Apprehension rolled uncomfortably in Katty’s stomach-a feeling that she was not used to. Her fingers twitched against her crossed arms, their itch bothering her. Why should she be so jumpy? It was not as if she could lose to the newbie. Somehow, she had convinced herself that Gypsy was indestructible. There was something so hard about her. She knew what the problem was. She had no idea what she was up against. Rolling her eyes and huffing her exasperation, Katty raked her tongue across the smoothness of her front teeth and sucked in sharply. A quiet, hissing slurp jolted her back into consciousness. Gypsy had gone so quickly up in rankings that she was to face her on the mats. There had been a brief set of rules that banned teammates from fighting against one another in the spirit of dividing the team, but it all depended on how the cadets moved. Their fluidity, styles, and finishing techniques literally matched up perfectly in few teams, narrowing down the results that the doctors and Heads had to make to set the Venture teams together. The rules had been disbanded quickly. This match would assure that the two were paired almost perfectly for a team together. Katty had been watching Gypsy’s performance and absolutely hated her opponent’s tactics. They mirrored hers too well.
Across the mat, she hoped to catch her opponent’s eye. She doubted that her surefire expression of complete determination would shake her as it had with past opponents but one could always hope. Surprisingly, Gypsy never glanced directly at her. Her gaze was fixed on the mats or roving around the entire training room never once making eye contact with a single person. There was something almost listless about her gaze, her focus solely upon mental capabilities. The alarm rang, ending the match in front of them. A small crowd had gathered around the mat in anticipation for the fight. Ekaterina shuddered internally as her palms began to sweat beneath the wraps bandaging her hands. A few janitors hurried upon the mat, briefly mopping it up and sweeping debris off of the surface. It was the cleanest it would become for their match. Somewhere up above, Ekaterina could make out the faint outline of a box that seemed to materialize from the wall. No one would notice without actually looking for it. It hid itself well. Shaking her bob slightly, Katty blinked several times in rapid succession. What was wrong with her focus?
She scowled, not able to keep her true feelings underneath the surface anymore. She should have felt sickly satisfied that she could go head to head against Gypsy and win, but this one was different. Katty was sure of it.
Stepping onto the mat, Katty began a few loosening stretches to get her muscles warm, all the while keeping her eyes trained on the smaller figure ahead of her. Gypsy had bared herself of her jacket, clad only in a black tank that showed off her muscles and copper skin with her prominent collarbone protruding and tight sweatpants drawn closely to her ankles. She left nothing to hang off of or get ahold of during the fight. She was lean and muscled, faint scars etching places on her skin that her random spray of freckles hadn’t covered. What had she been through?
Bouncing back and forth between her left and right foot, Gypsy rolled her shoulders back to ease her tensions, her muscled shoulders flexing briefly. Her eyes glowed against her darkness, her lips narrowing further in concentration.
Katty was not aware of the rest of their brief warmup, but the match had begun before her mind could comprehend the bell ringing.
There was not anyone else besides Gypsy and herself. Bouncing between each foot, Gypsy concentrated on Katty’s middle and lunged before Katty would have anticipated. Attacking first had never been her style, but this time, she seemed to have different tactics at first. She fell back easily into her style once she had landed her first three blows, fully rattling Katty. Scowling darkly, Katty felt her instincts take over. She swiped her legs underneath the quick feet of her gypsied companion, knocking her off of her balance. Slamming down her forearm against Gypsy’s throat, she kneed her in the gut and scrambled to get her right arm restrained before she could land a blow. Gypsy was too quick for her.
A fist slammed into Katty’s unprotected side, her breath leaving her body with a satisfying whoosh. Sucking wind, Katty was thrown from Gypsy’s tight body and slammed down into the mat. Soot burned into her skin as she scrambled up to her feet. Gypsy was already on her feet but she seemed slowed for some reason. Her attack came like liquid honey. Hurriedly, Katty ducked her punch and head-butted her backwards. She felt something pop within her opponent, and Gypsy let out a pained half scream before staggering backwards. Gypsy’s face turned a sickly white, her freckles standing out sharply, eyes flashing brightly before dulling as her eyelids closed. She fell backwards, clutching her middle where Katty must have broken something or heavily bruised it.
Heart hammering within her, Katty stared at the figure barely twitching on the floor and let her breath out that she must have been holding the entire time. Oxygen rushed into her system as the nervousness flowed out. She couldn’t help a satisfied smirk. She had won.
Medics rushed to Gypsy’s motionless body on the mat’s corner, but Katty had already exited. She had won and that was all she cared about. Her legacy was still intact. No losses besides Sholto. With a pang, she realized the hatred that had bubbled up within her at her first and only loss versus her teammate. That had begun the long hatred for the tall, young man although Katty often attributed it to his horrible attitude. No one particularly cared that she hated him or her reasons; but her justification wasn’t that she was bitter that she had lost but that it was his fault for being a smug, know-it-all tag. Wincing slightly, Katty scooped up her belongings and returned quickly to the locker room. Wasn’t that what she was? Her rebuke of herself echoed in her mind. She shook this feeling off as she stripped to get in the showers.
It didn’t matter. Gypsy was a part of the rest of them and they would all burn. It didn’t matter who she was anyway.
It didn’t matter who Ekaterina turned into either to get her goals.
At least, she told herself that.