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|The First Round|
21 May 2012
The match gets underway with round one. Who will grab the early advantage?
The ring announcer came up to the center of the ring, a microphone in hand. The lights shined down on him as the crowd quieted, awaiting to roar like thousands of lions when the teams were brought out.
From a distance away, the Avatar and his family continued to watch the new spectacle unfold. Around the crowd, the Metalbending Police Force kept its eye out for any audience member who sought out their fifteen minutes of fame, as photographers dotted their allotted areas to take pictures for the Republic City Times and many other newspapers around the world.
"Welcome, everybody, to the Wulong Memorial Pro-Bending Arena!" The announcer declared. Upon this, the thousands of cityfolk yelled, preparing for the excitement of pro-bending to become official. "Tonight, this is the first pro-bending spectacle of many to come! Without any further ado, here are our first two teams!"
The crowd again gave a thunderous roar as some could even feel the arena shaking. There was no doubt about it; the people of Republic City loved this sport after its word-of-mouth spread following the demonstration matches.
"Introducing...the Winged Lemurs!" The announcer boomed.
Upon hearing their names, the Winged Lemurs placed on their helmets and made their way to the ramp. This ramp then elevated itself and brought the team up to the red side of the ring. They walked into zone one, occasionally waving to the crowd as they did so.
"Full house," Miaka stated as he looked around. "Not an empty seat to be found."
"Supposedly Commissioner Jashi was worried about a thin opening night," Halak responded. "Guess he was wrong."
"I was surprised when that was mentioned," Shao Fung added. "Even if people don't turn out to like this sport, you've got a high curiosity given all the talk about it. I mean, the demo matches were highly acclaimed."
The team then stood as the ring announcer stood in the center, turning his attention towards the blue side of the ring. He took a deep breath and prepared for his second introduction. "Now...the opponents of the Winged Lemurs...introducing..the Aardvark Sloths!"
On the other side of the arena, the Sloths followed the same movements as the Lemurs just did. They walked up to zone one of the blue side, taking a moment to take in the continued to crowd noise.
"I'm so nervous," Kuska said. Not helping her was when she looked up towards the Avatar's box, and saw her former instructor, Katara, sitting and watching. "Master Katara is here! Oh, spirits..."
"She'll be proud of you no matter what," Gatsu assured her. "Don't worry about this crowd, or Katara...just do your best. We'll support you all the way."
Kuska took a deep breath, trying to calm her nerves in the light of Gatsu's words.
The announcer then left the ring through the red side's ramp, and soon the referee, Mantia, made his way down from the official's area. He was decorated in white, more upper-class clothing, and a pair of glasses helped him see through aging eyes.
"The referee now motions both teams to the center of the ring," Shiro Shinobi announced to his listeners.
Mantia spoke to the players clearly and directly. "Now, listen here, all of you. I want a nice, clean match. I will be watching this like a hawk; this is our debut. Anyone who makes a mockery of the rules will be shown no mercy. I am operating under the assumption that you studied the rulebooks you were provided. Now then, when the bell sounds, come out fighting. Good luck."
The teams shook hands and prepared for the fight. The crowd of many thousands fell silent again in anticipation of the match's beginning. The Avatar and his family looked down on the competitors with great anticipation, Aang continuing to watch his dream come to reality. All they hoped for was for the teams to enjoy themselves.
"Just a quick reminder, everyone," the young, spunky Shiro began. "The winner of this match gets three points in the standings, and five points if they score a knockout. A losing team gets one point for any rounds they won, even if they lose by knockout. Right now, our timekeeper, Ingaudi, sets three minutes on his timer, the length of every round. He will signal to us in the booth every fifteen seconds for time checks, and sound the bell for match stop and starts."
The competitors looked across the ring at one another, their looks getting more focused for the fight. All of them stood in zone one, waiting for that first bell. Mantia started his countdown. "In three...two...one..."
Ingaudi rang the bell, and the match began. The crowd quickly started to cheer as the first shots were fired.
AUTHOR'S INTERRUPTION: This is a transition period. At this point, Shiro Shinobi will do all the "narrating". My narration jump-ins will be indicated by italics.
The first ever pro-bending match is underway! Halak quickly jumps in with an attack on Kuska, and the Sloths' waterbender goes down! She barely stays in zone one territory. Shao Fung charges at Gatsu, but Gatsu is up to the task with a great dodge! Sagashi backs his teammate up and fires fast and hard at Shao Fung, but Miaka breaks up the earthbender's blasts. Meanwhile, looks like Kuska is becoming target practice for Halak! She is hit again by a quick stream, and she is back into zone two!
The bright red light flashed before Kuska's eyes, and the buzzer sounded like an explosion in her head as she lost territory. Gatsu heard the buzzer and quickly turned to his fallen teammate, hoping everything was okay for her. Mentally, she was a mess.
Ingaudi then threw up his first hand signal to Shiro, indicating the first fifteen seconds were gone by.
Kuska becomes the first territory victim in the sport's history! Just a little over fifteen seconds gone, but this young woman does not look too good right now. Sagashi and Gatsu have to pick it up in a hurry here. Someone on the Sloths' side really needs to deal with Halak, he is all over Kuska! Sagashi finally goes for an earth blast at the Lemurs' waterbender, but again Miaka breaks it up! Miaka certainly is good at defending his teammates.
"Get up, Kuska!" Sagashi urged his teammate, as she staggered to her feet, clearly shaken from what just overcame her. Nevertheless, she had to fight on.
Kuska's back up again and she comes out with a water whip, and bang! She gets both Miaka and Halak! Now Sagashi comes in and fires an earth coin at Halak's head! The waterbender is down, but Sagashi is going to be in trouble!
Mantia blew his whistle and quickly everyone stopped fighting and looked towards him. "Foul!" He yelled, directing his voice at Sagashi. "Headshot, Aardvark Sloths' earthbender! Move back to zone two!
Disappointed with letting his frustration in defending Kuska get the best of him, the Sloths' captain walked back to zone two, sighing in the process.
Just twenty-eight seconds gone by and we have our first official foul call. As a reminder, listeners, no earth or firebender may fire a head shot. As a result, Sagashi now joins Kuska in zone two, leaving Gatsu as the last Aardvark Sloth in zone one! If he falls back, the Winged Lemurs can advance.
"Just stay calm," Sagashi urged Gatsu. "We'll get the territory back before you know it. You can take them! Remember...corners."
Gatsu nodded, as the official directed his sight towards timekeeper Ingaudi. He raised his hand, and upon doing so, Ingaudi rang the bell to resume the match.
Here we go again, folks, after that foul. Just hitting the thirty-second mark as Gatsu strikes! He takes down Miaka with a big blast of fire. Halak meanwhile has set his sights on Sagashi and Kuska, hitting Sagashi with a blast of water! The Sloths' captain doesn't want to fall now. Kuska finally counters, and she hits Halak with a blast of her own! Halak falls, now Sagashi comes back with an attack of his own, and bang! Halak is hit again, and falls back to zone two! He takes the earth coin to the stomach, and that can't be a pleasant feeling. Miaka steps up in Halak's fall and goes after Sagashi, but the Sloths' captain breaks up his attack!
Shao Fung is now tied up with Gatsu while the other benders duke it out in a two-on-two battle. They are going for tit-for-tat, waiting for someone to make a mistake! Forty-five seconds gone. Shao Fung strikes! His fire blast catches Gatsu in the arm and sends him to the border of the zones! Now Miaka comes in and drives an earth coin at Gatsu, and he falls back to zone two! With him now joining his teammates, the green light at center turns on, indicating that the Winged Lemurs now have the right to advance. The Aardvark Sloths need to settle down, or they're going to be on the edge!
Kuska gets up and goes after Halak. She drives him back towards the ropes with a big water blast! Halak now fires, but Kuska is up to task and stops it!
"There's our chance," Sagashi quickly said to himself.
Here comes the Sloths' captain to join his teammmate! Halak is in trouble now as Kuska and Sagashi attack! I don't know what the Lemurs' waterbender can do now! Miaka is in to try and help his teammate as the firebenders continue fighting on their own. Kuska comes with another water blast, and both Miaka and Halak are hit all the way back to their zone two, what a blast! Gatsu picks up the surge as Shao Fung is stunned! He comes with a big blast and knocks Shao Fung back to his zone one! With all the remaining Winged Lemurs back to their own side of the field, the Aardvark Sloths get the green light and return to zone one! Shao Fung has to stay up or the Sloths will be able to advance into Lemur territory! One minute gone as Shao Fung attempts to deliver a blow, but the versatile Sagashi dodges!
Halak and Miaka make their way out of the corner and duck some additional attacks from the opposing benders. Now, they need an attack. Halak again targets Kuska, but this time, she is up to task! A new-found confidence for this young girl, who just met the minimum age requirement eleven days ago! She comes for Halak, and delivers a big blow! Halak is on the border of zones two and three, but the red light does not go on! He's safe for now as Miaka comes up and fires, and he knocks Kuska down! Gatsu and Shao Fung are still having it out, folks! These two firebenders are really at each other's throats. Oh, Gatsu gets an opening! With a beautiful stream of fire, he knocks Shao Fung towards the ropes! The Lemurs' captain is in the corner! Gatsu strikes again, and Shao Fung hears the buzzer and falls into zone three!
Shao Fung staggered to his feet, trying to get out of the corner. He barely dodged a fire blast as he felt the edge of the ring nearing. Trying to hang on, he quickly kicked himself up and out of the way of another blast, his mind now getting desperate as he watched his teammates continue.
1:45 remaining, and the round continues! Advantage to the Aardvark Sloths right now as the Winged Lemurs seem to be scrambling! With Shao Fung still stunned from the blast he was handed, Miaka and Halak are shuffling from side to side as Kuska and Sagashi are now joined by Gatsu! The Sloths are at it, but these Lemurs are versatile, folks! They will not go down without a fight. Oh, wow! Halak just barely escaped a whip from Kuska! Actually, Kuska almost committed a foul; you can't trap a competitor with water! We are now at the halfway mark as Miaka now steps in and fires...he hits Kuska in the leg! She's down, and she may be hurt!
"Get up!" Sagashi urged Kuska. She felt pain in her right ankle as she barely ducked an attack from Halak. Sure, she was hurt, but she needed to tough it out, otherwise, she couldn't return to the match. The waterbender got up and maintained her toughened look.
Somehow, the Sloths' waterbender stays alive! This girl is young but she has the heart of a seasoned veteran fighter! As Kuska gets to her feet, Sagashi strikes at Miaka and drives him back towards zone three! Trouble now for Miaka; he does not want to join his teammate in the third zone right now. How will Shao Fung maintain himself as Gatsu strikes at him? The Lemurs' firebender is barely hanging on to the edge there! Gatsu fires, but Shao Fung dodges again! Now he attacks, and Gatsu is hit! Here's an opening for the Winged Lemurs!
Miaka gets up with 1:15 left, and he hits Gatsu again! The Sloths' firebender hears the buzzer as he slides out of Lemur territory! Kuska steps up for her defeated teammate and attacks! She drives Miaka back, but here comes Halak with a big blast! Kuska is driven back a big distance!
It all seemed to go in slow motion for Kuska as she fell back to her side of the ring. Buzzers rang through her head as she slid into zone one, and then to zone two, before one final buzzer-red light combo indicated her going all the way back to zone three. The lights and buzzers reminded her of fireworks as she fell down.
My goodness! What a blow from Halak! Kuska is suddenly on the edge of defeat! If the Sloths can drive Sagashi out, they can advance back towards their side of the field! They're all coming at the Sloths' captain now! Shao Fung steps up and there it is! A big fire blast sends Sagashi back to his side of the field! The Winged Lemurs get the green light and all players advance one zone with one minute remaining! The Aardvark Sloths need to get up or they're going to lose the round!
Kuska rises again! She knows what she needs to do as her team has lost the momentum! She draws water from the side and delivers a shot, but, Miaka is there to defend against it with earthbending! Gatsu attacks, and he resoundingly hits Halak! Halak falls back towards his own zone two!
"Get the corner!" Sagashi commanded his teammates. It's our best hope!
Kuska fires and sends Halak towards the left side of the ring! He is nearing the ropes and here come his teammates to try and help! Wow, what an up and down first round! I could not think of a more exciting way to kick off pro-bending! Sagashi moves towards Halak and hits him with an earth coin! Halak falls back to zone two, as Miaka tries to ward off his attackers. Now joining the party is Shao Fung! The fight is concentrated on the left side of the ring with forty-five seconds left!
The teammmates could feel the trap closing in on them as their opponents came after them. Shao Fung thought about it as the seconds passed by, hearing another buzzer as his friends faltered again, all of them falling to zone two, every blow getting to all three of them in close quarters. "I knew we should have worked on these corners more," he mused quietly.
My goodness! Can the Winged Lemurs get out of this trap? Two of the Aardvark Sloths have suddenly advanced to their opponents' side and are moving faster than a flying bison right now! Sagashi fires again and Miaka is hit back to zone three! He hears the buzzer as Gatsu charges! Gatsu looks for Shao Fung and attacks, but the Lemurs' captain dodges! Almost down to the thirty-second mark. Kuska now makes her move! She steps up and uh-oh! She goes over the line! The buzzer sounds and Mantia stops play!
"Foul!" Mantia declared with a booming yell. "Aardvark Sloths' waterbender, over the line! Move back one zone!"
Kuska's face fell as soon as she heard the buzzer, knowing she had destroyed the team's momentum with her inadvertent foul. Dropping her head down, the waterbender dropped back to her zone three again.
A terrible break for the Aardvark Sloths! They were on a roll, and maybe poised for a knockout, but Kuska goes a bit too far and not only does she drop back a zone, it gives the Winged Lemurs some much needed breathing time with 32 seconds left here in round one. An additional thanks to our timekeeper, Ingaudi, who has done a great job with keeping the signals in this match so far. As we wait to resume, I remind our listeners to stay tuned for an exclusive interview with Mr. Tao, one of the founders of this amazing sport, during the intermission. As we stand right now, the Winged Lemurs have two players in their own zone two and one in zone three, a net territory loss of four, and the Aardvark Sloths have two in zone one of Lemur territory, but one in their own zone three. They have a zero net territory movement, but it would win them the round if things held all square.
Mantia awaited for all players to reset their stances. When he saw that they were ready, he flashed a hand signal back to Inaugdi to resume the match. The timekeeper complied and sounded the bell.
Back underway after the foul! Kuska already looks much slower after that foul, folks, I can tell that she is feeling nerves as a result. Meanwhile, Halak tries to hit her, but she dodges!
"Stay with us!" Sagashi quickly ordered Kuska as he swerved around an earth coin.
Not much time left; right now, it's advantage Aardvark Sloths! However, looks like the Winged Lemurs used that stoppage quite well. They are clicking on all cylinders again, but with only about twenty seconds left, who knows if they will have enough time to claim victory in this round? They need to get the Sloths off their side of the ring in a hurry! Gatsu fires a couple of blasts at Shao Fung, but the Lemurs' captain dodges! We get our final time signal; fifteen seconds left! Ingaudi prepares for the final countdown! Shao Fung hits Gatsu with a fire blast and knocks him back to zone one! The advantage now goes to the Lemurs, net territory is now -1 to -2, favoring the Winged Lemurs! The Sloths have lost a four-zone advantage! They only have about ten seconds to at least force a tie!
Do it, now...Kuska's thoughts said to her.
Here comes Kuska, she gathers up some water as her opponents keep coming at her team! Seven, six - here she goes! Kuska fires, and OH! She hits Halak with a huge blast! Halak bounces through the zones, and he is out of the ring! I don't believe this! Two, one -
Inaugdi rang the bell, and all players fell to a quick stop. The crowd again roared as a thrilling first round came to an end. Mantia then announced the verdict over the booming crowd. "The Aardvark Sloths have two players in their own zone one, with one in their own zone three, a net territory movement of -2. The Winged Lemurs have one backed up to zone two, one in their own zone one, and a player knocked out, a net movement of -4. Round one goes to the Aardvark Sloths!" He pointed to the right as the first nixie tube turned blue, signaling the first round win for the Aardvark Sloths. Kuska quickly saw her teammates coming towards her. She opened her arms up as Gatsu and Sagashi hugged her mightily, lifting her up in the air a little before bringing her back down. The Winged Lemurs could hardly believe what had happened, having lost the round in a matter of seconds. It would be a long regathering for them in the locker room.
What an incredible first round folks! The crowd is going crazy after all the constant up and down action, and who could blame them? It's hard to believe this all happened in just three minutes! Nevertheless, what a confidence-lifter for Kuska! She had been up and down all round, looking miserable after her late foul, but she scores the victory when all is said and done with an incredible shot! The teams will now clear the ring and we will have a ten-minute intermission period. I feel bad for the average Lee who tunes his radio out now! After this first round, it is a one to nothing lead for the Aardvark Sloths! However, we still have two rounds to go, and anything can happen. Stay with us, everybody! An exclusive interview with the sport's co-founder and strategist Mr. Tao coming up after this word from our sponsors! This is pro-bending on Republic City radio one!
How did you like the Shiro Shinobi narration? Want to see it more, or do you prefer the typical narration format? I thought about using this style but consulted a few other users first, who all agreed with the idea.
The net territory idea was my way of keeping score to see who would win the round.
The points system mentioned by Shinobi is my idea of a "regular season" for pro-bending - which would help judge who made the tournament.
For the collective works of the author, go here.