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|Game, Set, Match|
Chapter 9: Game, Set, Match
The air funnel pulled the water through, and Tenzin smiled as a 'water whip' took shape. Sweat formed on his forehead as the whip weaved and ducked to his motions. It's been awhile since I've done this.
He readied himself before pushing a ball of air into the water and bringing it up under. A wave rose in response and he used a wider funnel to move it forward. He exhaled and released, causing the water to splash all over the floor. He smiled. Good thing the bath tub in here is so huge.
The previous night's training session had gone smoothly, with Sora helping him by manipulating the water like an opponent might.
A knock snapped him out of his thoughts. "Tenzin?"
Sora opened the door. "Whoa! Hey! Whatever happened to knocking?!" He said with a stupid grin.
She rolled her eyes. "I—we don't have time for this. You guys have your first match in an hour. Fiora and Chikyuu will meet us there once they've finished up at the police station, but you and San have to leave now if you want to—"
He held up a hand. "I know; I know. I'm ready to leave."
"Good. And can I just say for the record—!"
"You think this is a bad idea; I'm aware." His grin was once more feral. "What could possibly go wrong?"
She folded her arms and suppressed a smile. "Lots of things. Let's go."
Drum beats and the roar of an enthusiastic crowd filled the group's ears, and the three who would participate lit up.
"Wow! This is gonna be so much fun!" Chikyuu's wide eyes scanned the arena.
San turned to Lu Ten and winked, which caused the heat to rise to his cheeks.
Xin Fu sauntered up behind them. "You are all aware of the rules: bending and hand-to-hand combat only. No weapons."
Tenzin raised an eyebrow. "Don't we get armor or something?"
The announcer emitted a full belly laugh. "Armor? Nonsense! That's why you signed the waivers!"
"Okay then..." He shrank a little. I might be in a little over my head. Wait, what am I saying?! Ugh...I'm beginning to sound like Sora.
The Crown Prince stood before his friend and smiled. "No armor? You be careful. Okay?"
"You know I will." She embraced her friend. "Wish me luck!"
"Uh...yeah, good luck!" He rubbed the back of his head. Whoa...
"Now that you've been brought up to speed," Xin Fu began. "You should know that the rest of you can either watch from the skybox, or you can sit on the benches close to your team."
Kyani shrugged. "I personally don't care where we sit."
"Benches." Lu Ten stated decisively. "We'll sit in the benches."
"Ladies and gentlemen, we have an exciting match-up prepared for you today!" Xin Fu waited for the roar of the crowd to subside. "The children of the Avatar have decided to participate today, along with their friends, in a bout against the runner-ups from our previous tournament, The Raven Eagles!"
The three massive benders that stood in the arena sneered at the three children that walked onto the platform. "These are the ones we get to fight?" A jagged scar was present on one side of the loudmouth's face, and he continued to look on them with contempt as the crowd grew louder. "They'll be easy! Too easy!"
Tenzin glanced over at San. "Judging by his color scheme, he's the Firebender. Think you can take him?"
She shrugged. "I hope so, but he is big."
Chikyuu scratched her head. "The muscle-y guy with the badgermole tattoo looks kinda familiar."
Tenzin raised an eyebrow. "He looks kinda old. Look at his hair; he's almost all gray!" The Airbender had to stop himself. Bumi was way older than that, and Dad told me stories of his power. How it was almost unrivaled. San had the right attitude, he decided. She was ready for anything.
"Besides, Tenzin," Sanaki continued. "I promised that I wouldn't take any unnecessary risks."
As the ringer of the starting gong reached back, Tenzin whipped his head toward San. "Wait, who—?"
Bong!...Bong! It had begun.
The opposing Firebender moved first, and San stepped into her opening stance. As he charged her, she began to breathe rhythmically.
Fire swirled around the large man's hands as he rushed toward her, and upon reaching her, he punched a fireball out with his right hand. She ducked under the perfectly predictable move and launched several two fingered blasts at her opponent, when he clumsily dodged them, she knew what to do.
Tenzin, meanwhile, struggled to gain ground. The Waterbender pulled up a wave using the water from under and around the arena and brought it down on top of him. Only the air shield he weaved around himself prevented the attack from sweeping him out of the arena. Before the water completely dissipated, Tenzin quickly weaved a funnel and made two elongated water whips, bringing them to bear against his opponent.
He thrust the elongated lines of water and wrapped them around his opponent's arms, the funnel of air holding them in place, and when the Waterbender instinctively pulled back to escape, Tenzin went with the pull and placed his feet into the man's midsection.
The grunt of pain and surprise made Tenzin smile.
Gareth rested his chin on his folded hands. The children were good, very good. The Waterbender was a little clumsy, but he knew how to anticipate. The Firebender was fluid and graceful, and he looked forward to their inevitable match-up. What puzzled him was the two Earthbenders. They had not moved. Granted, it had only been about twenty seconds since the match's beginning, but...
What are they waiting for?
"Gareth," Doma nudged his superior. "Do you think we can—?"
He nodded. "Yes, I do."
Sun Loc, who was sitting to his right, leaned in. "What about our other problem? You know they took down an Earthbender."
Gareth gave a half-smile. "So you want us to do something about it?"
"Funny..." Gareth leaned back. "You're the Earthbender, and yet I have a better grasp of neutral jing than you do. Barring that, you are correct. We must do something, but we still do not know where they go and hide. Patience, Sun Loc, I will find out. Then we can deal with this." He would make at least this city safe, if not the world. For her.
Chikyuu heard the gong, but she was too busy wondering who the Earthbender was to notice. He seems familiar...
The man with the badgermole tattoo raised an eyebrow. "Do the Boulder's eyes deceive him, or is he once again in the position of fighting a little girl?"
The young Bei Fong's eyes lit up. "I knew you seemed familiar! My mom told me stories about you!! This'll be so much fun!"
The Boulder smirked. "I take it your mother was," He made a show of flexing his arm muscles. "A fan of the Boulder from his younger days?"
Chikyuu shook her head, her grin still present. "No, my mom told me how she beat you up." The statement was followed by a giggle. "This is going to be fun!"
The large Earthbender scowled. "The Boulder has never been—!" He remembered that day, the day that the Blind Bandit utterly crushed him. Could the little girl standing before him... "Who are you?"
She smiled as she lifted a large rock from the stage. "My name is Chikyuu Bei Fong, daughter of the Blind Bandit." She launched the rock straight at the Boulder. "It's nice to meet you."
Sanaki had to suppress a laugh as she watched the Boulder's eyes widen. A near miss with a fireball, however, brought her attention back to her fight.
Her opponent lunged forward with another charged fireball, only to have his arm kicked into ground when San intercepted him. The blind haymaker that followed was a last ditch strike that the young Firebender easily avoided, immediately bringing her knee up to strike her opponent in the jaw. As the man's eyes rolled back into his head, San could no longer suppress a grin.
"One down." Her moment of revelry, however, was cut short when she heard an unexpected cry.
Lu Ten couldn't help but cheer as Sanaki finished off her opponent, and heat rose to the Crown Prince's face when she turned to look in his direction and grinned. He gave an awkward wave in response and sat back in his seat. He glanced over at Sora, Fiora, and Kyani, all of whom were wearing stoic expressions that attempted to hide smiles.
"What?" Lu Ten threw his hands in the air. "Can't a guy be excited when his friend wins her match?"
Kyani held up his hands. "Whatever you say, Lu Ten."
Fiora leaned forward, mockery evident in her eyes. "Friend?"
The Crown Prince just narrowed his eyes in response.
Immediately following Tenzin's initial attack, the Airbender stuck close to his opponent, preventing him from making the necessary wide arm movements for powerful attacks. The Waterbender found himself unable to even bring the smallest water whip to bear, as Tenzin simply parried his movements and disrupted his attacks.
Having had enough of Tenzin's game, his adversary switched to purely hand-to-hand combat. Tenzin smirked. Big mistake. Dad taught me everything I know. The Airbender put forth almost no effort to dodge his strikes. When his opponent struck at him with a particularly wide punch, Tenzin spun in and elbowed him in the nose. The bone and cartilage crumpled beneath the force of the blow, and blood flowed freely from the Waterbender. Dazed as he was, he was no longer a threat.
The end of their dance came when Tenzin slapped his hands down and transitioned into a heavy-handed push. Putting some subtle Airbending behind the strike, he managed to launch his opponent out of the arena. Game, set—huh?
He didn't even have to turn to know that something was coming toward him; the shift in the air currents told him that much. He simply had to sidestep, only to watch as the Boulder went flying past where his head had been. The large Earthbender's scream was silenced when hit the wall and slid into the water.
Tenzin turned to Chikyuu, who gave him an apologetic smile and a shrug. "Sorry!"
As the Boulder and Tenzin's opponent pulled themselves out of the water, Xin Fu entered the arena. "Well done, all of you!"
Tenzin, in his exultation, grabbed Chikyuu and spun her around. "We did it, Chief!"
The Earthbender, for her part, was so excited that she allowed the nickname to slip by unnoticed. "Yay! We did it! We did it!"
Kyani high-fived Lu Ten, and Fiora and Sora celebrated with San. Their revelry, however, was cut short by Xin Fu.
"You have performed excellently for your first match, and we expect great things from you! Now, would you tell us your team's name?"
The seven of them exchanged glances. They hadn't even thought about it. Tenzin scratched his head. What won't sound corny? He looked at the defeated 'Raven Eagles'. Like those losers.
Kyani, like his father before him, had a knack for names. "Warriors' Legacy."
Tenzin looked to the others. Two words, two simple words. But they worked. "I like it; it adds an air of mystery to us."
Sora rolled her eyes. "Whatever you say..."
Kyani smiled. It suited them nicely. "We are the Warriors' Legacy."
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