Miley Stewart observed the reaction to Laocorn and was confused. "Daddy, why are they booing him? Did he do something wrong?"
Robbie Ray had heard the stories of Laocorn Gaudemas, as much as the general public was allowed to know at any rate. He knew the man had some questionable dealings, and that his sister died as a result. And because of her death he became devoted to making the world a better place for all. "Yeah darlin," he drawled. "He did do something wrong. But he's trying to make up for it."
"What did he do?" Jackson asked.
"Something that cost him his sister's life."
Jackson looked at Miley and wondered what would have happened if he lost his sister. Sure they fought at times, but he couldn't imagine a world where Miley wasn't there. Despite everything Jackson would have his sister's back, just as he knew Miley would have his.
Miley looked down at the ring and found she admired Laocorn Gaudeamas. This was a person who had fallen from a great height and yet had found the strength to pick himself up and make the world a better place in memory of his sister. Someone who did good for the world, and persevered. The sort of person Miley hoped to become.
From her spot within the first class balcony section Kali looked down at Bruce and Cassandra walking to the ring. Their music was playing in the background and even though she did not know where it had come from and who sang it, she felt it was very appropriate for what was to come.
~Let the bodies hit the floor indeed.~ she thought and then laughed as she thought of the scene that would unfold soon.
At ringside Karone and Leo watched as Bruce and Cassandra made their way to the ring. They stopped short as they looked at the doorway waiting for their third man to arrive.
Then a gong was heard and a drum beat. The lights went out and two words were heard.
JR was stunned. He knew that music as he had heard it plenty of times before. It was the music played whenever the Undertaker made his way to the ring. But the Undertaker was not there, Mark Calloway had not entered the tournament. But the energy, the reaction of the crowd. It was almost the same.
Then the arena erupted in a plethora of sound and light as the music filled the arena. “Keep rollin, rollin, rollin, rollin. Rollin, rollin, rollin, rollin. Rollin, rollin, rollin, rollin. Rollin, rollin, rollin, rollin.”
In the Shadow Vortex, Shadow smiled as Kincaid rose out on his motorcycle to Limp Bizcuit’s tune.
“If you are going to use someone’s entrance music in another dimension, then go with the Undertaker’s” he said quietly, nodding in approvial.
In his Shadowbox Minion sensed the power of Jeff Kincaid. He sensed that this was a Ranger, but there was something different about him. His aura was wild, vengeful and reminded Minion of an untamed beast that bound in place only by the sheer power of Jeff Kincaid's will. He could sense a connection to the Morphin Grid, but instead of sensing a totem animal, he felt some sort of supernatural force. And for the first time since his emergence, Minion felt reluctant to encounter this Ranger in person. It wasn't fear - for Minion had faced an angry demon and been made fully aware of his own mortality. This was a deep rooted feeling that there was more to lose by encountering Jeff Kincaid then he could hope to gain.
~He's a threat,~ Minion admitted after some soul searching. And in that moment he realised that his reluctance stemmed not from any fear of losing, but the lack of absolute certainty that he would triumph. He sat back and watched events unfold. Now was the time to see how much of a threat he was.
Team Destiny looked at Kincaid as he stood on the ramp gunning his engine. He rolled his bike down the ramp way towards the ring. He circled the ring with Team Destiny inside, like a man marking his territory. They were thrown by the dark entrance and were rocked by the explosive music that followed. Not to mention the ride to the ring.
“He’s trying to intimidate us lord.” Panni said. “He shall not succeed.”
“On that we agree Panni,” Laocorn said. “But he shall not be an easy person to beat. He is a man caught in a cycle of pain that drives him onwards.”
After Kincaid’s ride around he noticed two figures sitting at ringside. Two he was not expecting, nor expecting together. He stared at the two for a good minute and then roared his motorcycle engine looking to give the crowd a show before he turned away from Leo and Karone. It was time for business. His team had a fight to win.
The two Kincaid was staring at however, Karone and Leo, immediately felt nervous as if looking into a deep dark pit of darkness and fire.
“Is it just me... or is he staring at us?” Leo asked nervously. He glanced at Karone and noticed that she seemed to have shrank back and was huddling right beside him.
~By the Power and by Darkness... what is he? What is it that he is putting out! I’ve never felt anything like that!~ Karone gasped as she then admitted to herself. ~He scares me. HE scares ME? How is that possible just from a look?~
On the screen in the back room Alison, Cassie and Kat gathered to watch Kincaid fight.
“Kat, what do you know about this guy?” Alison asked.
“I saw him fight during the ID War.” Kat said. “He’s very hard edged; if he sees his opponent as doing something wrong he will...”
"...will what?” Cassie asked.
“Not hold back. When Harper killed Jessica and Katie, Kincaid threw him into a pit of fire below. Granted the monster brought it on himself, but Kincaid played for keeps.” Kat explained.
“Will he cut loose on Gaudeamas?” Cassie asked. Kat had no answer for that.
Kat, Alison and Cassie stared at the screen mesmerized by what was to come. It would not be for the weak of heart.
“Hey, you guys okay?” Cassidy asked. The Morhpin and Zeo Rangers had turned pale when Kincaid had emerged. “What’s wrong?”
Rocky shook his head. “Nothing, really. It's just... we never expected Jeff Kincaid to be here. Never thought we'd see him again.”
"So you know him then," Cassidy surmised.
“Yeah,” Adam said. “We’ve met him before.” It was difficult to decide whether Adam was pleased to see him or not. There were a range of emotions running across his face and it was clear that even though he wasn't angry to see Kincaid, he wasn't jumping for joy.
"He was there, the day Jessica was killed,” Tanya added.
Images flashed through Cassidy's mind, recalling the information she had received from Jessica in a dream. She had always known that Jessica had been killed to teach somebody a lesson, but until now she had never been able to witness the whole memory. But this time there was more detail, secrets unlocked by a name. And as she saw Jessica's death play out one more time she recognised the man that needed to be taught to know his place s Jeff Kincaid.
“It was Kincaid wasn’t it?” Cassidy said. “He was the one Jessie’s killer tried to humble.” The other Zeo and Morphin Rangers nodded solemnly. They didn't blame Kincaid for her death. They couldn't. To do so would mean they would need to hold themselves responsible for every death that occurred during a monster attack. Not that some, namely Tommy and Rocky were not already experts at blaming themselves. Cassidy however couldn’t help but stare at the young man on his motorbike. He was a mystery, an enigma. Had the Rangers even scratched the surface of the mysteries he held? She doubted it. And that made her determined to find out who he really was.
If Cassidy Bridges was curious, Minion was intrigued by Jeff Kincaid. He sensed that he was a Ranger of some kind. But not like any Ranger he knew. Certainly not Morphin, or Zeo, or any of the new Power signatures he was picking up in the arena. Some of them not realized yet. No, that wasn't true. It wasn't that Kincaid's aura didn't matched the established powers. It did. He was clearly drawing from the Morphin Grid. It was the nature of that power that seemed wrong.
Minion had a keen mind and was able to piece together information from only the smallest clues. But Kincaid's power defied everything he knew about the Morphin Grid. The closest thing he could recall was the Evil Green Ranger. But even then the aura had not been so dark, so wild, so... dangerous. It a way it reminded him of how his aura had been when he had morphed using the Blue Power Coin. But though the power had felt equally wrong, it had not been as wild.
~Could Kincaid be using an evil power source?~ he wondered.
No, that didn't didn't make sense. Even if the device was evil, the power it was drawing from would be the same and Kincaid would still not possess that aura. It was almost as if he was deliberately drawing the power from the darkness. But as he watched, Minion could not believe that was the case. Such an act would drive the user to the brink of insanity, not to mention turning them dark. But he could tell that Kincaid was a Power Ranger, not just pretending to be a Power Ranger and that whatever he had done had driven him neither insane nor evil. He was just dark. Impossibly so. From what he knew of the searches Grid Masters used to recruit Rangers, Jeff Kincaid would never have been considered under any circumstances. The Power should have rejected him, and yet it was clear that he was in control. It was almost amusing to picture some of the more zealous Masters and their reactions, but it was also a little frightening to realise he had no idea how to deal with such a foe. How could Kincaid be allied with the forces of good? How could the forces of good be allied with someone like Kincaid?
But as Minion thought about it he realized that there would be some that would want the forces of good to have someone like Kincaid in their ranks. Someone to do the 'dirty work' the 'good guys' could not do for one reason or another. Someone to spread spread confusion through the ranks of the dark armies.
~Someone that cannot be defined easily, leading to fear and speculation. And that fear would be passed down as stories told to children.~ Minion thought amusingly. ~Behave or the Night Man will come for you.~
And at that moment, Minion knew that was what Kincaid was. He was the basis of the monster one told their kids bedtime stories about. He had the look and the feel about him. But there was more. Deep inside Minion wondered if perhaps Jeff Kincaid didn't just look and feel like the boogie man. Perhaps he was the boogie man.
~Yes, he is a threat, a REAL threat.~ he thought, realising that he although he knew next to nothing about him, Jeff Kincaid had somehow managed to scare him. ~I doubt he noticed me, so the effect is not deliberate. It's something he can't control... or can control but chooses not to.~
How could he deal with an enemy that he knew next to nothing about yet seemed to fear? He could explain the fear away as an effect of Kincaid's aura, a bonus that helped to spread the fear that he somehow knew Jeff and his kind wielded so effectively. Power would not do it, nor arcane magic, nor even high science. It would take a very carefully laid out plan to defeat him. Fortunately planning was something that Minion was good at.
~Perhaps coming here was worth it,~ Minion thought, ~just in case there is a Jeff Kincaid I have not met yet. Finding a chink in the armour I can exploit would allow me to prepare.~ With a supreme effort he managed to drag his thoughts and eyes away from Kincaid, searching through the stands to the spot where Kincaid had been looking. There his attention was drawn to a blonde girl he found familiar and a boy that sat by her side. The girl's face looked familiar and since it seemed Kincaid knew her he assumed she had some involvement with the Power Rangers.
"She is a special one," a voice whispered. "One of Dark Specter's chosen, a Princess of Evil.
Minion did not know who Dark Specter was but that didn't bother him for too long as the voice continued, filling him in on the facts. Stories of a powerful villain that had compiled a list of girls from which to select his special heir. Girls with great potential. Girls of power. Of those candidates one had been chosen, and Minion knew that the girl in the seats was Dark Specter's first choice to be his heir. But he also knew there were others who Dark Specter had chosen, or were rumoured to be chosen. He shook his head. It was all very well to know such things, but raised the question about how he knew? He had never heard of Dark Specter. As far as he knew there was no such being. And he was certain that if such a being existed then Mistress Repugna would have been seeking his services.
"And yet you can't deny what you are hearing," he thought... No, he hadn't thought that. It was the voice, somehow interacting with his consciousness. "And there is so much more. Rumours of other chosen to act as replacements if needed. Girls that attained their evil standing through other means."
He saw them. Somehow he could picture them in his mind. One through technology. One through magic. One through nurturing, and one through nature. Minion silently was amused at the idea that Dark Specter would find a Princess naturally born evil. Oh there were villains born all the time, but to be truly evil, truly powerful and to have the beauty that Dark Specter seemed to desire? It was possible, for the possibilities were endless, but highly improbable. As he studied her, Minion decided that in the end Dark Specter had decided to reject nature in favour of something else.
~Wait, there were five princesses," Minion realised. ~The one that was chosen and the four that were to act as replacements. So if she is not evil by nature, nurture, magic or technology... what is she?"
"Can you not see? Are you that blind to the things around you?"
The voice was starting to annoy him. But as he thought about its words he realised there was another option: evil by choice.
~Of course!~ It made sense in a strange way - any of the other four could have been in her place, if they were offered a choice in the matter. But then why was she here, and not with her master? The answer came to him very quickly: ~She's here to learn, just as I am.~ Yes, now he thought about it he realised that aside from those that had come to see the tournament just for the fighting, there were many that had turned up to learn the capabilities of those they would either fight or perhaps aid in combat.
Minion turned away from the Princess and decided to study her companion. Was he a servant, an ally of the Princess. Was he even Dark Specter himself disguised as a human in order to watch the tournament. No, he was just a human. A human with potential for certain, if the undeveloped link to the Power was an indication, but still human.
It made Minion think of the old time travel dilemma of the traveller thrown back in time and came across an infant that would grow up to kill millions. Would that traveller save those millions if that infant was killed before it became a threat? For a moment he wondered if he wasn't being offered the same dilemma of whether to destroy those he sensed could become a threat in the future. Only this time it wasn't a soon to be monster that Minion thought of killing, it was a potential Ranger. The longer he thought about it the more convinced he became that sooner or later the boy would wield unbelievable power, capable of cutting down some of evil's greatest assets.
~But the trouble with such actions is that the act of aggression might be the trigger that turned them into the thing you wish to avoid,~ he realised. Besides there was also the question of why he was in the presence of an evil princess. Did he know what she was? Did she know what he had the potential to become? How could she not. His link was weak, but just his aura should have clued her in. ~Is he trying to corrupt him?~
The was a long pause as his thoughts seemed to blank. And then somehow he knew it was not her intentions he should be questioning. It was the boy who was corrupting the princess.
~How can this be?~ Minion wondered. ~How can he be turning her from evil and not even realise it? He's not even a Ranger, yet he's affecting her.
And then he happened to catch a glance at the princess' aura. She too bore a connection to the Power. She also possessed the ability to become a Ranger, perhaps the same sort of Ranger as the boy she was with.
~Teammates?~ he wondered. As he looked closer he could sense what made her special and gave her the ability to truly choose. She had two auras! One was twisted and dark, and fading. The other seemed to be growing stronger, nurtured by the proximity to the boy.
More questions than answers. Minion was starting to hate the questions coming to his mind. He wondered if this reality wasn't better off being done away with and to just be finished with it. For that matter maybe all realities should be done away with to spare himself the questions that overwhelmed him. And for a moment he found himself agreeing. But then the feeling was gone, leaving him to worry over the state of his mental health. He was aware enough to realise that events had damaged him. His mind was not as stable as it should have been. Could the thoughts of wiping out everything around him represent a deep seated desire to end his own existence? He wasn't sure. But if whether it was some expression of self-loathing or not, he couldn't help but consider it.
Mr Popplewick studied Karone with some degree of interest. It had been a long time since he had last seen her and he had to admit he was curious about the way she turned out. He looked up as he sensed Mr Chambers scrutinising him. It was an uncomfortable feeling since it seemed there was very little Mr Chambers could not discern with his gaze.
"There's a story there," Mr Chambers told him before pointing over to Karone and Leo, "With those two."
"What kind of story?"
Mr. Chambers didn't answer right away as he seemed to consider his answer. It was clear he knew exactly what he meant but perhaps was considering how much to disclose. "Let's just say the girl who was chosen first is realizing her destiny... finally, and leave it at that for the time being."
~So the girl was the first choice, just as I hoped. And now she is the Princess,.~ he thought. Then he frowned. ~What aren't you telling me?~
If Mr Chambers sensed his companion's unease however he showed no signs of helping. His mind was focussed on other matter as he carefully allowed thousands of alternatives to play out in his mind. Events were following the path he had foreseen, but things could change so quickly. There were enemies present and the arena was abuzz with emotion. All it would take was a chance meeting or a wrong word and events could spiral out of control. Shaping the destinies of so many without revealing his intentions was growing more and more difficult. He mentally prepared himself that before the tournament was over he might be forced to reveal a few of his less important secrets.
After revving the motorcycle's engine a few more times, Kincaid parked the bike on its kickstand and made his way to the ring. He had experience of entertaining a crowd and knew how to work the emotions in the air. He raised hi right arm in a biker salute and was pleased that the crowd reacted favourably. The more they riled the crowd up before the match, the better. And it helped send the message he wanted. He had shaken them with his initial appearance and proven that he could play nice. Now it was a matter of demonstrating why they should prefer the playful Kincaid to the scary fighter that lurked before the facade.
"Who were you staring at?" Cassandra asked.
"Leo Corbett and Karone," Kincaid answered. "It looks like they're here together."
Bruce seemed taken aback by that. “Isn’t he supposed to be on Terra Venture? And isn’t she supposed to be the Princess of Evil? Or the Pink Galaxy Ranger?”
Kincaid shook his head. "Different reality, different point in time, and different people. That's the problem with crossing over: you can never be sure the people you know are still the people you know.
"We are a little early in the timeline," Cassandra agreed. "Terra Venture probably hasn't been made public knowledge yet and Karone... I don't know. I'm getting mixed feelings from her. I think things will run a little differently here." She paused. "They already are actually."
“Mixed. Like she’s somewhere between good and evil?” Kincaid asked.
Kincaid thought a moment about the Karone of his own world. She had been chosen to be Astronema unwillingly, but had been saved. She had later become Pink Galaxy when Kendrix Morgan was killed by Psycho Pink. However his Karone had never shaken the effects of the darkness despite her best efforts. Fighting the darkness of her past had proved to be a constant struggle and Kincaid brought her into the Night Rangers, hoping that darkness would be put to good use. Karone had accepted and had been a welcome addition to the Night Rangers ever since. But the Karone he had just seen was different. This one didn't appear to be a good person struggling not to be evil or an evil person struggling to subdue the good hidden deep within. This Karone was unaffected by spells or powers or any outside influence. No this conflict was one of ideas and the deciding factor would be choice.
“Let’s think about this later. We’ve got a fight to win.” Kincaid said as he turned to face Team Destiny. In truth there was very little he could do and probably even less that he should do. Involving himself could be the catalyst that pushed her one way or the other, disrupting her choice. He knew that if Dana Mitchell had been with him she would have tried to influence the outcome. ~That said one of the Dana Mitchell's we met would have just executed her to prevent the possibility of her becoming Astronema.~ But that was not his way. He was a guest in this reality and realised that he really didn't have the right to make decisions for those that lived there.
Laocorn Gaudeamas, Panni Citrine and Lyla Topaz stood ready for battle. Lyla stepped forward indicating that she would fight first. Bruce stepped forward, indicating that he was ready to start for their team. And so with Lyla and Bruce assuming their positions, the battle started.
Bruce and Lyla moved around the ring, staring each other down. Both waited for the other to make the first move. Lyla felt her anticipation building while Bruce remained cool. He was a seasoned veteran when it came to fighting and knew that as they watched the clock tick, the tension would grow.
“FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!” the fans yelled, adding pressure on the two.
Lyla could feel her blood rise with the chant. Bruce was feeling the same thing although he was able to hide it better. Finally the adrenaline overcame her and Lyla threw the first punch, which Bruce dodged and responded with three punches to the solar plexus. He followed up with a wheel kick, knocking Lyla down on the ground.
Lyla looked up at Bruce and smirked. He looked calm, but she could see that he was just as eager to fight as she was.
“That’s how it’s gonna be huh?” Lyla asked. She smirked. “Cool by me.”
Then she attacked again with a series of Kung-Fu moves that Bruce dodged efficiently. Lyla felt her strength wearing out as she continued to throw punch after punch at her opponent. It didn't take a genius to tell her that she was wasting her energy with all the moves that missed their target, or that by allowing her frustration to drive her onward she was wasting even more energy. It was also abundantly clear that Bruce knew that she would tire from the ferocious nature of her attack.
And then it was as if somebody had flicked a switch and Bruce changed from defence to attack. He launched a side kick followed by a series of rapid punches that moved so fast Lyla wasn’t sure she saw any of them. They were so fast that Lyla made the mistake of thinking the punches were some sort of ki attack. In reality they were just fast punches, but Lyla didn’t know that, which caused her to cut loose slightly with a small ki move of her own.
“FIRE KNUCKLE!” Lyla cried unleashing a minor energy attack on Bruce. Bruce was able to dodge the incoming ball of fire and come back into the game with an upper cut knocking her back.
~Okay, she’s got funky kind of power, let’s change the rules a little.~
Bruce ran forward, ducking under a clothesline Lyla sought to throw. He turned around and ducked as he rolled forward before leaping into the air and crashing his entire body hard across Lyla’s chest in a perfect example of a Lou Thesz Press, all made more appealing by the gymnastic somersault he had thrown in for good measure. The impact was devastating as Bruce’s Rolling Thunder seemingly paid off.
The audience had started to get into the fight somewhat, and the chants for Bruce were causing Lyla’s adrenaline to rise. So lost in the rush of emotion and her body's responses that when Bruce decided to do a finishing rush, Lyla cut loose with three successive flame bursts that would have pulverized a normal man.
“HELLFIRE!” Lyla shouted as three bolts shot forward.
The shots connected and a normal person would have gone down. But even the weakest entrant in the tournament could not be described a a normal person and Bruce was far from the weakest. So despite the fact he was hurt, it was not too surprising to see that he was still standing... barely.
Sensing the opportunity, Lyla decided to finish him off.
“FIRE BLAST!” She bellowed, firing a bolt to finish Bruce off. The burst of flame hit Bruce knocking him back out of the tournament ring and onto the ground below. He landed hard. So hard he did not get back up when the time expired.
It was a hard fought battle but Bruce was eliminated, although to his credit he did not go down easy and it was clear the victory had taken a lot out of Lyla as well, as her bar indicated that she did not have much left either. If the last attack had not taken him down, there was no guarantee she would have won.
And despite the win, her moment of triumph seemed hollow when Laocorn told her something he observed from Bruce... Her opponent had no ki ability. He was a good fighter, but he didn’t use any energy attacks. It was possible, ~No it was very likely~ Lyla thought, that her opponent had no ki ability whatsoever.
~And I had to resort to a ki attack to beat him~ she thought. ~Hardly a victory.~
But a win was a win and the fight had to continue. So Lyla just stood and waited for her next opponent. Seemingly the girl in green.
Cassandra was about to step into the the ring, but Kincaid grabbed her shoulder and shook his head no. Cassandra looked confused as to why Kincaid was holding her back until he said “I don’t want to tip our hand completely.”
Cassandra nodded as Kincaid’s words made sense. So she stepped back and allowed Kincaid to enter instead.
Bruce looked on from the corner as Kincaid and Lyla stared each other down. Both refused to be intimidated. It appeared that Kincaid was showing a little caution despite having the endurance advantage. Finally Lyla decided to break the stare down and held up her hand, challenging Kincaid to a test of strength. Kincaid looked at the outstretched hand and accepted the challenge. From his face it appeared he was slightly impressed.
After locking their hands together they started to mount some pressure. Considering that she had already battle Bruce and was smaller than him, Kincaid was surprised that she managed to hold her own so well. And then it seemed she gained the advantage as she started to push heat through her hands, using the extras pressure to bolster her strength. Kincaid's eyes narrowed as he caught on to her plan. The heat would help to wear him down, making his body work harder. But two could play at that game and with a small smirk he tapped into his own primal force and brought the fire within him to the surface. The heat started to build and build, and soon Lyla felt herself being driven back.
~Oh man talk about power!~ Lyla thought as she tried to focus her heat energy into driving Kincaid down but Kincaid only seemed to get hotter. As the heat intensified Lyla was driven down to one knee as Kincaid continued to mount the pressure. Realizing that she could hold no more Lyla broke the grip and then twisted around to kick Kincaid in the head to give herself some room.
The kick connected but all it succeeded in doing was disorienting Kincaid for a few seconds. Fortunately Lyla only needed a few seconds to deliver a devastating side kick to Kincaid’s jaw knocking him back down. She stood waiting for his next move, wondering what trick Kincaid was going to pull next. Although so far she had been the one to dip into her bag of tricks and he had just reacted.
Kincaid however decided to go on the offence by wrapping his legs around Lyla’s chest, throwing her off balance and down to the floor hard. Kincaid was on top in a position ready to hit her with but he soon got back up and offered his hand to Lyla.
“What is this?” Heyman asked.
JR commented “Well it looks like we know one thing about Jeff Kincaid. He’s a gentleman if nothing else.”
Lyla took the offered hand and she was back on her feet. Both then took the fighting stances ready to fight again. Lyla waited for Kincaid to make the first move, he didn’t. So she decided she would. She launched a side kick towards Kincaid, which he dodged. He ducked down and delivered a wheel kick to the back of Lyla’s foot. Lyla hit the ground on her shoulders using her arms to cushion the fall. Kincaid nodded at Lyla’s skill. She seemed to know how to fall gracefully. Looking up he also noticed how it took some life out of her bar. If the indicators were accurate then she was practically running on empty.
Lyla then decided to try linking a series of punches with a few frontal and side kicks thrown in for good measure. Kincaid allowed several to connect, but blocked the last punch. He changed his posture to a more aggressive stance and launched a volley of his own. He landed a series of lefts and rights, knocking Lyla back, and followed up with an axe kick to the side of her head. Lyla fell, but got back up quickly.
~All right, let’s do the heavy artillery.~ “FIRE BLAST!!!” Lyla shouted as a burst of flame shot out from her hand.
Kincaid however balled his own hand into a fist and let loose a fireball of his own, which upon impact decimated Lyla’s flame. The shockwave sending her back to the outside of the ring... hard.
When Lyla got back up she was staggering. She crawled back into the ring and met with a flaming clothesline the moment she stood. The move struck Lyla dead in the face. The fire was hot to the touch.
“As Joey Styles would say OH MY GOD!” Paul Heyman cried of Kincaid’s move. “He didn’t even call that out!”
Kincaid then decided to end the match picking Lyla up for a tiger bomb. Picking up her body she brought it down hard to the ground landing on the back of her shoulders. The wind sufficiently taken out of her sails. Lyla didn’t get back up. The referee counted and Lyla was done.
When Panni saw Lyla hit the ground, she didn't even need to look at the damage bar in order to tell that she was out of it. She glanced at Laocorn who nodded his agreement and stepped in to face Kincaid. As she did so she took a moment to try to read Kincaid's face. Cold and impassive, it told her nothing. She could tell he was strong although she had already guessed that from his first fight, but there was also a strength she had never known before. She doubted she could take him in a fist fight so she cut loose with her own attack.
As Panni called forth her power, she sent a monstrous water construct down on Kincaid with devastating force. She knew that this was a desperation move, but she had little choice is she wanted to take down Kincaid. However if she had expected it to work, she was in for a disappointment as Kincaid seemed to take the full force of the blow. Steam erupted from the area Kincaid was standing in.
“Oh man. It’s really getting hot.” Bruce said wiping the sweat that was forming on his head.
“And it’s only going to get hotter.” Cassandra added as Kincaid increased the heat further.
All too soon the water dragon had dissipated, leaving only Kincaid glowing slightly from the residual heat of his aura. And then aura seemed to erupt again, taking on the appearance of unnatural flame. Panni felt herself swallowing down a lump in her throat as Kincaid took several steps towards her. The icy stare in his eyes gave Panni cold shivers.
She had to try the Tsunami Dragon again. She waved her hands into the air as she prepared to call forth her monstrous construct. She only got as far as “TSUNAMI√Ę?‚‚¨¬¶” when Kincaid charged her with a running clothesline. The heat upon impact was scathing as Panni felt a burn on her upper chest. Quick to recover, Panni tried to regain the advantage in the fight but a kick to the stomach and a neck breaker took the wind out of Panni’s sails. She was staggering as Kincaid made ready to deliver a finishing blow.
He balled up his fist he and allowed the heat to form a red flame around it. He brought his fist up in a fast motion and clocked Panni with tremendous force, which sent her flying out of the ring and down onto the ringside floor near to Laocorn and Lyla. Panni had been eliminated from competition.
“Panni!” Laocorn exclaimed as he rushed to his love’s side.
Lyla also moved to her teammate’s side to see how she was. Both were oblivious to the referee checking on Panni and then the indicators before declaring her eliminated from the match. It appeared that Kincaid's blow had been so unusual that the sensors were unable to calculate the damage it had caused.
“Panni! PANNI!” Laocorn shouted as if trying to will her to live. Kincaid stood by the ring watching as Lyla and Laocorn tended to their teammate.
Panni then opened her eyes and looked up at her love. “I am all right my lord. This was just par for the course in a King of Fighters tournament. Now go into battle Laocorn, our honour is at stake.”
Laocorn nodded and looked up at the ring. As he stepped in, Kincaid was dead in his sights, and Laocorn was allowing this battle to be very personal indeed. If Kincaid noticed he didn't show it, if he was afraid he covered it well, for as Laocorn climbed in, the other man just waited patiently. The crowd was growing anxious, the clock was ticking away, someone had to win it.
Laocorn wondered what should try. There were several techniques that he had mastered over the years, which could be used, but he figured that nothing would be as satisfying as going full tilt against him. So he attacked with a series of rights and lefts, causing Kincaid to fight back. They held nothing back, each willing to beat the other into submission.
It seemed like it would be easier said than done as Kincaid seemed to withstand a lot of punishment, but Laocorn thought he saw a weakness in Kincaid’s defence as his solar plexus was left exposed. Laocorn called for one of his ki attacks, using his anger to feed the attack and grateful that it was an attack the relied on power, not control.
"HEAVEN’S FIST!” Laocorn bellowed.
The energy shot out, forcing Kincaid to draw back a punch. As he threw the punch with all his might, it connected with the energy, which seemed to dissipate in the wake of Kincaid’s fiery power. Laocorn looked wide eyed as he saw this.
Kincaid didn't respond. He just stood and waited for the next strike. A glance at the clock told him they had a minute and a half left to finish things. That caused him to change his plans by delivering a fast side kick that came out of nowhere. Laocorn blocked the kick and countered with a leg sweep. When Kincaid got back up, Laocorn went on the attack with a series of rights and lefts, which Kincaid blocked. He responded up with some more rights, lefts and finally an uppercut that Laocorn barely dodged. The seconds ticked away. Laocorn and Kincaid were giving their all. Both turned to look at the screen. Their damage bars were neck and neck, they had used every trick they could think of to get as far as they had and there were only twenty seconds left on the clock.
“Time to end this,” Laocorn said. Energy built up in Laocorn and Kincaid knew this wasn’t a good thing. “RAGE OF THE INFERNO!” Kincaid motioned to Bruce what was to come next. Bruce knew what Knicaid had in mind as he cupped his hands together forming a foot launch. Kincaid stepped onto the waiting hands and used it to jump high into the air, avoiding Laocorn’s attack.
The crowd fell silent as Kincaid seemed to fly over the blast. Even Laocorn was surprised until Kincaid manoeuvred his body so his legs were facing Laocorn. It was at the moment he realised what Kincaid had in mind that he also realised it was too late, as the full brunt of Kincaid’s drop kick connected.
And then the bell rang and the crowd seemed to come alive once more. Kincaid and Laocorn turned to look at the damage boards, knowing that the sensors would calculate the winner based on the damage they had recorded. It was a little like fencing in that regard, contact set off a sensor that recorded a hit that determined a winner. Kincaid was slightly ahead of Laocorn by a nudge, but it was enough for his team to win the match. "Here are your winners: Team Nightfighter!"
Bruce and Cassandra entered the ring and their hands were raised in victory alongside Kincaid. The song “Rollin’ hit the arena as the crowd looked on in awe and suspense. Some of them even applauding. Kincaid looked over at Laocorn, Panni and Lyla, and then walked over to them with his hand extended. Laocorn wondered what Kincaid meant by this gesture, then he remembered how he was a gentleman with Lyla.
“I’m sorry about your girlfriend.” Kincaid said. “It was in the heat of competition. No pun intended.” He then extended his hand out offering a symbol of trust and good sportsmanship.
Laocorn looked at Kincaid sceptically then after a moment took out his own hand as the two combatants shook hands as if they were complementing each other on a good match. Kincaid then raised Laocorn’s hand in victory as Cassandra raised Panni’s and Bruce raised Lyla’s. The audience roared in approval at the show of sportsmanship and respect of Gaudeamas and Team Destiny, who were considered KOF fixtures. Even the Rangers in the stands applauded at the show as the music played on.
There were a few however that didn’t applaud. Some on other fight teams that hoped they wouldn't have to face Team Nightfighte and a few in the Shadowboxes themselves.
End of Part
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