Chapter 20: Upgrade
Lea reached her corner after been dominated by Payton in an in-fight, and Lea's face told the whole story. Alonso and Fergus took a good look at Lea's face, and they found more than just areas swelling up. What they also found out that, was that Lea was demoralized, which was what the seconds expected after she was beaten in her specialty.
"What can I do? Is there anything I can do? Was it a bad idea to try this in the first place?" Thought Lea as her spirit started to slowly crumble. The loss in the in-fight had been too much for her, and she wasn't the only one. Alinda, Salena, and Hilda were in shock, not expecting their friend to lose like that and that Payton was that dangerous.
"Lea may be our friend, but I have to admit it. As a counter-puncher, Payton was impressive. Being able to throw counters at such a short range, being able to read a feint, was beyond expectation," said Alinda in disbelief.
"I don't want to admit it, but Payton is a strong one, I don't think this is going to be easy for Lea," said Hilda with a serious face.
"Okay, so Payton is crazy strong, but Lea trained like a mad person, and the coach is with her. I'm sure something will come out and make things better." Argued Salena, but it was mostly to avoid sounding pessimistic about the match. They could all imagine just how bad it felt for Lea to be beaten in her own game, and how hard it was going to be to get out of it. "Come on, Lea, you can do this. We all believe in you." Back in the ring, Alonso was looking at Lea, and decided to fix that look in her face. Alonso grabbed a bag of ice, and put it on Lea's face, which made Lea shiver. Lea looked at Alonso, just as he wanted, and he knelt to her level.
"What's with that look of yours? Do you think you're going to lose?" asked Alonso with a straight face.
"No no…It's just…" Answered Lea, who looked hesitant to say it.
"It looks bad, I know, I saw the whole thing on the corner, and I'm surprised. Now, let me ask you this, have you done everything that you could?" That question confused Lea. As far as she knew, she had done everything that she could against Payton. Then, Lea started to think deeply about it, and came to the realization that Lea hadn't used her technique. "If you can slide here on your own, then there's still hope, and you still have one more thing to try."
"Yeah, I haven't used it." Lea started to feel a little better about it and recovered some of her will to fight.
"That's right, it might be a risky move, but if you use it quickly before Payton closes the distance, you might be able to land the attack. Even if she blocks it, you might pass through her guard, got it?"
"Yeah!" Lea was ready to fight again.
On the other corner, things weren't going bad for Payton and her seconds. Unfortunately, the air was heavy for the seconds because of Payton's state of mind. One of the seconds was actually nervous about it. He thought that Payton was going to go off on them, instead of Specter. The only one brave enough to stand face to face with Payton, was Benen because he knew how to deal with her when she was like that. Benen took a good look at her eyes, and he could see that she wanted to fight, not to sit around. It was a good thing that Payton's training in the gym had made her control herself, or at the very least, to consider Benen as her commander. With Payton under control, they started to help Payton. When they were done, the announcer ordered the seconds to leave the ring. Before they did it, Benen gave an order that he wasn't going to be happy about, but it needed to be done.
"Eliminate." That was the only thing that Benen said, and Payton responded by simply getting up in a sudden manner. With both boxers ready, the bell ringed, which announced the start of the third round.
Payton rushed out of her corner and headed straight to Lea, but Payton stopped a few feet away from her own corner. Lea slowly came out of her own corner, which was something suspicious for Payton and her seconds. Lea's fans were a different story because they already knew what that meant, and they liked what Lea was planning. Payton knew that something was up and decided to proceed with caution. At that moment, both boxers were moving closer to each other at a slow pace, which made many in the audience hold their breath. Then, as quick and unexpected as a lightning bolt, Lea launched her Spear Strike at Payton, going straight to her face. Payton quickly managed to put both hands in front of her face, blocking the attack, but things didn't go her way. The punch kept going with her guard, pushing Payton's hands to her own face and sent her flying back. By the time Payton stopped, she was close to the ropes, and the audience cheered for such an insanely powerful punch, even though it only hit her guard. Lea was very surprised because she wasn't expecting the Spear Strike to be that powerful. Then, Payton's corner was about to be surprised. When Payton revealed her face, it showed a trail of blood coming out of her nose, which indicated that her nose was crushed by the attack. Many in the audience were left astonished and made them cheer for Lea even more.
Payton's corner was left without words. They have watched the videos countless times about Lea's technique, but they never anticipated the attack to be that destructive.
"That attack is just plain dangerous, if one of those were to land cleanly on Payton, it might end the match in an instant," thought Benen as he looked at Payton's face, and he could see that Payton wasn't perturbed, not even when her nose was broken by the attack. Seeing that made Benen calm down, but only a little. "As long as Payton still has that look on her face, then we haven't lost yet."
It would be a great opportunity for Lea to trap Payton on the ropes and start her assault, but Lea didn't charge. Instead, Lea prepared once again to throw her Spear Strike, which made many in the audience believe that she wanted to end the match. With the preparations complete, Lea started her slow march towards Payton, who was still standing near the ropes, but wouldn't be for long. In an attempt to stop Lea from throwing the attack, Payton dashed forward in a lower stance. After Lea noticed that, she also lowered her stance, and launched another Spear Strike. Payton was ready to simply block, and she did by using a cross-arm block in front of her face. The attack landed, and many would believe that Payton made a successful block, but that wasn't the case. The strong cross-arm block was blown away, leaving the crowd and Payton's corner in disbelief. The block only saved Payton from been launched away, but that might have been bad in itself. While Payton recovered from the attack, Lea took the opportunity to charge in and attack with a Liver Blow. The blow landed on Payton, making that the first punch that had landed since Payton went insane. Even in that state, Payton couldn't hide the pain that was showing on her face, and Lea didn't stop there. After the Liver Blow, Lea stood up with a left hook to Payton's head, but Payton managed to rise her right arm to her head, and blocked the attack. That didn't stop Lea, who attempted another left hook to Payton's liver, but Payton moved out of the way and countered with a left jab to Lea's face. Lea staggered for a little bit, showing signs of accumulated damage, but refused to let it stop her even for a second, and pressed forward. That time, Lea attempted a left uppercut to Payton's chin, but Payton read that and attempted a counter with a left hook. A punch landed, but it wasn't Payton's punch. It was Lea's punch, which left Payton's corner in shock. Lea won the exchange because Payton's body was still in pain, and it delayed her punch for a second. The punch sent Payton's head back, and Lea tried to follow up with a right hook, but Payton ducked the punch and backed away from Lea. That meant only one thing for Lea. She was getting the upper hand on the match, and she wasn't willing to let it go. With the distance created by Payton, Lea decided to use another Spear Strike.
One minute into the third round and Lea was finally taking control of the match. To put an end to the match, Lea prepared to use the Spear Strike once more and got her tail ready for it. Payton backed away to the middle of the ring, and stood there. Everyone thought that Payton was trying to recover from the previous attacks. With that in mind, Lea slowly proceeded into her attack's range, hoping that Payton would stay in place. The slowness of Lea's approach was nerve wrecking. Lea's fans were eager to see Lea win the match, and even more if she used the Spear Strike. They won't have to wait for long because Payton was already in range, and Lea launched her attack on Payton. Lea was going straight towards Payton, too fast for the normal eye to catch. It felt like an eternity for those watching, but as soon as it started, it ended quickly. A tremendous crashing sound was heard throughout the entire arena. Both boxers have a rising fist in front of them, Lea because of her Spear Strike, and Payton with her left fist. Some started thinking that she may have tried to counter the dangerous Spear Strike. Lea and Payton were away from each other, both showing their backs to each other. No one was sure what just happened, neither boxer was moving a single muscle. Then, Payton was the first one to move. Payton slowly turned around, still with the killing desire in her eyes, and Lea on the other hand, stood in the same position. After a few moments, Lea wobbled and started to slide towards the ropes in front of her. It didn't look like she would reach them, so she launched herself to the ropes. Lea landed on the ropes, and the audience could take a good look at Lea's face. What they weren't prepared for, was for Lea to suddenly drop her mouthpiece, which was followed by a trail of blood. Some in the audience screamed or gasped in horror at the sight. After that, Lea turned around and leaned on the ropes for support. That was when Lea's corner could get a better look at her face. There was blood in Lea's mouth, her nose was bleeding, and her eyes were nearly empty.
Lea's corner watched in shock, felt a cold sweat on them, and had their eyes wide open. No one expected Payton to have, not only the skill, but the guts to actually try a counter, and to actually succeed.
"This is the worst case scenario! Tania countered the attack before, but her fear made her hold back most of her punching power. Payton used all the strength that she could muster in her left hand and perfectly countered the Spear Strike. It's a miracle that the chica is still standing, but will she be able to hold on until the end of the round?" Thought Alonso, but after he witnessed that, he doubted that Lea would be able to keep her promise to him. Alonso could clearly see why Payton landed the counter. She moved forward, faster than Lea, and countered with a left straight. All that made Payton's punch the first one to land.
Payton was standing in the same spot, staring at Lea to determine how damaged she was. Payton was about to start her attack on Lea, but Payton got a surprise. Lea started to move away from the ropes and slowly slid towards Payton. Everyone could see that Lea was in no condition to move around, even less to start an attack, but Lea didn't seem to care. Payton didn't care how damaged was Lea and started to slide towards her, ready to end the match in that instant. When Payton reached punching range, she prepared to throw a right straight at Lea. Lea attempted the same thing and threw a right straight, but it was obvious that Payton's right was going to land first. Then, everyone got the surprise of their life when Lea's right was the one that landed on Payton's face, and Lea's right didn't seem to have lost any power behind it. No one could understand why Payton lost another exchange, since she was almost a master when it came to countering punches. The truth was that Payton was more damaged than she thought and used a lot of her remaining stamina to land the previous counter. That was something that Payton's corner was just discovering. Lea didn't stop there and threw a left hook at Payton's head, but Payton moved out of the way just in time. Lea didn't seem to notice because she simply kept punching. Then, Lea suddenly stopped and started to look around, which meant that she was actually half-conscious. Once Lea found what she was looking for, she slowly started to slide towards Payton, who didn't back away, but didn't slide forward either. Payton preferred to wait and see where Lea was going to strike next. While Lea was on the way towards Payton, Lea wobbled for a moment, and regained her balance after a moment.
Two minutes into the third round and things seem to be getting even between them, but Lea was still in a critical condition. Looking unsteady and with a bloodied face, no one in the audience felt any hope of Lea winning the match. Still, they could see that Lea kept going, her will to fight hadn't been broken, and it touched many hearts in the audience. Many in the audience started to cheer for Lea, trying to revive that injured warrior, but it didn't seem to have any real effect on Lea. Either way, they kept going, and just like they wanted, Lea kept moving towards Payton. Once Payton recovered from her damage, the look on her face changed, and it looked to be more bloodthirsty than before. Payton moved forward and started to attack with left jabs, which made Lea go on the defensive again. That alone didn't seem to stop Lea in the least. With no other alternative, Payton entered into an in-fighting distance and started to attack with a right hook to Lea's head. Lea blocked it with the left arm and attacked with a right uppercut to Payton's chin. Payton attempted to lean back and counter with a left hook, but lost some of her balance, which stopped her from attempting a counter. Lea didn't care, or didn't notice, and simply continued her attack with a left hook to Payton's head. As a last resort, Payton attacked with a left hook of her own and made it into a simultaneous exchange. Payton was confident that Lea had suffered more damage than Payton, and believed that the first one to fall would be Lea. Even with that in mind, Payton could feel the same strength that Lea had since the beginning, so that made it into a risky move.
Lea's previous opponents knew what Payton was trying to do, but they didn't think it will be enough to bring Lea down.
"Trying to bring Specter down before she does? That's a bold move, but is not enough to bring her down. Specter is too resilient, to the point of being out of this world, but considering the damage from the counter, she might not have enough. Still, Specter has tremendous punching power, and it might cause more damage than Payton thinks. This is too difficult to bring a conclusion, too many unknowns, must keep observing," thought Tania as she kept watching the match.
"Specter has too much determination, too much spirit to fall easily with simple exchanges. She always makes her matches a wonder to watch and her passion is moving. Don't fall, Specter, a being such as you shouldn't fall to a killing machine like her," thought Karen and prayed for Lea's success.
"You can try against her, Payton, but if I could have warned you, I would have told you to avoid that slug fest. Specter may not have the same power as me, but she still packs power on those fists of hers. Still, I'm worried about that previous counter, and it makes me wonder. What drives her to this point?" Thought Luisa, who would feel closer to Lea, if Luisa knew what Lea was fighting for.
Lea went with a right uppercut to Payton's chin, while Payton went with a left hook to Lea's head, making it into another exchange. Lea followed with a left hook to Payton's body, while Payton went with a right uppercut to Lea's chin, making another exchange. That time, Payton pulled back, making everyone believe that she lost the exchange, but it wasn't the case. Payton was baiting Lea to make her use the Spear Strike. Lea saw that and didn't seem to realize the plan because she prepared to launch the attack. Everyone tried to warn her, but Lea wasn't conscious enough to listen to them, and proceeded to move into range. Payton was waiting for it, and wouldn't have to wait any longer because Lea quickly launched her attack. To everyone's horror, Payton quickly moved forward, and managed to counter with a right straight to Lea's face. The counter sent blood flying through the air, and pushed Lea's head back. The audience could see that Lea was starting to fall on her back, heading straight to the mat. They considered Lea done for, some even considered her death. Then, they saw a miracle, something that could not have been believed if they weren't in the arena watching the match with their own eyes. Lea managed to regain her balance and kept standing, leaving many in shock and amazement. Of course, Lea started to wobble again, showing that the attack did hurt her. Payton didn't look shocked, more like she expected that. She knew that Lea wouldn't fall with those punches, not with those eyes filled with determination. Therefore, Payton would have to simply beat the life out of Lea. After all, they still had three more rounds to go, and to make sure it took less, Payton moved into punching range. Payton started with a 1-2 combo, which Lea blocked, and stayed blocking, not wanting to drop her guard for even a second. Payton continued to attack, knowing that Lea's guard will eventually break, and it does. Lea's guard was beaten open, and Payton tried to take the opportunity to land a clean hit on Lea's face with a right straight. Everyone thought it would be the end of the match, but the bell started to ring and the referee got between them. Payton attempted to slide past the referee, but the referee held her back, until Benen called for her. After that, both boxers start to head to their respective corners, with Payton sliding like nothing, while Lea slid with uneven movements. That made the audience believe that Lea might be done for.
Lea managed to reach her corner, needing the help of Alonso to actually reach the stool before dropping on it. While Alonso checked on Lea, Fergus was cleaning the bloodied mouthpiece that Lea dropped when leaning on the ropes.
"The whole mouthpiece was covered in blood, which just shows how dangerous the counter was. I don't know if we should let Lea continue with this. The worst thing that could happen is that Lea turns into a tragic accident," thought Fergus and was about to talk to Alonso about that, until Fergus heard Alonso talk to Lea.
"What? I can't hear you," said Alonso, who looked both worried and puzzled.
"I can fight…It's not…over. Everything…is set. This is all…or nothing," mumbled Lea, still looking half-conscious. In an attempt to help clear Lea's head, Alonso grabbed water and poured it on Lea. After that, Alonso started cleaning the blood off of Lea's face, which was swelling up. The right eye was closed because of the swelling. Alonso could see that Lea was nearly done, she didn't look like she could fight any longer and he was about to tell Lea that he was stopping the match. Then, he took a look into her eye, and he saw something that nearly brought the tough trainer to tears. Alonso could still see Lea's tremendous will and determination to fight, ready to win or die trying.
"You're one great boxer, chica. I cannot stop you from fighting. Instead of worrying of getting your hatred, I would regret stopping you." While Alonso was thinking that, Lea kept mumbling to herself about something been set. "Chica, what did you set up?" Lea didn't respond and kept her mumbling to herself.
"What do we do, coach? Should we stop the match?" asked Fergus in concern.
"No, help me get her ready for the next round. It's going to be the last one," answered Alonso.
On Payton's corner, things couldn't get any better. They simply knew that they had the victory in that match. After that counter, they believed that Lea was going to be nothing more than a simple punching bag, or a bloody punching bag at that point. They could feel Payton's desire to kill Lea. For Payton, the enemy wouldn't go down, unless it was put down for good. Even if things were going well, the seconds were feeling scared of Payton, except for Benen because Payton had been giving that air around her. She just wanted to go already and kill Lea for the simple reason that she was still standing. While the other second was frozen by fear, Benen started to work on Payton, trying to clean the blood off of her and help her recover from the damage. Up close, Payton could see that Payton wasn't looking at anything or anyone else, other than Lea herself, with the same murderous intent in her eyes.
"Are you that eager to end Specter? I don't like that idea in your head, I would prefer if you would knock her down, but this is the first time that someone has made you go this far. Not only that, this is the first time that you were this eager to kill someone. I don't know if the old Payton is in there anymore, but I hope that after the match, she will come back," thought Benen, who started to concentrate on his job. He was hoping that, by the end of the match, both boxers came out instead of just one. After that, the time was spent with nothing but fixing and helping their boxers. Meanwhile, the air around the audience was heavy, so much that some are shivering, and some are having their heart beating like they were running a marathon. They all knew that the fourth round would decide who will be the victor, and who will be leaving the ring. The time had come because all seconds were ordered out of the ring.
"Don't give up, chica. Whatever you have in mind, I'll have complete faith in it," said Alonso with a serious face, while giving Lea her mouthpiece. Lea seemed to have heard that part because she nodded her head. On the other corner, Payton was already up and ready to finish what she started. No words were needed for her, Benen hoped for the best and not a tragedy for Lea, even if she was the opponent. Not wanting to delay the match any longer, the referee stepped in the middle, and asked both boxers if they were ready. They say yes, and the referee started the fourth round at the ring of the bell.
Both boxers came out of their corners. Payton livelier than before, while Lea looked to be out of energy and wouldn't last even a minute in the round. The audience also noticed that Lea was already in her position to launch another Spear Strike. That made many believe that she had gone crazy because the last two times ended up in a counter. Payton easily noticed that, and somewhere in her mind, believed that it would be better that way. All Payton would have to do was to put all of her force behind the right hand in her next counter. Payton knew that it might not only end the match, but it might also end the rising boxer known as Specter. Lea didn't seem to think about the risk because she kept moving into get Payton into the range of the attack, and Payton was waiting for it. Payton already had the timing and speed, so she was more than ready to simply counter it. Many in the audience tried to warn Lea from using her only technique, but she didn't listen to them, she was determined to win. Of course, not for the tournament, but for Julie, Nick, Lucy, Jenny, everyone in the house, and everyone who supported her.
"It's not over, I won't fall, I won't lose! As long as I can lift a finger, as long as I can throw a punch, I'll keep fighting!" Thought Lea. She was ready, and the moment to put everything she had trained for was at hand. The Spear Strike was launched, and Payton was ready to counter the attack. Payton moved forward, and threw a right straight with all the force she could gather, while Lea was been launched straight into the punch. Everyone in the audience was expecting another trail of fresh blood and a tremendous sound throughout the entire arena, but there wasn't any of that. Everyone got the surprise of their lives, even Payton, when they discover that Lea had stopped her attack midway. Most of her tail was extended, but the rest was still in place.
Lea's friends were amazed because Lea managed to pull something that only tremendous hard work could achieve.
"She…she did it. She stopped the Spear Strike, and her tail is still in one piece," said Salena with disbelief and amazement.
"I have no words for this miracle. This is the most unexpected thing for a counter-puncher," said Alinda.
"Yes, the lass did something that is dangerous to do in the first place, but even if the move is a success, it doesn't mean that there's no price to pay," said Hilda, who was amazed and worried for Lea. Hilda could just imagine how painful it was for the lower half of Lea's tail.
Payton had thrown tremendous amount of force in the right punch, and that was so unexpected, that Payton couldn't stop her right straight. Lea took the opportunity to throw the rest of her attack. Lea moved her head outside of Payton's right punch, while Lea threw the rest of her attack. Lea countered Payton, hitting her square in the face. Payton tried to take the punch because the Spear Strike wasn't completely thrown, but it was more than enough to cause tremendous damage. Enough damage to send Payton to the mat and the referee got between the boxers. It was obvious for everyone that it was a down, and the audience cheered for Lea. The referee sent Lea to a neutral corner and prepared to start his count on Payton, who started to bleed from her mouth and nose.
"1…2…3" Counted the referee, and there was no response from Payton, which made her corner enter in a panic.
"I wasn't expecting Specter to stop her attack, and countering a right from Payton. I thought the Spear was broken, but Specter was able to make it stronger," thought Benen, who had to admit that the attack had evolved and became even more powerful.
"4…5…6" There was no response from Payton.
"So that's what you were planning, you used a technique that was sure to be countered, just to leave Payton in a sense of safety. Even when a spear is broken, you can fix it and even upgrade it," thought Alonso. He was proud of Lea, but even with that, he was ready to throw the towel if necessary. Before the seventh count, Payton started to get up from the mat, still bleeding and suffering the effects of the attack. By the eight count, Payton was up and with a fighting pose. The referee looked at Payton, and could see that she was able to continue, but her eyes had become different. Besides the killing instinct, there was an instinct of survival, which made her more dangerous.
One minute into the fourth round and Lea seemed to be taking control of the match because of her new addition to the Spear Strike. The audience didn't know that Lea's tail was suffering tremendous pain. Lea didn't care how painful it was, she was going to win even if she lost her life. Payton attempted to dash forward, but the damage that she suffered had made her unsteady. Lea took the opportunity to prepare another Spear Strike. Lea started to slowly slide towards Payton, who took the slow approach as an opportunity to recover, just enough to move around. Lea managed to reach the correct distance for her attack, and without waiting for any signal, she launched it. Payton attempted to counter with a right again, but Lea stopped, and Payton knew that it would happen. Payton stopped her attack and moved towards Lea, attempting to attack with the same right punch. Once in range, Payton threw a right punch at Lea's face, but Lea ducked the punch. Lea attacked with a left hook to Payton's liver, which landed cleanly and it made Payton groan in pain. Then, Lea hit Payton with a left uppercut to her chin, making Payton back away and giving Lea enough space to throw the rest of her attack. Payton recovered and attempted to throw another counter with the left hand. Unfortunately for Payton, Lea had lowered her stance in time to dodge the counter, and hit Payton's body with a right punch. The attack made Payton bend forward, and Lea took the opportunity to follow with a left uppercut to Payton's chin. Lea continued with a right hook to Payton's head, followed by a left hook, and finishing with a right uppercut to Payton's chin. Payton made Lea's right uppercut into an exchange by throwing a left hook at Lea's head.
Payton's corner was in a panic, but started to feel some hope after watching Payton fighting back.
"After all of that damage, Payton is still fighting. I don't know if I should be amazed or scared of her abnormal will to fight. Is it a desire to kill or to survive? Whatever it is, I hope that Payton can pull through this," thought Benen and hoped for Payton's safety. Meanwhile, Lea's corner was feeling confident that Lea could win the match, but they didn't know how much longer before Lea's tail decided to give up.
"You got to end this quickly, or the damage might be too much even for your trained body," thought Alonso, who wanted Lea to come back so that they could let her rest.
Lea didn't stop and continued with her attack. Payton tried to counter, but realized that she had received too much damage to move quickly, and took a left hook to her head. Payton attacked with a 1-2 combo to Lea's face, but it didn't stop Lea, who threw a right hook at Payton's head. Lea started to get into a rhythm and continued with her combinations. Payton tried to counter, but found it impossible and got on the defensive, but the guard was broken. As a last resort, Payton tried to beat Lea by creating simultaneous exchanges. Lea threw a left uppercut to Payton's chin, and Payton attacked with a left hook, making an exchange. Then, Payton threw a right hook, but Lea also attacked with her own right hook, both hitting at the same time again. At that moment, the audience found out that Lea had started to take the upper hand. Lea didn't notice and didn't care, she was going to keep punching until either one of them was down. Payton tried to defend, but she was falling into a barrage of attacks. Unable to take anymore, Payton took a few more punches, and fell on her back. The referee got between the boxers and ordered Lea back to a neutral corner. Lea did as ordered, but not without feeling excruciating pain in her tail as she dragged it to the corner. There was no count that time, the referee simply started to inspect Payton, and found out that she was unconscious. The referee didn't needed to count, he simply declared the match over, and the bell ringed.
The audience cheered for Lea's victory, and Lea's previous opponents do the same.
"An improved Spear Strike, simply hard to read, hard to tell what's going to happen, is simply impossible to counter now. Whoever helped you with this must have been a genius," thought Tania, who was left with no choice, but to applaud Lea for her hard earned victory.
"As expected from Specter, it was a marvelous performance. Such passion, such determination, this should be a piece of art on its own right. Keep going, Specter, you're simply a marvel to watch," thought Karen as she applauded for Lea and wish her the best of luck for her career.
"Well then, this was something that you simply have to watch. I knew you could do it, Specter. I feel proud to know that the only person to have defeated me with a KO, was the champion of this tournament. Who knows, maybe a future champion of the world." After Luisa thought that, she started to leave the building because there was a little girl waiting for Luisa back home. Meanwhile, Lea's friends rejoiced for Lea's victory.
"She did it, she won the tournament! See, I told you she could do it!" Said Salena with more cheerfulness than usual.
"It feels like a miracle, but I just feel relieved that the match is over and Lea can get some medical help," said Alinda, who was happy to know that Lea won, but Alinda was also worried for Lea's well-being.
"Good point, let's go to her, she might need help to get to the doctor," said Hilda with a smile and they all start to head to the ring.
Back into the ring, Lea was simply standing on the neutral corner, and her seconds approached her.
"You did it, chica, you won the tournament," said Alonso with a straight face, but he was overjoyed on the inside. Lea didn't respond quickly, which made Alonso worried. "Hey, can you hear me?"
"Huh? What?" Answered Lea in surprise.
"You won, are you okay?"
"I...I won?" asked Lea in disbelief.
"Yeah, look over there." Alonso pointed at Payton, who was starting to get up.
"Then, that explains it," said Lea as she looked at the mat.
"I was wondering…what all the noise was about. I thought…that Payton…was going to get up. I was just getting ready…to keep fighting." Lea was obviously exhausted.
"It's okay, chica, you won. Now, let's get you out of here, you need a doctor."
"Y-yeah," answered Lea as she started to slide down and sat on the mat. Alonso could see that Lea was losing consciousness, and called for a stretcher. Before Lea lost consciousness for good, Lea had a last thought. "I did it. I really did it, just like I promised." Lea's friends reached the ring in time to see that Alonso was calling for a stretcher. They quickly slide into the ring, and towards Lea. Since Lea just lost consciousness, they believed that it was something serious, so Hilda and the rest decided to take Lea to the doctor. Hilda carried Lea on her back, while Salena and Alinda decided to carry Lea's tail. With everything set, they quickly leave the ring and headed to the doctor's office. Fortunately, a doctor was already in the room, and they quickly tell the doctor to check Lea. Once she was put on the bed, the doctor quickly started to check on Lea. Everyone in the room was nervous, hoping that Lea was simply tired. The doctor informed them that Lea didn't show signs of brain damage and must have fainted due to exhaustion, but the doctor found something big. Lea's tail was extremely injured, not to the point of ending her career, but she must take a rest to recover properly. Everyone left a sigh of relief, happy to know that Lea was coming out of the match in one piece and as a tournament champion.
"Phew, I'm glad that's all Lea needs," said Salena, who started to calm down.
"Yeah, but I wonder how Payton is feeling. After all, that was a really dangerous match for the both of them," said Alinda out of curiosity.
"Well, she looked alright to me." After Hilda said that, they received a visitor, which turned out to be Zora.
"I was hoping to get an interview from Lea, but I guess that it won't be possible," said Zora, who smiled at the sight of Lea's friends in the room because it showed that they cared for Lea as a friend.
"It's always a pleasure to see you." Greeted Hilda with a gentleman's bow.
"Charming as always, huh?" Said Zora, trying to sound annoyed, but she kept a smile on her face.
"For you? Always," answered Hilda with a wink, which brought a small giggle from Zora.
"Came to check on Lea?" asked Salena. In Hilda's opinion, Salena ruined the moment.
"Yeah, is she alright?" asked Zora with sincere concern.
"Yup, nothing that a good rest won't fix," answered Salena with a smile.
"Glad to hear that. Well, I have to go, I got some other work to do. Good night, everyone," said Zora as she started to leave, and everyone said their farewells, with Hilda adding a little flirt on it. Everyone wondered what happened between Zora and Hilda. Zora used to get easily annoyed by Hilda, but Zora seemed to have softened up to Hilda. At that moment, they were going to drop it and ask another time, since they were focused on Lea's well-being.
Since Lea was incapable to be present for the ceremony, there was a spot left empty, with a trophy and a document. The document stated that she was one of the best fighters in the whole tournament. Not only that, she was given a reward of $10,000 dollars. Lea's friends were thinking of going to celebrate her victory, but since Lea was injured, they decide to postpone it until she was better.
In another room, Payton was sitting on a bench and she didn't look like the insane, bloodthirsty boxer, but as the normal Payton. She had a small smile on her face, which was strange for a boxer that just lost a match, but there was a reason for it.
"So, you're going to retire?" asked Benen with a straight face.
"Yeah. After I woke up, I quickly realized that I didn't feel the feeling anymore. I feel…free," said Payton as she looked at her hands.
"Well, you started this to control it, but now that it's gone, there's no need for you to continue your career. Besides, you have a family, got to make up for some lost time, right?" Benen was actually glad that Payton decided to retire. After hearing that, Payton got up from the bench she was sitting on and extended her hand forward.
"Thank you, coach, for everything. I wish you good luck with your next boxer," said Payton with the same smile.
"No need to thank me, and I wish you a good life." Responded Benen as he grabbed Payton's hand, and shook it. With that done, Payton grabbed her things and left the room, feeling like the start of a new life for her. While on her way, Payton thought of Lea.
"Thank you, Specter, and good luck." For some reason, Payton wasn't worried for Lea's safety. She had a feeling that Lea was going to be all right.