PIT FROSH -------------- EDISON HIGH ALUMNI "Don't you have more important things to worry about? Like starting college soon?" asked Deanna, watching her friend wrestle with a weighted dummy in her apartment. Kimberly crashed into the floor, breathing heavily and wiping sweat off her brow. "This is how I deal with worrying about important things," she said, picking herself up and righting the weighted dummy. "And how I'm paying for most of them. Where's Gemma? Did she back out?" "I'm coming," said Gemma, stepping into the room. "I can't believe you got an apartment right out of high school, and changed this much of it into...well, this." She gestured at the converted bedroom, which devoted much of its floorspace to a training space for Kimberly's pitfighting activity. "It's worth it," she said, "and worth it for you, too. I'm really happy you guys want to do this." Kimberly smiled as Deanna and Gemma looked at each other uncomfortably. "Ever since I saw you get your ass kicked by Angus McReedy, I guess the bug got in me," said Deanna. "What a dumb reason," muttered Gemma. "We're both dummies. But I can't deny the feeling I get when I watch Kumite broadcasts." "You aren't dummies, you told ME," said Kimberly. "The more of us that stick together in the scene, the safer we'll be. We can watch each other's backs, keep each other away from dangerous venues..." "Ever since they got MediKade tech, the Kumite's felt pretty dangerous to watch," said Deanna. "And we'll be on TV when we fight, I'm still not sure about that." "Me neither," said Gemma, "but there are a lot more fighters our age showing up there. Weird as it is to say, I think we'll...fit in." Kimberly slapped the weighted dummy. "C'mon. I've had six Kumite matches. They hurt, but they're worth it. Let's stay on track." She took a drink of water, throwing a towel over her shoulders. The three girls were all in shorts and tank tops. "Deanna, you've been taking judo and jiu-jitsu since..." "A few years ago," said Deanna. "I was droppin' off, but watching you got me back into it." "And Gemma, you've had some training all over the place, right?" asked Kimberly. "Yeah, what do you think got me into watching The Kumite?" Gemma looked away as she continued. "I just never told anybody, it was kind of embarassing." "Well, we're set!" Kimberly beamed. "Three fighting muskateers." She threw the towel aside and crouched slightly. "So? Who wants to spar first?" ------- In the locker room of The Kumite arena, Kimberly kept her friends company as they waited for their debut fights in the program's rookie division. Gemma tapped her foot, rubbing her knees and breathing deeply as she muttered, "The rookies are always fresh meat, who the hell are they going to put me up against?" "C'mon Gemma, attitude's important," said Deanna, just as nervous. "You're not just some spectator watching tv anymore, you've gotta stop thinking about it like a viewer and more like a fighter." "Deanna's right," added Kimberly. "And whatever happens, we're here for you." "Thanks, I..." Gemma was cut off by the sound of her name being called. "Thanks." She got up and headed for the ring. ------- Even though she came out to the ring to no announcement or fanfare, Gemma was still filled with adrenaline as soon as she saw the ring waiting for her. The italian teenager wore a yellow sleeveless top, along with a pair of blue front-tied gym shorts. Her hair was braided back, and her long legs gave her a very graceful stride as she set foot on the mat for the first time. She was left standing in the ring for nearly a full minute, quietly warming up as she went through several of her kickboxing combinations. Suddenly, the crowd began cheering as the cameras began rolling. "It's time for another match, ladies and gentlemen! Already in the ring, a new challenger and recent Edison High alumni...Gemma Gianni!" A three-quarters profile shot of her quickly gained an on-screen caption that read "A dedicated fan decides to step into the ring!" A few moments later, Gemma saw her opponent approaching, and recognized the masked girl immediately. "And taking her on...MEGAN MCGUIRE, THE MONTREAL MANGLER!" "Shit," thought Gemma, unconsciously stepping back and away from the lean, muscular girl that walked onto the mat. "Could've been worse, but...but shit! Megan McGuire!" Garbed in a crimson leotard and matching mask, Megan McGuire's piercing eyes and shock-white hair held Gemma's intimidated gaze all the way until the bell rang. Megan kept her arms down as she circled Gemma, while the teenager quickly got into a kickboxing stance and moved carefully at a distance from her wrestler opponent. "I'm the one on the mat now," she thought, "that's all that matters until the bell rings again." As Megan took a step forward, Gemma responded with a hard kick to the side of her leg. Darting in with a knee to her opponent's midsection, Gemma finished with a high kick that connected to the side of Megan's head. Watching the wrestler stumble to one side, Gemma hopped back and began bouncing on her feet, switching stances slightly to the one she learned in her Tae Kwon Do training. "This spunky young challenger has Megan McGuire on her guard!" With a shrill battle cry, Gemma span forward with a spinning double kick aimed at Megan's head. The masked girl took one foot to the face, turning as she stepped back and avoided the second. Carrying through with her momentum, Gemma shot one leg up to drop an axe kick. However, her foot never made up above her shoulders, as Megan caught her leg under one arm after leaping in to counterattack. Before Gemma could react, a hard heel to her gut took the wind out of her efforts before her other leg was swept out from under her. Megan held onto an ankle as she forced her opponent onto the mat, stomping Gemma's belly twice to leave the teenager gasping for air. As Gemma lay prone on her back, Megan grabbed both of her legs and trapped the girl's feet under her arms after she flipped her over onto her stomach. Taking a few steps forward, Megan reached down and took hold of both of Gemma's arms, pulling the rest of her body up and off the mat. Gemma was bent into an upside-down arch beneath her opponent, swinging forward and backwards lightly in a pendulum hold. The teenager gasped in pain as her back began to ache, and she looked desperately in every direction for an escape. "McGuire's had enough! Look at her make that kid know who's in control!" Her face red with frustration and embarassment, Gemma's eyes widened as she saw one of Megan's feet lift off the mat. The masked girl stomped it down into the small of Gemma's back as she released her, driving the teenager facedown into the floor. Immediately, Megan picked up one of Gemma's legs and folded it at the knee, hyper-extending the joint in seconds and causing the dazed young fighter to shriek in pain as she scrambled to escape. Megan threw the captive leg to one side, letting Gemma tumble across the ring and clutch at her newly-injured limb. Cradling her knee as she sat up, Gemma stared at her opponent with wide-eyes, showing a little fear before she realized that Megan was waiting for her to get up. "Hurting my leg's all she needed to do," thought Gemma, "the rest of that...she just wanted me to know she could do that to me." Hissing and wincing as she shakily got to her feet, Gemma hobbled a little as she tried to adjust her stance to put weight on her other leg. Megan tilted her head slightly, watching the teenager struggle to stay in the fight. With her arms down at her sides, Megan circled and approached her opponent. Gemma instinctively took a step back, but after realizing that her mobility had been taken away from her, she grit her teeth and stood her ground. Megan darted towards her opponent, and Gemma dove forward to drive her good knee into the masked wrestler's gut. Megan took the hit, pausing with a grunt. Gemma cried out in pain as she put all her weight onto her injured leg to follow up with a finishing axe kick. Her heel cracked down against the back of Megan's neck, taking the masked girl down to her knees. Gemma similarly fell to one knee, no longer able to stay standing. Before she could come up with a new strategy, Megan's hands grabbed hold of her shoulders firmly. The masked girl slowly turned, sliding her arms around Gemma's neck and shoulders to lock up with her as she forced the teenager to stand with her. "This faithful Kumite viewer should've done more homework! She looked like she almost had Megan!" Throwing desperate-but-weakened knee strikes as she was trapped in a clinch with Megan McGuire, Gemma's tired gasping exploded into a drawn-out moan after the masked wrestler delivered a heavy knee lift of her own, straight into the teenage fighter's ribs. Repositioning her stunned opponent, Megan then lifted Gemma into a hanging vertical suplex position. As she felt herself raised off the mat and turned upside-down, Gemma inadvertantly yelped a shrill "NO!!" "But she HAS seen enough Kumite TV to know that 'almost' is how you land yourself in a world of pain! Look at how long The Mangler is holding her up there!" Gemma had a moment of regret, wishing she hadn't made such a helpless noise in her televised pitfighting debut. She knew that she would only feel more disoriented whenever she was finally slammed to the mat, and simply teetered back and forth, bare feet pointed at the lights while cameras caught the best angles to highlight her opponent's strength. She could no longer hold her resolve, and grew even more red as she thought about the image of her helpless body hanging in the air. She thought of the people she knew who may have been watching, and felt even worse as she wondered how many of them were cheering for her humiliation like a majority of the live audience was doing. Finally, Megan slammed her down chest-first into the mat. Gemma made a pained wheezing noise, clutching her body as she bounced up to her knees and then fell backwards onto her back. She could not move, feeling a stabbing pain in her chest whenever she did more than writhe on the floor. She saw Megan step over her, and began to raise an arm to defend herself. Megan lifted one of her muscular legs, and dropped it straight down onto Gemma's throat and chest. Gemma's feet kicked up involuntarily, her body going more slack as they fell and bounced on the canvas. With purpose, Megan got up and repeated the maneuver, this time forcing a full-body flop out of the teenage fighter. "The Mangler's PUNISHING this rookie! The kid can't get up, so Megan's bringing the beating right down onto her!" After the third leg drop, Gemma had blacked out. Her body lay spreadeagled, flopping in place with each successive leg drop as the crowd began to count them loudly. After the fifth leg drop, a spray of spittle shot out of Gemma's mouth. After the eighth one, the teenager gagged loudly and began to spasm, waking up in a sea of confusion and pain. "Wh...why..." thought Gemma, blinking rapidly as she was forced to sit up, and then felt two legs snake around her chest. "No...my ribs...gonna...break my r-ribs..." Gemma could not speak, but pawed at Megan's legs before the masked girl rapidly tightened her leg-scissor hold. The teenager shook her head and screamed, her voice rising in tone before squawking sharply. Specks of blood spat out of Gemma's mouth as something in her chest cracked. Her head fell back, eyes shut and mouth wide open in a silent scream as Megan ground her body rhythmically between her thighs. Gemma went limp, spasming once with another spray of bloody spittle. Megan released her, rolling to one side as Gemma slumped back. "She crushed her like a grape, and cracked her like a walnut! Megan McGuire is your winner!!" ------- Watching and waiting, Deanna turned to and gave Kimberly a pale look. "When do they take her out of the ring??" "Once they take a commercial break," said Kimberly, watching a nearby screen. Gemma's prone form lay splayed out on the mat, only showing up in the background or the corner of the screen as the cameras focused on her victorious opponent. "She'll be alright." "Everybody walks away from The Kumite," said Deanna, "it's the rules. It's the guarantee. I just...it was so weird to watch Gemma in there. It was weird to watch YOU in there." "I feel the same way," said Kimberly. "It used to just be me. Now I know how you guys all felt." "They're finally getting her outta there," muttered Deanna, watching on the screen as ring attendents finally came to carry Gemma off the mat. Then, she heard her name called and froze for a moment. After a deep breath, she turned and smiled at Kimberly. "No turning back now," she said, giving her friend a quick hug before leaving for the ring. ------- Heading to the ring with just as little fanfare and just as many nerves as Gemma, Deanna's long brown hair was held back by a pink spandex hairband. The rest of her attire was also pink, a twisted top and tied side-stringed shorts. Even though she had planned to use some of her cheerleading experience to play to the crowd and make herself feel at ease, all she could think of was the mat and the crowd. Gemma had just fought and lost on the same mat that she now felt underfoot. And the crowd was probably more interested in seeing an example made of the next rookie, rather than a teen underdog taking a victory in her debut match. As she heard the crowd begin to make more noise, Deanna noticed one of the roving cameras pull by the get a quick shot of her, and managed to put on a winning smile. "Another young challenger from Edison High's recent alumni is ready for her own debut match on The Kumite tonight, and she looks like she's ready for a good time! This is...Deanna Campbell!" The camera lingered on Deanna long enough to finally draw out more of her public persona. She put a hand on one hip, waving to the viewers at home and grinning. Producers quickly added the tagline of "a spunky youth going from yoga mats to combat mats" beneath her, to see if her combination of cute looks and eagerness could be capitalized on for future marketing. "They don't know it, but we set up a surprise for tonight's Edison High alumni, to give them something truly memorable before their first weeks of college. Visiting the Kumite once again from darker arenas in darker places...the monster from Mongolia, Sukh!" Deanna's happy expression fell so quickly, a small cut-away shot of her wide-eyed face was super-imposed in the corner as the broadcast showed Sukh's walk to the ring. Any fan of the circuit knew what the muscular mongolian in red trousers did to his opponents in other venues, and that he only received Kumite invites once they had the medical technology to keep the losers of his matches alive and walking. "I can't be," thought Deanna, turning instinctively to look for a way out and finding herself stranded on the fighting platform. "I can't be fighting HIM, not live on TV!" She took rapid, deep breaths to try to calm down. "No...no, it's like Kimberly said, I'm a fighter now. It's not about the spectators, it's...it's about the two of us on the mat." The sounding of the bell made Deanna wince, and despite her crouched posture, the intimidation that ran through body was clear to anyone's eyes. "I only know grappling," she thought, "and that's right where he wants me." She inched forward, slowly closing in on her opponent as he did the same. Sukh opened and closed his fists, flexing his knuckles. Suddenly, he took a hard swing at Deanna's head. The teenager ducked and rolled forward, popping up and grabbing her opponent from behind. As Sukh whipped around, Deanna hopped up onto his back and wrapped her legs around his body. She locked in a rear scissor sleeper hold, but as she tightened her grip she knew the match was only beginning as she thought, "oh my god, his chest...his neck! They're like steel beams!" Sukh got his bearings, and then slammed his fists together behind him, smashing them together around Deanna's head. He repeated the maneuver once more, and the teen fighter's grip slipped loose as she fell backwards to the mat. "You don't just put a powerhouse like Sukh into a choke hold! What a rookie mistake!" Getting to her feet, Deanna saw Sukh reaching for her. "Can't let up," she thought, pushing forward shoulder-first into the mongolian's gut, "I'm a fighter now!" Deanna clenched her toes down onto the mat as Sukh began to push back, and got her arms around his waist and right thigh. She began to pull, trying to lift her opponent. Sukh raised his arms, clenching his fists together and hammering them down into Deanna's back. She winced at first, and cried out in pain as two more hammer blows smashed into her spine. Timing herself with Sukh's arms as he swung them up to strike her again, Deanna stamped both of her feet into the floor and lifted with all her strength, shouting loudly as she got her opponent off his feet. Twisting and bending back, Deanna suplexed the Mongolian straight onto his head. "Oh my god!! This kid's just gotten into a very small club of people who have taken Sukh down to the ground!" As she hit the mat herself, Deanna released her grip and rolled a few feet away. She lay on her stomach, slick with sweat and breathing heavily. Straining to raise her head, she saw Sukh laid out as well. With a brief smile on her pained and tired face, she began to get to her feet. "I threw him...I threw Sukh," she thought, "now I just gotta choke him out." As she turned to pounce on Sukh, she nearly gasped as she saw that he was already up onto one knee. Panicking and still woozy from the effort it took to put the Mongolian down on the mat in the first place, Deanna ran forward at full speed and prepared to throw a knee into the side of his head. Sukh countered her rush, letting her throw all her momentum into his thrusting elbow, which sank into her chest just beneath her throat. Her feet kicking straight up for a moment, Deanna then stumbled a few steps back, cupping the base of her neck and coughing hoarsely. Sukh stood up, raising both arms before chopping his hands down hard into his opponent's sternum with a deafening clap. The teenager let out a long, loud, agonized moan as she clutched at her chest and began to double over. "I don't think Sukh's going to let her get away with that early lucky break!" Gripping the sides of Deanna's head as he forced her upright, Sukh reared back before delivering a headbutt. Deanna's arms waved wildly as she took knock-kneed steps backwards and sideways, barely able to stay standing before Sukh got ahold of her and slammed his skull into hers once again. The teen fighter's body snapped back, her eyes staring at the ceiling before she slumped to her knees. Looming over the girl as he held her head one more time, Sukh drove one more headbutt down into Deanna's forehead, snapping her spandex headband and sending it flapping to the floor. Deanna's long brown hair flew in a spiral, falling over her face and shoulders as she collapsed forward onto her stomach. After a few moments of stillness, Deanna began to try and stand up, her hands and feet slipping on the mat as she was unable to lift her head off the canvas. "Three headbutts and a broken headband later, and this kid is a writhing mess! Will she make a comeback?" Every muscle in Deanna's body quivered as she fought to get up. "So...hard..." she thought, "hurts so much...b-but I'm a...a fighter now..." Slowly, she began to crawl to all fours. As she looked down at the mat, seeing her hair hang down past her face, Deanna began to feel her strength wane. Standing over his opponent, Sukh looked down at the teenager and slowly raised his fists. Deanna was able to stay on her hands and knees after one axehandle blow smashed into her back, but the second one sent her back down to the mat. She pushed her chest a few inches off the floor before another blow to her back flopped her body into a prone, facedown, spreadeagle position. Sukh reached down, gripping his opponent's jawline and pulling her to her feet. After she was released, Deanna took a few unbalanced steps forward, her arms waving to try and keep herself upright. Sweat plastered some of her hair onto her face, mostly covering her eyes as her mouth hung slack and sucked in oxygen. Sukh delivered a hard kick to Deanna's gut, forcing a retching noise out of the teenager as she immediately bent over and coughed up some watery spittle. The Mongolian quickly wrapped his arms around her waist, and then lifted her up into the air for a powerbomb. Deanna was panting, her legs hanging limply over Sukh's shoulders as she began to look left and right with a growing expression of fear. "No," she gasped, shaking her head weakly, "no more..." "Nothing's worse than a rookie begging for a break. And...THAT'S what she gets for asking!" Even though she was driven back-first into the canvas, Deanna's body folded up from the torque and flipped over onto her stomach. She slowly reached for her back, raising her face off the mat and howling an agonized cry of pain. "Hurts...hurts so much," she thought, shakily lowering her head back to the floor. Sukh prevented her moment of respite, forcing the teen fighter up to her knees before grabbing her by the throat with both hands and raising her up to her feet. Deanna grimaced, gritting her teeth as she clawed at Sukh's arms. The Mongolian responded by lifting her into the air, suspending her by her throat and choking her. Kicking and writhing wildly, Deanna made awful noises as her windpipe struggled to function. Her tongue hung out over her lower lip as drool ran from one corner of her mouth, and her eyes stared into the crowd as they grew wider and fluttered. Reflexively, her hands slapped at Sukh's arms, trying in vain to tap out and concede the match. Slowly, the pressure began to fade and Deanna felt the mat under her feet again. Still held upright by her opponent, her vision was blurry as the world around her stopped dimming and began to stop spinning. "Th-thank god...I tapped," she thought, "must've saw that I tapped..." Almost as an answer to her thoughts, Sukh looked to the crowd and roared, "NOW, I BREAK!" Her bleary eyes widening immediately, Deanna tried and failed to move as Sukh got her into position. Then, he raised her overhead with a gorilla press, turning to display her to every side of the ring as the girl's legs kicked in a futile effort to get free. She shook her head, looking out at the crowd as they cheered, and tapping out against the arm of an opponent who did not care. "He's gonna do it," she thought, "oh god please just let him finish me, if he's gonna do it, let it be the end, please..." "We all know what time it is!" Yanking Deanna down, Sukh slammed her back onto his waiting knee. The teenager's eyes and mouth were wide open, her head snapping back as she let out a long, breathless wheeze. Deanna lay bent over Sukh's knee, her upper body jerking every few seconds as her arms hung out wide and limp. The Mongolian slammed both of his fists into her exposed stomach, forcing Deanna's entire body to spasm as she made a loud and defeated cry of pain. Her tongue once again protruded over her lip, and her eyes half-closed. Collecting his opponent off his knee and cradling her in his arms, Sukh stood up. Deanna, somehow barely conscious, took irregular and hoarse breaths as tears ran down her sweaty cheeks. Sukh slid one arm under her thighs, and the other behind her shoulderblades. Then, he began to bring them together with quickly increasing pressure. Deanna's body began to fold as her spine creaked from the compression. She made a few whimpering noises, her eyes flittering open and closed. There was a soft crunch as the girl's body suddenly folded tighter, her bare feet limply kicking in place as her hands shuddered and fell still. She was dumped onto the mat in a floppy heap, foamy spittle forming a small pool as it ran over her protruding tongue. "Sukh's given this undergrad a frosh night in the MediKade that she'll never forget! The kid is broken, and the Mongolian is your winner!!" ------- Kimberly sat back down heavily, having gotten to her feet to watch in shock as her friend had to face a truly merciless opponent. Sukh's backbreaking finishing maneuvers were replayed multiple times from various angles as the commentators discussed the Mongolian's strength, paying no more heed to the young fighter he had performed them upon. While she knew from experience that Deanna would recover, thanks to The Kumite's MediKade technology, she could not help but think of the fact that the girl's older sister and uncle were both big fans of the program. Kimberly finally began to understand how it felt to watch someone you care about get into the ring. Deanna and Gemma were her classmates and friends, people she always saw in class or at the mall. Now she had also seen them beaten and bloodied on the unforgiving Kumite mat. ------- "Now making her way to the ring...the Fiery Freshman, Kimberly Jones!" The short-haired redhead stepped onto the fighting platform, wearing a brown sports bra that matched her spandex briefs. She jogged across the ring, turning at the edge and squatting. She leapt up after a few seconds, and began to stretch as she tried her best to put the images of her beaten friends out of her mind for the next few minutes. "This plucky young fighter's managed to make a mark despite a record of 2 wins and 4 losses, and she's ready to fight tonight! Will she fare better than her classmates? Let's find out as she faces...Paula Dynamo!" A brunette with bob-cut hair stepped onto the entrance ramp, wearing a sleeveless red unitard and a pair of metal bracelets. She pumped a fist in the air as she approached the ring, slowly moving into some shadow boxing that carried her onto the mat. Finally, she slammed a fist into the floor hard enough for Kimberly to feel the aftershock in the canvas underfoot. "If she catches me in the chin with a deep shot like that, I'm gonna be meat," thought Kimberly. As soon as the bell rang, Paula charged forward with a punch that shot a gale of wind through Kimberly's short red hair as she dodged to one side. The teen fighter pushed her shoulder into Paula's stomach as she wrapped her arms around her, trying to lift the boxer up. Paula slammed a forearm down onto Kimberly, forcing her loose. Kimberly immediately slid around Paula, jumping onto her opponent's back as she locked in a rear chokehold. Kicking her feet to try and lock her legs around her opponent's body, Kimberly's vision suddenly popped with a bright flash as Paula whipped her arms up and slammed her fists into either side of the teen fighter's temples. Falling off of Paula's back, Kimberly landed sloppily, stumbling over her own feet and tumbling back onto the mat just in time to avoid a straight right punch that was hurtling towards her face. Crawling back and away from her opponent as she got up, Kimberly realized the vicious gust of wind that had brushed across her cheek as Paula's attack barely missed its mark. "What a lucky dodge on the part of Kimberly Jones! And Paula Dynamo knows it!" Grinning broadly, Paula kissed her knuckle before pointing her fist at Kimberly with a wink. The teen fighter's lip twitched, her wide eyes locked with Paula's as she crept cautiously around her opponent. Paula charged in once again, feinting high before throwing a left shot towards Kimberly's gut. Twisting to one side, Kimberly took hold of Paula's incoming arm before grabbing the boxer's body. Stamping a foot into the mat, Kimberly lifted her opponent up and slammed her to the ground with a belly-to-belly suplex. "Got the fist-fighter on the floor," thought Kimberly, "now I just have to keep her there!" Using her grappling training, Kimberly tried to hold Paula down and mount her. Paula squirmed to get free, baring her teeth as she looked up at the teen fighter that sat down on her chest. Kimberly rained down a few chops and punches, forcing her opponent to cover up before she leaned down and began to look for an opening to lock in a choke hold. Just as she got her arms around Paula's neck, Kimberly's eyes shot open as her ears popped loudly. A moment later, her head exploded in pain. Paula had slammed her fists into either side of the girl's head, and Kimberly's tactical advantage faded as she stared into space and began to loll back and forth. The ringing had barely begun to subside before the back of Paula's hand swatted her tumbling to one side. "The kid's tactics aren't worth much if she lets Paula Dynamo make mashed potatoes out of her brain!" Moaning softly as she gripped her temples, Kimberly staggered to her feet and shook the cobwebs away as hard as she could. She got her hands up, but only saw a blurry shape approach her before a lightning-fast punch sunk deep into her gut. Going weak at the knees as her legs quivered, Kimberly made a low-pitched noise as the air was forced out of her body. "Got to get...my arms back up," she thought, struggling to move her slacken limbs as she gasped a desperate breath. She looked like a deer in the headlights as she saw Paula rear back, and her eyes were still open as a massive punch smashed into her cheek hard enough to turn her head to one side. Spit and sweat sprayed from Kimberly's face in a brief white cloud before she went spinning through the air and crashed to the floor. Rolling to one side, the teen fighter's body was unsynchronized as she tried and failed to get up several times. "Kimberly Jones looks like a half-strung marionette! Paula Dynamo's giving her a hand...or setting up a punching bag!" Pulling her groggy opponent to her feet, Paula helped Kimberly regain her balance as the teen fighter's glassy eyes remained wide and unfocused. Shadowboxing in front of the girl, Paula was all smiles as Kimberly looked confused and lost, raising her hands weakly before a punch smacked into her jaw. Paula circled left and right, popping light jabs straight into Kimberly's mouth three more times. Kimberly's head jerked back as her lip split, forcing a tired cry from the stunned redhead as she staggered back and slumped to her knees. She began to look up at Paula, right before a piledriving punch slammed into the middle of her face. Kimberly's arms flew out flailing to her sides, her eyes forced shut by the impact and her bloodied mouth gaping open as Paula's fist pulled away from it. A thunderous right hook blasted into the side of Kimberly's head, her eyes bugging open unconsciously with knuckles pushing her cheek into her nose. There was a loud crack echoing through the arena while Kimberly was lifted spiralling into the air before crashing facedown in a heap on the mat. "That's it, folks! Kimberly Jones is four teeth poorer as she's taken out of this fight!" Paula sidled up to Kimberly as the broadcast played a slowed-down replay of the previous punch, showing Kimberly's contorted features as several teeth flew through the air with her beaten body. Raising an arm to the roaring approval of the crowd, Paula slammed one final fist down into the back of Kimberly's head. The teen fighter flopped in place, completely out cold as a small pool of blood formed underneath her face. ------- Eventually dragged off the mat, Kimberly's limp body was taken to a MediKade Recouperation capsule in the back of the Kumite's arena. Dumped into the bed-like clear tube of the device rather unceremoniously, the redhead lay mostly unmoving for over an hour inside the capsule, while mostly-unseen beams of energy passed over and through her body in a pre-set sequence both understood by few and used by the many fight promoters who were willing to pay the money to ensure their competitors' survival. Gemma and Deanna lay nearby in two other MediKade capsules, their bruised tissue and broken bones mending at a rapid pace while Kimberly's missing teeth began to grow back into her damaged gumline. Kimberly awoke, groaning as her jaw ached down to its nerves. "G-Gemma? Deanna?" "My ribs are on fire," muttered Gemma, clutching her midsection as she sat on a nearby bench. "This is a MediKade hangover, huh...how about you, Deanna?" "I-I can feel my legs," said Deanna, walking shakily across the room, still in her fight attire. "The floor's cold. Oh god, Gemma, they put me in the ring against..." "I know," said Gemma, gesturing at a monitor on the wall. "They're showing the Sukh-breaker now." Wincing before turning away from the sight of her own body being dropped onto Sukh's knee, Deanna shuddered. "I know this sounds...crazy, but..." "You want to do it again, right?" asked Kimberly. "We all do." "That guy's killed other fighters in the underground arenas," said Kimberly, "but after standing on the mat and facing him one on one, it's like...I'm hungry for something new." "This is gonna be a hell of a freshman year," said Kimberly, giving her friends a tight hug.