Put Up Your Dukes
Katherine Hana Li spin_kick_snap
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Baltimore, Wednesday Night
Kathy rolled her shoulder; it groaned at the motion but was otherwise fine. Good, she hadn't dislocated it when she'd hit the ground. Hitting the ground had been better than getting hit by her opponent, but concrete was pretty unforgiving.

"Gonna keep bouncing around, sweetheart?" sneered the skinny guy in front of her, his fists low and relaxed. He didn't see her as much of a threat. But then, no one in this warehouse did. Most of them were booing her. The ones that weren't were yelling at her to lose her top. "You know, you go down easy now and later, I'll make you--"

Kathy didn't need to hear the rest of his comment. She sped forward, slamming her fist into his chin. His head snapped backwards like a Rock' Em Sock 'Em robot and she followed it up with an elbow to his throat. He hit the ground with a strangled gasp, clutching at his throat with both hands. "What was that, sweetheart?" she asked, pitching her voice loud enough to be heard by the now-quiet crowd. "Sorry, you were too busy going down easy for me to hear."

The announcer, Barney, waited the requisite ten seconds for the guy to get up--and then another five because he was completely shocked at the sudden upset. When the tiny Korean chick had come in demanding to fight, they'd tried to laugh her out of the warehouse. But she'd insisted, putting a hundred bucks up for the right to brawl and promising another hundred if she lost. More interested in the second hundred that keeping some dip safe, she'd been given an opponent--Malcolm, one of the lower guys, because most people didn't like seeing a pretty little girl get knocked around too much.

Except, instead of losing, she'd knocked his ass down in under five minutes. And if he wasn't totally loco, Barney'd say that she'd spent most of that playin' with Malcolm. Making a show out of it.

Belatedly, he had some other guys drag Malcolm out of the ring, which was literally just a painted circle on the warehouse floor. This place was about three steps below a seedy underground MMA fighting arena--just a bunch of guys, some fistfuls of cash, and a willingness to beat the shit out of someone else. Or get beat. And now this little girl.

"All right, all right," he said in an undertone. "You made your point. Take your money and get outta here."

"No way," Kathy told him, baring her teeth. "Winner gets to keep fighting till they go down or till they decide to step out. I'm still fighting. Bring out whoever Malcolm was gonna fight."

"Look, baby--"

"Don't call me that," Kathy said coldly, then turned away from him completely to address the crowd. "Who's next?" she demanded. "Which one of you fuckers wants to meet me in the ring?" She pointed at random. "You! You think you're man enough to take me?"

The guy she pointed at had about a half foot and a hundred pounds on her. It took a bit more cajoling (ie, outright insulting his manhood and his mother) before he'd agree to fight her, but eventually he came down, rolling up the sleeves to his shirt and promising to 'teach her a thing or two.'

She eventually beat him, but it was a tough fight. And the smile she wore as she rode him to the ground, legs wrapped around his head, was nothing compared to the one she'd sported when his first swing made her ears burn and her nose bleed.

Right. This was what being alive felt like.

[NFI, NFB, establishy]