Arthur's rising regret increased the closer he got to the ring. It looked like a square and each corner had a pole and all poles were connected with red blue ropes to each other. He swallowed down another mouthful of saliva while staring at the big stage. Coupled with the sound of hits and shouts from the background in the hall his mood turned grim.
He had never been an aggressive kind of guy or someone who liked fighting with others. He liked watching Pokemon battle each other on TV but him being in a situation now where he had to fight for his own interests made him feel threatened and gave him a heavy feeling in his body.
He was definitely sure he would lose the fight anyway, it's not like he wanted to admit he was weak but it was a fact that he was a noob when it came to fighting. Rico on the other hand seemed much more experienced than him. Arthur could imagine that Rico would try and make him look as weak and dumb as possible while avoiding all of his hits and attempts.
On the other hand his own priorities lied in maintaining his safety and physical conditions. It would be the worst case if somehow he came back home with bruises and cuts on his face and his mother asked how those came to be. He still hadn't told her about the Sniebel so he didn't want to add another issue on to the list of troubles and explanations he owed her.
"What's up amigo, did you get cold feet? I mean I can understand that you might have overestimated yourself back there. We can still stop this if you admit your wrongdoing and apologize!", Rico told him from behind his back.
"You wish!", Arthur answered with gnashed teeth. He was here because of this guy in the first place and now he suddenly became a samaritan and left him a way out for an apology? It might be just useless pride but Arthur couldn't allow himself to be played around with by this guy. Even if he only got one hit he would make it count!
"You heard him Zoe, this guy just doesn't want to listen, I even gave him a choice!", Rico smiled at Zoe innocently and shrugged his shoulders helplessly,
"You can change your clothes within the cabins, I will lend you mine we should be about the same size after all. Don't worry about the equipment, everything is ready for us. Any questions?"
"Rico! Do you even think about the consequences?!", Zoe interrupted him,
"Arthur isn't even a real member here. He isn't allowed to do anything right now!"
"What is there to consider Zoe? He is here to train anyway, right? He is basically a member with a free trial period and I am just showing him some fighting tips as a more experienced member. I am a platinum member and you are the daughter of the dojo master, there is nothing wrong with us handling this and at worst I will take the blame, haha.", he assured her laughingly.
"Arthur! Come back to your senses! You're not in the right form to have a match, what if something happened?", she asked him worriedly.
Arthur felt a warm feeling in his heart when he heard her speak up for him. He could also feel the underlying concern she had for him within her voice. It was weird but even though he had lost his memories about her he understood why they would be friends together. And maybe after this they could be again. He smiled and looked back at her:
"It's ok Zoe, nothing to worry about. It's not like anything is written in stone yet."
"Yes, yes! Nothing is written in stone yet amigo, that's the spirit! I couldn't have said it better", Rico agreed loudly with Arthur, but it was clear that he was suppressing his laughter at the same time.
Zoe didn't seem to have calmed down more than before.
After both boys had finished changing into the right clothing and put on the gloves and head protectives they went on to the stage to begin. All the while a small crowd had formed around the ring with various people talking and anticipating the imminent match.
"Hey what's going on here?", a passerby asked someone in the crowd.
"It's a match between two youths.", another person told him.
"What's so exciting about that? It's just two kids."
"What if I told you one of them was a member of the House of Nevarrez!"
"Nevarrez? You can't be talking about ... that famous international arms dealer Nevar Corp.? Right?!"
"Of course who else?"
"I have heard they were recently working on weapons based off of Infinity Energy and autonomous A.I robots, what are they doing here in Viridian City?"
"Don't you know? The vice principle of the branch Trainer Academy is a member of the Nevarrez family! Maybe that boy is here to enrol and enter the academy!"
"Ahh, that makes sense. Then, who is his opponent?"
"Don't know, a nobody I guess. He doesn't look strong either, I hope he puts up a decent fight at least."
The boys stood opposite to each other and Rico looked at Arthur with fierce eyes and told him:
"Let's talk plainly for a moment. I don't know what kind of relationship you have with Zoe but from now on amigo you better stay away from her. People of your standard shouldn't mingle with people like us."
"People like you? What rubbish are you spouting again?"
"If you don't want to understand I will make you then!"
"Less trash-talking and more fist-talking."
"Hehe, you won't better regret this."
Arthur had enough of talking with that brainless guy and just wanted to start and finish the fight already. He took a stance that he remembered from movies and concentrated on Rico's movements. As they had agreed he would have the first hit on him and only then would the timer which Zoe held onto start.
Rico took on a stance of his own and had a playful wicked smile on his face. In his mind Arthur was nothing more than easy prey delivered on a plate. He didn't believe for a moment he could lose any of those rounds. Instead his idea was to humiliate him in front of Zoe so that he would never dare show his face again in her presence.
Arthur stepped closer towards Rico while holding up his guard all the time. He wasn't good or fast enough for any feint tactics. He should better focus on defense and attack only when necessary. It might be a bit shameful but right now enduring until the time ran out was the best strategy he could use to come out unscathed.
When Arthur felt close and secure enough to Rico he let out a fast punch toward his body and quickly retreated into a safe position and stance.
Rico on the other hand easily dodged that move and stood there as if nothing had happened. When he saw Arthur retreating he mocked him:
"Hey, are you a man or a rabbit? You are so fast, I can't see the difference haha", it was loud enough for the crowd to hear and some even laughed in response. Zoe just shot him angry looks and worriedly turned back to Arthur. She knew Rico was just playing with him but that didn't reduce her concern in the slightest way.
Arthur felt indignation as well as some embarrassment. He could understand how ridiculous he must have looked but he endured it and prepared himself for the worst.
But Rico had something else prepared for him:
"Hey you know Arthur, if I were to take this serious I would end this in a matter of seconds but that would be too boring right? I think the match still isn't balanced enough, so I will say this. Hit me as much as you want, I won't hit back till the last couple of seconds, ok? This should make everything fair and leave you some bits of hope to cling onto right, hahaha."
When Arthur heard this he wanted to punch Rico directly into his face but that wasn't possible right now:
"Well, if he said so, he wouldn't take back his words I guess.", he chose to believe him and approached Rico again. If he was lying while considering his strength, that would be just pathetic and pitiful. Rico didn't seem like that type in Arthur's opinion. For now at least.
When he was within his reach again, he tested it out again with a quick punch and surely, Rico dodged but didn't hit back. Arthur took that as a confirmation and attempted another hit, and then another. Both were dodged and hit pure air.
"Come on man. I am giving you a free ticket to hit me, I can't make it easier than this ok? Hahaha!", Rico still had enough breath left to coninue mocking Arthur while dodging and avoiding the punches thrown at him. To him they moved with 'mad snail' speed and he wasn't even doing it consciously.
Arthur's rage quickly built up after all his talk and his hits became faster and faster yet his defense also began showing more and wider gaps. And just when the time for the round was running out, Rico side stepped a punch and hit Arthur back, right into the abdomen!
It was a clean hit at the spot that wasn't protected by his ribs and his stomach felt like turning inside out. He had neglected his defense so much so as to let Rico finish him easily.
Arthur's knees went weak but Rico propped him up and he whispered into his ears:
"You should have disappeared the very moment I told you so. Now this is what you get for being ignorant.", afterwards he patted Arthur on his shoulder and asked audibly and innocent,
"Hey amigo! Are you ok?! I guess I hit you a bit too hard. I am sorry for that. I will try to go easier on you in the next round all right?"
The crowd didn't see clearly what had happened. Arthur had been in a wild craze and fell into Rico's trap as a result. Then he suddenly covered his stomach and the first round ended in the blink of an eye.
"What a rookie. Doesn't seem like it's much of a match. More like a slaughter, poor boy.", someone who had seen the fight play out said.
Zoe also didn't see what had happened but noticed Arthur's weird behaviour:
"Hey, Arthur are you ok?"
Arthur needed a couple of seconds until he got himself back together. He took in a bunch of fresh air and waved his arm to show he was fine.
"Hey, young miss Zoe!", a male voice called out for Zoe from behind. When she looked back she found Gary staring at the box ring in front of them:
"Can you tell me what is going on here? Who is that boy there?", he asked her.
"Ehh, well, Arthur and Rico got into a fight and ...", and she explained him the situation from before again.
"Interesting, Rico Nevarrez. I didn't think noble people liked hanging out in a dojo as well."
"Noble?", Zoe was confused.
"Nothing, forget about it. Let's see how long Arthur can endure this, haha. This boy is a human magnet that attracts trouble wherever he goes, hahaha."
Arthur all the while looked fiercely back at Rico, but held himself back to just jump onto him and become too aggressive.
It was his fault for overestimating himself and forgetting his defense and it had been Rico's intention all along to make him believe he was secure and forget to concentrate on his guard.
He had been naive when believing that that guy had any kind intentions towards him.
The second round was about to begin, Arthur wouldn't fall for those tricks again and get goaded but he also wouldn't repeat his turtle tactic. He needed to vent some hot steam off.
The only way he could think of to get a good hit and smack Rico's face was to raise his awareness and predict Rico's movements. His fists where too slow so they needed to move ahead of Rico's reaction. Even though this sounded easier said than done it felt like the only alternative to his passive defense to him. He didn't want to look like an idiot who could only take a beating and so he started taking in Rico's every move and step.
He remembered his time at the Viridian Forest again, at that place where time and space seemed frozen and only two rules decided his survival: run constantly and be faster than your pursuer or you will definitely die!
At that time he forgot where he was, who he was, or what was after him! He only knew that he needed to keep moving, keep thinking and find the best place to move and hide in! His awareness and perception were pushed to a constant peak and everytime he wanted to rest the sound of wild Pokémon would re-awaken his survival instincts and take control over his body!
While Arthur was unconsciously re-experiencing those traumatic events the world outside faded away from his sight and only Rico's physical outline caught his eyes.
Every step with his feet, every move of his hands and even the movement of Rico's chest when breathing in and out where seen by Arthur and became pieces of a puzzle that he put together into a clear picture. He had felt this sensation somewhere before as if he had full control over his body and every single cell working but he couldn't waste more thoughts on this now.
His breathing was steady once more and he slowly closed in on Rico again.
Rico didn't think much about the person in front of him. He saw how focused Arthur got all of a sudden, but that couldn't fool him either way. Defeat was the only thing Rico would give him in return.
Arthur got closer and closer and was once again within his reach, but instead of attacking he continued watching Rico move.
"What's wrong? Did you get scared? The fight only starts when you do the first hit, we don't have the whole day!", Rico tried to agitate him.
But Arthur remained silent.
Everything in his vicinity lost its colours and his complete focus was on Rico. He still hadn't grasped the right timing yet.
Rico slowly lost his patience and just went ahead:
"Hey, if you aren't going to come to me then I might as well come to you amigo!"
Rico wanted to do a feint from the left while attacking from the right.
At first everything looked alright and he threw his punch from the left side but then the unexpected happened!
Arthur went full ahead into his punch and took the hit!
Arthur's mind had been working like a steam engine all this time. He was constantly taking in information about his opponent and the more data he seemingly got the clearer the picture was he had about Rico!
When Rico decided to attack him with his left fist Arthur's instincts told him that it was just a bluff!
It was just a feeling that Rico didn't put enough force into that punch. Not enough to be effective in any way possible except for a ruse!
He decided to trust that feeling in that moment and braced himself for the impact and met the attack full on!
Rico was stunned in that moment and couldn't react in time!
Arthur confirmed his assumptions and took this rare chance and gave Rico an upper cut punch with his right fist! It was strong enough to catch Rico off guard and bring him down!
"YES! Well done kid!", Gary cheered for him.
"Bravo!", Zoe applaused delighted.
From the outside view his attack might have looked ridiculous and laughable but in that one second Arthur felt like he was Muhammad Ali who had defeated the final Boss in the end game!
It was so damn satisfying to pay back that hit he got from Rico earlier on.
But just when he was about to continue with his fist bashing, Rico stood up quickly, got himself back together and tightened his guard again!
He was shocked for a moment and hadn't expected Arthur to see through his move and make a counter-attack.
However now that he realized how he was beaten down by Arthur, even if just for a moment, he felt fury rising up in his body because of that humiliation:
"HOW DARE YOU! I guess one hit wasn't enough to make you realize the difference between the two of us! I will make you taste a real beating! Let's see if you will have the guts left to hit me again like that!"
After that Rico rushed towards Arthur without any regards for his defense and prepared a punch with his right arm!
Arthur was confused as he could clearly see and defend against the incoming hit. He held up his guards ready for Rico, but then something strange entered his sight.
It was as if a whirl had manifested itself in Rico's fist and the closer he got to Arthur the faster the whirl spun around!
"Arthur, watch out!", Gary shouted agitatedly as he realized too late what Rico was doing!
Shortly before the impact Arthur had a much better look at the anomaly on his opponent and the first thing that came to his mind was:
But before his thoughts could end, he felt a strong force hitting his arms yet ... it didn't end there!
His feet slowly lost contact with the ground, and all of a sudden Arthur saw the world turn upside down!
Scheduled chapter for the week,
please enjoy ;)
a bit longer this time, exactly 3k. Didn't want to drag on the fight over several chaps.
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