"I must say, I like the girl's panache." The white-robed Blake commented to the other elementals, stroking his cloudy beard. Chris was shaking his hooded head.
"Alright. We're officially half-way through the Initial Rounds!" The scary figure turned to address the audience. "Four have advanced, four have fallen! So far the winners are Marine Finn, Lyle Zappos, Dan the man, and Claire Anvil."
As he was talking Jane noticed the strange boy Dan appearing at the entryway to their enormous white cube-room, pacing quickly back to the seats. He'd changed clothes, a lighter tan coat with new trousers and shoes. Those gloves had been the only material that survived unscathed by the girl he fought. It seemed that like Claire, he knew it was best to watch the other contestants while he had the chance. He'd changed and hurried back as quick as he could. Now he took a seat at the end by himself.
"I see no point in an intermission!" Chris continued seamlessly. "Let's just get these matches over with so we can prepare for a proper contest. The tertiary rounds!"
The younger white-robed Zac stood silently beside his two peers, arms behind his back. Chris waved his black sleeves at the screen and it began clicking, whirring through the photos once more. The beeping slowed to a stop on number one. Jane tensed but then tried to smile encouragingly.
"Guess that means it's my turn." Leaf was resigned, but sounded calm enough.
"Go get em!" Jane gave him a light punch on the arm.
The green-eyed boy gave half a smile before standing. He strode toward the grassy field. His opponent was number fifteen, the dark-skinned boy with silver eyes. He got up silently and moved with shoulders hunched, out toward the field. Both boys were only average height, maybe a little shorter. Both were fairly thin in stature as well. Jane caught herself hunching forward and knitting her hands together, silently praying for her friend's victory.
"Leaf Sprout versus Shaddi Ganymede!" Chris declared.
"If I'm recognizing Shaddi's surname correctly…" Blake murmured "I probably already know his power. This idea came from you, right Zac?"
Zac didn't reply, only gave a slight smile as the three elementals stepped off the field for the combatants.
"Begin at the siren!" Chris reminded them. A moment later, it began.
The two boys tensed, facing each other. Leaf weaved his arms – by his feet a thick green vine sprouted out of the grass, shooting up and flexing back, before whipping out toward the other boy with a sharp snap. Shaddi ducked to the side, rolling out of the way. He crouched on one knee, those silver eyes still trained hard on his enemy.
He's keeping his eyes on Leaf instead of the vine? Jane wondered curiously.
Leaf shifted his feet, teeth barred, he snaked his hands and the vine curled outward, moving to pursue Shaddi from the side. The boy jumped out of his crouch and started moving backwards as the vine moved after him. As Leaf curled his other hand another vine started to sprout up near his foot. He forced his hand out and the second vine shot at Shaddi as he was still backing away.
He saw the attack from the corner of his eye. He ducked inward as the two vines lashed, then he was running between them at Leaf. Big mistake, the plant-user smirked to himself. He began growing a third vine from behind him, prepared to jump out of the way and spear his opponent when he got close enough. As Leaf watched those determined silver eyes he realised something was wrong, however. Shaddi charged closer and Leaf realised he couldn't move!
The elongated vines quivered and arced instead of attacking, due to his confusion. Shaddi jumped and aimed a harsh elbow at Leaf's face with excessive force, caving in the guy's nose. He went straight down and Shaddi leapt back.
"That's got to be a K.O." The arrogant Victor spoke up from the audience.
Leaf was still, lying on his back with arms spread. Shaddi had seemed to think so, but his eyes were still trained on his opponent. Seconds passed, and then Leaf's torso slumped upward.
"Ouch." Instead of blood, Leaf's wound was green mush. His nose began to repair itself.
"The Zorgon clans are quite unusual." Chris began to explain. "Take the Finn and Sprout clans for example. They both have the ability to transform their own bodies with their power. The Finn clan is more adaptable with their power, shifting back-and-forth into water. The Sprout clan can heal itself though."
"What are you?" Shaddi muttered in disgust.
The small vine behind the downed boy started growing faster again. It lashed out at Shaddi and he jumped aside. The longer vines whipped back into action – one came from behind and wrapped itself around his neck, Shaddi managed to get a hand in before it tightened. He struggled as he fought against the strangulation. The second long vine wrapped around his middle, binding his other arm to his body. Leaf stood up while Shaddi was raised a few feet into the air.
Shaddi's legs kicked, his face strained as he fought off the strangulation of the first vine. Both of the plants squeezed. Leaf turned his wrist and the smaller vine grew longer in preparation to stab and spear, the end pointed like a thorn. Before Leaf could conduct the final blow he saw those wide silver eyes on him. He tensed again, then punched himself in the face.
Leaf went down and Shaddi dropped. The dark-skinned boy immediately darted back to a safe distance, massaging his neck.
"He can control motor function." Blake deduced.
"His power is to control minds, but so far it's restricted to limited motor function." Chris explained.
"Sounds like a dangerous crusher you have in the works there."
Leaf straightened up, looking confused and angry. Shaddi watched him seriously from afar. The two hits Leaf had suffered would've knocked out someone without his regenerative power. Leaf took a stance, the three vines swaying around him in a protective dance. Everyone watched him curve his hands, and then a fourth vine sprouted several metres away, somewhere to the left of the incredulous Shaddi.
He turned and started running backwards as the plant snaked toward him in mid-air. Leaf curled his other hand so yet another vine grew somewhere to the right, where Shaddi was retreating. Then Leaf sprang, running out from the cover of the first three vines. He charged directly toward his opponent. One look from Shaddi made him misstep however, sprawling forward and into the grass. Shaddi came running over, the two vines weaving along behind him. If he really beat into Leaf while he lay there paralysed, turned him into pulp with his fists, that would effectively knock him out. Or kill him.
Leaf lay there, surprised at being completely unable to move. His eyes widened as Shaddi jumped, but he was caught up by the vines in mid-air, then thrown backwards with the force of a slingshot. The audience watched him fly several metres before hitting the ground, tumbling and slumping.
As Leaf slowly regained the ability to move he flexed his arms and legs, testing them. The elementals hadn't moved in to stop the fight and Jane was suspicious. Is he faking? Waiting for Leaf to get closer? Obviously Leaf had the same suspicion.
Instead of stepping up the light-haired boy stayed on one knee, weaving his arms and sprouting a new vine by Shaddi's unmoving foot. It grew upward before looping back down, snagging his ankle, then lifting Shaddi up off the ground. He cried and kicked out. Leaf brought his arm down and the vine smacked him head-first into the ground. Concussed. He was out this time.
Leaf let out a sigh of relief, relaxing. The wriggling vines across the field settled along the ground.
"The winner is Leaf Sprout!" Blake raised an arm. "Good show!"