Chapter 9: Training, Training, and Training

            Sorry for the lack of updates.   A lot of stuff occurred in my personal life.  But it's all straightened up now, so we're back!

***

            Shikka shrugged off the light grab attempt Orime threw at her with a grin.   "C'mon, I can tell you know a bit more than that," Shikka said in high spirits.

            "Very well," Orime responded.   A quicker grab came forth and locked around Shikka's forearms.   "YAAH!" Orime shouted as she twisted and pushed Shikka.

            A quick tumble, however, and the pushed girl quickly got back to her feet and stood back up.   "Do better than that," she said with a wider grin.  "I won't break."

            A few more grab attemps by Orime and Shikka kept the pressure, deflecting the hands.  The pace increased faster and faster, Orime trying her hardest to grab and pin Shikka and Shikka doing her best to find an over-extension of speed and strength to use to her advantage.   "Your style's very secure," Orime observed.   "You don't put yourself too far out, but one of us will be worn down."

            "Good thing that won't be me," Shikka returned with a grin.   "C'mon, give me something I can really work against."

            Orime grinned and for a moment, that startled Shikka.   A moment was all Orime needed as she lunged and grabbed Shikka's arm with one hand and snaked an arm around her torso with another.   'Good, all I need to do now is…' Shikka began to think before she felt Orime's arm resting right on the bottom of her breasts.   The distraction allowed Orime to turn around and pin Shikka to the floor.

            Orime pressed her bodyweight ontop of Shikka and yet Shikka still wouldn't move, and just shook nervously like a leaf.   "Why are you nervous?" Orime asked.

            "N...no reason," Shikka stuttered.  

            "I know you can lift me," Orime pointed out.   "Perhaps it's the feeling of my body pressing against yours?"

            "Umm, I'd… well… rather not say?" Shikka muttered nervously.   'Oh god, why doesn't she just leave it alone?' she thought.

            "Alright," Orime said as she relented and got off Shikka.   "I never thought I'd meet one."

            "What's that supposed to mean?" Shikka shouted defensively.   "And besides, I'm still a teenager! I'm allowed to be a bit confused about that!"

            "I understand," Orime answered.   "I don't discriminate in either case, but you do have to work on your guard better."   Orime grabbed a towel and started to walk out of the dojo.   "And in case you're wondering, I won't tell Kigu."

            "Thanks I guess," Shikka returned, feeling a bit bitter.   Left with her bitterness, Shikka sat still in the floor for a few minutes until her spirit guide appeared.

            "Hey, what's getting you down?" the spirit asked.

            "Orime figured out my… preference," Shikka answered.   "And shouldn't you know, seeing as your favorite game is spying?"

            "Hey now, I allow you to spar alone.   Too many conflicting messages will mess you up against an opponent," the spirit pointed out.   "And how exactly did she figure it out?"

            "I got a bit excited when she pinned me," Shikka mumbled.

            "Heh, you really need to grow up," the spirit interjected.   "Oh, and while you're at it, focus on some guys."

            "Guys aren't the cure for everything."

***

            Nagami Shikka walked back home after yet another full day of school, looking forward to more training.   Before in her previous life, training was something she'd do last, yet now it seemed to be the only thing she could immerse herself in with feeling.   The sounds of impacting bodies and grunts echoed from the dojo as Shikka entered the gates.

            "I'm home!" Shikka shouted as she stepped inside the house and slipped off her shoes.

            "Ah, welcome home, Shikka!" Shisen greeted from the kitchen.   "Be sure to get dressed, it's almost time for your sparring session.   After class, just like yesterday."

            "I will!" Shikka returned as she stepped into her room and quickly changed into her gi.

            As she slipped on the rough cotton training clothes, she noted her muscle mass, while still very toned, was starting to appear a slight bit leaner since receiving it.   'I must not be lifting enough,' she observed as she quickly tied the belt on and slowly walked out of the house and towards the dojo.

            The doors slid open as she approached and the younger grade school students streamed out slowly.   Reyu grinned as he saw his niece and said, "They're shaping up.   I cannot wait until I see how you will mold them."

            "I will do my best, Uncle," Shikka said as she bowed her head, "but I could never do as well as you."

            "Oh, you sell yourself too short," Reyu complimented with a grin.   "Now, Eniji has really been looking forward to this private sparring session."

            "As have I," Shikka affirmed as she cracked her knuckles.

            "Shikka," Reyu said as he passed her, "if he tries anything, break his nuts, nothing else.   It's hard for him to help instruct in a sling."

            "Yes sir," Shikka replied as she stepped in the dojo.   Shikka closed the door behind her and saw Eniji's back towards her, the boy in a sitting position staring at the shrine.   "Meditating?" the girl asked her opponent.

            "Fantasizing," Eniji said as he turned his head and grinned.   The boy stood up and flung his auburn ponytail over his shoulder with that still cocky grin painted on his lips.

            "I guess if you are a glutton for punishment," Shikka announced, "this would be a fantasy."

            "I've been practicing.   I doubt you could throw me now," Eniji announced triumphantly while flexing his bicep.

            "Show me," Shikka announced.   Eniji grinned and charged her.   A quick sidestep and trip sent Eniji sailing past Shikka.   However, Eniji quickly regained his footing and came back again with a grab attempt.   Shikka quickly pushed his hands away.   "I mean it, show me," Shikka teased again.

            "You'll see it," Eniji proclaimed as one of his hands finally slipped through and pushed Shikka.   Quickly, Eniji looped his arm and encaptured both of Shikka's hands in a grab.  "Brute strength has nowhere to go in a grab."

            "Yes, but its like tinder trying to hold a train," Shikka answered as she started to pull her hands out of the grab.

            "Then I have to pin you down and end it!" Eniji shouted as his foot looped underneath Shikka's and send both of them down on the ground, Shikka underneath Eniji.   "Leverage doesn't exist here.   You're down."

            Shikka however would not submit.   'C'mon, I know I have the strength for this!  I know it!' she thought as she tried to find a piece of leverage she could use to push Eniji off her and show this boy exactly what she could do.   However, something else made itself noticed.   Eniji was practicing quite a bit earlier that day for this match.   He was able to get special permission to leave school early in fact, on false premises, just for this match.   The smell of his sweat started to seep into Shikka's nose.   There was something definitely… masculine to it, not to mention the warm feel of his arms encapturing her and his warmth on top of her.  'No!   He's a GUY!' she thought bitterly.   'I will NOT feel these things!  I WILL NOT!' she thought, fueled more and more by anger.

            "AHHH!" Shikka screamed as she flexed all the muscles she could at once and sent Eniji flying off.   "Don't do that!" Shikka shouted as she slowly, menacingly stalked towards him.

            "Owww," Eniji muttered as he tried to stand up again.  "But… it's aikido," he objected.   Shikka then looked at the poor boy and turned her head.

            "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have done that," Shikka apologized.

            "No, no, that was really cool, I guess," Eniji said as he rubbed his head.   "Best way to get out of a lock."

            "Thanks Eniji," Shikka replied with a grin.

            "So…same time tomorrow?" Eniji asked.

            "Sorry," Shikka said as she started to leave the dojo, "I have to train privately tomorrow."

            "How about seeing a movie this weekend then?" Eniji requested.

            "Answer for that's still no," Shikka said with a sideways grin, "but keep trying."

***

            "… and it was everything… MALE about him that, I dunno, bothered me!" Shikka harshly whispered to her spirit companion.  

            "Interesting problem," the spirit said as she floated upside down, "but it's called puberty.   We all go through it.   And you'll be fighting mostly men at the tournament, so you better get over it."

            "Easy for you to say," Shikka muttered.

            "Yes, it is," The spirit pointed out.   "You can't kill men for being men, and you have to use their strength, not your own, especially since you've been neglecting your muscles."

            "I've got that planned for tomorrow," Shikka pointed out.

***

            A cool Saturday came with a late sun.   Nagami Shikka, however was up much earlier than the sun.   The warrior girl carried a large pack full of several various weights and ran as hard as she could through the streets.   Quickly, she weaved through the people, which were especially hard due to the pack and the weight, but not impossible.   Harder and harder her feet pumped until she reached her destination, a weary junkyard.   Panting for breath, she set the pack down and unloaded the large scraps of metal from within and took out four 10 pound strap-on weights and secured them on her wrists and ankles.

            "Weight training, been there, done that," the spirit pointed out.   "Your technique needs work, not strength.   And you still have a guy problem, if ya know what I mean."

            "It'll be handled.  Go haunt some dogs," Shikka whispered bitterly.   With the weights gone, Shikka practically vaulted forward in speed.

            "You know you're heading towards the bad side of town, right?" the spirit observed as she flew alongside the focused trainee.

            "Yes, and make sure I use only aikido," Shikka announced as she slid do a stop.   Almost on command, several large men seemed to emerge from the alleyways and derelict buildings.

            "Umm, okay I guess, but don't get yourself killed," the spirit requested.

***

            Hours later, Nagami Shikka laughed aloud out of pain and near delirium in a much friendlier neighborhood park.   Parts of her jogging uniform were torn, and a few small bruises framed her arms and hands, but she was proud of herself.   The weights were still on her joints and her would-be opponents were in much worse shape.

            "And you're sure you're not suicidal?" the spirit asked in confusion.

            "No. I knew that if I was in trouble, I could take the weights off and used strikes," Shikka said, then giggled.   "But this was good.  I can fight guys again!" she proclaimed with a raised fist.

            "Well, you should get something to eat, alright?" the spirit said.

            "Ok, in a minute.   Just a bit tirrred…" Shikka muttered as she fell asleep.

            "Silly," the spirit said, then dove into her former body.   Seconds later, the body stumbled upward.   "Owwww… damn that hurts.   I think at the very least, he'd thank me for getting us home," she said aloud, enjoying the taste of air and limping towards home.

***

            Shikka awoke to a warm feeling and looked around in confusion to see herself in a hot furo.   "Heh, musta been more outta it than I thought," she mumbled, giving credit to her transportation to a delirious state.   "Ahh, this does feel nice, after working out all these muscles, to just soak and let it fade."

            "You are a glutton for punishment.   Whomever it is that arranged this might not like a suicidal in that body again," the spirit said as she floated through the door.

            "I said I'm not suicidal and I meant it," Shikka pointed out.  "You should know that by now."

            "I guess," the spirit muttered scornfully.   "It's just if you go, I go and you might go to someplace a helluva lot nicer than where I would."

            "The tournament's almost here.   That's the fastest way for me to work that disgusting piece of heterosexuality that my mind seemed to catch."

            "Whatever."