Chapter 13: Searching for Passion
A week had passed since Lea watched Karen's match, and no one had been able to find a clue on how to defeat Karen. Her style was so out of the normal standard, that not even Alonso knew how to deal with her. Lea had watched the videos over and over, but couldn't find anything. Also, Lea had been wondering about why Karen left dancing.
"Was she tired of it? Then, why pick something so dangerous?" Thought Lea, but decided to drop it because it wouldn't help her in the upcoming match. While lifting weights, she was approached by Alonso, which made Lea stop with her exercises. Lea was about to put the weights down, but was stopped by Alonso.
"You don't need to stop," said Alonso and Lea continued with the weights. "Now, I have been thinking about your next opponent and I have thought of something that could help you." That got Lea's attention.
"Really, what is it?" Lea was willing to do anything at that moment.
"Well, the only thing I could think of is that you get the pace as soon as you can." Alonso hoped to say more, but that was it.
"What do you mean? Do I just go and start attacking?"
"Is pretty much the best we can hope for. She's fighting in such an unorthodox way that makes my experience pretty useless."
"I see. So that's why you want me to beat her to the punch."
"Exactly, getting the pace is very crucial in any match, especially in this one. So, keep training the tail, and we're going to add exercises for the back muscles."
"My back? Why?"
"The back muscles help you recover your punches. If you recover your punches faster, then you can keep throwing them over and over. If we are lucky, then at least one of them would land on her"
"I see. I'll do my best."
"I know you will, you always do, chica." That was one of the things that Alonso liked about Lea. After Alonso said that, he instructed Lea on how to train the back muscles and left her to it.
In another gym, there was music playing from a small stereo on the floor. Close to the stereo, there was a speed bag that was been punched around by a Lamia. Every hit and dodge followed the music from the stereo. A beat went, and the bag was punched, another beat went and it was dodged, she punched and dodged according to the music. Moving as if she was dancing with the bag, but this was no ordinary dance. The aim of the movements was to cause damage while avoiding damage. What was easy to see from up close, was that she moved by spinning around, like in ballet or in waltz. She used which ever she needed to dodge any type of attack. The Lamia's movements were mesmerizing and got the attention of many members of the boxing gym. From both male and female, human and inter-species people. That was kind of a problem, since it was distracting them from their workouts. However, it was something minor, so it was welcomed.
"Hey, Karen, you're moving more lively than usual, feel like sharing?" Said a voice behind the Karen, which made her turn around to see the person face to face.
"Oh, good day, coach." Karen greeted the female Sphinx in front of her with an elegant smile. The Sphinx had dark brown skin, back-length black hair in a ponytail, and green eyes.
The Sphinxes could be considered a type of Werecat, but they didn't share the characteristics of any cat. Sphinxes were half-human, half-lion. They had lion ears on top of their heads, tail, and eyes. The easiest way to tell who was female and who was male, was that the males had some kind of mane around their heads, while the female lack any type of mane. They also shared the fur that covered their hands to their elbows and from their feet to their knees. As much as they were majestic looking creatures, they were also dangerous, possessing the strength of a lion, and the sharp claws in their hands. That was what separated them from the Werecats, who lacked claws, but the Sphinxes lacked the Werecats flexibility and agility. In ancient times, the Sphinxes were revered in Egypt as benevolent entities that protected temples and tombs. In Greece, they were considered monsters that would eat a person if the person didn't answer a riddle, which was wrong. They lived close to temples because they thought that no one would go to an abandoned temple or the tomb of someone already dead. Also, they used riddles to keep any potential spy or enemy from their settlements. They created riddles for themselves as passwords to enter their settlements. In modern times, they were normal citizens who have spread out throughout the world and have entered in many fields. Surprisingly enough, some preferred security jobs because of their physical capabilities and, who many believed, their instinct to be a 'guardian'.
"Does it really look like that?" asked Karen, who was too focused to notice.
"It does, is it because of your opponent?" asked the Sphinx.
"Probably. Compared to my other opponents, there's something different in her, something that the others didn't have."
"Let me guess, 'passion'." The Sphinx made quotation marks with her hands.
"They all had passion, the passion that I seek, but her passion is different. It's not just for the sport, but there's something else, I can feel it every time I see one of her matches."
"Then I don't need to worry about you underestimating her, especially after she defeated Luisa." The Sphinx had seen the videos and she could tell that Lea's punches have insane power.
"Indeed, a boxer that could defeat such a resilient boxer, will surely put a marvelous performance. You have my deepest gratitude, Ruth. You have given me the chance to dance with such a splendid partner." Responded Karen with excitement in her voice. After Karen said that, she returned to working on the speed bag. The Sphinx decided not to disturb Karen any longer and left her working on the speed bag.
"I don't know if she notice, but she can get a little scary when she talks like that." Ruth still considered it crazy for someone like Karen to be looking for passion in such a brutal sport.
It had been a year since Karen started training, but she did something different before becoming a boxer. Karen was a renowned dancer of many types of dances, from Waltz to Tango. She even danced with different dance partners, both male and female, which made many wonder if she was bisexual. Karen answered by saying that she loved people who had passion. Over time, she won many competitions in many cities and countries. One day, she decided to quit dancing, feeling that there was no passion for the art of dancing. All the competition and the people, especially the people, were taking the passion away from the art, so she decided to leave it. Weeks passed and Karen lived a normal life, enjoying some peace and quiet with the money she had won over her career as a dancer. One day, she was watching the TV and, by accident, put a channel that was showing a boxing match. Karen was about to change the channel, but considering that she had nothing better to see, she might as well see what it was all about. By coincidence, it was a title match and Karen was watching the start of it. Karen didn't know anything about boxing, but as she was watching, it started to get her full attention. It was the passion that the boxers were showing, their passion towards the belt, the passion that they put in each punch. It had been a while since Karen had felt something like that and decided to give it a try.
When Karen started boxing, it came as a shock because no one expected a previous dancer to enter the brutal world of boxing. Many tried to dissuade Karen, but she kept going on her search for passion. Many gyms didn't want to take her in because they thought that a dancer wouldn't last long in the ring. Ruth was the only one who took Karen and trained her. In her debut match, Karen blew away any doubt about her skills as a boxer. She used her dancing moves to dodge and attack in angles that no one expected. With every victory, Karen started gaining the reputation as the most graceful boxer, and she also earned the nickname of 'The Dancing Fist'. That rising popularity was making many boxing gyms regret not taking her in when they had the chance.
After so many opponents, Karen was going to fight one of the most intriguing opponents she ever had. A fighter with a passion that no fighter had shown her before: Specter.
"I can't wait, I really can't' wait for our match, it would be one of the best performances that I have ever been part of. Do not disappoint me, Specter, because I'll be ready for you." The excitement was getting hard to resist for Karen and she punched the speed bag with all the strength that she had.
Another week had gone by and Lea had kept her training. She managed to increase the strength in the back muscles and the tail, which was the main part of her body that the Spear Strike relied on. Lea had been watching the videos over and over about Karen's match, but she couldn't find anything useful.
"How can I beat her? She's obviously an in-fighter, but she seems to be used to moving around the opponent. And those spinning and turning moves are going to make her hard to hit," thought Lea. She decided to leave it for the moment and focused on her workout. She was lifting some weights with her tail, but decided to stop and work on the sandbag. Lea put her gloves on and started to punch the sandbag. She kept going for a while and started to notice something. She recovered the punch faster than before, making her capable of throwing more punches at a faster rate. Lea was throwing so many punches at such a fast rate, that it didn't give the sandbag a chance to settle. Lea kept going for a few minutes, and also noticed that she could throw an endless amount of punches for an entire round. While training, she was told to take a break and sat in one of the benches. While she was resting, she started to think about her next opponent, but she remembered something else. Lea needed to buy groceries. She was running low on food, so she needed to go to the store. The next day was her day off from training and work, so she was going to take that day to go and buy what she needed.
The next day, Lea left the gym and went to the store, as she had planned yesterday. Unfortunately, it wasn't close to the gym, so she had to take the bus. Lea got off to the nearest shopping area and headed to the nearest store. She was going to buy only the essentials, since she was trying to save as much as she could to help Julie and the kids. Of course, she couldn't buy a lot of groceries because she didn't know how to cook. She only bought stuff that was easy to make or was already made. Since she had to eat healthy, she only bought healthy food and drinks. While sliding in the area, a building to her right got her attention, so she stopped and looked through the window. It turned out to be a dance studio giving a class. Lea didn't know much about dancing, but the class was teaching how to dance a waltz. At that moment, the instructor was giving lessons to both human and inter-specie kids that had legs. She wasn't teaching them all at the same time because it was different how a person with two legs danced than one who had more legs or none. There was no music playing because they were new to waltz. While looking around the studio, she found the person she least expected in the building.
"Julie!?" Thought Lea, but for some reason, Julie reacted to something and looked towards the window. It didn't take long for Julie to realize that it was Lea and waved at her. Then, Julie got up from her seat and got out of the studio.
"Lea! Is good to see you!" Julie gave Lea a hug, which she didn't return quickly because Julie grabbed Lea by surprise. After a moment, Julie let go and looked at Lea. "How have you been?" Julie had a big smile on her face, which made Lea smile in return.
"Good, very good lately. What about you and the kids?" asked Lea.
"We've been doing great. Everything is going as peaceful as always."
"It's always great to hear that, what brings you here?"
"Oh, some of the kids like dancing, so we take them here."
"That sounds nice."
"What about you?"
"I was actually going to the store."
"Oh, sorry to keep you, maybe we can talk more after you're done."
"Don't worry about it, it can wait." Lea never took long when she was shopping.
"Yeah yeah, no problem."
"That's great, want to come in and see the class? I'm sure some of the kids would like to see you."
"Okay." They went inside the studio and took a seat close to each other. Just like Julie said, many of the kids recognized Lea and greeted her, especially one little girl that she met at Julie's house.
"Hello, Lea." Lea heard a familiar little voice.
"Jenny, how are you?" asked Lea, who was happy to see the shy Arachne.
"I'm fine, I'm happy to see you, Lea," answered Jenny with a smile.
"I'm happy to see you too. Do you like dancing?"
"I like watching it, I think is pretty," answered Jenny as she looked at the dancers.
"It is?" Lea never paid attention to dancing, so she wouldn't know about it.
"Yeah, have you danced before?" Jenny looked at Lea with curiosity in her eyes.
"Not really." Lea started to rub the back of her head, feeling a little embarrassed about it.
"Don't worry, Julie doesn't know either." After Jenny said that, Lea turned her head towards Julie with curiosity in her eyes.
"Yeah, not that I don't like it, I just I didn't have the time to learn," answered Julie, who had been listening to the whole conversation.
"I understand." Responded Lea, knowing what Julie was talking about. After that, they started to have small talk with each other. Sometimes they would include Jenny while the class was going. Of course, they were been quiet about it, not wanting to disturb the class. After the class with the two-legged students was over, the instructor was going to start with mixed partners, those with two legs and those with no legs. Before starting the class, the instructor approached Lea and Julie.
"Excuse me, could I ask a favor from you two?" asked the human instructor and both ,Lea and Julie, nod their heads.
"Yeah, on what?" asked Julie, who was always happy to help.
"You see, I need help in giving a demonstration on how to appropriately dance in mixed couples, but I don't have enough help right now. Could you help me demonstrate? It won't take too long and it won't be difficult moves, just the basic ones." After the instructor was done explaining, both Lea and Julie looked at each other. Since it was for the kid's class, they both agreed to do it.
"Okay, we'll help," said Lea, who was always happy to help the kids.
"Great, now follow me." After the instructor said that, they both got up from their seats.
"Wait, do we need to wear something?" asked Julie.
"Just some dancing shoes for you, we can lend you some. As for your friend, nothing is required." That was because Lea didn't have legs.
"Lucky." Julie said to Lea with a smile, and Lea could hear the playful tone in Julie's voice.
"Well…if it's any consolation, I'm more at risk of being stepped on than you." Joked Lea with a smile of her own, which got a giggle out of Julie.
After that, Julie got her shoes on and went to the dancing floor with Lea and the instructor.
"Okay, I know some of you aren't comfortable to dance with a partner of another species, especially with one who doesn't have legs, but do not worry. All you need is the right movements. These good ladies will give a demonstration of basic movements. Now, take these positions, like this," said the instructor and started to put Lea and Julie in a ball position. Lea was the lead, mostly because she was taller than Julie. Once they were in position, the instructor started giving simple steps, mostly moving side to side, movements that beginners would use. "That's it, is not that difficult, is it? Feel the rhythm, that's one of the most important things in dancing." Lea and Julie kept going on with the demonstration.
"You know, this isn't so hard," said Lea in relief.
"You're right, is actually fun." After Julie said that, they continued with the basic steps. Then, the instructor clapped her hands and asked for them to stop.
"Now students, take positions and let's begin with your lesson. Just like my assistants, we'll begin with the basics," said the instructor. Again, Lea and Julie start with the basic steps, and the rest of the students followed their example. They keep going for a while, repeating the steps over and over for the kids. Then, the instructor called it to a stop and announced a new movement, which was spinning the partner. The instructor showed how it should be done to Lea and Julie, which they show it to the other students. "That's it, with experience you can do it without any difficulty, but it will help even more when there is trust between the lead and the follow. Now, let's try it everyone." Just like the example, the students tried to spin the following partner, which went slower than Lea and Julie.
"Just to let you know, I wouldn't let you fall." Lea said quietly to Julie.
"I know you wouldn't, I trust you already." Julie answered just as quietly as Lea, and both smiled at each other. The instructor asked them to stop their movement.
"Now, we will put everything together with music. Do not worry, it will be an easy dance, all you need is the basic moves that we just learned. Now, just moving is not enough, you must flow with the music, feel the music, express that feeling with your dance. Let's begin," said the instructor. The instructor went to the stereo on the floor and turned it on. The stereo started to play ball music and everyone tried to flow with the music. The dance was a simple one, starting by moving side to side, turning slowly. Then, every once in a while, they try spinning their partners, but some failed to do it successfully. Fortunately, they didn't let it discourage them, they simply keep going with the most simple steps. Lea and Julie were dancing along with everyone else, but they weren't paying attention. There were focused on each other, not taking their eyes from the other.
The moment was cut short by the instructor, who announced the end of the class. Everyone stopped their dance and payed attention to the instructor.
"Okay everyone, that's it for today, come back next time for the next class." After the instructor said that, the instructor headed to Lea and Julie, while the students started to gather their things. "Thank you for your help."
"No problem, I'm sure some of the kids would like to comeback for your classes," answered Julie. They all say their goodbyes and the kids were taken to the van they used. "Okay, everyone is here, get on the van in order." Ordered Julie and the kids got in the van. Jenny went straight to Lea.
"Thank you for coming." Jenny thanked Lea with a smile.
"Oh, no problem, it was more of a coincidence, to be honest," said Lea.
"Would you visit us someday?" asked Jenny with hope in her eyes.
"Of course, I'll pay you guys a visit another time, I promise," answered Lea with a smile.
"Pinky promise?" Jenny presented her pinky finger to Lea. Lea smiled and grabbed Jenny's pinky finger with her own pinky finger, which made Jenny smile.
"Pinky promise." After that, they let go of their pinkies and Jenny got in the van.
"Jenny seems to like you a lot. Is she the one who gave you the scarf?" asked Julie, who was watching from afar. In her opinion, it was an adorable scene.
"Well, I got to take them back to the house, I had a good time."
"Me too, I'm glad I saw you through the window." Julie grabbed Lea in a hug.
"Take care of yourself." Lea hugged back and patted Julie's back.
"You too." They let go of each other and Julie got in her van. Julie drove off while giving a last good-bye to Lea, who went back on her way to the store. While on the way, Lea contemplated her time dancing with Julie. "It sure was fun. Now that I think about it, I don't remember Julie hugging me, not even holding hands for that long. I wonder if-?" Lea started to realize something. "Wait a moment, dancing? Dancing…like Karen, she dances. What was important in dancing? Come on, remember…remember what it was?" Then, it hit her, something that could help against Karen and her movements. "That's it! I got it! The rhythm! If I find Karen's rhythm, I can follow her unusual movements, but how can I find it?" Lea have never seen Karen dance, but Lea realized that she could find out what dances Karen mostly used. Unfortunately, Lea didn't have internet in her apartment because she didn't want to spend the money that she won for Julie and the kids monthly. "Good thing that the coach has a computer in his office, if I tell him what I'm searching for, then I'm sure he'll let me use it." With that plan in mind, Lea headed to the store, grabbed what she needed, and went back to the gym.
Lea arrived at the gym and headed straight to her apartment. Alinda notice Lea and tried to greet her.
"Hello Lea, how-" Said Alinda, but didn't get to finish because Lea simply kept sliding and went into her apartment. "What happened there?" asked Alinda to no one in particular. Lea got into her apartment, put her groceries in their place and headed down to the gym to look for Alonso. Fortunately, he was helping another boxer at the moment, so she headed straight to him.
"Coach." Lea called as she got close to Alonso. Alonso turned around to give Lea his attention.
"Que paso, chica? You need something?" asked Alonso, who could see that Lea was serious about something.
"Can I use your computer?" asked Lea with a serious tone. Alonso was taken by surprise with that question.
"What do you want the computer for?"
"I…might have an idea on how to defeat Karen."
"And you need the computer for that?"
"Yeah, I want to search for something."
"Mind if I ask what it is?"
"Rhythm? In her boxing?"
"Not in her boxing, but in her dancing. Since she's using dancing moves instead of boxing ones, I need to know more about the dances that she learned, the steps, everything. Then, I would be able to read her next movement."
"Well, it sounds like a good idea. All right, use it as long as you need it."
"Thanks, coach." Lea headed straight to the office and went in. Once inside, she moved to the desk, sat on the chair, and turned the computer on. Once she logged in, she tried to find any information on Karen when she was a dancer. It was easier than expected because Karen was famous in her days as a dancer. Lea wasted no time and started to look at videos, photos, anything that could help her find out about the dance styles that Karen would use in boxing. Everything seemed to be on the internet, Lea easily found a site with videos about Karen, showing that she had danced Waltz, Tango, Salsa, and Samba. Without a doubt, Karen was one of the best in the world, winning competitions all over the world. Her movements were perfect, having grace and technique, dancing with both male and female partners. After finding all the videos with Karen in them, Lea started to study each and every single one of them. Lea was trying to memorize as much as possible. Eventually, Lea spent hours just watching the videos, and then, she started to compare them to Karen's boxing. Lea could see that many of Karen's movements were based on dancing moves, which explained why Karen had so many unorthodox movements. The only reason that got Lea away from the computer, was Alonso going into the office, and calling Lea.
"Oye chica, you've been here for hours, you should go and rest," said Alonso.
"Oh, okay, coach," answered Lea, who turned the computer off and got up from the chair. Lea slid out of the office and went to her apartment, deciding that she gathered as much as she could and spent the day normally.
The next day, after opening and cleaning the gym, Lea started with her training. She kept working the tail and back muscles, along with the other basic workouts. After Lea was done with that, she decided to do some shadow boxing. She tried to picture the opponent as Karen, and Lea tried to use all of the videos that she had watched to imagine Karen's movements. Karen was an in-fighter, just like Lea, so Lea must plan an attack. Lea imagined herself been face to face against Karen and defending with the Peek-a-boo style. A frontal attack wouldn't work on Lea, so Karen might need to find holes in Lea's defense, which were on the sides. Lea could fix that by following Karen, but considering her unusual movements, Lea could lose sight of Karen. If Lea couldn't see Karen, Lea won't know where to block or when to dodge. The best Lea could do was make distance, but it was useless, as she had seen in previous videos of Karen's matches.
"Dammit, how am I supposed to follow those movements? They are unpredictable in a boxing match," thought Lea, but then, a realization hit her. "Wait, follow? Is that what I'm doing? Am I following Karen? Is that why she wins her matches? Because they try to follow her? What if I change her movements to somewhere else? I got it! Feints, if I use feints to change her movements to where I want her, I should be able to land a punch. Now, instead of following, I'll be the one leading." Lea started to picture Karen going to the right side, and Lea used a feint with the right. After that, Lea could prepare herself to predict the movement and attack. "With this, I have a chance at beating Karen, I can do this." Lea kept her shadow boxing for a while, trying to get a feeling on how to fight back against Karen. Lea wasn't the only one working for an upcoming match. Hilda was also working harder than usual, especially since her championship match will be after Lea's match. After spending the day working out, it was time to close the gym and call it a day.
The rest of the time left until the match was spent training. Eventually, the day of the match arrived and Lea, along with Alonso and Alfred, headed to the designated venue for the weigh-in. Lea was the first to arrive because there were no signs of Karen. There were other people in there, which turned out to be journalists and paparazzi.
"I wasn't expecting this kind of a crowd for a 4-rounder match. It must be for Karen, considering her past," said Alonso. People tried to take a picture of Karen's opponent, but Lea noticed it and tried to cover her face. "What is it, chica?" Alonso didn't expect that kind of reaction from Lea.
"I don't want to be photographed," answered Lea, who started to feel uncomfortable.
"Why not? When you start to become famous, it will be inevitable to avoid the press." Lea decided to simply hide behind Alonso and Alfred while covering her face as best as possible with the hood that she was wearing.
"Specter, what's your opinion on your next opponent?" asked one of the journalists.
"Well…" Said Lea, but she wasn't given a chance to respond because another journalist spoke.
"Do you have a plan against her?" Other questions followed after that one.
"How confident are you against her?"
"Do you actually know anything about Karen?" The questions would have kept coming, if it wasn't for the arrival of Lea's next opponent, Karen. She was accompanied by her coach, Ruth When the door revealed Karen, the journalists surrounded her and started to take endless photographs of Karen, who entered with a dignified air around her. Just as Lea thought, Karen was beautiful, but even more in person. As a star would do, Karen gave a charming smile to the cameras, and the questions started to rain on her, which was a relief for Lea. Since they lost interest on Lea, she stopped hiding behind Alonso and Alfred.
"Miss, how do you feel about your next match?" asked a journalist.
"How is your condition right now? Think you are ready for the match?" asked another journalist.
"Do you have any plans after the tournament?" After that question, Ruth stepped forward.
"Okay okay, that's enough, give us some breathing air, we just got here." Ruth was a little annoyed by the impatient journalists.
"It's alright, Ruth," said Karen as she put a hand on the Sphinx's arm. Then, she slid forward and answered with an elegant voice. "Ladies and gentlemen, my condition is fit enough for the upcoming match. After winning the tournament, I am planning to go for the national championship. As you can see, I'm confident that I can win the match."
"What do you think of your opponent, Specter? Many consider her a strong opponent because she defeated one of the most resilient boxers in this tournament with her new technique, Spear Strike." Asked one of the journalists, which got the attention of Lea.
"How do they know about my technique?" asked Lea.
"Someone must have heard the name and mentioned it around, there's no other way they would have known," answered Alonso, who was just as surprised as Lea.
"I have certainly heard of Specter, I have even watched her videos, and truth be told, her attack has terrifying power behind it. However, her attack won't work on me," answered Karen. Lea couldn't deny it, she needed space throw it, and Karen always stayed close. "Speaking of Specter, where is she?" Karen started to look for Lea and found her behind the line of photographers. Lea was hiding her face with the hood of a sleeveless vest, with a t-shirt under it, and cargo pants. Karen remembered seeing Lea fight, but it was different seeing her in person. The others might not see it, giving the nature that Lea was showing, but Karen could see it. Even though it was concealed by the clothes, she could see that Lea possessed the body of a warrior. A body that not only showed power, but a beauty that only a majestic specimen could show. "While her body is a sight to behold, the passion that she showed in her fight against Luisa was just…magnificent. Seeing her in person is making me more and more impatient for the match to start." Karen was about to approach Lea, but Karen was stopped by the staff there.
"I'm sorry to interrupt, but we need to get this done, other boxers will come for their weigh-in."
"My apologies." Karen started to take off her white Ruched Shirt dress, while Lea started to take off her own clothing, but put her shirt around her head to hide her face. Lea looked at Karen and was surprised because Karen's muscles weren't very prominent. Karen was fit, but didn't seem to hold too much power in her. Of course, it didn't fail to draw the attention of the journalists, making many of their faces flush. Lea was another story. She was buff, not in a ridiculous way, but was buff enough to draw attention. It also made most of the female journalists flush. Even Karen noticed the strong muscles at display. The men were impressed and started to believe that a single punch from Lea could end their lives.
With both boxers ready, the staff took their weights and were cleared for the match, which would take place at that night. With the weigh-in done, both boxers dressed. Once Karen was done, she approached Lea. Lea felt someone behind her and turned around, only to get surprised by Karen, who was very close to Lea.
"H-Hello." Greeted Lea, and everyone thought that she was been too shy.
"Hello to you, Specter, a pleasure to meet you in person," answered Karen. She wasn't lying, she wanted to meet Lea before the match. With both boxers standing face to face, everyone else in the room could see that Karen was a little smaller than Lea.
"Of course," answered Karen and started to slid in circles around Lea. "Looking at you in person cannot be compared to looking at you in your videos," said Karen in admiration, while Lea was trying to keep eyes on Karen, but Karen was good at moving around a person. "With a body like this, you must have quite the amount of admirers, don't you?"
"Uh, not…really." Lea wasn't even sure if she had any type of admirers.
"And that fire, that passion that you showed in your match against Luisa, quite exciting."
"T-thanks." Lea started to get uncomfortable. Lea saw the chance to start sliding back, but went as far as the wall behind her, and Karen quickly moved in front of Lea. Then, Karen lifted herself up with her tail and moved close to Lea, reaching her left ear.
"I can't wait to see it in our match," whispered Karen and slid away from Lea. Then, Karen headed to the door, where her coach was waiting. Lea kept looking at the retreating form of Karen. Lea was so focused on Karen, that she didn't notice Alonso calling.
"Hey, chica, you okay? We're leaving," said Alonso, which got a reaction out of Lea.
"Huh? Yeah, I'm ready," answered Lea and started to leave with Alonso, but the journalists tried to get some answers from Lea.
"Specter, what's your opinion of Karen? Was she trying to provoke you?" one of them asked.
"What did Karen said to you? Was it an insult? A threat?" Alonso blocked Lea from their sight and simply answered.
"No questions for today. Have a good day." After that, Alonso and his group left.
They were outside of the building and away from the journalists, and Alonso took the opportunity to ask Lea some questions.
"So, what did she said to you?" asked Alonso.
"Mostly that, she can't wait for our match," answered Lea, who was a little calmer.
"Well, she doesn't have to wait long, since the match is tonight. Now that I have seen her in person, she doesn't seem to be the tough type, which is strange for an in-fighter. Since they're always fighting up close, they tend to need a good chin to take the upcoming attacks."
"Maybe she relies on her movements to avoid any damage," said Alfred.
"Probably, but is a problem if she has no power in her punches. The only thing that I can come up with is that she uses the build up momentum from her sliding around to throw more effective punches," answered Alonso.
"But Lea is tough enough to take them."
"If she can see them."
"What do you mean, coach?" asked Lea.
"When you see a punch coming, you simply grit your teeth and take it, but what would happen if you can't see the punch coming?" asked Alonso.
"I wouldn't be ready to take it." Lea started to understand what Alonso was talking about.
"To put it simply, yes. If you can't see the punch coming, you're not mentally, nor physically prepared for the attack, and take more damage than usual."
"Don't worry, coach. I've been training for this day." Alonso could hear Lea's confidence.
"I know you have, and we are winning this tournament." Alonso's voice was even, but the feeling might have been the same as a battle cry. That same day, Hilda went to the weigh-in and was cleared to participate in the match.
That night, Lea's group went to the venue where the matches would take place. Lea's match would be considered an under card, since she was a 4-rounder. However, it was considered a good position to give Hilda some momentum for her championship match. Before going to their separate ways, Salena and Alinda tried to cheer for their friends.
"Good luck, Lea, I know you're going to win this. You too, Hilda, I can't wait for you to become the new national champion," said Salena as cheerfully as she could.
"You'll succeed in your goals, I'm sure of it," said Alinda, She was more leveled than Salena, but the feeling was the same.
"Thanks," said Lea. She was grateful for the good lucks because she believed that she might need them.
"You better believe it, lass. I'm going to get that belt out of her hands," said Hilda, who was ready to go at full force. After that, Salena and Alinda went to their seats, while Lea and Hilda went to their locker room. Once they arrived to the locker room, they put their trunks, their breast protection, and gloves. Since Lea was the first one to fight, she was the first one to start warming up.
"As far as I have seen you work, I can see that you have come up with some plan against Karen," said Alonso.
"Yeah, as mentioned by Karen herself, my Spear Strike is useless against her, but I can see that she isn't physically fit to take a punch," said Lea.
"The question is: can you hit her? I have seen her videos, and the only way that you can hit her, is if you throw hundreds of punches and hope one of them will hit. Then again, there is no such thing as a lucky punch."
"True enough," said Hilda, who knew all about it.
"Yeah, I understand that, but don't worry. I have a plan on how to actually punch her," said Lea.
"And that is?" asked Alonso.
"I notice something peculiar in Karen's matches, which was that all boxers were following Karen. That's why they lost, Karen was leading them to a good spot to attack. What I'm going to do is lead her to a point where I can punch her. Instead of following, I'm the one leading her this time."
"Sounds like a dance, but a boxing dance. Very well, let's see how this works out." With the plan set, Lea kept warming up and waiting for her call.
In another room, Karen was also warming up for her upcoming match.
"That was quiet a scene you did there, some even think that you're falling for her," said Ruth, who was barely holding a laugh after saying that.
"I have seen many people, from different species, from both sexes, and some got my attention, but not like she has. Is it a simple infatuation? Is it love? Or simple respect? As far as I know, she intrigues me," answered Karen while warming up.
"So…you're not in love?" Ruth didn't remember the last time that Karen was interested in anyone.
"I cannot tell for sure, but I might found out in this match, if she can last long enough."
"As long as it doesn't get in the way of your boxing, I do not mind at all." Ruth was been honest about it. All she cared about, was that Karen won the match.
"Do not worry, Ruth, when it comes to my profession, I do it with passion." After Karen said that, she kept warming up.
"As far as I have seen, I cannot deny it. Better be ready, Specter, because you won't know what hit you." Both boxers were left with no option, but to wait. Wait for their call to get into the ring and let their fists fly.