Mini-Interlude 24 – Flick

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Please note that the following is a commissioned mini-interlude focusing on Flick sparring with a couple other students. 

“All right, for the next little match, let’s see… Flick.”

Blinking up at that from where I had been whispering something to Sands, I looked to Hisao. “Me?”

He nodded, gesturing to the spot in the middle of the school grounds where he had created a stone-floored arena about twice the size of a normal boxing ring. Because today’s defense class was all about sparring with each other. He wanted to see what we could do, and wanted us to see what we could do. So he’d set this up.

“There we go,” the man announced as I hesitantly stepped up onto the conjured stone floor. “Now, how about… Erin. That was your name, right?”

As Vanessa’s roommate nodded, he smiled. “Good, you and Mr. Paul Calburn over there. You two fight Flick.”

Paul gave a confused look toward me, then back to the Eden’s Garden substitute. “Both of us, sir? That’s ahh, not really fair.”

“I know, son,” Hisao replied. “But if I add any more of you to fight her, there won’t be room in the arena to maneuver. So you’re just gonna have to make do.”  

That got people talking, and I flushed hotly while moving over to my place. Erin waved, calling, “Hope you don’t think I’m gonna go easy on you just cuz you’re friends with my roomy.”

“I’d be disappointed if you did,” I called back. “Last thing I want is a boring fight.”

“Oh I promise you one thing,” Paul put in then. “It ain’t gonna be boring.” Giving me a nod, he added, “Good luck though.”

I nodded. “Same to you guys.”

Thanks to the arena that Hisao had set up, any blades were magically dulled. They wanted us to fight as hard as we could, but of course they didn’t want us to actually kill each other. Similarly, my staff wouldn’t trigger a lethal-level kinetic burst as long as that burst would actually hit someone. I wasn’t sure exactly how Hisao had set the whole thing up, but that along with other protective measures to stop us from engaging in lethal attacks (knowingly or otherwise) did seem useful. 

So we couldn’t kill each other. But that was about it. Full contact meant we would fight until one of us (or, in this case, either me or both of them) gave up or was too injured to continue. Or, of course, until Hisao decided that he’d seen enough. Since we all had at least the peridle’s healing ability, they weren’t too worried about things like cuts, bruises, and a few broken bones. After all, the Alters we fought would be playing for much bigger stakes.

Those were the only thoughts that had time to run through my head before Hisao announced the fight should begin. And then Erin and Paul were both coming at me.

Time to do this.

They came from opposite sides, Paul from the front and Erin from the back. I wasn’t sure how much of that was Paul’s inherent chivalry and how much was them hoping that focusing on the big guy coming straight at me would distract me from the girl coming at my back.

Whatever the reason, I had no intention of just standing there and letting it happen. Instead, I went straight for Paul. As the Kentucky boy came in hard with each of his two hand-axes swinging, I took two quick steps forward while snapping my staff up to the left. The tip of the staff barely caught the axe in his right hand just under the blade, at the end of the handle.

As the staff caught the axe, I dropped to one knee and gave a tug. Paul’s other axe whiffed through the air where I had just been. Meanwhile, the one that my staff had caught was tugged over my head, neatly intercepting Erin’s descending sword.

Before they could take advantage of my kneeling state, I snapped the staff around, catching Erin across the face with one end while Paul jerked backward to avoid the other. Unfortunately for him, the staff was still pointed at him. Holding tightly to it, I triggered the kinetic energy I’d been saving up.

The force yanked me up off the ground, and I released the staff as soon as I was in the air. It flew forward, rebounding off of Paul’s forehead. Meanwhile, I used the momentum of being yanked into the air to spin around. My foot took Erin in the shoulder, and my right hand snagged hold of my staff just in time to bring it around and catch her sword as I landed on my feet.

Unfortunately, catching her sword wasn’t enough to stop the other girl from using it to summon a blast of wind that knocked me stumbling sideways. She followed it up with a stab forward, which I barely managed to redirect away from me by snapping my staff into a vertical position to catch the blade near my side.

Then Paul was there. Pivoting to the right to avoid his first blow, I snapped my staff up to knock Erin’s incoming sword away from me that time, sending her blast of wind harmlessly away. At the same time, I drove an elbow back into Paul’s face.

Apparently he’d gotten some kind of enhanced strength or something at some point as well, because even the werewolf-enhanced strength wasn’t enough to do more than make him stumble back a step.

Meanwhile, Erin made a sharp gesture with one hand. As she did so, I felt something grab onto my feet. A quick glance down showed a pair of rock-like hands (or was that hand-like rocks?) that had pushed their way out of the ground to hold me in place.

Satisfied that I was held, Erin gave a swift flick of her sword behind herself, summoning a focused wind that shoved her forward in a fast lunge. A very fast lunge. If it wasn’t for the werewolf reflexes, I never would’ve been able to do anything about it.

As it was, I barely managed to bring my staff up and around to smack the incoming blade out of the way. Erin looked surprised for a moment that I’d managed to catch her in mid-lunge, but I didn’t have time to smile. From the corner of my eye with my head turned, I could see that Paul had recovered and was coming at me with both axes swinging down for my shoulders. And I was still trapped by the rock-hands holding my feet.  

Twisting at the waist, I caught one of the axes across the flat of the blade. Thanks to the werewolf’s strength, I was able to shove it into the path of its partner, knocking both off-course.

At the same time, I hit the button on the staff that triggered the tiny portals that allowed me to summon the sand from its container. About half of it I sent into Paul’s face, making him reel backwards. The other half I sent down at my own feet.

The rock-hands weren’t exactly airtight. I was able to send my cloud of sand into the cracks between it and my shoes. The individual grains easily found their way in.

Meanwhile, Erin kept coming at me with a rapid series of strikes from her sword that were made even more rapid by her ability to make the wind speed up each swing and jab. Fortunately, I was able to counter each one, my staff spinning and snapping into place every time the blade got near me. After the fifth one, I let the sword come as close as it ever had, then retaliated with a blow to the side of it that was strong enough to knock the weapon out of her hand.    

A gust of wind caught the sword and carried it back around into her other hand, of course. But by then, I’d done what I needed to do. I had enough sand between my feet and the rocks holding them. With that done, and the second reprieve I had, I brought the staff down between both of my trapped feet while triggering the kinetic charge it had built up.

The resulting blast put enough cracks in the stone constructs that I was able to send all that sand that I’d pushed under them right back out. Between the two assaults on them, the rock-hands crumbled, and I jerked my way free.

Paul, by that point, had figured out how to take care of the sand that I was using to spray into his face. Namely, he split himself in two, right down the middle. One of his new selves was half-flesh and half-water, while the other one was half-flesh and half-fire. Both the fire and the water did a lot to deal with the sand.

And, as a bonus, I now had three foes to deal with instead of two. Fortunately, as far as I knew, he could only hold his two separate forms for a very limited time. All I had to do was last that long.

The water-half and fire-half were each holding one of the axes. They came at me from the right and left side, while the newly-recovered Erin went for my back. Three different attacks coming straight for where I was.

So I decided to not be where I was. Pointing the staff at the ground, I triggered the blast to send myself up into the air. After sailing up a good fifteen feet, I flipped over in the air. In the process, I brought my staff back around while shifting it into its bow-form. Drawing the energy string back, I fired an arrow straight at where I had just been.

The energy-arrow hit the ground, exploding into a blast of kinetic force that threw all three figures backwards away from each other. A second later, I landed easily, already switching my bow back into its staff form while lashing out with a swing that caught Fire-Paul in the non-burning shoulder.

With the staff jammed hard into the boy’s shoulder, I used it to shove myself up so that both feet hit Erin in the chest. As soon as the double-kick connected, I triggered the last of the kinetic energy in the staff while loosening my grip on it so that it could shoot off of Fire-Paul’s shoulder to smack Water-Paul in the face. In the process, I closed my hand to catch the opposite end of it before the staff could completely leave my grip.

The whistle of wind from Erin’s sword served as a quick reminder that she wasn’t out of the fight yet, and I felt the staff nearly blown out of my outstretched hand. If it wasn’t for my enhanced strength, I would’ve lost my weapon. As it was, I had to grab it tightly, just as the other girl followed up the wind-blast with a kick that took me in the stomach.

Doubling over from the kick, I used it to duck under Fire-Paul’s swinging axe, putting myself behind him just as both of his selves had to fuse back into one. Before he could turn around then, I went forward. My right foot planted itself against his lower back, my left foot on his upper back, and then my right foot kicked off of his shoulder as I threw myself into a flip over his head. In the process, my staff swung backwards to smack into the boy’s face. As it did so, I sent another cloud of sand up into his nose and mouth, as well as his eyes.

Landing, I saw Erin making another gesture to summon more of her rock-hands from the ground. That time, however, I was ready. I’d come down with my staff pointing down, and triggered the charge that it’d managed to build up. The blast took me off the ground just as those hand-constructs came out to grab me, missing by inches.

Meanwhile, I let the blast carry me right into Erin with my right foot extended to catch her in the stomach. The blow was enough to double her over. As she did so, I rolled straight over her back to land on her opposite side.

By that point, the sand in Paul’s mouth and nose had gotten bad enough that he waved a hand with two fingers raised in the peace sign. That was the motion for surrender that had been agreed on, so I immediately yanked all the sand away from him. I’d been keeping a close eye on how he reacted. After all, I didn’t really want to hurt either of them.

But I did want to finish this fight. So before Erin could finish recovering, I snapped the end of the staff backwards and up into the girl’s face. Then I spun around, using the momentum to build up force before bringing length of the staff against her back as she recoiled. The blow knocked her to the ground, and the sword dropped from her hand.

A sharp whistle filled the air, and Hisao hopped up into the arena. After checking Paul quickly to make sure he was breathing all right, he moved to Erin.

I had already dropped to one knee by that point, my eyes on the other girl. “Hey, you okay?”

Wincing, she reached to rub her lower back. “Oww… oww, that’s gonna leave a mark. For a few minutes, at least.” Winking at me in a clear attempt to make me feel better even though she was obviously not feeling that great, she started to pick herself up. I extended a hand, and she accepted the help to her feet.

“Paul?” I called. “You all right over there?”

“I’ll be just fine,” he replied in his usual drawl. There was something else to it, just below the surface. He was obviously trying to sound normal, but I could tell his pride was hurt. Which didn’t make him a bad guy or anything, obviously. Everyone had an ego, and I had stung his. But he was smothering that reaction and putting a good face on it.

Releasing Erin after making sure she could stand on her own (however much she winced in the process), I moved to extend a hand to Paul then. After the most momentary of pauses, he took it. Then he met my gaze while shaking it. “We’ll get you next time.”

Casual as the words were, there was, again, something else beneath them. It was something in his eyes, the way he stared at me. It wasn’t loathing or anything. It wasn’t even really threatening. He was studying me. He was curious. And there was more to it. Somehow, it made me think of the look that must be in my eyes whenever I said that I’d help my friends with something.

Paul wasn’t looking at me like someone he needed to threaten. This wasn’t about being macho or anything like that. I’d seen that kind of look in plenty of eyes, and that wasn’t what this was.

He wasn’t threatening me. He saw me… as the threat. A threat he needed to be ready to protect the people he cared about from. And in the process of this sparring match, I had showed him that I could beat him.

This… could get complicated.  

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20 comments

  1. And there we go, just a quick little fight scene for you guys. Thanks go to the commissioner who requested to see a sparring match between Flick and a couple other students, and I hope you guys enjoyed seeing it. 🙂 That’s the last currently scheduled commissioned mini-interlude for the moment, so it’ll be interesting to see what other scenes you guys would like to see in the future.

    Thanks for reading! Tags for this chapter are: After That Display – I’m Pretty Sure Shiori And Avalon Aren’t The Only Ones Who Want To Make Out With Flick., Considering Paul Is Their Strongest Fighter – Roxa’s Old Team Are Now Reconsidering Their Potential Options., Erin Redcliffe, Felicity Chambers, Flick, Hisao, Paul Calburn

    Liked by 2 people

    1. After That Display – I’m Pretty Sure Shiori And Avalon Aren’t The Only Ones Who Want To Make Out With Flick.

      It kind of tickles to think of Flick becoming one of the more… probably not popular, but well known students at the Academy because of this. She already was because of Ammon’s attack, but the rumor mill might start to take a more positive bent if some of the people fueling it start crushing on Flick.

      And on a much more distressing note, I can’t help but wonder how pleased Fossor might be with her progress.

      Like

      1. Huh. I was thinking entirely in terms of Roxa’s old team when you mentioned people thinking along those lines. I never considered the chance that other students were starting to think like that.

        Shit.

        Like

  2. I’m presuming that the second tag is a continuation of the “Douglas is rethinking the confront her and force her to answer” or whatever the tag from the last Search and Scrutiny chapter is, in which case I was under the impression that their team had already dropped that line of strategy as non-viable.

    The interesting thing about this fight is that unlike the other two, Flick had little in the line of direct offensive or defensive powers besides her physical augmentations. Her arenakinesis is very effective but it’s more of an indirect attack compared to “half-turn into fire” or “grab their legs with rock.” My point being that Flick wasn’t relying on as many flashy powers and tricks as the other two.

    All-in-all, its a nice overview of Flick relative to others in her class with a nice side of subplot advancement. I have a sneaking suspicion that Roxa’s team are going to try and confront Flick while she’s in the middle of something else and get caught up in the madness. Because lets face it, why only have one thing go wrong when you can have a multi-train collision ? 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m presuming that the second tag is a continuation of the “Douglas is rethinking the confront her and force her to answer” or whatever the tag from the last Search and Scrutiny chapter is, in which case I was under the impression that their team had already dropped that line of strategy as non-viable.

      The previous tag was about Douglas going, “Thaaat’s a bad idea.” This one was about the rest of the team going, “Yup, yup, bad idea.”

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Weird. It said 3 comments but I am only seeing two.

    That said, great chapter. It shows how one surprising trick can win you the fight against an equal opponent, but also how physical superiority is a major advantage. If you’re twice as strong/tough as your opponent, a solid hit can knock them out of the fight, while their attacks are far less effective. If you’re also twice as fast, they’re very unlikely to beat you.

    Also, the other students have gone out to three hunts so far, right? So they’ve killed five to ten creatures overall. How many creatures has Flick killed so far? Twice as many? Three times? And each of them was on average stronger than what the normal students have.

    BTW, when someone gains enhanced strength from a kill, do they also gain enhanced toughness? Or do they become glass cannons?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t forget that the students in the Hunter track and possibly others would have more Stranger encounters and kills than purely Investigation/Development/non-combat track students would. Also, as Cerulean is quick to remind us, the rest of the cast are having their own adventures off-screen and more than likely a few of them have managed to snag a few extra-curricular encounters. It is unlikely that many, if any, have had quite as many as Flick, but the gap might not be as big as it seems.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. I think the comment section counts the post itself as a comment and that’s why it always says there’s one more comment than there actually is.

      Also, Columbus got toughness separately from Sands’ strength after the fight at Petan’s fortress in arc 9, so I think the two powers are generally two different upgrades.

      Like

    3. Weird. It said 3 comments but I am only seeing two.

      When I link the previous chapter to this one, it counts the ‘pingback’ as it calls it as a comment.

      Also, the other students have gone out to three hunts so far, right? So they’ve killed five to ten creatures overall. How many creatures has Flick killed so far? Twice as many? Three times? And each of them was on average stronger than what the normal students have.

      Other students have other adventures going on in the background that we don’t see. But overall, yes, Flick has been in more dangerous situations more times than most others in her class.

      BTW, when someone gains enhanced strength from a kill, do they also gain enhanced toughness? Or do they become glass cannons?

      It depends. Sometimes they get both, sometimes they get one or the other. Generally speaking, getting enhanced strength will usually at least give you SOME increased toughness, but it won’t always match up to the same level.

      Liked by 1 person

    4. The way I see it is that certain types of strength will bring more inherent toughness with it, but all of them toughen the body to some extent otherwise it would be a useless upgrade, like your muscles being able to lift something, but your bones snapping, and it’s been said before that there are no detrimental upgrades, just varying degrees of how good they are.

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  4. “He wasn’t threatening me. He saw me… as the threat. A threat he needed to be ready to protect the people he cared about from. And in the process of this sparring match, I had showed him that I could beat him.
    This… could get complicated.  ”
    Me: Indeed. Flick’s been in fights well beyond what a more “normal” First Year student can put up, so her curbstomping them was not in much doubt.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What’s this? Is it time for another nitpick from Hendy? It is! Yay/boo!

    I think you may want to modify the links on this chapter, 21-2, and 21-3 so the Next Chapter Button leads here, the Previous Chapter Here leads back, and the Next Chapter here leads to 21-3 and the Previous on 21-3 leads here. And adjust the Table of Contents to put this between the two.

    Because in the future, people who are reading the arc straight through might find it jarring to have the cliffhanger ending of 21-3 interrupted by this detour, especially if 21-4 picks up where 3 left off.

    Anyway, yet another good fight scene. That whole last thing with Paul seeing Flick as a threat fills me with a sense of sadness.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think you may want to modify the links on this chapter, 21-2, and 21-3 so the Next Chapter Button leads here, the Previous Chapter Here leads back, and the Next Chapter here leads to 21-3 and the Previous on 21-3 leads here. And adjust the Table of Contents to put this between the two.

      I thought about it, but I didn’t want to confuse the people who keep up FAIRLY close to when it’s posted through the next chapter and table of contents. What I’ll probably do is wait a few days, then do what you said for people that come slightly later and work their way through that way.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Well, that was one heck of a fight between Flick and Paul & Erin, which shows just how powerful & ahead of the curve she’s gotten thanks to all those extracurricular encounters and extra training she’s gotten.

    He saw me… as the threat. A threat he needed to be ready to protect the people he cared about from. And in the process of this sparring match, I had showed him that I could beat him.

    This… could get complicated.

    So, at least some of Flick’s fellow students are seeing her as dangerous & potentially threatening. Calling that a complication is something of an understatement on Flick’s part.

    Like

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