Chapter 29:

Nationals Part 5 (Takara)

Special Fighting Club

Aoshira won their Block finale against Ahirusai, representatives of Tokyo. The winners of Block B are, to no one’s surprise Moneko and the C Block winners are a school called Saibāteku.

Our cheering squad won two new members: Asuka-san, swarmed by fans, and Etsu-san now with a small baby.
“His name is Keiji.” She says.
Aoshira is also back, they seem to not want to take one side, understandable.
“Good luck.” Jin-kun says.
Dad gives me a hug. “I know you can do this.”
Even Nii-chan encourages us. “Just take it easy and fight like always.” He says.
Yoshi jumps around us all wishing us luck.
I look to Midohebi, standing close by; they seem to also have fairy big cheering squad, consisting of mostly family and friends.
Manami-san tell us to get ready.
“Don´t fret too much! You can do this, just believe in yourself!” Asuka-san yells after us.

The announcer does his usual thing: “Welcome to the Block finals of the D, E and F Blocks! Which of these six schools will continue on to the Quarterfinals? The D Block finale will be fought between the Kyoto-Nami High school, representing Kyoto and the Midohebi Academy, representing Chiba!” He lists the names of both teams’ fighters.
This is the first time I see Midohebi´s jersey up close: green shorts with yellow triangles on the inner thigh and a green and yellow top that seems to have a zipper in the front, kind of like what bicyclists wear.
We gather in a big circle. “Kyoto-Nami…!” I begin loudly.
The others join in. “Fight!”

We line up and bow. “To a fair fight!”
The referee begins: “Best three of five! 18 Points to win! Announcing the fighting order:
Fight 1: Fujima Takara vs. Tomoe Hiroaki,
Fight 2: Inoue Leiko vs. Akamatsu Akira,
Fight 3: Kozato Akito vs. Kanbara Toya,
Fight 4: Tousen Chiko vs. Kuugo Touichirou,
Fight 5: Fujima Taiki vs. Nakamura Tatsuya.
First fighters get ready.”

Toshi-kun sits on the bench, his arm in a plaster cast, appropriately painted in green and yellow.
I get ready. Manami-san checks the taping on my knee one last time and wishes me luck.

Hiro-kun seems nervous but smiles when he sees me.
“Let´s have a good fight.” He offers me his hand.
I shake it. “Yeah, good luck.”
He nods shyly.
Hiro-kun turns into a satyr, little brown horns sprouting from his head.
I don´t hesitate and turn into a unicorn and charge at him, slamming my entire body weight against him.
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 1-0!”
He shakes his head, probably to clear it, he focuses. His hands touch the ground vines appear all around me. Some grab my legs, rendering me immobile.
I struggle. Hiro-kun runs towards me and jumps, his hooves slamming in my face. He starts kicking me all over.
“Point gain Midohebi 1-5!”
I change from, the vines loosening. I manage to run for distance before the vines catch me again.
I take a deep breath and coat my fist with gems and run to Hiro-kun.
I manage a few punches…
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 6-5!”
… before Hiro-kun starts kicking again.
“Point gain Midohebi 6-9!”
I use a backflip to gain distance and turn back into a unicorn.
With my horn I create gems, shaped like razor-sharp leaves, they start raining down on Hiro-kun.
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 11-9!”
Before Hiro-kun notices anything I run, using my horn to cut his arm.
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 12-9!”
He tries to catch me again with his vines, but I don´t allow him.
I charge at him again, body slamming him once more and cutting his other arm with my horn.
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 14-9!”
Then it ends fast: I shot a few more of my gems and with a final kick in the stomach I hear: “Point gain Kyoto-Nami 18-9! Point win for Fujima Takara of Kyoto-Nami, 1-0!”

I take Hiro-kun’s hand. He smiles.
“Well you were the better one.” He laughs.
“That was pretty fun.” I say, helping him to his bench.
Back at my bench everyone´s happy.
Lei-chan gets up; cracking her knuckles and a determined look on her face she walks to the ring.

There Akira-kun is waiting, his jersey jacket opened. He waves at her smiling.
Lei-chan smiles back.
They seem to also be exchanging wishes of good luck.
Akira-kun turns into his puma Raiju form, reddish brown lighting all around him.
He doesn´t hesitate long, with his incredible speed he starts the fight, hitting and scratching Lei-chan all over her body.
“Point gain Midohebi 0-5!”
Lei-chan seems to have a plan. The second that Akita-kun slows down a bit she grabs him with her Naga tail and slams him onto the floor.
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 1-5!”
Blood from her wound forms into needles, raining down on Akira-kun.
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 8-5!”
He jumps up, hitting her with one of his paws.
“Point gain Midohebi 8-6!”
They have a back and forth of blood needles and lighting fast strikes until they´re at 17-17.
Lei-chan manages to punch Akira-kun in the face in a moment of inattentiveness from Akira-kun.
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 18-17!”
She tries for another punch but is bit in the arm and slammed on the floor.
“Point gain Midohebi 18-19!”
Lei-chan tries to get up but Akira-kun jumps into the air, falling on her with all of his weight.
“Point gain Midohebi 18-20! Point win for Akamatsu Akira of Midohebi, 1-1!”

Akira-kun helps Lei-chan get up. She throws an arm around his shoulder, laughing.
They come to our bench.
“Sorry, this stupid first year was just stronger.” Lei-chan laughs.
Akira-kun smiles. “I copied Akito-senpai.”
Aki-kun gets up. “Next year I´ll beat you.” With those words he makes his way to the ring.
Akira-kun blushes. “Senpai wants to fight me.” He says and makes his way to his team.

Toya-chan and Aki-kun are talking to each other. They shake hands.
Toya-chan goes into hybrid form, she´s a siren.
Their fight starts out pretty even. Both get a few good hits in. It becomes clear very fast that both don´t care for points, they want a K.O.
Toya-chan let´s out a bloodcurdling scream, forcing Aki-kun to his knees. She punches and scratches at him. He lays on the floor.
“15, 14, 13, 12…”
Aki-kun gets up. He seems to want to pay her back; he runs with incredible speed, hitting her a few times.
Toya-chan doges him as often as she can, missing the lightning bolt flying from Aki-kun´s paw as it hits her.
She slumps to the floor and doesn´t move.
The countdown starts and ends without her getting up again.
“Instant in for Kozato Akito of Kyoto-Nami, 2-1!”

Aki-kun helps Akimoto-san carry Toya-chan back to their bench, then he jumps back to us.
I pat his head. “You did well.”
He nods and lies down on the bench, Toya-chan´s scream seems to still have some effect on him.
He mumbles. “Good luck Chi.”
Chi-kun gets up nods and makes his way to the ring.

Tou-kun smiles and bows.
Chi-kun does the same.
Chi-kun turns into a griffin and flies into the air. He dives and claws at Tou-kun.
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 1-0!”
Tou-kun turns into a Manticore, his lion paws hits Chi-kun.
“Point gain Midohebi 1-1!”
Chi-kun jumps into the air again.
Tou-kun doesn´t seem all that impressed. He positions his scorpion tail and shoots needles at Chi-kun.
“Point gain Midohebi 1-8!”
Chi-kun tries to dodge; one hits him in the base of his wing. He struggles but stays airborne. He dives, again clawing at Tou-kun but this time he also picks up the Manticore, throwing him onto the ground.
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 3-8!”
Tou-kun gets up and shoots a few more needles.
“Point gain Midohebi 3-11!”
They hit Chi-kun in the wings, forcing him to land.
He changes into hybrid form, runs towards Tou-kun and punches as often as he can.
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 10-11!”
Tou-kun manages to get away from Chi-kun, after being hit by that barrage of fists.
He shakes his entire body, needles flying towards Chi-kun.
“Point gain Midohebi 11-16!”
Chi-kun changes back into Griffin form, charging at Tou-kun, one of his talons scratches Tou-kun´s shoulder.
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 12-16!”
Chi-kun manages a few more hits and scratches.
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 17-16!”
Tou-kun slams one of his paws into Chi-kun’s side.
“Point gain Midohebi 17-17!”
Chi-kun gets ready to hit Tou-kun with a talon but gets hit again by a paw instead.
“Point gain Midohebi 17-18!”
Without much time delay from his last attack Tou-kun stabs his scorpion tail into Chi-kun´s leg.
“Point gain Midohebi 17-19! Point win for Kuugo Touichirou, 2-2!”

Like in the past rounds one helps the other back to their bench.
“That was fun, let´s do that again.” Tou-kun says smiling.
“Next time I won´t lose.” Chi-kun laughs.
Now it´s on Taiki. I give him a hug, Kei pats his back.

Ta-kun and Taiki shake hands and say something to make them laugh.
Both turn into unicorns; one white with rainbow mane and tail, the other brown with green streaks in mane and tail.
The fight turns into a clash of gems and body slams until Ta-kun cuts Taiki’s side.
“Point gain Midohebi 7-7!”
Something seems to have awakened in Taiki; he turns into hybrid form and with his gem finger gun shoots gems in different shapes.
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 15-7!”
Ta-kun tries to do something by also turning into hybrid form but is kneed in the stomach instead.
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 16-7!”
Taiki turns and kicks Ta-kun in the head.
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 17-7!”
Ta-kun seems desperate, he shoots gems, Taiki doges them and ends the fight with a punch in the shoulder.
“Point win for Fujima Taiki of Kyoto-Nami, 3-2!”
The referee turns to us. “Congratulation to Kyoto-Nami! You are now in the quarterfinals!”

We meet Midohebi outside, most are in tears. I hug Hiro-kun.
Their cheering squad comes to pick them up after we had some time together.
“We´ll watch your other fights so win for us!” Hiro-kun tells me while he leaves.
“Of course!” I yell back.

Dad hugs me and Taiki, he seems overjoyed.
Tanaka-san is in tears.
Taku-san and Yoshi hug Chi-kun and Aki-kun.
Manami-san and Hisagi-sensei get kisses from their partners.
All in all we couldn´t be happier, even though there´s some regret. We did beat our friends, but at least we won knowing they gave their best too.

After a while Ki-chan and Jin-kun come running to us.
“They just announced the quarterfinal matchups.” Ki-chan says out of breath.
“And?” I ask.
Jin-kun smiles. “First: Because only three teams would win, it was announced that the losing three teams will be having matches against one another to determine the forth team for the semifinals.”
I nod. “Ok, and the matchups.”
Ki-chan begins. “Blocks C and F, meaning Saibāteku vs. Yukihana. Blocks B vs. E, that would be Moneko vs. Kinkami and...”
“Blocks A and D, Aoshira vs. Kyoto-Nami.” I interrupt her.
She nods. “Let´s give it our all, just like you did today, ok?”
I nod. “Sure thing.

Back in the hotel we don´t think too much about our match with Aoshira, we´ll try to have fun then and even if we lose we could still have a chance. But the other matchups are quite something. It´s pretty obvious that Kinkami will make it.
I try to stop thinking about it too much. We have two days before the quarterfinals. I should rest my knee as much as possible.
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