Burn the Night, Keep the Spirits Strong

The Cage 

 She had leaned forward enough in her seat that her foot tapped against the side of her duffel bag and her body tensed. The ring was currently showing two human men, young enough that she assumed they were here on bravado and the hope to glean some sort of attention from the opposite sex. Which, fine - whatever. All that she really cared about was that the one with the shitty tribal had busted the blonde's lip open and that if he kept wailing o him like that there was a good chance he'd break his nose.

Do you know who paid money to get their shit set? Some ass clown with a broken nose, that's who.

 Without even realizing it completely, she crossed her fingers and watched the bigger one pull back his arm and - "Shit!" It was rushed out in a huff under her breath, raising her hands and dropping them back in her lap when blondie tapped out. Yeah there was still a chance, but usually in such a state it hurt ego's more to sit down across from her then to just suck it up and deal with the cuts and the bruises later.

 Some nights were bank, other's were ... this. Still, not exactly an optimist but stubborn enough to not want to throw in the towel and go home just yet, she craned her neck and glanced about - didn't bother to mask her staring as she assessed patrons and looked for anyone that screamed: 'Hello, I've come out to get my ass handed to me.'

Outfit no shades no bag no blue thing

The idea, fundamentally, was amusing. A genuine fight club, complete with secrecy and a questionable location. The name itself was something to scoff at. The Cage. Echo did not suspect anything could have been more obviously owned by a Were. Still, there was a fraction of intrigue. Echo was no stranger to violence, and often times reveled in it. It was what he was good at. But actively seeking it for some sort of self gratifying agenda? Be the winner. Be the strongest. It was a simple minded idea. Something he figured might be worth the observation. He was, so far, not disappointed.

Two brutish men pummeled one another in the ring. Echo lingered against the wall, silent and un-moving as he watched with the ghost of a smile on his lips. Clumsy, un-calculated, tired. Like watching two chimps wrestle over a piece of fruit. The one with inked skin seemed to have come out on the better end of the gene pool, and was able to use his mass to knock the fair haired man to the ground. A woman nearby him caught his attention as she exclaimed in what he could only assume was frustration. Young, thin, dark haired, wolf. Accompanied by a bag and looking vaguely hopeful. Echo moved with a measured gait.

"Lost a bet?" He prompted, though his un-even gaze settled on her bag. He did wonder what it was she carried. For her sake, he hoped she was not entirely dim-witted enough to tote money or valuable things to barter on the fights. Then again, he had met those with less sense. Like Chloe, whom taunted a tiger in the public eye at a Zoo.

 Of all the people she wanted to be approached by, a fully able-bodied stranger didn't make the immediate top of the list. In business mode, agitated by how calm things had been, it was really come fucked up or be a familiar and friendly face. He was neither, clearly hyena (which should have been a comfort but fell short) still, she sighed and used the toe of her boot to drag her bag a bit closer to the foot of her chair. It was more or less an unspoken offer, the ability for him to go ahead and take a seat if he was so inclined.

 "Not quiet, I work here - unofficially." Perhaps officially? Alina knew about her side hustle, but the money only rolled in when the blood did - so ... she watched as they walked off, looked to the table as two employee's tried to work out who to pit against who next. "Are you spectating or are you punching?"

She did not seem overly cheerful about being approached, and Echo might not have had she not been sporting the bag. What his intention was, he himself was not entirely certain. Curiosity, of course. Though if it was revealed that he was carrying something valuable? He supposed it was up to the sway of conversation on what he did with the information. However, she was inviting enough to let him sit and prompt conversation..

"If you are a referee, I am afraid you are doing a very poor job." He said as he settled down beside her. "I do not often fight with fists," He thumbed the hilt of the knife quite blatantly strapped to his hip. "And I have no interest of sending a human to the hospital. Too soft." He said simply. A single punch might even be deadly, if he were not mindful of the force he used. It seemed like an awful lot of work for such little reward.

 Her eyes traveled to his waist when he motioned to the side - pursing her lips but saying nothing else to creep knife guy about it. "Not a referee, actually - a medic." Well, an unemployed (at least where the field was concerned) veterinarian. But medic sounded way, way, way cooler - so what was a little gloss, really?

 "So having you beat up the soft guys actually stands to benefit me a great deal." From her experience they usually tried to keep Were's and human's separate, but it was hardly a hard rule anyway.

A medic. That did explain the bag. Echo regarded the woman with a faintly raised brow. She did not look much like a doctor. Perhaps a self proclaimed "medic" after stitching a few scrapes and nursing some bruises. Idly, he did wonder if she had aided the foolish wolf he'd torn into. How he would have liked to see his face in this form. His own shoulder had healed almost completely, only a faint scar now.

His lips pursed some as she posed some sort of proposition. "If I agree to tossing you some scraps... I'd like to try my hand at a more worthy opponent next." He motioned in her direction loosely. "Can the medic fight?"

 "Isla." A quick and blunt correction as she looked him over and drummed her fingers on the edge of the table. "She can, and she will as long as you leave that out of this." For clarification she nodded to the blade at his side, shifted in her seat to sit up a bit straighter.

 The way she saw it, worst case scenario she went into the back and iced some bruises - maybe stitched a punch that connected just right. Best case scenario, she could patch him up out here and upcharge from the gaul. "So is that the plan, buckaroo?" To add some pressure to the idea, she offered her hand out to him as if to shake on it. Well aware on appearances alone she didn't strike fear or even concern into the hearts of, well, ... anyone.

A name. Echo exhaled through his nose for it. Isla, such a tiny thing, claiming to be capable in a fight. Echo had half expected her to shy away meekly at the offer. Color him impressed. She had her stipulations, and Echo was willing to follow them fairly. The very last thing he wanted to come of this night was having an entire pack of wolves on his tail for slicing up their veterinarian. She extended her hand, and he regarded it a moment. So thin. And yet, Echo had lived long enough and been in enough fights to know it was never wise to underestimate an opponent.

"A plan." He said simply enough, and reached to clasp her hand firmly in his. A squeeze, then he released it. With a sigh of finality Echo rose from his seat and strode toward the ring coordinators, whom had already fished a willing candidate from the crowd. A man that matched his height with overly sculpted muscles and a few tasteless tattoos climbing up his bare arms. He stood with them crossed over a barreled chest, and locked Echo with a placid gaze as he approached.

It did not take much convincing on Echo's part to participate. A matter of a sure nod as he went about removing the knife from his hip and surrendering it over to one of the referees. Whilst the man was aesthetically impressive, his weak points were apparent. His legs were more slender; skipping leg day. He was focusing more on building muscle than training it. He would be slow and clumsy. His knuckles were smooth and undamaged; hardly any past of fighting. Likely had the same agenda of soliciting the attention of the women that gathered at the bar.

As they climbed into the ring, Echo tossed one look over his shoulder at Isla before focusing back on his opponent whom was rolling his neck and making a show of his muscles. Echo, for his part, simply squared his feet and forced some level of control down against the beast who's head was rising at the potential of a fight. And perhaps a meal. He forced away that thought in particular. Moments passed, a hush fell about the crowd, and the bell rang.

As was expected, the man was slow but cocky enough to attempt the first punch. Echo side-stepped it, allowing it to roll off his shoulder to grant the man some false hope that he might be successful. He would be too distracted by the small victory to notice the swift strike in the lower rib by Echo's knuckles. The human grunted and jerked away from the impact, and Echo followed his every movement to strike again at the side of his neck. A palm slammed against the human's vagus nerve, and he staggered further as he dizzied. Echo disengaged a moment, his arms pulled up before his chest, his eyes focused on the lumbering movements of the human as he shook to disorientation. A meaty fist flew his way, and Echo moved in the last moment to snake his own arm around the man's and jerk it sideways. His other fist hooked upward to slam into the scruffy chin, splitting the skin and sending a smattering a blood to the mat. The hyena all but howled at the restraints that had been forced upon it and insisted with all its might to make an appearance in a show of nail and tooth.

The man's knee jerked upward and rammed into Echo's hip, but he moved with that momentum to twist the arm in his grip sideways to force him to stagger off balance or risk a break. The human's body hit the mat with a heavy thud, and Echo released his grip on the arm so that he could sink down and drive a knee into the base of the man's throat. He forced down against the notch between the two clavicles and reeled a hand back to slam downward against the cheek. More skin split along the ridge of his cheek bone, and the eye above it squinted shut. It gave the medic something easy to work with. No fractures, no tears, no internal bleeding. Nothing to require a hospital. With the man below him, the beast was a significant force behind his actions. Too much, and control would be compromised. It had to end swiftly. The man was slowing with his airflow cut by the knee to his throat, and his face was swollen and bloody. One final strike to the temple left the human unconscious. Whistles blew and firm hands wrapped around Echo's shoulders. He shrugged away the touch as he pulled himself away from the man, who would only loll for a few moments before pulling back to consciousness.

The crowd was cheering and hooting, but Echo found himself looking placidly through the barrier to Isla as he was ushered out of the ring and given his weapon back.

 She had meant every word - confident enough in her own prowess and strength, reassured by where she was. Let some hyena, Crestview or not, cause genuine and grievous harm to a wolf - sure, that would go well. Still ... a split lip or a black eye never killed anyone, and money was money. Besides, she had an advantage if she was smart about this. While the hyena watched his opponent, she watched him - flinched as she made not of the clinical way he seemed to watch the human.

 And maybe it was putting horses before carts, but when he got in the ring and the bell rang, she nudged her bag closer with her foot and pulled it into her lap. Finishing her beer, the whole thing was over and done in an embarrassing amount of time. Shocking.

 Standing up, she set her glass back down, looked back to the Were even as her newest potential cash cow wobbled his way from the ring. The slightest nod of her head, some wordless acknowledgement before she pushed her chair in with her hip and went through the motions of giving her usual speech. Isla, local doctor, a small fee, the importance of hasty treatment to avoid infection, avoiding questions - blah blah blah.

 If there was any doubt about it's success, soon she was bumping against the man's knee's, leaning in a bit as she cleaned cuts and changed her gloves again before she started to stitch the worst along her cheek. At least the hyena hadn't done anything astounding, nothing that would be a pain in the ass in these conditions. The whole process was just shy of a half hour and she left it with enough crumpled bills to get herself good and tipsy if she was so inclined.

Instead she tucked the money away - turned round and tried to catch sight of her sort-of partner in business.

Echo busied himself at the bar in the time it took Isla to convince the man into being patched up. By the time she was finished, he'd finished two drinks and the mild ache of where he'd been hit was all but gone. He was not entirely certain if it was the accelerated healing or the alcohol to thank for that. When he spotted the man limping toward the bar, Echo rose from his seat and approached Isla. "I do hope he tipped well." He joked dryly.

"Are you certain you still would like to hold up your end of the deal?"

 The way he phrased it, whether he had meant to or not, sounded loaded - like she was a no-good cheat if she didn't. Which, she supposed was true. And it really would be no skin off her back to adjust the strap of her bag, salute him with two fingers and stroll out and towards the direction of home. But a deal was a deal and she liked to think she was dependable if nothing else, that she followed through when she put her mind and her words to it.

"I said I would - unless you're suddenly feeling particularly placid."

Anyone with a brain would have hesitated then. and he was pleased to see she did. If only for a moment. A brief length of time in which she likely weighed her odds, or considered her vow. In the end, her pride was the victor. A more empathetic man than Echo might have hoped for her sake that her pride was not what got her seriously hurt. The answer to that, however, lied in the ring.

With a nod of his head, Echo turned to lead the way back to the referee. A brief moment explanation, and he was handing off his weapon once again. He trusted the girl would follow as he pulled himself into the ring and padded toward the center. His head rolled and his hands flexed, but there was no more preparation than this.

 It seemed all at once that Echo was indeed not feeling particularly placid on the comedown from his last victory. She sighed, watched as he went through the now familiar motion of giving up his knife. She had no such thing herself, unless you were to count a couple sterile needles and a pair of small scissors. All the same she left her bag at the table, tugged on the ponytail that kept her hair out of her face and entered the ring.

 She considered what she had seen during his last fight, rubbed at the back of her neck and fought impulse. As soon as the bell clanged, some part of her urged for action - wanted to sweep in and make an attempt at first blood. Instead she waited, circled a bit and hugged the border as she watched him. Rome wasn't built in a day, patience was a virtue, she knew better than to not swing wide and wild at what felt like a certified creep.

Let's start this off with a big ol MISS

There were distant murmurs of discomfort at the prospects of Echo taking on a woman. After his previous display, it hardly did seem matched. Echo, however, knew what power lay beneath the girl's frail facade. The beast within her was strong. It had its strengths, but also its weaknesses. Wolves were impatient in their attacks. Brutish and aggressive. And whilst the woman before him might not have been the sort, it would be only a matter of time before her beast was enticed further into control by the action. Echo had the benefit of a patient creature. A scavenger, a survivalist, but also a creature capable of inflicting more damage than its mild demeanor let on. In many ways, Echo mirrored his beast. He could only speculate if this girl was the same.

She was, for now, practicing some degree of patience. She kept her face to him, and he matched her pace and posture. She would be stubborn. With a soft breath through his nostrils, Echo bounced forward to swing loosely at her chin. A test of reflex. She moved swiftly, but not unnaturally so. Quick, then. Echo steeled himself for an attempt at a return blow.

And then get 'em with a HIT

 She saw the hand coming just in time - a faint and involuntary gasp for air as she arched her back and leaned out of the reach of his swing. Okay, good. Knowing better than to wait for him to have time to go back in for another kick or hit, she decided for bold, lurching forward and planting her feet before she swung sharp with her left towards the side of his head.

 The goal, at least in her spur of the moment thoughts, was to hopefully stun him enough to break his concentration and go in with a follow-up to the face or the gut if the opportunity presented itself. Hopefully.


She was swift in her rebuttal. Her fist jammed into his torso, and air escaped his nostrils in a grunt. The arm nearest her raised as he turned his body away with the momentum of the blow. At the last moment in which he would have stepped away, he hurled his body back toward her. His arm slammed downward elbow first in an attempt at driving it into to top of her shoulder.


 She clenched her jaw until her teeth ached from it - some tension that coiled in her stance and every muscle as she tried to predict him. Instead she got an elbow that crashed down and grazed off of her shoulder, made her recoil but not cry out. It would be a nasty bruise, maybe a bump, but there was no time to assess then and there. Instead she reached out, open handed now as she swatted at his face with a good deal of force - aiming more so to irritate than to cause grievous harm.

Hopeful at least that if she plucked the right nerves she might be able to make him reckless and sloppy.

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