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Ecalsneerg

I Don't Know Kung Fu

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Chris woke up despondent. Fighting crime without his zappers was... hard. He could take one guy in a fist-fight, easy. Taking three or four? That was much harder.

"Giving em back was stupid," he mused, pulling on a bright green t-shirt. "Considering I'm no Raven. I reckon I need to learn from someone who's good at fighting..."

He was halfway down to the canteen to get breakfast when... "ERIN!" he shouted, to the shock of passers-by. Chris spun and ran up to the girl's dorms, knocking on Erin's door.

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"Come in," Erin called from inside the room. For once she seemed to be relaxing instead of doing homework, stretched out on her bed with a paperback novel, the cat an orange ball at her feet. She looked rather surprised to see Chris at her door. For all they were on the same team, they didn't exactly do a lot of socializing. "Hey Chris," she said, a little cautiously. "You looking for Alex?"

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"Oooh, kitty!" Chris said, clapping his hands, and rushing to stroke it. "Who's a cute lil' furball. You are, yes you are, you are.... ahem. Anyway..." He backed off and looked more serious.

"Actually, I was kinda looking for you. I was wondering if, well, if you're not busy... you could teach me to fight?"

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Oliver raised his head and stretched as he was petted, obligingly butting his head against Chris's hand and purring. Petting the cat was a very mellowing experience, perhaps it was true what they said about pets helping your blood pressure. Erin sat up, setting aside her book and ducking slightly to avoid hitting her head on Alex's bunk. "You already know how to fight," she pointed out. "We do it every weekend in training."

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"No, I can fight with my zappers. It's easy getting by when you can fire high voltage current from your wrists, but well..." She can't know you handed them to a supervillain then gave her a ride home! Cover story! GOGOGO. "That's not an option anymore, due to maintaining them. Yeah, battery costs are insane. So, last night, I realise I can fist-fight well enough to stop one guy, but not several."

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Erin gave him a look that was quite frankly skeptical, but tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. "Um, I'm not sure you and I would have the same sort of fighting style," she began, looking like she was trying not to hurt his feelings. "Knocking someone unconscious with your fists means you have to get right into the fight, and be strong enough to actually take someone down. You might be better off staying with the zappers. You're really good with them," she offered. "You might be able to get the school to pay for batteries, or get one of the resident geniuses to fix something up for you."

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Chris raised an eyebrow quizzically. Weak!? "Strong? Well, sure I lack super-strength. So do Raven, Bowman, and all those other non-powered heroes. I press nearly 700 pounds. All me, no powers. Try me." He slapped his forehead. "Ok, you want the honest answer? I lost them two nights ago, in a thing with Fear-Master and a radio transmission. I'd really, really appreciate your help." Go money-maker. He made his eyes go wide and puppy-like. "Please, Erin?"

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Oliver showed his opinion of Chris' display by plopping down to wash his bottom, but Erin was more sympathetic. "I'll try and show you a few things," she told him. "Just basic stuff, how to punch, how to block a punch. You're already good at evasion, you probably don't need much help with that. I don't know that I'll be a very good teacher, but I'll do my best to help you out. When do you want to start?"

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"Eh, whenever. I'll probably be down in the training room all morning." Chris produced a curved yellow piece of metal from his pocket. It appeared to be shaped like a G. "Geckorangs! They're actually really difficult to throw, so I'll practice with them until you come down. Oh... crap, thanks, Erin. You're a pal!"

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"Oh, you want to start today?" Erin glanced once at the book she'd been enjoying, then shrugged to herself and stood up to have a stretch. "No time like the present, I guess. We can hit the Doom Room if nobody else is in there, otherwise we'll have to go outside. I'm not certified to spar in the regular training room, even if I promise to pull my punches. Just let me get my uniform on."

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"Ok, then!" said Geckoman enthusiastically. After a few seconds standing there, he suddenly went "Oooh, outside. Got it. Going now," he mumbled, walking backwards out the door and shutting it.

Well, that went better than expected. And kitteh!

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Erin didn't take long, rejoining him in a few minutes with her blue and gold training uniform on. She hadn't bothered with the bat for this session, she trusted herself enough by now to know she could pull her barehanded punches in practice sessions, at least. "What happened with the Fearmaster?" she asked as they walked through the corridor to the elevator. "I didn't hear anything about him acting up lately."

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"He took over a radio station and was going to use his freaky sound-based fear stuff on the biggest news channel in the city. I stopped him before he could do it and terrorise us all, but I lost my zappers in the process." Yes... 'lost'... dammit. "We tried to keep it low-key, people panicking is just letting the kook win."

"And now I can't stop a gang of thugs, let alone a supervillain. Sucks."

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"That's too bad," Erin said with a frown, keying into the secured elevator and setting it for the subbasement. "You should think about calling for backup next time. Anybody would've come and helped you out if you asked. It's why we've got the communicators, right? Still, you might be able to get the back. Alex might be able to track them down, and we could go and get them back. We wouldn't necessarily have to tell Archer or anyone, so you wouldn't get in any trouble." She wasn't sure how he could get in trouble for losing part of his own equipment on patrol, but he seemed kind of worried about it.

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"I would've, but he'd kind of made it personal. In any case, the building was sealed and smashing in would have got the hostages shot. It's not a huge deal, I'd've needed to learn to fight properly anyway to work the shock knuckles properly." I really need to learn to think up stories in the morning. Or just sleep more. "In any case, I stopped him. Some gadgetry doesn't matter much in the scheme of things."

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Erin shrugged and let it go at that, since they were at the doom room already anyway. It was empty at this hour, so she keyed in her training program, opening the doors onto a modified dojo-style room she'd modeled after Thunderstanding's gym. Most of the main floor was taken up by a sparring ring, though there were hanging bags and practice dummies here and there to work with as well. "All right," Erin said, stepping into the middle of the floor. "I guess we might as well figure out where we're starting from." She raised her hands in a loose defensive posture. "Show me how you punch."

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"Fair enough," said Chris, sauntering forwards and raising his fists slightly. "Punchy time." He drew back one hand to punch, dropping the other one to stomach height as he lunged forwards. However, at the last minute he threw aside his raised arm and went to thrust his lowered arm into Wander's stomach.

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He slipped easily past Erin's defenses with the sudden strike, which connected as though he'd tried to punch a warm brick wall. She didn't so much as flinch, but she did look a little surprised at the feint. "That's good," she told him approvingly. "You're very fast. Is that as hard as you can hit? It's pretty good too," she assured him. "But you might want to practice a little more. Speed and tricks isn't always enough, especially with a lot of opponents to fight."

She brought up her own arm, tapping him in the center of the chest with two fingers. "And tricks or no, if you and I had been in a fight, you'd have punched me, sure, but you're wide open and off balance. I might have punched you clear across the room. Unless you're pretty sure that your attack is going to put your opponent down for the count, you can't open yourself up like that. It's dangerous."

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Erin knocked his foot away with the outside of one forearm, then made a halfhearted attempt to grab his leg. "You did better the first time," she told him. "Getting your opponent to drop their guard is the right idea, especially when you're facing one powerful opponent. But you're better off working on your follow-through, instead of trying to be so fast that you leave yourself open."

She walked over to the row of steel practice dummies. "You have to be able to analyze your opponent, and decide if you're fast enough to trick him into dropping his guard. If you're not, you shouldn't get into a fight with him. You have to find another way. But if you're fast enough, you have to trust yourself to hit him," she instructed. "Instead of thinking about where you want to hit, concentrate on hitting him harder. You might be a little less accurate, but you make up for it in power. Like this." She drew back and drove her fist into the dummy's head, cleanly and with plenty of follow-through. The metal neck snapped, the dummy's head flying off to land on the floor with a clatter. Erin sighed. "Or something like that, anyway."

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"See, that's the thing. I can only hit them so much harder. I'm not super-strong and invulnerable, if I go too far I'll break my knuckles..." Geckoman stopped for a second. "Well, that depends where I hit them and even if I do... I'll heal minor fractures really fast!"

"Sound like an idea?"

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"No pain, no gain," Erin said with a shrug. "But there's no reason you have to try to punch someone in the jaw." She stepped over to another practice dummy. "Straight punch to the gut is a good tactic that probably won't hurt your hand," she told him, demonstrating but only tapping the dummy with her fist. "Punching or chopping the neck works too, but you have to be careful if you don't want to kill somebody. If you want to go for the face without risking any damage to yourself, try slamming the heel of your hand into their nose." She demonstrated that as well, sending the dummy rocking backwards on its frame. "It doesn't do a lot of damage, but it hurts like hell and will make their eyes water and their nose bleed. It's very distracting and doesn't take as much brute strength. You can always go for the groin, too, but you'd better do plenty of practice first so you aren't leaving yourself open when you do." She stepped away from the dummy to let Chris have a shot at it.

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"I'm not sure I can kill someone with a blow to the neck," frowned Chris, stepping up to the dummy. He gave it an experimental prod with one finger, then stepped back and raised his fists. He dropped one fist and whacked the dummy in the stomach, bringing it up again as he smacked it in the neck with the heel of his hand. "Like that?"

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"You said you can bench seven hundred," Erin pointed out. "You can do that, you can crush a windpipe." She spoke with great confidence on that, as someone who had been thoroughly educated in ways that strength could kill. "You've got to be careful so you don't do it on accident. What you're going to want to do is practice in here a lot, against simulated opponents. It's really the only way to get good at any kind of fighting. And if they hurt you, you'll heal it up."

She let him give the dummy a few more jabs, setting it rocking each time. "Now how good are you at dodging in combat? Not like when you're standing far enough away to find cover, but when someone's coming at you to hit you?"

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"Hey, I said I could press 700. I didn't say I could do it without passing out if I keep it up for long enough," protested Chris. "Crushing windpipes will take some effort."

"Hmmmm... dodging? Pretty good. I mean, I've got really good reflexes. If I know it's coming, I can usually dodge a bullet. Why?"

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