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Thunder King

The Tiger and the Crow

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Thursday, September 5th

Gourd's Gym

 

Mali parked her car and opened the door. "Well, we're here". She said, grabbing her gym bag out of the back seat. "This is a nice place, I was here a while back."

 

She glanced up at the gym and remembered, fondly, the last time she'd been in the gym. That guy had been fun to spar with. She had sparred with Crow a few times, but that tended to draw a bit of an audience if there was anyone else in the gym. Came with the territory of being one of the better hand-to-hand fighters at the school.

 

"They've got all the usual gym gear." She said.

 

 

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"Wait, it's a Gourd's? Nice!"

 

Morgan clambered out of the passenger seat, pageboy cap appearing over the top of the car first, followed by the rest of himself - shoulders down. He was wearing a hoodie this time, and sweatpants; his duffel bag over his shoulders. No surprise what was inside - Mali likely knew as well as everyone else at Claremont (at least, back in the day) what he never went anywhere without. Still, it was buried under a goodly few supplies for training; gloves, shoes, shorts, the works.

 

He nodded in her direction, closing the car door.

 

"Yeah, it's a good chain - I tend to work out at the one up on the Waterfront; though they give me some dirty looks now and again." The owner had a long memory, and troll problems tended to leave a bit of an impact. "How'd you find them?"

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"Oh, I stumbled across it a while back. Got attacked by some big thug and his goons. Cleaned them up. Every once in a while I like coming out here and working out. Gets me out of the school facilities, at least." She said, throwing her gym bag over her shoulder.

 

"The facilities aren't as advanced, but I could work out with minimal equipment if I needed to. You know?"

 

She glanced around a bit and made her way to the entrance. They were likely to attract an audience, but that didn't bother her. She was quite used to it by now. At least, in terms of fighting.

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"Yeah, I grok." He murmured; following her in. The portraits on the walls looked familiar - and he smirked slightly to see a photograph of her in a small position of prominence; probably a sign of respect. Knowing Mali, she'd probably put boot to ass the day she arrived. He approved.

 

Morgan's eyes raked over the room for a few seconds as the pair walked in, appraising the equipment, the few locals currently beating up the bags, the (slightly beaten up) machines, and the two rings in the centre of the room - one square, one hexagon. The hexagon was new - probably in deference recently to new styles showing up at the gym; either that or she'd put on enough of a clinic that they wanted her to do more Muay Thai shenanigans.

 

Hah.

 

Though, oddly enough, he wasn't actually looking at Mali. Probably deliberate, that.

 

"Those the goons you folded up in record time? I heard in the paper it was some wiseacre with stupid huge hair who got decked in one punch."

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Mali chuckled. "Yeah that was interesting. That whole situation went down oddly. There was another guy there, very helpful. I don't know whatever happened to him. Might still be out there, for all I know."

 

She did her best to look small and skulk around. She didn't quite want to be noticed. It was one thing to have people admire her skills. Quite another to have her workout interrupted by people who wanted to chat about that crazy fight...both of the crazy fights.

This time, she was nowhere near as worried about her appearance. She was wearing a tank top and knew people might stare at her muscular arms and shoulders. She had nothing to fear. She'd fought against the Curator's forces, she'd beaten up ninjas, super villains, robots, even Nazis in another dimension. Let people stare, she was badass enough to take it.

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Morgan didn't mind the fact that gazes usually slid from him to her; he had gravitas, certainly, and even abused it now and again - but he appreciated subtlety and background more often than not over front-lining. At least, when he wasn't having one of his 'arrogant moments'. He missed the others when that happened; they tended to be good for bringing him down to earth.

 

Bah. Weak fools, all of th-stop. Now. ...yes, sir.

 

Gah.

 

The teen proceeded apace a few steps behind her, looking about the gym - a bit more downscale than the one on the boardwalk, but he didn't mind that at all either; training in back alleys and warehouses with crude punching bags meant he was used to fighting rough. And classic movies loved that kind of scene! Therefore it was awesome and he was awesome by doing it. Heeheehee. Okay, he didn't heeheehee out loud, but he did do it inwardly. His was a wicked mental giggle, yessss...

 

 

"They built a statue in your honor yet, or just name a punching bag after you?" Smirk.

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She just chuckled. "No, I can't imagine they would. They didn't see me enough to make it accurate, anyway." She carried the bag over her shoulder with practiced ease.

 

She dropped the bag with a thug and unzipped it. Inside were some handwraps and some gloves. She usually wore gloves when she sparred, both to avoid risking damage to her hands, and to lessen the impact of her hits. She didn't want to have to hold back too much. Not against Morgan. She'd sparred with him dozens of times, and she deeply respected, even admired him. It didn't hurt that he was kinda cute, either.

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A bit of a chuckle, and he actually gave her a thumbs-up. "Reh, their loss - don't tell Vicks I said this, Mal, but you're damn near poetry in motion. You know the only way I keep up is by cheating." He shook his head; the grin changing to just a warm smile - an increasing rarity these days.

 

He let his own bag drop, and took out his own gloves - the usual thin-padded ones, strapped around the wrist. Safety equipment wasn't something Morgan focused on a lot of the time - though he'd been harangued by Archer repeatedly as to the point, and even said point-blank he wasn't setting a good example, Morgan stubbornly cleaved to his belief that if it didn't bloody hurt, it didn't bloody work.

 

And given how tough his body was at this point, it was sort of working. Thank you cheating magic runes!

 

Still got creaky now and again, though; he'd have to look into that.

 

"Still, you gotta admit - John'd kick both of our asses. At once. With his arms tied behind his back. Like...all over the place."

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She laughed. "Well, John's hardly fair. He fights like a well-oiled machine that takes people and turns them into victims." She said with a chuckle. She brought her fists up and threw a few shadow punches. "See you and I get by on pure hard work. Every day, every minute. We struggle and fight like hell." She grinned. "But I gotta admit, I love it."

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"Preach it, sister." Morgan replied rather dryly; hefting a pair of fists now wearing light gloves. Another pair were tossed her way; and where she threw shadow punches, he did a bit of slip-and-shuffle footwork.

 

"And I'd give him a break on that score, honestly - the guy may have his stuff, like, Matrix-style, but he works damn hard to keep it up; sparring-wise." And during that hard work, bruised Morgan's ribs, shoulders, legs, arms, skull, assorted other body parts, in places one mentions openly and not. And every bruise was a lesson he took to heart (and something he generally returned with interest!). Hard work did not hardly work in this town - that's for damn sure.

 

"So, first to five hits, any fallen body parts are fair trophies, and safeword is uncle?" Grin.

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She chuckled. "That works for me." She backed away for a moment, shuffling her feet slightly. "I didn't say he doesn't work hard." She said, trying to clarify.

 

She stretched a bit. Morgan was a tough opponent. Perhaps not as strong, but he was a dirty cheater. She was fine with that. There were few people that would consistently fight 'fair', and in a real fight with your life on the line? She'd rather cheat than die.

 

She raised her fists and balanced her right leg on the ball of her foot

 

"Ready?"

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Speaking of dirty cheaters - before she even had the "R-" of "Ready?" out he was launching himself forward. By the time she was at the "-ea-", he was moving into her guard with a right hook like a gunshot. And by the time she hit "-dy?" he was dancing past; eyes fixed on her, and hands up in a guard stance - feet shuffling in his usual smooth footwork. Damn - he'd been an ace too slow on the takeoff - should have been moving before she opened her mouth, not on the 'R'.

 

Still, if that had hit her either way, he'd have lost, like, all respect for her. As-is, he just grinned in her general direction. "Yep."

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Mali shuffled in, quick as lightning. Her right foot dropped to the mat and she lunged forward like a shot. She figured he was probably going to react like that. Guys like Morgan always come in fast and try to throw you off balance. That was her usual tactic, too. Whenever she fought someone she knew to be stronger than her, she knew to come in as hard and as fast as she could, to throw them off balance.

 

She threw a punch in the general direction of his chest, but before that landed, she moved it aside and came in low with a kick to the side of his calf, hoping it hit.

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The chest was easy enough to dodge - Mali knew Crow's footwork was a hair slower than hers, which put him head and shoulders above a lot of humanity, and shifting his slim body out of the way was child's play. It was the low kick that was the devil's own to avoid - Mali's legs were long, strong, wicked fast, and he'd seen her put crooks on their asses with them faster than he could blink - one took those legs lightly at their peril.

 

So, he didn't.

 

His right leg lashed out, slamming his shin into hers - pain to both parties, but the shortened length of the kick reduced the impact considerably. No time to let her react, though - he came in as soon as the blows hit air, closing ground fast, pushing that stinging shin to work even as it reminded his brain that OY, THAT EFFING HURT! Duck the shoulders down and come in close, real close; he aimed a hard right for her midsection, chambering the left and leaving that whole side open.

 

Hah, yeah right. Still, stinging or not, Morgan Crowe in extreme close quarters was a pain and a half on a good day.

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She grunted in surprised pain. Meeting her leg with his was not what she expected. However, she managed, somehow, to respond. Her right arm shot out and deflected his punch and grunted in pain. She didn't quite catch it right, and she knew her forearm would have a bruise where he hit.

 

She jumped backward. He was a dirty fighter, prone to atypical motions and unusual reactions. Staying that close meant he could do all sorts of nasty tricks and feints. While she had her usual defenses, her knees and elbows, she also knew he'd expect them in that close.

 

Better to back off.

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Damn - he'd been hoping she'd try to push him out instead of disengaging; the chambered fist was pulled forward fast in a defensive motion, and his feet propelled him forward in a fast lunge. He went for conventional boxing on this approach - lifting the right to guard, and flickering his left in a series of sharp jabs towards her head. If he could get her guard up and keep her on the defensive, he had the advantage; the trick when fighting Mali was keeping that advantage.

 

And not letting her get one in return - if she got an edge, he'd be seeing stars faster than you could say knife.

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"This is fun." She said, bouncing back and forth slightly. She was actually trying to goad him into putting his guard down slightly, but knew she couldn't afford to hang back for long.

 

She hopped backward slightly  and bounced around the ring a bit. She knew the key to getting in was staying fast and staying mobile. While Muay Thai was an art dedicated to the clinch and all the nasty stuff you could do in it, she knew Morgan was not the kind of fighter to try that on without some set up.

 

She threw a couple test jabs, trying to see how quick his reactions were, before coming in for a sweeping kick to the right leg.

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The jabs met an upraised shoulder, as he came in again as close as he could - she felt her leg impact his right shin again, but rather than the hard bone-cracking impact she was used to, it felt more like a dull thud.

 

Still hurt like hell, though - she saw him wince even as he nodded at her comment.

 

Keynote of Morgan's style - you took what you had to when you had to. Mali knew full well - punching that guy was like punching a ruddy brick wall sometimes. Hard-packed muscle and skin weathered to something approaching leather; with his fists and knuckles even tougher. He launched a salvo of short, sharp chops towards her side - too short-range to really damage, but the taps would keep her moving; and his footwork was following her right on the dime.

 

The key for her was staying fast and staying mobile - if he could herd her into the corner, she'd be in deep trouble real fast.

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Mali hopped back and watched Morgan's movements before dashing behind him. She knew she was getting close to a corner, and that was bad for her. Morgan was the kind of fighter who would corner you and then open up with a blistering combo of strikes before you even knew what was happening. Obviously, Mali could not permit that to come to pass.

 

She launched a quick but weak kick, making sure Morgan understood that she was prepared to pop him if he tried to get in close without being careful. Still, she was enjoying herself. No reason to end the fight quite yet if she didn't have to.

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He jumped forward a hair from that quick kick, feeling the toe whistle an inch past his hip. Dukes were put up, back in a defensive position. Good move - he'd jumped back out of reflex, and that'd killed his momentum like...like a momentum...killing...thing.

 

Morgan spun, backed up a few steps; assuming a peekaboo-guard position with his fists. A solid punch thrown here and there as he quick-stepped around her; one-two combinations - he seemed to be getting into a rhythm. One low, one high, one low, one high; easy enough to guard, but he had a heavy swing either way; it rattled if they connected. From what she could tell, it looked like he was trying to pull her into a slugging match, rather than a technical fight.

 

Hm.

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