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Feng Shui of Melee (IC)

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The Claremont gym was quieter than normal, as it often was on Fridays after classes let out. Most of the student body was more concerned about the upcoming weekend than training, which currently left only a few students present. John was one of them, practically as much of a fixture of the place as any of the training equipment. Currently he was weaving back and forth, keeping up a steady striking rhythm on the double bag. A minute more, he thought as he sped up his rhythm.

Ever since the incident last month and recovery he had thrown himself into training even more, whether here at the gym or with the Irregulars during their training sessions. John stopped the bags' gyrating momentum after the minute was up, and took a pair of deep breaths before grabbing some much needed hydration from his nearby kit.

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Kristin was a little later to the gym than she'd hoped after a last minute rush to hand in a physics paper. I was something of a relief to get out onto the mats, and after a short warmup she sat down to tape her ankles and wrists. Way too long since I got some gymnastics in.. she thought to herself as she finished and moved to the corner of the mats.

Her first tumbling run across the mat was a dead simple one, and although she didn't quite stick the landing she came up with a grin on her face, the stress of schoolwork bleeding away quickly and giving way to the simple joy of exercise.

The next couple of runs were far better as she shook off the little bit of rust and let the familiar movements of her favourite routines flow, and a few minutes later she was feeling good after perfectly nailing a far more complicated set of techniques.

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John was midway through his normal routine on the heavy bag when the dull thumps that normally sounded from striking the bag came from behind him. Glancing over his shoulder he noticed Kristin performing set of complicated gymnastics that he couldn't match if he wanted to. He finished his set and walked over to edge of the mat she was practicing on.

"You need to be careful to have a more stable stance when you land, Miss Kristin." He noted when she was safely upright and not in danger of being surprised. "You might get sweeped otherwise. That is, if you were intending to use that maneuver in the field." A towel hung limply from around his neck.

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Kristin chuckled "Hey John!" as she stepped off the mat and took a quick mouthful of water. "That wasn't really supposed to be any kind of combat gymnastics. It was just one of my routines from when I used to compete, back home. I came fourth in the junior state championships with that routine. Missed a medal by a whisker. I was so very very bummed that day!"

"But yeah, I've been working on how to use my agility to distract people," she giggled. "It's great when I get it right, I get knocked on my bum when I get it wrong! Or Etain whacks me with a stick or something."

The young telekinetic tossed her water bottle at her bag, then caught it with her powers and stuffed it inside when it looked like missing. "You looked like you were working pretty hard again when I walked in. Do you ever not train? I mean, I'm in here a lot, but you're just captain-workout or something!"

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"Your opponents must have been very skilled. That was an impressive display of agility and balance." She got a small chuckle out of him with the mention of Etain. "Yes, she does have a tendency to do that."

The young hero sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. "I know. You are not the first to tell me, but recent events demonstrated that I had become complacent in my priorities." John tossed his towel back at his bag. "But if you would like I can help you work on your feints. It is a effective skill if utilized properly."

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Kristin nodded, bouncing up and down lightly on the balls of her feet to make sure that her muscles didn't tighten up during the little break. "They're all very good.. to be honest I was never really going to be quite in their league. Would have been nice to sneak into that medal though. It was my last gymnastics competition really. I discovered football after that!"

The offer of some help with training definitely sounded good. "I'd love to do some training with you!" she replied with a grin. "I've been meaning to ask you if you'd like to work out with me sometime, but you always seem so intense that I don't want to interrupt!"

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"By football do you mean American Football, Soccer, or Rugby?" He asked while he rechecked his wraps. "I only ask because there are distinct differences between them, and it would help me gain a better understanding of you skill set."

John walked onto the mat, rolling his neck to get the kinks out. He actually looked embarrassed by her last claim. "My apologies. I realize that I do not possess what you would call an approachable demeanor when I become focused on objectives."

He stretched one arm across his chest and then the other before settling into a defensive stance. "Please attack me at your leisure, Miss Kristin."

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Kristin couldn't help but chuckle as she stepped onto the mats. "'Attack me at your leisure' sounds pretty funny when you say it out loud!" she teased, then settled into a comfortable fighting stance. "No gloves.. I didn't bring mine down." she said as she held up her hands. "Keeping it nice and light right?"

She moved forwards, well balanced and light on her feet, and snapped off a couple of jabs with her left hand. The punches were quick but had no real sting to them at all. "I've been taking kickboxing classes since I got here," she said conversationally as she started to circle to her right. "Although I haven't gotten as much practice in as I'd like. Practicing with my telekinesis has been more important than hand to hand stuff.."

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John nodded once. "Indeed. Keep it nice and clean." He glanced down at her feet as she advanced forward, taking note of her stride length before looking back up. "That is good. Since the reason many of the students are here to learn control of their powers, some tend to overly rely on their powers and ignore the more mundane means of self-defense."

Moving slightly to the right, John kept her in his peripheral vision as she began circling him. "Have you tried integrating your telekinesis with your kickboxing? You could use it feasibly to bolster your strength in unarmed combat." He paused for a second. "But that would be an experiment for another day. How did Brian put it last time we sparred?" He turned to face her fully. "Oh right. 'Show me your moves', Miss Kristin." He made the classic 'bring it' gesture with his left hand.

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Kristin laughed at John's gesture while she continued to circle around. "I see you've been digging through the movie collection?" she asked as she stepped in behind another left jab and through a quick three punch combination at his body before dancing back out of range.

"I haven't really tried adding it to boxing," she said as she held her hands out in front of her and formed a short green staff out of her telekinetic energy. "But I have been working on this. Putting Etain's staff fighting lessons to good use I guess."

The staff blinked out of existence and she moved forwards once more, resuming her kickboxing stance. She came in behind a jab once more, but this time it was a feint, her hands grabbing for John's arm as she pivoted in tight and attempted to catch him off guard with a Judo throw.

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"I have had a crash course in motion pictures during the course of my stay here." John replied as he sidestepped the combination. "If you could apply your telekinesis to close quarters it would give you a significant advantage."

He saw the feint coming and moved his arm aside, Kristins' fingertips brushing his arm. "Try not to telegraph your feints. One second." He held up a hand, and moved over to a rack and picked up a medicine ball. John walked back onto the mat, tossing it up and down in one hand.

"I think this would be a much better instructional method. Try to take the ball from me, by any means." He span the ball on his finger.

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Kristin grinned and sidled closer to John as he bounced the ball up and down. "One on one keep-away hey? I've only ever played that as a team sport! What's the rules then? I'm allowed to thump you to take the ball? You said anything goes, am I allowed to use telekinesis?"

She paused just out of arms reach. "Actually this would be a pretty sweet game to play in gym class. Team keep away, with powers. It'd be a brawl! Awesome!"

Suddenly the little Aussie leaped forwards, her hand slapping at the medicine ball as she tried to knock it away from John's hand!

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"You win if you can keep the ball for...ten seconds." He thought for a moment, tossing the ball to his other hand. "But let us keep the abilities limited to close range. Your tele-staff, for example." There was not much he could do if she just telekinetically ripped the ball from his hands, and this was more to get her used to melee.

"This is indeed a variant of a game the Irregulars..." he dodged her lunge at the ball, "train with in the wreck room." He sent the ball arcing skyward, hopefully distracting the heroine as he started to give her a crash course.

"Keeping your eye on the ball is a good strategy." He hooked his left foot behind her right, and attempted to send her sprawling to the floor with a casual shove. "But you tend to lose sight of the big picture."

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Kristin's eyes snapped upwards to follow the trajectory of the ball in flight, and she was already starting to turn towards it when John took advantage of her distraction. Her arms waved wildly as she was shoved backwards, unable to keep her balance at all as she tumbled over John's leg and thudded onto the padded mats.

"Oh now it's on!" she laughed as she scrambled to her hands and knees, then drove up off the mat to lunge forwards at John's legs, her arms outstretched as she tried to tackle him to the mat football-style.

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  • 3 weeks later...

He grabbed the ball with both hands as the did a quick series of back-steps away from her wild tackle. "Good. Limiting my movement is an excellent strategy." There was a ghost of a smile on his face. "Control the battleground. Make it so I have to move where you want me to." He paced around the fringes of the mat, keeping one eye on Kristin before stopping to face her head-on.

"Observation is also key." Kristin knew by now that he was planning something even if she didn't know what it was exactly...

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Kristin crouched and stalked John as he walked along the edge of the mat, her arms outstretched and her head cocked slightly to the side as she watched him carefully, trying to work out what he was planning.

What's he up to...?

Her eyes narrowed and then she lunged forwards again, arms stretched out to grab hold of John's legs... only to find that they weren't there anymore as he stepped aside neatly. Kristin overbalanced as she tried to correct, and her feet slipped on the mat, sending her tumbling solidly into the wall of the gym.

The thud made a couple of the other students look over as she staggered back and regained her balance, clutching at her bruised shoulder as she spun towards John, attempting to recover before he could take advantage of her misstep.

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John to his credit was enjoying himself. Kristin was enthusiastic and had excellent resolve, not letting a thing like smacking into a wall at nearly full tilt bring her down. To be sure she was a bit rough around the edges, but he thought she had a lot of potential. She just needed a little more hands-on experience. When the teenage telekinetic righted herself, he was back in the center of the mat, ball in hand.

"Remember you can use your abilities in close quarters, if you wish to do so." John intoned as he changed his stance.

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Kristin shot John a mock glare as she flexed her shoulder then started to move towards him again. "You did that on purpose!" she noted. "I knew you were up to something!"

She held out her hand and a translucent green staff formed in it once again. She twirled the shimmering telekinetic weapon around her body, grinned at John and then lunged forwards once again. The stroke started out high, but a twist of her wrists changed the angle completely and the staff slashed downwards at his ankles.

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A simple nod followed with "Of course." was his response.

Johns' eyes narrowed in focus as Kristin flourished her tele-staff and approached. Other than that he seemed content to let her strike through, only to block the downward strike at his feet by steeping roughly onto the end of the telekinetic construct. It was forced into the mat, followed a second later by a heavy strike between her hands on the haft of the weapon which attempted to loosen her grip.

"Try to think a few steps ahead. You are reacting to me, allowing me to set the tempo. The ball is the goal, but there is other ways to achieve it than mere frontal attacks." John instructed.

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Kristin winced as John blocked her sweeping strike and smashed the staff clean out of her hands with his follow-up attack.

Damn he's good!

She could of course simply have allowed the staff to dissipate and reform in her hands - it wasn't exactly real after all - but she reacted on instinct and tried to use the disarming to her advantage. As the weapon rolled across the mat she dived after it as if to retrieve it, but then reversed direction into a sudden handspring cartwheel and lunged back towards John, hoping to catch him off balance.

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