Leon wouldn't have to wait long until someone else showed up. “Hey Leon.” Sarah said walking up to him her normal coveralls clothing replaced with a punch rock t-shirt and jeans. “How you doing this morning. Nodding to he Leon to out his head phone and returned the greeting.
“Morning and doing fine thanks” He talk to Sarah a few times before and she seemed to be very friendly. She mostly helped out Jake and Bill and seemed very interested in Seraphim. “How about yourself?”
“Fine thanks. Someone should be by soon to let us in. You ready for a fun day?” She asked placing one of her hands on his hip.
Nodding he looked back toward the school. “Yep thought I can't say I the biggest fan of large crowds.”
“Well you need to get uses to it as you’re going to be center stage.”
“The team is going to be remember that we also compete to see who get to be on the starter team.”
“O please we all know who that going to be. Molly doesn't have a chance of being beaten neither dose Tatsuya or you. You three are like all top tier. The last slot is the only one open but I pretty sure I know who going to take it.”
“Of course, who else has one of the most amazing gear I ever seen. There not a gear out there that has the kind of power that Seraphim has. Even Molly own Red Death isn’t as stronger as him.”
“Gear aren't what make a match.” He laughed thinking on his own gear.
“Well no but I never seen someone learn as quickly as Lilly. Molly better be careful or she may meet her match on the field. Yes, Seraphim bigger target and suffer in some spot but his armor and speed make up for it. Even Molly would have trouble trying to keep way for Seraphim as it can out run her. She would have to get a lucky early shot and that even harder as Seraphim armor is more likely to bonus her shot then punch.”
“I see your point but still.”
“Just you wait I bet you a lunch that Lilly will be the first to defeat Molly.”
Thinking about it Leon smiled as he shrugged. She was right that Lilly had a gear most could only dream of but even then Molly skills and year of practice made it seem pretty unlikely. “Okay I take that bet.” Just then everyone else started showing up. “Anyway, we'll talk more later let's get to work.” Nodding both head out to help out in any way posable.
Loading everything up into trucks was the easy part. The harder part was getting gear loaded up. The biggest problem was Seraphim. Since Lilly wasn't around no one could pilot it. It odd set up was beond him and plus no one had the key card. “We could have Sora move it.” Roland said shrugging. “I’m not touching some else Gear. It not polite to do so and bad juju” Leon had forgotten that Sora was in the gear as Molly and himself kept them around more.
“That must get lonely.” He said looking up at the gear. “Well what do you expect most people don’t carry their AI in the back of their head.” Roland replied. “Yumi has the hanger and can be moved easily then Sola.” he was right as Sola was more hardline then other and it wasn’t like Lilly could easily take her around like Yumi and Roland.
After a quick chat with Sola and a call to Jake as Lilly didn’t pick up her phone, they got Seraphim onto the truck. Shortly after that they started moving to the school. The group split up shortly before arriving. The truck with the gear headed to the field and hander used before battle while everyone else went to the schools' part to help start setting up table. Many other groups had beaten them and had already started setting up. They would have an hour to start setting up before people would start showing up. Lucky enough it was quick setup as Molly had said she wanted it to be simple. It had a few tables with poster and picture of teams past, event and other things alike and most importantly the date of the first match.
Leon was given his own board to set up about himself. With the help of Roland and a projector he was able to show old pictures and Metals for his early days as a gear polit. He even had a slideshow setup for himself. He would stand by it so if people wanted to talk to him about his gear or even his training. He didn’t need to do his own thing until mid-day so he would be around for quite a bit until then helping in anyway or talking to people that came and went. “So, everything seems ready than. Anything else you need before the crowed gets busy?”
[b “See you at 5:30. Make sure to get some sleep.”]
Molly said it with a smile before she made her way out the door and to the elevator. She heard his door shut behind her only after she was in the elevator, and after that nothing but the muzak. It was an easy enough thing to tolerate for the short ride down from the seventh floor, although it did give her a lot of time to think about what just happened.
The only other stop before getting back to the hangar was a quick good evening from William the doorman. It was a bit of a surprise to see someone like him working as a doorman, but given the establishment it was not as galling as it could be. All it did was make Molly more confident that there was something shady about the arrangement Leon had. Still she would not judge him as she pulled up to a Gear hangar that was paid for by a corporate tyrant.
The first order of business once she got home was to get Yumi reinstalled into the system. Followed by a quick check of the locks while Yumi got reacquainted with her less dimensional graphical displays. Something that Molly was keenly aware she was about to have an argument about as Yumi switched to a lab coat and brought out a whiteboard on the display.
[b “You don't even know what I was going to say.”]
[b “You were going to ask me to install a holosystem for the hangar. Just like the last time I let you play around in one. Yumi you know how much they cost.”]
[b “Do you honestly think Yoichi wouldn't buy one for his cute granddaughter? Especially when she has such a cute artificial intelligence?”]
Molly just leveled a strong look at Yumi who put on the best puppy dog eyes she could. Their stare down lasted almost a full minute before Yumi finally conceded and switched back to her usual uniform to pout about it.
[b “Look, I'll make a deal with you. If you can get Lilly to beat the week thirteen program I'll talk to gramps about it. How does that sound?”]
[b “The week thirteen program? Kenta and Yohei never cleared that one.”]
[b “Take it or leave it.”]
Yumi narrowed her gaze for a moment before smiling. [b “Challenge accepted.”]
[b “Good. Oh, and before I go to bed for the night; find out how much one of those apartments cost.”]
[b “Are you sure you want to know the answer?”]
[b “Not really, but do it anyway.”]
Molly gave a wave to Yumi after that before making her way upstairs for her nightly routine before bed. Usually with something so exciting the next day she would have to do some practicing in the simulator to wear herself out, but after their sparring match Molly was more than ready for bed. Something proven by the fact that it took her no time at all to fall asleep after her head hit the pillow.
Molly awoke with a groan to her usual expletive laden alarm song. One that she shut off with no fumbling around her nightstand this time around. Although she still let out another groan as she crawled her way out of the comfort of her warm and inviting bed.
She had no time to so much as change though before there was a loud knock on her apartment door. [b “Fuck!”]
Even in her groggy state Molly was still to the front door in just a few seconds and slammed it open to find Satsuki with a large bag, along with Ryosuke who was standing just behind her. Molly's groggy state did nothing to hinder the glare that she leveled at them. They might have keys to the hangar, but she was not happy to be interrupted.
[b “I thought you might want to have breakfast with us,”] Satsuki said as she held up the large bag with her trembling hands.
Molly pinched the bridge of her nose and took a deep breath before giving her reply. [b “I hate surprises. Tell me about plans like this.”]
Satsuki gave a shaky nod as Molly breathed a sigh of relief. [b “Let me go get washed up. You know where everything is.”]
Molly took a quick shower before getting changed into appropriate work clothes; while Satsuki dished up their breakfast. She would mostly be supervising given who all was involved, but she wanted to be able to get her hands dirty if need be. Plus it would make changing for the festival itself easier; even if she was not exactly looking forward to what Satsuki had prepared for her to wear.
While they were enjoying the breakfast that Satsuki had brought for them; Tatsuya arrived to find Leon waiting outside the hangar. Understandable as there were only a few key holders for Molly's hangar, but he had to wonder if Leon should be one of them. A question he shrugged off shortly after as above his pay grade before making his way into the hangar just ahead of the rest of the mechanic crew.
Once all the on time arrivals were gathered together Molly started issuing orders to get everything they hadn't moved yet into the trucks. Ryosuke made sure to help by coordinating the mechanics that were under his purview. While Satsuki made sure that everyone was properly taken care of in terms of health and that they did not leave anything behind. All together the preparation to move over to the school did not take long, and so they would have plenty of time to set the booth up the way Molly saw fit.
Glad that she didn’t seem to catch what he had said. Laughing a bit, he looked at his bottle that was a forth gone. “I be fine to meet up at five thirdly. Trust me I could finish that whole bottle and be fine. Used to be a major drinker and still have the tolerance.” Walking back to the table he quickly cleaned it up as he looked at the clock. “Okay and your welcome. Definitely any time.” He walked her to the door and opened it for her. He would have walked her to her car but he felt like it would be nothing but awkward as she had parked at his gym. “Have a good night and see you in the morning.” Waiting a few second after she left, he closed his and let out a low silent scream. “I can't believe it.” He said to no one.
“What that you totally embarrassed yourself in front of the girl you like.” Roland said showing up on the holo system that Yumi had used a few second before. He finished up with Yuma a few second before she had been pulled. “God why can't he just wow her and get it over with.” He had said to her. “And thanks, but no as most of this is off limit to civilian AI. Plus, this coding is mostly encrypted and unless you have the key installed into your own program you can’t access it.” He had also noticed that the other two seemed to be wrapping so he stopped to force on her. “Here have this.” Opening he handed her what looked like a Rubik's Cube. “It’s a game I came up with. To unlock it you have decode a random set of number before you can move it. Once you make an action the code resets and you a have to do it over again. One you crack the cube a prize awaits you. Take it as a thank you for all you hard work these last few weeks. I couldn’t have done all that programing for Sora and the gear without your help”
Shortly after she had been pulled and left Roland and Leon alone. “She may be the most annoy AI I met when it comes to controlling thing but she not that bad.” Leon laughed a bit moving to his room. “Seem you made a friend the?” He asked. “More like an AI I don’t mind still hate everyone else.” Rolling his eye Leon went to bed the evening event replaying in his head.
The next morning Lilly woke up to find herself alone in her own room covered in her stuffed animals. Any time she had an attack her brother would take time to tuck her in with her “friends”. Growing she pushed herself up and looked at the clock. Five fourth five. She had an hour before she had to be in class. Looking at her phone she had a text form him. It was instructions on what to wear. Seeing she have time to take a shower she crawled to her closet and quickly found what she was told to wear. A long sleeve shirt and skirt that went to her ankles. Putting on the matching shoes and letting her hair flow free around her shoulder.
Once she was dressed and ready to go, she grabbed a few apples form the kitchen and headed to school. Taking her bike, it was a short drive to school as she seemed more spaced out then normal. Once she arrived she parked in her normal spot and headed in side. On the north side of school witch, she was on was empty as the festival was taking place on the South side. She could faintly make out the noise of the festival in the back ground. She wished anything that she couldn’t go join in the fun but she knew she couldn’t.
Sighing she moved inside and grabbed the elevator to the third floor. She then went to a class room that was still dark. Upon entering she heard. “You’re late.” Bowing her head she tried to say. “Sorry Mr. Gray but I woke...”
“Enough I don’t want to hear your excuses. I gave you a time and you failed to show up on time.” Bowing her head lower at her scolding Lilly said nothing. “We will deal with that punishment later but for now let get started.” Shivering a bit Lilly nodded. “Yes Mr. Gray.” Was all she said.
Leon awoke before his alarm an annoying habit he hated. Turning it off he got up and took another quick shower before dressing in his normal t-shirt and jeans. Taking a few second to stretch out his swore mussels form yesterday fight he put in his headphone and head down to his car. It was bit longer of a drive for him then anyone in the team as he lived on the far side of town. Stopping by a drive throw for breakfast he arrived ten minutes early then the time said to. “If you're on time your late if you’re early you're on time.” He said smiling to himself. Leaning against his car with his headphone in and a good stream of heavy metal playing he waited for the other to show up and join him.
Yumi did not react as Roland misinterpreted her statement, as it was close enough that she did not mind him taking it as an insult. She did however focus in with keen attention when he brought up the memory usage as it was that breakdown that would tell her who was right. Unfortunately it was a bit of both as she recognized the system limitations were more strict than she was used to for holographic projections. Molly's grandfather's system had quite a bit more horsepower to it so to speak, and so the hair and outfit physics of her usual program were causing a heavier load than her portion could handle. An unfortunate aftereffect of Molly either forgetting to or choosing not to plug in her expansion.
Still it was an easy enough fix as she had a mini version of the program that used a far simpler system for her hair physics. The mini program dropped the graphical quality of her projection a noticeable amount, but it should keep her host happy. Thinking about things it made sense that Roland would not have as robust a system as Molly's grandfather since he had a far simpler appearance the drain from his projection was significantly less than that of her own. She would not mention any of this though as the reason the problem came up was because of the added difficulties caused by her more expressive outfit.
[b “I doubt Leon makes a move and Molly's mind is elsewhere,”] Yumi said as she made a few more alterations to reduce her load on the system. [b “So would you like my help with your programming work?”]
Molly was fine with Leon keeping his secrets as she had said. The fact that a lot of those secrets were redacted military action just made it all the more justified in her mind. There was no reason for him to risk his freedom or good standing just so that he could tell her about what he went through during the war. She would rather get to know Leon the civilian anyway since that is who she hoped to work with most of all.
After all of the talk of redacted military secrets though she was not at all expecting his response to her showing off. A remark about him being at a disadvantage, sure, but not a blatant comment on her attractiveness. She was comfortable enough to keep from flushing from the statement, however she was thankful to have the water close at hand to help out. Even as Leon stood up and turned his attention away from her she kept the water in hand for her own comfort.
Her shoulders relaxed some as he continued to speak and in the process changed the subject. A smile spreading across her face as he expressed his gratitude for being a part of Team Devil Bats. It made her wonder though if there was ever a moment like that between grandfather and grandmother as they were both a part of the original Devil Bats.
While they were having their frank discussion Yumi was busy making sure that any pictures Roland took would not include anything that Molly would not want to be seen of herself. A benefit of both the holosystem and the fact that she was in charge of two-fifths of the system memory. If he wanted to embarrass his partner she was not about to stop him, but she drew the line at him doing anything that might hurt Molly. Only partially because she knew that if Molly found out that she did nothing that she would be reprimanded for it.
There was a moment of silence after that as Molly finished off her water. After what he had said she worried if she opened her mouth it would be to say something snarky, and after all of their talks that is the last thing she wanted to do. He may have left an opening larger than the Grand Canyon, but that did not mean that she had to jump on it. Thankfully it did not take very long for Leon to change the subject again himself and in a way that made things very easy for her.
His mention of the festival reminded her of what Satsuki had prepared for her to soften her image for the upcoming tournament. She considered telling him about it for just a moment before an idea struck her. While it was a brilliant idea in her mind the fact that it put a confident smile on her face and relaxed her posture almost certainly told Leon that something had changed. He would not get to know what until tomorrow though as Molly was quick to go along with his subject change.
[b “Since the festival opens at seven we want the booth to be ready ahead of time. I'll be getting up at five to get everything out the door in time. If you want to help with that you can meet us at the hangar around five thirty, or if that's too early given your drinks you can just meet us at the school at six.”]
She had no idea of what his tolerance for alcohol was like, but she did not want him to push himself if he was going to be hungover in the morning. Especially with the idea she had in mind for him as she would want him at his best to confirm something for her. It would make their working together a great deal easier if she could prove it to herself one way or another. That and having another able body to help out in the morning would make things easier either way.
[b “Speaking of the festival, I should probably get out of here so you can get some sleep. I've got to get back to the hangar to get things ready anyway,”] Molly said as she stepped around the chair to get to her bag. [b “Thanks again for the dinner, and for the fun match. We'll have to do this again sometime.”]
Molly made sure to flash him a smile with that before getting Yumi ready to disconnect from the system. Something that caused her to visibly pout for a moment before her display disappeared. She was always happy to get to show off in three dimensional space and Molly had always declined her requests to install such a system in the hangar given the space involved.
“is anything normal about our group.” Leon would laugh sitting back again thing about everyone in the team. Each seem to have a unique or quirky personality. “And don’t worry I don’t mind everyone need a way to distress and if that is something, I can do that for you. I would be more than happy to.” He knew from some of the story that people told him that she indeed had a bad temper but he wanted to get to know it and be able to help calm her back down. Everyone need a rock he had his in the team and he had hoped to be her. He knew he had a low chance in that but still had to try.
“I see, well whatever about the only other outfit is my dress blue and I don’t where them anymore.” Roland said still not paying her much attention. Then suddenly he stopped what he was doing to turn and look around at the AI behind him. “You can be serious I have fully controlled this area for three months and your dare blame me for using more memory in my own system then I know I using.” He suddenly pulled up a screen that showed both of their memory usage. “Your using the other 40% that I left you after I started my programing. Between using my Holosystem and your inconsistent mind you drag more than you think.” He turned back around as he went back to work. “And if you must know I having to update all most every system on Firefly my gear as I been lacking in doing it as I been helping you and Molly programing Lilly Gear and Sora. No offense to he be she was pretty back words.” He then let the information screen flow in fount of her. It was quick as he quickly upload and download new program and coding to his hard drives. “Do you thinking these two will do anything or just sit there and talk all night?” He asked talking a quick look at Molly and Leon.
Back with them Leon would smile happy that Molly would agree so easy to him just being a normal person. It felt nice having someone to talk to again and who wouldn’t treat him any deferent. “Thank for understanding to be honset again there not much more I can truly say. A lot of what we did is covered in black ink. I proimes that I tell you someday I just wanted to let you know so if I ever seem off or far off that that why.” What happened next, he wasn’t ready for. Molly would lift her shirt showing off her belly. This caused him to light up bright red as he had no idea how they got to this. He was quick to recover once she started talking again thankfully. “To be real that just me. I seen some crazy things in my time and a hot girl with a sexy body isn't much. You are you and I wouldn’t never judge what you choose to do.”
Standing up himself he walked to the window and looked out. “Truly I thank you for that it more than I ever wanted from friends and comrades. Plus, don’t worry I will bring up anything like that before it becomes a problem.” He didn’t stand up to look cool or anything no he had to hide his face after what he just said. Yes the alcohol help him came her nerves but it had made him slip up. He just called her hot and her body sexy. ’God I’m such an idiot we were talking so serious and then I let that slip. Roland must be laughing his ass off.
And laughing his ass off he was as he heard him and stopped his work. He gotten many picture and was setting himself off a phone Album to send to someone who he knew would enjoy it.
Waiting for his face to calm down Leon stood there trying to think of something anything to say to feel the silence. He didn’t know how long he just stood there looking out at the window looking over the city. “he he so what time should I show up tomorrow?” He finally said he knew it was week but it was all he could think of. ‘Dam it Leon grow a spine.’ He said to himself and he finally turned back around.
This was not the response that Molly had expected to get from Leon after her statement. It was a welcome change from what she had expected as he seemed happy to step up to the plate for her and the team. He was former military so he had clearly carried his fair share of burdens in the past, but the fact that he was willing to do so for her so soon after he joined her team was impressive. Even if it felt a bit strange after what she had to do to inspire loyalty in the past.
The idea that Lilly would demonstrate a similar loyalty was not entirely surprising given her circumstances, but the fact that it was Leon suggesting it made it feel more real. He had spent the most time with Lilly besides herself and for him to see that spirit was a good sign. Even with her own burdens to bear Lilly had proved to be a reliable teammate. Given how hard the two of them had worked it almost made Molly thankful that her former subordinates had screwed up.
[b “That is a hell of a thing to offer.”]
While Molly was listening to Leon; Yumi was getting her own share of information from his artificial intelligence half. It seemed Roland's concern with the neighbors was based on history, and the fact that their neighbors seemed to complain so much made Yumi thankful that Molly's hangar did not have such struggles. If they had neighbors that could peek in or hear them there would almost certainly be complaints about Molly's behavior. Of course Molly's hangar was not in as nice a neighborhood as Leon's apartment seemed to be.
[b “You are welcome. I can see how that would be annoying.”]
Yumi paused for a moment at his next question as there were several answers she could provide. However she did not want to say anything that would leave Molly feeling exposed. [b “A person should be prepared for any situation and an artificial intelligence is no different. Regarding where I got them it is the custom work of my creator and myself.”]
His last line struck a chord with her though as she was confident she was not fidgeting enough to cause any form of memory drain. Unless their holographic system had been improperly setup which seemed unlikely, or if Roland was using far more than she would expect for some simple programming work. She was not about to just take his statement in stride either given the implications.
[b “I promise you that my program is efficient enough that there should be no drain on your resources. So either you have some faulty components somewhere, or you are up to something that is much too big for you. Mind telling me what?”]
Leon poured himself another glass as he continued to explain himself to Molly. This time by writing off his need for special treatment by explaining his own eccentricities. Hearing him lay it all out like that reminded her of her time taking Lilly to her appointment with that less than pleasant doctor. He may be right that he was not normal, but neither was she, and so she wanted to be sure he was aware that he could still feel at home with the team.
[b “You may not be normal, but you'd never know it from looking at you. Besides I think normal is overrated anyway. No one on our team is exactly normal, but I don't want any of you to feel like an outcast on the team. We may not fit in well with the rest of society, but we fit in well with each other which is what matters.”]
What followed that was a far heavier subject matter than she had expected to deal with on a trip that started with them sparring to relieve tension. Molly had dealt with some difficulties in her life, but she had never faced anything close to a combat zone. So the idea that he would not expect to get out of such a situation alive did not sound odd to her at all. Everyone wants to say that in a situation like that they would step up and be a hero that would lead their side to victory, but Molly was not so foolish as to believe that she would have been any different. Well she probably would have had a longer outlook, but only because the future has always been a thing that gave her hope.
The war he spoke of was one that she was not unfamiliar with even as a civilian. She had done her due diligence when he had applied to her team after all, and the dates lined up that he would have been involved in it. Still she mostly had journalists accounts to work with in getting an image of what he went through. That and the knowledge that war is hell that she had learned from just about every war that she had studied through her time in school.
The fact that after all of that he just wanted to be treated like anyone else was an understandable one. It also made Molly's job that much easier as she already had one teammate that she probably worried about too much. She would readily take it on if it meant keeping this promising team together, but the fact that he seemed to be adapting well was a promising one to her.
[b “That I can do. Promise.”]
Her face faltered though as he left the floor open to her for any questions that she might have for him after his speech. He had been through a terrible war that had left him with scars both obvious and obscure. There were plenty of questions that she could ask him, but there were no answers to those questions that she would be happy to hear. Still she knew she had to say something about it as he clearly left it open for her.
[b “Leon I'm not going to push you to tell me anything. We all have our own burdens to bear and our own skeletons to hide. If there is anything you want to tell me I will hear you out, but you don't have to tell me a damn thing.”]
Molly stood up at that point to help demonstrate her point even going so far as to lift her shirt to show her toned stomach. [b “Look at me Leon. Even with my muscle I know I'm not what you'd picture when you think of a mixed martial artist, but I beat you all the same. You didn't ask me why I knew how to do that, why I'd put in the effort to learn all of that, or anything like that. Just accepted that that is who I am and moved on.”]
[b “It's the same thing here. You are you and I am me. If you want to tell me more I'll hear you out, but don't feel like you owe me anything in that regard.”]
Molly paused a second after she dropped her shirt. [b “Unless it is going to impact our work together; then maybe let me know ahead of time if you can.”]
She gave a bit of an awkward chuckle at that before picking up her water. That whole experience left her feeling a bit dry, and so she was happy to have some liquid she could easily down. Especially as it left it on Leon to fill the silence if he felt it necessary.
Leon nodded. “Thank I think I can rest easy knowing that I got you on my side.” He knew it sounded cheesy but he couldn’t think of anything better. Returning to the couch he placed two water bottles and the bottle of jack. He forgot that drinking age in Japan was different form the US and had forgot that Molly could drink. Taking a sip of his own glass he listened to what Molly had to say. His face didn’t change but kept an interested expression. He knew some of this from story and what Lilly and Tatsya had told him.
“Well if we are being straight then I don’t mind.” He said laying back into couch again. “You got a lot on your shoulder with everything. Especially since you're doing this for more than fun. I respect that and will give it my all to make it easier. I sure Lilly would do the same so don’t worry about it do what best for you. I support any way I can and if you need someone to hit then I’ll be happy to help relieve any pent-up stress.” He said keeping his eyes locked with hers.
Roland laughed as he took a secret phone for later. Sending a copy to Yumi to use how every she wished. “Thank for covering up truest me the neighbors complain about everything and it may sound mean but I doing what best for my home and master. Also, why do you have so many outfits what that a program thing or something you add?” It seemed odd to him that an AI would have such thing. Sure, he could change his own image but he like that bomber men look and didn’t change it often. “As stop acting so fidgety I can feel my memory draining because of it. If you wanna help your master with Leon then do so I don’t care I got work to do and only watching because it funny.”
Finishing his first glass he poured another one. The licker making easy to keep his nerves about him. “And thank you but you don’t need to change anything for my sake. It just enough for me to be part of a team and have friends again. Plus what part of me is normal. I’m an American that used to be in the army and have and over hyper AI that lives in his head. I’m shy and can barely take to girls without getting flustered.” He laughed a bit at that word. Normal.
“To be honested I don’t know what to do with myself. I believed I would die before getting out odd as that may seem. I lived almost two year in a combat zone and you don’t see much farther than the next hour.” He was a bit hesitant to keep going but she at least had a right to know. “And if you are being honest then I should to. Just note that a lot of the stuff I can't take about. Not because I don’t trust you or don’t want to but because I was told I couldn’t. I’m under oath to never speak of what I saw but this is what I can tell you.” He sat up and looked down at that floor.
“I served in the Second Korean War. Short after the North invaded the south my unit was sent in to help hold the line until the US could send more help. To put a long story short, it didn’t go well at first we lost a lot of men and many friends. Even when we were finally able to turn the fight in our favor we still got hit hard. I know on the news it said that we stomped the North but in true we didn’t. I during that whole thing I was someone you won't recognize. I’m still recovering but for the most part I healed. I thought you should know to understand why I am the way I am.” A sad smile came to his face at the end. “So just know having you Lilly and everyone else around make me feel better and more comfortable. Just keep treating me like you would anyone and I be happy.” He finished his second glass and without thinking pored himself a third. He been a big drink in the army so it would take several more glass before he would feel it hit him.
“I sure you have question and feel free to ask just know that I may not be able to answer them all.”
Molly considered making a comment about the fanciness of his apartment, but Leon seemed unsettled enough that she kept her mouth shut. The fact that he would want to do better though made it easy to see how he was an an unintentional lady killer. He had a good physique as she learned clearly during their sparring match. Along with a decent enough personality to get people interested in him.
[b “Relax. I appreciate it.”]
Yumi kept her grin on her face as she kept in contact with Roland via their private messaging system. It was worth her time as Roland revealed that Leon had had a change of heart sometime in the past year that made him the awkward mess that she was cheering on. She appreciated that information even if it came with a comment about her unique design.
[b “I don't have legs, but I'll see what I can do.”]
Her inspiration was from a manga that was technically aimed at children, but to be fair it was one that routinely generated controversy for being a bit too dark for them. Still she wanted to be a gracious guest even to the rude Roland so she would do what she could. There were a few outfit programs she had that would at least give her the appearance of legs.
Scrolling through her outfit programs meant she was not able to say anything when Leon began to babble. It seemed genuinely heartfelt as far as the artificial intelligence could tell, but it was not exactly the most coherent compliments in the world. Still Molly seemed to take it well as she flushed a little at the unexpected praise.
Molly took it all in as best she could without interrupting as Leon's train continued along a few changes of course. She was not about to turn down praise of herself even if some of it did make her feel bad for him. The idea of someone being caring and kind being seen as an outlier rather than the norm was a sad one. It felt as though he had clearly seen much worse people in his travels than she had, and it clearly left a mark on his perception.
[b “I've got yours,”] Molly said quietly at the apparent end of his speech.
The rule of thumb she had learned in her experiences was that perception was reality. If he perceived her well that was for the best for obvious reasons, but seeing a world where caring and kindness were uncommon would certainly be a difficult world to live in. Just the fact that he had clearly done so for a while was enough to impress her, however it was something she hoped to rectify if she could. Another problem for her to tackle for her team, and yet another way for her to avoid her own issues.
Before she could say anything more about it though he excused himself to offer her a drink. She was only a little surprised that he did not offer her anything alcoholic given the circumstances. It made her wonder if Leon was just trying to be a good influence, or if he even was a drinker. Not exactly something she would ask him about given the amount of landmines such a question could stumble into, but after his previous speech it did leave her to ponder it.
[b “Water would be great. Thanks.”]
While Molly was left to think about how her host was getting along; Yumi got to hear some playful banter from her own host Roland. Yumi was aware that her master had taken a bit of a different understanding of his speech though. Whatever reason it might be it seemed that she was not able to see through Leon's awkward activities. If not for Roland's presence she would consider stepping in to help them both out, but she was not about to expose any of her or Molly's inner thoughts to Roland if she could avoid it.
Molly took the break in conversation as an opportunity to finish eating the meal that Leon had bought for her. It was a nice gesture that she intended to repay despite the fact that she had done similar on a few occasions by now. A bad habit of hers was always wanting to do more for her friends than they did for her; probably because of her upbringing, but still a bad habit nonetheless to see it as a kind of competition. Since being competitive was another of her habits it did not go together well.
Thankfully she was broken out of this negative thought train by the sight of Yumi in her winter attire. Molly raised an eyebrow at it but Yumi just swept her arm in front of her pants to justify the change. If she wanted to have the appearance of legs she was allowed to make that decision herself; Molly was not about to tell her to change. Luckily their nonverbal conversation was over when Leon got back with their drinks. Which included one that answered an earlier question of hers to a degree.
[b “Thank you, and thanks for the meal. It was good.”]
Molly took the presented opportunity to sip her water to avoid having to come up with something more to say immediately after Leon got back. There was no point to rush what she wanted to say when there was a logical reason they were not filling the silence. Still it did not take long for her to set the drink down and focus her attention on him.
[b “Look I'll be straight with you Leon; I'm not half as nice as you think I am. Ask Satsuki or Tatsuya and they'll tell you that you don't want to see me when shit's going wrong. I'll be honest if things are going bad for the team I'll be the first to hold myself accountable, but everyone is going to be held accountable in the way I see fit. Hell ask Lilly and she'll tell you what kind of taskmaster I can be.”]
[b “All that said; if you need more help to adjust let me know. I don't want you to be uncomfortable with our team even if it isn't exactly filled with the most normal people. You may just be here for schooling or may be looking to live here full time, but either way you deserve to feel at home here. Just let me know what I can do to help make that happen, okay?”]
Molly comment would make him blush as he tried his best to keep his emotions under control. He went over several thing idea of what to say but went with the best one he could. “Well if I had I would have taken you some where more fancy then my dull apartment.” To be honest to himself he would have no idea where to take Molly on a real date if he ever had the courage to ask her. “Sorry if this seemed a bit awkward, I use to buying dinner after coming home and figured you be hungry as well.”
“Man, he killing me.” Roland would say to Yumi in their privet chat room. “It crazy to think a year ago he would have no issue asking Molly out. Then again, I don’t think she would happy or interested in a guy that act cocky and rude.” Roland was working on some coding at the same time only paying a bit of attention to the two. “Also, if you're going to use my rail system would you please put legs on, I don’t need the neighbor complaining because their kids are having nightmares because they see you standing in the window with no legs.”
“I still getting used to this whole civilian life style to be honest. I lived so long with rank and structure that I hard to get out of that kind of thinking. I'm so lucky I got you and the other back at the hanger to put up with me.” He finished his meal as he leaned back into the couch. “I nice really that I was able to get along with everyone and they treat me like a normal person. I think that got a lot to deal with you so thanks. The way you lead from the front and demand only the best from your team is amazing.” He closed his eyes with a smile. “You may not see it a lot but Lilly really looks up to you. She reminders me of a little puppy following around the big dog wanting to be like it.” This made him laugh as even with Lilly in a chair she was almost taller than Molly. Opening he eyes and sitting back up he smiled as he looked at Molly. “And I trust you a well you shown me you're not like most people. You are caring and kind to your friend and comrades. We still may not know much about each other but know I got your back until the end.”
Roland whistled as Leon had caught him by surprise. “Well maybe your right.” He said to Yumi laughing a bit. “You may not be able to protect her from that charm.” he knew what she meant but it was still funny to him.
Leon did his best to keep his voice even and calm making it look like he said it with some kind of courage final he said. “Any way I never offered you anything drink. That was rude of me would you like anything. I got water some sweet tea or some juice.” He stood up and walked over to a small bar and pulled him some Jack and coke to help calm his nerves. Taking a small sip, it helped him finally get himself under control after saying something so embarrassing as that. ‘She must I such wiredo for saying something like that.’ he thought to himself.
Molly just waved off his concerns as she knew the man from experience enough to know that he was not the invincible being he claimed to be in his glorified advertisement. She would prepare for him just as she would any of her other opponents. He was not so dangerous in her eyes to deserve special treatment as of yet, but of course that could change based on how the season progressed. If you asked anyone at the start of the last tournament if they were worried about her they would surely have written her off as a rookie, but they had a podium finish all the same.
Molly's shoulders slumped a bit at the response to her question, but it did not last long as he followed it up with an interesting offer. [b “Are you sure?”]
She did not take him for the kind to casually invite his boss over to his apartment, or the type to have a spare room to be honest. Still it was a welcome offer to avoid having to drive home after building up such a sweat. Unknown to her it was an offer that drew Roland's approval as he gave a thumbs up and a wink behind her back as she was busy putting on a hoodie to cover up before they went outside. His act did not go unnoticed by Yumi though who gave her own nod of approval to the brave offer by the young man.
[b “If you're sure.”]
Molly would normally be a bit more reserved going to a man's house like this, but after their fight she was far more comfortable. It helped knowing that if need be she could beat him in hand to hand combat, and in a dangerous situation she knew she was far more frightening than she might look. Still with how chastely he had behaved to this point she was not worried about him. Unfortunately for him it was partly because she doubted he had any interest.
Leon took the lead as they made their way down the street to his apartment. Molly looked at the surrounding buildings with only a bit of surprise registering on her face as she did. He had to be doing quite well for himself as retired military to be living in such a nice area she thought, but she made sure to keep it to herself as they approached his apartment building and its doorman. Seeing him she would have felt a bit under dressed if not for Leon's own attire.
She made sure to give a small bow to him before they made their way inside. Once inside her appraisal of the situation changed as she realized just how ritzy his apartment building was in fact. The answer to how he could afford it on a salary from such a small class was answered by it being a retirement gift from an old friend. Not the type of friend she would expect a member of the military to have as her mind immediately went to yakuza.
[b “I live in an apartment above a hangar I'm not about to judge,”] Molly said as she put her hands up.
The fact that he was a bit uncomfortable accepting such a lavish gift made her lean more into the yakuza theory, but just as she said she was not about to judge. She got most of her expensive things from her grandfather after all. He may not be yakuza, but the differences were not large enough for her to feel comfortable judging him about his own acquisitions.
[b “Thank you for having me.”]
It was not what she would normally say upon entering a home, but she figured it would sound better to Leon's ears. She could not be certain of it, but at least her international friends seemed to prefer it. Which was good enough for her to use in this circumstance as she slipped out of her shoes.
[b “Sounds good,”] Molly said with a small laugh as she took the time to plug Yumi in before heading to the guest bedroom.
Molly did a quick check for recording devices on her way into the bathroom as more a force of habit than anything else. It was a quick check since she brought her phone with her and one that proved unnecessary thankfully. So with towel in hand she made her way to the shower to clean up before the dinner that he had managed to rope her into having with him.
Since she could not exactly bring her phone into the shower with her she was left with plenty of time to think about the day. Which brought to mind her earlier conversation with Yumi where she had made a comment about her sparring match being a date with Leon. She had brushed it off initially as just some playful banter, but here she was back at his apartment. If it was intended to be a date he had clearly done a good job of it since they were about to have dinner together.
Being former military she would expect him to be more forward, but since he seemed to be a bit embarrassed about being seen without a shirt that might not be the case. Roland on the other hand would have almost certainly let something slip by now if that were his intent. Leon might be able to keep tight lips, but Roland was the exact type to sink ships in situations like this from Molly's perspective.
The thoughts were enough to keep her mind going though as she finished getting cleaned up. A quick change into a black outfit consisting of a sleeveless shirt and shorts that left her decent enough to join her host in the living room for the meal that he had ordered for them. One that he played off as soon as she arrived.
[b “Here I thought that you were doing all this just to get me to have dinner with you.”]
Molly just smirked at her own comment as she took a seat with only a cursory glance at the anime that he had playing in the background. Whether it was from her comment or something else she could see the maniacal grin on Yumi's face. Not unsettling to her, but it did make her wonder what had made her artificial intelligence so pleased.
[h3 [center Yumi]]After Leon stepped out, but before Molly had Yumi was sure to make use of her ability to move around his apartment. She had caught on a bit after the comments and was keen to see something entertaining for the evening. Especially after having spent it putting up with Roland so that he would not interrupt his partner putting the moves on her master.
[b “I know I usually protect Molly from danger, but I don't believe I have the type of protection that she will need tonight.”]
She managed to say it just moments before they heard the shower turn off. While she was happy to tease Leon she was not about to do something like that when Molly could hear them, as she knew what Molly was like. Besides if the young man wanted to pursue her he would have to do so himself.
Leon would just shrug. “Still there away some true in legend and I wouldn’t set him aside just yet.” Leon would say listening to both Molly and Roland. He wouldn’t never put it past someone to have a trick up his sleeve. “Just don’t get cocky if we do end up fighting him, I can tell that his cockiness is a act for the TV.” Point to a screen that Roland had frozen on. “Take a second look at his eye they are not of a man that don’t have a plan.”
That last question caught him off guard. “No haven't got on as I'm only renting this place.” He said picking up his own bag and placing a few things in it. Take a few second to build his courage he said “But I live a block down if you wanna use that.” Lucky her back was to Roland as he gave thumbs up and wink much to his disappoint. “It fine really as I got a spare room and shower.”
Packing up the rest of his own gear and pulling Roland and Yumi from their game. Handing Molly Yumi he returned Roland chip to his implant. With a quick and a shack of his head he could feel the calming felling of Roland in his head. Once he had everything picked up the lead Molly to the entrance before locking the door behind them.
“This way please.” He said leading the way to apartment what was just a block down. His heart was beating a mile a minute as he led the way. ‘O calm down you had girls over before.’ Roland said in his head. ‘Yea but not one that I liked.’ He replayed back. ‘Act normal and you will be fine.’ Roland laughted man if only Windy could see you she laughs her ass off. The great commander Kennedy frozen up at the idea of a girl coming to his room. The great commander Kennedy frozen up at the idea of a girl coming to his apartment.’ He felt a small amount relief in the fact that Molly could see his face as it would be the only give away that he was flustered.
After a short walk they came to a building about ten stories tall. An older man in a coat waited by the door of the building. “A Mr. Kenndy welcome back.” He said opening the door from the two. “Evening William how the kids?” Leon smiled shacking the man hand. “Good as normal thanks for asking. Would you like the normal for dinner this evening?”
“Please and could you send up a second. I going to have company for an hour or so. Thanks” He said handing the man a ten. “As you wish I have it up in ten.” He man bowed. “And welcome to the Phantom Apartments madam.”
Leading Molly to the elevator he pressed the seven floor botten. “Before you say anything yes I know this is extremely expensive Apartment but it was given to me as let say a retirement gift from an old friend of mine. Im well off but I couldn’t ever afford this on my own. I once asked to see my bill but they told me that I wasn’t allowed to as I would never take the room.” With a ding they arrived on the floor and he led them a few more feet before coming to a room with his name on it. Pulling out his key he unlocked his door and opened into a very fancy room.
The floor where a hardwood that let to one side of the apartment what had all windows overlooking the city. Furniture loosely spread out the room made up two couches and a 62-inch TV handing on one wall. An open kitchen sat in one corner and two doors lead deeper into the house. “Welcome to my home.” He said dropping his bag on couch. “Guest bedroom has its own bathroom that you can clean up in. You have to grab a towel from the closet but other than that you should be good.” Taking out Roland again he pugged in into a wall port as rock music started to play softly in the back room. “Also if you want there a second port if you wanna plug Yumi in. The room got full size projection and they can walk around freely. Don’t ask how long that took I don’t wanna talk about that hell.”
Walking off he went to take a quick shower and change into his normal jeans and t-shirt that she would be use to seeing him in. After getting dressed and ready he returned to his living room as their food arrived. Tipping the man, he pleased food on the coffee table and turned and some anime as he waited for Molly to return from her own bath. He knew she wasn’t stubbed and she would have question for him and he was ready to answer the one he could. “Welcome back food here if you want any.”
Leon opened with a series of light jabs from a standard boxing stance. After just a small series Molly felt confident enough to go for a grab; a confidence that was justified as she got a hold of an incoming jab. Once she had a firm grasp a feint of a throw gave her enough room to get off a flying armbar for a quick tap from Leon.
[b “You said not to hold anything back,”] Molly said with a smile and a shrug before getting into her stance for the second round.
The second round was not as ideal for her as Leon showed a blend of moves that allowed him to keep her at a distance. Whereas with just the boxing it was easy enough to predict her guards to go for an easy grab; the change up made it much more difficult for her to predict his actions. She did her best to keep up with the guard, but with one of the four fundamental forces of the universe helping him she could tell her guard was softening.
Thanks to her weakened guard Leon was able to connect with a strong roundhouse to her stomach. The force of the blow sent her sliding along the ground almost clear across the room before she dropped to her knees. Since the blow knocked the wind out of her Leon gave a moment to catch her breath before they got into position for the next round. Her stance was a bit looser this time to give her the mobility she would need against his blended assault.
During those first two rounds Yumi was getting acquainted with Roland's system and more specifically the area he called the game room. According to Roland it was an Army exclusive, although she had seen something similar at the Hackers Conference. Of course it was entirely possible that it was an Army design that they had stolen, or it could be they had been there with the designer and just were not aware of it.
[b “How nice,”] Yumi said not commenting on the sad suggestion of the man. If he wanted to expand on it he would do so without her pressing him, and given their circumstances she was confident he would rather not discuss something sad at the moment. [b “That sounds like an easy enough game for us to enjoy.”]
The third round went even worse for Molly than the second as she had not fully recovered from having the wind knocked out of her. Combined with her looser guard meant to protect her torso and Leon was able to break through her guard far faster. This time he connected with a lucky cross that sent her to the mat with no hesitation. An act that was followed by taunting from Leon that only served to make Molly see red.
Getting up for the fourth round Molly got to see that Leon was bouncing from foot to foot out of excitement. This time Molly opened with her own rush that Leon clearly was not expecting as she was able to get a solid elbow to his chest before he could react. An attack that shattered his guard giving her the opportunity to get a hold of him for a simple shoulder throw that left him flat on the mat.
Molly kept up the aggressive attack in the fifth round by going straight into the clinch to help her avoid his superior stand-up fighting. She was better than him in the clinch, but he was smart to work to keep his distance from her. At the sight of a potential opening Molly's attempted grab got countered by a hold that left her in a half nelson that forced her to tap out.
Even after the loss in the previous round Molly maintained her aggressive assault on Leon as she had proved it could work in the fourth round. Just like the round before he was smart about trying to keep his distance from her to make use of his advantages. Thanks to his size he had a reach advantage and a power advantage even with his safe striking style. Still she was confident enough in the clinch and in her ground game that she continued to rush in all the same.
Despite a couple of the rounds being quick they were both covered in a layer of sweat by now, and that would only serve to make it harder for her to get a good grasp on him. She knew she would have to get things over with in short order before that slipperiness became too much for her to overcome. Thankfully for her an opportunity presented itself as Leon went in for another half nelson that she was able to counter. Even with their combined sweat she was able to get a solid enough grip to perform a satisfactory armbar on him. That tap out leading to a tie with just one round left to go, and being that close to victory Molly was at her best.
Molly changed course in the seventh round as Leon was quick to circle her in preparation for an attack. Since he was the one doing all the work it gave her a bit more time to catch her breath and prepare her for when he finally took the initiative. When he finally did she was ready as she put up a defiant guard that aimed for a decisive counter at any presented opportunity. He was careful though to prevent her from getting many of them and was able to slip away the rare times he did. Leon even went so far as to rip his shirt off to get out of the first good grasp she got on him.
The sight of his scar covered torso had no real impact on Molly, although she did spend enough time looking at it that Leon almost connected with another lucky cross. She was able to get her guard up in time though to keep from being sent to the mat. After all of their fighting it seemed that his strikes were getting a bit soft and that meant that there would be an opportunity if she could keep her wits about her. She was the type of person that would always come through in clutch and was at her best when the spotlight was on her. So now that it was the final round she was at her best as she waited for him to present her an opportunity.
He was happy enough to oblige as he went for the same kick that won him his first point. While it worked then as her guard had weakened; it failed him this time as she was just waiting for it. A move that telegraphed was an easy one for her to counter when at full speed, and even rounds after his taunting still helped to motivate her. The fire inside burning at its hottest she was able to get a firm grasp thanks to his sweatpants and perform a textbook kneebar that forced him to tap out.
After that all that was left was for Molly to bask in her victory, and after all that he had put her through it was a well won victory for her. He was as tough an opponent as she had expected him to be, and just as she initially believed his outfit had helped her out on multiple occasions. There were at least two points that she relied on his loose clothing to get the point, but since it was his choice to come in with that she was comfortable with her win.
Laying on the ground she slowly removed her pads as she debated on when to take off her compression garments. While she was having that internal debate Leon started a laughing fit that lasted a full minute at least. One that drew a puzzled look from her as she waited patiently for him to explain himself and his outburst. The mention of the war drew a solemn nod from Molly as it was a more than satisfactory explanation for his odd outburst.
Molly was quick to take him up on his offered hand, although his follow up statement tempted to her to keep the fight going. He was quick enough to backtrack from it though that she was willing to let it slide just this once. Especially as she was more focused on his back as he suddenly turned to get on a new shirt. The sight was far more interesting than the one she had seen from the front, as he had a series of tattoos that painted quite the picture for her. She would not comment on it, but she would make sure to remember it in case he brought up anything relevant at a later date.
[b “Good fight.”]
He apologized after for getting excited at the challenge, but she just waved it off as she was not about to complain about him getting excited. It would be rather hypocritical of her after she got so heated during the fight herself. After all of that though she at least was happy that she had not gotten so heated that she got into trash talking him. They were teammates after all, and she did not want to damage that any with her attitude.
After he got his shirt on Roland spoke up about keeping Leon from turning into him, and made mention of a date that drew a raised eyebrow from Molly. The fact that Yumi had said something earlier made her wonder if those two were getting along better than expected. However what he had to show them was enough that it drastically changed the course of her train of thought. Team Firestarter were the projected number one seed in the tournament and it was good that Roland was sharing it with her, but the arrogance the leader demonstrated was enough to cause her to laugh especially as he broke into song.
[b “He's not lying about being undefeated, but he isn't exactly being honest either. Not enough of a record to judge him as the best by solo competition, and he's had the benefit of a strong team since he came into the competition,”] Molly explained after she managed to stop laughing. [b “Don't get me wrong he's damned good as a pilot, but I wouldn't say he's the best pilot in our competition, and he sure as shit isn't better than anyone. Hell I may be confident in myself, but even I'm not so stupid as to say I'm better than Sabrina.”]
[b “Far as our competition goes I'd put at least five pilots in his tier, and at least one above him. Besides myself of course,”] Molly said with a confident grin. [b “All this means is that he's just proved I was right not to worry about him in the first place. You let a guy that get cocky and he's just going to fuck himself in the end; reminds me of a certain quarterback's comments during an undefeated season leading up to the bowl. They lost to a much worse team than mine could ever be, and that was with hall of fame players on both sides of the ball.”]
Molly just laughed a bit more as she absentmindedly took off her compression top to stuff it into her bag. [b “Right now the only idea I have is to hit the showers,”] Molly said before she paused. [b “Actually does this place even have showers?”]
Leon would roll his eyes at the lady killer part. “Not you to. I rely don’t see myself as one as I have nothing to offer most women. I got a ton of problem and I’m damaged good.” He said calmly as if was a matter of fact moment over a statement. “Also sound good round will make it a bit more fun.” Finishing his wraps, he noticed Molly outfit and felt a bit under prepared. He was used most his opponent dress as casually as him. “If I knew you wanted a more standard match, I would have switched to something more appropriate. He instantly recognized that he was at a disadvantage when it came to grapes.
Rolling with the punches he cracked his knuckles. “O well no use in cry over spilled milk.” And with that the first round started. Holding nothing back Leon went in slow to test Molly out earning him a quick tap out after a failed punch turned into a flying armbar. Returning to their starting position a new smile came to Leon face as. “I see so it going to be like that then.”
Jumping into action he came at her full force Leon uses a mix of his boxing and kicking boxing to keep he way and delivering punch after punch into her ribs and body. Adding in a few of his own style he would dance around her like it was nothing. Wearing her down he finally saw an opening and took it. Faking a right, he quickly changes mid move into a roundhouse kick knocking Molly to the ground. Smiling he rolled his shoulder backing up a bit to let her reset. Giving a smirk that would look more appropriate on Roland he waited for her to catch her breath.
Dearing the first two round of between Leon and Molly Roland had set up a few games for himself and Yumi. The System had enough room for two AI with equal possessing power for each side. “Welcome to the game room. This was a devised build for testing AI ability to hack into each other system and such down each other system. You can't find anything like it outside the army but thanks to some stings I pulled before being discharged I was able to get a copy of the system. I figure one day I would play with my old friend but that not posable anymore so I guess I see how good you are.” For a flicker of a second, he looked sad but I could have been his holographic projection. He had to limit himself to half of his true ability as he been told that most of his system were not to be known to outsider. Still it would make thing more fun for the two AI as I would make it hard for Roland to bypass Yumi firewalls. “Any question? Okay then when the light goes red begin until you knock out four systems”
For Leon the next round was a bit quicker than the second as he took avenge of Molly tiredness. Quickly attacking in the same way, he did the round before however he finished up with a lucky cross. His smile growing again as his eye changing color to yellow for his normal blue. “Come on Molly I thought you said you wouldn’t go easy on me.” He was now bouncing foot to foot however he wasn’t ready for what she would do next attack right of the gate. With little time to even see what happen he found himself on his back out of breath but laughing. Taking a second, he jumped back to his feet with a smile that was even wider. “Now that more like it.” Seeing that she was faster then she looked he ready himself for her attack this time. He couldn’t keep her away so instead he playing her game but would dance out of any grabs she would try to use and attack in the open she left. Finally, he was able to get her into a half nelson ending the round.
Both would start be covered in a thick layer of sweat and breathing heavily but Leon wasn’t ready to give up just yet. The next round played a lot like the last with the only change being that as Leon went to finish her, she surprised him with a quick reversal and got him into another armbar tie up the score. Standing up Leon stance and cracked his neck. “Last round make it count.” he said no longer smiling but a face of pure forces. Circling Molly he would wait from her to attack like she had but it never came. Instead she waited for him to talk witch he was happy to follow up with. Coming in full forces he would start his normal punches as fast and quick as he could get them off. Dancing around her counter attack. His punches would have little effect but with each one landing in the same spot it would leave her sore. At one point she was able to finally grab ahold of his shirt. Seeing it as a weakness Leon was quick to counter her chance of using against him by quickly jumping back and ripping the thin fabric. Jumping back show that Leon shirt was now in two peace half on the floor behind him and the other in Molly hand.
Leon shyness would normal make him cover up as he wasn’t convenable with showing off. Even more so to girl but none of that seemed to faze him now. His body was quite tone with the light outline of a six pack however his body was covered in scares all over. Old wound that would never heal fully left his body scared. Jumping back into the fight Leon tired again to keep his punches and kick up only to be shock when he felt his leg get caught midair. Shocked as very seen anyone do this before he could only stair in disbelief as Molly finished the fight with a well-placed Kneebar. With a grunt of pain, he gave in and tapped giving the win to Molly.
Laying on the ground, Leon just looked up at the ceiling breathing heavily. No saying anything or moving until finally after what seemed like hour but could have only been a few minutes he started laughing. Slow at first until pouring over into a full fit of laughing. This counited for a minute before he calmed down. “That was amazing. It been a few years since I had a good fight like that. Not since before the war.” He let out a few last chuckles as he felt like his shoulder had gotten lighter. “Man, if only Mary was here you two would be a mean fight.” Slowly Leon eyes turned back to his normal blue. A sad smile filling his face as he looked off into a distant memory. Standing up her offered a hand to Molly with a smile. “Good fight but next time I won't handy cap myself.” He joked then as if noticing as if where he was, he blushed.
“O sorry I mean it was a good fight.” he then quickly turned around to find a shirt. Once he turned around a massive tattoo would show itself to Molly. Two angel wings spread across his back with the word. ‘Honer in death’ under then. Under them a bit farther down his back was what looked like a Cemetery with eight graves randomly sped out. On four of list of names spread across them each a defend length. On two one name filled them. Thomas Woody and Nicole, they read. The last two blank with no name of any drawing. It was soon quickly covered up as Leon put a new t shirt on.
“Sorry about that I get a little exited when getting a challenge.” He said as Roland turned from his game with Yumi. “That why he got me I keep him from becoming me. Also, while you to been on your date this was played.” He pulled up a video from early new broadcast. “Seem a King need to be knocked of his throne.” Leon blushed madly until after watching the video. “Seem someone over cocky.” Roland shrugged. “I wouldn’t be so sure his recoded is as he said undefeated even in single combat. As far a I can tell he not lying plus that black out mech I ran it in my data base and I can't find anything like it sizes and shape is not like anything I seen so It an unknown.” Leon now calmed down turned to Molly. “Well Boss do you think we got what it takes to deal with this man and his unknown Gear. Also we may wanna be careful his voice in singing could tip more people into his favor for sponsor got any idea now we could keep up?”
Molly noticed the momentary lapse in Leon's facade, but she was not about to comment on it given the subject matter. No need to make the conversation heavier unnecessarily since she could avoid it. Especially as it was not a long lull in things as Leon was quick to change the subject of conversation himself to a happier topic.
Molly just flashed a grin at his comments about ice packs as she had her own equipment at the ready for recovery. She would be decked out in compression garments that were meant to aid in recovery time after a workout. After getting an outfit made of the material when she was a kid it had been something she had sworn by ever since.
[b “I'll be sure to bring her with me,”] Molly said before they said their goodbyes.
After Leon left it was just Satsuki, the mechanics, and her. The Red Death was polished and ready for them to show off tomorrow. Kerberos was in similarly good shape thanks to the work of the mechanics, and Tatsuya was more than ready to pilot for the festival exhibition. Satsuki's work preparing their booth had gone better than expected thanks in part to the help of Tetsuo and Suzuna's help with the design and assembly.
She made sure to do one more walk through of everything that they had planned for the festival just to be sure that she would be ready. Including a bit more mental preparation for what she would be doing during the festival to soften her image. The fact that she might be doing it while covered in bruises made the mental preparation easier on her as the disparity of the imagery could lead to some entertainment for herself.
After her final walk through she made sure to get all of her equipment ready to spar with Leon for a while. The preparation there was easier even if the match would be considered blatantly unfair in his favor by most mixed martial arts competitions. She had enough training in arts designed to offset size disadvantages that she was confident it would not be a lopsided affair, but she was also well aware she was spotting him a foot and at least fifty pounds. According to at least one expert you needed to have an extra rank for every twenty points you were surrendering to your opponent, and she could not be certain that would be the case given Leon's military experience.
[b “You volunteered me to keep Roland entertained during your little date?”] Yumi asked as soon as Molly told her the plan.
[b “If Leon has to try and keep up with me and Roland at the same time it wouldn't be fair at all for him,”] Molly explained as she packed up her bag. [b “So yes you've been volunteered to keep him busy during our sparring.”]
She did not comment on the language that Yumi used regarding her intention to spar with Leon as it could easily be interpreted in a number of ways. Leon was a military man so she was confident that if this were a romantic overture he would have been more straightforward with it. Well at least in her experience dealing with members of the military both retired and otherwise.
Yumi only pouted about the situation for a bit as she was appeased by the promise that Molly would bring along one of the system extensions for her. The extra processing power would mean she would not be at any disadvantage from being in an unfamiliar system. It would almost certainly give her an advantage in dealing with him if she deemed it necessary, but she was warned that given they were guests she was not allowed to blast him like she had before.
After Yumi was safely stashed away Molly packed up her car and made her way down to Leon's other place of employment. It was just about what she expected based on the description that he had given her. Although the class inside was not at all what she would expect from one being taught by a former military member though. A businesswoman that looked a bit familiar, two geeky men whose motivation was easy to understand, and three women about her age that seemed more interested in Leon than the actual class. She could only guess that it was because he was a foreigner that it was not a more popular class, but there might be something else going on that she was unaware of regarding it. Everyone had their circumstances and all that.
Molly made it to the door just in time to have the businesswoman hold it open for you. A polite nod was shared between them, although Molly noticed that there was some recognition on the woman's face as she looked at her. They may have met during one of her grandfather's events in the past, but as no words were shared about it any possible connection was left a mystery.
It was clear as soon as she stepped in that the girls thought she was interrupting them, and they were not at all shy about showing this to her. Their glares though just painted a smile on Molly's face though as she was used to dealing with far worse from her time as a banchou in high school. Her smile also did well to weaken the intensity of their glares as they seemed to trade the hatred for confusion as they made their way past her. She knew that none of them recognized her given their comfort with glaring in the first place and so she walked in without worry.
[b “You're not their parent don't apologize for them,”] Molly said with a laugh as she set her bag down. [b “I've dealt with worse. Besides I'm just more surprised that you're so much of a lady-killer.”]
Molly just had to laugh as she set Yumi up while Leon and Roland talked about his status as a lady-killer. Roland's cocky attitude was unsurprising here as he was cocky when it came to just about everything based on their conversations so far. Still Leon's lack of confidence in himself was a bit surprising given the interest that the girls had shown in him. Lilly having a lack of confidence was understandable given her lack of experience, but he was an American several years older than her. He certainly had to have more experience in the field of dating than she did, and she was more than confident in herself in that regard.
[b “I figure rounds would be for the best,”] Molly said as she stripped off her coat and tearaway pants to reveal the compression garments on underneath.
The compression garments were tight enough that it was clear to see that Molly had a particularly petite frame. Hidden in that slender frame were some powerful muscles, but even she would admit that she was built more for endurance than explosive speed. While she was still plenty quick she was better suited to marathons than sprints.
She eyed Leon and his outfit as he started wrapping himself up. The fact that he was sticking to wraps was one that she was thankful for as she put on her sparring pads over the compression garments. He would have a reach advantage regardless of how they were dressed, but the fact that he only had thin wraps would mean his striking power would be limited. Her fuller pads would not limit her in such a way making the match a bit more balanced.
Combine that with his looser clothing compared to her and she would have an advantage in the clinch and on the ground. Those were the two areas she was already confident that she could turn to her favor and so the added benefit was welcome. All she would have to do is react well and she could almost certainly keep the fight in her favor.
[b “I wouldn't have it any other way,”] Molly said as she made sure her pads were on properly. [b “Just don't complain when you lose.”]
Molly's usual fighting style was one that she could not use to spar with as it was based in an art best known by the nickname murder by numbers. She had proven on multiple occasions that she could use it to take out people twice her size. Each time she had though her opponents had ended up in the hospital in the process, or worse as happened on at least one memorable occasion.
She had learned other arts though to give her the opportunity to spar. All of her travels meant she had encountered a number of arts across the world, and she had merged them into a functional fighting style for herself. Inspired in part by Jeet Kune Do as Bruce Lee's efforts were of a similar nature, although he had a more philosophical pursuit to things than she did. They both preached simplicity in their pursuits, as he was quoted saying the easy way is the right way. A quote that she agreed with given her usual fighting style was similarly based on brutal efficiency.
While this meant that her fighting style was arguably formless in nature there were still traces of techniques that could be seen in it. Just like an MMA fighter she had prepared for the three basics of stand-up fighting, clinch fighting, and ground fighting. Her size put her at a disadvantage in most stand-up fighting, but she had still put in plenty of time learning things from Boxing, Muay Thai, and Taekwondo to be effective there. Clinch and ground fighting were where she was more confident as she could make use of her small size to avoid her opponent while still pounding away herself. That and her time spent learning about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, and wrestling helped her out in that regard.
Leon had a clear cut advantage in stand-up fighting thanks to his noticeable reach advantage. Molly had a solid advantage in clinch fighting thanks to their choices in outfits making it harder for him to get a grip on her. Leaving the ground as the expected tie breaker, and her experience with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu left her confident that she could win there. Especially given her advantage in clinch fighting thanks to their outfits, as she could use that in combination with her aggressive fighting style to take control of the situation.
[b “Ready when you are,”] Molly said after giving just a slight bow. She may usually go her own way, but there was something to be said for traditions like that.
While Molly was getting ready to best Leon in single combat; Yumi was getting acquainted with Roland's abode. She had been instructed to be gracious given her status as a guest, but it was quite different than her usual accommodations. Still she kept a friendly face on as she appeared before Roland to at least give him a chance to handle things maturely.
Leon nodded at Molly talked about Lilly. To be honest he knew very little about Lilly and her problem. Other than a few things he picked up on here and there he knew nothing of the girl. “I see she remind me of someone I use to know and if she like her, we most definitely should keep an eye on her.” His face went a bit sad but quickly came back. “I find it a great stress relief though form that smile I may have to keep some ice packs on the side for both of us.” Leon had his doubts that he could win a gear fight against Molly for the sole reason she was better than him however when it came to CQC he was unmatched. “Anyway, I see you few hours then.” He smiled. “Bring Yumi go a game station that her and Roland can beat each other in on far games instead of their normal battles of bickering.” With that he waved and left out to his car.
Lilly rushed home and quickly locked herself in her room. Jack had to work late as he and to return to the office to update the progress with his boss and she was grateful. One she was locked in her room's tears started to flow out. She hated herself for what she was doing. She couldn’t tell then even after they spent so much time training her. Leon working hard on teaching her the basic and mid-level way to control her gear and Molly working hard on her gear and Sora. She grabbed her hair as she fell out of her chair on the floor. And how did she repay their kindness? She lied to them, she didn’t desirer their kindness. She was worthless and useless just like they said just like he said.
She curled herself into a ball on the floor crying. Their words screamed at her. Useless, unwanted, a freak. Images of a belt flashed in and out of her vision. She could almost feel the pain across her back as each hit left a sting feeling. She could feel her head being pushed in and out of water, getting hard to breath as every time she felt herself being dunked it was for a bit long. Her body was shaking uncontrollable as she could hear a pounding sound in the far dictions. Her name being called again and again.
“I not useless I promise I do better.” She screamed. “I’ll be a good girl I promise.” She could hear some scream her name again and a large pounding. Then saddlery a huge crashing noise and the voice getting loader until finally everything went dark. When she finally felt herself coming to, she could fell someone petting her head and a voice sound as if it was far away.”
“I know doctor but this is the first time in years.” it said then silence for a few seconds. “I checked it and she been taking them.” Again, slices as she started to feeling her own body again. She was laying on the couch her head in someone lap. “She waking I need to go I call you later. Thank you doctor, have a good night.” Then a click and the voice became clear to her it was Jack. “Hey how you feeling?”
“Tired.” She said hugging the stuffed animal that had been lied on her chest. “I had one, didn’t I?” her voice was shaky like a child. He nodded as he kept running his hand in her hair.
“You did.” He said not looking down at her.
“Why you said the medication would help them stop.” she tried to sound angry but her voice was to week for it.
“I dose but as you still won't talk to him...”
“Because he lies.” She intruded .
Sighing Jack dropped it as he picked up the tv remote and turned on the news. He couldn't argue with her when she was like this. He wanted nothing more than to scream at her and yell but he knew it would solve anything. “Team Firestarter are about to be on with their line up.” Lilly simply nodded glad the he dropped the subject.
“Good evening lady and gentlemen and welcome to another episode of Power Levels. Today we are coving Firestarter. Last year winner and highly predicted winner this year.” Screen went black before then exploded with picture of four gear three colored out and on blacked out. “Team leader Scott is in his last year and plans to bring his team to victory. He said that his team worked all summer to keep on top. Even with two new starter this year he plans on showing the world that he is the best polit in all the Japan. A bold statement but his track record dose show that he has a good chance but don’t take my word for it.”
The screen turned to one a handsome man in his mid-twenty. “I been in this game since the day I could stand. No one has the training the equipment of the mind to handle me. I never lost a battle in my nine teen years I been behind the controllers. I'm fast stronger and better than anyone. My team knows my crew knows it my sponsor know it my fans know it so I got nothing to prove. To all any pilot that thinks you can come at the king. You don't wanna fuck with me Don't wanna test your luck with me. 'Cause if you try to fuck with me. I'll take all your body parts to a fucking graveyard.” As soon he finished a song started playing as it went to montage of his team last year. After the montage was finished the reporter told everyone that the song was made by Scott himself. Lilly smiled a bit as she felt herself falling back asleep. He just issued the biggest challenge to Molly and he had no idea she had a secret weapon.
“That will be all for today class.” Leon said looking down at his small class of six. He mostly trained college student but his class was open to all and his night class mostly had older people. A business women three collage girl and two more nerd looking kid all here for their own reason. The older women looking for way to protect herself form men on her way home. The two-nerd hoping to show off to girl their own age and the last third well.
“That was amazing.” Mr. Kennedy, they said once everything was cleaned up. “How did you learn all this?” another asks. He was used to people coming up after class but these three always tried to flirt with him during and after class. The only reason he hadn’t asked them to leave was they really did try to learn the style.
“Years of training.” he said trying to nice. He always felt uncomfortable around groups and girl but especially both.
“That amazing.” they said. “Say are you doing anything after this?” One asked. “Yea a new yogurt shop opened up down the road if you wanna go.” other said.
Leon gave his best apologies face. “Sorry lady but I do I got another person coming by to practice.” And if on cue the door opened as Molly walked in. “Hey Molly.” He waved. The look the girls gave her didn’t seem never nice as Leon could almost feel the death aura coming off them.
“O well that too bad.” they said. “Maybe another time.” lucky they left with nothing more than glares at Molly. Giving an apologetic smile to Molly as she waved them goodbye, he let out a heavy sigh. “Sorry about that.” He said “Believe that or not that happen a lot.”
“What a Foreigner ace polit getting a lot of attention and having his own fangirl services following at collage?” Roland said showing up on the beach. “You almost have half of the following and Molly dose but unlike yours she has men well was women.”
Rolling his eye Leon shock his head. “I don’t under what anyone would see in me? I kind of a mess.” Roland shrugged. “They haven't got to know you yet remember light travel faster than light and you may look cool until you open your mouth.” Leon just rolled his eye. “Don't worry I still believe you will end up alone.”
“Thanks for your vote of confidence. Anyways there are changing room in the back if you haven't yet. I just going to wrap up my hand but other than that do we want do rounds or go until we drop?” Leon asked only it instantly regret it as Roland went. O MY. “Shut it.” Leon was in a grey muscle shirt that that showed of his arms that his normal t shirt couldn’t. His shirt was small and showed off that he wasn’t quite muscular but he was leaner and build to take a hit not for strength thought he was still quite strong. His also wore a pair of grey sweat pants the also looked small on his legs. Just like his top each looked lean from years of running and kick boxing.
“Be warn that I won't hold back just because you’re my boss so don’t hold back anything ether got it.” Leon smiled.
Leon fighting style was different then. He knew boxing, kick boxing, all level of combative, wrestling, Sambo, systema spetsnaz and a his own that reveled around dancing. He always started as if he was boxing as he felt at home with it.
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