no way that he'd have that sort of cash on him normally. A few hundred, maybe, but here? This is...there are millions here. Tens of millions, in fact! Puffing and wheezing and trapped on his side, Hyena stares at the bound wads of bills. Cautiously, he looks up to Duke himself, not daring to say a single word in case he was even half a second short.

Time's Up.

Duke hovers a finger over the intercom button. And the money spreads out of the floor. Duke's yellow eyes latch on the millions. All that money, for nothing. The Don seems to be considering this hoard carefully. Millions more than the like of what Damnd has earned. What his racketeering business. Lost revenues were recovered. Hyena has, in his entire action, made far more than all of Duke's other minions. Especially more than Mr. Brown. It seemed that Hyena has finally found his second chance. Looking right at the recovering Hyena, words are carefuly, precise, and deliggent.

"... Is that all?"

Duke shakes his head. "I asked you to impress me, Hyena. And you have let me down. But you are improving." The Don begins, pressing a button on his intercom. A faint, high-pitched whine is heard. "So I will give you another chance to impress me. Of course, whether you take that chance or not will depend how motivated your are." How motivated he was? What did that mean?

And then, a low growl is heard behind Hyena.

Five great beasts entire the room. Standing nearly three feet at the shoulder, the massive Saint Bernards lumber into the study, the five dogs panting heavily. They recognized Duke, of course, and despite their frightening size, were not trained to attack intruders. They were not attack dogs, nor were they guard dogs. Unfortunately for the henchling, they recognized Hyena. As they glare at the injured man, they growl, beginning to approach the man. Duke leans back in his chair. "It's about 100 feet to the stairway. Around another hundred or so to the front entrance. If you are lucky, they might not chase you until you are halfway down the hall." Duke narrows his eyes, as the dogs begin to lick their chops.

"And I assure you, Hyena, I only wish you the best of luck."

This was a mistake. Hyena was a fool to think that he could get back into Duke's good graces so easily! He cringes visibly as it appears that what he brought wasn't nearly enough for the man who could murder him in an instant. Already he's trying to scoot back, edging toward the door.

But it's the growling that stops him. In staggered, fearful lurches, his head forces itself to turn. The pain down his spine doesn't matter in the slightest compared to the fear that stiffens it. He knows those dogs. He'd kicked most of them as puppies, back when they were tiny and he thought nothing of it. But now they were grown, deadly beasts! So say that they have never, ever gotten along is an understatement. Despite his panic, Duke's words still get to him. It takes a couple of seconds for him to realize that he's being given a chance to not die IMMEDIATELY.

It's a chance that the man does not waste.

In a flurry of movement that's sure to land him in the hospital again, he makes for a comical display as he gets up, falls, gets up again, and limps toward the door. It's incredible how fast a man can move when his life is on the line...even if he's in a nearly full-body shell.

As Hyena rushes out, the Saint Bernards tilts their heads. Turning towards Duke, the Don holds up a finger. The great dogs perk up their ears. Duke raises the finger higher. The large dogs make a short lunge, jumping the gun a bit, waiting for the reaction. The Man That Hell Spat Out listens carefully for the panicked scrambling of the steps.

And then he drops the finger.

The dogs begin their great deep barking as they bolt after Hyena, their clawed paws scratching the floor. Thundering towards the poor gangster, Duke finally rises up. Walking away from the desk. Of course, if it was anyone other than Hyena, this would have been more than enough. But Hyena needed the right sort of motivation. The Don looms over the scattered millions, inspecting the payout approvingly. This was the spoils of the heist.

The greatest heist pulled on the fighting world at large.

Log created on 15:08:12 05/28/2012 by Hyena, and last modified on 20:51:26 05/28/2012.