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Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary

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Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary Empty Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary

Post by SicilianDragon June 26th 2023, 8:11 pm

The train ride through the Bronx was steady, bumpy and rocking from the wear on the tracks. Beautiful murals contrasted by hastily splattered graffiti littered the path to her destination and Chie watched out the window of the cramped train. Occasionally she looked down at her phone, staring at a text message from an old friend. All that was on it was an address. Chie had been referenced this gym, told it was both the best and it was free, a combination that the forced high school flunkee needed desperately. More than that, even the smallest bit of research confirmed her suspicions. This gym wasn't just a haven for the poor to get ripped, it was also a place where heroes trained.

The train screeched to a halt at the next train station and Chie weaved through the crowd as they fumbled past each other like scurrying rats, each vying for a chance to exit or enter the train in the small gap before the doors closed again. From here, the Southwall gym was only a few blocks down. As she walked her way there, graffiti of various heroes and villains sketched over the wall reminded her of her folly. She had been a hero for less than a year now, and already she saw how much she was in over her head. Indestructible maniacs, people who could move faster than a speeding bullet and hit harder than a freight train and many more inconceivable threats had presented themselves to her. Each one she narrowly avoided a gruesome death from. It was bleak, but in a lot of ways she felt that this was her last hope at finding her way. At least here she could practice dealing with combatants of that level without the threat of death. Heroes seemed to flock to this place and the boxing ring in the pictures was prominent.

At last, she reached the large, bland building she had been looking for. Despite the sounds of weights crashing to the ground and heavy bags swinging from powerful hits, Chie double-checked her phone for the address. The walk here had left her nervous. What if this wasn't all it was meant to be? Her friend had referred her here, could heroes truly train among the mundane? In such a mundane place?

"Chie? Hey! You actually came by!" Said a voice from her side.

Chie darted to look but relaxed when she noticed the tanned, tall girl who had called out to her. A fellow high school student and member of the volleyball team. She was an old friend, all the way back from kindergarten, and her hazel eyes gleamed with delight at the chance to catch up with an old friend. She moved to rush to Chie's side, but she hobbled instead, her legs weak from a brutal workout.

"I'm just heading out but tell, but tell coach Harley I sent you," She said as she finally got to Chie, smacking the smaller girl hard on the back.

Chie chuckled nervously and nodded. Judging by the way her friend was walking, and the sweat on her brow, this 'coach' was a harsh instructor. Chie was incredibly strong, almost inhuman for her age, but if anyone could match her, it was this girl.

"Will do, stay safe Marissa" Chie said as her friend waved her off.

Swallowing any doubt or nervousness she had, and bolstered by the guile of a friend, Chie moved for the door and pushed her way in. Immediately, the heat of the inside hit her. It was dank from the intensive exercise going on by all those inside. People of all ages and sizes were working out, all giving it their all. As she scanned the gym, her eyes locked on the boxing rings. She smiled seeing the gloves and wrappings. She had brought her own, but it was nice to know there was plenty here. Furthermore, the whole place seemed well-maintained. Seeing everyone hard at work started to make her excited but concerned. No one was flying about, no mutated freaks boxing or grappling. Everyone here looked rather mundane... except one.

Chie's spectacular eyes fell on one woman's face in the back, someone currently watching a young teen boy and a much larger man grappling on the floor. Through the music and the general noise she couldn't make out what was being said, but as the unique woman spoke the teen suddenly slipped out of the larger man's grasp and astonishingly slithered his way into putting the much stronger and larger man into a rear naked choke! The woman herself looked rather normal, like everyone else, but Chie recognized something different in her eyes. She couldn't put her finger on it but those eyes shown with a look that told her this was no ordinary woman. This was Nicole Harley. Chie began making her way toward the woman nervously but did her best to raise her voice to be heard over the noise of the room.
"Excuse me, Ma'am?" Chie asked nervously as she approached.
"My name is Chie. Uh, Marissa Herrera sent me here..." She said with less and less confidence the longer she stood in Nicole's presence.
"Do you mind if I join in?"

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Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary Empty Re: Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary

Post by Sage June 26th 2023, 11:02 pm

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The Chie girl should be arriving right about now.

Marissa had been training in the back for a few months now. Nicole had trust her enough that she had been allowed to refer one of her superhuman friends to the place.  She passed the time before the girl got here by watching some of her students spar with each other. Before Nicole was a masterclass in the difference of applied mass versus applied skill. Remy, the smaller kid, slunk out of Jackson's rear choke like he was covered in oil. Just as he did, he whirled around and fed a boxing glove to Jackson's jaw. Jackson was on his back instantly. The difference was that Remy devoted most of his time to technical maneuvers, where Jackson was a workhorse.

"You're a hammer, and you're trying to sink a screw like a nail. That's why you're staring at the ceiling right now. Tomorrow you'll come back here and show me the same technique Remy just used escaped your hold, with or without practice." In the corner of her eye, Nicole saw a teenager she didn't recognize walking up to her.

This was, indeed, Marissa's friend.

"Lesson over. " With that, they both wordlessly got up and walked away. Rather than let the girl join their lesson, she gave them some alone time.

"Nicole Harley. You're the kid Marissa told me about, Chie. Follow me."

Abruptly, Nicole led Chie down a hallway and unlocked a windowless, steel door with a key under her shirt. Into another hallway, where Nicole locked the door behind them, they walked downwards into a subterranean level of the Southwall. Concrete walls lit up by fluorescent lights lead the way as they arrived at yet another door, build more like a school's gym. Once inside, Nicole and Chie were standing in what looked like another gym, only laid out differently. The walls were painted, reinforced concrete and the otherwise colorful equipment was carbon black. The air felt noticeably less humid, and refreshingly cool. They were stood in an area with soft mats like the common area's boxing floor, except they had more stiffness to them. Off to the side was a room that led to exercise equipment fit for superheroes. Another led to a place to swim for half a mile and climb rocks just as high.

"Marissa told me you're a superhuman, so you'll train in here. This is the Backroom, my fortress of solitude.  Before you do anything in here, ground rules." She started, "There's nothing this place can't take that you can do,  so you don't pull your punches unless you have a partner who isn't ready for them. You treat this place with respect, and you're welcome here at any time for any reason. And no one goes in or out without me trusting them first. I let Marissa tell you about this because she's a good kid. And I hope you are too, otherwise you'll never set foot in here again."

Despite her rapid fire explanation of the rules, Nicole's tone was gentle. Firm like a mentor who didn't tolerate laziness, but gentle nonetheless. She had a strangely disarming atmosphere about her. She didn't have the energy of someone who could dissect a person like a machine. But first impressions were deceiving.

"Got it?"

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Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary Empty Re: Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary

Post by SicilianDragon June 27th 2023, 6:51 pm

Chie was surprised as she immediately got Nicole's undivided attention. wordlessly, she followed the older woman to the back, and skeptically and nervously entered the backroom. Once she entered this new area she understood immediately. This was why there was no evident heroes in the public eye. This was a perfect training room for her. Padded floors, heavier weights, and as Nicole explained more about the place, she wondered if she could even bring Frontline here to train. If she wanted to get better at taking down brutes, this would be the safest place. Chie seemed to tense up when it was revealed her friend had outted her as a hero. She had never told the girl, but reflecting on their relationship she realized that every sport they had contended in Chie always gave her all, and her strength and speed spoke for itself. The only competition she'd ever been beaten in was swimming, and Marissa held that title. A wryly smile crept over her face as she looked at the pool in the corner. Perhaps Marissa had some secrets of her own. If anyone was going to keep her secret, it would be a fellow hero-in-training.

Chie listened intently to Nicole's rules, all of which seemed rather simply, Chie nodded along with each one. It was reassuring to hear how casual Harley seemed about these sort of things. She let her guard slowly drop as she relaxed in the isolation of the backroom. No prying eyes to witness her near-inhuman feats. No chances her family or high school friends (except one evidently) caught her in the act. Even better, no chances she'd be gawked at by some weirdos at the gym. An unsung perk of being a hero.

"Yes ma'am! I promise I won't tell a soul"
She replied merrily to her new mentor's instructions. Eagerly she looked over the equipment here. The rock climbing could be a new addition to her routine. Chie had found herself climbing the various towering buildings of New York often, and any chance to hone her skills would be welcome. She had come here for something specific, though.

"Speaking of sparring partners. I was hoping you could help me find one. I'm looking for a bit of a challenge" She asked hesitantly.

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Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary Empty Re: Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary

Post by Throniv June 28th 2023, 4:12 pm

After the serum she developed gave her powers, Skye had quickly found that normal gyms simply couldn't supply her with the equipment she needed to actually work out. After all, when you could lift a New York City garbage truck above your head, you needed a bit more than a boflex and a treadmill to work up a sweat. It had taken a bit to find a place that could accomidate her, however she had finally had a friend from Columbia reccomend Stonewall to her when she had mentioned she was looking for a superhuman friendly gym. It had taken a bit of time to finally earn enough trust from the gym's stoic owner to gain access to the Backroom, but once she had she had firmly decided that she didn't want to work out anywhere else. The backroom was quiet, cool, and durable enough that she could exert a considerable amount of her prodigious strength.

It also had the benefit that, normally, she could practice her punches without feeling extremely embarassed at her lack of skill.

To that end, she had a set of airpods in her ear as she threw a wild haymaker that sent a reinforced boxing bag swinging and cursed as she felt her wrist bend awkwardly. Skye let out a yelp and a curse as she shook her hand to relieve the sharp jolt of pain that had traveled up her arm.

"Shit fuck goddamn ass-munch bitch," she muttered sharply as she scowled down at her hand as if it was at fault rather than her own inability to actually fight if her life depended on it. Which, considering the caliber of villain she had been taking on recently, it very well might. She turned with a clear scowl on her face only to start and come up short when she noticed Nicole and a new girl in the room. She reached up and pulled out her headphone, allowing K'naan's Bang Bang to carry softly across the room before she tapped her watch to payse the music.

"Oh, hey Nicole. Who's the new girl?" she asked as she walked over, regarding the new person with a brow furrowed in scrutiny. She definitely looked familiar, but for the life of her Skye couldn't place her face to a name. One of the disadvantages of her senses being dialed up to eleven was that constant input tended to make actually recalling that input a bit more difficult than normal.
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Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary Empty Re: Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary

Post by Sage June 29th 2023, 11:34 pm

The new girl’s here to train. You know the rules. What happens in here stays in here. That’s Toxin. She hits like a truck and runs real fast. Now both of you wait here.”

Nicole walked away and came back a few minutes later. She switched out the old hoodie for a tank top, and now it was apparent to Chie that she was absolutely shredded There was more muscle on her arms than what Chie probably had on her entire body. The earrings she had were now gone as well, and there were red hand wraps on her fists.

”Toxin, stay over there and watch. Here’s what’s happening. Chie, you’re going to take a swing at me, and you’re going to do so until you can land a hit. How many tries it takes doesn’t matter, because you’re not going to hit me any time soon. I want to see what you’re capable of.”

Nicole didn’t look even remotely ready for it based on her body language. She didn’t have her feet spread apart, or her hands up. She just looked casual.

”Begin.”

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Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary Empty Re: Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary

Post by SicilianDragon June 30th 2023, 2:23 pm

Chie perked up when she heard that the other woman in their midst was a hero she had met before. Chie new firsthand how capable Toxin was. It only solidified that this was a place for heroes to train if someone as strong as her was there.
"Hey, I think we've met actually." she said cheerfully, giving a bright smile and a short wave.

Turning her attention back to their instructor Chie's face lit up bright red like a Christmas light as she looked over Nicole. Chie was strong, stronger than most adult men by a far shot, but comparatively, she seemed frail. The calm Chie was feeling dissipated into her tension as she began feeling her inadequacies. The pressure only built on her when Nicole asked her to throw a punch. From the coach's stance and disposition, she knew that she was in over her head. Nevertheless, she had come to learn and she wasn't going to back down from a challenge. Shuriken had stared down superhumans, indestructible morons, and far worse. Chie could handle a little competition. Chie pulled out two pink 18-ounce boxing gloves and slide them on, steadying her breath as she readied herself.

Slowly she nodded and moved into a fighting chance, southpaw with her legs bent but close together, a more defensive position for easy maneuverability. Her beautiful eyes locked with Nicole as she carefully crept around the woman, scanning for ger first target. Finally she sprung forward, playing things safe with a simple left handed jab, keeping her dominant hand ready to defend.

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Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary Empty Re: Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary

Post by Throniv July 2nd 2023, 12:58 am

Skye winced at the use of her hero name and frowned at Nicole, who'd refused to use (or learn) her actual name since the moment she'd introduced herself as her hero persona. Well, she supposed that it was better than this rando knowing both her hero and civillian identities, but still, she had a secret identity for a reason. She'd seen enough news stories where a bad guy had gone after a hero's loved ones to know that secret identities kept the people heroes cared about safe, and she didn't know what she'd do if someone came after her mom or dad. Still, she'd have to talk to Nicole about just giving out her secret identity.

Her attention refocused at Chie's words, causing her to take a more scrutinizing look at the other young woman until she brought up a finger and covered the top half of the other girl's head.

"Oh hey, ninja girl! What's poppin?" She asked with a grin as she reached out and bumped fists with the other hero that she'd met during the whole robot lion incident. From what she could remember, Shuriken had been a capable and effective hand-to-hand fighter, and Toxin had been trying to figure out how she was going to ask the smaller girl for some lessons--only now, it looked like that problem had resolved itself. One of the few times things turned out alright for the green-clad heroine.

Skye pushed her bangs back away from her face as the proprietor of the gym came out and ordered her to stand back. She grinned, gave a two finger salute, and leapt back to stick to the nearby wall in order to get a slightly better angle of the two fighters exhanging blows. Maybe she could pick up a few moves by watching people who actually knew what they were doing rather than relying on pure instinct. She frowned in confusion when she registered that Nicole wasn't actually taking any kind of fighting stance, but then shrugged and refocused on taking in the movements. The owner of the place and coach of this particular shindig probably knew what she was doing.
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Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary Empty Re: Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary

Post by Sage July 2nd 2023, 10:35 pm

Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary 2a385f05ec6ce973440ae2a6eef82742



Nicole crossed her arms as she waited for Chie to get her arm stuff on. When the girl dropped into a stance, something in the back of Nicole's mind ran a myriad number of calculations. The angle her knees bent at wasn't optimal, Chie could be punched in the ribs and fall backwards. The way she stepped forward suggested she was lighter on her feet than the average individual, that did in fact explain the super part of Chie's humanity. A mental image became more and more defined the longer she watched Chie move. Like a computer, Nicole understood the kinetic potential of Chie's movements through observation alone.

She was a lightweight. A hummingbird that ran circles around the opposition. Lightweight meant a lot of air time.

When Chie swung a jab, one of Nicole's folded arms shot outward like a bullet, swatting her hand in the direction of her left leg in a fashion intended to knock Chie's stance out of form. This was done with a jarring amount of force, and yet Nicole seemed to just barely move. Her shoulder and upper body twist slightly, and as Chie began to stumble for balance, Nicole aimed a palm strike at her now-exposed side. The force of the strike was painful, but measured in that it was pulled enough to not cause an injury. It was, however, enough to send Chie backwards toward the ground.

At worse, Chie would be feeling that for a few minutes.

"Lesson one: You do not attack at someone who you aren't prepared to be attacked by. My powers tell me every motion your body is capable of, and I can tell you aren't ready to take a punch without being exposed. Your form was decent, but your stance was flawed. You aren't on the floor because of how hard I hit you. You're on the floor because you weren't ready for the hit. Your stance prevents you from being thrown off. The stance is your foundation, it will be shaken down to the foundation every time you take a punch."

There was steel in her patient voice. Nicole did not demean Chie, she dissected every flaw and laid them out before Chie to observe in excruciating detail. "Like any foundation that can weather what's thrown at it, yours will be built through dedication and diligence. Spread your feet wider. Be prepared to move with an enemy's punches. Anticipate that you will be harmed."

Nicole stepped forward one step, in an ever-so-slightly less casual stance. One leg was in front of the other, and her upper body was lowered a fraction,

"Again." She ordered.

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Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary Empty Re: Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary

Post by SicilianDragon July 3rd 2023, 1:20 pm

As Chie's jab was easily deflected she didn't seem very phased. The punch had been used to gauge the other woman's abilities and so when she felt her weight shift she let her body move with the force of Nicole's movements. Drifting backwards she anticipated the next attack, and as the strike to her side came Chie was ready, sliding her forearm between her ribs and the palm in the nick of time. Unfortunately for her, the sheer force of the impact took her by surprise and Chie was sent back a couple of feet. Furthermore, the angle of the strike and sent the girl spinning now that she had been taken off her feet. Chie was used to brutal and savage swings from brutes. Even her mother had never managed to have this level of pinpoint accuracy to manipulate he balance this well. Before she knew it, Chie had landed on the ground, but still she kept up her guard, ready to kick and grab at the ready.

As Nicole began to pick apart Chie's stance she got back to her feet, seeing that there was no further onslaught coming her way much to her relief. Chie listened intently, but as youthful and prideful as she was the frustration on her face was evident as she listened. Still, she had listened carefully and did as she was instructed, digging into a deeper stance and composing herself, Chie swung forward with a more powerful straight punch this time. Not use to staying planted, the force of the punch came unexpected to her.

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Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary Empty Re: Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary

Post by Sage July 6th 2023, 10:29 pm

Nicole watched Chie like a hawk the entire time. Her mind whirring as she internalized the motion of Chief’s recovery. This pleased Nicole, for anyone who falls a thousand times must stand up a thousand more. All great fighters in the world’s history became so because they were tenacious; Defeat is not an option, less so during training. Nicole was impressed already, but that didn’t show on her expression. She wanted to determine how Chie responded to a lack of coddling.

When Chie threw the punch, Nicole leaned left and pushed Chie’s arm up with a cross-block. It was evident Chie felt uncomfortable in that stance, so she applied pressure.

”Better. Keep the arm straight. You break bones in the field and you’re out of the fight.” By the tone of her voice, Nicole wasn’t bothered. As she said this out loud, Nicole jumped up, and performed a forward kick aimed for Chie’s abdomen. It wasn’t lightning fast, and Chie likely could dodge this if she was focused enough to expect articulate maneuvers.
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Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary Empty Re: Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary

Post by SicilianDragon July 10th 2023, 12:13 pm

As she felt her arm pushed up her guard was thrown away and once more she found herself off balance. No longer retaining her sturdy stance she was quick to regress back into her earlier instincts. Seeing her Nicole's attack coming she mustered all her speed and strength as she narrowly stepped to the side of the jumping attack, feeling the air breeze past her from the sheer force of the older woman's mighty kick. Chie saw an opening, or atleast she thought she did, as she retaliated quickly with a hook sent to Nicole's stomach, though with her legs still sliding into position there was not much power thrust into the attack and it came out sloppily. It was a hasty comeback but Chie was dealing with a foe filled with tenacity, she wanted to keep off the defensive or else she'd likely be back on the ground.

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Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary Empty Re: Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary

Post by Sage July 12th 2023, 10:42 pm

This was impressive. Nicole could tell that Chie was doing the best she could. The girl had determination and will to do what she was doing. That was important, without the heart there was no will to do anything. As the girl landed, she didn’t have completely power behind her punch. The hit connected, as Nicole wanted to see how much force she managed- Her powers didn’t calculate how painful a punch would feel. Unsurprisingly, or perhaps surprisingly to Chie, it wasn’t enough to illicit so much as a wince. Nicole was as stone faced as ever, it felt like Chie punched a wall.

And yet, she was complimented. ”Good. You insist on not giving your opponent time to think about their next decision. This will save your life. It will threaten your life as well if you can’t think fast enough. Show me how fast you can think.” As she said this, Nicole launched into a 360 degree kick that came at Chie with more speed than most MMA boxers can achieve over the course of a lifetime, this was aimed high, and Chie the opportunity to duck if she wished.

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Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary Empty Re: Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary

Post by SicilianDragon July 14th 2023, 5:59 pm

She felt a surge of euphoria the moment her fist connected with her opponent. The hit was paltry, even an ordinary sparring partner would treat it like a glancing blow, but she had accomplished her goal set by her instructor! As soon as the hook connected and she felt the force of her blow subside the fist quickly recoiled back to her guard as Chie prepared for a counterattack. To her surprise though, she was complimented. Chie once again felt her pride swell.

Then before she knew it Nicole's foot was flying towards her face at blinding speeds. Chie's immaculate eyes managed to see the attack coming, but she had gotten so stuck on her previous victory that she had not expected such a sudden retaliation. Chie was sent flying back from the blow, landing flat on her back. Quick on her feet, and seemingly energized by the reminder to keep her guard up, Chie jumped back to her feet. A small bit of blood oozed from her nose from the impact of the blow. Nicole hit like a truck! A few more strikes like that and Chie would easily be out of the fight. All the more reason to learn to handle such an opponent.

"Won't happen again" She called out with a nervous chuckle, wiping the blood away from her nose. This time she was ready, her stance reforming and her eyes once more locked on her foe.

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Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary Empty Re: Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary

Post by Sage July 18th 2023, 11:16 pm

”It will happen again. I repeat: Accept that you will be hit.” To assume one would not be harmed was to be unprepared for an inevitable outcome. It was folly, and folly was the key that unlocked the door known as Death. Chie had spirit and determination, but she was untested in Nicole’s eyes- Yet to make something of herself. This was the first step, this put Chie on the playing field. What she did now determined if she’d make it further.

The stance was a more grounded one. Up until now, Chie was the aggressor. She pushed the attack and tried to keep Nicole from having a chance to think. To her credit, it was commendable, but Nicole had faced far worse and could think too fast for Chie to make her feel truly threatened. It seemed now she was challenging the opposite with her stance, saying, “come at me.”

Nicole obliged.

She dropped her weight into a run, and blitzed forth with visceral quickness. To the average person, Nicole moved in the blink of an eye. To Chie, it may not have been so fastt, but Chie could’ve barely taken a breath before Nicole was in her face. What she did next was a masterclass in the art of keeping someone on their toes. She threw a jab, and then followed up with another. And another, and another, and another still. The punches were aimed in multiple directions at multiple points across Chie’s body; Her arm, her side, her ribs, and more. There was no rhyme or reason beyond which hand was sent forth. When one pulled back, the other punched.

This was a test of Chie’s ability to react to things, more than anything.

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Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary Empty Re: Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary

Post by SicilianDragon July 22nd 2023, 7:48 am

Chie had just regained her footing, just returned air to her lungs, when she saw Nicole advancing swiftly at her. Had she not had impressive eyesight she might have missed the sudden barrage of punches, but Chie's body was not nearly as impeccable. The first few punches she managed to stifle, covering them by blocking with her forearms and shoulders. As the attack pressed on, however, Nicole seemed to know everywhere to strike, slipping past Chie's guard with expert precision. At first, it was glancing blows, Chie being tagged before she stumbled away or swayed from the impact, but soon Nicole was releasing a relentless beatdown on the protege-to-be. Each strike hammered her in the face, or stomach, slowly wearing her down and making her all the more vulnerable to the next strike.

Seeing things were only going to get worse for her in an outright brawl, Chie jumped back, hoping to get distance between her and her foe. Normally, a tactical retreat like this would include a barrage of her deadly namesake, but the young hero had not brought her Shurikens into the battle. It was a sparring session, not a true fight. Instead, she prepared herself for a counter attack as she leapt back multiple yards. Her eyes stayed locked on Nicole's, fiercely staring her down, watching for any change in her disposition.

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Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary Empty Re: Crouching Gym Manager, Hidden Mercenary

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