“So,” Adelaide folded her arms, “this is where it gets tough.”
The others stood in a row, staring at her. Francis was the only one who looked even vaguely interested in what was going on. Lee looked… well Lee just looked laid back, which was how Lee always looked, so nothing new. Lydia looked terrified, glancing around nervously to see if anyone was around. Adelaide had asked her as nicely as she could to take her hood down, for the sake of being able to see her properly. Emma looked bored. And awesome, which was how she looked pretty much all the time, but mostly bored.
“If we’re going to be a credible team of heroes,” Adelaide strode up and down the line like some kind of general, giving a pep talk to her ragtag troops, “we’re going to need some training in combat. If we want to fight crime we’ll need to be actually able to fight. Each of you brings something unique to this team, and we’re going to use that to our advantage. Any questions?”
Emma raised her hand. There was a slight breeze and her hair flapped behind her head in the coolest possible manner.
“What exactly do you bring to the team?” She asked, her tone flat, “You’re only a normal human.”
There were murmuring and nods of assent from the others. Adelaide glared at them and raised a finger for silence.
“I bring some very important things to the team,” she said when they had quietened down, “I bring leadership. I bring moral support. Perhaps most importantly I bring this cricket bat.”
All eyes turned to the cricket bat. There was more murmuring and nods of assent. It was quite a large cricket bat. Suddenly Adelaide seemed to be indisputably the leader. Emma scowled.
“Besides,” Adelaide spread her arms wide, “I’m also the one you’re going to train against. If you can punch me then I’ll consider you done for the day and you can go home.”
“Hit you?” Said Francis incredulously.
“Hit me,” Adelaide gestured to herself, “one at a time of course. All it needs to be is an ordinary punch. No scratches or face burning by the way. But if you try and fail then my use of a cricket bat in self defence will be entirely reasonable.”
Before she could continue with her explanation Francis was running at her. He was surprisingly fast for a nerd of his standing and she had to swing the cricket bat up and around as quickly as she could. It passed right through him, at which point Adelaide jumped forward and fell through as well, rolling on the other side then getting to her feet, she spun, but he’d anticipated the cricket bat and once more allowed it to pass through with an audible hiss.
Lunging forward, Francis’ fist shot out but Adelaide punched him in the side of his face. He fell, but his leg lashed out and she tripped, the cricket bat plunging into the ground so that she could regain her balance. Francis leaped to his feet and swayed forward with another punch, but Adelaide sidestepped and swept the cricket bat out as she moved, knocking Francis’ feet from under him. He landed in an unseemly heap. Adelaide looked around.”Next?” She said, as Francis dragged himself to the sidelines.
Lee stepped forward. He didn’t make any moves towards Adelaide, just stood and waited as she circled him slowly. When she jumped at him with a swing of the cricket bat he merely raised his eyebrows and the weapon stopped, frozen in midair. Adelaide had anticipated this and threw a punch, but evidently Lee had anticipated her anticipating it, probably with mind-reading, and he ducked and returned with a punch of his own which Adelaide only just dodged.
The cricket bat fell from the air all of a sudden and Adelaide snatched it up, but this time it was her arm that refused to move as Lee stepped forward, his eyes narrowed with concentration. He had not counted on her other arm, however, which brought him an elbow to the ribs as she stepped in close. His focus broken he stared up in horror as Adelaide’s other hand descended and slapped him around the face.
After Lee came Emma, whose hands ignited with flame.
“Cool as that is,” Adelaide said, “as I said earlier I’d like to leave this fight with a face in one piece.”
“Doesn’t look like you have much choice in the matter,” Emma shrugged.
She came at Adelaide slowly, deliberately. As the cricket bat swung around she caught it deftly in one hand and suddenly it was aflame. Her other hand shot forward but Adelaide wasn’t there anymore. The cricket bat fell from her grasp as she spun, but Adelaide was already behind her, hand swinging out. Emma didn’t bat an eyelid and caught the fist in her own. Adelaide’s face constricted with pain and she pulled backwards, plunging her hand into the grass to subdue the heat. She left herself vulnerable however and Emma stepped over her, fist swinging down.
Adelaide’s leg swept Emma up and her arm was pulled off target as she tumbled. Adelaide jumped back quickly and grabbed the cricket bat from the ground, slightly singed but no longer burning. She brought it down on Emma, who was still struggling to stand up and hit her on the shoulder.
Once Emma had retired, grumbling and nursing her injured shoulder, Lydia came forward. She looked terrified. Deciding to go easy on her, Adelaide swung gently for her midriff with the cricket bat. To her surprise Lydia lunged forward at an incredible speed, her fist lashing out faster than Adelaide could react. Unfortunately for Lydia this lunge fell a few centimetres short of actually hitting Adelaide and threw her off balance. She only just managed to get her head out of the way of the cricket bat as it swung back again.
Lydia moved to the side this time, her body blurring as she rushed around behind Adelaide. Her opponent was ready for her turn of speed however and spun around, bringing the cricket bat whirling with her. As Lydia swung in for another blow Adelaide sidestepped and her hand shot out, knocking Lydia out of the air as she raced forward and spinning her into the ground.
As Adelaide stepped backwards Lydia reached up and she had to turn and raise the cricket bat in both hands. Lydia rolled out of the way as the bat came down, her tongue sensing the air. As she jumped up again she stared at the bat in terror and raised both her hands in surrender. Adelaide nodded.
“Okay,” she turned to the others, “you’re going to need a hell of a lot more practice.”