Date: May 24, 2015
The recently promoted chuunin of Kirigakure faces off against a jounin of Sunagakure. Wills and strategm are pitted against one another in a battle that ultimate comes down to a war of attrition between demons of the West & East.
"Steel Soul Tourney - Collision, Demons of the West & East: Kiyoshi vs. Keiji"
Dammed Arena - Floor [Kirigakure]
At the foot of the great march of bones that dams this tall canyon of blue-gray granite, under the shadows of the stands: the Kirigakure arena. Rivulets of water still escape the base of the dam and dampen the gravely bed of the dry river. The length of the canyon is limited by a raised platform at the south end featuring the referee's post and a large display board announcing the details of the match.
Today was a bit of a rarity. It simply was not often that a head of any clan would be the proctor of a battle, but it seemed that Enbu was more than willing to be such. In fact… his set of three o-daiko style taiko drums, each twice as wide as a normal man, that he was surrounded by indicated that this was something he probably took a bit too seriously. He would perform, tastefully shortly in a traditional white head band tied at his forehead, no shirt and just in pants… which was actually normal for him. He would play all three with the two Bachi sticks smoothly and swiftly in honor of the battle that was to be had here. These were drums of war used to organize the movements of armies and to change formations and it seemed that he was having his own "Battle" in the arena to honor the contestants while the stands filled with people who were to watch the event. This would continue as the contestants themselves prepared and arrived at their starting locations, waiting to be introduced.
This was the first time Keiji would appear in a tournament since the first chuunin exams. There he was the home town hero. Here, he was just another combatant fighting in a blood sport. The reality of this has long been apparent to him. Yet for some reason he could not help but desire to be here. He wondered how many other fighters with an Assassin background for their primary abilities and a medic background for their secondary had entered these exams as he sat in the prep room.
As Keiji's name is announced, he stands and moves out into the arena. He looked at the guy playing the drums. He was taking this way too seriously. It was nice that the fighters didn't have the usual silence before the storm of battle, but the drums of war? It's not like Keiji was planning on kicking his opponent in the guy than tearing his head off of its connected neck. He sure hoped his opponent was of similar mind. "That would be awkward…" Keiji stated under his breath at the thought of being beheaded in the next few minutes. He then glances at the fans briefly before looking to see who he'd be fighting.
He knew not with certainty if the drums were the signal, or the attempts of a rather eccentric proctor to try and stoke the excitement of the crowd. The Kirryu didn't care either way. He simply rose from his seat, dusted himself off, and then took his leave, snatching up his Kanobi (Oni Club). Although he bore other shinobi tools, it is all he intended to really use for the match. Anything else would only slow him down, which is something he could ill afford while Kiji awaited him back at the hospital.
Rather or not they cheered him on or boo'd the "demon of sloth", Kiyoshi moved unerringly to his expected position to stand at the ready, club hanging dangerous end just past his shoulder. After just one glance Kiyoshi knew he couldn't intimidate this one. So, he offered nothing more about his persona than what Keiji might've discovered on his own. The reflective visor of his rebreather helped to ensure this, but the Kirryu wasn't so doubtful that Keiji's Assassin screaming wardrobe being a simple bluff.
With that line of thought in mind, Kiyoshi began gradually building up his own chakra reserves.
Enbu would take the time to bring this to a close and move the drums away with ease before he'd stand at the center of the arena, likely with a lot of awkward staring and perhaps a few uncomfortable claps if he was lucky. He massive man however didn't seem to mind. He was simply a man of war and tradition even if they fade away and die over time. Raising his left fist in to the air, the tightly coiled hand would seem to almost be attempting to crush the desire to speak or make noise beyond this point from the stands given how much vein and muscle roiled while maintaining the fist. He would then command with absolute, unwavering authority in his tone, "Audience! Prepare to honor and venerate the first contestant of this battle within this Steel Soul Tournament! Shippodoku Keiji, Jounin of the Land of Wind's Sunakagure. May his opponent be dragged away in to the eternal sands of his land of allegiance!"
Enbu would then wait for Keiji to arrive in the ring, looking to him and nodding slowly in acknowledgement of his bravery and boldness. His other fist would raise, joining the first above his head as he'd once again command, "Audience! Prepare to honor and venerate the second contestant of this battle within this Steel Soul Tournament! Moto Kiyoshi, The Demon of Sloth who calls the Bloody Mist of the Land of Water their home. May his opponent become one with the Bloody Mists!" With his Enbu had announced Kiyoshi's entrance as well as he had come out to meet Keiji in the arena. Speaking lower, to the both of them alone, Enbu would say, "Death is not actually necessary." apparently making sure they realized that this was not intended to be a battle to the death… but not really suggesting it shouldn't be either. "Ready…." he would say before swooping both arms down and colliding his colossal fists together in someting akin to a thunder clap as he roared, "…FIGHT!" and was apparently long gone by the time the dust would settle.
The verdict was officially in. The man beating the drums was off his rocker. Keiji listened to the concept of not a fight to the death. The drums and the words had all been for the crowd. Of course none of it is helped when Keiji finds out his opponent is a lot taller than him. On his way back to his side he shakes his head at his luck. It was always an uphill battle. Not that he wanted to beat up on someone shorter than him. He simply wanted someone about his size maybe.
As the words fight are spoke, Keiji starts out on the draw. He vanishes into the ground. He was hoping that the giant would have a hard time detecting his moves. From beneath the earth it would give him a slight advantage. Then again if he was found out… Only time would tell.
Kiyoshi didn't dare take his eyes off Keiji, not even for a second. So when Enbu made his clarifications, the lesser giant only nodded lightly in agreement. Leather crinkles as his grip tightens, but before the weapon can be immediately brought down at the word go, Keiji vanishes into the earth. "Another one.. Seriously?" He growls and brought the weapon at his side, leaving hanging suspended just above the ground.
A few quiet moments of silent searching passes before he caught even a hint of Keiji's presence; the smallest of tremors in the earth both felt and vaguely seen. He does not react to it immediatly, but instead continues to feign searching until the time came to leap high into the air. One pair of Kunai are launched towards the far wall. A distractions for the great weapon the man threw with every once of strength his muscles could muster. Hit or miss, the impact would break the Shippodoku's cover long enough to send another pair of kunai at him.
As Keiji was about to make his move, the earth split above him. Though the blow was not quick enough to hit him, the kunai was on target. Luckily Keiji was able to twist his torso enough to evade it. This was a minor set back for Keiji, but not enough to change the tactic at hand. Keiji lunges upwards to hit a nerve in the big man's foot. He then unleashes a pincer slash. This was no ordinary slash. Infact, if it landed the man would find himself facing a form of poison.
'So not vibrations? Then-…'
Kiyoshi gets no further than that before having to will Keiji is upon him. Flesh becomes bone strong enough to repel Keiji's pincers, though the force of the blow still knocked the airborne Kirryu off-balance. He lands roughly, and as a result cannot bring his club about in time to do more than turn Keiji's next blow into a glancing one. Even as his veins begin to burn the Kirryu pressed on with a knuckle punch to the Shippodoku's throat, followed by a two-handed sweep of the mess to catch the hopefully stunned Jounin by the side.
Keiji twists his torso once more to evade the throat punch. Even more scary was the side ways blow that the large man attempted to make. Still in the scuttle position, Keiji bended his knees and twisted his torso over to evade the blow. As he come up, something began to change in him. Not that the uniform showed the muscle enhancement, but a tail sprouted from the assassin. No one would have long to look as Keiji struck outwards once more with his pincers hoping to feed the poison already in the large man.
The change doesn't shake Kiyoshi in the least bit. Neither did the pincer attacks that were soon to follow it. If anything, Kiyoshi seemed embolden by his opponents tactics to the point he rushed straight into the barrage. Fool hardy? No. His hide proved to tough for anything to pierce him in the heat of the moment. At most the man had been slowed, though Keiji would still have to contend with a disturbingly blackened finger tips trying to literally spear his arm off. Hit or miss, the wave of attacks do not end there, for the weapon is brought to bear again. Softer but more controlled one-handed sweeps are made at Keiji's legs, followed by a leaping overhead two-handed sword-like strike. At the last moment, he drew his weapon closer to his body to lacerate with the only true sharpened spike atop it.
The change doesn't shake Kiyoshi in the least bit. Neither did the pincer attacks that were soon to follow it. If anything, Kiyoshi seemed embolden by his opponents tactics to the point he rushed straight into the barrage. Fool hardy? No. His hide proved to tough for anything to pierce him in the heat of the moment. At most the man had been slowed, though Keiji would still have to contend with a disturbingly blackened finger tips trying to literally spear his arm off. Hit or miss, the wave of attacks are not to end there.
Chakra condensed enough to be visible bubbled up to the surface, enshrouding the Kirryu in a familiar twin-tailed cloak. Unlike before — as his next barrage of attacks show — primal instinct did not guide his hands. Yet. Softer but more controlled one-handed sweeps are made at Keiji's legs, followed by a leaping overhead two-handed sword-like strike. At the last moment, he drew his weapon closer to his body to lacerate with the only true sharpened spike atop it.
The counter comes a slight surprise, but the Arachnid portion of Keiji worked on impulse to evade it. Now fully on the defensive, Keiji planted his feet. It was a mistake that cost him a glancing blow against the leg. He however was able to avoid the next two blows. As the attacks finished, Keiji moved back and closed his eyes. His body would shift and contort until the people before them saw a massive black scorpion with a large sac on his tail. Yes, his tail was filled with venom. As the scorpion moved forward, the tail struck outwards towards the now smaller man. If struck, the paralytic poison would rush through his body causing him to lock up.
Kiyoshi did not know honestly what to make of the transformation. In place of man now stood a demon perhaps more dangerous than his own. The moment that thought goes through his mind, something within snorts and begins to shift about loudly enough to give Kiyoshi pause. It is a pause too long, as he soon found out, because faster than he can focus his will into another shift, the tail strikes hard and true. A strange sense of numbness and pain quickly spreads throughout his being. The stubborn chuunin gritted his teeth, fighting against the consuming paralysis until even his fingers began to ignore his commands.
The giant scorpion not only sees the tail strike land, but feels the venom be released into the opponent. Wasting little time, a new gland is activated and the opponent is struck once more by the tail. This gland focused much more of the poison into the nervous system. It was a more powerful version that attacked the nervous system to cause extreme pain while causing damage to the body. Having used it enough, Keiji did not think less of opponents that screamed outwards from the pain. After all, in the tests, it became a probability that they would.
Though the poison made it impossible to turn away from what soon followed, Kiyoshi would not have done so in any case. He still disliked fighting, and taking lives even more so. Nevertheless, his time in Kirigakure had changed him, strengthening a spirit stubborn enough to contest that of beings older and greater than his own.
«Brace yourself, Geki… and Endure»
The Kirryu's struggle ended, but not without forcing his fingers to curl up into his palms. As his nerves began to be destroyed by the new toxin spreading through his system, not a peep left Kiyoshi's mouth. There was no true comparison to the pain of burned from the inside out. None that anyone can describe except for perhaps another jinchuuriki, because only they are known to endure worse in the beginning.
Flesh peeled away from the skin in varying sizes in time, revealing a cloak of chakra just beneath the surface. His pain was two-fold, but bearable in a fashion. Kokuo saw to that when he began repairing the damage the poison wrought just as quickly as it was being done. As soon as they transformation was completed, Kiyoshi fell down on all fours and dropped the weapon that was in hand. After a moment of pained pants, the beasts let out a roar powerful enough to blast away any loose dust and chunks of dirt within a few meters of the man.
The man handled it fairly well. That is until he turned into a tailed beast. That made things a little bit different. The Scorpion had gone around a few times with a tailed beast. However that beast was a bit different. Smaller. Less powerful. It made Keiji rethink his plan. For now he wanted to rely on the poison. His tail continued to attack, though these were minor poisons by comparison to the one. He was more or less testing the waters in his current form. He wanted to know how strong a man was versus the beast hidden inside.
«Tenacious…. I cannot purge it yet»
'Doesn't… matter.. Have to… We have to stay focused' Kiyoshi lowered his stance at the thought, growling every beat as ferally as he seemed to have become. He was as Keiji saw, still small by comparison even after chakra bones caught up with the rest of his transformation. It would be Keiji's undoing however if he began underestimating him because of it.
The feet upon his talons are dug in as Keiji began chipping away at his body, trying and fortunately failing to break past more than the chakra cloak. The force of each blow does however threaten to threaten to drive him. Before he moved to retaliate, the miniature Kaiju glanced at Enbu and narrowed his eyes. "Do not… interfer.. Yet." Not the smartest move telling a Clan Head to stay back, but it was better than having the man leap in at any moment. With that threat out of the way, Kiyoshi snatched up his club with his tail while burying his one hand into the ground. Keiji would feel the branching arms come from well before they popped out of the surface and tried to restrain him.
Keiji saw the regenerative powers of the demon. The wounds he had inflicted seemed to be like they never happened. He returned to a healthy point. This seemed to be the only redeeming quality of the beast. As the hand lunged from the earth, the Scorpion dashed away from it with ease. The beast was not showing signs of being quick enough. Keiji had no desire to waste this opportunity. He wanted to end the match before the beast could show him something he had yet to see.
The Arachnid armor fell off of Keiji like pieces of a giant fortress crashing down to the earth. The spectators would not see Keiji. No, there was something that was his height. There was something of similar build. However what remained was still covered in chitinous armor. The armored creature vanished before their eyes. His fist would strike outwards next to Kiyoshi's head. To the common eye, the creature was off target. To the Gobi, he would soon be breathing in a new type of toxin. This one would cause burning in not only his nerves, but more specifically his lungs. Breathing itself would become a task.
As soon as the arms missed their targets, Kiyoshi reigned them back in. The decision to do so however is not without a price. It took too long to bring them in… not that it mattered, in any case. Keiji proved to difficult to track once the extra armor that was his shell fell away, diminishing sight, and his own thoughts too slow to compensate. Only a portion of his organs and nerves are spared the initial destruction of the poison. The rest begin to rapidly and truly liquify within to the point the Jinchuuriki began to cough up bits of flesh and plenty of blood that quickly pooled beneath him. Try as he might, he cannot get over the fits or ignore the every increasing weight of pain now coursing through his system. He strained himself just to stay on all fours, but only managed to keep three of his legs up while the forth — an arm — grew to weak to do more than roughly keep him braced against the ground.
At this point, to let up would be to lose sight of the goal. To allow his opponent to get back into the match would only be like giving him a gift. There would be no such thing from Keiji. The tail of the armored beast lunges forward to implant that deadly venom he had used earlier in the match, in his opponent. This was not going to end the match immediately. This much Keiji had anticipated. The beast would heal himself and draw on his massive chakra reserves that so many legends spoke of. From there he would likely continue on. However with each move the beast made it hit upon that reserve. It was an uphill battle, but Keiji only hoped that reserve was not endless.
No. The reserves were not truly endless. By being caged within a human shell, certain limits had been imposed. Even if the beast were to manifest itself in all its glory, the bonds between them would continue to restrain him. Kokuo, at least, was very much keenly aware of this fact after the number of times it brushed against its prison. And if the beast did not focus his attention purely on purging the poison soon, then….
"Don't… you… dare…"
Against his better judgement, Kiyoshi's will latched on firmly to the Bijuu's Chakra, preventing the cloak from retreating as it had begun to. Moments later, that flimsy control on the energy is shattered by another sting from the Keiji's tail, finally drawing out an outcry of pain from the unprepared chuunin. While it remained inside him for the first few moments, he could do little more than lay there struggling just to take in any air in futility.
Flesh, bones, cartilage, nerves — Against his better judgement, Kokuo began to mend them all again instead of removing the cloak and leaving the proctor to decide the match.
Keiji saw the beast stop moving. His only instinct was to continue the attack until the proctor decided to step in. There was to be no mercy until the victory was announced. The armored form charged towards the beast. His pincered fingers were still sporting that same venom they had before. Perhaps it was over doing it. Perhaps it was just cementing the victory. To those watching the blood sport, it could be taken either way. There would be two more strikes towards the body.
As Kiyoshi's vision began to blur, Keiji made his next attack.
«Why do you continue to fight, Geki?»
«Is it for glory? Pride?»
«You can hardly breathe… hardly stand…»
'Don't.. know… Too easy.. didn't… I didn't wanna see her without…. I don't know…'
Kiyoshi could feel the beast shaking his head about as clear as he could feel its disapproval over the answer. Kiyoshi had no powerful answer, or a reason to keep fighting. There was little on the stake except pride at the moment, and even that was debatable. He just… had to keep fighting. So, as soon as he felt life begin to return to his limbs, the Kirryu did not stop to think of running or inquiring why. He acted. The death grip his tails had on his club finally lessens after it is sweep about. In one smooth motion Kiyoshi snatched up the weapon and brought it down hard on Keiji's poisonous limb, deflecting the blow. The second one, his still shifting body weathered without so much as a scratch to prove its impact. Soon, Kiyoshi began to move again in almost mechanical fashion on six legs, then four, clothing tearing all the while to accommodate the new form. In place of the Jinchuuriki enshrouded now in a thin viel of chakra is neither man or beast, but a true hybrid of both.
The match was nearing its end. Keiji needed to make the last few moves correctly in order to ensure the victory. He makes a tail swipe for Kiyoshi, looking to immobilize him. Even if he did not, it was obvious the beast was having some issues. They were likely similar to his own fatigue. This was starting to become a lot closer than he had previously imagined it would be. For some reason this guy was fighting for his life. Keiji only pondered how the last few moments would play out. Would this be the chess move that won it, or was this thing powerful enough to still pull it out.
All but completely vacant mud brown eyes peered out from behind a forest of greens and whites; his hair, lengthened and altered to match his form. What they do not absorb, the rest of his senses make up for it. Pain no longer dulled the mind, but focus — true focus — eluded the centaur at every turn. Soon enough, reality makes it clear that all concern should be upon it when Keiji decided to try and sting him again. Instead of piercing flesh, the tail poked right through the Kirryu after puncturing through a curtain of fur. Kiyoshi gives the reforming and still mending flesh a dull look before regarding Keiji absently.
The battle brought out the strength of both of the contestants, allowing them to push some, if not all, of their boundaries. However, when that form of combat occurs, death is a fine line that is ridden quite easily. This is part of why there were proctors to begin with, not only to be fair judge, but also to ensure that aside from simply being entirely overwhelmed, that survival was a possibility in battles of this caliber. Enbu's form would flash in to the middle of the battle, between the two contestants as a hand was placed upon Kiyoshi's chest as he was a bit taller than Enbu is, allowing his body to lax if he was unable to stand properly any more, His form would be facing Keiji however, nodding respectfully as he would announce, "This battle is over! Shippodoku Keiji wins by technical knock out!" And hopefully that would be enough for both of them to cease the combat as Enbu was already gesturing and ordering in medical personnel to purge Kiyoshi of the poisons before it ravaged his body beyond repair.
As the proctor interrupted the match and announced his victory, Keiji nodded his head. "I will give him medical attention." The voice comes out gruff due to the transformation. Keiji raises his hand and places it on the body of the man, just over the proctor's shoulder. The hand glows blue and begins to mend some of the damage that has already been done. There was more damage to come and it would indeed be painful. The two nations were allied. Death here would look bad. However forcing an opponent to endure hell was slightly less frowned upon.
Kiyoshi retained just enough sense him to understand what the declaration meant in itself, but not why the blue man bespoke of things ending. There remained enough strength in his bones to keep on going, even though it meant enduring a never ending hell to do so. The thought provokes the Kirryu into action. However, before even his second hoof falls, Kiyoshi is slumping forward against Enbu's hand, passed out on the spot. Even unconscious the transformation remains in place. But soon enough, smoke begins to rise off a ever shrink body, though at a painful slow rate. Left behind after all is said and done is a half-naked man in the end. One hopefully somehow had the sense to see cover up as it becomes clear just which part would be left bare!