Chapter 17: What Did I Get?
Both boxers started to leave their corners, but it was easy to see that Tania was still feeling the effects of the previous blow to her body. Lea, on the other hand, seemed to be good enough to start sliding towards Tania, but something was wrong. Lea would be dashing towards Tania, but Lea was moving slower than before. When they looked at Lea's tail, they could see that she was ready to throw her Spear Strike. It made Lea look desperate to end the fight, even though she was countered several times. Lea didn't seem to care and continued to move towards Tania. She knew what Lea was planning, and it made her feel tremendous pressure.
"I didn't recover enough to move quickly, Specter doesn't show much signs of damage, not tired enough, not damaged enough, I need rest, need to survive, what do I do? What do I do?" Thought Tania. She slid far away from Lea, who was still in her position to launch her attack, but dropped it to pursue Tania. Once Lea was in the right distance, she took position, and launched the Spear Strike. Tania turned sideways and countered the attack with a left punch to Lea's face. The counter stopped Lea in her tracks and forced her to slid away from Tania, who took the opportunity to slide away. Lea got in position again and launched her attack. Tania countered again, but that time, with a right straight to Lea's face.
In Lea's corner, Alonso was starting to dislike his own plan. Taking a left was one thing, but taking a right was something even bigger because it was the dominant hand and caused more damage. Then, when Alonso took a good look at those punches, he noticed something strange.
"What's this? I can see that Tania is countering the attack with no problem, but the way she's throwing the punches is strange. It looks like…she isn't putting too much power in them. If that's the case, could it mean that Tania is pulling her punches? No, that can't be, when I look at it more carefully…" Thought Alonso. Then, he realized something that could be important, but decided to leave it for later.
As Tania pulled her punch from Lea, she could see that Lea was starting to bleed from the mouth. Not only that, the right eye started to swell shut, and other areas of the face started to swell as well. Still, Tania preferred to stay away from Lea. At that moment, Tania noticed that Lea had been throwing the same attack over and over. That made Tania think that Lea was desperate to end the match. "She might be too damage to continue the match and wants to end it quickly. If that's the case, countering her best punch a few more times, would bring her down, ending this fight, ending her, and getting a victory against such a strong opponent," thought Tania, and she wasn't wrong. Lea was starting to feel the accumulated damage, but she refused to go down. Unfortunately, the pressure and the fear that Tania was experiencing prevented her from realizing that it was all a trap. Lea prepared for a third Spear Strike, and Tania noticed it.
"Just one more, I just need to land this one, and it will be over," thought Lea. She was hoping to end it with that last attack, she didn't know if she could take any more counters.
"Again, the same will happen, I demonstrated over and over again, in the previous round and in this round, your attack is too simple, too easy to read, too easy to counter." Tania was feeling a sense of relief because Lea was going to use the same attack, but Tania didn't know what was going to happen. Lea launched the Spear Strike, and Tania tried to counter the attack with a right straight. To everyone's surprise, the punch missed, passing over Lea's head, and Lea landed a perfect Spear Strike on Tania's body. The blow took the air out of Tania, and made her bend forward. The expression in Tania's face told the story, showing that the blow caused tremendous pain, and it robbed her of stamina. "What happened? She always hits the head, why did I miss?" As Tania tried to hold her mouthpiece in its place, she looked at Lea, and discovered what happened. Lea had lowered her stance, making her aim for the body, and leaned forward. Fortunately for Lea, her entire tail was strong enough to support her, just for enough time to regain her balance. Lea stood upright, while Tania was still bending forward. Lea tried to throw a punch, but the referee stopped her and told her to head to the neutral corner. Lea did as told, and the referee started to count.
At one minute into the third round, the referee started to count for Tania.
"1…2…3" Tania was still bent forward, but at closer inspection, anyone would notice that Tania's body was shaking slightly.
"Tania! If you're stubborn enough to keep standing after that, then take your fighting pose!" yelled Aaron. He felt proud that Tania kept standing after taking an insane punch like that.
"4…5…6" Tania was in the same position, but started to respond after hearing the sixth count. Even if Tania responded, she wasn't standing upright and not putting a fighting pose, so the referee continued.
"7…8" Tania tried her best to lift herself up.
"I can't lose here, I can't fail. I always got great scores in my tests," thought Tania, who started to realize something. A test in a piece of paper couldn't be compared to an actual fight in the ring. "Is that it? Is that why I lost? For someone who was considered a genius, I was been a complete idiot." Tania used all the strength that she had left to stand upright, but she couldn't do it and started falling on her hands.
"9…10!" The referee ended the count and the bell ringed, announcing the end of the match. To make it official, the referee announced Lea as the victor. The seconds of both boxers got into the ring and approached their boxers. Alonso was the first to reach Lea.
"Well done, that was the deciding punch that got you the victory," said Alonso, who was feeling the anxiety leave his body.
"Yeah, but I was actually nervous, I thought she would stand up in time and keep going." Responded Lea. Her face showed that the swelling got a little worse and she continued to bleed. Seeing that, Alonso got a towel and wiped Lea's blood away.
"I was just as nervous as you, I didn't know if you could take another counter from her, even with your new resistance."
"She was strong, very strong." Lea felt respect for Tania, from one boxer to another.
"I can imagine. Come on, let's go." Alonso grabbed Lea's arm to put it over his shoulders, knowing that Lea was extremely tired and damaged from the fight. After that, they got out of the ring, but before leaving the arena, Lea lifted her right fist into the air, which her fans responded with a cheer. "What's the reason behind that?"
"Well, they come, not only to see a match, but to see me. The least I can do is thank them like this."
"I'm sure is more than enough." Once Lea was done, they continued on their way out of the arena. Meanwhile, Tania was been taken out of the arena under the applause of the audience. Once Lea's group arrived to the medical room and were given a quick check up, they went to the locker room. Lea dressed back in her usual hoody and cargo pants, left the locker room, and headed straight for the venues exit. For the second time since returning to the ring, Lea didn't meet up with her previous opponents in the corridor.
"What a relief," said Lea with a sigh.
"What?" asked Salena with a perplexed face.
"Oh, nothing, I was just talking to myself." Lea felt a little silly for saying it out loud. After that, they continued on their way out of the building. Around a corner behind them, Tania caught a glimpse of Lea, who was leaving the building.
"You really lost that one," said Aaron behind Tania. He was worried about how Tania would take her first defeat.
"Yeah, may have grown over confident, underestimated Specter's strength, my mistake to consider a boxing match as a test, won't make the same mistake again. After all, I may have failed this test, but there are others along the way, just have to prepare better for them." Responded Tania with a smile.
"Well, glad you still wish to continue your career. Now, let's go home so you can rest up." They started to head to the exit. Aaron was happy to know that Tania wouldn't be retiring any time soon.
"I wonder what would be my score if I have asked Specter herself." Tania tried her best in the situation and her defeat was the result. If she had asked Lea, there was no doubt that Lea would have given Tania a great score. Just the same as Tania would have given to Lea.
It had been a few days since Lea's match with Tania, and Lea had been ordered to rest at her apartment. Lea had already gone with the doctor and found no serious damage to her brain. While Lea was resting in her apartment, she heard a knock on her door and went to open it. It turned out to be Alfred, who asked Lea to go with him to the office, and Lea already knew that it was about her next opponent. Lea entered the office, and found everyone. Like always, they greeted Lea, and Lea greeted them back.
"As you may have already guessed, we have information about your next opponent," said Alonso in a serious tone, and Lea didn't liked that. Everyone in the room was the same as Alonso, which made the air in the office heavy, as if something big was going to happen.
"Yes, my last opponent in the tournament, right?" Said Lea.
"That's right, here's the video of her." Alonso turned the TV on and played the DVD. In one corner of the ring, there was a Lamia with fair-white skin color, neck- length auburn hair in a shag style, and amber eyes. "That's your next opponent, Payton Huber." In the other corner was Payton's opponent, who had blond hair with a green highlight on some parts, white skin, and gray eyes. At the sound of the bell, they both came out of their corners and approached each other without hesitation. Once they were at punching range, Payton didn't waste time and threw a 1-2 combo, which her opponent blocked, but the opponent was pushed back. Payton chased after the opponent and attacked with another 1-2 combo, making the opponent protect her head, while exposing the body. Payton quickly started to attack with a right punch to the opponent's body, but the opponent attempted to block the attack. It turned out to be a feint and Payton attacked with a left hook to the opponent's jaw. The opponent attempted to attack with a right hook, but Payton blocked with the left arm. Then, she hit the opponent's body with a right uppercut, followed by another right uppercut to the opponent's chin. Seeing that Payton was gaining the upper hand, the opponent decided to throw a left hook, which Payton attempted to dodge by leaning back. Unfortunately, the opponent pushed out the elbow a little farther than usual, and hit Payton on the chin.
"Hey, that was a foul!" yelled Salena in protest. The referee didn't mention anything.
"I can't believe they have referees that can't see fouls going on," said Alinda in disapproval. Payton's opponent rushed in, but she was about to discover that using fouls may have been a bad idea. As Payton's opponent was about to throw a right at Payton, the opponent is countered by a right to her face, which pushed her back. When the opponent cleared her vision, she saw something that made her nervous. Payton didn't stop with the counter and rushed in. The opponent attempted to keep Payton away with a jab, but Payton dodged to the left. Next, the opponent threw a right, but Payton weaved to the left, and hit the opponent's liver with a left hook. The punch hurt the opponent and followed with a left hook to the opponent's head, sending her face to the side. The opponent slid back, but she was chased by Payton. The opponent tried to stop Payton with a left jab. Unfortunately, Payton stopped the jab mid-way with the left palm, and retaliated with a right straight to the opponent's face. The punch pushed the opponent to the ropes and was trapped by Payton. From there, Payton started to attack relentlessly. She threw punch after punch, her opponent tried to escape the ropes by fighting back, but all of the opponent's punches were parried and dodged. After a few moment, Payton's opponent didn't seem to be conscious anymore, but Payton kept punching, until the referee stopped Payton by grabbing her. Once Payton stopped, her opponent had the chance to simply drop face first to the mat in a bloody mess. Payton was declared the winner and the match ended there.
Everyone in the room was quiet, not because the match was impressive, but because none of them have seen a boxer go wild in the ring.
"So far, she has won all of her fights by KO, but this is the first time I see her get like that. Payton usually wins with combinations and counters." Informed Alonso with a straight face.
"That was just insane, if she had kept going, she might have killed her on the spot," said Salena, who was upset by the scene.
"Fortunately, the referee was there to prevent any accident," said Alinda.
"I still wonder about the killing instinct. Even if they were trained to be boxers, there was a bigger killing desire than normal," said Hilda in a serious tone. Before anyone else could wonder about that event, they heard someone at the door.
"Better to go wild in the ring than in the streets, don't you think?" Everyone turned to the source of the voice and saw Zora standing in the door.
"Zora?!" Said Lea in surprise.
"You know her?" asked Alonso.
"It's a long story."
"Oh, are you paying me a visit?" asked Hilda.
"Keep dreaming," answered Zora with a small smile.
"I promise to make it a reality."
"Anyways, what did you mean by that?" asked Lea in an attempt to get the conversation back on track. Zora straighten her face and became serious.
"Lea, this might be the most difficult fight you ever had. So difficult that you could lose," said Zora.
"Most difficult? Why?" Lea had troubles with all of her previous opponents. She got a little shocked after been told that the last fight might be the most difficult.
"And what do you mean by 'better in the ring than in the streets'?" asked Alinda.
"You already saw what happened. Payton went with the intent to kill. The reason behind that, is that she's a war veteran who suffers of PTSD (Posttraumatic stress disorder)," answered Zora.
"A war veteran!?" Responded Lea with wide eyes.
"That makes her into a dangerous boxer to fight with. I'm sure that her survival instincts and training in the military gave her tremendous fighting skills," said Alonso while he was in deep thought.
"The interesting story behind Payton taking boxing was because it keeps her PTSD under control. If her condition starts up, it would be against the opponent in front of her," said Zora.
"It makes sense, a soldier is trained and programmed to kill, not to live a peaceful life as a civilian," said Hilda.
"And Lea is supposed to fight her, what if she goes crazy again and attempts to kill her?" asked Salena as she pointed at the TV, which stopped showing the fight.
"It's not that different than in the battlefield, your opponent is basically trying to beat you to death."
"Don't worry, everyone," said Lea. "I can use the new Spear Strike against her. I can change targets and speed if necessary."
"You can't and you won't use it." Responded Alonso in a stern manner.
"What? Why? It worked with Tania, I'm sure I can use it against Payton."
"The reason why it worked so well was because Tania was panicking. That's why she fell for it, she wasn't thinking clearly."
"I'm sure something is going to work out, I just need to work hard."
"I still forbid its use." That surprised everyone in the room.
"Remember those counters that Tania was using against you?"
"If you're worried about that, then don't worry, I'll just take it." After Lea said that, Alonso went quiet for a moment. Then, he responded.
"Everyone, give us a moment." Alonso wasn't asking, he gave an order. Anyone who knew him would know that he wanted them gone. Alinda, Salena, and Hilda, do as asked, taking Zora with them. Once they were out of the office, Hilda looked at Zora and said.
"Well then, you must be tired from coming all the way here, want to get a drink somewhere?"
"Aren't you working right now?" asked Zora with a straight face. She couldn't believe that Hilda would ask such a thing in a moment like that.
"I can always make time for you, or find some time at the least."
"I don't think so." Zora started to head to the door. Hilda didn't stop there and started sliding alongside Zora. Once they got out of the gym, Hilda seemed to drop the flirting.
"Wait wait, please wait," said Hilda, which stopped Zora from flying away. "Just one drink, one, and that's it. If you don't want to talk, its okay, just have a drink with me, please?" Zora softened up after hearing such a humble request. After that, Zora put a thumb on her lip, and started thinking about something.
"On one condition," said Zora, who showed a thumb.
"Which is?" Hilda wasn't a fan of those 'on one condition' lines.
"An interview, we know of your record and impressive skill in the ring, but we don't know much about you 'outside' of the ring." Hilda started to think on it.
"Okay, but if it's too personal, I won't give you a direct answer."
"Fair enough, shall we go then?"
"Uh, yeah, sure, is not far from here." With that solved, they both leave to have a drink, leaving Alinda and Salena alone. They actually heard the whole conversation from the other side of the door.
"I really thought she would leave," said Salena in surprise.
"Me too, Hilda's relationships have been…" Said Alinda, who didn't know how to finish that sentence.
"I think short would be a better word." That got a chuckle out of Salena. "Wait, it's just the two of us. This could be my big chance. Say-" Alinda was both interrupted and surprised by Salena.
"I was wondering if you…" That was something new for Alinda because Salena was usually very cheerful, but never that nervous.
"Is this it? Is she going to ask me out? Yes?"
"W-would you like to…"
"Yes?" Alinda was barely containing herself from telling Salena to hurry it up.
"You know, go and eat at-" Suddenly, Alinda interrupted to give a very cheerful response.
"Yes! Yes! Of course I would go with you. I always wondered what took you so long to notice!"
"Oh, sorry for not asking before, I didn't know if it would have been okay with you." Salena felt silly for not asking earlier.
"Why, I don't see the problem in it."
"Yeah, I mean, I'm just bringing a friend over for dinner." That last comment got Alinda's attention.
"Wait, what?" Salena didn't seem to listen because she was too happy to do it.
"My mother has been asking me to bring a friend over. I don't know why you precisely, but I'm sure it would be a great time."
"Uh, yeah." Alinda was shocked at the moment, so she couldn't put any feeling in her words. Fortunately, she managed to put a fake smile.
"Well, I'm glad you agreed. When I get my break, I'll let my mother know that we're going to have a visitor."
"Well, better go back to my training." Salena left Alinda where she was standing. After Salena was gone, Alinda went to a wall, already dropping the fake smile to replace it for a shocked expression, and did the first thing that came to mind. She put her head on the wall, and cursed her bad luck.
Back in the office, Alonso and Lea were alone.
"Chica, you were able to resist Tania's counter because she was attacking out of desperation, not to actually cause damage. At best, Tania was simply trying to push you away from her. Payton will be a different story. If she were to counter you with her full power, with no hesitation, I don't know if your new resistance will be able to take it. Worst case scenario…you would get your skull crushed," said Alonso, which made Lea go silent. Hearing that her best punch could end her career left her demoralized, and she dropped her gaze to the ground.
"Is there nothing that I can do? I know that my attack is very simple, but it also means that there's room for improvement, right?" Said Lea, who was still clinging to any flicker of hope.
"Well…there was something that we could do," said Alonso in hesitation.
"What? What is it? I'll do anything. I'm willing to work with double the effort, triple if needed." Alonso looked into Lea's eyes, and he could see her determination and willingness to work for it. That made it more the painful to say it.
"Very well, another problem that you're having with that technique of yours is that you can't stop it once it's thrown. Even if you know that you're going to be punched."
"Well, yeah, I'm pretty much launching myself."
"The idea that I'm having here, is that you stop your attack after launching it."
"Stop the attack? I pretty much launch most of my body to use my attack." The only time Lea would stop, was when the attack was over.
"Yeah, and this is the dangerous part. You're going to use what's left of your tail to pull the rest of your body to a stop. With it, you can make it hard to predict the timing."
"Stop with the rest of my tail? Wouldn't that…?"
"Rip that part of your tail from your body, which is the risk of attempting this. This is why is dangerous, you would need a ridiculously strong tail that could resist the force."
"Then I'll simply work the double to make it even stronger."
"If you're willing to attempt something so dangerous, then I won't stop you. Instead, I'll help you with this, so you better be ready to work your hardest."
"Yes, coach." With the discussion over, they leave the office and started with the training.
Inside another gym, there were sounds of activity in there, all members busy with their own workouts, but there was something strange in the air. Everyone knew the source, a lone Lamia who was working on the heavy sandbag. She was making an impressive sound on it, and it was hard to follow the speed of her punches. There was no one around her, no one dared get close to her. Been close to her was the same as standing next to a timed bomb, but with no clock, no timer. A bomb that could explode at any moment, and no one would know when. There was only one brave soul who could actually approach her, and to see that one brave soul right in front of you, you would have to look down.
"Hey, Payton, Payton." Called a dwarf, but received no response from Payton, who was still punching the heavy bag. "You're at it again." The dwarf grabbed Payton from her waist and started to pull her away from the bag. Payton notice someone pulling her away from the bag, looked back, and noticed the dwarf.
"Coach, what's going on?" asked Payton with a confused face, which made her look inoffensive. Hearing that Payton was back to her right mind, the dwarf let go of her, and moved in front of her.
"About time, you're not exactly a harpy that is easy to pull around."
"Sorry, coach McGuff." Payton apologized to a dwarf with titian hair, hazel eyes, and white skin color. His name was Benen McGuff, who actually knew of Payton's condition, and thought of letting that killing instinct in the ring. He didn't expect her to scare off some of the members. Some believed that she would arrive with a gun and start killing everyone. That didn't scare Benen, he was physically fit, but he somehow knew that she wouldn't do that. Letting her go wild in the sandbag or in the ring tended to calm her down.
"It's alright, I just came to remind you to go and do your roadwork. You're almost done with the tournament, but I've heard that your next opponent is a tough one."
"I've heard she beat all of her opponents with a KO, that's not an easy feat considering her opponents." Payton said it without any sarcasm, but with sincere respect.
"Well, you also had your fair share of strong opponents, so don't let it discourage you."
"Don't worry, coach, I won't let it, I just hope I don't go off like that." Payton started to clasp her hands together after remembering going berserk on her previous opponent. Payton didn't like to go berserk. She didn't want to hurt anyone like that.
"Don't worry about going off in the ring. The only one that you would hurt is your opponent, that's what the sport is all about." Benen wouldn't like her to kill someone, but if it guaranteed a victory, then he would take responsibility.
"But, what if I go off out of the ring? What if I go off on my family? What if I go off on my son?" That was the worst that Payton could think of. She would rather kill herself than to hurt her only child. The very idea hurt her heart. She always wished that she wouldn't have her condition, so that she could spend more time with him and her husband.
"That's why you fight, so that you can let it go on someone, who most likely, you would never meet, than on your family. This is like your therapy, which actually pays you to go berserk on your opponent. I think this is an ideal thing for you."
"I understand, but sometimes, I wish it wasn't on the expense of another person's safety."
"Yeah, I know, you have a good heart. Don't lose hope. It will work out one way or the other." That brought a smile to Payton's face.
"No problem. Go and do your roadwork."
"Okay." Payton left Benen to do her roadwork.
It had been a few years since Payton joined the gym right after one of the wars was over. At first, Payton simply returned to her home with her family, but after a few weeks, there were signs that she suffered from PTSD. That caused some problems, sometimes she would go violent on things, breaking them or tearing them apart. That scared her family, but not for their security, but they were more worried about her. They didn't want her to hurt herself. After that, Payton have tried to control it with sheer willpower, but it was becoming more and more difficult as time went by. One day, Payton was feeling it, the rage, the need to destroy, to kill something, someone. To prevent her from hurting her family, Payton went outside, trying to calm herself somewhere else. Payton started sliding as far and fast as she could, which was no problem for her because she was a trained soldier, a killing machine. Payton didn't have a destination in mind, she just wanted the feeling to go away, and she wanted to keep her family safe. The sliding was working, but the feeling was there, and it was getting stronger. To prevent herself from hurting anyone from the streets, she thought it would be better to go to a restroom and destroy it, to see if it would make it go away. Payton wasn't paying attention to the buildings, and simply entered one, which turned out to be a boxing gym. There were members sparring, hitting the sandbags, or the speed bags. They were training to fight, to be strong. Payton wanted to do just that, she wanted to punch something, anything that would make the feeling go away. Benen was there at the time and saw her enter his gym. He walked up to Payton and asked her.
"Welcome, are you here to watch or to join?" Benen welcomed Payton with a friendly greeting.
"I-I'm…just looking, that's all, yes," answered Payton.
"Well, we're not giving demonstrations or anything of the sort today, you need to come some other day."
"T-then how about…joining?" Payton didn't want to join. She wanted to punch the heavy bags to make the feeling go away, but the dwarf was giving her a hard time.
"In that case, I'll have to get the paperwork so that you can read and sign. Wait just a sec, I'll be right back." Benen was more than happy to have a new member because it would mean more money.
"O-okay, thank you." Benen left Payton and went straight to his office. Payton took the opportunity to go to the heavy bags. Once she reached one of the heavy bags, she simply clenched her fists, and started punching it with all her might. Payton didn't stop with just one punch. She started to throw a flurry of them, making a good sound with every punch. It got the attention of everyone close to the bags. No one had heard a sound like that for as long as they could remember. After hitting it for a while, Benen was coming out of his office with the paperwork, only to find Payton hitting the heavy bags.
"That's an insane sound. She must have a good punch on her," thought Benen, who started to approach Payton. "Excuse me, miss, I have the paperwork that-" Once he was close to Payton, he could feel something strange about her. First, Payton didn't pay attention to him, she simply kept punching the bag. Second, there was a different air about her, as if it was suicide to approach her at the moment. When Benen took a look at her eyes, he saw it. He saw someone who wanted to fight, someone who wanted to destroy, and someone who wanted to kill. It took a while for Payton to finish her attack with a tremendous right straight, sending the bag swinging a good distance. When Payton was done, her eyes looked more normal. Her eyes showed that she was a kind person. A person that wouldn't go berserk on a punching bag. Once Payton was back to normal, she noticed the crowd that was watching her and realized what she did.
"I-I'm sorry about this, I'll be going now," said Payton. She was about to head to the door, until Benen stopped her.
"Wait wait wait, can I just talk with you in my office? It won't take long."
"I really need to go."
"Well, consider this favor as payback for punching my bags without permission. Besides, I get the feeling that there's more to it than what I just saw." Payton thought about it for a few moments, and decided to follow him.
"Okay, but I want to make it short. I really need to go home."
"Of course, let's go to my office." Payton and Benen head to the office. Once inside, Benen took a seat behind his desk, while Payton took a seat in front of him. "Now, I would like to ask you to join the gym." Bluntly asked Benen.
"I don't think I should," answered Payton, the idea bothered her.
"Why not? You have quiet the punch there, it would guarantee a victory in the boxing ring."
"Well, you see…" Payton started to tell her story, of her time in the army and the mental condition that it left her after returning. Payton also went on to say that she tried to control it, but it didn't go well, and she didn't want to hurt her family.
"So that's why you went crazy on the bag. Then the more reason why you should join the gym." Responded Benen.
"Well, you can come here whenever you feel the need to hurt something and let it out on the sandbags. Unfortunately, it will cost money to maintain the sandbags. If you were to become a professional boxer, you could get money from fighting, control your condition, and your family would be safe. Believe me, it's a win-win situation, even I would get paid for doing my job."
"Well, I can't really get a job with this condition, and I don't trust the medications, or the therapies." Payton started to think hard on the subject. On Benen's case, he actually wanted to help her, but he also didn't want to let a person with potential go away.
"She's a rare find. Her military training would make her a force to be feared. I just need to put her in the ring." Benen was desperately hoping for Payton to agree. After a few moments of silence, Payton gave her decision.
"Very well, I'll join." From there on, Payton started to train in the gym, which made it easier to control her condition, and it made her family happy for her. Over time, she started winning her matches, but because of her condition coming out every once in a while, she was nicknamed 'The Maniac'.
After many fights, she was close to winning her first tournament. That would make her a ranked boxer, and with enough victories, she could challenge the national champion. Before that, Payton needed to defeat Lea in the final rounds of the tournament.
"I really hope you're ready, Specter, I really do. Otherwise, you will end up in the hospital just like some of the others, or worse," thought Benen, who had seen his fair share of boxers been beaten to a pulp. Some of his own have retired because of that, and it didn't make it any easier as time went by. On Payton's mind, things were different.
"I'll win, and I'll make sure to make it quick, before the feeling inside of me comes back. If anything, I hope that you can at least come out of this in one piece," thought Payton. They were ready to go and win the tournament. They only hoped that Lea was able to survive the match.
It had been a month since Lea's last match, and Lea was training her tail once again. That time, she was focusing on the entire tail, even the smallest part of it. While training, Lea remembered the way that Payton went berserk on her last opponent and tried to think of a way to defend against that. Payton gained a boost on speed and power when she went berserk. Therefore, when Lea was done training her tail, she would be able to absorb even more damage and move faster. On top of training the tail, she had also been training the neck, body, and arms. Lea trained anything that would help her win against a fighter like Payton. After a while of training, Lea was called to get into the ring because she was going to spar against Hilda. Lea got her equipment, slid to the ring, and got into it. Lea saw that Hilda was ready to go, but Lea noticed Alinda and Salena waiting behind Hilda.
"Um, were you guys going to use the ring?" Lea didn't want to take it if Alinda and Salena were going to use it. However, Lea was called to get into the ring, so she didn't know if it was a mistake or not.
"We're going to use it, all of us actually," answered Alinda.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, your next opponent is crazy strong, so the coach asked us to spar with you. You know, to prepare you for anything against her," answered Salena.
"With that said, you're going to be sparring with all of us for today. I'm going first, to soften you for the both of them," said Hilda, who was ready to start.
"Hey! I'm stronger than before, I'm sure I can take her," said Salena, and she wanted to prove it in the sparring match.
"Me too," said Alinda, who was just as eager to show her new skills.
"Okay, okay, but enough of that, let's start." After Hilda said that, a bell ringed and the spar started. Hilda was been serious because she was throwing punch after punch at Lea. Lea was forced to dodge and block the best she could. They go at it for a whole round, and Hilda left the ring. Salena took Hilda's place and entered the ring.
"All right, let me show you how much I have improved!" Just as Salena said, she had become stronger. Lea was having a difficult time against Salena, but managed to hold her off. The next sparring partner was Alinda.
"I'm next. Try to keep your eyes on me," said Alinda with a smile. No one knew what kind of training was Alinda doing, but she actually went faster than before. Also, her counters caused more damage than before. They went for a while, until it was decided that it was time to end the sparring session.
"T-thanks for the…help," said Lea, who was hurting everywhere in her body.
"No problem, Payton may change from out-boxing to in-fighting depending on the situation, so you must be ready to deal with it," said Alinda, who felt good after showing her new level of skill.
"Now that I think about it, have you come up with some idea to defeat her? I've seen you training your tail again," said Hilda.
"Well, we're planning on adding something else to my technique," answered Lea.
"That sounds awesome, what are you going to add? Are you adding more speed, power, maybe flying across the ring?" Said Salena in wonder.
"She's a normal Lamia, remember? But seriously, what did you come up with?" asked Alinda.
"Well…" Lea started to explain the idea to stop the attack mid-way to make it more unpredictable.
"That would make an improvement, but stopping it when most of the body is behind the attack sounds a little difficult," said Hilda. She could only imagine how difficult it was going to be.
"It really sounds like it," said Alinda, who agreed wholeheartedly.
"What are you guys saying? Lea has managed to reach this far, I know she can do this." After Salena said that, she turned her attention to Lea. "You can do this Lea. I'll help you as much as I can so you can win the tournament."
"Well, I said difficult, but not impossible, you can always count on me," said Hilda while pointing herself with her thumb.
"And me as well," said Alinda as she put her palm on her chest. All of them had a smile on their faces. They were always willing to help Lea in her time of need.
"Thank you. To be honest, I'm nervous on trying something like this, but I feel more confident thanks to you guys," said Lea.
"Don't mention it, I'll be going back to my training, I have matches of my own after all, but if I'm free, don't hesitate to call." After Hilda said that, she left.
"Oh yeah, I forgot about it. Good luck on your training," said Salena and left.
"Well, we all have something to do, but don't hesitate to ask, okay?" Said Alinda before leaving.
"Okay, good luck," said Lea to all of them. Alinda was the last one to leave, and everyone resumed their own training. Far from the group, Alonso was watching the conversation.
"I'm pretty sure that they didn't want to say it, but they know how dangerous is going to be. I wish there was another way, but your technique is the best we can do against Payton, but I know you can do this, chica, don't give up," thought Alonso. The rest of the day was spent training, and hoping that they trained enough by the time of the match.