Chapter 27: Sink or Swim, Confidence Heart vs Marine Heart
Confidence Heart darted forwards and threw a punch at Marine Heart who dodged backwards, surfing on a wake of water under his feet. Marine let out a shout and fired off a stream of water at Confidence, who dodged aside and charged in again.
“I heard you were raised by humans,” Marine dodged back again, “I guess you sympathise with those bastards!”
Confidence held her arms up as she circled him, “Gonna reveal your tragic backstory now?” she smirked.
Marine Heart growled, “Are you mocking me?!” He swung his arms sideways and struck out at Confidence with a long lash of water. She blocked it but was pushed to her right from the impact.
“Nope, but I’d like to hear- whoa!” Confidence jumped back as Marine Heart charged forwards and threw and open handed punch with his claws extended forwards. Confidence Heart caught his strike with her left hand then blocked another strike from his left in her right and the two of them began to grapple.
Marine bared his teeth, “Why I hate humans? Fine! I used to be a normal otter, I lived with a raft of other boars. It was a nice place, a raft of lovely sows nearby too, I had one I wanted to be my mate and she wanted me too. Then one day I saw a star shine and I woke up like this. The others were scared of me at first until I learned to use this body to hunt better than any of them could. I waited every day for that star to change my mate-to-be too, but that didn’t happen, instead there was an oil spill!”
“What?” Confidence Heart was nearly pushed back but rooted herself to better stabilize.
Marine Heart no longer had his teeth bared and his face became dour, “I saw the ship crash. It covered everything and everyone died! Both boar and sow rafts and even the fish I needed to eat! I was the only survivor, I stumbled around covered in that black poison, getting sicker every day until I was saved by my new family, the Shadow Magi!” Marine Heart suddenly spat, shoot a small stream of water from his mouth into Confidence’s face. In the brief splutter Confidence was kneed in the stomach, Marine Heart wrenched his hand free and struck out at her face with his claws forwards, “and I’m going to make you pay for hurting my friend!”
Confidence barely dodged aside, getting a shallow cut on her face. She pulled her right hand free and took up a stance. “I’m sorry to hear that, but I’m not backing down!” She punched forwards but Marine dodged and struck out again.
Confidence and Marine’s limbs flew in a flurry as they struck out at each other and blocked or dodged aside, dancing along the coast of the lake back and forth even as a small crowd gathered at a distance to watch. Confidence was on her toes as she deflected his attacks, and noticed a pattern. “You’re a martial artist?” She jumped back and delivered a powerful punch to his midsection, only for Marine to block with both hands, shuddering under the impact slightly. “If you hate humans so much then why are you using something they invented?”
Marine growled and kicked out at her to force her back, “Martial arts were stolen from animals!”
“What?” Confidence Heart steadied herself as she jumped back.
Marine took up a fighting stance again, his hands raised at his sides with the claws extended and struck out at Confidence, who dodged away from his strikes “Humans invented martial arts by mimicking the movement of animals. They’re pathetic!” He spat then charged forwards, striking out with claws extended towards Confidence, “Humans can’t be powerful on their own without stealing from animals, but they can never steal my own martial art, Otter Style!” Marine Heart suddenly spun in place and struck Confidence in the side with his hefty rudder-like tail.
Confidence Heart felt the wind blown from her as she was sent sprawling, taken completely by surprise by Marine’s tail attack. Before she could get up, Marine pounced on her, claws and teeth extended. Confidence raised her left arm to block and Marine Heart bit down hard on her forearm. Confidence didn’t scream but grit her teeth as he struck out at her chest and made five impacts with his claws, drawing blood and trying to tear the patch of skin off.
Confidence caught his left hand in her right as he struck out at her again. “Passion tried that too, but his hurt way more!” Confidence’s right knee shot out and caught Marine in his stomach. He gasped and released his grips on Confidence’s chest and arm. Confidence kicked out with her left foot which forced Marine Heart off of her then sprang to her feet and grabbed his arm. Marine Heart was too dazed to react as Confidence put him in a Full-Nelson lock, pining his legs and tail with her own legs. “There! Now give up!”
Marine Heart finally came back to his senses and growled as he struggled in Confidence’s grip. “Let me go!” He twisted his right arm up and tickled Confidence’s ear, and got no response.
Confidence snorted, “Really, tickling? My gym teacher taught me that’s the first thing dirty wrestlers try to do so he got me used to it!” Confidence Heart’s ears twitched and she grinned, “sounds like the police are here.”
“Too bad, they won’t find me!” A rush of water suddenly appeared under their feet and began sweeping them towards the lake. It was Confidence’s turn to be caught off guard and her grip loosened as they launched off the edge of the shore. Marine Heart took advantage and wrenched free from her grip then spun around while they were still in mid air, thwacking her with his tail then grabbing her and hurling her down into the lake. Marine Heart landed on the water, his feet touching the surface but not sinking in as he stretched his arms. He bared his teeth at the form he saw receding below then dove in, not even making a ripple as his sleek body broke the surface.
Confidence Heart barely had time to hold her breath as she broke the surface of the lake and plunged downwards. The water was cold and murky which made her eyes hurt. She would have shut them if she didn’t know that Marine Heart was still after her, even so she was taken aback when the otter charged at her like a harpoon and threw a clawed punch straight into her stomach.
“This is my territory!” Marine Heart grabbed Confidence’s arm, “You’re from the desert so I doubt all this water is good for you!” He swung her hard and into the wall of the Lake. “Surprised I can talk under here?” Marine Heart shot forwards and kicked Confidence in the chest, “I’m not just an otter, I’m a master hydrokineticist! I can breathe underwater!” Confidence tried to swim away but Marine shot a blast of water at her and sent her spiraling before he swam after her, “And I can swim faster than you ever could!” He slammed his elbow into her chest, forcing air out of her lungs.
Confidence Heart retaliated with a blast of air, still weak but sudden enough to send Marine Heart off some distance. Her breath was nearly gone as she tried to keep her eyes on him. Swimming for the surface was out of the question, he could spot her and just drag her back down. But wait? What if she… Confidence Heart held her hands to the sides of her head, focus, focus! She felt the water trying to force itself down her nose as she forced air up and through her hands. Air bubbles formed on her palms and grew to encompass her head before joining in the middle. Confidence gasped as she breathed in her conjured air, the bubble of air distorting her vision somewhat but at least letting her breathe.
“Clever. I guess you’re not as much of a novice as I thought,” Marine Heart floated nearby, “But you’re still fucked!” with a push from his webbed feet, Marine Heart retracted his claws and threw a punch at Confidence Heart, who dodged her head aside.
“Screw that!” Confidence threw a punch, but Marine Heart easily dodged aside.
Confidence just stared as he spun around and whacked her with his tail again, then extended his claws and raked her across the back. “Guess again! I can see you’re slowed down by all this water!” He easily evaded a kick from Confidence then swam above, summersaulted and kicked her in the back, pushing her deeper into the water. “But my otter style, it’s stronger underwater! I invented it when I had to learn to catch fish with a large, strong and slower body, that’s how I became the best hunter in my raft!” Marine Heart caught Confidence Heart’s tail and spun her around and around and around under the water until he released her as she flew downwards, striking something hard.
Confidence felt the dented metal underneath her as she pushed herself out of the object. Marine Heart floated over to her, “Take a look,” he pointed to the object Confidence Heart was still on top of. She looked down and saw the peeling paint and dented roof of a car resting on the bottom of the lake. Marine Heart glowered down at her, “This is what they do, pollute and leave their garbage everywhere! Even if you didn’t hurt Passion Heart I wouldn’t let a human-raised piece of garbage like you out of here alive!” Marine Heart clapped his hands together and pulled them apart, condensing the water into a meter-wide dense sphere between his hands that he hurled at Confidence.
Confidence Heart shot a stream of air downwards, just barely avoiding the sphere that smashed the car flat. Marine Heart gave out a cry and torpedoed into her, striking her stomach with his extended claws. Despite the pain, Confidence managed to grab him arms and force them out of her then kicked him in the chest.
Marine reeled slightly, then grinned, “Nice try!” He kicked her in the chest then dodged Confidence’s retaliatory strike and spun to strike her with his tail again. Confidence tried to put some distance between them but Marine Heart thrust out with his hand as the water condensed and struck Confidence in the chest. “Too bad you can breathe or we’d be done by now!” he shot several more blasts of water at Confidence which plowed her into the bottom of the lake as Marine charged up another sphere of water and hurled it at her, this time Confidence was unable to dodge.
Confidence’s air bubble burst for a moment as she felt her body squashed by the impact. She barely had a moment to reform the air bubble over her head before Marine Heart charged in again and struck her in the chest. Confidence tried to punch him again but the water slowed her down and Marine easily dodged and struck her with his tail again. Confidence tried to grab his tail but as soon as she touched it he flicked it out of her grasp and kicked her in the stomach.
‘I gotta get him above water somehow.’ Confidence Heart grit her teeth and fired off a blast of air at Marine, pushing her back somewhat and missing, though a small explosion went off at the impact on the floor of the lake.
Marine Heart looked up from where he had dodged to see Confidence swimming for the surface, the air bubble around her head having disappeared. He grinned, “You’re mine!” and shot off after her. Marine grabbed her leg as she neared the surface but she kicked him off and kept going. Marine Heart growled and shot upwards to grab Confidence in a tight hug right below the surface near the lake’s edge, “Gotcha!”
Confidence looked down which showed the air bubble just over her nose and mouth, “Surprise!” air shot out of her hands and shot them up and out of the water. They were suspended in mid-air for a moment until Confidence reversed Marine’s grab and hurled him onto the shore. She landed in the water then grabbed the concrete edge of the water and pulled herself back onto land.
Marine Heart had just managed to stand when Confidence Heart came charging and punched him in the stomach. “You’re right, I couldn’t beat you underwater,” she spun around and kicked Marine in the side, “So I’ll fight you here!” Marine Heart reeled from her kick and was about to strike out at Confidence when she punched him in the face, which gave him a black eye. Confidence threw another punch and felt the shudder roll up her arm as she hit Marine in the chest. Instead of the rapid punches she had thrown earlier, Confidence threw her back into eveyr punch she threw and felt the reverberations travel up her arm with each impact.
Marine Heart was pummeled nearly senseless, his left eye swollen shut and his chest and stomach aching from the repeated blows but he finally managed to pull a hand free and rake Confidence’s face with his claws before he lost his balance. Confidence sucked in air through her teeth and grabbed the hand he’d struck her face with in both hands and hurled him over her shoulder to the ground. Marine Heart lashed out with his tail and managed to trip Confidence.
Both Marine and Confidence were bruised, bloody and exhausted as they forced themselves to stand. Confidence Heart was the first to her feet as she took up a stance to face Marine Heart again. Marine was on all fours and finally pushed himself up as his armor of water formed over his body, it having deserted him when he was shot out of the water.
Marine Heart charged at Confidence and struck her in the chest with his claws, but Confidence grabbed his right arm with her left even as the claws pierced her chest. Marine growled and struck her in the side, his claws sticking deep in, “Not go enough! Just die!”
“Fat chance!” Confidence Heart drew back her left hand and poured all of her magic into her fist. A ball of compressed air formed on her fist and she gave a cry as she punched him hard in the chest, “Cyclone armor break!” Confidence Heart’s fist plowed through Marine’s water armor and right into his stomach. The ball of air burst and a tornado of air blasted into him. Marine Heart’s grips released and he coughed up blood as Confidence’s last blow launched him a full meter away from her. Marine hit the ground hard and lay there, senseless.
Confidence panted as she watched Marine Heart as he lay there, just to make sure he was down. Then she pumped her fist in the air, “Alright!”
Battle in the Lake
Confidence Heart Fennec[/b]