Chapter 8
[October 30, 2009]

It was the second and last day of the tournament. It was also the day where I would fight one of the Valor Vipers. The two battles before the Vipers didn't last long. The fighters stood no chance against me, especially once I had remembered what caused me to become a fighter. I valued friendship and hated bullies. My classmates seemed to look at me as a friend, and the Vipers were obviously bullies. With these two things in mind, I knew I had to make it to the finals of this unofficial event. I had to show those Vipers that I won't tolerate people who talk down on the people I care about.

We had a one hour break before the final match between me and Aspen. I sat with my classmates, and the guys started to give me tips on how to win. They said I was lucky to beat everyone else, but with my current abilities, I wouldn't be able to beat Aspen. While the guys gave me tips, the girls were cheering me on. Natalie was acting different than usual. She wasn't her cheery self. In fact, she looked really concerned. I didn't know why, and I didn't let it bother me.

The announcer walked up to the platform and shouted to all the spectators, "We will now have the final fight! Michael from Pacoima vs. Aspen from Valor!" The crowd was going wild as Aspen and I walked onto the arena.

There was a giant smirk across Aspen's face. "You'll be down within 5 minutes!"

"You wish," I responded. I closed my eyes and remembered all the words and actions that had caused me to be filled with rage in the past. As I recalled on the past, I could feel every muscle in my body relax. The bell sounded, and I was a completely different person.

My eyes watched Aspen run towards me. My brain knew that he was running at a high speed, but my eyes and body saw and felt something else. It was as if Aspen was running a lot slower. In reality, I got faster, stronger, and more aware of my surroundings. I easily dodged Aspen's punch and responded with a punch to his stomach which pushed him back a yard. Everyone was shocked. They could not believe their eyes. Not even Aspen knew what to think. Me, who sucked as a fighter and won with luck during the past five matches, easily dodged Aspen and was able to push him back just as easily.

Aspen was furious and ripped his jacket off. He was wearing a black tank top today which clearly showed the muscular body his jacket hid. It was obvious that he worked out regularly. People could guess as to what caused all the scars on his arms. He could have a pet cat, fight frequently, or worse. "You're going to pay for that, Pup!" he shouted as he grabbed a wooden sword from the wall. "I'm not holding back."

He ran at me with more force than before. I was barely able to dodge his blow and ended up scraping my arm while landing. I only ever fought with my own body, so I didn't know what to do now that I was up against a weapon.

What are you afraid of? Let it lose. Release your anger, your full power. I can help you! I could hear his voice echoing in my head. It called to me, but I couldn't be consumed by it. I had to resist the temptation.

"No," I whispered, but I could still hear him begging me. "I SAID NO! GET OUT OF MY HEAD!" I shouted in fury at the demon inside me. With all the anger filling my body, I could feel a different power. The demon had tricked me, and I couldn't stop it.

"The kid's psy-" Aspen began to say with a chuckle before being kicked in the head and across the arena. "You little punk!" he snarled at me before staring at me with a terrified look.

I had been partly consumed by rage, but this time I was aware of my actions. I didn't black out like I had during the fights at my other schools. I could feel my eyes widen like a psychopath. My mouth turned into a wide devilish grin, and my body was arched like a werewolf ready to kill its prey. It felt like I was going to rip Aspen apart, but I didn't want to. I wanted to win, but I didn't want to kill. I lunged at him with all the strength I could muster, ready to finish the match.

Calm down, Michael. I heard a voice inside my mind. It was a female's voice and sounded familiar. It was almost like I knew the person who owned the voice. The collar of Aspen's tank top was clench in my left fist while my right fist was prepared to strike. Don't do this! Don't let him control you! I know you're better than this! PLEASE! Something about that voice made me come back to my senses.

Aspen took advantage of my mood change to free himself and land a kick to my chest. With the power rush no longer clouding my thoughts, I ran and dove at Aspen's legs, causing him to fall forward and crash his head against the mat. "The bigger they are, the harder they fall," I snickered. I stood up and turned to look at Aspen. He wasn't moving. The fall knocked him unconscious.

"MICHAEL IS THE WINNER!" the announcer shouted as everyone but Valor cheered. My classmates ran down from the bleachers and gave me high fives and pats on the back. I wasn't exactly sure what this meant, but I was on an adrenaline high. The cheering only made the grin on my face wider. I hadn't smiled this way since Alec.