Some time had passed since his last match, and much as before Keiichi was off to the side and leaning against a wall. There were a lot of people buzzing about issueing challenges, playing the game, and then there was those media people wandering about with their cameras. He didn't like having a lot of attention, but he did like Angelic Layer and seemed to be pretty good at it for the most part. This was an unfortunately combination that often led to a conflict of people avoidance and needing to be around people to play.

For the moment, the white badge he wore as a guest player kept away the players who didn't feel up to a challenge of that sort. As a result he hadn't had too many matches as of yet, and the thought occurred to him that he may have to go out and seek them on his own. Such was the way of life though, he supposed. For now he was just looking about curiously, making note of the people who were here.

Piffle Princess was buzzing with action even late into the night on the first day of the tournament, people talking about the various layer duelists, the angels, the games that had already been played. Already favorites had been selected, and people were following around their chosen duelist much like a fan club follows around a rockstar, passing on bets as to who would win, getting into arguments about which style of angel was better. It was maddening that the introverted Kanji had his own following, mostly older boys who understood that it took more than a powerful heart to win the layer, but also a powerful mind. However they didn't know the contender well, Kanji indeed had a high enough intellect to constantly be ahead of most opponents in raw strategy, but his heart was something of a mess especially in the thralls of spring. April had come and gone and he had shed a year of his life, and the nightmares that plagued him, but he was still recovering still afraid to fully commit himself to the world.

Heralded to layer one, the attendant over the layer whispered to him that he should battle while the layer was empty, as he hadn't done much at the moment. Brushing back her blonde hair it was apperent to all but Kanji that she had spent the whole day watching the whole layer. His attention was turned elsewhere, to the boy on the wall white badge splayed across his chest.

He doubted his stregnth, but he absolutely knew that he needed to test it against Keiichi again, after all it was he who fueled Kanji's obsession to make drastic modifications to Minoru. Approaching him without a lick of fear, the introvert emerged from his shell to look over the boy. He might lose, but he was certain that it would be a memorable battle, as he had already fought the dread Zankoku once before. "Misaka-kun, it has been a while. I've come for a challenge, I hope that you will accept."

Keiichi's attentions had drifted off momentarily to that void of space where people go sometimes, drifting off into the nothingness. It had only onset a moment or two before Kanji had arrived to snap him out of it. It took a moment for him to find his way, but the lure was good and so finally he blinked and peered at the other boy.

A smile came to him, it was instinctual at this point really, and he offered a nod. "Fujiwara-san, it's nice to see you again." Truthfully he had expected to see a lot of the people he's played with in the past, so it wasn't really a surprise. He also figured that people he's played with before would be the most likely candidates for challenging him. That was fine with him though, familiarity was more welcome than strangers usually. "I'd be happy to accept, where to?"

"Layer 1 it seems, the attendant over it asked me to battle while it was empty." Kanji said matter of factly before turning to go to the layer which had been roped off so the contestants would have some room to breathe while the spectators crowded around trying to get a good view of the action in hopes to glean some moves off either contestant. Kanji's 'fan club' as it were was already at the ropes buzzing with ideas and thoughts as how he would react to Keiichi's angel. Nodding to the attendant Kanji motioned that Keiichi was to be his opponent, as instructed he stood and waited for the game to be announced before sitting down in the chair. However, he didn't bother to wait on putting on his headset or taking Minoru out of the custom leather pouch at his side, seemingly ignoring everyone gazing at the bandaged angel with hushed whispers.

"Honored Guests, a battle on Layer 1 is about to begin between challenger Fujiwara Kanji and guest player Misaka Keiichi. Speed type Minoru versus Balance type Zankoku, again we encourage you all to remain respectful to the deulists while they battle and avoid making loud sounds." The attendant announced generating even more buzz as someone had actually challenged one of the guest players, the unknown contender Kanji as it were.

"Good luck Misaka-kun, I hope that this battle goes a bit more smoothly for me than our last encounter." Kanji bowed slightly before setting down in the chair, Minoru laying in his palm.

Keiichi made his way over towards the layer as well, managing to bob and weave between people along the way so as not to bump into anyone. The safety and room of the ropes was most welcome when he finally arrived, and a smile was offered towards Kanji while he moved to stand next to his own seat. Zankoku was withdrawn from his pocket and the headset was settled upon his head, all he had to do when he sat down was plug it in really. "Good luck to you as well, Fujiwara-san. I hope to give you a fun match, if nothing else."

Kanji looks over the layer and against his better judgement tosses his bandaged angel toward the layer barrier uncharacteristically.

As the layer always did before then and would continue to do for generations to come, it brought the bandaged angel to life. It didn't just do that though it brought emotion to the otherwise inanimate angel, a piety filling Minoru's aura as his body crashed into the waters surface with a notable splash air bubbles chaotically dancing around his body as he sank to the bottom of the layer hitting the sediment gracefully. He didn't seem to breathe, but the water was affecting the angel nonetheless, his loose bandges and wisps of hair raising upward as if defying gravity. Fish that gently swam across the layer before now retreated at the disturbance of their enviroment, they couldn't know that there was about to be even more of a disturbance as time wore on..

Keiichi bites back a sigh at the layer scenery offered for this duel, having never actually played on it before. In truth he had avoided it at all costs as much as he could, and it might come back to bite him now. He peers down at Zankoku for a moment, and then removes the large billowy cloak from the zombie angel. It would do more harm than good in the water. Then after a deep breath, he tosses the zombie-angel towards the layer, "Reach beyond the gates of death, Zankoku."

Sailing through the air would bring a feeling of freedom to most, but this was a doll and it was not on the layer yet. Slowly the energy barrier is passed and the eyes of Zankoku slowly open, emitting a dull red glow after a brilliant flash. Then into the water with a splash as well, followed by a slow sinking towards the sea bottom. Without the cloak, the zombie-angel shared some similarities in appearance to Minoru, bandages pulled tight around the forearms and hands, though the fingers were free. There were also bandages wrapped tightly about his feet and legs. Tattered rags covered his torso and pelvic areas though. The similarities really ended with the bandages. Once on the bottom, the zombie-angel settled into a defensive stance while preparing for the start of the match.

Keiichi took another deep breath as he settled back into his seat, peering into the fishtank-looking layer. Both angels were at the bottom for now, and it seemed that was probably the best place to stay. Maybe in the future he would get some practice in on this layer scenery, for now he would have to wing it.

On the layer, Zankoku performs several movements that could be called katas of sorts, testing the resistance of the water and the speed of his attacks. He doesn't bother going after the other angel just yet, still trying to get a feel for his surroundings. Still, it was kind of fun for his deus either way.

For once Kanji was more concerned with the layer than he was with the other angel, although it was interesting to see that Zankoku was without his cloak, a grotesque creature emerging from under it. It was highly improbable that Keiichi had surmised a potent strategy without the cloak to mask his angels movements, but Kanji wasn't about to let that oppurtunity close until he saw for himself how the other angel acted. However that was not what occupied him at the current moment, it was the obsticle that the arena presented, or rather the multiple obsticles. Minoru was fast, but the resistance of the water would make him notably slower giving the other angel ample time to see what was going to happen, as well there was the matter of air, though the angel didn't need to breathe there was still a certain measure of dramatics that came with each arena and it was possible that both angels would have hindering effects as the air receded from their bodies.

Diving right into the battle Minoru sped foward as much as the layer would admit him to speed, sedament floating up behind his forced steps as both his hair and bandages trailed behind him as he churned the water around his body. While the opponent would be able to see what was going on ahead of time, they were also in the same boat where reaction would be severly delayed, and thus it was entirely probable that the playing field would level out. However, neither deus nor angel were concerned with levelling the playing field, he needed an advantage in order to win against a formidable opponent like Keiichi. Stopping his exagerated movements momentarily caused sedament to float up around both angels obscuring vision, playing dirty as it were Minoru used that obscured vision to duck to the right of the undead angel before coming up with as much force as possible with a punch.

Keiichi wasn't exactly psychic, nor did he believe in such things. He had however played this game enough to get a certain sense about his opponents, and that gave him the ability to predict certain actions. This was vastly useful and especially at this very moment.

On the layer, Zankoku seemed motionless as that cloud of sediment picked up around him and Minoru. For all the effort, that attack /should/ have hit him but it didn't. Unfortunately the world will never know why, since no one could particularly see what had happened. As a current passed through the area and picked apart the cloud, Zankoku had clearly moved to the opponent's flank. And when things became visible again he was in the process of attempting to kick his foe's side. The water had lowered the speed of the attack significantly though, my this was annoying.

Thoughtful excited eyes watched from outside the layer into an underwater battle that was already becoming a dance between two titans, Kanji wasn't necessarily known for being a layer deulist. But in a small amount of time through his actions in the tournament a small gathering had gathered to support him much to his dismay, he hated people, but he couldn't really tell them that. Not because he didn't want to, but rather he didn't have the social facilities to be that blunt with people on purpose. Instead he focused on the layer, eyes watching the battle with a focus that was unmatched by many students his age. He had fought Keiichi once before, that was enough for him to gather most the ins and outs of his opponent, he didn't have to master his opponents tactics so long as he kept the basics in mind.

It was a simple enough tactic, draw out a reaction and action from the opponent by launching into action first. Kanji was starting to see that as a pattern in his own playstyle, drawing out a move from the opponent to study the way the angel moved before launching into a real strategy. Unfortuneately his 'posse' was seeing the same pattern and had started deeming those first few strikes from Kanji's angel the 'Learning Strikes.' Minoru forced his body out of the path of the kick floating slightly behind his opponent and landing softly in the sedement, converting momentum was a useless tactic underwater since the forces would always be against the angel, but he wasn't about to let that stop him. Pushing back foward he brought the same fist to a forceful punch his body propelling upward from the force exerted from his legs.

Both Keiichi and Kanji knew that they hadn't really started yet, so it wasn't really useful information from the peanut gallery about them. The water was annoying enough to get used to for Keiichi, and those /feeler/ moves were necessary to try to get used to things. Still, he couldn't let Zankoku lollygag forever.

On the layer, Zankoku shifted to the side just in time to avoid the attack, and then attempted to slide his leg out behind Minoru's and shove at his chest with an open palm. He was trying to take the other angel off his feet, and slam his head down into that sharp pointy and jaggy rock on the sea bottom behind him. Whether it would work or not remained to be seen however.

"Annoying." Kanji said to himself seeming to snap out of a daze as he watched the layer. Even though it was such a negative term he couldn't hide the fact that he was impressed with the upgrades to his angel. In a regular layer setting where Minoru's movements were not impeded it was impossible to tell just how much lag between deus command and angel action he had cut out. But with the slower pace in the water he was actually able to clock the amount of lag he had, and he had suceeded in cutting out about ten miliseconds, though it was only an educated guess on his part. As impossible as it seemed, Kanji wasn't thinking about the battle yet, able to battle effectively while his thoughts drifted elsewhere. However he knew that it was almost time for his attention to go back to the fight, things were starting to heat up, and soon enough there would be the boiling point between he and Keiichi.

Minoru needed time on the layer though, which was an amenity that was abundantly present in the seascape setting. His dodge was rather obscure, taking the full force of the palm to his chest and seemingly tripping back over the leg he extended his own arms and planted them on the rock intended for his head, using the momentum to launch him upward before sailing slowly back down to the silt, arms crossed and eyes on the zombie.

"I didn't think that would work, heh." Keiichi chuckled to himself a bit as he watched the layer, and then shook his head slightly. The fact that the layer could emulate the physics of being underwater so closely was impressive, he just wished it hadn't been used in this way at the moment. He should probably count his blessings though, otherwise Minoru might be zipping around all over the place at near impossible speeds.

On the layer, Zankoku moved along after Minoru's retreat, though it took a moment to close the distance. He had begun the motions of a punch as he'd started moving, and when he was finally close enough it was actually in a position to connect rather shortly thereafter. He would find away around this nasty water resistance sooner or later.

Frowning slightly Kanji puzzled out how he was going to approach his next series of moves, whatver he did it would need to involve more strategy than speed. He was faintly glad that his 'fan club' was in quandry as well proving that they were just as clueless as he had thought they were when they started cheering for him. Of course they were both in seperate states of thought, different levels as it were, they were most likely wondering WHAT Kanji would do while the moody introvert was wondering HOW he was going to do what he needed to do.

Minoru wasn't having a good time of things, the water was more a hinderance to him than it was to Zankoku. Of course that was always going to be the case for whatever extreme layer they faced, Minoru was built for speed, reaction, acrobatics and not much else while Zankoku was readily available to take on multiple situations. The zombie closed in on the martyr, throwing out a punch that seemed to move in slow motion, probably because it was. Minoru had seen it well ahead of time and been able to sidestep away, arms still crossed as he waited for his deus to spring into action.

Keiichi watched in mild amusement at exactly how slow that last attack was, and he sighed a bit. He definately needed to think of something else, because this was not going to work at all. This match was not going to be his first defeat of the night, or so he hoped anyway.

On the layer, Zankoku shifted slightly right after his punch sailed by Minoru. He was spinning in a counter motion, while a little pool of dark energy gathered within the palm of his other hand. It swirled and coalesced into a sphere, while taking on a sickly green hue. The turn was now complete and his hand snapped out towards his opponent's chest, hoping that the closeness would be enough to offset the lack of speed. It was doubtful though.

"Now." Kanji snapped back into the mindset of the battle, eyes on the layer as he executed his strategy. He couldn't very well use Minoru's speed to his advantage, but he had another advantage up his sleeve that not many other angels could boast, a shorter reaction time. In that respect he had planned on keeping the two angels at close proximity, that way his faster reactions would win over speed. What better time than when Keiichi had decided to use the twisted power that his angel possesed?

Executing his deus's plan to perfection the angel of sacrifice orbited around his opponent still in close quarters as he dodged the twisting aura, bringing his elbow stiff to his side and releasing like a mousetrap toward his opponents back, precision over full power.

Keiichi smiled as Minoru dodged around Zankoku's attack, he'd anticipated the fact. And now he would exploit it, though most of the onlookers probably wouldn't realize it.
On the layer, Zankoku continued the follow-through with his motion, but the energy sphere in his hand quickly dissipates into the water about his form. When Minoru's fist comes in towards his back, that inky dark energy coalesces into a small disk at the striking point. It is a barrier, but instead of completely blocking the attack it just slows it down more and grips at the other angel's forearm. It would take some effort to break free from it, and while he spent that precious moment doing just that the zombie swept around once more. As his fist came up to bear and striking in towards the other angel's chest, more energy danced along his forearm and pooled along the ridges of his knuckles. There it slowly formed into a dagger-like shape, though it was still a little slow going.

Escalation, the idea that one action leads to another action that overshadows the last, it seemed to be a common theme in the two battles that Kanji and Keiichi had had. Both anticipating each others moves, one out of experiance, the other out of raw brain power while onlookers were amazed at the coreography of the battle. In truth he hadn't expected the tendrils of inky darkness to protect the other angel though he knew of the power before hand, in truth he hadn't expected anything. Kanji wasn't surprised he had accounted for all possibilities, he needed too if he was going to win this battle.

Minoru pulled his hand forcibly out of the tendrils using the momentum created from his force to sail backwards a couple of paces narrowly dodging the searing aura that threatened to burn him like it had done weeks before. Again shifting his momentum Minoru kept in close quarters once again moving into range of Zankoku hands clenched together as he brought his arms down powerfully toward the other angels shoulders, water churning violently around the path of his strike.

Keiichi had hoped to avoid using this technique during the course of their fight, but he was having very little leeway in his decisions. In order to win, he had to land a hit. As things stood now, he was a little behind and he didn't like being in that position very much. The boy's eyes closed and he took in a deep breath.

On the layer, Zankoku had pulled back into a defensive posture after his attack had missed, that dark energy absorbing back into his body to help fuel his defense. With his deus blind to the world, it seemed like he was going to get smashed easily by Minoru's attack. At the last moment though, Keiichi's eyes opened and had a vacant look about them. It was a state of mind that allowed for little distraction, and the results spoke for themselves.

The zombie-angel's arms moved through the water with a speed that seemed impossible for him, twisting to move aside Minoru's own hands in a manner that would case them to have little impact upon his person. At the same time he had stepped in, closing the gap between them, and drew his head back as that purplish-black energy sparked out around it. And there it was, his head came smashing towards his opponent's in a headbutt though his head seemed to be reinforced with that energy of his.

Once again it came down to a matter of power, Keiichi's angel displayed an impressive ability to avoid the damage destined to him by just exuding a dark and twisted aura. Minoru, had nothing of the sort to speak of, just the impeccable strategy of his deus to fuel his movements. Perhaps Kanji just had a knack of biting off more than he could chew, it certainly seemed to be a growing trend, his angel wasn't powerful it was meant to die, it was represenitive of all the problems that Kanji had, wrapped under gauze bandages. Covering the hurt as it were was not a stregnth, but a weakness one that no one but the builder would truly ever understand.

Minoru's feet hit the silt causing it to rise up around him, not obscuring but worth note as he slid backward in the silt to narrowly avoid the headbutt of the other angel, avoid that aura that had burned him deeply before. He kept moving, silt floting up around him as he moved back to the jagged rock wher he had been before, once again crossing his arms and waiting for his opponent. The battle was nearing a head, and Minoru's deus knew who the victor would be, he just needed to finish the battle with as little damage as possible on both sides.
An idea occurred to Keiichi as Minoru avoided that last attack, though he had snapped back into reality following it as well. If the water was going to be such a problem, perhaps he should find a way to eliminate it. Unfortunately he didn't see a way to accomplish this just yet.

On the layer, Zankoku trudged after the nimble Minoru's retreat, and when he caught up he moved into what would normally be a flurry of motion. The water bit off a lot of the effect though. The zombie-angel's hands snapped out towards the other angel's form at various points, actually picking up speed with each progressive strike. The goal was to throw him off balance enough for an more unexpected blow. The last one snapped out towards his neck, and instead of a normal strike he attempted to pinch there. Keiichi waited to see if it had paid off.

Had he given up before the fight had even come to full fruition? Kanji indeed knew who was going to win the battle, but he hadn't given in, rather he was able to see what was ahead how much more strain his angel was going to be able to take before he would be unable to react to the strikes of the other angel. It was time to play in a conservative manner, manage his angels damage and stamina as best he could.

Choosing to block rather than dodge, Minoru maintained balance despite being assaulted, his hands moving to keep the blows glancing rather than taking the brunt of the force. The final strike caught his neck producing an temporary electrical failure in the angel. It was an underhanded tactic to be sure to use the angels internal workings as a strategy, but if he had been in the same position Minoru would have used it too, Zankoku after all was his target, the one that he would continue to shoot for until he emerged victorious, his personal demon. But right then he dropped his gaurd still despite his deus's commands to keep moving, eyes flickering in and out of life while the crowd outside the layer crowded against the rope to watch the final moves of the battle.

Keiichi knew he had the upperhand at this point, and he could sense that his opponent's angel was on the ropes so to speak. He still had fight left in him though, and it would be rude to not continue. His eyes shifted towards Kanji for a moment, and he smiled a bit. Not because he was winning really, but because the fight was still fun.

On the layer, Zankoku used the momentary interruption to launch another attack, pulling back with his hips before snapping forward with a kick. He was beginning to get used to the resistance around him, but it was still impossible to attack with full speed.

Looking at the layer with intense focus, Kanji didn't much care about how much fun he was having, fun was an abstract concept to someone who only found entertainment in working well past the hours he should have been sleeping. Instead he was amused by the battle, and perhaps a little preturbed by the fact that he wasn't doing as well against Keiichi as he could have been, then again he hadn't been really doing that well against anyone really. Perhaps spirit was more important than intellect when controlling an angel, perhaps he lacked something that all the other dues's had, something he would probably never find.

Reacting just in time Minoru threw up one bandaged arm causing the kick to glance past his side catching him but not as hard as it could have been. Sliding back from the rock he had perched on, Minoru sprang back into action planting himself back on the rock and using it as a vaulting point to perform a quick palmstrike toward Zankoku.
Keiichi's attention returned completely to the layer, drowning out the audiences noise as well as the general noise around them. He could finish this soon if he just focused a little, maybe.

On the layer, Zankoku hopped/floated to the side, just out of the way of that attack. There was more to it that a regular strike, his dues could sense it. Having avoided it he moves to duck low and snap a kick out towards the lower part of the legs. Dark energy coarsed around the lower part of his foot as it moved to connect, intended to drain Minoru of more energy one way or another.

It was exactly what Kanji did not want, that dark power that drained his own angels energy was troublesome at best. Kanji was starting to feel as though he was never going to be able to take Keiichi so long as that blasted power was draining his angels energy. Not disheartened but certainly not happy about having to face defeat again Kanji kept his focus on the layer, it was most likely apperent to the rest of the crowd that he wasn't keeping up with the other angel.

Jumping over the leg that attempted to catch him, Minoru was carried up far enough that he was able to move completely over the other angel before landing softly. The weigtlessness of the arena certainly wasn't something worth commending especially when he couldn't just open up. The attack was simple enough, a punch from his side using the kinetic energy built up in his bandages to fuel the amount of damage the punch might do to the other angel.

Keiichi tilted his head slightly and then sat back in his chair while watching the layer below. Kanji's angel being quite difficult to land a decent strike on. Oh sure, several hits landed, but they weren't the stronger ones he could muster. Of course, the water had a bit to do with that most likely.

On the layer, Zankoku lurched forward and away from Minoru, putting some distance between them and turning about afterwards. There he hunkers into a defensive posture and awaits attack. If the other dues wanted to win, he would have to attack, there was nothing left to it.

Everything melted away, that was just the way of his world, nothing else mattered but the thing that he had decided to focus on. The battle the layer, everything was in focus while the rest of the world blurred and eventually faded into darkness. It was his introverted nature the ability to ignore those around him to an extent that they would often wonder if he was just deaf. Kanji didn't care, he didn't like people, people were unpredictable and did stupid things all the time.

Minoru had to attack if he had any chance of winning, he just had to, that was the way of things. His oppenant had succesfull manipulated him yet again, made him fall for the same pitfalls that he had fallen for before. Yet Minoru trudged on, showing his great speed even in the depths of the seascape, fish fleeing as he charged foward throwing out a powerful straight legged kick, staying on the offensive in hopes that he could keep the other angel on the defensive.

Keiichi grinned slightly as that idea of his finally came to fruition. All he needed was a moment, one brief moment out of the water to land a good and powerful strike. To that end, this battle was destined to end in a show of power as the last had.

On the layer, A swirl of the purplish black energy began moving about at Zankoku's feet in a clockwise motion. Even though Minoru's approach was swift for being underwater, there was still time. Slowly the energy pooled up into a pillar of sorts, swirling more violently than before. When the other angel's foot came in to attack it was simply brushed aside with the force of the now churning water intermingled with energy. It continued to pick up speed and it began to form a whirlpool, the fringes laced with that dark power. This is what opened up the area about the two angels, pushing the water aside and causing it to flow about them while the energy helped to keep it at bay. And this is when he decided to strike, fist pulled back and snapped forward with almost blinding speed towards the other angel's chest. Even if Minoru tried to move out of the way, the wall of water was close enough to be problematic.

"Winner Keiichi." The attendant held up her hand toward Keiichi's side of the layer and the crowd burst into applause, even the 'posse' that Kanji had collected suddenly switched over not wanting to be on the losing side. He didn't much care, they weren't really all that smart and they had only followed him around because they thought his intellect might win over the rest of the angels. Drawing himself out of his seat Kanji bowed to his opponent respectfully while his mind went over all the numbers that he collected from the match.

He didn't bother to say anything to Keiichi this time though, there was nothing to be said. To him a rivalry was brewing, he wanted to prove that he could take on an angel of massive power like Keiichi's on brains and skill alone. An impossible feat to be sure, but one that he needed to do in order to keep himself occupied in the world of angel duels. Silently after taking his angel from the layer, Kanji melted into the crowd supposedly moving to go find another challenge, but probably to sulk since thats what he seemed to like to do with his free time anyhow.

Keiichi didn't much want the followers either, and so after Kanji left he scooped up his own angel. It was time for a break and some food anyway, and maybe he could lose them in the crowd before they attached themselves to him. He unplugged the headset, but didn't remove it just yet. He was in too much of a hurry wanting to get away. And so he darts away and attempts to lose the others before they track him down.