Vera and Andras's Impromptu Midnight Fight
If Vera hadn’t really looked thrilled to be fighting, that changed quickly. She raised her arms up in front of her, the magic bolt breaking against her forearms. Behind her arms, her eyes narrowed as she glared at Alex. The blast had stung like hell, but she didn’t flinch from it.
Instead, in that moment, it galvanized her. She’d made a snap decision to take over as Alex’s opponent, without having had any time to sort out her feelings. Alex, meanwhile, had hardly hesitated to start the fight.
Vera didn’t know what to make of that, and in the absence of a concrete answer, she had settled on taking it very, very personally.
“This is what you came for, isn’t it?” she growled under her breath and then sprang forward. Alex shouldn’t have been too surprised when Vera managed to close the gap between them in a flash. She’d always been the scrappiest, most athletic member of their little group, and time had only made her legs longer.
As soon as she was in range she swung a kick at Alex’s hands in an attempt to disrupt her ability to use her cards.
Alex was taken aback at how quick Vera was. She was always the fast one, of course, but it seems like things were different now. Alex didn’t have to curse her short stature before Vera was upon her.
Alex reflexively brought her arms up to protect against the kick, but she kept her spell at the ready. She grit her teeth as the kick shot across her arms, the sharp pain being something she hadn’t felt physically in what seemed like ages. However, Vera getting that close was the criteria she needed - to be touching the opponent.
“I’ve got more than just some bolts of light, you know!” Alex shouted, her spell casting on the touch between the two girls. It was a pale imitation of the mythological vampire - a spell that drained the energy of another to sustain the caster. She had wanted to play up the theatrics, but the swiftness of Vera’s counterattack made it clear - no time to play around.
Alex took a few steps back after the spell was cast, her cards ready in her hands, feeling the rush of energy stolen from Vera. She wanted to keep some distance, but that would be hard with Vera’s physical advantages. Alex readied another spell, hoping that the shock of the sudden drain would be enough to keep Vera off balance.
Vera felt a wave of fatigue hit her as she hit Alex. She stumbled back a step and took a deep breath, trying to recover. She grit her teeth. It was always like this. A straight-forward fight against someone with a proper set of powers was always so unfair.
It didn’t make sense to her what Alex was suddenly able to do, but it didn’t matter. Alex had powers, Vera didn’t. Of course, Vera knew how to fight and Andras didn’t, but how much would that matter?
The thing was, maybe she felt like she’d suddenly just run a mile, but she could run a lot of miles, and Alex wasn’t that far away. She grit her teeth and rocketed forward once more, not giving Alex another moment to prepare.
First, she cut off her movement by stepping down on Alex’s foot to root her, then her hand whipped out, grabbing Alex’s to torque her wrist, still hoping that controlling her hands might limit her powers. Finally, she cocked a fist back, ready to slam it into Alex’s now unguarded face…
Vera knew that if she could find the limit to Alex’s powers, that if she could stay up close like this, that Alex was screwed. Alex hadn’t known a damn thing about fighting in the past. Her powers had been borderline useless too. Vera had always done all the fighting.
Vera had never stopped fighting.
Vera couldn’t fathom that Alex could have learned how to fight anywhere near her level. Where would she have found the time? And why would she have bothered? She had powers.
The blow never came. Vera’s face twisted into a frustrated snarl and instead of slamming her fist into Alex’s jaw, she grabbed the smaller girl by the collar and threw her to the ground. It was hardly a proper throw, not even enough to really knock the wind out of the girl.
It was more like Vera was throwing a tantrum and chucking her toys around, but was still afraid of actually breaking them.
Alex was taken aback at the blow that never came. Vera let her off easy. Was it a warning? Or a flex? A signal to calm down? More so than anything, that attack left Alex conflicted. ‘Was I trying too hard by coming at her full force?’ Alex thought to herself. She didn’t really have time to mull over all the possibilities.
As Alex jumped to her feet, she couldn’t help but prod. “Vera. I thought…” She couldn’t quite place what to say. “Um. Maybe not the best time now. After all this, we need to talk.” Alex dusted herself off as she stood. “But for right now, let’s both put our hearts into the fight.” She felt a little bit better just bringing it up. Alex hoped Vera may have felt the same pang of regret for stumbling into the fight, and the two could finish it more as friends than combatants.
Alex picked a card out and quickly crushed it in her hands, the card’s glow suffusing over Andras’s body for a brief moment, concentrating around her legs before disappearing. This spell drastically enhanced her ability to jump. She had to keep that effect at the ready, for the perfect time to surprise Vera. She stood at the ready, waiting for Vera’s next move.
“I’m happy to see you.” She added, in a lower voice to try and keep the crowd from hearing. She tried to wink… but obviously nobody could tell she did.
Vera… faltered at Alex's words. It was what she'd wanted to hear, but she still couldn't get past the fact that THIS was how they'd reunited. Nothing Alex could say at this moment would fix that.
At least nothing Vera could think of.
But still, the words slowed her more than any spell that had been cast so far, even as Alex urged her to fight her hardest.
Honestly, Vera wanted to beat her frustrations into Alex's face, and that urge was one she found deeply unpleasant. Disturbing, really. It was the exact opposite of everything she'd ever stood for as a fighter.
Fine then, she just wouldn't hit her.
All she had at the moment was a half-baked plan, a messy sack of muddled emotions, and shaky resolve, but she'd never been one to quit. She suddenly took an entirely different stance, more like a boxer and darted in again, quick as ever.
"Oh, we'll talk all right…" she growled as she drew close and fired off a lightning quick jab at Alex's nose. It would come short by a millimeter, even should Alex be too slow to react.
She wasn't hesitating this time though, just distracting her. If it worked, Vera would then slip behind her, bodily push her off balance, and then try to sweep her legs.
Alex had analyzed the situation perfectly. Vera would come at her. She would dodge just in time, putting Vera off balance, and allowing her to take the initiative. Her magic was flawless. But her reaction times were a bit lacking.
She was taken by surprise with how quickly Vera had thrown out the punch, and the perfect plan in her mind dissolved as she reflexively tried to protect herself from the punch - unfortunately playing right into Vera’s maneuver.
Alex fell to the ground, her legs kicked out from under her. Vera may have been holding back, but it wasn’t stopping her from showing Alex that she had a long way to go before she was going to be a scrapper.
‘M-Maybe I should have put more into it during physical therapy…’ Alex couldn’t help but think to herself. She quickly turned to face Vera - although she was on the ground, Alex was anything but disabled. That being said, she was running out of options. Even Andras knew trying to get to her feet with Vera towering above her would be foolish. She instead opted to start shuffling back, trying to get some distance between the two. All the while, her spells glowed at the ready in her hands.
Vera made no move to hit Alex while she was down. She just slowly walked forward, not letting Alex crawl too far away.
“Get up, Andras,” Vera commanded her. She would wait, allowing the girl to do so. If she did, then the second she had her feet under her again and her guard something resembling up, Vera would shoot back in, aiming a kick at Alex’s ankle to destabilize her and then a palm strike to her stomach to knock her down all over again.
Alex would either find a way to win, or Vera would keep knocking her down until she lost the will to get up again.
Alex’s blunder with reacting to Vera’s attack stung, but she wouldn’t let Vera keep the initiative. She’d have to do something unexpected. The spell to enhance her jump height was still active, so Andras put together a plan. It was anything but elegant, but desperate times called for desperate measures.
She rose to her knees, and then a low squat. Alex knew the spell enhanced her legs to drastically increase the height of her jumps - and she had measured it to about ten feet straight up last time she had cataloged the spell. Of course, if she directed that jump in the right way…
A split-second glow of light around Alex’s legs was the only sign of the coming attack. From her low squat, Alex jumped forward with unexpected speed, trying to directly tackle Vera. Though under ordinary circumstances the differences in stature and distance between the two would make a move pointless, Alex was banking on the magical enhancement and surprise to sweep Vera off her feet. Alex had to return the favor for the previous throws that had been given to her, after all.
Vera saw Alex gearing up for a tackle. What she wasn’t ready for was how fast and intense a tackle it would be. Vera had lowered her center of gravity, her feet skidding back as Alex crashed into her and she absorbed the blow. She let out a cough as the pain radiated through her stomach, Alex’s shoulder having plowed into it.
Vera had wanted to catch the other girl, and she had, but with the speed Alex had careened into her at, she’d still done plenty of damage and Vera hadn’t exactly been able to slow her down. That said, she DID still have Alex in her grasp again.
“OK…” Vera took a deep breath as she tightened her grip around Alex to prevent her from disengaging. “Now you’re pissing me off,” she said in a ragged growl as she fought to keep her knees from trembling. She hadn’t exactly caught her breath yet.
She then shifted her grasp, grabbing Alex by her hair. She cocked her leg back, clearly lining up a knee that would smash Alex’s nose and just the rest of her face in general. And… she couldn’t do it. Even as the pain still throbbed and she had to put an extra effort into breathing, she couldn’t hit the girl, not like that.
If anything, that pissed her off even more. She was already at a huge disadvantage without psyching herself out and holding back.
Well, for the moment anyway, the ball was once again fully in Vera’s court.
With Alex’s face spared for the moment, Vera twisted her grip on Alex’s hair and forced the girl to stand up, then further, forcing her to lean back to avoid having her hair torn out.
“In case you were wondering, this was how it felt…” Vera snarled. She made to swing her leg into the back of Alex’s, once more intending to take her feet out from under her, but this time she kicked a lot harder. Unless Alex found a way to escape quickly, she’d be left airborne for a moment before Vera slammed her palm down onto Alex’s solar plexus, violently propelling her back to the floor.
With that moment of exertion passed, Vera would then fall to her knee, coughing and trying to finally catch her breath fully.
Alex was at her limit - in several ways, but mostly physical. Her chest ached, her legs were unsteady, and her breath was coming in quick gasps. She had kept a few spells back, but she felt like if the fight continued, they’d be wasted anyway when she lost. So she conjured up her remaining cards.
She had to cast the spell she was holding back. The spell glowed and suffused around her arms and hands, consuming all of the other spells she hadn’t cast yet along with it. This spell would infuse her punch with superhuman force, and suffer no damage to her arms or hands.
The plan was simple: End the match with a single, unexpected strike. Even if blocked, the superhuman strength of the punch would likely finish Vera. Alex took a deep breath, and jumped to her feet. Then she reeled back for the punch. Her strength would more than make up for her lack of technique, at least in her mind’s eye.
And for a moment, it looked like it might work - but Alex caught herself. She realized what she was about to do. To her own friend! The knot in her stomach turned.
She couldn’t do it. Maybe that was what Vera kept feeling too. Alex couldn’t cross that line, even if the two had just spent their first meeting in years beating each other. She’d rather go back to her hospital bed and sleep another year.
What was she even doing here?! How could she even consider doing that to Vera?!?!
With a cry of frustration, Alex brought her fist down, but it landed nowhere near Vera, instead landing directly into the floor. The force of the impact cracked the floor beneath it and shook the entire bar.
“I can’t do it, Vera. I can’t have the first thing I do after missing you for so long be putting you in the hospital.” Alex muttered in a low voice, so quiet that only Vera could hear. “If you can do it, go ahead.” She sniffled, holding back tears.
Dust rained from the rafters and not a soul in the bar uttered a sound. The tiny girl had just set off what felt like an earthquake with a punch. It was a bit and then some beyond what most people expected from fights in the Midnight arena, let alone from someone like “Andras.”
Vera’s eyes just slowly panned over to the small crater formed by Alex’s fist, sweat dripping down the side of her face.
Shit like this was why she didn’t pick fights with people anymore.
She barely heard Alex’s first few words as her heart pounded in her ears.
“I-I give up…” Vera swallowed. She was good. As far as she was concerned, that was plenty for her to give Alex the win, and no one in the crowd was gonna argue with her after seeing that.
Alex wiped her eye with her sleeve. “W-What?” It took the girl a few moments to take in what had happened - or rather, what she had done. She looked down at the crater where her fist had impacted the floor. “O-Oh.”
She was frozen with shock for a moment. ‘I definitely overdid it!!’ She couldn’t help but think. ‘I can’t spin this as a total win… everyone saw her toying with me. I can’t even figure out what to say here!!’ Her brain whirred, trying to think of what to do. ‘I-I guess I should get out of the arena, at least…’
She wordlessly reached a hand out, offering Vera a hand up.
Vera hesitated for a moment before tentatively lifting her hand toward Alex’s. She trembled slightly as her hands inched toward Alex’s until their fingertips brushed against each other.
She flinched before her expression hardened and she slapped Alex’s hand away. She forced herself to her feet on her own before limping out of the arena without sparing Alex another glance.
She couldn’t even explain her actions. She could tell herself it was to make sure no one would doubt that Alex had earned her win and that she was playing the role of a sore loser, but that didn’t ring true in her mind. All she could do was shuffle off to sulk somewhere while she tried to sort out what she was feeling.
And besides, she’d left her “product” unattended with her “friend.” She needed to make sure they weren’t choking on their own vomit somewhere…