Chapter 27:

Leon vs The Striker

Adventures of Zeleon

The next day arose, and Leon was down below in one of the competitors' rooms. He looked around seeing all the others' who looked both confident and nervous about the matches ahead of them. One of them being Oni, who didn't really acknowledge Leon's presence outside of a glance.

There was a monitor down below to allow them to watch the fights as they raged on. Group C was up first for the day and the results were underwhelming. All of the fights were fairly slow and somewhat indecisive until the last moment. The audience got annoyed to the point of actually booing the competitors.

After the poor showing of Group C advancing, Group D felt like a welcome refresher even if a fight was one sided. Oni was the first to be called, fighting another close to his size, they had a hard hitting battle of attrition that Oni barely came out on top of. He'd been beaten and bloodied in the match, he went through the room into the hall behind that led to the doctor's room located between the competitor's rooms.

The next person went out and faced the Grand Knight Perceval, who wasn't known for his hand to hand prowess. Again, a tight battle that Perceval ended up winning but only barely.

Leon sat patiently as it felt like forever before he got his turn. Once the third match of his Group concluded, it was time. As he stepped into the tunnel, the competitor who won passed by him with a dirty look. As if to say, "I hope you fail."

Leon shrugged it off as he stepped into the arena. By this time the crowd was into it, and as he stepped out, it quieted down. At least until Raize stepped out across from him and they cheered him on.

"Way to be objective, everyone."

Leon wasn't either favored or liked, a role he was used to.

Raize wasn't overly tall or built, he was obviously smaller than Leon. He came out in a red, beaten up training gi that contrasted his dark blue hair and eyes.

He is a threat still, and his record proved it.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, your final match of the preliminaries is about to be underway! Raize Aeros versus Leon Atkins!"

"Wow, he didn't just say Earth human."

Raize got into an effective dash stance, readying himself for the word go. Leon stood in a lowered balanced stance that was better for defense.

Leon learned something the day before, Raize has never had a match last longer than five minutes. So, he planned to push the time for longer, in hopes he'd be gassed and easier to handle.

"Let the final preliminary match….BEGIN!!!"

Right at the end of begin, Raize charged Leon with force striking with his hands at high frequency. Rather than attempting to dodge the onslaught and lose positioning, he blocked the shots with his forearms. Even in his armor he felt the pain of every shot land.

Raize noticed what he was doing wasn't working and jumped back before attempting a calf crushing swift kick with his right foot.

Leon took advantage and moved just out of range while homing in with a stiff forearm shot that Raize blocked but was pushed back by it.

Leon's extra 15 pounds of bulk made his weight felt more than before, and it showed itself in his first strike.

Raize put distance between them again to regroup. "I'm not losing to you, Earth human! You don't belong here!"

"If I don't belong here then do something to prove it! I'm so sick and tired of everyone writing me off! Now come on, if I'm so weak you should beat me within your five minute mark right?!"

Leon countered Raize's taunting with his own. It seemed to work too, as the frustration was written all over his face.

He yelled and charged Leon again. The audience's loud reaction to how he did it was a giveaway. This was his winning combination.

He moved in a zigzag pattern to prevent the opponent from moving too far one way or the other. He then started his combination with a misdirection kick, making a hard fake one way, then crossing with the opposite foot catching them in the ribs. The stun from this leads to an onslaught of harsh palm shots across the torso knocking them back and setting them up for a jumping knee strike to the jaw before coming back down with an elbow strike coming down to the head.

Leon couldn't block this and went down hard. The crowd cheered, and Raize turned his back to him, eating up the praise. "Rai-ze! Rai-ze! Rai-ze!!!" They chanted his name in unison, that is..until Leon started to stir and scrape himself back up, with an almost evil grin on his face.

"You thought that was it?! Hah! You didn't beat me to death's door asshole, I've felt worse. I LET you hit me, and it wasn't enough!" Leon spoke with a bit of a smugness, while he had a bit of blood come from his mouth after biting his tongue by accident.

The crowd was in shock, even almost silent for a moment. There was one singular voice screaming, which was likely Courtney having a borderline meltdown.

"You dare mock me in such a way?! I was going to let you off, but now I'm going to seriously HURT YOU!"

Raize charged at the slow moving Leon who wasn't fully standing yet, but as he went to strike him, Leon dodged again and again. It was obvious he was hurting, but he flawlessly dodged every strike, as Raize looked slow in his eyes after training with Courtney.

Finally, Leon just pushed Raize back and ran a few steps into a step up knee strike that hit flush, and immediately kneed him in the gut afterwards, and followed up with a quick grab and lift a few feet off the ground before spiking his head into the dirt.

Leon stood over him watching as the crowd became unsettled with how the match was transpiring before them.

Raize got to his feet slowly as Leon looked at his wrist like he had a watch. "Well, looks like it's been five minutes already."

These words hit Raize in his ego, as he became more frustrated and charged Leon once again. This time Leon just sidestepped and shoved him past him. "Olé!!!!" He said mockingly as he turned to face him once again.

Raize tried to kick his legs but his reach left much to be desired as Leon stepped just away from it.

He tried another kick and Leon kicked him in return but his longer legs allowed him to connect it right into his calf. The strike made him grip it as Leon moved to the other side of his body, this time making a more forceful swing of a kick that connected with his opposite calf and made him keel over as both muscles tightened painfully.

Leon stepped back, waiting for Raize to get up again, spitting the pooling blood out of his mouth onto the ground.

Raize had a rush of adrenaline as he charged Leon after he spat the blood, catching him off guard with a punch in the face, making him spit out more blood in the process.

The prideful hand to hand specialist tried taking advantage as he struck Leon again and again before Leon caught both his fists and headbutted him not once but twice.

Raize was left staggered, as Leon followed with a roundhouse kick that put Raize back down yet again.

"Well, Raize. Are you going to call it quits?" Leon spoke with a heavy intensity. He was locked in even in spite of the crowd now finally starting to boo him.

Raize struggled back to his feet again as he began to huff just to catch his breath. He wasn't used to dealing with longer fights.

He went and struck at Leon desperately, but the speed and power that he put into his initial onslaughts diminished.

Leon just needed to hop back a few steps, prolonging it a bit now to make him lose under his own body giving up. "Can someone call this please?! He can't even defend himself let alone attack me!"

Leon shouted his request but it was to no avail. He didn't like kicking someone while they were down unless they really deserved it.

"I...won't give up!" Raize exclaimed as he got to his feet again.

Leon clenched his right fist tightly and ran straight at Raize, giving him a firm swing right where his jaw met his temple. Raize hit the ground like a rock, he was out cold, giving them no choice but to declare Leon the victor.

"The winner is...Leon Atkins!!"

The announcer did his job even though the reaction was going to be awful. Leon was booed even as he lifted Raize over his shoulder and carried him to his side, where medical aids in the opposite competitors' room took him on a stretcher.

Leon then went into the hall after them and let out a long sigh. His body was tender where he took the full force of the hits Raize dished out, though it looked like the bleeding from his mouth finally stopped.

"Even now, it feels surreal. I actually won a match, I hung in and stuck with my strategy to make him wear himself out, and it worked."

He heard footsteps echoing down the hall as he stood himself back up again. "Annnnd here comes Courtney."

As he surmised, Courtney came around the curve of the hall. She immediately grabbed him by the shoulders.

"What were you thinking?! Taking all those hits on purpose like that! Are you insane?!" She shook him as she questioned him persistently.

"I had to make him think he'd win. He got more frustrated and made more mistakes after that. It was a necessary sacrifice of the body."

"Don't ever do that again. You made me think that you lost."

"Ok, ok. Even though you hit way harder and faster than him anyways."

"Of course I can. Now, let's get you all good and rested. And next match, don't play around so much alright? You're fast becoming the smartest idiot I know."

Courtney released him from her grip, as the two walked down the hall together.

"Did you see how they booed me? It was like I became the villain. In a way I kind of enjoy it. Like playing spoiler to everyone."

Leon smiled like he was truly proud of himself, with Courtney trying not to burst into laughter.

"You have too much fun pissing people off Leon. But, at the same time, I get it. So go out there and be the villain they want you to be."

"You know I will."