Strong Style
Roleplaying Log: Strong Style
IC Details

Trish Walker checks out the representatives of Japan as they prepare for the upcoming show. She learns what strong style is, and Katsumi blacks out.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: September 19, 2019
IC Location: Golden Ropes Gym, New York City
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 24 Sep 2019 04:17
Rating & Warnings: PG13
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

* * *

The sun is starting to set over the horizon. Showtime is eminent. There isn't much time between 'curtain', and even less time to prepare. To polish. Any rough edges in form and function need to be ironed out, and each representative federation must put their very best foot forward. There is no bigger audience, no greater chance to show the world what they can do. As far as professional wrestling goes, this is the Olympics.

For the wrestlers, everything is on the line. They had to be the best at something to get here. Flash? Crowd appeal? Technical know-how? Star quality? Whatever it was, everyone had to remain at their peak. For them, there would be no better chance to grow their audience. And at that point, who knows where their career could take them? No one involved in the proceedings is complacent with their position. Everyone is pushing. Vying. Fighting.

The Golden Ropes gym, deep in the heart of New York City, has top-notch training equipment for athletes of every stripe. From runners to bodybuilders, from boxers to tai chi enthusiasts, from gymnastics to aerobics, the multi-tiered facility boasts the latest and greatest in amenities that are both technologically impressive and scientifically refined to maximize potential. This is where the federations represented in the upcoming inter-continental grand professional wrestling event have been booked to train.

And now, in one of the rooms housing four individual rings, Team Japan is at it. Ladies are paired off, men are paired off, and they're each doing their own thing as a duo. Workout clothing is the fare, and Katsumi Oshiro, the Punk Princess, is no different. White yoga shorts, a hot pink racerback sportsbra, and white cross-trainers with pink accents make up the attire, with her silky black hair bound back in a bouncy, sporty ponytail. At present, she's trading quick, standing joint-lock holds with a taller brunette.

* * *

It's a big event! Big enough that it's caught the attention of former child star and current radio talk show host Trish Walker. It's an exciting event. But what interests her the most is the women, especially from Japan. Although she'll do her due diligence by learning about the other contestants, including the Americans, she definitely has her eyes set on Japan.

She was able to find out where they'd been set up to practice. She had contacts who had contacts who were able to provide that sort of information. What she needed next, however, was an actual way to get in to the gym. It took a little doing. There was some sweet talking on her part, along with laying on heavy her press credentials, and greasing some palms, so to speak, but she got in.

Wearing a flowy white blouse, a leather jacket, black jeans, and black ankle boots, she makes her way into the gym. She slightly adjusts her purse over her shoulder as she pulls out a small notepad and a pen while she walks about, looking at the practice taking place. Slowly, her steps take her over to where Katsumi and her partner practice.

* * *

For a time, no one seems to notice the odd presence of the other woman. Everyone is focused, from trainers to wrestlers, even the general manager is affixed to overseeing things. The latter pauses periodically to go over spots and coordination with pairings, leaving him as perhaps the most distracted of all.

When Trish comes to a stop near the ring with Katsumi and the other girl, nothing happens! It may appear that she's in the clear! But eventually, the two of them catch sight of the interloper. The momentary lapse in attention sees the brunette reverse a standing armbar into a hammerlock on Katsumi, tucking her left arm tight against her back and earning a girlish squeak. There's a momentary struggle before Katsumi reaches over her shoulder to catch the brunette behind the head, then drop to a knee to yank her down into a forced roll before her; a snapmare, for the initiated.

"Who.. who're you?," asks a breathless Katsumi, her extremely, atypically pale eyes affixed to Trish.

the other girl pushes herself to sit up with a muttered grumble in Japanese

* * *


* * *

"Oh, that was good." Trish points her pen in the direction of Katsumi and her sparing partner. "Used the distraction against her. Smart." She quirks an eyebrow and looks down. "Oh…right. Sorry. Took that off. She digs through her purse and pulls out her badge that shows her credentials and approaches the ring as close as she can. She holds up said credentials and repeats what's on them. "Trish Walker, of Trish Talk, at WNEX Radio Station." It's who she is, after all.

Dropping the badge that is her credentials back in her bag, she smiles. "I heard about all of you and wanted to come see you and, possibly, even meet you. I'm hoping to talk about you and the competition on my show." She explains, holding pen to paper once more.

* * *

And just like that, the metal and spring of the ring creates a thunderous roll of sound as all the females of the team rush over to the ropes to lean over and gawk at Trish. More murmuring rises, most in Japanese. And though one might expect Katsumi to play it aloof here, she really isn't. The punkette has latched onto the top rope and leaned forward to beam down at Trish.

"S***, really?," Katsumi squeaks. Unlike the other girls, she's clearly fluent and relaxed in English. Her voice is only faintly colored with a Japanese accent. But she's all toothy smiles, all the same. "That's cool!"

At this point, a few other heads are starting to turn.

* * *

While obviously not expecting the rush of women, Trish is obviously pleased that it's got their attention. Not only that, but they seem to be excited. "Really really!" She grins. "Not only am I excited about the event itself, I'm excited to see you women in the ring." She makes a sweeping motion with the hand holding the pen, using the pen to point in the direction of all the women in her vicinity.

"To see Japanese women in the ring? That's awesome. I can't wait to see how you all do against the other teams." She makes a quick little note in her notepad. "And if how you're practice went just now, I'm sure your team is going to do well." She notes. "Although, of course, I was a bit of a distraction. I apologize. Distractions can be a terrible thing in a fight of any kind." She speaks as if she could know a thing or two about that.

* * *

"Oh, that? That ain't s***!," notes an enthusiastic Katsumi. "That's practically a warm-up!"

She gets a couple side-eyes from the other females. But indeed, Trish isn't exactly wrong about her assessment; she is a distraction. And the others involved have begun making their way over. A voice cuts through loudly, clearly, and heavily accented: "You there!" A tall Asian man wearing a slick suit moves forward at the pace of a dignified power-walk, now leading the pack. "What is your business? Who are you?"

Katsumi weaves around her former opponent to place herself more between the approaching man and Trish, albeit still in the ring. "She's-," is all she manages to get out before being cut off sharply with a raise of the man's hand. Apparently he wants Trish to answer. And whoever he is, Katsumi isn't challenging. She just purses her lips into a thin line.

* * *

Whoever this man is, Trish doesn't seem worried. She does give Katsumi a tiny smile and nod in thanks for trying to speak up for her, though. She's gotten this far without being scared away, she's not going to let some man in a suit intimidate her. No siree bob! Instead she plasters on her best smiles, practiced over her many years in the spotlight.

"Hi there." She says in a jubilant tone. Once again she pulls her credentials out of her purse and holds them up, showing her a member of the press. "Trish Walker of the talk show Trish Talk on WNEX Radio." She spits out the information with ease, not only having just told the girls, but having memorized the words years ago when she first started.

Putting her credentials back, she holds out her hand as an offer to shake the hand of the man in the suit. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mister…?"

* * *

The man is stately, quite put-together, clean-cut and styled; a stark contrast to the workout gear worn by everyone else. And his countenance somehow pools all the severity of his wardrobe and self-maintenance and projects it into a single, stony look directed at the interloper. That is, until she introduces herself. And then suddenly, a warm smile brightens his features. Though his posture continues to be rigid, he eagerly takes her hand in both of his for a single, if stiff, shake, bending forward into a modest half-bow.

"Host of a talk show, very interesting! My name is Takegawa Hito, I am," he pauses as he releases her hand to nod indicatively to the room at large, "the general manager of Neon League Wrestling Federation. These are my people, athletes, and we are so honored to be invited to such a prestigious event."

In the ring, Katsumi looowwwers an eyebrow while a bemused grin inches the corner of her lips. She doesn't say anything, though. At least it's likely obvious why she's holding her tongue here.

"What can we do for you?," asks Hito as the male half of the team gathers around.

* * *

"General manager?" Trish repeats. It makes perfect sense to her, how he's dressed, the way he approached. It all gives off an air of someone who's in charge. She offers a slight bow in return, not sure if that's the right thing to do, but doing it anyway. Opening up her notebook and taking her pen, she says, "Takegawa Hito? Well, it's very nice to meet you." She tells him, writing something down.

"Yes, the host of a talk show. When I learned about the competition, of all the countries participating, I was most intrigued by those of you from Japan." She says, glancing over to Katsumi and the other women before looking back at the manager and the other men who have approached.

"I was wondering if I might be permitted to stay and watch? And perhaps interview some of your people?" She asks, an eyebrow raised questioningly.

* * *

Katsumi Oshiro meets Trish's gaze briefly when she glances to her, and the punkette flashes a quick, confident smile. The other girls give radiant, excited smiles of their own. The men are uniformally pleasant and welcoming in their nods and mute greetings when looked towards. It seems everyone is happy to have Trish present.

"You know," begins Hito as he raises his right fist, "Japan is well-known for something called 'hard-style'. Other countries, they fake hits. In Japan," he pauses to whap his fist into an open palm, "we hit hard." Nod.

The manager takes a quarter step back and spreads his arms, "Yes, watch, take notes, interview some of the fighters! We are here to practice hard, but Japan has a special quality we want the world to see. You can help us do that." His smile takes an uncharacteristically mirthful note. "You make us look good, you can be our special guest VIP at the show, ah?"

* * *

"I'd very much like to see this hard-style. I've seen too much of the 'fake hits', as you call it. I'm interested to see how Japan works." Trish nods. She continues to take notes as both Hito and herself speak. She takes a deep breath in and nods firmly.

"I look forward to seeing how the United Kingdom, Russia, and even America fare against your team." She chuckles at the mention of her being their special guest VIP if she makes them look good. "I can't make any promises about how I'll make you look. I try to be as impartial as I can at times. But if you like what I have to say, it would certainly be my honour to be your VIP guest at the show."

She glances around again. "That being said, from what I've seen so far, I doubt I'll have anything bad to say about your team. I'm pretty sure you'll like what I have to say."

* * *

"Perfect!," announces Hito. "Be impartial! You will have nothing but praise for these people!" He sounds rather sure of that. But if anything should've been immediately apparent about Manager Takegawa, it's that he's a generally proud man. After all, it was his federation that was invited.

He turns from Trish fully and raises his right arm, rotating his fist at the wrist before shouting something in jarringly forceful Japanese. The roster visibly bristles at the change in tone, and everyone immediately disperses to resume what they were doing before Trish stole the show. "You want to see hard-style?" He turns to the nearby ring and points up at the only two remaining looky-loos - Katsumi and her previous opponent, both still hanging on the ropes. He shouts up at them, once again in a commanding and clipped tone. Then, to Trish, "They will show you. Now I must oversee practice." Hito once again dips into a modest, but polite bow before backstepping and ultimately turning to leave the ladies where they stand.

"In English, they call it strong style." Katsumi leans a little further over the ropes, her lack of heavy accent a heavy contrast to her boss. "You know what shoot fighting is?"

* * *

"Thank you, very much, for permitting me the honour of staying." Trish smiles and bobs her head slightly. "It is a privilege to be able to remain here to watch."

Nodding she glances up at Katsumi and her partner. "I'd very much like to see this hard-style you mentioned." Offering a little bow to the manager, she focuses her attention on Katsumi and her partner once more.

"Strong style?" She seems just as interested as when it was called hard style. "I…I can't say I do know what shoot fighting is, I'm afraid. But pretend like I do, if you'd like. I'd like to think I'm a quick learner."

* * *

Katsumi Oshiro nods slowly, pursing her lips in a decidedly impish way. Her gaze slides conspiratorially to the other girl near her, who has been focused mostly on Trish. She catches the look - then double-takes and looks briefly apprehensively. Before the girl has long enough to do more than open her mouth to speak, Katsumi has snatched her by the back of the head, yanked back, then drives her face forward to impact her brow against the turnbuckle. The metallic springs rattle from the blow, and the girl staggers back in recoil.

"Puttin' it simply? Means you're not whiffing hits."

Katsumi grabs onto the rope in front of her and hops up. Feet land on the middle rope, and the cable springs back, vaulting her slight frame into the air in an arc. Her hips pivot, and her shin slams across the other girl's chest, bearing her down to the mat. There's no mistaking that for anything less than full physical, forceful contact. Katsumi, meanwhile, lands in a low and dramatic crouch, one leg extended out to the side.

The other girl lies on her back, coughing.

"Want s'more?," she asks Trish, that devilish smile worn unapologetically in the open.

* * *

Nodding along, taking more notes, Trish seems interested in all Katsumi has to say, and all that she does. "Not…whiffing…hits…so like, not missing them. Taking all the shots that you can get, yes? Without hesitation?" She hopes she's getting it right.

She watches Katsumi and her partner work, taking it all in. She seems to be adept at taking notes while barely looking at her paper, as she does so frequently while watching. "That…was…absolutely…" She raises both eyebrows for emphasis, "amazing."

She nods excitedly. "Oh yes, please! I'd love to see more!"

* * *

"Eheheheh..," giggles Katsumi. Can a giggle sound predatory? This one might. Expressive eyes turn to the girl starting to recover on the mat. "Hey. Suzume. She wants to see more."

The other girl responds with a whine.

Katsumi seems to not care, gripping a fistful of her hair to 'help' her back up to her feet. And once she's standing and her hair is released, Katsumi blasts a foot into the other girl's stomach, forcing her to double over. A knee rams into her face, resulting in her snapping upright again. Katsumi's footing shifts quickly into a readily-identified martial arts stance, the right drawn back. She whirls over, tossing her right leg high and striking the heel of her foot against the back of the other girl's skull in a clean spinning hook kick.

From the point of impact, the other girl's head bobs, she wobbles, and collapses to her knees. She'd have likely fallen forward, if she hadn't haphazardly caught herself on the ropes nearest Trish.

"And that's just striking!," announces Katsumi, standing neatly with fists propped to her hips. "It's called strong style because it's rougher than what other countries do. So it's 'stronger', get it? And we're not talking just strikes."

* * *

Notes scribbled down furiously as she watches, Trish seems to just be taking in the technique before her. She even moves her body in a subtle way, as if attempting to mimic how the move is done while still standing there watching and taking notes.

She holds her breath as the other woman wobbles in place for a moment before collapsing to her knees. She'll have to see if she can find these moves online. Hopefully she can learn them herself someday.

"Strong because rougher." She murmurs as she writes it in her notes. "Got it! So, what else to it is there, aside from the striking?" She asks, tilting her head ever so slightly as she watches the two young women.

* * *

"/So/ glad you asked!," chirps Katsumi. The other girl groans.

Leaning down, the punkette wraps her arms around the other girl's midsection to pull her up to her feet again. She pulls her back a little from the ropes, clearly setting her up for something - only to suddenly find an elbow in her face, stunning her. The other girl - Suzume, allegedly - hooks an arm over Katsumi's head and drops to her rear, yanking her down to smash her chin over her shoulder. The impact jars the ring, and Katsumi flops back to the mat, stunned.

She isn't left alone long. Suzume crouches over her lap and reaches down to sit Katsumi up, then hooks her arms beneath her shoulders, trapping her head beneath her arm in turn. It's a tangle of limbs with the end result being Katsumi's arms hyper-extended backwards, her shoulders compressed and head forced to hunch low; a butterfly lock.

Feet kick against the mat, frustration clear in her voice as she cries out. She fumes in Japanese at the other girl, who seems to respond with a haughty little, 'hmph,' and tightens up on the hold. Katsumi lets out a shriek, heels banging on the mat harder and face contorted in pain. Hard to run commentary when in a submission hold, it seems!

* * *

Watching, Trish winces at a few of the moves that seem particularly painful. Somehow this all seems a bit more harsh than the fighting she's been involved with in the streets. Maybe that's because in those instances, she wasn't given a chance to really think about what was happening. It all happened much too fast.

A few times, she nearly takes a step back, as if doing so would prevent the harm from being done. She has to clear her throat and remind herself that this is what they're here to do. She takes a deep breath in, sets a look of determination on her face, and stands firm.

At the last move, the hold that Suzume has Katsumi in, she watches in amazement. Her initial impression was that Katsumi was the one to keep her eye on, but perhaps she gave up on Suzume a little too soon.

* * *

Suzume looks back over her shoulder to Trish with a sunny smile entirely inappropriate to the amount of pain she's levying on Katsumi. Then she says something in Japanese to the trapped punkette tangled in her arms. Whatever it was must have been a question, as Katsumi vehemently shakes her head. The pain ratchets up a little further, eliciting a fresh cry. Her legs spread and twist against the mat, bowing awkwardly before her shins tuck under herself. She pushes forward and lifts, sliding her arms free of the hold and ending in a forward roll, free of the submission.

Katsumi is immediately winding her arm, trying to work out the strained muscles and ease the tension. Her eyes never leave Suzume now, backing up to give herself a break. "What this jerk just did.. submissions are harder, too. I mean, yeah, she could've popped my arms out of joint with that. You know that, right?," asks Katsumi, her breathing a bit heavier now after the hold. "But the point isn't to injure. Just hurt. Enough pain to force a submission. If you're gonna do this style, you've gotta know control."

Speaking of Suzume, the girl is up on her feet and prowling towards Katsumi. There's a healthy level of caution from them both at this point.

* * *

"Fascinating." Trish responds, nodding. "It makes sense…wanting to inflict enough pain without injuring. You're here to win a sport, so to speak. You're not out in the wild, protecting your life or anything like that." She doesn't know why she used that terminology specifically. 'The wild' just sort of slipped out.

"I'd imagine a lot of this is about control? The more control you have, the better the advantage you have over your opponent…or something like that." She's taken Krav Maga, but she can't exactly speak to this specific type of fighting.

* * *

"Uh.." Katsumi pauses to spare a glance to Trish. "Yeah. Also because I'm a b, but not a f***ing career-ending monster." There's an distinct level of simple, pure sincerity behind that. Despite her potentially abrasive manner, and certainly in spite of her general level of cruelty in the sport, Katsumi has never injured an opponent. Beaten them senseless, pushed them right to the edge, humiliated them - absolutely. "Sure, you wanna be able to control your opponent. That's the ultimate goal. I mean, that's what a pin /is/, y'know? Even if you're just flopped on some-," her train of thought ends in a girlish squeak as Suzume capitalizes on her chatting by locking up with her.

Katsumi is pressured back into the ropes, arching her against the cables. Suzume draws back an arm and launches a stiff backhand, only for Katsumi to duck it, slip behind her back, and wrap her arms around the other girl's midsection again. This time without hesitation, she arches back with her, whipping her 'opponent' up and back to drive her head and shoulders squarely against the mat. The ring shudders under the force of the impact, and when Katsumi releases her, Suzume drops to the side. Katsumi turns over onto her knees, facing the blonde. "It's just as much about self-control. Knowing how a body works. How you can control yours. How far you can bend someone. How much force is too much." She reaches aside to tug Suzume over onto her back, and simply drops her slender figure across the other girl's prone form.

Her head turns to Trish again, giving a wry smile. "Count it."

* * *

"Never meant to suggest that you were one." Trish offers, not seeming phased by the language. "I've just met a few people whose fighting styles are a bit more…'let's see how far we can go' than your average fighter." She explains. "But this makes more sense."

She scratches her nose with her pen as she watches and listens. "Self control. Yeah. That would be important." She nods. "It must take a good amount of practice to be able to get to the point know just how much is the right amount of pressure." At least that's her assumption.

"Me…what? Count?" She blinks at the offer and clears her throat. "Uh…one!" Short pause. "Two!" Short pause. "Three!" Is that it? Is that how far they go? That's how far she's used to hearing those counts go.

* * *

Katsumi Oshiro nods eagerly at Trish when she seems surprised by the invitation to be their 'referee' of sorts, her bangs abounce with motion. As the count proceeds, the other girl manages a dazed writhe, but not much else. And once it finishes, Katsumi rolls off of her with a giggle unbefitting the recent brutality.

"Ding-ding-ding," she chirps as she skips up to her feet and all but flounces to the ropes nearest Trish, energetic. "That's just a taste. Been working poor Suzume over for the past hour. You wanna see what I can /really/ do? Come to the show. That's where the claws'll come out." She glances aside to the turnbuckle, thinking ahead to her more specific signatures and finishers - the more electrifying aerials and technique. This was a demo. God, she's getting giddy just thinking about it. International eyes on her, a chance to win over fans from all over the world, so many doors opening.

And then she's dead weight. As if all life simply left the girl, Katsumi crumples to an undignified heap there at the edge of the ring, eyes shut and breathing, but motionless. No one else has noticed this just yet. Her 'opponent' is just starting to sit up again.

* * *

"Well," Trish starts, finishing off some notes in her little notebook and tucking it and the pen away, "I certainly look forward to being able to see you live in action." And if what she's seen today is any indication, she's sure to be in for an interesting show, that's for sure. "I can't wait for the actual competition. I bet it's going to be electrifying!"

When Katsumi crumples, she gasps softly. "Miss? Miss? Are you okay…?" She looks around. "We need some help over here! Please? Someone call an ambulance!" She reaches to try to tap Katsumi. "Miss! Are you conscious?" She taps her again. "We need some help over here!" She calls out again.

* * *

Taps receive no response. The girl isn't cold or anything, just unresponsive. And thanks to Trish drawing attention, many heads have turned to spot the situation unfolding. Everyone approaches, the performers having to disembark their respective rings. The closest, Suzume, is crawling closer on hands and knees, tentative and cautious.

Just as suddenly as it happens, Katsumi's eyes shoot open and she takes a hard gasp. To those particularly observant, the nearly whitened irises of those eyes have become a vivid jungle of green interspersed with near-neon pinkish-purple. Her pupils begin dilated, then quickly focus on the only thing in front of her: Trish. Dazed and disoriented, it takes her a moment to realize why she's seeing her at an odd angle and scoots to slowly sit up on her knees. "What happened? Did someone hit me? Oh my god, did I black out?"

The crowd is gathering in. Katsumi glances aside and notices them, then quickly refocuses on Trish. "Don't say anything." Her eyes widen, hands gripping the bottom rope. She leans in between the cables. "/Please/."

* * *

As Katsumi awakens once more, Trish's eyes widen at the appearance of her irises, or at least what she can see of them. This is all so strange. She shakes her head. "You blacked out!" She nearly whispers. "You just…you just collapsed!" She frowns crossing her arms and giving Katsumi a skeptical look.

"Don't…don't tell anyone?! You should be seeing a doctor! A person doesn't just pass out for no reason!" She glances at the approaching crowd. "Look, I promise not to tell the manager if you promise you'll find the time to get to a doctor! This could be something serious. You don't want to leave anything serious left untreated!"

* * *

"I will! I will! Oh my god, I will! Just /please/ don't say anything!," Katsumi implores, the desperation clear in her voice as much as it is on her face. "First thing in the morning! Just… please!"

And now, the two are surrounded. Suzume, despite being kicked around, slammed, and pinned, is leaning around Katsumi to stare at her. And the perimeter is soon broken by Hito, quickly assessing the situation. Confused, he puts on a smile and turns his attention onto Trish. "Is everything okay here?," he asks, keeping a gentle and warm voice with her.

Katsumi looks from Hito to Trish. She can't say anything now. She can only beg her with those oddly-hued eyes.

* * *

Looking back and forth between Katsumi and Hito, Trish's furrowed brow betrays, perhaps slightly, how conflicted she feels. Glancing over to Katsumi for a few solid seconds, she sighs. "I'm sorry." She finally says. "Maybe I overreacted? I just…I'm not used to this style of fighting and…and I think, I don't even know what happened. I think her partner there just knocked her out for a few seconds and I wasn't expecting it? I'm sorry for making a fuss."

Making sure everything is together in her purse, she clears her throat. "I should um, I should leave you to your practice. I've bothered you all too much as it is." To Katsumi and Suzume, she nods. "Thank you for everything." To Hito, she bows a little bit. "Thank you for permitting me to stay. I apologize for being such a bother. I hope this won't dampen our working relationship, and I hope to see you all again soon."

With all said and done, she starts toward the exit of the gym.

* * *

Katsumi Oshiro worries her teeth over her bottom lip, the look of pleading never leaving her eyes. She only permits herself to breathe again when Trish gives her answer, her head dropping to hang. Suzume, however, continues to look confused; not that she really understood all of what Trish says.

Hito, meanwhile, nods uncertainly along with the explanation. He looks sharply to Katsumi and speaks in Japanese, causing the girl to lift her head rather quickly to respond. There was definitely a 'gaijin' in there somewhere. She concludes her statement with a deferential shrug. Hito continues to stare at her for a few seconds in silence… then back to smiling at Trish. "You are very welcome," he assures. "And I look forward to seeing, ah- hearing," he corrects himself, "what you have to say about us. Remember!" His index finger lifts to waggle animatedly in the air, "You are our guest at the show! I will make arrangements."

There's a stiff, polite nod, but the group is dispersing enough to let her easily escape. As she leaves, Hito barks another abrupt command to his people, and they all resume their training. Katsumi is a little more sluggish to get to her feet, but more out of uncertainty than anything else.

And somewhere on the Pacific Ocean, a cargo freighter approaches the United States. Crewmen have glimpsed an excessively woolly calico stowaway here and there, but none have managed to catch him just yet.

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